There is an interesting discussion going on over at BoingBoing about coupons and how much they aren’t worth the effort. Now, the girl given in the short example post isn’t very realistic… sorry Christy. For one, she does her couponing at seven stores, primarily Publix, and even with coupons they’re often significantly more expensive than (my favorite) Kroger, although sometimes they have FABULOUS deals and I snatch them up too.
So, the down and dirty plan for grocery shopping that has been successful for me goes something like this:
*Buy 2 copies of the Sunday Paper – If you buy them on Sunday, you can buy the doubles for less money.
*Go to Couponmom.com on Monday and access the List for Kroger, Publix, and CVS. Check the running list of what I need against the sales prices and coupons I have for them.
NOTE: Couponmom lists the week of the circular for the coupons, so I never clip them before I need them. I use a 3 hole punch and keep the circulars in chronological order in a binder until I need them.
*Check the coupon blogs for tips on printable coupons for sale items that will make the price free or next to free.
*Check my Miscellaneous Coupons pouch for any coupons I’ve received in the mail with my free samples.
*Do a quick Google search for any printable coupons for items on the list that I need but don’t have a coupon for.
All of the gathering probably takes me an hour total. Then,
*I print the list for each store and put all of the coupons I need in the envelope for that store with the list.
*Mentally map my route to make one circle and not waste gas.
*Go to Publix and ONLY get what is on the list. – 10 minutes
*Go to Kroger and ONLY get what is on the list. – 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the checkout line.
*Go to CVS and ONLY get what is on the list. – 5 to 10 minutes.
As a general rule, I can feed my family of 5 on $75 to $80 a week, including all toiletries and miscellaneous household items. It takes me roughly 2 to 2 1/2 hours per week, including the shopping itself. This saves me a LOT of time. Before I shopped with a list and did my research before leaving the house, I made 3 to 4 trips to the store every week to pick up forgotten or needed things. I also ended up spending lots of extra money on impulse buys.
No additional expenditures on gas because I plan my route to maximize fuel economy. I also don’t have to make those emergency runs to the store during the week anymore, so I am actually SAVING money on gas. I shop for gas at the grocery store, so I don’t have to make extra trips to stop for that either.
Happy Dance Note: Yesterday I was out and about and stopped at Kroger just because I had cereal coupons. I got 4 boxes of Honey Bunches of Oats and 2 bunches of bananas for $.94 …behold, the power of coupons.