Step # 7:
Superior Coupon Planning
Which of the following is worth
the most to you?
A $100 a month pay increase.
B. Saving $90 a month by using coupons.
C. The monthly interest earned on $100.
D. Both A and C.
The savings you receive by
using coupons are savings with after tax dollars. Even if you
are in the lowest tax bracket of 15%, a $100 raise is only worth
$85 after taxes.
$1.25 for a newspaper on Sunday can turn into major savings in
coupons. Get to know your local grocery retailers. Many offer
double or triple coupons on certain days. This can add up to
double-digit savings on your grocery bill. (Personally, coupons
usually account for a 15-20% savings for me!)
READ THE ADS
Sunday grocery ads are filled with great weekly sales,
especially on meats and produce.
In 2003, 77% of people reported
that they have used coupons when shopping, saving an average of
11.5% on their grocery bills.
In 2003, manufacturers offered
more than $250 billion in coupon savings.
The average face value of
manufacturer's coupons offered to consumers increased 4.9% to
$.85 � more than double the pace of the Consumer Price Index,
which climbed 2.3% in 2003.
Coupon Use by Age:
68% of people age 18 - 24 use
75% of people age 25 - 34 use coupons.
78% of people age 35 - 44 use coupons.
79% of people age 45 - 54 use coupons.
80% of people age 55 - 64 use coupons.
75% of people ages 65 or older use coupons.
Coupon Use by Income:
77% of people with an income of
between $0 - $25,000 use coupons.
79% of people with an income of between $25,000 - $50,000 use
80% of people with an income of between $50,000 - $75,000 use
A Short History of Grocery
1894: Asa Candler, created the
first coupon. After purchasing the formula for Coca-Cola for
$2,300, he distributes hand written tickets for a free glass of
his new fountain drink.
1895: The first grocery coupon
was created by C.W. Post. He distributes a one-cent coupon for
his new health cereal, Grape Nuts.
1930's: During the Great
Depression, coupons come into their own as many households look
to save money any way they could.
1940's: Supermarkets come on
the scene. Coupons make the jump from neighborhood grocery
stores to these new regional grocery stores.
1957: Coupons create a new
industry, as the Nielsen Coupon Clearing House becomes the first
company devoted to coupon redemption.
1965: It is estimated that 50%
of all Americans use coupons.
1975: Over 35 billion coupons
are distributed and the number of households that use coupons
rose to an estimated 65%.
1995: The first coupons appear
on the Internet.
1998: America celebrates the
first National Coupon Month.
2002: Shoppers save and
estimated $3 billion dollars by redeeming some 3.8 billion
2003: The number of households
estimated using coupons stands at 77%.
Where Do I Find Coupons
I find one of the most
important sources on coupons is the Sunday newspaper coupon
insert. However, there are also a number of other choices where
you can get coupons to increase your savings.
The Sunday Newspaper:
Most Sunday newspapers come with two grocery coupon inserts.
From time to time, you want to check special inserts published
by the product manufacturers. They show a wide variety of
products that you find at your local grocery store. You
especially want to check for those brands that you often use,
these inserts can contain a wealth of savings.
Wednesday (Thursday) Newspapers:
In many areas, the Wednesday (sometimes Thursday) newspaper
includes a food section. They contain food related articles and
have weekly special advertisement fliers.
The weekly special fliers will
sometimes contain store specific coupons, which are only
redeemable at that store. Sometimes, you find a product
manufacturers' grocery coupon as well. Most stores also publish
their weekly special advertisement fliers.
Grocery Store Member's Clubs: More and more grocery stores
are abandoning physical coupons and distributing paperless
coupons an special offers through their store membership or
discount cards. These store programs are usually free to join so
they are worth the ten minutes it takes
to do so. The savings can be quite significant and the store
automatically deducts the savings when they swipe your
membership card at the register when checking out.
Although not a common place to find grocery coupons, women's
magazines do carry them from time to time. When they do, they
are usually quite a good deal so it pays to keep an eye out for
them if you subscribe to any.
You can sometimes find coupons on or in the products themselves.
They can come in a number of different forms. The most
convenient are those that can be peeled off the outside of the
package inside the store and presented at check-out for instant
savings. Coupons are also sometimes printed on the outside of
the product packaging and you have to cut it off the label or
box. Other times a coupon may be placed inside the packaging.
Trading coupons with others in your area is a great way to have
access to a lot more than you would normally find. Small groups
exist almost everywhere and they are easy to begin if there
isn't. All you need to do is gather a group of your friends and
have each member make a list of about 20 items that always use.
If you find a coupon that is on someone's list, you put it aside
for them. If you all live nearby you can meet at a designated
area and trade them. If you live farther apart, you can send an
envelope full of all the coupons you have gathered for each
friend once a month.
