I have a confession to make: I have become an Extreme Couponer. All the signs are there: I’ve developed a pattern for watching my most lucrative stores for bargains and super deals. I know and use terms like Catalina, MFG, MQs, blinkies, peelies and stacking. And I have no less than five jars of spaghetti sauce in my cabinets. (The big ones — and I paid only $4 for all of them!)
In fact, I have now successfully navigated three ‘super doubles’ couponing events at my local grocery stores! ‘Super doubles’ is when a grocery store doubles coupons, in some cases doubling manufacturer coupons worth up to $2.00. So while I’m by no means an expert in extreme couponing, I AM highly enthusiastic about the impact it has already had on my family’s grocery budget. There are three of us in my little family unit and while our budget has increased some since I landed my dream job as an Administrative Assistant at Midan Marketing, it is certainly not unlimited. Shoppers like me who save by couponing for common household needs and side items will have extra cash to purchase more roasts, ribs and steaks than before!
So far this year (almost the end of January as I write this), I have racked up well over $400 in savings from couponing. That money is allowing me to feed my family a great variety of higher-quality meats AND help out some other folks by either sharing my stockpile or bringing meals to folks in times of stress or illness. Being able to care for my family AND share love and comfort with others without suffering financially is the greatest blessing I receive from couponing.
The Couponing Process
Friday or Saturday I look through the circulars for the stores I frequent. (Yes stores. If you want the best deals, a weekly grocery shop will take you to at least two stores.) From there, I’ll craft my dinner plans based on how the deals line up with my already-clipped coupons. Some weeks there just aren’t tons of deals, and I’ll make a plan based on what I already have on hand to minimize the list.
A quick but exciting example: recently, my local store had name- brand bacon on sale for “Buy 2, Get 3 Free.” Stop and read those words again… I’ll wait. FREE BACON Y’ALL!! I did not have any coupons for this bacon, so I emailed the company’s customer service and asked for some. They sent me four coupons for varying amounts off a variety of their products. So I went to the store, grabbed my five pounds of bacon (FIVE!) and after coupons I paid $11.00. Five pounds of this brand of bacon would normally have cost me about $35 at regular retail price, and I got it for nearly 70% off!
Couponing requires significant planning and researching. When you’re carefully budgeted, walking through the store, keeping a tally of exactly what you’re spending, is tiring enough. On top of that, I have to multiply/add/divide cents and dollars, subtract percentages and compare cost per unit to be sure I’m getting the best deal…I often leave with a little headache!
Cost-conscious shoppers like me have a well-established habit of sticking religiously to their list. It’s key to going into the store and getting a cart full of groceries and household goods for just dollars. I always scope out the meat case for good deals. If there’s a lightning sale on something I’ll grab it, but if it’s just a good deal, I’ll check the sale dates, make note of it and come back to get it on a different trip.
Often I base what meat I’m buying on what side items I’m getting or have stocked at home. Recently there was a new line of ‘pouch’ sauces on sale and heavily couponed (as new items often are) for less than a dollar. One of them was a pot roast sauce for the slow cooker and it just happened that chuck roast was on sale for half price, so of course I snatched both of those up. I even got an extra chuck roast to freeze for later. I have always wondered if there was a coordinated effort when those “matches made in couponing heaven” happen or was it just a happy coincidence?
Right now in my freezer I have two packs of ground beef, a chuck roast, a few packs of chicken breasts and, of course, a bunch of bacon! I’ve not always had the ability in my life to ‘stock up’ on things, so it feels great to have some reserves. Knowing that I’ve stockpiled supplies in case (God forbid) a car breaks down or someone gets sick, without having gone over our regular weekly budget, feels like I’m some kind of superhero!
I have really enjoyed teaching my friends how to use coupons to stretch their budgets. If you have a question about couponing or grocery planning, please ask. I’d like to share as much as I can before I know too much about meat to be considered a regular consumer!