Save More Than You Spend On Groceries

Today I am excited to bring you another great website and the wonderful person behind it who has taught me how to re-think my groceries. Couponing is all the rage in my town right now. A group of us meet at Starbucks every Sunday night to chat and unwind and lately the chatter has repeatedly turned to how everyone is saving on their groceries!

Honestly, I was confused and skeptical when it came talk of everyone actually saving more than they are spending. I didn’t see how it was possible. Finally, I sat down one night and spent about two hours reading the site everyone was abuzz about, Southern Savers. The very next day I went to the grocery store, spent $120 and saved $140. I left a believer. It has taken me a few weeks to feel like I have the hang of it but I wanted to share with you what I got today and how much I spent.

dscn003412 Frozen Pizzas (hey, I have kids! Sometimes they don’t want to eat things I have to photograph first!), two boxes chicken fries, two family size bags chicken nuggets, three 16 oz containers of strawberries…

dscn003616 LARGE boxes cereal, 3 -six packs sugar free jello, 4 -six packs apple sauce, four boxes dry pasta…

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Two bottles cleaner, two large bottles dish washing gel, five cans cat food (great coupon on those…)

dscn00391Twelve pack of double roll tissue, Gallon of milk, gallon of orange juice, whole chicken, large roll paper towels…

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Two boxes Go-gurt, two bottles kids shampoo, children’s anti cavity rinse, hair spray, two boxes beef rice mix, eight boxes Zatarain’s (stock up coupon on that…)

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Loaf of bread, four sticks butter, two bunches bananas, shortcakes, whipped topping, eggs, family sized lasagna (had a great coupon), box washing powders (thats what my granny always called them..washing powders :)

dscn0044

Two toothbrushes, two packages barrettes (making Katy hair bows!), All You Magazine (because it has fabulous coupons), another newspaper (for coupons), twelve pack diet green tea, two Glade scented candles, two scented oil thingies (these are almost seven dollars each normally but it was a great coupon!), two sets of refills for the scented oil thingies…

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Two bags coffee beans, large bag brown sugar, bag chocolate chips, six cans evaporated milk…and a bottle of water :).

Now, how much do you think I spent on all of that?

LESS THAN $130!

How much did I save?

$136.85

Yes, I saved more than I spent!

In the past four weeks, my mother and I have saved well over $600!

How did I do this? Ladies and Gentlemen, meet my new friend, Jenny. ~grins~

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Jenny’s website, Southern Savers, is a must see for anyone wanting to learn to save big on groceries through couponing. The beauty of it is that Jenny does all of the work for you! I log on and click on where I want to shop. Jenny lists each sale item and if there are coupons available for that item. Many times the coupons are printable online and all you have to do is click the link right next to them to get your coupon! She points out hot deals and lets you know when you should stock up if a deal is unbeatable.

Southern Savers has also introduced me to my new favorite “sport”, CVS-ing. CVS offers Extra Care Dollars on many of their transactions if you have a Extra Care Card. Using a system of purchasing these extra care items and using your extra care dollars to pay for them (Jenny explains how to do all of this here) I have begun stockpiling great household items such as toothpaste, personal care items, shampoo, mouthwash, body wash, and more – FREE. Sometimes I have to pay a little out of pocket, but I leave with store credit when I do!

I know this sounds too good to be true because I honestly didn’t believe it until I began trying it for myself. There is no catch and Southern Savers offers all of these resources free of charge so be sure you go check it out and look into it for yourself.

Here is a little introduction to the basics from Jenny :)

How to Save over 50% on groceries, the condensed version…

First couponing isn’t just cutting your paper up and handing over a few coupons every now and then.  If that is what you think, then you will save $5 or $10 dollars and become discouraged that it is not worth your time.

True couponing is cutting those coupons from your paper and then saving them until the product you want to buy is on sale.  Doing this you can get items for 50-100% off regular price (yes that’s right – FREE).

