Saturday, November 24, 2012

To Coupon...Or Not

To coupon or not has been a decision that I'd been avoiding.  My daughter recently took a class in extreme couponing via the locally based Stretching Your Dollar$ and shared what she learned with me.  Because I buy very few processed and prepackaged foods (thus avoiding an excess of sugar, salt, toxins, chemicals and genetically modified ingredients), extreme couponing doesn't really make much sense for me.  But price matching combined with light couponing - especially those too infrequent coupons for organics - ah, a very different story!

My initial attempt at price matching paid off for me, with close to $55 in savings my first time out.  With a monthly food budget of $350, the savings was substantial!

I looked up grocery ads online and kept a running list of sales, especially for produce (both fresh and frozen) and pantry staples.  Then I opened up my Excel program and created a spreadsheet to track items, sizes, sale price, store and coupons, if any.
Example of my spreadsheet
I used several online databases to find relevant, printable coupons for as many of the items on my list possible, to maximize my savings.

I was able to take the spreadsheet with me, which made it simple to track things both while shopping and while checking out.  I didn't need to have the various ads with me (although store policies vary on this, so be sure to check!).

Some of the best deals that I found included 6 oz of sliced pepperoni (for pizza) at only .50 per package; half gallons of milk for $1.25; a 10 lb bag of russet potatoes for .98; 32 ounces of organic broth for 1.79; Alexia frozen potatoes $2.35 per bag; fresh organic greens $1.50 per bunch; and 1 dozen organic eggs for .99.

I also preserved the last of the harvest season, making chunky applesauce, pumpkin puree, dehydrated and frozen carrots, and slicing and freezing sweet potatoes.  The apples were purchased at Grocery Outlet for .98 per 3 lbs.  The pumpkins, carrots and sweet potatoes were given to me (free) in quantity.

Combining a few coupons with price matching, and preserving the harvest bounty will help us to eat more healthily as well as more often (it can be difficult to afford eating 3 meals, plus 3 snacks per day as ordered by my doctor!).  And the investment that I made in buying a small chest freezer when my kids were teens is still paying dividends.

Do you utilize coupons, price matching or preserving as a way of maximizing your food dollars?  Feel free to share your strategies and stories!


  1. This is great a lot of people believe a myth about couponing, that you can only get junk food or cereal. You can get lots of items, including, healthy/organic, personal hygiene, health, baby, cleaning, household, etc. Also I teach regular coupon classes, not extreme couponing. I use coupons because I need to and it saves me an average of $1,000 per month. I have been able to start buying a lot more healthier options for my family by using coupons and sales. I teach people how the show Extreme Couponing is NOT realistic. :) Thanks, Stretching Your Dollar$

    1. Sorry Amanda - I'm new to the terminology and I guess major couponing just seems extreme to me, lol!
      I can definitely understand the need to maximize the grocery dollars that we have though. For me, my foodstamps allow $2 per meal(based on 30 days per month), per person. When I factor in the 3 snacks each day that my Doctor has ordered, that leaves me with $1.50 per person.
      As to healthy food, for me that doesn't include anything processed/prepackaged, chemical laden, etc - no matter what the manufacturers claim might be. I guess it's a matter of perspective...
      I'm glad that my daughter introduced me to your site though - lots of great info there!

  2. I'll definitely take advantage of stores' 10 for 10 dollars deals and the like. I'll pick up a flier and shop for specific things. One store here has a Meal Deal: Get about four items for a meal for one low price.

    The last one was a Stouffer's frozen lasagna, garlic bread, jug of sweet tea and pack of frozen veggies for $9.99.

    1. Hi Eli! Love your blog & it's so nice seeing you visit mine :)
      I've taken advantage of the 10 for $10 deals a few times, but you have to be careful that they really are a good deal.
      I don't see the 'meal deals' very often, but it would be nice to see ones containing organics, lol!

  3. Cynthia,
    Thanks for this reminder! I'm not a coupon user for the reasons you listed but I do need to check occasionally! I do find that buying the majority of our food from the bulk bins (where you scoop it out yourself) and generic items saves my family the most money BUT the big take away for me is knowing prices.
    Good tips!!

    1. Hi Sara!! Wow! I enjoy your blog too :)
      Lucky you, having a place to buy in bulk! Since my move here, the nearest store with bulk bins is more than an hour away - and in another state.
      There's only one organics/natural store in town and it's very small with very high prices.
      My daughter takes me into Idaho a few times a year and when she does, I try to stock up on basics (flour, legumes, spices, etc) but being on foodstamps limits how much I can buy in advance. It also means that I can't purchase online.
      I'm still hoping that will change as I find ways to bring in more income ;)

  4. My friend is trying to pull me into the coupon world, and being on a frugal budget, I'm slowly being pulled in.

  5. I struggle with this. I need to coupon because we have a large family on a tight budget, but I tend to just shop sales vs. cutting coupons.


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