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In the Land of No Double Coupons: Skimp on Meat (Part 1)

Guest post by Clair Boone from Mummy Deals

In a land far, far away lives a group of people. While they’ve heard the stories of how others are getting free food by a practice known as “double couponing”, they’re not sure how it works. They’ve seen the phrase “Do Not Double” on select coupons but if asked to explain, they aren’t exactly sure they could.

Their budgets are stretched, their creativity is exhausted and when these “doublers” talk about their small grocery bill, the people in the land faraway roll their eyes and smile.

Welcome, folks, to the Land of No Double Coupons.

Whether it’s because I live right outside a big city or because the grocery store choices are too vast and therefore nobody needs to double, I’m not sure. But one thing is for sure: Nobody’s doubling around here, 35 minutes outside of Chicago.

A few months ago I participated in a focus group with Crystal and when asked the question, “What would you say if a big grocery store discontinued the double coupon program?” I didn’t hesitate and responded, “I’d say: Welcome to my world!”

Over the years I’ve learned to be creative with the budget, skimp and save. Even without doubles, our family of 3 lives on a weekly grocery budget of $50 including toiletries and diapers. For those of you in the same boat, here’s some food for thought:

1. Skimp on Meat

I have a man who loves meat and lots of it. Although my hubby would rather eat steak for every meal, it’s expensive and not healthy every night! I’ve learned how to skimp on meat without making it look like I’m doing so by stretching the meal. In other words, I add other cheap yet healthy ingredients and take out some of the meat.

  • I’ve been known to add rice or beans to a pan of taco meat to stretch it. I’m not a fan of beans but I know how good they are for me and disguising them in meat cuts down the cost and gets in some of the goodness.
  • Many people use Italian sausage for a whole variety of meals and yet by buying it as that, it’s more expensive than if you buy it as a whole sausage, take the casing off and cut it down.
  • Instead of defrosting a chicken breast/pork chop per person, if it’s going into a casserole I’ll add a little less and then just add more vegetables or side dishes.
  • Meatless Days are great to keep the budget in line and plain spaghetti with whole wheat noodles and homemade spaghetti sauce will bring a family of 4 way under $4 for the whole meal, even with salad!

A lot of these tips are depression era tips that I’ve learned from a group of older ladies at a Bible Study I attend. Back then, skimping on food and yet trying to be healthy was a way of life.

To be continued tomorrow…

She bought diapers for 20 cents a pack prompting her friends to ask her to start www.mummydeals.org to teach others how to save money.  She loves to use her couponing powers to buy things and donate them.  Originally from England Clair Boone is wife to an amazing man, Mum to a toddler and lives near Chicago.

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101 Comments

  • Lorrie says:

    I too live in an area with no double coupons, the central coast of California. Once in a blue moon Albertsons will have some double coupons in their flier and I get sooo excited and then have a hard time using them because I’m trying to figure the best deal! We used to have a store that doubled coupons but that was before I used coupons. I don’t know any different so it’s okay. By watching sales and using what coupons I can I am still able to save our family hundreds of dollars each month. It takes time and dedication but I look at it as a part time job. Oh, at it takes great web sites like this one helping me out! Thanks Crystal!!

  • Melissa says:

    I am in the same area Mummy Deals is, and I am so envious of those who have double coupons. Can’t wait for the next part of this article.

  • Brian says:

    Our area typically doesn’t offer double coupons anymore either. Every now and then I will notice one store Buy-low that does, however it is always the week that they do not run the best prices in their ad. These stores I also notice usually run sales prices that are generally compareable to my local Wal-Mart’s everyday low prices. Their everyday prices are MUCH higher than I could ever pay. I have decided in my area (Southern Indiana) double coupons is not an option and have become very content using my good coupons at Wal-Mart.

  • Erin says:

    I’m excited that Claire from mummydeals, a local site for me, is guest posting today! I laughed at her introduction knowing that I too live in that far away place where double coupon days never happens. It would be interesting to see a poll of just how many readers have those kind of days to take advantage of!

  • I like to add shredded green cabbage to my taco meat. I saute it in butter before adding the meat. It’s so yummy and a great alternative to beans.
    Jana

  • Charity says:

    It is amazing to me that your grocery bill is as low as it is under those circumstances…that is great! I feed my family of 5 (with one on the way) for $30 a week and whenever I say that I always get “that’s impossible” or “well that means you aren’t feeding them nutritious foods”, but we are blessed to live where nearly all the grocery stores double coupons *and* most of them except competitor coupons! That makes a *HUGE* difference!

  • Isa says:

    I live in Chicago, and I get great deals on meat around here! This weekend I got two gigantic chickens for $9, and a whole pork loin for $14.50. There are deals at the major supermarkets, some of which send out coupons. That said, I try not to have meat at every meal–it’s better health-wise, and better for the planet to eat vegetarian part of the time.

