I usually go to Win-Co, which on the West Coast is a supersized grocery store with discount prices where you bag your own groceries. I have always thought this was the cheapest way to shop, but I had a conversation with another mom who said she makes her menu around the sale adverts from Raley's or Safeway and have determined the result is cheaper than Win-Co. I grabbed the two stores advertisements and decided Safeway had more of the items I wanted on sale and started making a list from there. When you use a coupon, the discount comes off on top of whatever the store already has it marked down to.
I started with making a list of the staple items I needed, and then started googling each item looking for coupons. This took a while, especially because this is new to me. I could see pretty quick that if I working on this throughout the week, I would be ready for shopping day. I came across http://www.couponmom.com/ which is a priceless resource. When you sign up (it's free) you get an email each week with the newest coupons, all in one place. It was super easy. I looked through the pages of coupons and checked the "clip" box in the corner of the coupons I wanted.
They came out my printer and then I cut them out. I made two shopping lists. One list contained all of the items with coupons and then I put the coupons in the same order. You will need to reference the coupons because some say you have to buy two to save $1, that sort of thing. I made a second list of all the other items I needed, including items I knew were on sale from the advertisement.
My husband and I split up, each taking a toddler and a list. My husband took the coupon list and I took the other items. Everything I put in my cart was on sale. I looked at the item prices on the tags and did quick calcluations when looking at sizes. We met back up after about an hour and then looked through the baskets to see if we were missing any major items. We bought the produce together and then checked out.
The outcome was...
Total before any prices reduced $280.85 (family of 5!)
Total club card savings $78.23
Total coupon savings $19.02
Total saved$ $97.25 or 35%
Final thoughts... I usually spend just under $300 when we go to Win-Co. This store is supposed to be the most competitive, but they do not accept printed coupons. I am pretty good at remembering prices, and the prices after the card and coupon discount at Safeway was less on many items, and MUCH less on many more. This took a couple of hours of planning, and I believe it will be even more successful next time, now that I have had this experience and will be watching for coupons over the next couple of weeks. Watch the advertisements that come in the mail and get a little organizer for you coupons. I will be shopping for a handmade one on Etsy this week!