If it has been a while since you visited the Defense Commissary Agencie’s (DeCA) Website make the time to check it out. There is a wealth of information that can save you time and money during your next shopping visit to your local commissary. Having a game plan on your next visit and understanding how to maneuver through the aisles will make your visit run smoothly.
“Often taking some time to explore your commissary can be beneficial – to see what new products are on the shelves or taking time to talk to department managers,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Tomeka N. O’Neal, DeCA’s senior enlisted advisor to the agency director. “But other times you really need to get in and get out quickly. Using these tips will help you efficiently whiz around the store and get all your weekly shopping done in no time at all.”
Here are some tips from DeCA on utilizing the commissary website that will help you plan and shop for a week’s worth of meals:
- See What is On Sale – Before planning your meals for the week visit the Rewards and Savings tab on the website and look up the Sales Flyer (temporarily suspended due to COVID-19), coupons and promotions to see what are good deals. Under current promotions on that tab, the meat department offers Meat Power Boxes. There are four types and save an additional 25-30%. They can also help you plan your meal around this key ingredient.
- Find the Perfect Recipe – Visit the Recipe Tab on the commissary website for some great ideas. There are healthy recipes, kid-friendly and even a few chef’s recipes. You can also search by ingredient which is great if you plan to purchase a Meat Power Box. Just select beef and there are 22 recipes available. Choose the ones you like and write on your plan in the next step.
- Create a Written Plan – The DeCA website offers a two page Weekly Meal Plan Worksheet that offers a master plan for a weeks’ worth of meals. I find this worksheet extremely helpful planning meals by following the steps. First the worksheet offers a place to write down three meals per day for a whole week and the necessary ingredients. Next check what ingredients you have already and cross off from the ingredient list. Then review ingredients and write the brand name down for what is on sale or you have a coupon for. On page two of the worksheet you can write down your ingredients based on what aisle they are located at in the commissary.
- Coupons – Coupons offer additional savings but can be time consuming to cut out and organize. The Commissary Reward Card can be picked up on a visit to your local commissary. Register it online and then you can download coupons right to your rewards card. When you check out the clerk will scan your card and it will subtract all the coupons from your card decreasing your costs. You can find more coupons at in your local paper, online and in the commissary at the front entrance and hanging by items throughout the store. Tip: You can only use one coupon per item whether on your card or a paper coupon. Review your coupons on your card because sometimes the paper ones have a higher value. Give your paper coupons to the clerk first so the higher value coupons will ring up. Remove any paper coupons from your stack that have a lower value than on your card.
You can also save money by not shopping when you are hungry as one can purchase items not on your list due to being hungry. You can save time by not shopping during peak hours especially not on pay day or the day before which tends to be super busy. Plan to visit on a day you aren’t in a hurry and get to know the department managers. You can find out which day your favorite items are delivered to the store. They can also give you heads up on upcoming sales.
DeCA is currently testing a new program called CLICK2GO. It is similar as to the curb side pickup that is offered at civilian grocery and retail stores. Order online and the commissary staff will prepare your order and load it up when you arrive for pick up. You can use coupons and your rewards card and pay when you arrive. Currently CLICK2GO is available at Fort Belvoir, Fort Eustis, Naval Air Station Oceana and Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, and McGuire Air Force Base at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. More locations are coming. Keep checking back online for new locations.
So next time you are heading to the commissary take a little extra time to plan. It will save you time and money.
Marguerite Cleveland is a freelance writer who specializes in human interest and travel stories. She is a military brat, a veteran and now a military spouse. Her military experience is vast as the daughter of a Navy man who served as an enlisted sailor and then Naval Officer. She served as an enlisted soldier in the reserves and on active duty, then as an Army Officer. She currently serves as a military spouse. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Visit her website www.PeggyWhereShouldIGo.com