Spending your hard-earned money on food and items like toilet paper is no fun! Luckily, there are easy ways to save your cash for more exciting things.
Sunday newspapers have coupon sections – if you use at least a few coupons, the savings exceed the cost of the newspaper – sometimes by a lot. If you buy popular name brand items, you will find coupons for up to a few bucks off and it’s definitely worth the time spent clipping. Plus, the print industry will benefit from the newspaper sales. Win-win.
You can also find grocery coupons inside magazines – usually women’s interest and food ones, like Good Housekeeping, Women’s Day, Real Simple and Cooking Light. So look for inserts and on ad pages. Often, coupons are toward the back of the magazine.
You can also find coupons at the actual store, usually right as you walk in on a rack or by the customer service desk. You can only use these coupons at that store. Go ahead, rip the ones you want out right there… just preferably not during your turn in line or in the middle of an aisle.
Membership Cards/Rewards Programs
Make sure you are signed up for any savings programs your store offers. Usually you sign up at a customer service desk or kiosk in the front of the store, or can sign up online. They usually provide you with a card to swipe each time you shop, or you may just need to provide your phone number (don’t worry, they won’t call you). Here’s a couple:
Safeway “Just For U” (free)
Costco – there is a $55 or $110 annual membership fee, but you save big if you buy a lot of groceries/household items and/or like to buy in bulk:
Check the weekly circular for sales and websites for special deals and coupons. Here’s a list of some area stores’ deal pages:
Berkeley Bowl Produce Specials
99 Ranch Market
Grocery Outlet (no SF locations, but surrounding bays have them)
Mollie Stone’s – Specials Coupons
Most grocery stores have stamp cards for sandwiches, the salad bar, and soup – sometimes coffee and other items, too. Usually if you buy 9, you get the 10th free. A big score, especially at higher end stores where these items can cost up to $10.
Check your smartphone’s app store by searching for a store name – these apps are usually free. You can also find apps to make shopping easier. Safeway lets you load all their weekly coupons and some bonus ones onto your card via their website or mobile app.
No time or patience for in-store shopping? Sign up for a CSA box (community supported agriculture). Find one that delivers to your home or has a local pick-up spot near you. You’ll get a box full of locally grown/produced food (sometimes imported, too). It’s mostly produce (fruits and veggies), but many CSA programs include items like eggs, cheese, meat and bread.
My pick for the Bay Area is Full Circle. I get it once per week, pick my size box, can hold any weekly deliveries I want, and swap out items I don’t care for – all easily done online. It’s $25 a week+ of produce for me and my husband. I also shop their “Green Grocery,” which lets me add coffee, dried fruit, nuts, and produce not included as options for my box. They even have local chocolate, honey, and tofu! Hey, sometimes it’s just nice to wake up and have a box of food for the week literally at your front door.
So, what about the deals? When you sign up for emails from CSA programs like Full Circle, you’ll most likely receive a coupon for your first box – I got mine for 50% off. Others like Farm Fresh To You offer online coupons through services like Groupon, so check those for deals. You can also sign up in person at farmer’s markets, where you might get a discount for trying it. Most CSA services are commitment-free, so you can get it weekly, monthly, once and never again… your choice.
PS – if you want to try Full Circle, ask me for a referral and you get 25% off your first box. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org