Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Money-Saving Grocery Shopping Tips

Grocery shopping is something we all have to do, and I used to not really enjoy it that much - until I started using coupons. Since I am a stay-at-home mom and we live on one income, I try my best to keep costs our down, but it was sometimes frustrating to go to the grocery store and have to spend so much to get the things we needed.
About a year or so ago, Jim found a blog called, "Money-Saving Mom," and he kept telling me about all these different deals he saw there. One day, I finally checked it out for myself, and I started trying some of the deals she shared. I did a lot of the on-line deals at first. I got lots of free samples, inexpensive calendars and Christmas cards, and all kinds of other things. It was fun to check the mail each day and see the different free or very cheap things that came.
Last Easter, we were out at Jim's sister's house, and Jim's niece told me about a local web-site, "Bargains to Bounty," that shares deals for stores in my area. I came home and checked it out, and I've been using the information there to really maximize my grocery budget ever since.
I am by no means an expert, but here are a few of the best money-saving tips I have learned in the past year.
1. Buy when things are on sale so you hardly ever have to pay full-price . It is hard at first to get away from grocery shopping for this week's needs this week. If you can build up a bit of a reserve on things when they are on sale, you can plan your meals based mostly on things you already have and a few things that are on sale this week.
2. Combine coupons with sales to get the best price possible. This is so easy when you use a web-site to help you. There are many coupon and money-saving websites, and the people who run them tell you exactly which coupons to use and where to find them. Find a web-site that gives deals for the stores you shop at, and try it. You will be amazed at the money you can save. I follow several coupon web-sites on Facebook, so I can see the deals quickly on my home page.
3. Plan a menu for each week. Not only will you probably eat a more balanced diet since you can see which meats, vegetables, . . . you are eating throughout the week, but you will also be less likely to go out for dinner or have to grab fast food if you have something planned. Use your pantry and freezer items plus the items that are on sale each week to plan your menu. My menus are flexible, but we usually end up eating most of the meals I planned for the week at some time that week.
4. Buy more than one newspaper each week. I usually buy two each week, and I like to get mine at the Dollar Tree since they are only a dollar there. Some deals require you to buy multiple items to get the best price, and you can save more money if you have more coupons.
5. Drugstores (CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid) can be a great place to get started with coupons. Each one does things a little differently, so try them one at a time at first. They have some great deals each week, and they all offer some kind of rewards toward future purchases. There are web-sites to help you get the best deals at the drugstores too.
6. Don't give up if deals don't work out the way you think they should. It takes some work to figure out coupons, and it is easy to make mistakes. If you really work at it and spend the time planning your shopping trips, it will pay off.
7. Organize your coupons before you get to the store. There are many methods of coupon organization, and you just have to find what works best for you. I have a big, divided pouch that I use for coupon storage, and in the front of it, I keep envelopes that are marked with the names of the stores I shop at most often. As I plan my shopping trips, I put my coupons in the correct envelopes, and all I have to do is get them out while I am in the check-out line. If I find a great deal while I'm shopping, I just have to go to that section of coupons, find a coupon for that item, and add the coupon to my envelope.
On Monday, I shopped at Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Meijer. I was so excited about the deals I got, I just had to share them. This is probably the best shopping trip I've ever had - I'm still learning about couponing too! I got all the things in the picture below ($137.08 worth of groceries and other items) for $41.38, by combining sales and coupons. But, I also got back $41.00 in rewards coupons for future shopping trips!! This whole table of stuff ended up costing me $0.38! I was thrilled!
I hope I have convinced you to try coupons if you don't already use them! If you have a favorite money-saving tip or coupon web-site, please share it in the comments.


PhotoPea said...

How exciting! Do you do tutorials for local couponer wannabees? I'm a hit or misser and I know I'm not using them to their full advantage. You've inspired me!

Megan said...

I'm so glad! I don't feel like I am in any way qualified to do tutorials, but there are sites with local deals, and those ladies are experts! Find a local site, and try their tips. You will love the savings!!