I've been known to jump through some hoops in my quest to feed my family healthy food while staying within my budget. I'm constantly on the quest for coupons for organic foods, and I'll often stack those coupons with deals on rebate apps to save more money.

My favorite app is SavingStar because it's easy to use and it offers a Cashback Mall, which combines your grocery savings with online shopping rebates, but SavingStar's grocery rebates add up slowly for me. It doesn't offer many products that I purchase regularly.

One of my readers, Melissa from I Heart Natural Deals (a website that lets readers know about deals that can be combined with coupons), alerted me to a few apps that offer specific deals on healthy products. I'd never heard of any of them, so I spent some time this week checking them out.

Berrycart

berrycart-screenshotThe BerryCart app is available for free for iOS and Android devices. It works similar to the ibotta app because you have to complete tasks, scan barcodes and scan your receipts in full to get your rebates and increase the amount you save.

The photo to the left is a screenshot from the BerryCart app. To unlock the currently offered rebate for Hope Organic Hummus, there are two tasks. Rate the product, and you'll be eligible for a 50-cent rebate. Read a fact about the brand, and you can unlock and additional 25 cents.

Once you've done the tasks for all of the products you've purchased, you need to scan the barcode on each of the products and then scan in your grocery store or online receipt for proof of purchase. There's usually a a one-week time limit on scanning many items, so its best to do it immediately after your shopping trip so you don't forget or lose your receipt.

BerryCart's pros

  • There are three steps to get your rebate, but they're straightforward. The app is easy to use and the instructions are simple to understand.
  • The app has rebates for many organic brands like Sweet Earth, Sipp and Saffron Road that I've never seen on other rebate apps.
  • You only need to accumulate $5 before cashing in your rebate. Once you reach $5, you can have your cash transferred to a Paypal account or you can redeem it for gift certificates to places like Amazon or Starbucks.
  • You get $2 added to your account for each friend who signs up and uses BerryCart.

BerryCart's cons

The only con I can see with this app is the rate feature. I'm skeptical about trusting people's ratings, and here's why: You have to rate the product before you can unlock the rebate. You often have to redeem the rebate in a short period of time. I imagine many people are rating some products before they open them to make sure they don't miss the rebate window.

Shrink

Shrink is not as straightforward as some other rebate apps. This app, which works on both iOS and Android devices, is both a rebate app and, for lack of a better term, a brand loyalty builder. I'm still trying to wrap my head around all its features. It gives you points that you can turn into rebate money for checking out a brand on the app and for continuing to buy that brand. It gives you additional rebate money when you purchase a specific product, scan in its barcode and scan in your receipt.

shrink-appThe photo to the left is a screenshot of the app's brand tab. On the Crunchies photo and the Dry photo below that, you can see an icon of a lock. (On the Dry photo, there's also $1 off note in the icon.)

When you click on a brand for the first time, you unlock it and it takes you to a page where you read about the brand's story. Once you read the story, you're awarded points that add up to rebate money. Then you're taken to a page where you see what specific product you can earn a rebate on, and on the same page you are given the option to earn more points by following the brand on their social media channels or posting about it on your social media channels. Each time you buy that brand and let the app know that you did, you earn more points. Once you earn 1,000 points for a specific brand, you can trade them in for $1.

If you think this sounds complicated, I agree. It took me a while to figure out this app, but once I did, I was able to see how the rebates can add up if you're loyal to a specific brand like Marley Coffee or Blue Hill Yogurt, two of the many brands available on the app. Rebates are offered by Paypal or Venmo once you hit $10 worth, and Shrink's website says gift card rewards are coming soon.

Shrink pros

  • If you buy one of the app's brands frequently, the rebates could add up.
  • You can learn about products that you were unaware of by doing the tasks that earn you points. I watched a video for the Simply Organic brand and found out that they have a product called Steam Gourmet that I now want to look into.

Shrink cons

  • It's difficult to figure the app out, and the Shrink website doesn't have very good instructions.
  • If you aren't loyal to any of the brands on the app, you probably won't earn much in rebates. It's the continual buying of a brand that helps the rebates add up.

Makeena

The last app I checked out is Makeena, which is only for iOS devices as far as I can tell. It currently has rebates for products from 47 different brands like Alter Eco, Lundberg Farms, Salazon Chocolate, Zevia soda and more.

makeena-appYou can see from the screenshot of Makeena at the left that each brand may have more than one offer. Even though there are only 47 brands in the app, there are many more than 47 products to choose from. Lunberg Farms alone has offers for 94 products.

This app couldn't be easier to use. You search through rebate offers by brand, pick the products you've purchased and add them to your "shopping bag." Once you've made your purchases, go to "my bag," hit redeem, check off the items you bought and scan in your receipt.


Makeena pros

  • Very easy to use.
  • You don't have to scan in bar codes, just your receipt.

Makeena cons

I could not find information about the specifics on the rebates anywhere. They aren't on the app. They aren't on the brand's website, not even under the Terms of Use. I don't know if you must accumulate $5 or $50 before you get a rebate, and I don't know how that rebate is awarded, whether it's a check sent to you, money put in your Paypal account, gift certificates or some other form of payment.

I think that all three apps are worth checking out if saving a few extra dollars every week on your groceries is important to you. I've created a little challenge for myself for 2016. I'm going to attempt to use apps like these, as well as other forms of rebates and awards programs, to save up as much money for the end-of-the-year holidays as possible. Instead of requesting my rebates as soon as I reach the minimum amount, I'm going to save them up and cash them all in mid-November.

If I meet my challenge goal, I'll let you know how much I saved and which apps were the most useful. Look for that post about 11 months from now.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.