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Ultimate Grocery Shopping – Getting Back to Saving

June 21, 2010 · 71 comments

in Personal Finance

My grocery savings had gotten away from me.   However, this weekend, I was a saving machine once again.

I am back…

So what happened that hindered my savings?  Life!  High School Baseball, middle school soccer, middle school baseball, travel soccer, end of school events, banquets, etc.   I am exhausted just thinking about it.

 

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But now, life is back to normal.  It is better than normal now that I think about it.   It is fantastic to eat a grilled dinner outside in the breeze.  What makes it even better, is eating an inexpensive meal outside in the breeze.

I went grocery shopping on Sunday and I was in heaven.  So much produce was on sale.  I just love summer.  Plus, since life had settled down somewhat, I was able to remove expired coupons and get all my new coupons back in order.  Savings were occurring left and right; up and down every aisle.

My grocery receipt - sorry about the quality. It got crinkled.

Reference the photo of my receipt.  It shows I saved $95.71, which actually was $97.71 because I also received a $2 off coupon for my next visit.  I did not meet my goal of saving 50 percent, but I still did pretty well.  (I ended up spending $132.)  The reason I didn’t meet my goal was I had to buy some food for Father’s Day dinner that was not on sale- I couldn’t deprive my husband his meal, and also I had to buy some detergent/toiletries that I can never get down to half price.  However, I won’t need more Tide for a month, or Cascade, or a lot of other things.  My stockpile is coming back to life!  Not to mention I need a lot of food to feed 3 kids that are home all day now.

For those that have been reading for awhile, you know I love to purchase items when I have a coupon for that item and it is also on sale.  I try to buy as many of an item that will last me until the next time it is on sale.  In essense, I never want to pay full price for anything, ever.   Another tip I would like to introduce is to be creative with your meal planning.  Integrate in-season produce and sales items into your menu.  Have a purpose for those sales items, don’t just buy them because they are cheap.  For instance, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries were on super-sale this week.  Buy a bunch of berries and make a nice berry-salad as a side dish for dinner.  Berries are incredibly healthy, and they are usually only in season a short period of time.  Liven up tired-old breakfast with some yogurt covered with berries, or add some berries to your plain Cheerios.  Not only is it inexpensive, but it adds variety to your menu.  Another thing I like to do is freeze inexpensive strawberries (just wash, cut off the caps, drain,  layer them on a cookie sheet till frozen, then place in a bag) and use them in smoothies.  It is a lot cheaper to make your own frozen strawberries than to buy them in the winter at the store.

I know that for many people, it can be difficult to find time to dig through coupons and look through circulars.  Heck, I enjoy it and I got out of the habit for a month or so.  However, for those that have the time and patience, it can be one of the easiest and most rewarding ways to save money.  I actually enjoy grocery shopping when I know I am getting healthy items at a low price.  Plus, when you are planning meals ahead of time, you are more likely to eat at home, which is always good.

I will leave you with some tips for managing and shopping with your coupons.

  1. Find a way to organize your coupons that works for you.  I have mine categorized by groups such as ‘frozen foods’, ‘breakfast items’, ‘canned goods’, etc.  Some people use a big binder to store their coupons.  I just use a coupon holder that folds and fits in my purse.
  2. Each week, try to remove expired coupons and file new ones.  The more you look at your coupons, the more you know what you have.  Then, when you see the sales circulars, you will easily recognize what will be a really good deal if you know you have coupons for certain items.
  3. Make a list of what you need each week based on sales/coupons, along with what you really need that unfortunately is not on sale.  Still carry  your coupon holder with you because you never know what will be on secret sale.  If you have multiple coupons for an item and it is being sold at a great price, buy as many as you have coupons for.
  4. Collect your expired coupons and those from your friends and send them to military families overseas.  Military bases can use coupons for 6 months past the expiration date, and what an easy way to help those that protect our country!  The best way to send these coupons is to use a USPS priority rate envelope and cram in as many coupons as you can.  (Shipping cost is $4.95, regardless of weight.)  For more information, visit the Overseas Coupon Program website.

I hope you now feel even a little motivated to work toward saving on your grocery budget.  It really is not that hard to do once you get the hang of it.

Happy Summer!

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{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin@OutOfYourRut June 21, 2010 at 11:03 am

I totally get what you’re saying about being busy! We have two teenage kids and there’s something going on all the time.

Busyiness is no friend of the family budget. It takes time to find bargains, clip coupons, etc, and when you’re moving in many different directions, the attention gets scattered.

We need to develop a budget zen program to stay focused 😉

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Kris June 21, 2010 at 11:33 am

Kevin – I need a zen program for many aspects of my life. I will say, this past weekend, enjoying a couple barbecues and having time to enjoy life was fantastic.

Busyness can be a killer. When I am so drained, I also don’t feel like shopping or cooking. That’s when I most need that zen!

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Money Reasons June 21, 2010 at 12:04 pm

I think at some level I’m intimidated by the whole aspect of clipping, timing, shopping, etc… I guess the entire coordination of it. In some ways it’s like a coordinated frugal ballet!!! 🙂

Some day, I will start! I have to admit, I think I would like your sorting method (by category) instead of by brand name!

