Save food dollars by using coupons

By ANGELA TREADWAY / Guest Columnist

Do you cut out coupons and never use them? Do you organize your coupons inside a pocket of your handbag? Do you save coupons on your window sill and find them again months after they have expired? If you answer yes to any of these questions, chances are you are a coupon klutz. But do not despair. By making a few changes, you can be on the road to becoming the next coupon queen.

If you do not have a bunch of time to devote to couponing, you can still advance your skills by adding just a few strategic steps to your collecting process.

uShop at stores that double coupons: If you do not have a store in your area that doubles coupons it may be worth it to organize a shopping day in a town nearby that does have such a store. Buddy-up with a friend and make the trip together. Two pairs of eyes are better than one, and your friend may spot a deal that you may miss.

uLearn to spot when generic is better: Generic food products are made at the same companies that produce many of your favorite brand-name products. The packaging is all that is lacking. By pulling out your calculator and adding up the difference in using your coupon for a brand-name item versus buying generic, you will quickly figure out what direction will save you the most money. Remember, just because you have a coupon does not mean you have to use it. Always use the method that will save you the most.

uDouble-up your savings: Combining your coupon with other promotions going on in the store will save you a bundle. If you have a shopper’s card, look for those items that you have a coupon for that are also discounted with your shopper’s card. Double-up on two-for sales, such as two cans of soup for a discounted price, plus your coupon. This is also an excellent time to use the coupons that specify that you save only when you buy two of the same product. Always shop with the grocery store printouts of what is on sale so that you don’t miss any of the super buys.

If you are interested in taking a class on using coupons, you can attend a class in Columbiana with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System on the following date: April 11 from 6-9 p.m. at the Shelby County Extension Office in Columbiana. There is a $12 dollar registration fee and you need to pre-register with Angela Treadaway at 410-3696. You can pay your registration at the door.

Angela Treadway is the Regional Extension Agent in Food Safety Preservation and Preperation with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. She can be reached at 410-3696.