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. Christina W says

    I also like I can do the download coupons directly to my store cards (like Kroger) and they have printables as well.

  2. Allison K says

    Most stores double coupons up to $.99. Meaning the coupon amount is $.99, so you could save up to $1.98 on an item. There are also “triple coupon days” where up to $.99 triples in savings. And also “Super Double Coupons” with doubles coupons up to $1.50, so you could save as much as $3!! I don’t do it much because I don’t get the newspaper and my computer ink is just too expensive to print coupons.

  3. Rosi T says

    I work at Kroger and I always get asked by all these people in the store if they have to buy 10 items to make them each a 1$. and I have to explain they only need to buy 10 items if it is the big saver where it does require you to buy ten items or else you don’t get the savings. There is a fine line between the two, you just have to know which sale you’re looking at :)

    Heh, I should do the coupon clippings but I don’t.

  4. Michele says

    I love Southern Savers! What is working for me right now is a comination of couponing and making use of Harris Teeter’s express lane service. I order all of my groceries online at the HT site, using Southern savers as a guide for what’s on sale. I can easily see what is on sale and what is not and HT keeps a list of the things I’ve purchased in the past so I don’t have to serach for every item. I can also see when the total in my online basket is more than I want to spend and can go back and tweak what is in there. Then I pull up to the store, hand them my coupons (that total comes off my next purchase) the nice clerk loads my groceries into my car and I drive away. I can NOT stress enough how awesome this service is. It costs $5, but I easily save that multiple times over by not making impulse buys at the store. And not having to wheel my 5 and 2 year old through the store….priceless.

  5. says

    Thank you so much for pointing out that you CAN buy organic/healthy foods with coupons. People assume you have to purchase overly processed foods only in order to save a buck and that’s definitely not the case. We shop at Tom Thumb pretty much exclusively, and we spend way less than we ever did shopping at WalMart (which is pretty much king in our tiny town). Knowing how to double/triple/stack coupons doesn’t take too much extra time and it’s sort of fun seeing the total price fall at the register when your coupons are scanned :)

  6. haley says

    QUESTION: Can you please share if you use a monthly budgeting website/software/home made tool – for household expenses ?

    Thanks for the coupon tips..I have just started with coupons and am working on better budgeting because I finally found my Big Girl Pants and will be quitting a job I have lost all my gusto for (3 years saving to be able to do it, and full support from husband :)) I have been consumed with comparing software and on line budget tools- mint, ynab, pearbudget etc etc. Love your practicality so I figured I’d ask what you all do? thanks

    • says

      Oddly enough, we don’t. We pretty much know how much we spend each month since we’re predictable when it comes to things like that. We do use the same credit card for all monthly expenses (it earns points and we pay it off in full each month so it’s a great free way to track expenses and it’s automatically updated about a day or two after we buy something). We’ve also heard good things about if that helps though!


  7. Anne says

    Wow, Sherry, that’s encouraging. I shop at Kroger’s, too, and I’d given up on coupons. It just didn’t seem like it would make a difference when you’re mostly buying produce or things without HFCS, etc. You know? Maybe the coupons are better since people are eating more organically and looking at the Nutrition Facts more? (It’s not like I don’t eat candy sometimes; we just try to keep the HFCS out of the main stuff we eat after finding out how much of it was in everything!)


  8. jenny says

    Thank you for this inspiring post! I stick to a budget for groceries and have always thought of coupons as time consuming. It’s encouraging to see that even a busy person like you can fit it in and reap the rewards. I am certainly going to check these websites out and see how much we can save this week! BTW – I highly recommend the book “Miserly Moms” by Jonni McCoy and her “Healthy Meals” cookbook. Meal planning and cooking by scratch as much as possible has helped me stay on a $75 weekly grocery budget.

  9. Liliana says

    Congratulations on your savings! I tried it for a while but it does not work for me and my husband. For my fitness goals, I need to eat about 160-170g of protein and I try to buy the most natural meats and wild fish I can. We don’t buy anything canned, and buy organic when needed, for examples apples yes, bananas no because you peel them; also I buy bread, etc w/ingredients I can read and recognized. In order to save on produce, I buy at the local farmer’s market, no only are we getting organic but we are supporting our farmer’s plus, its always fun for us to go there on a Saturday or Sunday morning. We do use coupons when we can and I only buy what I need, no need to stock up on everything but, it sure feels good to save even $5 bucks!

    Kudos to all who are able to use the coupons and save!

    ~ L.

  10. says

    Not all sales are sales.. you can read that on all the coupon sites. I’m keeping track of prices to see if a ‘sale is really a sale’ and finding that sometimes it isn’t. I have a google document with a template I found to keep track so I can pull it up on my phone when I’m out with my list. Keeping track will really help you save the most on things you always buy! It’ll take time but it’ll be worth it.

  11. Marilyn says

    Great coupon tips! I have enjoyed reading your blog for about a year now. Your last house looked alot like a house I bought several years ago. I’m not really big into coupons although I used to use them more than I do now. Our Kroger store closed a couple of weeks ago after 70 years in our town. Our whole town loved that store. They did have good sales. A new store chain has already planned on coming into the Kroger location after a remodel of the building. Hope they have good sales. I have a family of 7 which includes 4 teenagers to feed. Enjoy your Kroger!

  12. says

    Thank you for these tips! I just started couponing again when we moved into our new house. I am definitely going to look at the resources your mentioned because I haven’t found anything online I am in love with yet to organize coupons. Oh and I found a really cheezy coupon organizer that works AWESOME at the dollar store $1. My kind of bargain. :)

  13. Heidi says

    Congrats on saving! It is such a great feeling! I recently started couponing after I decided to stay at home with our baby. Living off one income was tight, so using coupons has helped tremendously! The CVS extra care bucks is a great way to save, too, especially if you are using coupons! I haven’t spent any money on lots of essentials, like toothpaste, body wash, razors, etc. for almost 8 months now by using coupons and ECB’s at CVS. It’s also a great way to give back! When you can stock up on much more for much less, then there is more to give to others in need. Thanks for sharing!

    For the person who commented and lives in MI, here is a great money saving site to follow:

  14. says

    Just wanted to mention another coupon clipping technique that saves me a lot of time and mess – don’t clip them!
    Just write the date somewhere on them and store your full coupon inserts from the Sunday paper in a file folder (or whatever you want) and when you’re making your list and checking the sales list on your favorite sites, just make a list of which coupons you’ll need and the insert you’ll find them in. and (and – my favorite) all note the date and insert from which a coupon came in their ad matchups. This way I don’t throw away a coupon I didn’t ‘think’ I needed and I don’t have a bunch of loose little squares of paper floating around in a folder. So many coupons have long expiration dates and it’s helpful for me to keep it all until I’m sure we won’t be using it.

    Good job saving, and great explanations for people new to couponing. I’ve been super couponing (I don’t think I’m extreme quite yet!) for almost a year and by this point, with our stockpile built up, I am able to save an average of 60-70% off my total grocery/household purchases. I can’t imagine going back to shopping another way!

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