I am by no means an "extreme couponer" and I do not want to be. But coupons have also greatly helped me and my family over the years with our grocery expenses. In fact, I can not go to the grocery store anymore without 1. my menu plan & list and 2. my coupons!
Each week, on Sunday when I get my local paper, I take out the coupons for that week. I will then write on the front of each coupon section (red plum, super saver, etc) that week's date.Then it immediately goes in the front of my file folder for grocery coupons. This way they are sorted by date with the most recent items at the front. (I eventually am going to try to put manila folders in this hanging folder by each date and coupon section (red plum, etc) but this has not been done yet :/ Maybe in a future post!)
Then, the night before my grocery trip, I take out this folder and my computer and head straight to Coupon Mom for advice of what I should get that week. Her site is FREE and it is so awesome. All you have to do is sign up for an account, then just go to the tab labeled "grocery deals by state" and pick your grocery store and state. In a new window, it will come up with all the deals at that grocery store for that week, along with the coupons that are in the paper for those items and EXACTLY which paper that coupon is in. She does all the work for you!!! For example, here is a copy of the current deals at my Kroger here in VA. Isn't that just so cool! I love this site if you can't tell :)
When looking at the Coupon Mom's list of deals, I first look at the far column that gives percentage saved. And anything in that column that is a 60% savings or higher and I have the coupon for, I will most of the time go ahead and get, whether it is needed at the time or not. Stock piling isn't something that I really agree with, because at a point it just ends up almost being like hoarding, but if you can find a great deal on toothpaste, deodorant, etc to where you are getting it FREE or almost free,(I never pay more than $1 for these items) I say that yes you need to take advantage of that. Just don't fill your house to where it looks like you have your own grocery store; unless of course you have the room for that, I just know I don't.
One of the biggest rules in couponing though is NEVER BUY ANYTHING THAT YOU DON'T NORMALLY USE!!!! Because when you start doing this you are just wasting money, not saving. I used to be very bad about this in the very beginning of couponing and it made me stop using coupons all together for awhile because I did not see the benefit, little did I know at the time though that I was buying things that we don't even use, just because I found a coupon for it.
Then after going through all the high percentage sales, I look at what I have wrote down and see what meals I could make from these items. Sometimes its a lot and sometimes its not much, but whatever meals I figure out I go ahead and put them on my menu planning sheet.
After I do this, then I look back at my sheet and figure out what meals still need planned and what other items I might need. Once I figure out what is still needed then I go to the coupon mom's coupon database and search for these items to see if there are coupons out there that I am missing.
After this I am done and I head to the store. Usually only takes me about an hour to plan my shopping trip, so it's not too bad. But with 4 children it is definitely something that I have to do at night once they are in bed, otherwise I get very overwhelmed and frustrated. Because as you know children do not leave you alone when you are busy, they seem to have no idea! :)
Lastly, I will leave you with a picture of one of my shopping trips to Kroger last year that was a GREAT savings. I spent $121 and saved $71!!! Honestly, I dont always save this much and sometimes I save more, but you can bet on me saving 35-50% everytime I go!