For the longest time I was content with making my list for the week and using a coupon here and there for whatever was on my list. I paid no attention to the sales and just concentrated on what was on my list and the fact that my coupons helped to shave $20 or $30 from my bill. That all changed when I realized that when you combined lots of great coupons with even better sale prices you got out of this world savings! I am going to preface today's post by saying this - what I am going to talk about today is something that takes a little work and some cabinet/freezer space, but we have found it to be well worth the effort. I also realize that this will not be a concept that everyone likes...and that's okay! This idea is how my family has started saving a bundle each week and we enjoy the benefits of shopping in this way.
So how do you use sales and coupons to save so much? The answer is....stock piling. The idea behind this one is pretty simple, but it does require some discipline with your shopping. Each week the new sales at Kroger begin on Sunday. I have started doing a walk through of Kroger every Sunday to write down all the major sales so that throughout the week I can begin to look for coupons to match up with these sales. If I don't find a coupon I am looking for in my coupon inserts that come in the paper or on printable coupon websites...I go directly to the manufacturer websites to see if they offer coupons. I exhaust all of my options to try and find a coupon that will match up with a sale that I want to cash in on. Since I am already doing this walk through each week...I will be posting the sales that I find right here on the blog for you to read! There is no reason that we should all be out at Kroger walking the aisles...so look for that post at the beginning of each week :)
Some of you may be asking "why don't you just read the sale ad that Kroger prints each week?" Well as you can imagine when Kroger has a BIG sale (like the one going on right now that requires you to purchase 10 items to save $5.00) they can't possibly print every item in their ad! I have also found that sometimes the best deals are not advertised! It is for this reason that I choose to spend 30 minutes or so at Kroger checking out all the deals for the week and writing them down.
Okay so once you know the deals and you have found all the coupons you can find to match the deals...then what? Well now it's time for the games to begin! Chad and I are so serious about this coupon game that we leave Caeden (our precious, yet very distracting 3 year old!) with Nana and we head to the store alone. We love our child, but when you spend 1-2 hours in the grocery rounding up the deals, he gets bored and it is no fun for any of us. We also head in armed with a cart each and our game faces are on! We move through the aisles very slowly..examining the sale price, matching them to our coupons, and double checking all that with our electronic coupons. I will tell you that I have tried making a list of all the things we want to buy while pulling the coupons out and know exactly how many of each item we want to purchase, but to me that can get confusing. I KNOW what the sales are so it is very easy for me to flip in my book, find the coupon, and then pull the number of items off the shelf that we want to buy. This is easier for me to keep straight in my head, but you may want to know exactly how many of each item you are buying before you get there and that is a-okay! We all have to find a system that makes this as easy as possible for us!
When Chad and I find a great deal and if we have plenty of coupons to pair with the deal...we stock up on that item. Why? Well let me give you this scenario so you can see how we think...
Last week at the grocery (and it is still going on now!) Kroger was having a "Buy 10, Save $5.00" sale. When we got to the cereal aisle we were armed with lots of coupons and we began to match them up with the sales. Most of the Kellogg's cereals were included in this special making them $1.99 if you purchased 10 of the items included in the sale. Included in my Coupon Keeper I had coupons for $1.00 off Cinnabon, Raisin Bran, and Cocoa Krispies. Also included in the sale was Fruit Loops and Rice Krisipes and I had coupons to help me save $.70 on 1 box of Fruit Loops. Chad and I chose to purchase 2 boxes of Cinnabon ($.99 a box), 2 boxes of Raisin Bran ($.99 a box), 2 boxes of Cocoa Krispies ($.99 a box), and 2 boxes of Fruit Loops ($1.29 a box). Combined with the electronic coupons that were loaded on my shoppers card...we purchased 8 boxes of cereal for $7.52!
We choose to purchase items, like cereal, in large quantities when (a) we have coupons and (b) it is on sale and store it up so that it eliminates any reason for us to EVER pay full price for a box of cereal! *Secret Alert* Sales generally run on a 3 month cycle. Kellogg's cereal has been really cheap for the past 2 weeks, but this may be the last time we see it this low for a few months! Now that my family has 8 boxes of our favorite Kellogg's cereals on hand, we will be able to eat this until Kellogg's goes on sale again or another brand of cereal is cheap enough for us to buy 8 boxes :)
The way that we shop should also make it clear why we need so many coupons! If you can get cereal for $.99 a box then you are going to want to cash in on that special as much as possible! Our family purchases 4 or 5 copies of the Sunday paper (depending on the amount of coupons in the paper) and also gather coupons from the mail that friends and family are going to throw away (GASP...I can't stand the thought of money going in the trash like that!). *Secret Alert* I am not sure why I haven't mentioned this before (old age I think..) but we also purchase a monthly magazine called All You and it is full of great coupons! The cover price is around $3.00 and you will certainly get your money back with the coupons it has inside! Check it out the next time you are in the grocery line. Anyway...in order to stock up on necessary items you HAVE to have a large stash of coupons for when the time becomes right to buy. Always make sure you print 2 copies of all printable coupons (from each computer you may have in the home) and start asking friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc. for their coupons if they are not going to use them. It takes a little work, but you will thank yourself for doing it in the end.
This is the way that we are able to put our coupons to work, save big on the sale items, and store items up to eliminate our need to purchase items that are not on sale. So how do we make meals out of "3 boxes of hamburger helper and 2 sticks of deodorant? (my favorite question ever from my dear friend Margaret!)" I will tell you that this is not a process that you can implement in one shopping trip. Chad and I still purchase the basics during our shopping trips because you can't stock pile produce! We do however, stock up on meat when it goes on sale for a good price so that it eliminates our need to pay full price for it when we run out. We recently purchased a deep freezer because we had 2 freezers that were busting at the seams and we needed extra room! My advice to someone who is just getting started with this way of shopping is to match up your coupons with the sales on items that your family uses the most (cereal, toilet tissue, paper towels, crackers, etc.) when these items are at their lowest. Start stocking up on a few sale items each week in combination with the items that you need to feed your family. After you do this for several weeks you won't need as many staple items each week because you will have a growing collection waiting at home for you to use. After awhile you will be in the position that Chad and I are in where we go in the grocery store looking to use our coupons to match with the sales to save a ton while still getting a few fresh fruit and veggies each week as we need them.
Another word of caution that we implement in our home is...always check the dates on the items that you are stocking up on. I told you in an earlier post that 2 weeks ago we purchased 12 cans of Rotel tomatoes for $.33 a can. If we aren't going to USE 12 cans of these tomatoes before they expire then there is no reason to purchase this many (unless you can donate the items and we will talk about that in the next few days). Chad and I realize that we have a limited amount of space so we are very aware of what is a GREAT sale, and what we can hold out on to see if it will become even cheaper in the weeks to come.
The picture above is our temporary home for our over stock grocery items! We have been able to collect this much "extra" food in the course of about 4 weeks and it has cost us between $50-$60!! This is all EXTRA....our pantry and refrigerator is stocked full and we also have our new deep freezer that is growing as well. I have to admit that it is a great feeling to know that if there was ever a time that one of us lost our jobs or if we hit hard times, that we have a growing stock of laundry detergent, hygiene products, and food that we could use to feed our family. The added bonus...we paid hardly nothing for it! I hope that I have explained this process in a way that is clear and makes sense, but if not leave your question below and I will be glad to clear up any confusion! I hope that you are excited by this concept...it will be what saves your family 60-70% each week on your grocery bill :)