  • Missy G. says:

    So glad to see this series!!! I hate living in an area that doesn’t double coupons. Thanks so much!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I haven’t seen a double (or tripple) coupon since I was about I think 12 yrs old. I remember my mom using them but where I live your choices are so limited that they know they’ve got you in a bind for groceries. I would love to go meatless sadly the days that I have a lot of veggies are the days my husband turns up his nose and makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and says that I’m doing it to spite him because he ends up making a sandwich a lot. After 10 yrs of marriage I’ve gotten him to at least take 2 or 3 bites of a salad at a restraunt (but has to be made with romane) and as long as I have mashpotatoes he’ll eat corn or peas because with the potatoes he doesn’t have to chew he just swallows because I gave him grief on how bad of an influence it is on the children not to see him eat veggies.
    My only saving grace? Learn to stock the freezer when meat goes on sale! And especially with things like pork loin I take it to the butcher and have several sizes of cuts made (yes pork loin because he throws a fit if I buy meat with bone in… girls feel lucky not to have him around your kitchen). Watch the sales, note how long in between months it is until you see that sale normally roll around again and stock up for the long haul.
    Look forward to reading more about someone else stuck in no double land.

    • keli says:

      @Elizabeth, I have one store that will double one like coupon. And my husband sounds like yours! But instead of the sandwich, it’s hotdogs. 🙂 Luckily, my boys love veggies and are pretty good about eating them even though daddy doesn’t. Although, this year hubby has requested grilled chicken salad for dinner. (I did have to “force” him to try it the first time) I’ve learned to only cook so much chicken and fix the rest of our salads first because he takes he rest of the chicken, but it still works out as using less in the end!

    • Aly says:

      @Elizabeth, No double couponing here 🙁

      While my husband REFUSES to eat anything BUT meat, he also refuses to eat the limited meats that my allergen prone oldest can. With our family of 5, mealtime truly does become a chore. I end up making three versions of the same meal or some sort of morph of it. I so love Freezer Cooking just for that reason! And like, Elizabeth, I stock up on meat when it is on sale….and I do mean STOCK!

  • Homestead says:

    No doubles here either (Montana). But our running joke is when times get lean… eat more meat. Hunting can be a cheap source of meat if you aren’t afraid to process it yourself. (I am…. so we pay more to have it processed by someone else.) We just finished the last package of moose steaks but we still have plenty of elk burger and sausage to make it until next hunting season…..

  • Holly Allen says:

    Thanks for the post! It was music to my ears to hear of someone else who has a family of 3 with a $50 budget per week. There is no way that we could go lower since our stores do not double either! I try not to be jealous of the double coupons deals I see! LOL! Thanks.

  • Jen says:

    I’m in the Chicago area too and would LOVE to get my grocery budget between $75 and $50 a month for my family of 4!

  • Julie says:

    Thank you so much for starting this series. I too am from the Land of No Double Coupons. There is one store that does but I almost never go there due to the fact is is 45 minutes away. Plus, most the coupons I print say do not double anyway.

    I feed two of us for between $20-45 a week depending on what needs to be bought. I would love to do meatless days but my husband hates all beans and works a physically demanding job so needs to have some protein.

  • elizabeth says:

    In FL we are also LOND. Love this about cutting back on meat. We do not eat meat, but I don’t like veggies which is a weird combination, I know. Beans are great for chili, sloppy joes, tacos, and shepherd pie. I usually add half a bag of frozen veggie crumbles to make it meatier. Pizzas and pasta salads are great without meat too. Sandra Lee from Food Network has a great recipe for black bean burgers that are very good. Sometimes I would love to just whip up a meatloaf or BBQ chicken in the old crockpot; going meatless does require a bit of creativity if you grew up on the standard American diet lol. But it has definitely saved me A LOT of money.

    If you have never tried tempeh, it is a tofu-like product, but extremely firm. A package often goes on sale for $2 at whole foods. Slice it VERY thin and you can marinate it to use in fajitas or stir-frys. When it goes it the skillet it gets really crispy and is yummy.

  • Christina says:

    I’m with you, we lived in Northern Cal. and had no doubles and recently moved to Oregon and none of the stores around me double coupons either (though the no sales tax has helped a lot). I love websites like this that help find the deals for you, but it can be frustrating when the deal is so great because of doubling!

  • My secret is just stocking up at sales. I don’t always get the premium cuts but I rarely pay over $2 a lb. So when I see a good deal I buy several 1bs.

    This includes, chicken, pork and beef.

    As soon as we are out of debt, though, I am going to buy a grass fed cow and organic chicken. I know that meat is way more than $2 a lb but it is important to me that we have better meat, I just can’t afford it at this point.

    • Rachael says:

      I’m with you–I’m currently a student, but can’t wait until I have a job again so we can eat organic meat. I’ve been trying to find a rancher who will sell to me for less, but they are hard to find. And we live in North Dakota, go figure!

      • Emily says:

        @Rachael, I agree with you. I live (and go to school) in South Dakota, and would love to be able to afford organic meat, and practically anything once I finish my graduate work.

