Grocery Store Coupon Tips For Saving Money (I Saved $53!)

And now for a post about saving money. Because the loot we save on food = more money to spend on paint & projects. I figured since I recently divulged my 2011 goal to figure out coupons and save more money this year, I should share a little coupon-related update for anyone else who’s as desperate to turn paper clippings into dolla dolla bills as I am. So here it is:

I saved $53 at the grocery store!!! Coupons really do work!!!!

Pardon all the shouting. I’m just really excited. I am definitely far from an “expert” on the subject (I just started trying to navigate the crazy coupon world a few weeks back) but here’s what I learned in the simplest of terms. Because I was a coupon dummy. Still kind of am. So I need things to be explained to me slowly. Preferably with lots of pictures and in a soothing and nurturing tone. Yup, I’m high maintenance like that.

Tip Numero Uno: You save the most money when your store (we shop at Kroger) matches coupons (ours does up to 50 cents) and when you can use a manufacturer’s coupon (like the ones you find in the paper or online) combined with store coupons or sales. For example, if Kroger has organic milk marked down by $1 and I have a manufacturers coupon for 50 cents off and Kroger matches that, a gallon of organic milk that’s normally $3 will only be $1 (because I’d score $2.00 off thanks to the store’s $1 off sale and the matched fifty cent coupon).

Not bad right? That stuff really adds up when you’re shopping for a fair amount of things (which has always been the way John & I do it, we usually do one major shopping trip every 2-3 weeks). It keeps us from spending a lot of money on impulse buys (which would occur more frequently and cost us more money if we hit the store more often for smaller trips). But I’m rambling. Back to more of my novice coupon tips.

Tip Numero Dos: If you use coupons for things you don’t eat (or just get stuff because it’s on sale) you’re still losing money, wasting time, and giving up valuable space in your house that could better be used to store other things. So even if that bag of chips is 40 cents, if you don’t normally buy chips but get all crazy at the idea of big savings you’re on a slippery coupon slope. My big rule is that I only clip (or print) coupons for things that our family already eats or would like to try. We prefer organic produce and organic dairy along with basics like pasta, bread, cereal, granola, etc. It’s not always as easy to find coupons for those things, but they do exist! And thanks to Kroger (where we have a Kroger savings card, which also offers occasional discounts on those items when you scan the card at the register) we’ve been able to save a substantial amount of money. Our last trip was our best savings ever (did I mentioned we saved $53?!!!!! oh I did. sorry, I’m just excited).

Along with picking up the Sunday paper for the bevy of coupons hiding inside (along with a Kroger weekly sale flier), here are some of the online stops that I make to find coupons that I can print or even load directly onto my Kroger card (how Minority Report is that?!).

  • This is my favorite coupon site. I click the Kroger tab and the Target tab to see what’s going on (they have other stores in case you’re not a Kroger person)
  • This is where I go within that site to load things onto my Kroger card
  • I also check out this site for printable coupons
  • And this one
  • And this one
  • This site is nice because it has links to a few of my favorites (some of them already listed above) in one spot
  • I also drop by this site just to see what’s going on there
  • And this one
  • And this one
  • And this one

Resist the urge to get overwhelmed though! I probably get 90% of my coupons from the top four bullets above, so there’s no need to go crazy and bookmark a million sites like I did. I just had to experiment with a bunch of them to find my favorites (aka: those top four).

Other than those two tips above, there really isn’t one big trick that helped me save tons of money. I just clipped coupons on and off for two weeks (just for things we actually need/use/eat), wrote our shopping list carefully (being sure to note how many of each item we needed for the maximum savings) and even loaded some coupons onto my Kroger card online before going into the store (thanks to this site). We spent around $160 for 2-3 weeks worth of groceries for John, Clara, and I (we walked out with over nine giant reusable bags full of stuff, and according to the receipt we purchased 77 items). And we saved $53! And that was on things like two four-packs of organic baby yogurt for Clara, two half-gallons of organic milk, organic eggs, organic produce like bananas & avocados & and peppers, and basics like whole wheat bread, wheat pasta, granola bars, cereal (and goodies like dark chocolate and ice cream). It felt so good! Here are a few more specific examples of exactly how our coupons combined with an in-store sale to save us the most money:

  1. We got two YoBaby Organic Yogurt 4-Packs, which were originally selling for $2.69 (which calculates to a total of $5.38). But Kroger had them marked down for 60 cents off each one (bringing each one down to $2.09) and then we had a “buy one 4-pack, get the second one free” coupon from the manufacturer, which made our total for both 4-packs just $2.09 (for a savings of $3.29).
  2. We got an 8 oz bag of Gorton’s grilled shrimp that was originally $5.99. But Kroger was having a special $3 off promotion so it was only $2.99. And we had a manufacturers coupon for $1 off which means that our bag of shrimp cost just $1.99 (for a savings of $4).
  3. We got a box of FiberOne Granola Bars that were originally $2.49. But Kroger had them on sale for $1.50 off (which made the box just 99 cents) and we had loaded a FiberOne e-coupon onto our Kroger card (thanks to this site) for 50 cents off, so we paid just 49 cents for the box of FiberOne granola bars.

