Here are the ground rules I’m working with:
1: Focus on using the coupons with local and regional stores, rather than mega-marts
2: Use coupons only for products we will actually use. A “deal” is not a deal if it’s not something we love.
3: Use coupons for unprocessed foods as much as possible… ingredients, rather than “products.”
4: Use coupons to funnel the savings into food storage stocking up, or charitable giving.
5: Keep the time investment as small as possible.
6: Use coupons in conjunction with sales cycles and store promotions as much as possible.
Jessica was right: there are coupons for cheese! It looks like Coupons.com has a $1/off Made in the USA cheese every two weeks, which fits our buying cycle. Buying our favorite regional cheese (which is produced somewhat south of my hometown, through a dairyman’s co-op) at an employee-owned regional grocery store is already under $5 for two pounds; now it will be under $4, which is pretty cool. It’s like rolling back the clock fifteen years on pricing! Gooooo, vintage cheese prices!
(Okay, so I need to admit right here that not only did I *not* cheerlead in high school, which should be obvious from the lame cheer attempt directly above, I was actually voted “Least School Spirit” my senior year, and I was okay with that. But I am genuinely excited by the idea of really tasty cheese for less than $2 a pound. I may need more hobbies.)
I’m doing a small grocery run today, and will be using two cheese coupons, a yogurt coupon, two juice coupons (which also happen to be for a brand we like), and a pickle coupon. Another regional chain is having cereal sales right now, with “free milk” coupons… and I have coupons for the cereals that are on sale. Combine a store special, a coupon, and additional freebie milk, and I can begin to see why people get so jazzed about the coupon game. Of course, the milk is for one free gallon per four cereal boxes, or something, which is not exactly the proportion needed for my family and cold cereal, but for Honey Nut Cheerios, I’ll consider it a good thing.