Re-think how you grocery shop

By: Jill Maxwell
By: Jill Maxwell

Today we're going to talk about how we make up our grocery list. Most of us do it one of two ways. This week, I changed my strategy.

Today we're going to talk about how we make up our grocery list. Most of us do it one of two ways. We either just make up a list of what we'd like to have and pull some coupons that look good or we plan our meals for the week and take whatever coupons match up. I've done both - depending on how much I wanted to work on it. As a result, I buy things I don't really need and wind up with 10 cans of green beans just because they were on sale.

This week, I changed my strategy. I pulled the sales circular from my grocery store and planned my meals around what was on sale. Then, I checked for coupons for those items only. I also searched specifically for coupons for sale items. For example, I use Coffee Mate and it was on sale – 2 for $6. Normally, they cost $3.59, so already I’m saving $1.18. That wasn’t good enough, so I went online and searched for Coffee Mate’s web site (www.coffee-mate.com), clicked on Special Offers at the top, then on Click to Save. And there it was - $1.00 one container. So, I printed 2 and got another $2 off. That made it 2 for $4 – a savings of $3.18 – well worth it!

A lot of manufacturers have coupons on their web sites like Coffee Mate did – Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Gorton’s. Using your favorite search engine, type in the product name and most of the time the first one on the results list is the main site. Some make you dig on their site a little, others are very obvious. Most require you to sign-up and you can receive notices via email of upcoming sales, coupons and promotions.

The results were surprising by shopping like this. I purchased 38 items this week and only 3 were not on sale and I didn't have a coupon for. These were items you rarely find coupons for - milk, lettuce and a chunk of cheddar cheese. Of the remaining 35, 27 were on sale and 23 I had coupons for. Yes - an overlap, which is great! On a $123 grocery bill, I saved over $40 - that's 30%.

Since meat is usually the one item you can't find coupons for, it's best to buy when it's on sale and buy two or three packages. This week, split chicken breasts were $.99 a pound. For under $3 I could buy a pack which had three nice sized chicken breasts. By purchasing several, I can plan a couple meals; and they don't have to be for this week. By getting meat on sale and buying extra I have meat on hand for future weeks and eventually don't have to worry about what I'm going to have for dinner because there are no good sales. One pack I boiled and took off the bone yesterday so it's ready for a casserole.

By using www.smartsource.com, I found the sales at my store then combined these with coupons and saved without sacrificing what we like and what we want!

This week's savings:
Store sales - $21.73
Coupons - $18.44

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