The economy has tanked. Is still tanking. And you have a family to feed. But prices – gas prices, utility prices, and especially food prices – are soaring. I just saw today that from this time last year, butter prices are up 27%, ground beef 6.5%, potatoes 7%, coffee 16%, and cheddar cheese 9%. So to be able to pay your mortgage, fill up your car, and keep the heat going, you cut back on life’s so-called luxuries. When that’s not enough, you cut back on what you buy – or how much you buy – at the grocery store.
And that’s crummy, because you’re a foodie.
And you like to cook.
And above all, you like to eat.
In fact, you have to eat.
So how do you manage?
Well, I coupon. You probably do too.
But how do you coupon? Do you cut out coupons, and then use them only when you remember to bring them to store? Or do you actively plan your grocery trips based on the coupons you have? Or are you in between?
Remember to bring them <———————–> Plan your trip around coupons
I’m somewhere in between, but much closer to to the side that plans a grocery list based on what coupons I have. And more importantly, I plan based on using the coupons that I have to buy what’s on sale. Thus, I save the most money.
No, I don’t shop at the bargain grocery. And no, I don’t buy generic.
I buy brands and save even more than if I bought generic.
Being a foodie, I’m partial to certain foods. Rotel Tomatoes, for instance. I use them in salsa, chili, soups, pasta sauces, and more. Usually they cost anywhere from .62¢ to .79¢ a can at the store, but if you can find it on sale for less – they were on sale for .42¢ at Kroger a few weeks ago – and then use a coupon for say, .30¢, you can buy that can for .12¢! Which brings me to my next point:
I buy as many items on sale that I have coupons for.
Every week, I buy at least 2 extra newspapers for their coupon inserts. Sometimes more, depending on what I know will be in those inserts each Sunday. I make a lot of soups in the winter, so it makes sense to buy as many cans of Rotel at .12¢ as possible. My sister-in-law started me on the Grocery Game a couple of years ago, and the theory behind “playing”the Grocery Game (or just being a frugal, wise shopper!) is to stockpile grocery items when they are at their lowest price. Retailers operate on cycles – think: winter coats on sale in August, and bathing suits on sale in February – so it makes sense that grocery stores would do the same.
Butter, cheese, meat, laundry detergent, pet food, and most other grocery items will go on sale every 12 weeks. I buy as much of those that I need to get me through at least those 12 weeks. If you pay attention, use the Grocery Game, Coupon Mom, or Southern Savers (I live in the South), you’ll see that coupons usually are published prior to the grocery store sale for that particular item. Often, Grocery Store A will have the item on sale one week, and Grocery Store B will have it on sale the following week. So….
I buy at several different stores to get the lowest prices.
Certain stores offer deals on certain items pretty consistently. While most groceries sell cosmetics, shampoos, razors, toothpaste, Walgreens or CVS sell more of those items because they make up a larger percentage of their much smaller inventories. Therefore they can mark down those items more often, and at deeper discounts. Likewise, you can buy ice cream at CVS, but a grocery sells more of it, so the grocery will knock off extra just to get you in to the store.
I go where the discounts are.
And that saves me money. I shop at one grocery that tracks my savings using store sales AND coupons, and prints out my total year’s savings at the bottom of every receipt. My last receipt in December showed that I had saved over $1500 in 2010. That’s only for that chain!
Saving that $1500 made me feel better about buying – still a very good deal – a $4.99 bag of black wild rice at Trader Joe’s last month. The $1.99 bag of “luxury” vanilla beans at Jungle Jim’s last week too…
I like cooking with those luxury items. Further, I like that I can afford to buy them from time to time, knowing that I’ve saved $$$ on my necessities.
See? You can save money and still eat like a gourmand!
Tomorrow: My coupon book