This week I looked over the coupons in the paper and the new grocery store circulars and realized that there were not many great deals out there for my style of eating. I don't eat hot dogs much and I've stopped eating most of cold cereals that coupons come out for.
What all this means is that the monthly grocery shopping will be almost coupon-less. But I'm not worried, I can still keep my food bill low by shopping without coupons.
List and Calculator
I keeping a running list on my whiteboard and then when there are sales weekly, I jot down what I need and grab them for the week. When the monthly grocery run comes up, then what is left over on the list goes with me. I have a $110 grocery budget for food when it comes to food items. Of course the weekly runs take me over that, but it is easily covered by setting aside $20-50 for those runs.
If I come under the $110 budget for the month, that is then a good time to start stocking up on Thanksgiving or Christmas food. Recently, duck was on sales at a good price per pound and there was room in the monthly budget to get it, so that will go into the freezer until Thanksgiving.
The calculator is just for me to stay on budget. I round up to the next dollar (since I can't keep track of what is taxed and what isn't.) and use that as my guide to trimming my list down or adding more items for an upcoming special meal.
The best deals for each store circular are on the front page or the flap that promotes deals for the weekend only. But since my list is pretty small during the week, it takes at most 5 minutes to glance through the weekly ads to King Soopers or Safeway to decide what has the best deals.
I have heard that if you try the popular phone number song, 867*5309 with your own area code, you may still be able to get a good deal or two. But I haven't personally tried it. I know that lately some grocery stores will give a money back if you buy a certain number of name brand items on top of the usual weekly savings, so cards do come in handy.
For markdowns on meats I ask the employees when they mark down the meats, in one store they do it around 8-9am. Another store has set aside half of a freezer area for marked down milk, eggs, cheese and the like. And most all grocery stores have an area in the back - usually around the entrance to the back room, where they mark down shelf items like dented soup, bread and bakery items. I get most of my bread from these areas.