So, you have a few in your hand and you are ITCHING to use them, aren’t you? However, it isn’t wise to just go out and buy everything you have a coupon for. Here is the best way to actually use these to your advantage.
Follow the lead of the Boy Scouts — BE PREPARED. You can’t make dinner without having your ingredients or wrap a gift without tape, scissors or paper, can you? The same applies to purchasing your groceries. You have to have a list…..a plan of action. So, let’s discuss that next!
PLAN YOUR MEALS. You can do this weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly. However, I recommend to just plan them weekly. You can work up towards longer planning at a later time if you want. BUT, if you plan them weekly, you can save EVEN MORE money!
Get the weekly sales ad for the grocery store where you normally do your shopping. Look it over and see what food items are on sale. Is roast on sale? Sounds like a nice time to toss one into the crockpot with some carrots and potatoes! How about chicken breasts? Maybe some Chicken Parmesan will grace your table this week. Whatever it may be, try to choose at least one item that is on sale.
I don’t want you to just plan based upon those ads though. You also need to “go shopping” in your pantry. See what you already have on hand. Have some angel hair pasta? Great — get those chicken breasts, bread crumbs, mozzarella cheese and spaghetti sauce and you’ve just created that great Chicken Parmesan meal!
MATCH UPS. I am of course a mom. One of my daughter’s favorite games is memory. You all know how that goes — you try to find the matches, right? Well, the same thing applies to your weekly ads and coupon stashes.
Look over the ad and try to match up any coupons you may have and purchase the item. I recommend doing this if it is something you can freeze, eat within the week or has a long shelf life. Obviously, if you have a coupon for something that will spoil quickly, it makes no sense to use the coupon simply because the item is on sale, does it? You may as well just throw that cash right into the trash can.
I do try to hold onto my coupons as it seems that many times, once you see the coupon that it means someone, somewhere is probably going to have it on sale. That being said, I don’t just hoard them in dire hopes I can save another $0.50 on something either. The point is to try to save money. And of course, as much as it as possible.
Keep in mind that I will help you with this step as I do the matchups for Hy-Vee, Hen House and Price Chopper each week.
SHOP FULL. Ever gone shopping when you are hungry, get home and wonder why you have so much “junk” to put away? Well, to avoid that, just shop after you have eaten. Shopping on a full stomach helps avoid so many impulse purchases that you make simply out of hunger.
SHOP ALONE. I have kids (and a hungry husband). If they go with me, I end up with many “Mom, can I get this” or “Honey, this looks good” items in my cart, which in turn increases my spending. When I go alone, I stick to my list or throw in only items that I find a great sale/coupon match-up that we can use. And of course, getting some time to myself isn’t a bad perk either!
You are probably sitting there thinking — Wow – this is so much work, I don’t think I can (or want) to do this. That is why I am telling you to start small. Take it easy and don’t do it all at once. You can start by trying to do your meal planning 3 meals at a time rather than a full week’s worth. Do what works best for YOU! There is no reason to rush into this. Take your time. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day!!