It can be easy to rack up a huge bill in a grocery store. One key to frugal meal planning is to never go into a grocery store unprepared. Walking into a store without a game plan will only lead to a huge total at the register, and you may end up with a bunch of random items and be unable to prepare a full week of meals.
Try to always grocery shop on the same day of the week. This way you can get into a routine where you sit down on the same night each week and make a shopping plan for the following morning.
To begin your grocery shopping plan, the first thing that you need are the store fliers and ads to find coupons and in-store sales. Make sure that you apply for any savings card offered by your local grocery store as sometimes sales are only valid with such cards.
Look through the flyer and pick out the best savings opportunities on main dish items such as chicken, beef, pasta or fish that are on sale. Once you know what the core of your meal will consist of, you can continue to go through the flyer to identify discounted prices on side dishes that your family enjoys. Don't forget to search for savings on other needed items such as snacks and paper products.
Once you have your list established, it is time to start coupon matching and finding coupons online. Coupon matching is the process of finding manufacturer's coupons that can be used at the same time as a store coupon or with an in-store sale for added savings. While there are some online services that clip coupons and match coupons for a fee, you can do a modified version of this matching on your own and use the money you save to purchase more groceries.
Log onto websites such as Coupons.com, SmartSource.com and RedPlum.com and see if there are any coupons that match the items on your shopping list. You may even find some additional coupons on an item that you want to stock up on.
If you can find a menu item that you need for your week's meals that is on-sale in the store and you have a store coupon and/or a manufacturer's coupon, you could end up getting the item for less than a dollar or even free. In some cases, the store may end up owing you a couple of cents on the item.