  • Dawn says:

    Another little tip I’ve noticed with the skimping in meat – if I use stew meat in a casserole (or Hamburger Helper or whatever), I can use at least 1/2 the amount (sometimes even 1/3 less) and noone even notices! Keep in mind, I buy my meat the day it’s expiring and many times get stew meat for less than ground burger, turkey, etc. Another thing I’ve done – use chopped up boiled chicken instead of ground meat in casseroles. It’s actually a really nice twist, especially with Tater Tot Casserole.

  • Nicole says:

    I also live 45 minutes outside chicago… and have double coupon envy. I am excited to see the next post.

  • Lana says:

    I’m another one in CA living in the Land of No Doubles. For those that have a Fresh and Easy market, they have a clearance section (for lack of a better term) where they place items that are expiring or close to expiring. During the day, the same-day items are reduced 50%, and the later in the evening it gets, they are reduced to 80% off. This is a great way to stock up on meat. Buy extra and freeze. This goes for all the fresh stuff in the store. If there is something you want and it is expiring that day and it hasn’t been moved/marked, you can ask them for 50% off , and they will give it to you (at least my store does). I have bought a $4 salad for .67 and taken it for lunch the next day. Perfectly good. Hope this helps.

  • christina says:

    Man, when I started couponing and reading all the bloggers’ budgets I felt like I must have been doing something crazy wrong – until I figured out that their stores were all doubling coupons!

    I live in FL and have a budget of $60/wk for a family of four (Mom, Dad, & two 9-year-olds). I’m proud to have been able to shave off $25 per week by using coupons and BOGO deals.

    I never would have been able to accomplish even that much without MSM and a few other sites! Now we have more money, and our cupboards are stocked – and I don’t compare myself to others anymore.

    • Ashley P says:

      @christina, DANG! We live in FL too, and we have a budget of $60/week for just the 2 of us! We often spend less than that, though, and some weeks we don’t buy anything at all because we visit the in-laws in Tampa.

      We buy hamburger in bulk at Sam’s. Hubby’s a wonder chef who can do a million and a half things with ground chuck. And we usually buy a large brisket once a month. Since it’s just 2 of us, that one brisket (properly divided and frozen) makes Sunday dinner for 4 weeks.

      And we will often have a baked potato with broccoli and cheese all by itself. I eat every 2 hours, so my stomach is small, and I don’t eat much in one sitting. And hubby usually eats one large meal a day (dinner) besides a bowl of cereal for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch.

      Once a month, we do splurge on steaks because we like having company over and hubby loves to grill.

      And, as you know, there are virtually 1,000,000 uses for chicken. The only meat we don’t really buy anymore is pork. It’s just gotten too expensive down here.

  • Sylvia says:

    I am SO excited about this series! Here is South Texas there are also no doubles 🙁 However with sales and coupons I manage to still do pretty well I think. Cutting back on meat definitely helps.

    We are big beans fans and I’ll make a big pot of chili with 1 lb of meat, 2 cans diced tomatoes, 2 cans beans, 1 can of corn which stretches out the meat a little. I also make a chicken stir fry with chicken, black beans, and pineapple.

    I also like adding beans to salads. We frequently make chicken or shrimp salads and ill add a can of beans and cut back on the meat. We also do quesadillas with refried beans a lot too instead of meat.

    I can usually get beef, pork, chicken for under $2 a lb (boneless, skinless on the chicken) and I’ll stock up a little when I see that price.

  • Anna says:

    OK…I must be really missing something…I still don’t know what it means to “double coupon”. Will someone please explain. I’ve heard a lot of people say it but I haven’t figured it out yet….Thanks.

    • Andrea says:

      @Anna, many stores (in some geographic regions) will double the value of a coupon. For example, I live in Georgia and my store will double the value of all coupons 50 cents or less. So my 25 cent coupon becomes 50 cents. My 50 cent coupon becomes a $1. But a 75 cent coupon just stays 75 cents. Make sense? Obviously not all stores do that. Hope that helps!

      • Brandy says:

        @Andrea, And just to clarify for those who are unsure….the store absorbs the cost of the doubled portion…not the manufacturer. They do it as a way to compete with other grocery stores…who wouldn’t want to shop at the store with the better coupon policy?

      • Anna says:

        @Andrea, So do you have to have more than one of a particular item or will they double even you are buying one of it? The rest makes sense, thanks! I will start asking around 🙂

      • Carol says:

        @Andrea,

        My store in Ohio doubles a coupon up to a 99 cent coupon… so at my store a 75 cent coupon doubles to $1.50 … I’ve never seen a coupon over 75 cents and under $1 though but if there was a 99 cent coupon would double to $1.98!

    • Rhonda says:

      @Anna, Stores in some areas, like mine, will double the face value of coupons up to a certain amount. Example, Meijer Store will double coupons up to 50 cents (i.e., 50 cents becomes $1, 35 cents becomes 70 cents, etc.). Stores and areas will differ with the face amount they will double (some double up to $1!). Some stores will double an unlimited number of coupons, while others will double only 2 of the same kind of coupon. Lots of little rules, that are pretty easy to learn/remember…and well worth it!