Of course these are our best buys that we’re highlighting, so not everything that we purchased was that discounted. Not even close. So don’t get down on yourself if you save 20 cents here and 50 cents there. It all adds up! Just be sure you’re buying things that you actually like and eat, not just things that are on sale.

Oh and a few more couponing 101 tips that I picked up are:

  • Just because something is 10/$10 doesn’t mean you have to buy ten items (it’s usually just labeled that way to get you to buy more).
  • Resist the urge to buy the largest size of things that are on sale- often you save the highest percentage when you use a $1.00 off coupon on the $2.00 cereal box, not the supersized $4 one (this was the hardest principle for me to grasp at first since my instinct was that buying something huge saved me more money). Of course if the larger one is substantially less money per ounce and you have a use for a large amount of something, it could be worth the upgrade- but I was surprised how often I noticed them listed as the same price per ounce.
  • Coupons are allegedly cyclical, meaning that most coupon pros claim that every six weeks the same items go on sale again. This theoretically means that if you have space to stock up on your favorite cereal when it’s on sale, you only have to buy enough to last you six weeks, and then the sale should pop up again (of course this isn’t to suggest that you should have a six week stockpile of every item, but it does reinforce the idea that you never have to buy 100 of something that’s “an amazing deal” because it’ll most likely be a great deal again in a little over a month).

Oh and here’s how I keep things organized. I have a clear plastic sleeve where I toss all of my coupons as I clip them throughout the 2-3 week span between major shopping trips, then before we go to Kroger I take out all the ones I won’t be using so it’s only full of coupons I’ll be “spending” and I slip my detailed shopping list in there with them (that way I know how many of something or what sized box I need to get to use my coupon without thumbing through all of them). When I get to the register I hand over my Kroger card for them to scan (for all uploaded discounts) and then I hand over my paper coupons as well. So far it seems to work.

So that’s my coupon update for ya. Happy snipping to one and all. And all you varsity coupon peeps better share your tips! I know I still have lots to learn!

Psst- All kids toys are not created equal. Check out what Clara got that looks so good we never want to tuck it out of sight (unlike 99% of her other toys).


  1. Aly says

    thanks for the online sites. I used to get the newspaper for coupons, but found they don’t really have many coupons that I use. So basically, I was losing money by getting the newspaper.

    • says

      I was able to find a newspaper deal for only $.19/issue for the Los Angeles Times. Just do an online serch for deals on your local paper. I now get 3 copies each week to give myself more coupons to work with. Even if you were to spend $1 per newspaper, it would pay for itself if you used just one save $1 coupon.

  2. Snickrsnack Katie says

    You didn’t link to the krazy coupon lady!

    I have been doing extreme couponing for several weeks and am doing amazing! It is so easy – just a little time consuming. I buy three Sunday papers every week and clip out the coupons so I have multiples of the ones I want. I recently went to Kroger and bought $200 of groceries and spent $60.

    • says

      We just learned that you can use a buy one get one free coupon along with a manufacturers coupon since you’re technically using one coupon per thing (since you’re buying two things). Amazing!


    • Carolann says

      I happen to catch that coupon lady on Nate Berkus yesterday.

      Sherry, I know what you mean by “explaining slowly with lots of visuals”…it kinda blew my mind when she explained that with buy-one-get-one-free you can get BOTH items for free with a store coupon and a manafacturer’s coupon. I had to rewind 3 times to process that little nugget of knowledge!

    • says

      It really depends on your store also. For us, we shop at Publix [Florida] and they will not allow you to use more than one coupon for one item. So if you have an item that is 4.00 and you have one coupon for $1.00 off that item and another coupon for $0.50 off that same item, you can’t use both of them on that one item, you are only allowed to use one. It bites.. but better than nothing right? :)

    • says

      most places will let you use 1 manf. coupon AND 1 store coupon on 1 item. So if you use both on 1 item while it’s on sale you’ll get the best deal!

