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5 Simple Grocery Tips

This week was a low couponing week. Last week, after returning from vacation, I did a big shopping week at WalMart getting baby food, formula, and a ton of things we were out of, and while it was nice to get it all done in one shot, the trip didn't yield any huge savings. I was feeling pretty ashamed of myself for being out of the couponing loop for nearly a month.

Then, after doing a Freezer inventory, I planned our meals for this week using a great menu planning form from Money Saving Mom. So after tons of distracted, broken up planning, I had planned my shopping trips to stay within our current $30 food budget. I was hitting my last stop in the store when something incredibly cool happened. A lady new to couponing approached me with questions!

At first, I was totally embarrassed at my lack of organization and the fact that I wasn't getting the usual 50-60% savings I usually do and mentioned that to her. Well, she was just thrilled with the few tips I had! I don't feel that I'm the biggest couponing pro around, but I guess I just take for granted what little information some people have. So I wanted to throw together a list of my best tips for this week.

1. Do a freezer/pantry inventory! I was so shocked at what I had that I was entirely oblivious to in my freezer, and what I had taking up space that had already gone bad. Yesterday, I just wrote it down on notebook paper, but my goal is to create a binder with a running inventory, along with weekly and even monthly meal plans--so keep checking back as I'll be blogging about this as I go!

2. It's not what you save, it's what you spend!! I won't say I don't get excited to see how much I've saved, but sticking to your budget is the most important thing. Today, I used only 3 coupons but I was also $3 under budget and have everything I need for this week and then some, WITHOUT making a huge dent in my pantry.

3. Combining coupons and sales does not ALWAYS save you the most money. It's one of the couponing myths that skeptics buy into. It's USUALLY not true, but sometimes, it is. Today, I had a coupon for Pillsbury Crescent rolls, and the store brand was still 20 cents cheaper. Instead, I bought a roll of 6 biscuits for 56 cents, which saved me even more, since I just needed rolls for one meal. This is why it is extremely important to compare prices and cost per unit when you're buying something specific for your menu.

4. Leave your coupons behind! If you're not likely to use it before the expiration date, someone else might be able to. I have found coupons left on shelves that I've been very grateful for. At WalMart, someone left a $5 off a Schick Hydro razor, and there was one package left with a coupon for a free Schick Hydro Shave Gel. So I got hubby both for $1.64, that's cheaper than the shave gel by itself! So be sure to leave your soon to expire coupons in plain sight in front of the product.

5. Use your store website's printable grocery lists. My two grocery stores, Weis and Martin's, have this feature on their websites. You can browse the sale ads, click on the items you want to purchase or add your own, and it will print out the list of items, their sale price, and organize the list by aisle. As a bonus, it is also linked to and will print any coupons available for the items you've selected. I can't tell you how much easier this makes my grocery trips.