    • Angie says:

      @Anna, I live in south eastern Pennsylvania (45 minutes north of Philadelpia). I shop at Giant and they will double coupons with a face value up to .99 – I rarely see coupons with a value greater than .75 but less than 1.00, so the most I can save on one item with a double coupon is 1.50 (a .75 coupon doubled). Unfortunatley, they only double one like coupon per transaction, so any more than 1 like coupon will only go through at the face value (I have bought 2 of the same item and had 2 coupons with different values…one for .50 and one for .35 and both of them doubled since they were for different values, even though they were for the same item). Another unfortunate thing about Giant is their internet coupon policy…they won’t accept any internet coupons with a value of $5 or higher, and they won’t accept any internet coupons for a free item (B1G1 coupons included).

      • Lee says:

        @Angie, I live in a different part of PA and shop at giant. However my giant only doubles 1 like coupon up to a dollar. So my 4.75 coupon becomes $1. And the grocery deals are few and far between. Since I don’t really eat pre packaged foods it is difficult for me to keep our grocery budget for 5 at $100. My husband also loves meat and we have it at least 5 times a week (although he loves veggies too)! My 3 boys go through fruit at 3-4 pieces a day and veggies too. I try to keep food simple, but wholesome and some of it organic.

  • Julie says:

    I’m fortunate to live in an area where grocery stores do double coupons.
    Still, I try not to make meat the focus of our meals. For health reasons, we need to have protein at each meal, so I use cheese or beans (or both) when we have a meatless dinner.
    I also try to get to the grocery store around the time they mark down the about-to-expire meats. If I’m not using them for that night’s dinner, I either freeze them as soon as I get home or cook them and then freeze them.

  • We too live in the land of no double coupons (Las Vegas). In addition, our prices are typcially higher than what I see posted in blogland. I’ll see deals where people are getting free or close to free deals at Target, and my Target will be charging .60-$1.00 more per item than I am seeing in other places, which means these deals are not only NOT free, but not always good deals at the higher price.

    Our family of 8 has been eating from our pantry for so long, and with limited funds to no funds to stock up, so when I do have a chance to go to the store, I look for the free deals (and there still are some!) and I look for the cheapest-priced food per pound. I look for potatoes on sale at .20 a pound, free or close to it shampoo, and a coupon and a sale for every item that I am able to get. Most of the time, I stay home from the store!

    I also concentrate on making the least expensive meals that I can. For the last 6 months, most of my meals have fed all of us for less than $1 -$3. Today’s lunch (my husband and children eat at home) for all of us cost about $1.50, and it was enough for us to have a second meal from as well.

    I’ve also found that a garden is extremely helpful in keeping us supplied in fresh produce. I’ve had asparagus, artichokes, figs, grapes, apples, apricots, peaches, cherries, plums, butternut squash, lettuce, swiss chard, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, green onions, and a huge variety of fresh herbs from our garden.

    I know we would get a lot better deals if we lived elsewhere, but we eat the least expensive meals that we can, and we make it work with what we have on hand.

    • Abbie says:

      @The Prudent Homemaker, I have a question for you…my apple trees (and everyone I know) didn’t seem to do too well this year. I am trying to decide if it is worth my money and time to go buy a bushel from the store (they are on sale this week) to make applesauce. Is the cost worth the reward? Or is it more cost effective to go buy applesauce? Thanks!

      • @Abbie, How much are they? If they are .50 a pound or less, it’s still a lot less than buying applesauce, and it’s a lot less than you would pay for apples most of the fall (here they run $1.49 to $1.99/lb most of the time; we get one or two sales a year at .50 a pound–SOMETIMES, if at all). So, if you can get a great deal, I would buy them. I can’t remember exactly how much I figured it cost me per quart last year, but I looked at it compared to the price of the cheapest applesauce I could buy (generic)–on sale–and it was still much cheaper than that–by about a $1 a quart. My husband was wondering if the cost was worth it, so I ran the numbers last year, and that’s what I came up with.

        My family eats a quart of applesauce at a meal, and it makes perfect baby food as well.

  • Christine says:

    thanks! no one ever doubles here either (washington state), nor is anything as cheap as is listed on this blog. I appreciate this blog for other things, but I spent a little bit of time trying to figure out how to get my grocery budget anywhere near $50/week and still have ANY fresh fruits and veggies or meat. Strawberries on sale at Dillons for $1/lb? Don’t have a dillons. Have never, in my life, seen strawberries that cheap, even if I pick them myself. Now I just use the blog for ideas on how to save money and skip the actual dollar amounts listed, especially if doubling is mentioned.

    Thanks for sharing a different perspective!

  • Jan says:

    We have a one store that doubles- but since we have been trying to eat more healthy- more whole food- there are no health food stores that double. So my grocery bill has shot up. I would like to see some (more) tips for eating whole food on a budget (not just organic). Love these guest posts!