    • Elise says

      Hey Guys,

      Thanks for this! Im a Seattle native recently moved to the Mid-West and this is really good to know! Unfortunately though, the majesty that is Fred Meyers does not equal Bakers. Sad day. Still good to know the coupons should be interchangable…

    • Kim E. says

      We used to live in Western WA and our Kroger there = QFC. :) Sadly, no Kroger in San Antonio. Our only options are HEB, Wal-Mart Supercenter, and Super Target (aside from specialty stores like Whole Foods). Yeah, you read that right…three stores. None of them double or match coupons. And HEB won’t even let you stack (store + manufacturer). So sad. It definitely depends on your store and where you live. Happy shopping!

  3. Patti says

    Wow, thanks for doing the legwork for us coupon newbs! I always feel overwhelmed with coupons and then give up, but I’m gonna try it for my next shopping trip.

  4. Colleen B says

    My only tip is for the 10/$10 type of deals – to be aware if your store lets you get the single item at the discounted price or if it requires you to buy the amount advertised. Martins, for example, in our area requires you to buy the thw whole amount if that’s what’s advertised to get the deal. So just inquire before hitting the ‘# for $’ deals.

    Thanks for the websites to check out, I love clipping to save!

  5. says

    I’m glad you discovered the coupon tricks, I’ve been doing them for a few years now and have saved us several thousands of dollars. That clear accordian file looks familiar. ;) The best deal on food I’ve got so far is 78% off the total cost and saved $116! Every once in a while SuperTarget offers produce coupons of $1 off any produce item, it let me keep printing so I did. I think I had about $50 just in the produce coupons that I used over several visits. That allowed me to get all the organic produce I wanted. I like their $5 off $50 grocery coupons too. Plus if you shop their for your groceries (cheaper than Publix if they aren’t doing a BOGO deal) you can save 5% off the total purchase if you have one of their debit or credit cards.

    Thanks for sharing your tips with us, a couple of the websites you shared were new to me. :)

    Have a great week!


  6. Amber says

    I’m a couponer too… and I use those baseball card protector sheets to organize them. That way you can flip right through the pages and see what all you have quickly rather than keeping them in a pile!

  7. Christin says

    Impressive! Thanks for sharing. I used to clip coupons all the time, but we never ended up using them because I would find the store brand of the item was less expensive even if I used the coupon on the name brand item. We don’t have Kroger around us, but I think our store does allow the whole upload coupons to your store savers card, so I’m dfeinitely looking into that. Every littel bit helps.

    • says

      Also remember that even if the store brand price is cheaper than the name brand price, if your store double coupons it can end up being double the money off (which almost always makes it the better deal). Good luck!


    • Carrie C says

      If you wait for that item to go on sale it will most likely be cheaper then the store brand with a Q. It can sometimes be a waiting game.

  8. Alison says

    Wow, $53 is amazing! I love your posts on saving money. Thanks for all the tips and tricks. As usual Sherry, you are on top of your game!

  9. says

    Forgot to mention, in order to maximize on the SuperTarget $1 off each item of produce coupons (which are rare) I purposely used a small bag of fruit, veggies etc. Two pears in one bag, 2 apples in the other, So I had 3 bags of 2 apples each. Took me a couple extra mins but as long as you have a plan before you go in, it works. (I re-use all the plastic produce bags)

    A lady behind me wanted to look at my receipt and was amazed that I had as many coupons as I did items! LOL.

    Happy Shopping!

  10. Jenna says

    Coupons are awesome!

    Also, I have one little tip that has really saved me time, money, and saved me from forgetting so many items. When creating your shopping list, go ahead and divide your list by departments, i.e., Produce, Meat, Dairy, Dry Goods, Misc., and so on. When you seperate your list, you can check off all of the items in one area and move on to the next. No more short sprints to get milk while the cashier waits on you because you forgot it.

    • jackie says

      I do this too. It’s much quicker to follow when you are in the grocery store, since you don’t have to backtrack around the store. It also helps you evaluate the kind of stuff you are buying – I try to make sure my “produce” list is at least as long as my “packaged foods” list, for example.

    • Kim E. says

      I do that too. Such a time-saver! Actually, I have a shopping list template on my computer that I organized according to my favorite store’s layout. I keep a copy in my kitchen and add needed items to the list as they pop up, finish the list based on my menu plans before a big shopping trip, add coupon notes, and breeze through the store. Especially helpful when toting impatient kiddos along. :)

  11. Amy says

    I’m familiar with Kroger doubling coupons that are for 50 cents or less, but I have never had them match coupons above that amount. Is there a certain type of coupon you have to use to get them to match above 50 cents?

