Groceries are a top expense for most families, so it’s no surprise people got excited about some great deals related to the sale of most Charleston area Piggly Wiggly stores.

The good news for thrifty shoppers is that there are more big sales to come. And there are great ways to cut grocery bills without waiting for a store to change hands or close.

During the past week I saved a lot of money at a Piggly Wiggly half-off sale, but I also cut my grocery bill with deals at Harris Teeter, Publix and CVS.

Between the sales, coupons and promotions, I’d estimate I spent about $250 on food, gas cards, and beer and wine with shelf prices adding up to more than $400. I don’t usually spend that much in a week, but I did some stocking up when good bargains presented themselves.

First, a brief recap of the Piggly Wiggly situation.

Piggly Wiggly Carolina announced in early September that it was selling 29 stores; some to Bi-Lo and some to Harris Teeter. It was later confirmed that two other stores would be closed, at Northbridge in West Ashley and Festival Centre in North Charleston.

On Sept. 30, the two stores that will close started 25-percent-off-everything sales, which is a great deal, but was overshadowed by a 50-percent-off sale at the James Island Piggly Wiggly on Maybank Highway.

The Maybank Highway store was clearing the shelves because it will temporarily close for remodeling after it’s sold to Harris Teeter. The sales at those three stores covered every item.

At the James Island store, checkout lines stretched to the back of the store the day the sale began. One man brought in a wheelbarrow because the store ran out of buggies.

Two days later, on Oct. 2, Piggly Wiggly announced huge discounts at five other stores that Harris Teeter is buying. Meat, seafood, deli and bakery items were marked down 30 percent to 40 percent. Fresh flowers, greeting cards, Pig Swig beer and logo merchandise were half-off, and all store brand items were 30 percent off.

The selection at those locations may be limited by now. But more Piggly Wiggly sales are coming.

The stores Bi-Lo is purchasing have not yet announced their inventory reduction sales. Expect them to begin around the week of Oct. 12.

The local Piggly Wiggly stores Bi-Lo is acquiring are in Charleston at 445 Meeting St. and 630 Skylark Drive (Quadrangle Shopping Center), the Ladson Crossing store on Highway 78, the Johns Island store at 3575 Maybank Highway, and the Edisto Beach store on Jungle Road.

A 30-percent-off sale on all fresh meat and seafood, and frozen seafood, is a great chance to fill the freezer.

Piggly Wiggly shoppers should also be aware that options for redeeming Greenbax are becoming limited. If you have Greenbax, use them.

As previously reported, Piggly Wiggly on Oct. 4 ended its Greenbax “partner merchant program” in Charleston, which means customers no longer can cash in Greenbax for things like gift cards at Tanger Outlets.

As long as the Piggly Wiggly stores are open, Greenbax can be used there, or redeemed for gasoline at the three Piggly Wiggly Fuel Express Centers near Folly Beach, Ladson and Greenwood.

The Greenbax program will continue at independently owned locations and those not being sold, including Mr. K’s in Summerville, Price Wise in Hanahan, and the Piggly Wiggly stores in Moncks Corner, at Otranto Plaza in North Charleston, and in Hollywood and St. George.

So, with all these Piggly Wiggly sales going on, why did I buy groceries at three additional stores during the past week? Because that’s the key to saving money on food.

While it’s usually hard to find everything on sale for 25 or 50 percent off, it’s common to find some items on sale, and different stores offer different deals.

I ran out to the Pig on James Island a day after the half-off-everything sale started. I knew the shelves would be pretty bare, but I also knew the 90-minute checkout lines would be gone.

At the store, I mostly loaded up on half-priced bottles of wine and craft beer, which were still in reasonably good supply.

On the way home, I needed to pop into the CVS for some medicine, and while I was there I stocked up on cereal my family enjoys that was being sold for about half the usual price.

Later, I made a quick trip to Harris Teeter, because I had a great coupon from the Sept. 25 newspaper for $10 off a $50 purchase. I also picked up a $25 gas card for $20, using the store’s ongoing promotion.

Finally, later in the week, I used a coupon from the Oct. 2 newspaper to save $10 on a gas card at Publix, while picking up some food for the weekend.

If reading circulars, clipping coupons and shopping at multiple stores sounds like too much trouble, I understand. As for me, I’ll keep the $150 I saved.

Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or Twitter @DSladeNews.