  • carla says:

    I am ready to start again! There are just two of us and I spend too much money, and we are not eating fancy! I know what I need to do. . . PLAN ahead, shop sales, eat more vegetables, less soda, etc! Thanks for the encouragement. My husband does not want me to use the envelope system, but I think I can come up with an alternate plan of budgeting, by simply writing down the amount I want to spend and use my debit card “pretending” it is cash. Does that make sense?
    Carla

    • Carie says:

      @carla, I used to do a debit card and pretend it was cash. I kept a check registry with a column for each “envelope” instead and deduct from there. It helped, but I have switched back to old cash and I use the Savvy Cents wallet that was featured on MSM a while back. LOVES it!

    • Cassie says:

      @carla,
      My husband, who is the breadwinner, didn’t want to use the envelope system either. I kind of just put it in place..oops! I think he feels silly “asking” for money because I have the envelopes, but he is thrilled with how much we are saving and seems really enthused about it! Good luck!

      • Amy J says:

        @Cassie, My husband wasn’t so keen on the “envelope system” either, but we worked out a compromise. We pay strictly cash for groceries, and then get a cash allowance every time there is a paycheck. Our allowance is ours to spend (though we spend it on each other most of the time), and that covers any eating-out or “date nights”.

        Rather than having cash envelopes, we have 3 savings accounts in addition to our checking. 1 saving account is in a separate bank and has funds directly deposited from his paycheck, and that covers our long-term savings.

        The other two accounts cover our “envelopes”. With our budget, we calculated how much would need to be set aside per paycheck, and rather than take the cash out, we reallocate to the other savings accounts. One covers the “big payments” (home insurance, car insurance, property taxes), and the other account covers gifts, car repair, etc. Then, when some cost comes up, it makes it easy to transfer out of that envelope and into our checking accounts.

        Since we live in a rural area (and a decent drive from a bank branch or ATM), this system seemed to work best for us. So far, we’ve stuck with our budget, and I’m even hoping to begin cutting it back further so that we can begin paying down our debts faster!

  • Lisa says:

    I live in the land of doubles everyday. However, the manufacturers coupons in my area make it hard to double. My friends in no double land will get a .50 coupon and we will get the same product coupon that is $1/2. Since doubling is to .99 its a no go. Lately to get free or close to free food I shop combining coupons, sales and catalinas. Also, I use RiteAid for some food items. Quaker Oats 18oz are on sale next week, so combining the 5/25 with $1 off 2MQ, +ups and the Single Check Rebate the oatmeal should be free.

  • Ginny says:

    Hooray! Someone else without double coupons in their area! Can’t wait to read part II tomorrow.

  • SRJ says:

    We try to eat at least 7 servings of fruits and veggies a day, beans and legumes, and whole grains. I find that my family is constantly hungry if I skimp on meat, no matter how healthy we eat. I’m sure that some others are like us. Incidentally, our family is of normal weight and rarely gets ill. I think meat is an important source of vitamins, minerals, and protein. We do not gorge on meat, but we eat enough so we don’t have “snack attacks” throughout the day.

    Adult pioneers used to eat 5-8 pounds of meat a day at times because hunting was quicker than growing crops (or the only available way to get food in the winter). Eating 5-8 oz of meat in a day isn’t much by comparison.

  • Hannah says:

    Cutting back on meat is an extremely effective way to keep your budget as low as possible. We never have meat as a “dish” in itself. I usually cook one pot dinners as a time and money saver. As a rule I use half the amount of meat called for and double the rest of the ingredients to make the money and my efforts stretch farther.

  • Cassie says:

    First of all, I love this website!!! I am constantly finding great ideas and tips to being a frugal domestic diva:) This message is for Clair, the author of the article. I live north of Chicago in Kenosha WI and I shop at Pick n Save which has double coupon days 2 days a week. You have to spend at least $25 dollars and can only double 5 coupons but that saves at least 10 dollars a week. Also, I only shop by the ad and for 4 weeks now have stuck to a $40 budget! Thanks for the inspiration friends:) Also, we have an amazing store here called Woodmans. They don’t have double coupons but their prices blow any store out of the water including walmart! Maybe you’re not too far from this area and can check it out!!

  • dana says:

    No doubles here in MT. But, our family of 13 full-time RVs, and we head south in the winter. I’m sure that the people that see me excitedly grocery shopping at Fry’s in AZ think that I am a total flake! It is just like Christmas, and my DH can’t understand the thrill of matching sales and double coupons! 😉

  • Marla says:

    We live in Central Florida. No double coupons, grocery stores closing and our prices always seem to be double what most are. It just doesn’t seem fair!

    • elizabeth says:

      @Marla, I am in FL and we have had a lot of store closings too. What’s with that???

