Thursday, November 15, 2012

How to Save Money at the Grocery Store

     I've had people ask me how I save money by using coupons.  There are a million sites on how to use coupons, but I am going to attempt to explain my personal system.  It's not that hard, but it takes practice.
     First, you need to know a few things.

1.  Know how much stuff costs.  You can't know if something is a good deal if you don't know what it normally costs.  Years ago, I made a notebook of what our most common purchases cost at different stores.  Now, it's all in my head.

2.  Shop loss leaders.  Now that you know what things cost, you know what a good deal is.  Almost every grocery store flier has items that are loss leaders.  Loss leaders are items sold at cost or below cost to get you in the store, hoping to suck you into buying lots of other things.

3.  Stock up when things go on sale.  Don't buy things you don't need, and pay attention to expiration dates. When things you use a lot go on sale for really cheap, stock up.  Don't go all "extreme couponing," but buy enough to last you a while.  For example, I always keep 2 laundry detergents.  When one gets low, I start looking for sales on another.  This past week, All detergent was $2.99, and I had a coupon for "buy 2 get $1.00 off," so I got two.  I never ever pay full price for something like detergent, deodorant, soap, or toothpaste.

4.  Know when things go on sale.  Baking supplies, cream soups, canned soups,  broth, etc. go on sale from November until  Christmas.  Hot dogs, condiments, etc. go on sale around Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day.  Here in Texas, we have items such as Spam that go on sale at the start of hurricane season.

5.  Meal plan around sales.  

6.  Buy the Sunday paper with the coupons.  I have it delivered at my home for $1 a week.

7.  Sign up your Kroger card online.  They will send you their coupons in the mail, or coupons to your e-mail box.  Yesterday, I got a "digital" coupon offer in my box for buy $5 off produce, get $2 off.  

     This is what I did Monday, November 5th.  I find that Kroger has the best overall prices and deals, so I mainly shop there.

1.  I looked at Kroger's sales flier and circled all items that were a great deal.  They were having a "buy 10 participating items, save $5 at the checkout" sale.

2.  I went to, logged in, clicked on "Grocery Deals by State," clicked on the Kroger icon, and clicked "Texas Deals" on the right.  Current Kroger Deals popped up.  I clicked on the left hand side anything that looks like a good deal and that we use.  Then at the bottom, click "Display Selected Deals."  Print.  I also took the time to print out any online coupons that were listed. 

3.  I went to Kroger's website and loaded some of their digital coupons onto my card.  Didn't use them.

4.  Coupon clipping.  I used my deals from to find the coupons in my coupon fliers/booklets.  I write the date on the front of each coupon flier.  Then I use the "code" on the side of the print-out to find the coupon I need -- rather than cut out all the coupons.  So, the print-out looks like this:

10-28 RPDiGiorno Pizza 12.6-34.2 oz
Qualifies for Buy 10 Get $5 Off at checkout, final price after promo savings


The coupon I need for the DiGiorno Pizza is in the 10-28 packet of Red Plum coupons.  I get that packet of coupons out of my folder, find the Digiorno coupon, and clip it.  You'll also get SmartSource and other coupons.  (I do not have time to cut out and organize every coupon.  This way works for me.)

5.  I went through coupons I got from Kroger in the mail and pulled out ones I could use.  They usually send ones that correspond with the sales.

     All this took me about 40 minutes.  I took my list and my youngest son and headed to the store.  As I purchased items from the "Buy 10 get $5 off" sale, I put a tally mark on my list.  I bought 60 of those items.  I spent $94.61.  I saved $86.57 or 47%.  I only used $8.30 in manufacturers coupons -- mostly I took advantage of the loss leaders in the Kroger flier.  Campbells cream of Mushroom and chicken are on sale for 50 cents.  I use this a lot so I bought 10.  Land O' Lakes butter was $1.99 -- I bought 4.  I got a free tube of toothpaste and a free toothbrush.  I put those in our Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts.
     This will take you longer than 40 minutes to start out, but it gets easier.  I think 40 minutes of work to save $86 is not so bad!


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