Welcome to Southern Savers, where finding deals and steals is simple and rewarding!

See I told you, this would help!

Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure here.

saving on groceries

As we get into gear on new budgets and goals, I want to spend the next few weeks helping us all go back to basics on how to cut the grocery budget.

Before we can even talk coupons, we have to talk sale prices.  The biggest savings you can get is buying items at their lowest and best price (coupons are really icing on the cake).  If a box of cereal is regularly $4.49 a box, you can save 50% just by waiting for the best sale.  Notice that I didn’t say “a sale”.  Grocery stores always have things on “sale”, but they lie.  We want to learn what the lowest prices for items are and only buy them at that price.

We’ll call this lowest price a stock up price.  Prices for each item will vary week by week at the grocery store, and your goal is to only buy them when they are the lowest price the store is going to offer them at.  To do this it helps to have a lowest price list (on paper or in your head).  When an item is in the price range you stock up on it!!  Sales run on cycles so you won’t see this low price again for 6-8 weeks, get enough to get you through until the next time you see this price.

Before you go out and start tracking prices with master spreadsheets let me help.  You can use two features of Southern Savers to make this a quick process:

  • Print my buy price list.
  • Use the item search.  Type in a product you buy and put a date from a month ago.  The item search will show all the deals we’ve seen in the past month for that item and give you an easy idea of what a great price is!

If you want to create your own buy price list make sure to set prices at reasonable levels.  You don’t want to record that cereal should only be 25¢ or less because you got an amazing deal one time on it.  You want to go with a general price that we see more often.  If you only look for the most amazing prices, you’ll quickly starve…

Now that you have an idea of what you want to pay for certain items we begin the process of stocking up and no longer shopping based on needs, but only shopping based on sales.  More on that tomorrow!

    • Michelle G

      Looking over the “buy price list” and noticed that prices are with coupons. Since coupons are icing on the cake, wouldn’t I want a “buy price list” with best price to buy before coupon?

    • alison772

      One thing I’ve wondered about the buy list for a long time is the quantity/size for the price listed on some things – especially in the last section where only bleach and laundry detergent give a size. There are many other things on the list (from condiments to diapers) that lists a price but doesn’t tell what size/quantity that it is a good price for. JENNY – is there any way you could update the list a little bit to give this info?

      • SaraJ

        I agree, the product size and price per unit sometimes are hard to figure out! Sometimes the unit price of a smaller sized sale item is still higher than buying a larger version that isn’t on sale. I think sometimes it’s a matter of how many coupons you have too. Like a couple weeks ago Bisquick was on sale but since I only get 1 paper subscription I had 1 coupon so for me it was better to get the bigger box with the lower cost-per-ounce. But if I had 2 paper subscriptions and 2 copies of that coupon maybe 2 smaller boxes would have been the way to go since a higher part of it could have been paid for with coupons.

        • alison772

          Sara – I agree that sometimes it is cheaper to buy the larger size even when smaller size is on sale. Case in point – smaller bag of Cooked Perfect Meatballs was on sale (I think part of mega sale) but even with sale and coupon it was cheaper for me to buy the larger size bag that was almost twice the price and use my coupon b/c it made the price per ounce lower than the smaller size on sale. But on the opposite end – some stores know we assume the larger size is the better deal and sell it for a higher price per ounce – I have seen this with regular Cheerios where the largest box was more per ounce than the mid-size boxes (since you can buy it in like 4 different sizes). ALWAYS look at price per ounce! I find that I am using way more printable coupons than newspaper coupons these days. For the longest time I only had one computer but I finally got a new laptop (my old one was from 2007 with XP which was not safe for financial transactions anymore) so now I can print 2 copies from each computer at home and if it is a really good one I’ll go to my mom’s and print two there. My mom has a newspaper subscription (and I did not) so I was getting her coupons – my paper just recently ran a promotion that if you paid $60 up front for a whole year of Sunday papers you got a $30 Visa gift card – I jumped on that deal since it made the paper $0.58 a week. Newspapers are struggling these days with everything online – since you already have a subscription, call and ask for a deal for a 2nd Sunday paper – if they don’t offer you something good just tell them “I won’t pay more than $XX a week – call me when you have a better deal”. If they know you are interested and call you a few times and that is always your answer you will probably end up with a deal b/c they need the business! Or see if you can find somebody who doesn’t coupon and will give you their coupons – a few years ago I found a lady online (can’t remember what website I found her through) who only lived 1/4 a mile from me so I wasn’t wasting gas in the process and would put her coupons in a plastic grocery bag on her porch every week for me to come pick up.