      • Marla says:

        @elizabeth, As a lifetime resident in central florida I am convinced that they have continued to push everything to the tourist market also to the upper income – we have had numerous “mini”towns built with expensive homes and one grocery store, Publix. But the low-cost no frills store are few and far (literally, distance is an issue) between. What are your thoughts?

  • Nanc says:

    I found this post interesting but am I the only one with three teenage boys and a husband to feed? I don’t think the skimping on the meat is going to fly in this house. All it will do is cause the kitchen to open up again an hour later and they’ll be sniffing around for more food. 🙂 I’m sure these ideas will work for other homes though. Looking forward to reading part 2.

    • Jessica S. says:

      @Nanc, I ration out the meat and provide large amounts of filler, like mashed potatoes. (I have a husband, 3 teens-2 of them boys, and 5 younger children.)

    • nancy l. says:

      @Nanc, FINALLY!!! Someone else in my shoes! I too have 3 boys (2 teens and younger son) and can never figure out how people stick to $40 a week to feed a family of 5. One of my teens is 6’5″ and the other is right behind him. They would starve on a $40 budget! LOL We do have some stores that double coupons up to 50 cents but they only double the first coupon for an item. They used to double them all and I could get 10 of the same item free or nearly free. It was great for cereal and staples that we go through pretty quickly. I still try to stick to 70-80 dollars a week which includes all of our milk and toiletries too. I use a grocery outlet first (they don’t take coupons but their prices rock!) and then hit the grocery store for our produce (what we don’t grow in our garden) and other stuff that the outlet doesn’t have. I love this website for the great tips on how to save even more money. I’m always looking for more ways to cut back! Thanks for the ideas!!

      • Nanc says:

        @nancy l., Wow, you are good. We are actually a family of 6. I didn’t include my 9 year old daughter because she wouldn’t mind if I cut out half the meat in our dinners but I would hear it from the guys. I already have many times! I think it’s great that people are able to do this and it works for them! I love saving money and am practical to the core. We have never been in debt. And, I started extreme couponing about one year ago so that we could remain out of debt. Everytime I have a good week at the grocery store something breaks down in our house or car. 🙂 I am down to around $140 per week which believe me is an improvement. I am trying to stockpile so that we can be closer to the 80 – 100 per week range.

        • nancy l. says:

          @Nanc, LOL – The key word is “try” to stay in my budget. I don’t always make it – especially the weeks that I buy meat. I try to only ‘reduced’ meat or on a very good sale. We usually eat chicken and ground turkey so that helps some. But most weeks it feels like I’m feeding endless pits. : ) I do already have a decent stockpile – mostly dry goods and toiletries. I have family members and a couple of friends that I share coupons with so I can get more than one of a good deal. I look at it as part of my job to save as much as I can. It means that I can stay home part time with our sons and that’s worth the trade off of my time to coupon and shop smart. I don’t have it perfected but it works for us for now.

      • happymom4 says:

        @nancy l., Right, we have a teen boy (with wheat AND dairy allergies) AND a teen girl, and then two youngers who have VERY healthy appetites. There’s no way under the sun I can keep my bill at what even people with a similar size family claim . . . we have hypo-glycemia issues for several of us, so that means lots of protein, and while we like beans, beans don’t like us much . . and we’d like to be able to circulate in public. 😉 So I do what I can, but I know if we don’t eat wisely and carefully we’ll end up costing ourselves more in health care costs, and since Dh is self-employed and we must pay for our own ins. . . . keeping our health care costs down is very important.

        • nancy l. says:

          @happymom4, I know what you mean about health care costs. Our youngest son (6) has a lot of croup and sinus/allergy issues. Our insurance is through my husband and it’s not very good. We try, too, to eat well and stay healthy to keep those costs down. Fortunately, my family loves beans and other than the normal side effects ; ) they go over very well here. We try to eat meatless at least once a week. In the winter, we do soup and bread every Friday night. It’s hot and filling and the boys really like it. A very wise mom (mine) told me when I was younger that the key is to do the best you can with what you have to work with. I try to keep that in mind and not get discouraged when it looks like someone else is doing better with their budget than I am. It’s not always easy, but I try. : )

  • Jessica S. says:

    No doubles here either. 🙁 We have two local grocery stores, no chains. They do have catalinas but they are oblivious about how to get them. The cashiers think it’s just random… They(catalinas) are never advertised in the store ads. One grocery store won’t take IP’s any more. They other one questions every coupon you use.(I once bought a package of marked down lunchmeat in the clearance bin. It was $.99. It had a $.60 peelie on it. I had to take my receipt to costumer service for something that they overcharged me for and they questioned me on how I got the lunchmeat for $.39!!)

  • Emily says:

    We have a grocery store that doubles coupons here in NH and MA, however they will not double the coupon if it says “Do not double”. Trouble is about 90% of coupons say this. So, in the end, I can rarely double a coupon.

  • Corrine says:

    No doubles here in Northern Michigan either. We do have a Meijer and Rite Aid and that is where I do most of our shopping. My family purchases beef by the 1/4 from a local farmer and get a pretty good deal on it. We have also purchased 1/2 of a pig from a butcher shop that puts on a special once a year. That helps that we only have to purchase chicken from the grocery store.

