Last year I was getting asked all the time if I “Super-couponed” by either passionate couponers or those who felt like they should be in on the latest thing. I get it – couponing can make the grocery store a game and the money saved can make you a winner. But like a kid who graduates from hungry Hippos to Monopoly, it’s time to learn a better game that makes more sense and works for life, both saving you money at the store and bringing you success in your kitchen. It’s called Shopping Smart.
The goal of the Shopping Smart game is to NOT have to go the store more than once every 7-10 days. And, to buy only items that can be mixed and matched to add up to dinner success in your home. Not shopping Smart would mean going to the grocery store, buying a bunch of this-and-that that looks good/is new/would be great in one dinner. Shopping Smart means going to the grocery store knowing just what items to buy because they are items that ALWAYS add up to dinner in your house. If you read my blog often, you’re used to pasta being a frequent example. Forgive me, here I go again… but I’ll throw in a side of produce too. My family loves pasta. I make it at least once a week though rarely the same way twice in a month, alternating baked pasta, mac and cheese, fettuccine, pasta with vegetables herbs and olive oil, and many of the other pasta recipes you can see on my website. The low price on pasta around here lately has been $1.39. This week a great brand was on sale for $0.79 per pound, so I bought ten pounds. I saved $5!…I won! I didn’t have to scan the papers, find the scissors, cut anything out or make sure I brought it with me, and there’s no chance that it won’t get used or will go to waste, because it’s one of my family’s Smart ingredients. Spinach is another great example. In the winter, fresh spinach can be a bit pricey. With Spring on the horizon, I found a large bag for just $2.22 at my local fresh market-type Euro grocer. I froze the majority of it in sandwich-size Ziploc bags for use in soups, pastas, pizzas, quiche, strata and more, and kept in the crisper just the amount I’m sure I’ll use before it wilts.
As one mother of five who uses my cookbook 70 Meals, One Trip to the Store, says, the Smart shopping method is “a godsend.” This Mom, Shelly Mabe of Warren , MI, and author of the freehomeschooling.com blog, is using the cookbook to help her family get out of debt. She said “This falls right in line with our family plan to be out of debt in 1 year.” And, as a woman known for her tendency to grab her family a pizza for dinner, she is impressing her friends that she has actually making dinner every night — and that even her picky eaters loved the meals.
The fact that the “Super-coupon” phase seems to have faded speaks to it’s sustainability as a lifetime plan. By going to the store with the intention to save money using coupons you are risking two things: one is buying things that may not add up to dinner just because you have a coupon for them — and buying them in bulk for that matter. The other thing you’re sacrificing is your time. You don’t need to spend time accumulating, clipping, sorting, printing, and remembering your coupons. By buying only what adds up to dinner success you will save more money than could be put on a piece of paper. Think of it as a 40% off for life, with an added bonus of a lot of free time. And, this plan never expires!