I’ve discovered that often when people want to start grocery deal shopping (or couponing as it’s often called), they feel at a loss to know where to start. In fact, it’s not uncommon for me to get comments from people who read my weekly What I Spent & Saved posts saying things like, “I’d love to get the great deals that you do, but I don’t know how to do it” or “I really want to save money on groceries like this, but I don’t have time to print coupons.”
I’m not going to try to say that grocery deal shopping is a total piece of cake and takes no extra time, because that is simply not true. It does take time and there is a bit of a learning curve. At the same time, it really isn’t super difficult- especially once you learn a few of the basics.
How I Plan my Coupon Deal Grocery Trips
Before I start, I feel like I should clarify that this process basically only shows how I plan the deal part of my grocery shopping. Obviously, I also purchase other things too. You know, the basic grocery items that you need to put together meals and keep your pantry and household supplies stocked. Things like spices, potatoes, rice etc.
I typically take a quick look through my kitchen cupboards, pantry and fridge to take stock of what I have. I also keep a running grocery list of basic household items that I need to buy. My method for many things is to simply add it to my grocery list as soon as I open one from the cupboard/pantry. For instance, if I open a box of tissues, then I’ll add that to my list so that I can replenish it. There are exceptions, and I’ve kind of learned what things I need to do this religiously with and what things I can get a little lax on. And sometimes I totally forget to do it and end up running out too! Yup, I really am human. 🙂
But if you are wondering how I plan the deal part of my shopping trips, here you go!
1. Visit Coupon Match-up Blogs
One of the biggest tips that I have when it comes to deal shopping, is to visit coupon match-up blogs. When I sit down to plan my grocery shopping trips, the very first thing I do is visit my two favorite coupon match-up blogs, FortheMommas.com and CouponCuttingMom.com. These blogs save me so much time by doing all the hard work of matching up available coupons with sale items. Basically I can go to their site, select the store I want, and see a list of all the current deals for that store.
Here’s an example:
(Image courtesy of FortheMommas.com)
Here you see how these blogs layout their deals. They’ll list the item and then beneath that, any coupons or other offers such as Extra Bucks that are available for that item. The Blue Diamond coupon is an example of how printable coupons are listed. The L’Oreal coupon is from the Red Plum (RP) that was in the 7/12/15 Sunday newspaper coupon inserts. You’ll also notice that when you buy 2 L’Oreal Mascara, you get $5 in Extra Bucks (ECBs- CVS coupons that you can then use on a future purchase).
Tip: There are literally hundreds of blogs that do coupon match-ups and all couponers have their favorites. To find a coupon blog that covers the stores you shop at, Google something like “coupon matchups Giant (or whatever the store name is)” or “CVS (or whatever the store name is) store deals”.
I love For the Mommas because they covers the stores I shop at and update throughout the week with new deals as they find them. They also tend to be super thorough. I love Coupon Cutting Mom because she’s more local to my area, and therefore gets a lot of the same Sunday newspaper coupons that I do. She also occasionally will list a deal in her match-ups that For the Mommas missed. She also often updates throughout the week with a picture of her grocery shopping trip, as well as how she did her deals, which I find that very helpful too!
2. Make my Deal List and Print Coupons
I know there are lots of nicer looking, techier options, but I still prefer creating my grocery deal list by jotting it down myself, using a simple piece of paper. As I peruse the deals, I make note of the ones that I want to do, categorizing them by store. I also list the coupons that I want to use with each deal, as well as any other savings such as rebates or store coupons such as CVS Extra Bucks.
As I list the deals that I want to do, I typically print any coupons that plan to use as well, simply because it helps me stay more organized and saves me time. I also check and make sure that any Ibotta (currently has a $10 sign up bonus!), Checkout 51 or Saving Star offers that I want to use, are activated.
3. Skim the Flyers
Even though the deal sites do an excellent job of collecting deals, I’ve learned that it is still good to do a quick scan of the store flyers as I make my shopping list. Almost every week I find at least one item that I want to purchase that wasn’t in the coupon match-ups on the blogs. Often it’s things that are simply a good buy without coupons, which is why it probably wasn’t listed on the coupon match-up sites.
4. Organize my Coupons
After I have figured out what deals I want to do, I collect all the coupons that I plan to use and organize them so that when I’m at the store it’s easy to find exactly the ones I need. Again, my system is basic.
I have a little coupon binder that stays in the Scout Tote that I use as my purse when I go grocery shopping. (I love my Scout bag by the way. All the side pockets make it so handy for staying organized when I’m out and about.) In the very front there is a bigger slot and that is where I keep the coupons that I plan to use that week. My favorite “trick” is to paper clip the coupons together by store. It’s such a simple thing, but it really makes it so much easier to grab, plus it keeps them all nicely together too. No more loose coupons falling out of my hand while I’m shopping!
And that’s it! I’m now all set to go do my deal shopping!
Missed the other posts in this series? Here they are!
* Our $200 Grocery Budget: Why We Do It
* Our $200 Grocery Budget: The Importance of Stockpiling
* Our $200 Grocery Budget: How to Start Building a Grocery Stockpile
* Our $200 Grocery Budget: How a Price List Saves Money
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