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Moms Talk: Coupons and Other Food Savings

Is clipping coupons part of your family grocery routine?

Wheaton Patch invites you and your circle of friends to help build a community of support for mothers and their families right here in Wheaton.  Do you know a Mom (or Dad!) that wants to chat all things parenting? Send 'em over this way, and feel free to suggest topics that are on your mind.

Each week in Moms Talk, our  take your questions, give advice and share solutions. 

So grab a cup of coffee and settle in as we start the conversation today.

Your editor fondly remembers her mother giving her the duty of holding on to the coupons as we went up and down the aisles, but noticed fewer and fewer coupons as our family's eating habits changed. 

Do you clip coupons? Any extreme couponing fans? What works best in the shortest amount of time? What are some non-coupon money-saving tips for family meals?

Leah Kocsis April 12, 2011 at 04:25 PM
I've recently become a coupon believer - I usually save about 1/3 off our grocery bill each week! I'm not ready for a reality tv show, but I am pleased with the savings (I'm also picky on brands - I'm a total foodie - and sometimes that limits my savings) and every penny counts! Two websites I've found very easy to use and extremely helpful with organizing coupons and other savings are moneysavingmom.com and couponmom.com. Lots of great ideas, and deals listed - that saves tons of time of having to do all the research yourself. Both sites are free. We don't have cable tv (cha-ching there! BIG savings on that monthly bill) but I think I'll have to check online for Extreme Couponing episodes...
Bridget Hanes April 12, 2011 at 05:03 PM
I've started to clip coupons but find that I either leave them at home or forget to use them before they expire! I am trying to become a better couponer. But, in the meantime, I do believe I save money in other ways. My husband and I have a weekly routine of sitting down during Saturday morning breakfast and browsing the grocery store weekly fliers. Whichever store has the best deals wins for that week. We then take stock of what we have in the freezer, fridge and cabinets and write out meals for the week based on main ingredients we already have in the house. Next we write a list of things we still need to buy to make the meals complete. Our weekly menu usually consists of one or two big dishes (chili, pasta bake, turkey meatloaf, or anything in the crockpot) that we cook on Sunday and eat for dinners and take-to-work lunches during the week. If either one of us tires of the meal choices, we try to mix it up with a cheap dinner or lunch like omelets, tuna sandwich and, let's be honest, cereal.
Bridget Hanes April 12, 2011 at 05:12 PM
Forgot to mention, we also find we save quite a bit by buying store brand instead of name brand items and buying bulk, esp. for meat.
Cassandra Caverly April 12, 2011 at 06:06 PM
I was watching Extreme Couponing last week and I was almost hoarse after screaming at the tv. What family of four needs 60 bottles of mustard (even if the mustard is only $.32)??? The people featured on that show seem to have excess hours in their schedules that allow for days and days of planning and 6 hours of actual shopping. I personally don't have that type of time and if I did I wouldn't want to waste my life constantly searching for coupons. Don't get me wrong I LOVE getting a discount but I would prefer to use a 20% coupon on a piece of furniture than on a $4.00 box of cereal. I don't get the newspaper so I don't clip coupons but I do shop at Costco and buy things like paper towel, toilet paper, juice and cereal there. The savings are significant and it prevents micro trips to the store. I also use Peapod to deliver our groceries from Giant. Using peapod forces me to shop from a list and when things we use are on sale I buy a bulk amount so I don't have to buy that particular item again until it is on sale. Also - peapod provides you with a list of all previous shopping bills (with prices) so the system keeps us very organized.
Jessica McFadden April 12, 2011 at 07:56 PM
I don't clip grocery coupons but I have been saving a TON lately using the self-scanner at Giant. To see my total adding up as I shop really keeps me in line on impulse purchases and forces me to stick to our family grocery budget each week. (It's also saving me time, since as I shop I'm bagging my own groceries in my reusables - no more long check out lines, no more kids fighting as I load the groceries on the belt or whining for candy.) I do use big non-grocery coupons for retail stores and when shopping online I always Google for coupon codes before checking out. And I have to throw in a plug for Wheaton Patch's Frugal Families column (which I write) which always features 5-6 great local deals geared towards families. It's posted here every Monday.
Kristen Walker Painemilla April 12, 2011 at 11:30 PM
I too have recently started couponing as well but I am definitely not a candidate for extreme couponing. In the past few months I have been trying to organize myself around coupons but my major issues are that I don't use half the products that are advertised. I've even purchased a cute coupon organizer from an Etsy crafter which has been helpful!! As Leah mention above, I also use moneysavingmom.com and couponmom.com which allows my to pick and choose so it is useful. Like Jessica, I also use the self-scanning options, which is good for keeping my spending on track and helps keep me to my list not to mention the timesaver at check out. I have recently used the Food on the table site http://www.foodonthetable.com/topics/savings. I haven't used it much but it supposedly helps with mealing planning and also allows you to choose your grocery store and let's you know what is on sale on a given week and also compare. Finally, I also you the net to search for large coupon for major stores and online ordering. I am a big fan of ebates as well www.ebates.com. I like the idea of effortless shopping and a small check that arrives every quarter. I tend to maximize my ebates use near the holidays.
Patti Lalley April 13, 2011 at 12:51 AM
Jess - how does that GIANT self-scanner work? Do they do a spot-check on your cart?
Patti Lalley April 13, 2011 at 12:53 AM
I've always thought that Extreme Couponing show was somehow rigged...... Here is a blog post where the woman breaks down the coupon fraud: http://www.jillcataldo.com/node/16258
janeekrug@live.com April 13, 2011 at 05:10 AM
Best way to save is called collective buying!!! search online for "Printapons" every day a local business will be featured and prices will be discounted upto 90% off
L.A. Wells April 19, 2011 at 06:56 PM
Re P. Lalley's question re Giant spot checking you when using self check-out. I asked a Giant employee that question when the first self check outs were installed. I was told by this individual that Giant believed the cost of any theft was more than offset by the savings of having fewer cashiers. This from an employee, not the front office. Don't know what the higher ups would say, but it would be interesting to hear.

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