Some grocery stores have coupon swap bins within their store
where you can take coupons you want and leave coupons that you
will not use. Public libraries also have coupon swap bins on
Online Internet Coupons
The Internet provides a number
of websites you can visit to get printable grocery coupons. This
means that you are no longer limited to the coupons that happen
to arrive in your Sunday newspaper and should make saving with
coupons much easier. Here are a few of the better websites:
Smartsource is one of the companies that puts the coupon inserts
in your Sunday newspaper. Registration is free and coupons print
directly from your computer.
is another company that sends a variety of different coupons to
you through the mail. Their available coupons go well beyond
grocery store products, but they usually have at least a few
coupons for grocery stores available to print for free.
This is an online version of a free-standing newspaper coupon
insert that is available exclusively on newspaper websites.
Consumers can print the coupons by completing a simple
registration process and then using the print-at-home software
to download and print the coupons. There are approximately 250
newspaper websites offering these cents-off coupons.
The coupons from this website work a bit differently than
regular coupons do. These are the steps to their program:
1. Enter your zip code
2. Select a grocery store
3. Chose the coupons you want from those available and print the
4. Purchase one or more of the items on the page you printed out
5. Give the page you printed out to the cashier so she can scan
6. You receive a coupon for the amount of money that you saved
that you can use toward a purchase anything on your next grocery
You get your savings a trip
after you actually give the coupon sheet to the cashier instead
of instantly at the register as would happen with regular
This site has a coupon relationship with a number of grocery
stores including Kroger, Giant Eagle, Dillons, Ralphs, City
Market, Gerbes, Fry's, Smith's, Cala Foods, Beth Markets and
King Soopers. You select the coupons you want and they are
automatically transferred into your grocery store frequent
shopper card. When you hand the frequent shopper card over on
your next check out at the store, you instantly receive the
coupon savings you chose online.
Coupon Paid Membership Sites:
There are a number of websites that will provide coupons
specific coupons for a fee. Rarely are these sites worth the
price unless buying certain items consistently in bulk. If you
think they may be a good alternative in your situation, make
sure they can provided coupons your regularly use at a price
that is lower than the money you must spend for the membership.
They should have a preview function for coupons they currently
have in stock which you can go through to make the decision.
Also take note if they charge a handling fee with each order
which can quickly erode any savings the coupons provide.
Grocery Coupon Organizer
When you start to use coupons,
one of the first things you'll learn is that to fully utilize
them, you'll need to keep them organized. One of the most
frustrating feelings is being in the check-out line knowing that
you have a coupon for a product somewhere, but not being able to
There is no "best type" of
coupon organizer. Different systems work for different people
and you base your system on what works best for you. There are a
few general ways that most people who use coupons store them.
Here is the most basic form of organizer and the way most people
start off. For those who don't use a large variety of coupons,
envelopes can work just fine. As you expand, you can just add
more envelopes with different each envelope representing a
different category. The problem with envelopes is that finding
the exact coupon you want inside the envelope can be
For those who start collecting more coupons or find that
envelopes lack the organization they want or need, a small,
plastic recipe box can be the answer. You can use as many
dividers as your want to categorize your coupons, it's large
enough to hold a good number of coupons and there is enough
space to be able to find most coupons quickly. Some people use a
combination of a recipe box to organize their coupons at home
and place the ones they will use for their grocery store trip
into an envelope before leaving. The recipe box is also small
enough to be taken along to the grocery store on its own.
For those who start to gather a significant number of coupons,
the space that a shoebox offers can be helpful in organizing
your coupons. Again, dividers can be used to categorize the
coupons any way that is best for you. The problem is that they
are a bit large to use efficiently while grocery shopping. That
is why some people use them to organize the coupons they have at
home and them transfer the ones they will use when shopping to
either a recipe box or envelope system.
Plastic Coupon Organizer:
These are organizers made specifically to organize grocery
coupons. They are usually about the size of an envelope, but
expand with different sections inside to make accessing coupons
easier than an envelope. Many also come with a small device that
will allow you to attach the coupon organizer to your grocery
cart. You can usually find these advertised along side the
grocery coupons that come in the Sunday newspaper coupon
Binder Coupon Organizer:
This organizer is for those who like to be extremely organized
or have decided to take couponing quite seriously. These are
complete binder systems much like a day-planner that is able to
organize your coupons with quite a bit of detail. It is also
handy because it allows you to also keep your Grocery Price Book
giving you easy access to price information when you want to
combine good prices and coupons together. This convenience comes
with a price, however, and these systems usually run between $20
sometime Triple Coupon Grocery Stores
If you are lucky and live in
certain areas of the country, some grocery stores will double or
even triple manufacturers' coupons. This is where the grocery
store will match (usually with some limits) the price listed on
the coupon offered by manufacturers. Times and days when double
coupons are offered vary from store to store, so check with your
local store for days that they offer them.
You should also make sure that
the coupon you want to use does not say .Do Not Double on
it as this will most likely exclude it from the grocery store's
offer. Some stores will require you to join their store member
program and you'll have to present the program card before the
coupons will doubled.
Using double coupon days in
conjunction with sale items can greatly reduce the amount you
pay for groceries. Here is a list of some grocery stores around
the country that have double coupon programs. If you know of
others not on this list, please email me or leave a message
below and I will add it to the list.
