If you are on the North East – Happy SNOW DAY! Yesterday was the only full snow-day we got this winter in MD, so you can say we loved it.
Since I have a minute to plan my next grocery trip, I want to share something that I've taken up over the past two years... Coupon-ing and planning our week in meals. It has definitely made a difference in our budget and in our bellies. I don’t have some crazy step-by-step process and I certainly don’t stick to a schedule (I wish that I could) because life is busy and even hectic at times. Maybe you can relate? Between putting my family first, work, ministry, friends, etc.. health is definitely a priority but, at times you have to do what you can in the season that you’re in – right?
So, I modify my process and my goals with this in each season.
Here are a few things that have helped me so I can help you get started on your saving journey if you’re up for the challenge!
To start your process:
- This site: thriftynomads will help you figure out what system is best for you, and help you with what materials you’ll need. (I have a big filer that I keep all coupons and coupon books in, and a smaller filer which I found for $3 at Target that I carry with me and keep current coupons for that week in.)
- These gals tell you EVERYTHING you need to know about your favorite store's coupon policies AND how to get the best deals there AND other tips & deals: thekrazycouponlady
- This is my go-to coupon site: coupons.com
These apps are a MUST:
Cartwheel (Target's Saving APP)
Hip2Save - Find everything you need to know about most drug stores & Target. She also posts awesome daily deals.
KrazyCouponLady - Find anything and everything you need to know.
Ibotta - A rebate app | Where you get money back for buying certain products at your fave stores.
Checkout 51 - A rebate app
A Few Fave Tips:
Carve out time in your week before you head to the grocery store to outline a general meal plan for the week (this helps tremendously when narrowing down your grocery list and saves you time during your week). This will initially take you more time when you first start until you get the hang of it and figure out what works best for you.
Have a goal of what percentage you want to save, and unless you have a lot of time – I would start small and build your way to your ultimate goal. I started with a 30% goal and then was consistently saving 50-60% each trip! It is possible to save and still get the products you want.
Get to know your store! The employees (this is huge because sometimes us coupon-ers can have a bad rep), the store layout, their weekly deals & sale schedule, and your favorite store to save at. My faves are Safeway (their savings app is AMAZING) and Target of course (between Cartwheel app, specific Target coupons, and manufacturer coupons, you can save a ton).
Find someone who is doing it better than you and learn as much as you can from them! I was blessed to have two veterans go before me and teach me all of the tricks. And I could ask my embarrassing questions.
You can also start saving immediately by going with the produce that’s in season and looking for discounted items in your store! Safeway places 50% off tags on a lot of their items that expire soon or haven’t sold – but you can easily freeze meat and use it at a later time.
Lastly, decide if you want to print coupons or sign up to get your local newspaper – OR you can do both! I do both.
Let's plan out our shopping list real quick & then come with me on a typical Grocery Trip --
My season is a little crazy all over the place right now so, I usually take about 30 minutes throughout my week to: plan a rough schedule for our meal ideas, cut coupons, and check weekly deals that go with my plan (sometimes I plan other meals based on deals that week/what’s in season). If my week is super busy, I plan to get some good frozen meals & quick snacks we can easily grab.
Then, I get my coupons ready and put them in my little filer – If I’m going to both Safeway and Target, I’ll separate the coupons for both.
Next I map out my best time to go that week (last week that was late Saturday night).
PRETEND WE ARE AT THE STORE:
- I like to start at the same end of the store & make my way to the other every time. That way, I know where each item is located and I plan my list in the order each item is. This cuts on time.
- My phone has open: Cartwheel app and Safeway App so I can remember what the deals are, I have my notes open where I typed my grocery list and what coupons I had for each item. Lastly, I have my calculator open so I can add up each item and get my total.
- If I’m shopping at Safeway, I start in the produce. I typically don’t have coupons for this, but Safeway has different deals each week. Normally I’ll get a big thing of organic spinach which is only $5 at Safeway and sometimes they have coupons in their app that make it cheaper – so I add the produce to my calculator and continue down the aisles I need.
- I get to the paper towel/toilet paper aisle. I don’t stock up on everything, but I do keep a stock pile on things we always need like: paper towels, toilet paper, laundrey deteregent, dish soap, shampoo & conditioner, body wash… etc. We love good toilet paper but we’re not picky about it. For instance, this week, a 4 pack of Angel Soft is on sale for $1.50, plus I have a manufacturer coupon for $1 off a 4 pack of Angel Soft, and on top of THAT - Safeway App (JustforU) has a coupon for $.50 off – so BOOM – it’s free. I can’t pass that up. So, I get it and add it to my toilet paper collection. I could keep talking deals all day but basically what I’m telling you is that you will save more money in the long run if you snag the amazing deals as they come on products that you know you will constantly be using.
- When I’m ready for check out, I take out the coupons that I won't use & get my pile ready. Also, I’ll double check deals (because I’m notorious for not paying attention to the details or the exact products that the coupons are for).
- Lastly, I double check the receipt in the car. I am human and sometimes I make mistakes on the items & coupons I thought I had, but a couple of times I’ve caught mistakes that they’ve made so I’ve gone back in and got money back.
- My last trip I saved 32% which is around my goal during this season. YAY!!!
I promise you, couponing does not have to be complicated or crazy time consuming. I still get organic products sometimes, gluten free every now and then, and we get more than enough of what we need. I also find it relaxing because it helps me decompress after a long day. Let me know if you have any questions as you begin your coupon journey or continue on it!
Photography by Nikki Kauzlarich