    • Dela Prado says:

      @Corrine, I have always lived by a Meijer( I am in Northern KY, before in Cincinnati, and before that Columbus, Oh. ) All the Meijer’s stores I lived by doubled coupons. I just assumed they all do! That is very unfortunate. I also live by Kroger, and they also double! I think Meijer should have the same policy across the board.

  • Richelle says:

    No doubling of coupons in my area either (in the Quad-Cities area, on the Iowa-Illinois border)! I also, like many of the posters above, have major coupon envy!!!

  • Amy H says:

    I think i coupon a little bit differently than most… I try to get the healthiest foods i can (and some goodies for the kids, of course) when i can pair a sale/promo/coupon(s) and i take my ‘savings’ to better afford local and organic foods that i might not be able to fit into our budget otherwise. For example, if i were going to spend $100 at the grocery store (pre-coupon) and end up spending $60 thanks to couponing/stockpiling i will then take that $40 savings and apply it to my CSA share (veggies), my own garden, and/or local/organic dairy and meats. My actual grocery expenditure has gone down slightly since i began couponing a little over a year ago, but my pantry and freezer is full, my CSA share is coming in every week, my garden is still producing and i feel like i am able to support my family and local families by buying local/organic as often as i can. Otherwise, it would have been fairly cost-prohibitive to ‘vote with my wallet’

  • elizabeth reisner says:

    Mummydeals was the very first couponing site I discovered while surfing the net for ideas to cut costs on, well, everything in order to keep us off the welfare line! In fact I use to brag about the money I was saving by following her instructions. Of course everyone I told thought it sounded too difficult, and didn’t even wanna try it. Well 2 years later, I don’t know anyone who isn’t following her site, your site, or other sites like them. It reminds me of giving advice to a teenager. They fight and kick in refusal of following your advice. Then later they turn around and act like they had this epiphany, lol.

    Anyways, i’m excited to read more on this. Thanks!

  • Brook says:

    Our stores here don’t double, but we are a very small town. It’s about an hour to any big “chain” stores. The stores here do case lot sales and a “big meat bananza” once a year though. We try to stock up when they do that or have other good sales.
    Often the sales are on bigger cuts of meat that the stores meat dept. hasn’t cut down to individual portions yet. If you don’t mind cutting it down yourself, it’s a good way to save. Plus you get to have your steak or pork chop the size your family prefers. We like our pork chops a little thicker. 🙂 And my husband trims off more of the fat than the store ever would.
    We also live in a hunting area and almost always have elk and/or venison in the freezer. (If you don’t hunt-make friends with someone who does. Possibly trade cooking a stew or chili for some extra meat.)
    I’ve been wanting to join a CSA for a few years, but always forget to save up the money in time ($300-$400). That would increase our veggie supply.
    I have a friend who calls herself a “fiscal vegetarian.” They mostly eat vegetables because meat is so much more expensive.

  • dawn says:

    no doubles here, either. so sad, especially since I used to live where they doubled and tripled (up to 33 cent coupons). but glad I am not alone! 🙂

  • Risha says:

    Thanks for the tips! I don’t live in an area without double coupons, but my stores’ doubling practice aren’t as generous as others around the country (ie- raising coupons over .50 to the value of a dollar). However, these are some of things I practice to save on our grocery budget. We hardly ever eat a piece of stand-alone meat; it’s always mixed into something. Last night I used Crystal’s Southwest Rollup recipe, but I only used 1 chicken breast mixed in with rice and beans. My husband would also be thrilled if we ate red meat every night, and I am thankful that he is supportive of my attempts at reducing our meat purchase and consumption.
    I was recently with a group of women and someone mentioned that she didn’t think her single daughter could live on a grocery budget of $200/month. I said that I feed my family of 4 (with 2 kids under age 4) for less than $400/month, and one of the women responded that she spends more than that for just her and her husband! Yikes! And I feel like my budget is on the high end!

  • joni says:

    I am just starting to collect coupons and learn to shop the deals. Does anyone know if Kroger doubles coupons even if they say don’t double. That is something I have ran into over 75% of mine say don’t double but may be for only like 35 or 40 cents.

    • Jennifer2 says:

      I live nearby and shop at a Dillons which is affiliated with Kroger. My store doubles coupons even when they say “do not double.” I have no problems whatsoever with Dillons and using my coupons. I have never been questioned about my coupons and if a coupon scans differently than what is said on the coupon, they quickly change it no questions asked. After reading everyone else’s stories, I guess I’m pretty lucky. And Dillons takes multiple coupons of the same item (ie. 10 coupons for 10 tubes of toothpastes.) Hopefully, my store will stay “coupon friendly.” 🙂

    • Sherri says:

      @joni, If a coupon UPC starts with a 5, then the register will automatically double it (up to the value of the item). But if it starts with a 9 (many of the blinkie coupons do), then it will not double. I had only one instance where a cashier read the coupon and manually un-doubled it, (I was NOT happy!) but that has only happened once in 15 years. The best way to find out what will happen in your local store is to go in and try out a few- then you’ll know for sure.