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Kris June 21, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Money Reasons – it really isn’t that hard! Perhaps you could enlist your spouse to help?

I can only handle sorting by category. Going alphabetic by brand would drive me insane.

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Money Reasons June 21, 2010 at 7:07 pm

While my wife is frugal, she has no interest in doing coupons (unless it’s for papa john’s pizza)…

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Kris June 21, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Money Reasons – If you guys can’t get to clipping coupons, then just focus on stocking up when things are on super-sale. I mentioned this in a different comment, but when things are cheap like buy one, get one free, get as many as you would use until the next time it goes on sale. It takes some time to really get the know the sale-cycle for different products, but you kind of just absorb it if you pay attention for awhile.

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Budgeting in the Fun Stuff June 21, 2010 at 1:58 pm

You know how you seem to get budget anxiety when I mention my crazy budgeting system? Yeah, I’m having couponing anxiety now…dang lady! That’s freaking impressive! I just clip the coupons for things we might buy and use them if we do…I’ve rarely saved 50%! Wow…

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Kris June 21, 2010 at 2:12 pm

BFS, the secret is not just in the coupons, but in the sales too. You can do it, I know it. Just focus on some things you always use at first. Take salsa. I rarely have many coupons for that. But even still, when it is on sale for buy one, get one free, I buy 10 jars because that is how many we will go through until the next sale. (Even though I don’t have a coupon.)

You can do it!

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Steph June 21, 2010 at 5:32 pm

You have me motivated again. I fell out of practice when it comes to deal hunting on groceries. Instead of a month though, I haven’t done it in years. Ugh. I’ve started combing the grocery fliers this week. Also, a CVS recently opened nearby, so signed up for the extracare program. I find all the strategizing to be overwhelming, but hopefully I’ll be in the swing of things soon.
I need to keep reading posts like this for motivation!
Thanks. 🙂

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Kris June 21, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Steph – It is so rewarding to save money. I just love not giving my money away!

CVS is a wonderful place to save money, but it can be hit or miss. Some weeks, I do fantastic there. Other weeks, I don’t even stop by.

Email me if you ever have any questions. Good luck! It takes a little while to accumulate a lot of coupons, but trust me, it pays off!

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Suba @ Wealth Informatics June 21, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Love this post. I used to do couponing, but… life happened, lol! I totally understand your exhaustion. I am impressed, between all these you managed to save this much! You have motivated me to pick that coupon file again!

I didn’t know about sending the coupons for the military overseas. Excellent idea! Thanks for that!! I am a vegetarian and a lot of coupons for food items/meat I just used to throw away. Now I HAVE to start it again! Thanks a lot 🙂

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Kris June 21, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Suba – life does happen, that is for sure. One thing I have done, is bring coupons/grocery list making into my ‘life’. For instance, when things are super busy, I do all my coupon clipping/sorting in the car while I wait for a soccer practice to get done. In other words, I try to make the most of all my idle time when life is crazy.

I truly hope you do pick up the file again. It is amazing what you can save. Even if you just forget the coupons and focus on stockpiling items when they are on a great sale, it can make a huge difference.

Good luck!

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Divine and Debt Free June 21, 2010 at 6:35 pm

I just started my couponing!!! thanks for the tips!!

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Kris June 21, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Divine – Good luck! I am happy to help anytime!

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Diane June 22, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Thanks for the motivation to start couponing, planning and sale watching. If you reviewed my receipts you would see that I almost never plan ahead, buy what I need without thinking about the price and often walk out of the store and have no idea what the total for my bill was. I often wonder if I quit my job – which is why I have all of my bad shopping habits – and concentrated on shopping smart – what would the net effect be on our bottom line? I am motivated to make some changes – thanks!

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Kevin@InvestItWisely June 23, 2010 at 10:14 am

I admit that I am not great at couponing. When I go to the supermarket, I usually have an idea of what I want to buy, and I will go for the no-name brands or the items on sale if it fits my needs, but otherwise I just look at the food and buy what looks good. I tend to stick to fresh foods so I usually don’t do too bad even doing it this way.

My girlfriend, on the other hand, loves coupons. She gets happy at saving money with them, especially when we end up buying the same thing but she bought it for less than I did. I’m not always happy with the things that end up getting bought with the coupons, though! 😉

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Kris June 23, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Kevin – you and your gf should have a coupon-competition and see who can shop cheaper. Loser has to make dinner… Wait, I should be suggesting this to her because you know you might not win.

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finallygetttingtoeven.com June 23, 2010 at 7:39 pm

I used to coupon when we lived in a big city but now that we are out in the sticks and my choices are ‘this mom & pop, or that mom & pop’ I find that I rarely use them anymore. And in addition we get a newspaper that is more interested in telling us what the ‘Coopers had for dinner over at the Zink’s house yesterday evening’ than any real news or coupon inserts. I do miss them sometimes but have actually found that the store brands that are offered around here have been quite good.

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Kris June 23, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Finally – I bet you can grow a lot of your food too, which would be so nice. I think I would trade small town life for my coupons!

We had a cottage up north when I was growing up and the local paper was exactly like the one you mentioned. I completely loved it, because it was so different from what we got around Detroit.

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