    • says

      Hmm, I’m not sure. Perhaps I’m reading the receipt wrong (which is a strong possibility) since all the coupons are really hard to interpret which are for which. It’s a possibility I’m just breaking things down incorrectly or mis-explaining it, but now that you say that it rings a bell. Maybe the rule is that they match manufacturer coupons for up to a $1 (which would be no matching above 50 cents) but I also loaded some coupon on my Kroger card to account for the other $1 off drop in price? On coupon complaint: I wish receipts were easier to read to see where you saved the most money! Although I do love that they highlight your total savings at the end.


    • Amy says

      I was going to ask about that too. The Krogers in our area (Cincinnati, where Kroger is based!) only double coupons that are 50 cents or less, but every once in a (great) while will run a special when they will double coupons that are up to $1 (meaning you get $2 off).

      I was going to say how lucky you were if they did it for you guys all the time!

    • says

      Maybe a special was running – but most likely I’m reading things wrong. Thank goodness for the total saved part on the bottom where they calculate things for you! Haha. Math has never been my strongest subject…


    • Krystal says

      Kroger only doubles up to $0.50, however, if you are willing to venture out, I know K-Mart doubles up to $1, and Marsh doubles up to $1 (and during certain sales, they will triple up to the same amount).

    • Amy says

      It’s so satisfying seeing that big number at the bottom, isn’t it?! :)

      My son loves the Yo Baby, so kudos for getting such a good deal on that!

    • says

      Ooh that could be it! Now I want to call them and ask (since I clearly have an issue reading the fine print on the ol’ receipt). Maybe I’ll just ask at the register next time.


    • Snickrsnack Katie says

      Yeah, I shop Kroger, and they only double/triple up to a dollar. Like, up to 35 cents is tripled, and anything larger than that is doubled up to a max of a dollar. If you have a dollar off coupon, they won’t double that to two dollars.

      But I agree – Kroger makes it hard to see which coupon is which on the receipt – but the final breakdown is cool!

    • says

      Our Kroger (also in Cinci) will adjust any coupon under $1 up to $1. So a 75 cent coupon will be good for a dollar off.
      While I’m commenting, we are lucky enough to have a Kroger fuel center at our neighborhood store. Their gas deal is fantastic. Last week I filled the tank in my minivan for 70 CENTS OFF per gallon!!

    • Alison says

      Kroger coupon policies are up to the individual store manager, so it can be different everywhere, even in the same place! I know Harris Teeter has a reputation for being more expensive, but here in Raleigh they double up to .99 coupons and their store deals are the best…so they end up being cheaper!

    • says

      I live in Michigan and my Kroger doubles up to a dollar but the one down the street only does 50 cents. It does matter what Kroger! Check around you might just have to go to the next closest Kroger. When I coupon shop my savings is always around 51% you get a high when you walk out saving more then you spent!

    • Jasmine says

      The Gerbes (Kroger) stores in my area allow you to use a printed coupon as well as a loaded to your card coupon. The printed coupon will double up to 50 cents, but the ones on the store card are simply for the amount stated. So if you have a printed coupon for 50 cents and a loaded coupon for 50 cents on the same item you will essentially get 1.50 off of that item.

  12. LauraC says

    You sound just like my girlfriend!!! She has gotten more and more into it and so excited. The first time I tried it, it was a bust. I’m still having a hard time, but I guess I’ll try again. Safeway here doesn’t double. I also shop at a Super WalMart, which doesn’t do much. But Fred Meyer is part of Kroger (if I remember correctly) so I will look into if they will double. Anyone from the West Coast know?

    • Kristen says

      I don’t know.. but I would be interested in finding out! Freddie’s is part of Kroger (as is QFC, I think??)

    • Sarah says

      I’m a west coast Safeway shopper too and just got into its “Just for U” program. If you sign up on the Safeway website, you can add manufacturers coupons and special Safeway deals to your Safeway card and they will automatically be deducted at the register. And they tailor the coupons to what you normally buy so I don’t have to dig through junk food coupons when I want organic milk. I shopped yesterday and saved $43.00 on things I would have normally bought!

    • Kim E. says

      Yes, Kroger and Fred Meyer merged in 1999. Kroger also owns QFC, Ralphs, Food 4 Less, Foods Co, and Fry’s, among others. It’s the largest grocery chain in the nation. But all of the stores I listed are West Coast stores. :)

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