Sunday, May 29, 2011

Not so Extreme Couponing...

My friend, Holly over at When Two Became Four reminded me that I have never blogged about my money saving experiences while grocery shopping when she blogged about her experiences last week. I am no Extreme Couponer and actually, I rarely watch that show cause it stresses me out. Anybody that knows me knows that hoarding gives me panic attacks! I don't see buying 150 boxes of cereal if you have 460 at home already, unless you are giving it to a charity, which I have only seen a couple of people on that show say they do. I do not go and buy 10 papers like some people do. We suscribe to the paper and I print coupons online. That's what works for me at this time, so that's what I do.

I also use E-mealz to plan my meals. I pay $15 every 3 months and they plan a menu(meat and sides or a soup or an easy/crockpot meal) with grocery list, based on sales. All I do is print it out, put my coupons with it and go! Sometimes I will replace the sides if I have lots of frozen vegetables on hand or if I don't like what they have as a side. I always have frozen veggies or rice or potatoes on hand so it's not that hard for me to find something to replace it with. Sometimes there are meals that I just don't want to fix, so I will use something out of our freezer or I will buy a pizza or we'll go out that night. For $5/month, you can't beat it. I am not a person that likes to have the same menu every week and I love trying new things so this is the best option for me and we have really been pleased with 95% of the things I've fixed, and I've used this plan for probably 2 years.

To make my couponing easier, I have 2 coupon organizers. One for FOOD items and one for NON-FOOD items. I sit down once a week, with my grocery list from E-mealz. I go to I Heart Publix is a blog I follow that matches up the weekly sales ad with all of the coupons that are available to match. Publix is my store of choice because they double coupons, the store is clean, the employees are all so very helpful, they always load my groceries onto the conveyor belt and always ask twice if I want help out with my groceries. Alan went with me one time and we were buying milk that was on sale and the shelf was empty so I asked the guy loading yogurt if they had any and he went to the back and got some. Alan said "They actually stop what they're doing to go to the back for you?" and I said "That's one of the many reasons I shop here!"

So anyway, I retype my grocery list in a spreadsheet so I can add in what coupons I have and what I expect to pay and at the bottom it totals up my whole grocery list. Over-organized? Sure, but at least I know about what I should be paying when I check out. The E-mealz list is already a spreadsheet with room to write but I like having the total and everything being really neat. I will first retype my E-mealz list, taking out any replacements that I have made and adding in everyday things I need. I also have that list broken down into categories like "Frozen, Dairy, Meat, Health Care/Groceries" to help me not wander around the store 20 times. In the middle is a spot for me to type what coupons I have. I will put (2).40, $1, 2/$2 or whatever. However many coupons I have, I will type that exact thing so when I am shopping and pulling coupons out, I make sure I have the right amount. The right column is "Expect to pay". I will take the amount of the item, minus the coupons I have and subtract it. So if it's a $2 item and I have a $1 coupon, I will put $1 in the "Expect to Pay" column. Then at the very bottom, I have the total of the whole list. After I retype my list, I will go to and go through their list. If that item is at it's best price, they will put a check mark by the item. So even if I may not need more Cole's Garlic Bread, if I have a coupon for it, I'm going to stock up on it while it's at the best price. I will go through the entire list, adding stockpile items and matching up my coupons with my E-mealz menu and print it out! I put all the coupons I'm going to use in an envelope and I'm off to the store! I also carry another empty envelope with me to transfer coupons over. I also carry my coupon organizers with me in case I see something that wasn't in the ad or something that was on clearance or if I just plain forgot to add it to my list. As I put items in the buggy, I will pull the coupons from my "Publix" envelope and put in my "Using" envelope so I don't keep thumbing through the same coupons. It sounds all complicated but it's actually really easy! I've seen people at Publix with baseball card binders in their buggies flipping through. I don't want to be in the store that long and I don't want to drag a 10 pound binder with me either. Like I said before, this is what works for me. And what may work for me, may not work for anyone else.

Still awake? :) With all that said, Publix is having a great sale this week so I'm going to share some of my grocery list with ya'll. Anything with a * is a stockpile item.

*Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce-BOGO $2.35-coupon for $1/2 = $1.35 for 2 bottles or .68 each.
Kelloggs Raisin Bran- BOGO $4.29-coupon for $1/2 = $3.29 for 2 or $1.65 each
*Lawry's Marinade- BOGO $3.15- coupon for .50 = 1 bottle for .58
Luigi's Italian Ice - BOGO $3.19- coupon for .50 = 1 box for .59
All Laundry Detergent - BOGO $5.99 - coupon for $1 = $1.99 a bottle
Lance Cracker creations - 2/$4 - coupon for $1 = $1 a box
*Sunlight Dishwashing liquid - 10/$10 - coupon for .25 = .50 a bottle

I will post my totals tomorrow evening after shopping. I am expecting to pay under $65 for my menu for the week plus a lot of filler items(toilet paper, makeup, shampoo/conditioner, vitamins, etc). I had to guess on prices for a lot of those items since none are on sale at Publix this week. That's pretty high for a typical week but it seems like we ran out of a lot of our basic things! I usually spend $35-$50. I try to usually stop by Big Lots to see what's on their clearance rack. I racked up for our beach trip, finding 4 pack Gatorade for $1.35 and lots of crackers and snacks for $1 each. I also try to stop by ALDI for our fruits and veggies since they are a lot cheaper most of the time. I will also take in my grocery list and compare prices. If I can get an item at ALDI or Big Lots for cheaper than I can at Publix with a coupon, I will buy it at that place instead and mark it off my list.

Sorry this turned out so long but it was long overdue. Lots of people ask me how I spend so less on groceries and some people even giggle when I say I coupon or say that I'm cheap... I say, why pay full price for something if you can save money? The most important thing for me is not taking Alan shopping. He tends to impulse shop and that's the worse. When I go, I stick to my list. It also sounds like I spend hours getting my list together and 3 hours shopping. It usually takes me about 30 minutes to get my list and coupons together. I typically spend 30 minutes or so in Publix. About 15 minutes in Big Lots and 15 minutes in ALDI so I'm back home within the hour. I hope this helps someone who is looking to coupon or motivates you to coupon sometimes. I am no where near as good as some people but I do what I can without spending 2 hours putting my coupons together and going to 3 different grocery stores. If you have any advice, please share! I'm always open to suggestions!

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