For those of you who coupon the old fashioned way by scanning the sales ads and coming up with shopping lists on your own here are some tips. I told you about the methods I use called the Grocery Game where they track 12 week highs and lows (something I could never have done scanning the sales ads myself) and put out a list that compiles free stuff and the lowest prices possible on any given item. You can read more about the Grocery Game in my post here. This is much easier than scanning the ads yourself and not expensive.
But if you are still scanning the ads yourself there are a few things you can do to make your life easier. Let's hope that you did your monthly menu planning that I spoke about here so you have all of the meals planned, the shopping lists done and now all that you need to do is find the sales.
Sit down with all of your ads at a time when you have no interruptions. You will need to scan each store's ads and write down which items you use and how much they are. Get a notebook for this because you will want to track the prices over a long period of time, say 12 weeks. One thing to remember here is that with the current economy the way it is prices have been steadily creeping upward in the last year so finding a product whose prices will trend downward at certain times will be difficult since everything is trending upward.
Once you have your products selected and your prices written down you need to make a menu based on these items. I actually plan my menu for a month in advance and use the same menu each month since no meal is repeated in the month. You can read about it here. But if you are trying to make your menus from the ads weekly now is the time to do it to see what you need in your pantry because, God forbid, you don't want to come home on a Tuesday night, tired, and discover you do not have baking powder and have to run to the corner store to pay an arm and a leg for it.
Now you need to break out your coupon binder and go through to see how you can get your prices down even more. Use an envelope and write the store's name on the back and list what you will be buying, the price and whether or not you have a coupon. Put your coupons into the envelope so they are handy when you go into the store. Preplanning will save you money. By using this method and not deviating from the items on your list you will get in and out of the store paying exactly how much you thought you would. Go in, buy what is on your envelope and leave. Do not buy anything else.
If you glean anything from reading this blog I hope that it is that planning will save you money. We always get into a situation where we have a need and because we have not planned we have to go out and pay for that need, usually full price.
Plan for your family's needs.