6 Tips to Help You Save Big at the Grocery Store

07/09/2010 at 09:00 AM ET
Courtesy of Aviva Publishing

Groceries aren’t cheap, but they’re a necessity.

However, self-proclaimed “Krazy Coupon Ladies” and co-authors of Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey Joanie Demer and Heather Wheeler say it’s possible to save up to $10,000 a year on household items — you just have to be smart about shopping and saving.

“We really taught ourselves. We wanted to create a stockpile of food for our families, but didn’t have the money in our budgets to do it,” Demer tells PEOPLE Moms & Babies. “Heather had an aunt who was using coupons in a kind of crazy way, so we started trying that ourselves.”

In one shopping trip alone, both Demer and Wheeler, stay-at-home moms, saved about $700 each on their total bills. “The stars aligned,” Wheeler says.

So how can you save big on groceries? Here are some tips from the experts:

Use the Internet. Aside from store and company websites, “the hot way to distribute coupons right now is Facebook,” Demer says. “If you ‘like’ a manufacturer’s Facebook page, you get access to high-value coupons and nearly-free products.” Adds Wheeler, “Lots of stores, like JCPenney, are also sending e-coupons to phones, via text message.”

Stack your savings. “When something goes on sale, we can match an existing coupon with any in-store promotion, and create an item that’s 70 to 80 percent off,” Demer says.

The general rule is not to buy something just because you have a coupon, but instead, smartly use coupons for products you buy. “People think they don’t purchase things they often see coupons for, to which we always say, ‘Do you not use shampoo, or toilet paper, or toothpaste?’ ” Demer jokes.

Stockpile when prices are low. If you’re able to stack your savings, buy as many of the product as you can. “When we can get a price down to 75 percent or more off, we’ll stock up,” Demer explains. “That goes for toiletries, home goods and any non-perishable foods. Just create a little space in your closet, and stack things there. There’s a lot of savings potential there, even with minimal space.”

Don’t necessarily buy generic. “I used to think it was cheaper to buy generic,” Wheeler says. “But if you find an item on same and find a coupon for it, you’re paying less than the generic price for a name-brand item.”

Demer says diapers, generally seen as a great expense, can get more affordable, too. “I was going to get generic, then I started couponing. By stacking my coupons with store sale prices, I paid less than half the retail price for Pampers,” she shares. “We encourage expecting moms in their second trimester to check out our website and book, and start shopping. They can get diapers at up to 70 percent off if they shop right, and have a years’ supply by the time their child is born.”

Get organized. Both Demer and Wheeler have binders filled with coupons they’ve printed from the Internet and clipped from newspapers. “We joke that when we go shopping, we have a baby on one hip and a binder on the other, and they weigh the same,” says Demer. “So if you have the time to create a binder, filled with coupons from the past three months, it’s a great tool.”

Busy moms can take just 10 minutes a day or week, download a few coupons from the Krazy Coupon Lady site and other webpages, and instantly save big bucks. “But if you build a binder, shop multiple stores and stockpile, you can save nearly $1,000 a month,” Demer says. “We’re talking five hours a week of work, though.”

Plan ahead. “Anticipate the purchases you need to make,” Wheeler says. “For instance, swim diapers. I buy them in the fall when they go on clearance for about $4, and if I find a $2 coupon, I’m getting them for $2 instead of $10.” The same can go for kids’ clothing too, when the seasons are changing, or even school supplies, if purchased during the year and not just before classes start.

Though it sounds like a lot of work, with a little patience and some resourceful thinking, any busy mom (or dad) can save big on the bills. Says Demer, “Everybody’s got something better to do with their money than give it to the grocery store.”

— Kate Hogan


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Showing 16 comments

poppykai on

70% off of Pampers!!! This I have to figure out. I am a big coupon user but the most I have ever saved is 4$ on a large box of Pampers. One thing that I do that saves a ton of money is buy resale clothes for my children while they are still young and oblivious to it. I have saved thousands that way over the last 5 years. It is a lot of work to cut the coupons and shop the ads (like a tactical maneuver)!! Well worth it if you have the time though. I will definetely check out the website mentioned in the article.

poppykai on

I went on the website but some of the coupons are for stores I have never heard of before (I imagine they have to cover stores all over the US though). There was a free book offer but it just sent me to an Enfamil promo, so I am not sold on the website yet. I may stick to the Sunday paper 🙂 Still, it is offers the heads up on specials that will be coming in the near future for those who are planners.

jinni on

If you’re staying home and trying to save money, why on earth would you suggest disposable diapers, especially swim diapers?

Christie on

The only way that I have ever truly got “deals” on name brand diapers is when I purchase Jumbo packs. I missed a sale at Rite Aid this week — a Jumbo pack (they usually retail it there for $11.99, which isn’t a deal) for $8.99 with their rewards card, then a $2.00 rebate check and I have a $3.00 manufacturer coupon, so it would have been $4.99. That’s 50% off the regular price in most stores. Huggies has also been circulating coupons for $2.00 and $3.00 off a lot lately. My usual rule is to not buy diapers if they aren’t on sale and I have a coupon. But it’s tough to find a real “steal” on anything other than Jumbos.

RaShelle on

This web site is great, I have been using it for a few months now and have saved a lot of money. I appreciate deals on diapers, especially swim diapers since they are required at the pool we swim at.