  • Vanessa says:

    I am also in that land far, far away {Western Maine} 🙂 I have to drive an hour in order to double coupons and needless to say, I don’t think it’s worth the gas money although I have been very tempted at times to try it. Thank you so much for this article. Now I can stop feeling sorry for myself and do something about it! 🙂

  • Kayla says:

    We shop at Whole Foods, we eat organically and non processed foods… The ABSOLUTE highest our bill has ever been from them is 94 and that was AFTER we moved across the country and had to do a major stock up. Our grocery bill is anywhere from 30-60 dollars per week. It generally hovers around 40 allowing 20 for bulk stock up items every few weeks.

    • Sarah says:

      @Kayla, okay, I want your secrets! We don’t have Whole Foods anywhere nearby- no Trader Joe’s, nada. There’s a good sized organic section at the local market, but it’s INSANELY expensive. What are your go-to foods? What type of things do you just plain avoid? thanks!!

  • Missy says:

    We live in the land of no-doubles, also! I’m a single mother (ie: very limited budget) with three children and my grocery budget balances out to approx $70 per week includng cleaning supplies & diapers. It’s very challenging and I do not have extra hours to spend “couponing.”

    Still, my children are happy, healthy and eat a diverse selection of foods. I’m glad for the help!

  • lindsey says:

    I too live in the land of no double couponing about 35 miles outside Chicago and i def feel a pang of jealousy when i hear the stories people tell of free groceries. however, what we lack in couponing we gain in variety of stores and have an abundance of ethnic grocery stores! I get my fish from out local asian market for so much cheaper than at the local chain grocery store. we may lack in double couponing but i wouldnt trade the variety!

  • Heather says:

    The very best way to buy beef is to find a butcher shop (I know Chicagoland still has them–my family is largely in that area), and buy your beef a quarter of a cow at a time, and put it in the freezer. the price is MUCH better, and the quality usually is, too. In a rural area, it will often be meat from some local farmer, that hasn’t even been to a feedlot. Plus the butcher will cut and package it to YOUR specs–no repackaging bulk packs of hamburger, etc at home!

  • Amanda H. says:

    No doubles here either. I live in WI and the price of milk and meat is higher here than when we lived in WA! I don’t buy meat nearly as much as I used to. Before we would have at least 2 meals a week that contained hamburger, now it is less than once a week! The upside is that I have lost weight, haha!

  • Dawn says:

    One of the best ways I’ve found to skimp on meat is to make lots of homemade soups. Put in tons of veggies, beans, or pasta with a small amount of shredded chicken or other meat. Healthier, and no one notices how little meat is actually in there!

  • Rolled oats have been my secret ingredient for a long time. Not only in boxed baked goods, but in taco meat and meatloaf and other burger dishes. They soak up some of the grease and take on the flavor of the burger. No one ever notices the difference!

  • Christine says:

    I live where no one doubles either now. The funny thing was back 18 years ago I worked at Homeland in Amarillo and they doubled to a dollar. Since I lived at home at the time and didn’t grocery shop much I didn’t realize how great that was. My mom who didn’t use coupons very often. Boy, do I wish I had that back now. The money I could save. I keep praying for an Publix or Kogers or anything now.

  • Carrie says:

    I live in Western Michigan – no doubles here either! 🙁

    I actually live near 3 Meijer stores (all within 15 minutes of my house) and they don’t double. Apparently, they must only double in other states?

    Wow, what I could do if we did have doubles around here!

  • Jen says:

    I am not sure exactly where you live in Il, but we live in Algonquin…. and LOVE Caputos!!!! They have one in Palatine and another in Des Plaines… the sales they have on meat and fruit is unbeatable! and they take coupons too!

  • Ann says:

    I am sooo lucky to live in an area where 2 major chains double up to a dollar 2 times a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. One store limits the amount of doubles and one store lets you use unlimited doubles! I have been able to get so many free or really cheap items that my family is amazed. I put all the items out on our kitchen island and have my husband and the kids guess my grand total!

  • bekarene says:

    Skimping on meat is my new favorite way to save too! In fact I just made a delicious Texas chili and replaced a lot of the meat with a variety of beans. It was easy and adds a nice boost of fiber and other nutrients. If you’re interested in trying this strategy, I would suggest egg dishes (quiche, omlettes, frittata) and pasta with lots of cheesy goodness to start with, especially if your family is aghast at the idea of eating less meat. If you want to be adventurous, you can also start experimenting with Indian and Middle Eastern inspired cusine (curries, falafel, etc.). Even just eating gooey grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for a casual dinner will cut down on your grocery bill. Plus, it’s yummy! Even my Nebraska-raised, meat loving husband really enjoys eating meatless or reduced-meat meals now. Try it!!

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