Grocery Bill and Coupon Clipping Tips?

Updated on March 18, 2011
D.M. asks from Schererville, IN
8 answers

I am trying to get an idea how much a family of 3 should spend on groceries per month...Also I would like to know if anyone has any great sites or tips on coupon clipping. We are trying to save some money and it seems like the grocery bill would be a great place to start. I also was wondering what is the best place to shop in your opinion. We live in the NW corner of Indiana. Normally we would go to Costco and Walmart, and are not against store brand, but I am not sure if there are other places I should be looking into.


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answers from Chicago on She's the coupon maven and she posts all the coupon deals matched up with store sales. She's for Illinois, but some may apply to Indiana. Also

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answers from San Antonio on

I have a family of three and I spend about $85 a week on groceries. That includes lunches for my husband to take to work, laundry items, cleaning supplies, personal care items, and a lot of sodas (hubby drinks 6 sodas a day).

Coupons are great, but what really helped lower my grocery bill was meal planning. My meal plan covers two weeks because my husband gets paid every two weeks. My meal plan has a supper for every night, daily lunch for my husband to take to work, lunches for the days our son is home from school, and a daily snack. I don't include breakfast, but just buy breakfast foods (bacon, sausage, eggs, etc). I make whatever we want for breakfast instead of something structured.

After I have my meal plan, I look to see what foods I already have and then make my grocery list off the meal plan. I always shop with a list. I spend nearly twice as much money when I don't use a list.

I clip coupons every week too, but only for items we actually use. And I check the prices at the store to make sure I'm really getting a good deal with the coupon. I'm not brand specific on most things, so I go with what is cheapest and healthiest.

Coupons help, but meal planning has saved me far more money than the coupons have.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Coupon diva for tips on couponing and how to do it and if you just want to download coupons:)
I also have found that doing the "member card" thing helps a lot if you frequent one place (ours is kroger, but less now) they'll send you coupons by mail for BOGO free on items you really buy.
I also recently took the Walmart challenge and have saved a significant amount for the food I buy.
I am not a huge fan of their produce, but it is a good price.
As a family of four we spend about 150 a week, so $600 a month not including dog food, cleaning supplies or laundry det.


answers from Boston on

Also try The Grocery Game - I have a friend who uses it. You can try it free for 30 days, then it's really cheap AND you can get some credits for referring others to it. You have to stay on top of it though, and you have to be flexible on brands to take advantage of the best coupons. Sometimes store brands are cheaper than name brands even with a coupon. Somehow through them I got sent on to, and I get regular emails from them. You can choose the coupons you want (just check them in the box), and then when done, print out only the ones you want. They usually line up with the ones in the newspaper circulars but not always.

Also, if you have neighbors who don't use coupons, get the inserts from their papers. I switch off with my stepdaughter - we cut up what we want, and then give the rest of the flyers to each other. Works well if you have kids but your neighbors are senior citizens - you usually don't want the same stuff.

Definitely match sales with coupons - you have to be willing to take the time to do this. I take the circulars (they arrive on Thursday) and go through them with a big Sharpie marker and circle stuff that looks like a good price or for which I have a coupon. I've seen those coupon experts on TV and they 3-hole punch the circulars and file them in a binder, then take them to the stores with them! They set them up in the kiddie seat and make a real science out of it. I'm not that dedicated, but they save a fortune - $150 in groceries for 17 cents and stuff like that!

I have a coupon file which I keep in my car or in my purse - that's REALLY important for unscheduled stops - when you find an item on sale and you know you have a coupon at home, it's really frustrating! I organize them while I'm watching TV - cut & stack, then file in the divided coupon file. I keep a couple of large paper clips on the front of it, and I pull out coupons for stuff I need that week or when I see something in a circular that has a good price. I put them under one of the clips and try to do it in "aisle order" for the store (in the order in which I will find those items). As I go through the store, when I find the item I need, I pull the coupon and stick it under a 2nd paper clip. That keeps me from just buying something for which I had a coupon - I can check the advertised price against the store brand, and figure out which is a better deal. I grab that 2nd stack of "definite" coupons when I get to the register - it's a time saver, keeps me from missing anyting or fumbling around, and doesn't annoy the heck out of the shopper behind me.

Also,, for every $100 spent, our grocery store gives 10 cents off on a gallon of gas. So I factor that into my shopping. I get prescriptions and sometimes office supplies at the supermarket (there's a huge section of Staples merchandise) - so I can easily save 30 or 40 cents a gallon when I fill up the tank. So I factor that into my savings overall.

And of course, take your own reusable bags (I use canvas totes that double as beach bags in the summer) and decrease the costs for the store (which they'll only pass on to you anyway) and get your 5 cent rebate per bag. It adds up over time and besides, they don't tip over in the car or rip like the cheapy plastic bags do. And I find you get into the house with fewer trips - a time saver.


answers from Columbus on

I learned a lot from and cut my groceries bills almost in half. She teaches you how to line up coupons with sales, and even gives sample shopping lists at certain stores each week. Certain stores, like Krogers, will double or even triple coupons, so you can get things for free if you know how to look.

If you have room to store extras, buying in bulk saves me a ton. If there is something your family uses a lot of, when it goes on sale - fill your cart! For example, my husband & son eat turkey sausage for breakfast every day. They are normally $1.25 a box of 10, but Krogers just put them on sale for 48 cents, so we bought about 30 boxes. We have a big stand-alone freezer, so we have plenty of room to store them. I try to never pay full price for anything.