How??  It is really putting two concepts together:

1.  Product prices fluctuate on cycles normally 6-8 weeks long.  When an item is at its lowest price in that cycle you want to buy enough of that item to get you through until it comes back on sale.  An example, your family eats 1 box of cereal a week, so you buy 6 boxes when it is on sale to get you through the sale cycle.

2.  When it is a rock bottom price you use your coupons to reduce the price even lower.  Grab some extra copies of coupons that you will use a lot of by  purchasing more papers, getting friends papers, or buying the individual coupons online.

That’s the basics!  Pretty simple and yet so many of us have never put these things together.

If I don’t have you convinced let me spell it out with money.

You can buy 1 box every week for 6 weeks, or buy all 6 boxes on sale.

cereal

That’s one product and you have saved $20.34.  Now think of the other 200 products that the average family buys a month.  Even if you didn’t have coupons for all of your items, if you wait until the product is on sale to purchase it you are still saving.

Want some more tips to save even more?

  • Most stores let you “stack” store coupons with a manufacturer coupon. This means you can use 2 coupons for one product!
  • Give up any brand loyalties. If you can get something for 10¢ versus $1 there isn’t much to make you loyal!
  • House brands are rarely the best deal. There are not many coupons for house brand items. Stores have trained us to think that their brands are a deal, but really the store makes the most profit off their own items. An example, you can buy house brand frozen vegetables for.88¢ on sale, or you can get a name brand for FREE.
  • Buying at bulk stores is not really a savings. This is the case for two reasons. First, the bulk stores do not take coupons. Second, the large boxes are usually two or three little boxes together. If you could use a coupon you would do better using 3 coupons on 3 little boxes than 1 coupon on a big box.

~Thank you, Jenny, for such a great introduction!~

If your head is spinning, don’t worry, Jenny does all the work for you and explains everything in details over at Southern Savers!

To read the same information I used to learn how to save big on my groceries, visit Jenny’s Getting Started Guides by clicking here!

Stay tuned the rest of this week for MORE ways to save on groceries AND have better meals in the process!

I’m also going to be bringing you some economical recipes as well!

Gratefully,

Christy :)

Check out these great recipes!
Chocolate Cobbler

Chicken And Dumplings

Southern Plate’s Quick And Easy Category

My Southern Favorites Category

EatBetterAmerica

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Comments

  1. Su says

    Oh my gosh, am I the first commenter?!?! Such are the perks of being in a totally different timezone!

    We don’t have coupons here. And we don’t get the really big specials like you do.

  2. Jerri says

    Hi
    my friend Betsy introduce me to the Southern Savers about a month ago at first I was a little confused, but now everything makes since to me, I love it. in a months I have save about $350.00 and I’m still learning. Love your Blog Keep up the good work.

    Jerri

  3. Barbara says

    I love using coupons. Just this morning, I went to Coffee Mate’s website, and got a coupon for $1.00 off. I used my printer and copied it several times, and will use if to get the Coffee Mate next to nothing! LOL, love it! Around here we can only use one coupon per item, and they don’t ever double them. But, we’ve saved lots by using coupons on sale items. Love ya for all you bring to us!

    • Amanda M says

      Just an FYI….unless the coupon was a PDF document, it is illegal to copy coupons. The coupons that are printed via “bricks” or a similar printing application allow you to print 2 coupons per computer. These coupons have pin codes, or specific codes per each individual coupon. Copying them and using them cause the stores that take them lose money and ultimately why some stores decide to stop accepting internet printable coupons. Please does use fraudulent coupons.

      Thanks, I hope this helps.

  4. Jan S in TX says

    I use coupone IF I will save money. But, most of the time, I don’t use the things the coupons are for. And I’m not talking about brand loyalty…I mean, I don’t typically buy pre-packaged items. As a family, we tend to eat more whole foods. We make our own granola for cereal. We also make whole wheat bread, cinnamon rolls, pasta, tortillas, and pizza crusts. We use baking soda to brush our teeth. I think you get the idea.

