Eating healthy often starts at the grocery store, and coupons are an accessible way for you to purchase healthy foods on a budget. In addition, utilizing the sales that the store is running is another great way to stay in budget as you navigate purchasing items on your healthy grocery list.
If you’re new to couponing, you may think that it’s only possible to use coupons for processed food. While the majority of coupons are for highly processed food, there are still ways to significantly cut grocery bills. If you’re interested in trying your hand at couponing, here are some basic rules of thumb to get you started.
Start with your local grocery store
These days every store seems to have a loyalty program and unfortunately there is really no way around signing up if you want to access most sales and store coupons. Kroger has the Kroger card, Publix has Club Publix, Walmart has Walmart+, and so on.
While joining does mean that what you buy will be tracked, the good news is that stores often use the information about what you purchase to send you coupons you will actually use. It’s simple really – they see what we buy and want you to keep coming back, so they offer coupons they think you’ll use! A lot of these include the store brand items and even produce. Most stores also offer mobile apps that allow you to save these coupons digitally.
Know your store’s coupon policies
Coupon policies vary quite a bit from store to store, so take the time to find out how coupons can be used at the stores where you shop. Some grocery stores will double coupons up to 99 cents, and this can make for some great deals. Many stores will allow you to “stack” a store coupon on top of a manufacturer’s coupon for the same item, which can double the savings.
Read the coupon restrictions
In addition, be sure to read through the coupon you are intending to use to see if there is a limit on how many of it you can use. Typically, you can use more than one coupon on more than one item, but there will be limits to how many of the same coupon you can use on the same products. For instance, if you have three coupons for a discount on a loaf of whole grain bread and you want to use all three coupons on three loaves, you may only be able to use two of them due to the fine print on the coupon.
For more tips on navigating the fine print in coupons, check out The Krazy Coupon Lady.
Check out a general coupon source
The coupons.com website and accompanying mobile app is a great way to gather most mainstream manufacturer coupons. Through their website and app you can access traditional and cash back coupons. You can then either print your selected coupons or they can be added straight to your linked grocery store loyalty card.
Gather brand specific coupons
Many brands offer coupons for organic and natural foods that you can’t find on major sites. Earth’s Best baby products, Horizon dairy products, and Newman’s Own salad dressings are all brands that offer coupons through their sites. To get these coupons, you generally do have to sign up for the brand’s marketing, but in exchange you tend to get some really valuable coupons.
For a list of healthy brands that routinely offer their own coupons directly from their website or other marketing channel, check out this link.
Scouting sales is just as important as clipping and reading your coupons. Sales ads are printed typically on a weekly basis and you can find them online and in-store, but some stores may have a longer rotation of sales that change at a different rate. Familiarize yourself with your favorite grocery stores sales patterns, and keep up with them if you are serious about saving money where you can on grocery shopping.
In general, grocery stores follow trends with when they list what type of products on sale, so that they can cycle through their products. We’ve created a grocery store sales calendar reference sheet for your use. It lists the traditional seasonal sales of items so you will know when to stock up. You can download it below.
Match coupons with sale items
When you get a good coupon, it’s tempting to use it right away. However, if you give it a few weeks you may find that item on sale, which will get you an even better deal. Remember healthy products go on sale just like anything else. Be sure to read the labels on the coupon to know exactly when it expires, so that you can be sure to use it before it does.
Don’t buy junk just because you can get a good deal on it
This probably goes without saying, but it can be very tempting to buy something just because it’s a great deal even though you don’t need it. If you’re trying to focus on a healthy diet, there are many great bargains out there that you’ll want to avoid. Jerrid Sebesta wrote a short but impactful post on this topic, which is worth the read.
Stay focused on the fact that you want to save money on high-quality items, and this will help guide you through the many shopping decisions that you face every day.