Saving Money – it sounds both scary and boring…like going on a diet. The grocery bill is probably our single largest fluxuating bill and the toughest to cut back! When I return from the grocery store each week I am amazed at the cost of food and how difficult it can be to not only feed a family, but to do it in a healthy way.
Several years ago I started couponing and figuring out ways to cut costs on our grocery bill. We by no means employ the “Extreme Couponing” tactic that was popular a number of years ago on TV, but not altogether realistic. So, below are some tips on how to save some money at the grocery store with not too much time and effort.
- Use coupons. Buy the regional newspapers on Sunday (Detroit Free Press) – the regional newspapers have higher value coupon amounts. The same product with a .25 coupon in the Kalamazoo Gazette will be .75 coupon in a regional newspaper.
- Organization is key! I have the best luck with a coupon binder. It’s easier when I am at the store to be able to see the coupons rather than sort through a file or envelope. It does take some time to clip and sort coupons. It may take several tries until you find the right coupon system that works for you. Also, if age-appropriate, have your children help cut coupons!
- Learn the lingo. When I first started couponing it took me a while to figure out all of the abbreviations. The Krazy Coupon Lady has a quick break-down of common terms.
- Many companies offer coupons for printing directly off their website. However, in order to access the coupons you need to provide an email/account information. Create a second email account strictly for coupon websites – otherwise your regular email account will become overloaded with newsletters, offers, etc. from each company.
- Sign up for your grocery store digital programs/saver cards – most stores have them. Mperks is a must if you shop at Meijer. Sign up online with a phone number, clip electronic coupons and then enter the number at check-out. Plus, Mperks also offers a reward component to get money back based on purchase totals.
- A handy trick I just recently learned. I can use the Mperks app on my smart phone (find the magnifying glass in the top right corner once in the App) and click on it. It allows you to scan the item’s barcode while at the store and see if there is a current Mperk coupon available.
- Read and keep handy the stores coupon policy. Many times cashiers aren’t aware of the current policy or any recent changes. Most stores don’t let you stack coupons –with some exceptions. For example, at Meijer you can use both a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon on the same item. For example, the Catalina store coupon can be used with the Manufacturer coupon for a total of $2.00 off a Hefty trash bag purchase:
- There are even more ways to save on top of coupons. You can sign up for Ibotta or SavingStar that allow for cash back on purchases.
- Follow Coupon blog websites. They do the match-ups for you, so that will save time. I try to find one that is semi-local and pertinent to the stores I shop. Meijer Madness and Savings Addictions are two I follow regularly – but there are hundreds more! Ask friends and also search local Facebook groups.
- I do end up with quite a few coupons that don’t get used. However, you don’t need to throw away all the coupons that have expired! Contact CouponstoTroops. This program will allow you to ‘adopt’ a military family and send all of your expired/unwanted coupons to them. U.S. military families who are stationed overseas are able to use expired coupons six months past their expiration date.
- Take a closer look at “10 for $10” promotions. A “10 for $10” promotion boosts sales on an item — even if the promotion actually increases the price per item! So always double-check that these specials are truly deals (read the tag below for the everyday price).
Where Do You Grocery Shop?
While the bulk of our family shopping occurs at Meijer – there are a number of other great stores in the area:
Earth Fare recently opened in Portage and has an extensive line of Organic as well as local items. They do take manufacturer coupons too!
Aldi has several locations in the area and offers a line of gluten-free and organic products. Remember when shopping at Aldi – take .25 for the shopping cart (my kids love putting in the quarter and getting it back when we’re done shopping – they think they earned money) and bring your own shopping bags. Aldi only accepts cash, debit or EBT cards. Also, they do not accept coupons. One of my favorite ‘must buys’ at Aldi is Parmesan cheese – our family loves it and I like the price!
A new store I want to check out is The Grocery Outlet Store located in Allegan. They offer discounted groceries on name-brand items. They sell products with close ‘best by’ dates or other products are just surplus or the result of package changes. Check out their Facebook page for updates photos of products in stock.
These are just a few tips to share about ways to save money at the grocery store. With a little time and research, you can find out the system that works for your family. Let us know – what money-saving tips have worked for you?