    For me, going back to the basics, we spend less than $500.00 per month on groceries for a family of 4 (2 teenagers, at that). AND we eat very well – we had steak, roasted potatoes and hot spinach salad just the other night and we have hot wings marinating for dinner tonight.

    So…couponing is great IF you use the items. But for me, personally, it doesn’t work to save a lot of money.

  5. says

    Love, love, love your site and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this week of saving tips!! This is right up my alley!! I do use coupons, but apparently I have been using them all wrong. I am headed now to Southern Savers to find out how to do it right!!!! Whooo-hoo!!

  6. says

    Good post Christy but I’m the same as Jan S in Texas. And I am a brand snob about certain things because I don’t care how much I’ll save it quality will suffer for it. I use coupons but only for the food products and things I normally would use anyway – mostly toiletries, some dairy products and household items – and I do the same thing, apply the coupons to sale items. It saves me a little bit and it all counts! It seems to me that the best coupons are usually for prepackaged and convenience food products that I don’t generally use or only use occasionally. I’ve never seen coupons for some of the items pictured, but I assume Christy is just showing us everything that she got and not only the couponed items. If only food manufacturers would coupon meat, milk, eggs and fresh fruit and produce! I buy meat at the grocery store when it’s on sale and freeze it so we pretty much have a stocked up freezer all the time, and we purchase Angel Food Ministries boxes and have been for about a year now. It’s a good value, with some convenience products in the basic box, but you have to buy the basic box to buy the specials which is where the great meat and produce bargains are. Hey … maybe I’ll feature my boxes and what I spent this month! Thanks for pointing out SS though. I have a few places that I frequent but I’ll definitely check her site out too!!

    • says

      Hey Mary!!

      You are right, I didn’t use coupons on everything. I just wanted to show you what all I got so in the interest of full disclosure I photographed everything that I bought which was included in my total (thats why even my bottle of water made it in!!).

      I do the same thing with meat so I only buy it once a month or when I happen across a good sale. Isn’t it amazing how widely the price of meat fluctuates? I also like to precook all of my ground beef, then I drain it and put it in individual bags to freeze. This makes my meals as convenient as can be as all I have to do is thaw it and toss it in!

      A few weeks ago I found five pounds of ground beef for $6 so I bought thirty pounds. Today it was selling for $10 for the same amount!! Glad I got my freezer!!!

      Thank you!!
      Gratefully,
      Christy :D

      • says

        Me too Christy! I love those deals on ground meat!! I think having a freezer is a MUST for saving money – it definitely pays for itself in no time. I bet I know where that precooking beef comes from – freezer cooking maybe?? I used to do that but found that I preferred to use it freshly cooked instead, but you’re right that is a great time saver. I remember from once a month cooking that lots of people used to boil their ground beef to reduce the fat.

        Looking forward to seeing what else you have “up your sleeve” lol….

  7. Rachel Parton says

    Girl, you are speaking my language!!! When I come home from the store every week I can’t wait to show my husband what I paid (or not paid)for things. This week at Kroger I saved 64% which is the most I have ever saved, so far. I try to increase that every week and so far I have.

    I love your site, keep up the good work!!!

  8. says

    Hey hey hey! girl after my own heart! this is a GREAT WAY to start your stockpiles and saving money, but once you are STOCKED then this would overload you………. thus the $45 a week and under spending….
    See the CANS OF EVAPORATED MILK and LOTS OF CEREAL? they will definitely last longer than a week and maybe even a month, stockpile , SHARE , donate etc…. and of course use your CREATIVE COOKING SKILLS!

    DONT FORGET TO ENTER THE SOUTHERN PLATE CONTEST to win $50 in FOOD LION GIFT CERTIFICATES AND A COUPON ORGANIZER TOO!

    • says

      hehe,
      you know I came home and hid every blessed bit of that cereal in a closet so the kids won’t see it! I plan on bringing out one box at a time. If they know I have that we’ll end up with ten different boxes of half eaten cereal going stale! They love this couponing because I used to never buy cereal before!

