Today I went to the grocery store; we were in dire need of just about everything from pasta to paper towels. I didn’t get 12 jars of mustard for ten cents like the extreme couponers do, nor did I get six cart-fulls of groceries for $8.00. I would love to be able to do that, but I just don’t have the time. I did, however, save $30.00 on my purchase solely by shopping smart and using coupons.

Meal Planning + Coupons = SAVINGS
It didn’t just happen; it took some time and planning on my part. But oh, the feeling as I watched those dollars and cents come off of my total! That made it totally worth the effort (and the lunch hour I spent planning my trip). For me, the key is to combine my meal planning with my couponing. Here are my tips for being a non-extreme (but still successful) couponer.
Start at Home. I begin by going through our kitchen and seeing what we have and what we need. I take inventory of my meats, and plan my meals for the week around what we have in the freezer. If I don’t have enough main dishes to fill the week, I make note of that on my store list.
Open up the Ads. Get out your grocery store advertisements and get to work! Start with the meats – I plan my remaining dishes for the week based on what meats are on sale. If I find a really good deal, I may buy extra to freeze. You can use this method to plan your side dishes, too.

Compare and Contrast. Get out  your coupons (I keep mine in a binder) and compare them to your ads. Is there anything you have a coupon for that is also on sale? Do your coupons make any great deals even better? I make my list, I write down the price in the ad, and my price after the coupon. Because I am a nerd. But if I do this for my whole list, I can at least get an idea of how much I will be spending.

Add in the perishables. There aren’t many milk coupons floating around, and if you need toilet paper, you need toilet paper. Make sure to put these “must haves” on your list, but again, use the ads as a guide. If you need some fresh fruit for your kids, check to see what is on sale for the week. What brands of toilet paper are on sale? What do you have a coupon for? Paying attention to these little details can help you save money.

Head to the Store.When I go grocery shopping, I always take my list, my coupons, and a calculator. The list helps me stay on point, the coupons are self-explanatory, and the calculator helps me figure out my savings (I’m terrible at math). And I know it’s cliché, but EAT BEFORE YOU GO! It will help curb those impulse buys!

Do you menu plan? Do you coupon? What are your tips for saving money at the grocery store?