    • alison772

      Addition to my previous comment in terms of updating price list.

      I usually use price per ounce when trying to find the lowest price for an item between stores/sizes of an item. Using this on the official buy list might be unrealistic because some people are not great with math and the price per ounce listed by the store is the price before coupon (and also before subtracting mega-sale discount) so you have to do the additional math yourself (could be put in parentheses for those of us who are).

      But it is a great idea for someone making their own buy list if they have no trouble doing the math. I haven’t made my own written buy list (I have a mental one but need a more detailed written one) but I have just recently started wanting to buy jasmine and basmati rice. I have been trying to determine the lowest price I can get it for (at different stores/sizes) using price per ounce.

      Coupons aren’t really figuring into it b/c these rices are typically sold as raw rice you cook rather than instant rice and the store brands offer larger bags at much lower price per ounce. It seems like I rarely get rice coupons that you could use on the few brands that do offer these in instant rice plus my Kroger often doesn’t carry them – which annoys me to no end. The notable exception being the recent mega sale including ready to eat Minute rice cups and Success boil in bag rice – I was out of luck on the minute rice cups (Minute rice makes jasmine rice cups but of course my Kroger doesn’t carry them) but they did have Success jasmine rice and I printed coupons from every printer I could get access to and stocked up!. I felt like I hit the jackpot – I love the thrill of getting something I really want at a deal! Sorry for the long rambling post but sometimes you just want to share shopping successes with those who understand – regular people don’t “get” me being excited about getting a bunch of boxes of success rice at a great price LOL!

    • SaraJ

      I’ve found it’s worth also noting/remembering the price of generic items for comparison too. Some things it’s very rare to get a better bargain in name brand even when it’s sale + coupon. My latest example was Pilsbury cinnamon rolls – even sale + coupon was never cheaper than the every day store price of the Harris Teeter brand. And another example is diapers, I do the math on name brand sales but it’s very very rare that the Target brand isn’t the better deal on price per diaper.

    • alison772

      Not trying to insult anyone’s intelligence, but here is a little math help for anyone who has trouble doing the math to find price per ounce after factoring in discounts from sales and coupon use.

      Let’s say an item is 22 ounces and the regular price is $5 – the store’s tag will list the price per ounce as 22.7¢/ounce or $0.227/ounce or might even round up to 23¢ or $0.23/ounce. Now let’s say that item is part of a mega-sale and it is $1 cheaper when you get it as part of the sale (the store’s sale tag rarely gives you the price per ounce of the mega-sale price). Pretend you also have a 55¢ coupon for that item.

      Okay, here is the math. Take the regular price ($5) and subtract the discount from the sale ($1) and the coupon (55¢). $5-$1=$4 and $4-$0.55=$3.45. So you are going to pay $3.45 for the item (that is the easy part).

      Now you need to figure out the price per ounce to know if the mega-sale with coupon ($3.45) price is really a good deal compared to the store brand or a different size of the name brand using your 55¢ coupon?

      So how do you do the math to get price per ounce? You take the price you are going to pay ($3.45) and divide it by the number of ounces (22) in the product. $3.45 ÷ 22oz = 15.68¢ (15.7¢) or $0.1568 ($0.157)/ounce. You now have a price per ounce for your item on sale for comparison!

      Occasionally, they will list price per pound on a item in the regular (non-meat/seafood) food sections where everything else is listed as price per ounce (this drives me crazy). Since you can’t compare apples (price per pound) to oranges (price per ounce), you have to do an extra step. There are 16 ounces in a pound so you just divide the price per pound by 16 to get the price per ounce. For example, if something is $7.55/pound it will be $0.47/ounce (7.55 ÷ 16 = 0.471).

      Obviously, unless your brain is a supercomputer, a calculator is a must have to do all this math. You can carry a simple dollar store calculator in your couponing organizer or you can use the calculator on your phone.

      Hope this helps someone! Happy New Year!!