      I had a great coupon for the milk, which I love to bake and cook with. Ditto on the rice, but you recognized my stockpiling! hehe

      I’m all over the stockpiling, especially when it comes to baking ingredients! WEEEEEE!
      Thanks Anjie!!
      Christy :D

  9. Mrs. Morgan says

    I’ve been doing this for almost 3 years. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll rock! My husband calls the stockpile our “store”!

    There is only 2 of us and a dog, I spent $21 on groceries this week. The only thing I really “need” for the rest of the month is bread, milk & salad “fix’ns” (and that will be next week).

    I live off the stockpile when life pops up. A new hot water heater (which I have the $ to pay for & not charge), tires, a call to the plumber, etc. I always have a variety of things to have for dinner and when company drops by or when it’s time to go fishing.

    And HBA products? Toothpaste & shampoo, I only pick up if it’s free. Bodywash & soap too!

    I would buy groceries any other way!

    • says

      oh wow, I’ve been doing the same thing, free toothpaste is amazing. It seems like I get at least on free tube a week – guess we’ll all be minty fresh!

      Its great because I find I can actually skip a grocery trip using this method. I doubt I will get groceries when the next pay day rolls around except for bread, bananas, maybe some milk, and some meat. For a family of four, thats just a little drop off trip!!
      Thank you so much, hope you are having a great week!
      Gratefully,
      Christy :)

  10. teresa trenta says

    I love coupons, and I am really trying to get started doing the shopping based on the ideas that I have seen as with Southern Savers. My problem is this…how do I get to the point that I am shopping only by what is on sale? The first steps to doing this is what confuses me. I am only saving very little right now but my husband and I are eager to figure this out.

    Teresa

    • says

      Have you gone to Southern Savers and read the getting started guides yet? They helped me tremendously. I stockpile on the huge deals each time and after a few trips you get to where you just have tons of everything and only have to get a few things to make do throughout the week.
      Holler at me if you have any more questions though!!
      Gratefully Glad To Help,
      christy :)

  11. Sonya says

    Y’all must’ve crashed the site! I tried going there and got an error message more often than not. I’m not big into coupons. They never seem to be for things I need! I guess I’m just not patient enough to look and sort through for the right ones. I do try to take advantage of store specials, though!

  12. Jennifer says

    There are several other sites out there too – but Southern Savers is definately my favorite. I’ve been doing this for the past 6 months and once you get use to it – it will really save you lots of $. I have consistently saved over 50% of my bill every time over the past 6 months. It takes about 1-2 hours a week to prepare and plan your trip – but hey – I make a good living – but not $100 an hour.

  13. Melody says

    I’m in finance so math and cost are my things, but wow, this looks complicated! I’d like to learn, but am not sure I have the time (long commute, away from home 12 hrs daily) to make this work. We save money on food by having a large garden in the summers and putting up lots of fresh veggies, and by eating venison that hubby shoots each fall as our main source of meat. He just bought some live chickens this weekend, and we’ll be skipping eggs now at the grocery store and I’m guessing we won’t be buying a whole fryer for chicken & dressing anymore.

    • says

      Okay Melody, you have struck on my sensitive spot and I am SO JEALOUS of you!!
      I have ALWAYS wanted a chicken coup and to be able to have my won fresh eggs!!
      I WANT ONE SO BAD!! I am sooooooo jealous of you living my dream life, girl!!

      ~sniffs~

      Gather some eggs for me…
      ~sighs~

  14. Mel says

    I cannot believe how much of the same stuff I purchased at Publix yesterday!!! Love those buy one get one free items!! Since Spring Break is this week and my teenagers are home, I had to stock up on pizza, chicken nuggets, and cereal. I even bought the same toliet paper!

