Now, where was I?
Oh, yeah. 1995 with a stack of coupons.
Fast forward fourteen-ish years.
I still use the coupons. Now, though, I'm better at it. This is how I do it:
I clip the coupons from the Sunday newspaper. I save the grocery ads from Thursday's junk mail packet. On Monday of every week, after we've dropped Jacob from school, eaten our little breakfast, and turned on Dora/Diego, I get to work. I pore through the ads from the two grocery stores nearest me. I circle all the things on sale that our family will eat. I then go through the pantry, fridge, and freezer and see what might go with those things to make a meal. For example, chicken breasts are currently $1.77 a pound at my fancy grocery store. I have carrots, onions, and a slow cooker seasoning packet for chicken my mom gave me. I can have slow cooker chicken one day this week, I just need to add potatoes to my list as the packet calls for them. One meal down.
I plan four, sometimes five, meals a week. One meal is always soup. Everyone here loves soup and most of my recipes make enough to freeze what's leftover for another meal. So I'll go through the soup section of the recipe box and see what I can make with the things on sale in the ad. Two meals down.
I do the same thing with the remaining meals.
On the days I don't plan a meal, we eat leftovers or sandwiches (from whatever lunchmeat's on sale). And at least one night a week, usually Saturday, we have Yoyo night. Yoyo. You're On Your Own. Everybody just chooses something from the pantry/fridge he wants to eat. It's usually cereal.
Then I use the ads and the recipes to make a list for each store. I prefer the fancy grocery store because they have a better selection, it's cleaner, and overall their prices are cheaper. But. They only take my coupons at face value. The other grocery store, the one that's a pain to get into, a pain to drive out of, and organized very confusingly, they double/triple coupons.
Then I attempt to match sale items to coupons. Like just recently the other store had frozen dinner rolls on sale for $1.99. I never buy them even though I love them because they are regularly $3.48. I had a 50 cent coupon that was doubled so I paid 99 cents for them. And they were delicious with our Christmas dinner.
Some weeks I'll go to both stores. Most of the time I choose the one I can get the bigger deals. At the end of a month I will always make a trip to the other store to use my expiring coupons. If I can get a good deal, like almost free, I'll buy it and use it to stock my pantry.
So here are my grocery "secrets":
1. I buy mostly on sale items. The only things I regularly buy not on sale is milk, bread, and bananas.
2. We eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. We just don't know which ones we're going to be eating until the ads come out. I only buy produce that's on sale. And usually less than a dollar a pound. The fancy store had a Buddha's hand that smelled awesome and would've been a great conversation piece, but even on sale it was $12.99 a pound. I'll pass. Give me those oranges for 89 cents please.
3. If meat is on sale, like the chicken this week, I'll pick up two and freeze the second one. This is much easier to do now that we have our old refrigerator in the garage and more freezer space.
4. My store has a clearance bin where they toss items that have gotten a little damaged or someone's opened it. Every week I can get real Poptarts there for less than a dollar. The husband doesn't care if his poptarts come in a dented box. He also doesn't seem to care that they aren't always cherry anymore. I also find lots of cereal and cat food there. Two dollars for 22 cans of cat food is much better than ten dollars for 24 cans.
5. Oh, how could I forget? Store brand is good. Store brand is cheaper. There are only a few things I've found that are better in name brand. Whole berry cranberry sauce is one. Crescent rolls are another.
So that's pretty much it. You can do the same thing with The Grocery Game. They already match the sales and coupons for you so you only really have to figure out what you want to buy. I would sign up for it, but I save more money doing it myself. They charge a fee.
I think I might make this a weekly post because I have tons of other little things I do to stretch out our grocery dollar. If I posted them all now it would take up the entire page.
Do you have a money saving tip? Do tell! Post it on your own blog and leave a link or post a comment. The more money I can save means one more year of private school or stay-at-home mommyness for me, so I'm all ears!
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