Shelby on

@jinni – Maybe because you want your kids to go swimming in a public pool? …Wow. These are just examples and I think they are great tips!

Sarah Sch on

I have just started couponing in the past 6 weeks or so. It takes a while to develop your stockpile and clue into the sale cycles. Sure you can save crazy money if you are doing it major hours per week. I probably spend an hour or less a week collecting coupons and prepping for shopping trips. And, I consistently have been saving over 50% off at grocery stores and about 75% off at drugstores. You get addicted when you end up with something for free after coupons, or you make money off of it!

If you are in the SouthEast, I recommend using southernsavers.com. Incredible site and she does the coupon matchups for you based off of the weekly ads!

Megan on

I absolutely love this website, this girls are awesome!!! I’ve been doing this for the last four or so months, and it’s amazing the payoffs that I’ve already seen! (Other family members are even getting into it after they’ve heard about some of my deals). Can’t wait to read KCL’s book!

Britney on

A single reusable swim diaper costs the same or less than a pack of disposables and will last through multiple kids.

Misty on

I’ve been using the grocery game for quite awhile, and it IS possible to save this much. The problem is that I work full time and don’t have time to do all the research. I keep a file box with my coupon inserts filed by date (instead of clipping selected coupons and having to go through and figure out where stuff is). I love the fact that there are websites out there that help like this!

CFlores on

I love this website 🙂 the ladies are great!! I just started couponing and this site has helped me learn so much. They tell you where to find the best deals. They break down the best sale prices from store to store tell you which coupons to use and even give you links to the coupons. You have to put in some work to by cutting ur coupons from your Sunday paper but follow the KCL and she will have you saving between 50%-80% on your purchases. As a matter a fact I just went to the grocery store and purchased over $100 of groceries and walked out paying $24. This website isn’t just for swimmers diapers it’s food, groceries, cleaning supplies, EVERYTHING…,,so thank u ladies for all that you do && I cann’t wait to read the book 🙂

Heather on

Okay ladies, maybe you can help me out. I’m especially intrigued CFLores with how you just spent only $24 on $100 worth of groceries. My Grandma has a friend who does the same and I would LOVE to be able to do that. I was using internet coupons (I think it was coupons.com) but didn’t really see a tremendous savings. I did that along with price matching and the most I ever saved was $17. That did make me pretty happy though lol. But, I did go to the Krazy Coupon Lady site awhile back and read their explanation on how to get things free. I never quite got it though, never was able to get these great deals you ladies are talking about. What am I doing wrong lol? Is there some trick to it? 🙂

Jennifer K. on

Thank you for featuring this book! I love the KCLs and all of their compatriots. I haven’t been able to save 70% on diapers quite yet, but I’ve come close. I don’t play the drugstore game as much as the KCLs do. Their book offers a ton of great information as well as strategies for this process. The thing to remember about couponing is that you only need to do it as much as you want/need. We don’t eat a lot of processed foods so I coupon for the things that we do buy and then use the savings to either cover the cost of the items we can’t buy with coupons (produce, meat).

The thing that people need to remember about couponing is that it takes time. The biggest comment I get is people’s fear of how much time it takes to do this. I spend three or four hours a week on my coupons. I clean out my three-ring, zip-up binder twice a month and I probably print at least a half dozen or more every day. However, I regularly save at least 50% at each trip to the grocery store and I never play full price for clothing, toys, or anything like that. The savings pay me for the time it takes to do the couponing. I am basically paying myself. Only put as much time in it as you can afford.

All in all, coupons are totally worth it!

TC on

Another idea is to check out ebay. Technically you can’t sell coupons you have to buy the ‘time’ it takes people but I’ve gotten really lucky at times. I have a finicky diabetic cat on top of everything else that only eats one particular cat food and ends up costing me 200 a month! When the coupons come in the sunday paper I go on ebay and buy about 100 coupons from people and never spend more than 5 bucks all together and I end up saving 160 bucks on cat food. I do look like the crazy cat lady at the store though when I buy a months supply of cat food cans but I don’t care 🙂

Another idea is target will sends me coupons in the mail and you can use their coupons as well as the manufactures coupons on the same item. I found a package of razors that’s usually 9 bucks on sale half price and I had a manufacturers coupon as well as a target coupon so I ended up paying 50 cents for it.

Erin on

I’m 21 years old and already married. Money is tight trying to buy a house, and I love to save money. It is really like a game for me. I work full-time but I can still do this. I get hour long lunch breaks, so I take my coupons with me and do it on my lunch break. I also add match and take advantage of the “register rewards” program at Walgreens. It truly is amazing what you can save through coupons. I don’t have a binder, just a file in my wallet, but I often get free toothpaste, toothbrushes, deoderant, shampoo, and body wash. Another site I have found besides the coupon ladies (which are great) is freefreebies.org. I also plan my shopping trip and make a well-thought-out list before going into the store. I have a rule that I can ONLY buy what’s on my list. If you are in stores frequently throughout the month, it’s easy to impulse buy, so that’s what my list is for.

I really appreciate what these ladies are doing. It’s hard to save money, but it can be done!

mp on

A comment on swim diapers: when my daughter was 8 months old, in 1981, I enrolled her in a baby swim class. There were no swim diaper requirements — but then again, they didn’t make swim diapers then! It’s interesting to see how things have changed.