    • says

      You’re having spring break, too?
      It is a testament to my poor planning that I planned a week heavy on posting during the one week I have BOTH kids home every day, all day! lol

      Here we go with “mama, I’m bored….”
      I sure do hope it gets pretty enough to play outside or at the very least sunny enough to take some good food pics so we an bake together!
      Hope you survive the week!!
      Gratefully,
      Christy :D

  15. Angela says

    I love love love your site, I do clip coupons, but only use the ones I need. Most of the stores where I live, will not take internet coupons at all. So I have to rely on the coupons I get out of magazines and the weekly newpaper each week…………..

  16. cookin4less says

    You can save alot using coupons and they aren’t just for pre-packaged items…although there are alot of those out there too. There are noninsert coupons for meat, produce, and milk. I use them all the time.

    And as someone else previously pointed out don’t copy the internet printable coupons…that is coupon fraud and in the end it hurts us all as the stores will, and some already have, begin to stop taking them because of that. They will not get reimbursed for the copied coupons. You can usually print two copies per computer of each IP that is issued.

    Southernsavers is a good site, thanks for sharing. Another really great site for couponing is hotcouponworld.com It is a large coupon forum board with forums for all the stores nationwide listed on there and has tons of helpful info. Try it out you’ll love it!!!

  17. says

    I’m so envious of you guys. I moved to the netherlands almost 2 years ago and there is no such thing as buying in bulk,no coupons,no nuthin. The economy is no where near as bad as you guys have it but Im telling you it’s a struggle just to give the kids fresh fruit these days. I miss wal-mart with a passion..lol
    Im now container gardening this summer. I about cried when I went to buy an eggplant and paid in american dollars close to 4.00 for a teeny tiny one. Same goes for things like ice cream. It’s nothing compaired to back home. I spotted Ben and Jerry’s and they are selling it close to 10 american dollars so I am going to buy an ice cream machine and make my own.
    I think its’ great that you are showing people how to save money. I also have to say that as an american living away from home I look back at you all with such pride because no matter how bad it gets,we always pick ourselves up by the boot straps and keep moving on.

  18. says

    Good evening Christy,
    It looks like I’m having a “challenge” trying to tap into the Southern Savers website from your web-link above. I click on every items listed, but nothing appears. Is there another website I can check out? I live down in Florida (Satellite Beach). Thanks for your help! I really do enjoy your website and recipes!

  19. Heather says

    I’m so glad to see someone post about using coupons! I’m an avid coupon user (if I go a single shopping trip without using one, then there’s something wrong with me — check my forehead, I might have a fever!) and have been for a little over a year now. It’s amazing what the difference is with what you actually pay versus what you save!

    I made (err.. asked very super nicely) my husband build me a pantry using a spare closet over the summer so I could continue stockpiling my food that I find cheap/free on sale with coupons and/or sales/clearance. I also have a spare upright freezer in my laundry room for storing meat. I have enough meat to feed my family (just me, my hubby, and our 5 five year old) for six months. I have enough food in my pantry to keep us going for a couple of months. Did I mention my personal items stockpile? I haven’t had to buy shampoo/conditioner in a YEAR for ANYONE in my family! I just recently had to find a good deodorant deal for myself after not buying any for a year and a half! And soap? HA! I haven’t bought it in about 9 months and probably won’t have to buy any for another year.

    You should totally do a blog about making your own homemade bread. I do (but I’m lazy — I use premade loaves out of the freezer section cause I don’t have a breadmaker) and it’s SO MUCH cheaper! My son has a special diet that includes no milk, no food colorings, no artificial sweeteners and it was so hard to find a bread he could eat. Now that it’s made by me at home, he can eat as much of it as he wants.

    There’s lots of way to cut your grocery bill. Using coupons and combining your coupons with GOOD sales and stocking up on things you’ll USE (not things that look good on the shelf, but go bad in your pantry cause you won’t use them) is a great money saver!

    I’m tracking my savings with coupons and sales this year. So far, I’m up to $1100!

