Saturday, October 1, 2011

Couponing, Menu Planning

So the latest, greatest thing in saving money on groceries are coupons. Now don't get me wrong, I like coupons, but I'm not about extreme couponing at all.

Here's what I do with coupons....We get 2 Sunday papers. I go through the coupons and clip only those coupons for items I already use. The one exception is a new product, that I might like to try.

I think that too many people get sucked in by coupons and buy things they don't want, don't need or won't use.

I put the coupons in a folder, I don't sort them at all.

When the sale ad comes out on Tuesday for the upcoming week, I go over the sale ads and see what's on sale that we use. I make a list and start planning a menu. After that, I check my list against any coupons I might have. That way, I don't use coupons that are for things I don't really need.

One thing that is very important, though....get a "loyalty card" from the store or stores where you normally buy your groceries. In my case, I most often shop Safeway, so I have a Safeway Club Card. Next, go online and sign up with the online club, linked to your loyalty card. In Safeway's case, it's called "Just for U".

Every week they send me an email reminder and every week, I also check out these specials. They add unadvertised specials and also "just for you" specials....special prices that I get, based on prior purchases, for certain items. Load these onto your loyaty card. Load everything that you might possibly use, even if you don't think you will use it. It takes about 2 minutes and that way, if you do decide to pick up something off your list, maybe you'll get a better price anyway.

The loyalty card is a good way to save on produce, which doesn't often go on sale. For example, this week, gala apples are $1.79 a pound. But, using the online coupon from my club card, my price is 79 cents a pound. This is not advertised in the paper, this is not advertised in the store, it's something I can only get, using the club card, as an online deal.

Also, using the club card online, you don't have to play with paper coupons from the ads, so that makes it easier, too.

Whats on sale often determines how I plan my menu. For example, this week oranges are 99 cents a pound and so are green grapes. As mentioned above, I'm also getting gala apples for 79 cents a pound, so that's the fruit I bought. I'll use it for lunches and also with meals.

Meat, fish, chicken will come out of the freezer this week, since there are no great special prices in those departments. I also didn't find any great deals on sides, but Safeway does have a "buy 8, mix and match and save 50 cents" an item, so I did stock up on kraft mac and cheese, a favorite in my house. With the 50 cents off, it came to 69 cents a package, which is a good deal.

One other thing, with coupons. Normally you want to buy the biggest bag, biggest size, because it gives you the lowest per item price. For example, a 5 lb bag of potatoes are $3.99 at Safeway right now, but a 10lb bag is only $1 more or $4.99. So it makes sense to buy the bigger bag and get twice the amount for $1 more.

But, it if you have a good coupon, like a dollar off coupon, it often does better to put it on the smallest size available, because then you are saving more on the per item price. A dollar off the family size of triscuits, for example, might bring the price down from $4.99 to $3.99. But a dollar off the regular size might bring the price down from $2,99 to $1.99, making it a better bargain.

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