Walmart will price match - if you don't have time to run to all the different stores, just take the ads with you and show them to the checkout clerk, they will adjust the price for you.

Good luck - it can be a lot of work to get stared, but you'll see a big difference in a month or less.

Also, we spend about $200-$250 a month, but baby doesn't eat solids yet & we buy our meat from a local butcher once a year, so that doesn't factor in.



answers from Charleston on Even though this website is geared for grocery stores in the south, she has tutorial videos on it that would be worth your time to watch. She has wonderful ideas. I have gone from spending $500+ per month for a family of 4 to $300 or less. Good luck!



answers from Gainesville on

I'm more like Christy J, who spends between $100-$200 per week. I'm also trying to reduce, but I think part of the reason I'm spending more now is that I'm in the transition phase. I'm trying to follow the stock-up plans so I'm spending more now to get the base in place. I think in another week or so I'll be OK.
Where to cut all depends on your family. We cut out eating out. We eat dinner out five times a year, for four birthdays and one anniversary. We eat lunch out once a month, usually if we are visiting a festival or if it's a zoo day. We are zoo members ($90/year for a family of four) so admission is free. We don't go out to movies, we don't get babysitters, our cars are old and paid for, and we organize our lives to be home for lunches on the weekends.
We keep our AC at 83 in the summer and keep the fans on (and we live in Florida so it is HOT) and the heat at 63 in the winter. Changing out the AC filter once a month is KEY.
Try to be efficient with your errands to keep gas spending low.
Ask for hand-me-downs for your kids. My 4 year old was SO EXCITED to get a whole bag of "new" clothes that I felt like a complete idiot for EVER taking her to Target. Not really, and we have been using some hand-me-downs, but I wish I'd used more. I generally tried to spend $4 for a piece of kids' clothing though.
I get three or four "nice" t-shirts from Target to last me the summer. You should see my "not nice" ones. And they only last one year, if that, but for $6-8 what do you expect? If necessary, 2 pairs of shorts too. Other than that I have work clothes and don't buy new clothes, except to replace a piece that gets stained or worn.
I allow myself one trip to Starbucks per week. Sometimes if it's a holiday I'll do a small treat with the kids, like we got nice cookies from the nice bakery yesterday for St. Patrick's Day.
Anyway, I really follow the BOGOs and stock up when stuff we eat goes on BOGO. I try to buy as much raw produce as possible, so you have to follow the sales, since there aren't coupons for those most of the time. For me, a good rule of thumb is to buy if it's less than $2.00/lb. You can save money if you follow deals on canned or frozen veggies, but I prefer to cook with raw. Stack coupons with BOGO if you can. Usually the Sunday paper will have coupons that go with the NEXT sale cycle at your local stores, so hold onto them for a week or so and you'll get more out of them.
I also go organic for dairy and meat, and if you don't you'll save money. Diane B is right about store brands being cheaper than name brands even with a coupon, but BOGO is usually worth it. You'll also figure out which BOGOs you have to jump on and which ones you can ignore. For instance, there is ALWAYS a pasta BOGO at Publix, but the brands rotate. On the other hand, when our brand of cat food went on BOGO, which never happens, I bought 8 months' worth of cat food, maxing it out. Use rain checks for special prices, or find something else that's the same price per pound and ask if you can substitute so you can take advantage of the sale price.
Publix has a premade section that's $1.99 / lb for curried chicken leg quarters (skin-on, bone-in chicken legs) or jerk pork shoulder, and that's a great deal. You can feed your family for $1 per person. Meat is non-organic though.
Look for free entertainment. We have a university that does dollar dog day on Wednesdays if you go see the lacrosse game so we take our kids out to the game and we all eat dinner for $4. Great deal!!
If you poke around online you can find people who get their groceries for free, but I think they use a lot of frozen and canned foods, and that's not my deal. I'm not sure though. I asked my friends for advice, as we have a few masterful frugalistas in my group, and I asked one friend for a copy of her receipt since I really want to know how she shops.
Good luck! I get that it's hard.


answers from Denver on

Okay, so here goes a list of my deal links I'm a nerd, I know, but free gets pretty addictive, especially when it is things you are already buying. This is the key, only buying products you already use/need. Otherwise couponing doesn't really save much money if you end up spending on things you don't use. Another important thing, is to set up a junk email address & facebook account for your couponing/deal hunting so it is separate from your personal stuff, very helpful!

I have found it helpful to sign up for the email updates on each site I like so I don't have to visit the sites too often & just get all the deals in my inbox. If you do partake on your own deal hunt I would suggest starting with Target, very easy & coupon friendly. From my experience Walgreens & Rite Aid can be a little daunting at first, until you get more comfortable. (my absolute fav!) (cheap finds & weekly ads, are helpful tabs) (for printable coupons) (fun for free/cheap date nights)
AMC & Regal Theaters have $5 movies (once they have been released 2+ weeks) & free concessions (with their rewards programs) on certain days (makes for a fun & cheap date)

In my opinion the following sites don't really save you much money because they get you to buy "Deals" that if you are truly trying to save money, you should be able to live without. But occasional deals that are worth snatching-up none the less:

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