  20. Jeni from Athens says

    Ok so I have to tell you about my experience yesterday at Publix. I wanted to start off small since I am still learning about this whole coupon thing. I went to the Southern Savers website and looked at the deals for Publix this week. (had to go there anyways to get a rx filled. did you know that they offer free antibiotics, they have a list of about 6 or 8) Anyways! On the way home I told my husband that I have got to get a few things and I heard the usual, “Baby we don’t need to spend anymore money, we have plenty of food at the house.” So I bet a Vanilla Dr. Pepper from Sonic that I could save more than I spent when I went in there to get what I wanted. So of course he took the bet thinking that I had no clue what I was talking about. So we went in, I got 2 boxes of Hamburger Helper, 1 box of Chicken Helper, and 1 box of Tuna Helper. (living in Athens, working in Huntsville, not getting home until 6 sometimes 6:30 you need quick stuff to throw together) I also got 2 containers of Lysol Wipes (love these!!!). The whole time my husband was saying you are going to end up spending $20 on stuff that we don’t really need. So I just let him think what he wanted and went to the check-out. He was watching everything come on the screen, and his mouth dropped when he saw the total. We spent $6.82 and saved over $10.00. He was speechless after that. Needless to say I got my vanilla dr. pepper!

    So here is the breakdown. Different varieties of Hamburger/Chicken/Tuna Helper are around $1.59/box. But they are BOGO Free. I also had $1 off 3 things of Hamburger Helper. (might as well get 4 since they are BOGO Free-right?) So they were $0.80 a box. The Lysol Wipes are $4.99/container but they were also included in the BOGO Free. I also had a coupon for $1 off when you buy 2! So I paid $1.99 a container for those.

    Long story short, if you would not have posted this blog, I would have never discovered this. Give me another week or two to really get the hang of this and I am going to be a money saving machine at the grocery store. Thank you so much!

  21. says

    Howdy Christy!

    Melanie here, from Merchant Maidens! I’m the Bi-Lo “queen” from Southern Savers! {hugs from Charleston, SC} Thanks for the great post about coupons and saving! It’s quite addicting, isn’t it?

    I just wanted to jump in and respond to Teresa’s comment about how to start stockpiling. If you’re looking to start a stockpile, you need to consider that you are going to have to spend extra, at least at first, to buy extra. How fast you want your stockpile to grow depends on how much extra you have to spend.

    Let’s say you want to start a stockpile, you just started couponing and your grocery budget BEFORE you started couponing was $100 a week. But, alas, coupons came into your life, and now you are down to only spending $70 a week (or saving $30). You may be tempted to spend that exta $30 for take-out pizza, but if you really want to get your stockpile moving, put that $30 BACK into your food budget to build your stockpile.

    EXAMPLE: Olive oil is BOGO one particular week, you have 6 coupons that will double, and you spend $10 to buy the 6 bottles. Now you are stockpiled on olive oil for the next 6 months or so and you have $20 more dollars to spend on other stockpile goodies for that week!

    If you continue doing this weekly with items that are free or drastically reduced after coupons, you will eventually get to the point where you will be on what I call “stockpile maintenance” and will only be spending the bulk of your grocery money on milk, meat, produce and your maintenance items. Maintenance items are just replacements for the products you may have used from your stockpile. For instance, if you stockpiled that olive oil from the example above, and you use one up, the next time it goes on sale (12 week sales cycles are common), then you may only need to buy 2 and still have a great stash!

    Once you have a great stockpile, you can then donate, save or invest that extra money that you are not spending by using your coupons and your stockpile!

    Hope this helps for those somewhat new to the idea of stockpiling using coupons!

    I have to say, I’m super excited to try out the Chicken Stew recipe! It looks like comfort food at its best! I’ll report back when I do!

    Question for Christy – have you ever substituted split chicken breasts for the chicken stew? If so, how many did you use? I always have a freezer full of split breasts that have usually been on sale for .99 a lb. and would love to use them up!

    Thanks!
    Melanie

  22. James Foy says

    Way back in the day, (86-88) I bagged groceries at Alpha Beta, and we had regulars who couponed and saved 50% or MORE, all the time. I once saw a $100+ order get down to mid $20′s…I still remember after 20 years.

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