As part of being a frugal shopper and ‘coupon queen', saving money goes beyond the transaction at the grocery store. There are at least two very other important aspects that go hand-in-hand that help me be a good steward of what God has entrusted to me.
Simply put, they are stock piling and menu planning.
First, stock piling occurs when I find an item on sale at a low price, combine it with a coupon, and buy the item in great quantity (as many coupons as I have on hand for that item). For example, Ragu pasta sauce was recently on sale at Walgreens. In combination with the sale, if you purchased 8, you also received a Register Rewards. I pulled out 8 coupons for Ragu, and I purchased them, getting the sauce for around $.38 a jar. At the same time, I noticed another store had pasta on sale, for which I also had an abundance of coupons. I was able to stock up on the pasta for a mere $.50 a box.
Now, there are a few necessities when stock piling. The first would be coupons. Secondly, would be space. You'd be amazed at how much space you do have, when organized. Thirdly, you need to know prices. For beginners, this may require keeping a price book. Or for others, you are seasoned veterans here, and can recognize a good deal easily. And lastly, is the financial aspect. My advice to beginners is to begin slow, possibly stock piling only one or two items a week. It's a building process. Don't put a shock to your budget (or wallet) by trying to do too much too quickly. Know that sales are cyclical, which means the item will be on sale again. Watch for it the next time, have your coupons ready and then purchase it at a fraction of the cost.
Now as for menu planning. Some may think that these are two unrelated topics. But, in reality, they work together. I believe that menu planning is vital for the frugal shopper. It is important that you know what you need to provide meals for your family. To begin, make a list of what meals your family enjoys. Then make another list of what ingredients are required to make these meals. Now you know what to look for in the sales flyers in the coming weeks.
I always print a blank monthly calendar off my computer. As I sit to decide the meals I will prepare for the upcoming week, I always fall back on my stock pile. For example, if I know I have pasta and sauce (which you know I do!), then know for sure that at least one night we will have spaghetti, ziti, lasagna, etc…. This is how the two methods work together. I know what I have on hand, I know what's on sale, and I know what meals will fit for this week.
I know this may sound like it requires a lot of time. It really doesn't as you work from week to week. In the beginning, there is some extra time in preparing the lists, but it will be worth it in the money you will save. Again, none of this happens overnight. It took me 3 days to get all my coupons in my binder back in the summer!! So, go at your own pace as time allows and you will reap the benefits.