Slash your grocery bill

After going through several pounds of fresh fruit in a single weekend, I calculated how much money we ate in berries, bananas, and apples: at least $20 worth, according to my mental math. The older my three kids get, the harder it is not to blow my food budget!

I’m a natural coupon-clipper, but lately I’ve been trying to improve my game to keep up with my three little piggies. Do you want to slash your grocery bill? Here are five suggestions:

1. Become a coupon convert.

Coupons are no longer relegated to the Sunday paper, although there is still plenty of value to be had within old-fashioned circulars. Online and mobile coupons are taking over a much larger section of my coupon box these days. I often print them from coupons.com and redplum.com. But retailers such as Whole Foods, Target, and Cub also have printable coupons on their sites. The Blue Sky Guide is a family favorite as well.

Say I want a coupon for a frequent buy. Then I’ll head to a coupon clipping service such as thecouponclippers.com. You pay them pennies on the dollar to clip a dozen or two coupons, but if it’s for a household must have, it’s worth spending $3 for a bundle of 50 cent off coupons.

2. Stack your savings.

I always try to pair store sales with coupons to get the best price. For example, I just scored two jars of pasta sauce for a total of $1.50 when I used a store coupon and manufacturers coupon to double the deal.

There are several websites designed to link you to online coupons (the sites usually earn a few pennies when you click on an affiliate link) and help you craft the smartest shopping list. I often visit Maple Grove mom Carrie Rocha’s pocketyourdollars.com. I also frequent dealseekingmom.com because I like her searchable coupon database.

3. Be a joiner.

Most every retailer and brand under the sun has a Facebook page, a website stuffed with recipes, tips and promotions, or a loyalty club. If you become a fan or register online, then you’ll be in the know about coupons and other offers that can save you big money. If you’re leery about getting a lot of email, open up a separate address just for this purpose. Consider joining Twitter as well. Many companies craft special deals just for their “tweeps.”

4. Craft a price list.

How do you know when a sale is a steal? You consult your price list. Take 10 to 20 of your household staples and make a point to price them at each store where you shop. Pay attention to unit price so you can easily compare that 12 oz cereal box with the super-sized family one (the biggest box isn’t always the cheapest).

I was shocked when I learned that the jar of yeast we use for our bread machine cost 50 percent more at one store than another. By making note of these prices and updating them on occasion, you will know where to stock up on certain items.

5. Read the rules.

Every store has different rules for coupon use. Cub Foods, for example, will take expired coupons for at least three months. Rainbow Foods has been doubling five coupons up to $1 in value on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Familiarize yourself with the nuts and bolts of each retailers’ coupon program to make sure you’re not letting any savings slip through your fingers.


Kara McGuire is a personal finance writer and a St. Paul mother 
of three. Send comments, questions and story ideas to 
kmcguire@mnparent.com.