Thursday, January 17, 2013

How to Save on Groceries

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links  

How to Save Money on Groceries
Store Sale Flyers 

Is saving money in 2013, one of your financial goals?  One way I save money is how I grocery shop.   The extreme couponers on TV are not the norm.  Most of what you see on the show is also not realistic.  They are not buying a weeks worth of groceries, instead they are buying 50 of the same item to add to their enormous stock pile.  The stores also override their coupons policy to allow such big hauls.  Most stores have limits to how many "like" coupons you can use at one time.  I am going to share how to realistically use coupons, and make the most from your trip. While you might not save 99%,  you can  save between 30-50% each time you shop without that much work.

The first thing I do when planning my list  is to start with the store flyers.  We have 4 stores in my area, but I prefer Meijer,  Kroger and Aldi.  Many weeks I will shop at more than one  store  to get the best deals.  It doesn't have to be a big ordeal to shop more than one store, if you break up your trips to when they are convenient.  For example, I stopped by Kroger on the way home from dance class one day, and then by Meijer the next after taking a child to school.   I look through the flyers and see which store has the best deals on what I need this week.  On my "need"  list was toilet paper, cat food, bread, eggs and milk.

After looking at the flyers on my own, I then go to a deal site to find the store match ups.  I like to use Bargains to Bounty, because she specializes in stores in my area.  Many of the larger deal sites like Money Saving Mom,  Living Rich with Coupons and The Frugal Girls have large data bases with many of the big chain match ups.  I write down the best deals for both of the stores that I think I am going to buy. I also add what I marked in the flyers to my grocery  list, even if they are not "best deals". I still try my best to buy mostly sale items, matched with a coupon as much as possible.

How to use coupons, shopping with coupons

I go through my coupon flyers and binder, to find the coupons I need.  This would be a much faster job if I was organized, but that will come in time. Most of my coupons are still in the inserts, because I have not had time to cut them.   I also print coupons that I need.    Did you know that I have printable coupons on my site? I have them in the side bar, and on the Deals and Coupons page.  At least half of the coupons I use at the store are printables that I find online.  If you do not print out coupons, you  really should check them out.  It might surprise you on how much more you can save.

How to Organize Coupons, Coupon Organization
How I Organize My Coupons 

I took this picture at the store. I love the carts at Meijer because they have a great coupon holder on the cart.  While at the store, I am multi-tasking while shopping.  I use the App Checkpoints to scan selected items on their list.  When I scan the UPC code, I earn points toward gift cards and other rewards   It is quick and simple, and I do it  as I walk up and down the aisles.

Another great App I love is Ibotta. It is an App that pays you to shop.  Just open the App, and see if there is  anything you plan to buy in their offers.  You can earn quite a bit back, depending on what you buy.  Once you get home take a picture of your receipt with your App, and within 24 hours they put money into your Ibotta account.  It is that simple! I earned $12 already, and I just started last week.

Free and Almost Free Groceries
My Free and Almost Free Groceries

As I find the item, I want to buy, I pull the coupon from my stack,  and place it in the coupon holder.  In addition to the paper coupons, Meijer also allows digital coupons that you can use with paper coupons through a MPerk account.    All of these items in the picture, and another gallon of milk were FREE or ALMOST FREE this week. You can't say no to FREE groceries

My deals from Kroger this week

  • Healthy Life Bread.. The half loaf was on sale for $1.00.  I used a .35 coupon that double, making the bread only .30

  • 4 Pure Protein Bars.. on sale for $1 each.  I had two $1 off 2 coupons and I got a $1 coupon off my next order (can be used like money).  After sales and getting the $1 back, it was like these were only .25 each.

  • Gallon of milk.. FREE when you buy 4 GM cereals.  Since I have 3 kids, and buy cereal anyway. It is worth it to me to do this type of deal.  I had two .50 coupons for Cookie Crisp and a $1 of 2 for any GM cereal.  These cereals were on sale 4 for $10.00.  I got the two Cookie Crisp cereals  for $1 a box (.50 doubled) and two Reeses Puffs for $1.50 a box.  Final total, 4 boxes cereal and a FREE gallon of milk for $5.

My deals from Meijer this week

  • Dole Salad.. on sale for $1.67.  Next to the produce area is a rack with mini magazines from Meijer with meal ideas and coupons inside.  One of those coupons is for $1 off a salad.  Final price with coupon .67

  • Tube of Carmex.. on sale for 84 cents. There is a coupon in a recent coupon insert, making it only .29

  • Armour Pepperoni.. on sale for $1 each. I had a printable $1 off 2 coupon making these only .50 each.  With 3 teens/tweens, we will use it!

  • Smart Balance milk..  on sale for $1.99.  I had a $1.50 insert  coupon making the milk only .49.

  • 2 bags of Chex Mix... were FREE.. on sale for .99 each.  I had two coupons for .50 that doubled.

  • Box of South Beach bars were also FREE.  On sale for $1.99, I used a $2 coupon from a recent coupon insert. I would have bought a 2nd box, but I accidently left the other coupon at home. It will be this price until 1/27 so I will get it next week.

My free items were worth $9.82. My almost free items that cost me a total of $3.75, were worth $11.33. Not too bad $21 worth of groceries were only $3.75.

Here are my final totals of a pretty average week. I spent a total of $107.29.   There were a few big items such as toilet paper $5.99, and frozen chicken $5.99.  I even bought a box of hair color, after coupons that was $3.99.

I used $26.78 in  grocery coupons.  While not the best week I have ever had, it really does add up!  I also saved $45.29 in stores sales.     My groceries would have been $179.36, and I had a  weekly savings of  41%. I keep track each week of how much I saved.  My grocery coupon totals were $1733.09 in 2011 and $1,087.46 in 2012.  That is almost $3,000 in coupons in just 2 years!  Stores have become a bit stricter, one store stopped doubling to $1, and manufacturers have changed some coupon values, which is why I saved less on groceries last year. Still don't think coupons are worth it?   How about this.. by also  using coupons at  restaurants, and my favorite stores like Target and Kohls, I saved an additional  $2,782.09 in other coupons  All together my total amount of  coupons  for the last two years was $5,402.64. Can you think of something you can do with $5,000?  I sure can!!

Box Tops, Labels, and Rewards Codes
Box Tops, Labels, and Reward Codes 

There are even more things you can do to make the most of your shopping trip. Many products have reward clubs where you enter codes on the box to earn high value coupons, and  other rewards.  Check out My Coke Rewards, Stouffer's Dinner Club, Lean Cuisine and Kelloggs Family Rewards to name a few.  Its a good habit to check each box before throwing it out/recycling, because you might find a bonus coupon or code inside.

Also be sure to cut off the Box Tops off all of the products that have one.  Even if you don't have your own kids, give them to a neighbor that has kids.  Each one of those little squares is worth .10 each for you local school.  I have literally given hundreds of dollars to my kids' schools just by taking a few seconds to cut a box top.   There are also Labels for Education on many products such as Campbells that also earn money for schools.

So there you have it...  If you shop smart, you can save big and earn awesome rewards!


  1. You got it going :) None of our stores double coupons :(

    1. It's a bummer they do not double. They do not double where my mom lives either. Mine only double to .50. Your best bet would be to use higher value coupons when you can.

  2. What a great post on saving money! I am surprised at how many people don't bother to use coupons or check out the deals. I never even heard of Ibotta. Thanks for the tip. I am going to go check it out now.

  3. Great post, Pam! I'll be featuring you at Wednesday's party! :-)
    (My computer is still screwed up... can you send me the html for your button pretty please? :-))


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