Thursday, March 8, 2012

How Do You Plan for a Shopping Trip? (Get the Most Bang for Your Buck!)

How do you plan for a shopping trip?
I like to plan a menu, and then make a list. Then I check my coupon stash and match up my coupons to the items I need, and off I go to the store! This handy dandy littleGrocery Checklist is helpful. I go down the list with my daughter, who checks how much we have/if we need more of an item. She feels good for getting to help, and I always have my little pantry stocked with the essentials.



I match my grocery list to my Wal-Mart ad (where we do most of our coupon shopping) and compare to our stock up stores ads (Aldi and Sam’s). Usually the best deal is at Wal-Mart, but we buy certain items at the other locations in bulk because the every day price is cheaper if you buy large quantities. It only makes sense for some items, especially since space is at a premium in our house.  I use one sheet for each store,printed on old school papers (recycling!).  Then I grab my coupons, and head to the store!


Do you use reusable bags?
I try to, as often as I can. Sometimes I forget to grab them. I got a neat set of Grocery Cart Helper Bags, which attach to the sides of your cart and are great for places like Aldi or Sams, where you HAVE to bag your own…I attach both to the carts and organize my purchases into the bags. They clip closed, and it means less trips to the car when bringing the food in!
Big cart bags for big trips!
I have four smaller bags I like to use for quick Wal-Mart trips, when I can remember to bring them….I bag my groceries the way I was taught back in my teenage days, when I worked in a grocery store. On either side I place a box, like cereal or a similarly sized item, and then fill the cavity in the middle with a layer of cans, then smaller boxed items, and any fragile items or bread on top. I try to spread heavy items like cans evenly through the bags, to keep them from being heavy. I also have a large Aldi insulated bag, for cold and frozen items.
Smaller bags for smaller trips!
Do you look up coupon/sale match ups online? 
I have a few places I like to look for match ups. My favorite blog is I Heart The Mart, since I go to Wal-Mart most often. It doesn’t hurt that I get a teensy discount, because *MH works nights there. :) If I combine the sales, coupons and my discount I can save a pretty penny on our food. BUT on deal items, I certainly do a sale ad check, and compare my favorite stores for prices. Then I can go out and maybe get something free, or nearly free! 

Do you rebate?  
I rebate within the parameters of each deal. If it says you need to be dissatisfied, and I am satisfied, I do not usually send out the rebate. It just feels dishonest to me.  But couponing in combination with rebates, if following the rules and ethics, can be a smart way to save!  Today I found a coupon for a local store (good for that location only, for one day only, from 3pm to 7pm only) for a dinner deal for Marie Callender’s new lasagna, 2 liter bottle of Coke (any coke product) and bag of Fresh Express salad – all for only $5! The lasagna alone costs $6.39 (on sale for $5) so it was like getting a bagged salad and bottle of Sprite for free.  THEN…I filled out my Marie Callender rebate, good up to $8. My final cost on dinner tonight was $0.00! I don’t often find deals THAT good, but today we ate dinner for free.
Tasty but small...
Stay tuned for more about menu planning…there are a few different systems you can use, depending on your family’s needs.  It will save you time, money and maybe even lead to healthier eating habits with time.  One quick tip : don’t introduce an entire meal of new foods to your family all at once. Instead, introduce a single new dish in a meal that is full of familiar dishes.  The new item will be associated with old favorites, and perhaps more likely to be accepted. You know your family’s likes and dislikes better than anyone else…don’t try to make liver and onions an acceptable dish if you know it won’t go over well. It is a frustrating waste of time, effort and money!
Happy shopping! :)