Frequently, you will need to
convert recipes to different amounts. For example, you may have
a recipe for 10 servings of Swiss steak, but you only need 5
servings. Converting recipes is a very important technique.
Nearly everyone can double a recipe or cut it in half. It seems
more complicated to change a recipe from 4 to 7 or 8 to 5.
Actually, the principle is the same: you multiple each
ingredient by a number called a conversion factor, as follows:
1. Divide the desire yield by
the recipe yields: new yield / old yield = conversion factor
2. Multiple each ingredient
quantity by the conversion factor: conversion factor x old
quantity = new quantity.
(It is best to convert all
weights to ounces and all volumes to fluid ounces.)
Let's say Tom Mix Beans goes
from a 8 servings to a 5 servings.
New Yield/old yield = 5/8 =
1 pound dried beans = 16 oz.
so, 16 oz. x .625 = 10 ounces.
8 cups water = 64 ounces
64 ounces x .625 = 40 ounces = 5 cups
For the most part, these
conversion procedures work very well. However, when you make
some very large conversion, like from 10 to 400 portions, or
from 500 to 6. However, in the home context, this would be a
rare occurrence. Not only does it factor in reducing quantity of
ingredients and would change the kitchen equipment to do the
work. Importantly, it is going to increase or decrease the
Food service operations are
businesses. However, even though the home is not a business, you
still have to worry about budgets, cost and bills. (It's the
reason for the book.) You have a great deal of responsibility
for food cost controls. You must always be aware of accurate
measurements, portion control, and careful cooking and handling
of foods to avoid excess trimming loss, shrinkage, and waste.
In order to calculate portion
cost of recipes, you must first determine the cost of your
ingredients. For many ingredients, this is relatively easy. You
just look at your invoice or at a price list.
Many recipes, however, specify
trimmed weight rather than the weight you actually pay for. For
example, a stew might call for 1/2-pound of sliced onions. Let's
say you pay 24 cents a pound for onions, and to get 1/2-pound of
sliced onions, you need �-pound of untrimmed onions. In order
to calculate the cost of the recipe correctly, you have to
figure out what you actually paid for the onions. In this cast,
the true cost is 18 cents (3/4 times $.24 per lb.) not 12 cents
(1/2-pound times $.24 per lb.)
It is the total cost of all the
ingredients in a recipes, divided by the number of portions.
Portion cost = cost of ingredients / number of portions
I will cost out a sample recipe
to show you how the procedure works. First, not the following
points and keep them in mind when you are calculating portion
costs. Many errors is costing are caused by forgetting one of
1. Cost must be based on as
purchased amounts, even though recipes often give edible portion
quantities. For example if the chicken recipe calls for you to
remove skin, de-bone and chop chicken into pieces. The whole
chicken is the purchased amount and the skinless and de-boned is
the edible portion.
2. Include everything. That
means the lemon wedge and parsley garnish for the fish filled,
the cream and sugar that go with the coffee, and the oil that
was used for pan-frying the eggplant. You call these the hidden
cost. Seasoning and spices are a typical example of hidden costs
that are difficult to calculate. I've seen where some add up
the cost of all hidden items used in a year and divide that by
the total food costs to get a percentage. You add this
percentage to each item. For example, if the cost of an item is
$2.00 and the seasoning cost percentage is 5%, the total cost is
$2.00 plus 5% of $2.00, or $2.10. You can calculate other hidden
costs the same way. For example, you use Crisco Vegetable oil.
The bottle is 48 fl. oz. (The bottle contains 96 -1
tablespoon) The bottle cost $2.00 / 96 = $.02 per tablespoon.
3. Record the number of
portions actually served, not just the number of recipe is
intended to serve. If the roast beef shrank more that you
expected during cooking, or if you dropped a piece of cake on
the floor, those cost still have to be converted.
Procedures for calculating
1. List ingredients and
quantities of recipe as prepared.
2. Convert the recipe
quantities to as purchased quantities.
3. Determine the price of each
ingredient. The units in step 2 and 3 must be the same.
4. Calculate the total cost of
each ingredient by multiplying the price per unit by the number
of units needed.
5. Add up the ingredient cost
to get the total recipe cost.
6. Divide the total cost by the
number of portions served to get the cost per portion.
1 - pound ground beef
2 - cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
1 - can (15 ounces) red kidney beans, undrained
1 - package (1.25 ounces) chili seasoning
1 - cup shredded
Chopped onion (garnish)
1 - pound ground beef
2 - 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
1 - 15 ounce can red kidney beans
1 - 1.25 ounce package Chili Seasoning
1 - cup shredded
chopped onion (garnish)
Step 3 & 4
Ground beef = $3.99 / lb. = 3.99
2 cans tomato sauce = $.49 = $.98
1 can kidney beans = $1.49 = $1.49
1 pkg. chili seasoning = $.69 = $.69
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese = $2.88 / 2 cups = $1.44
chopped onion = $.25 per onion = $.119
Total = $8.71
divided by 4 = $2.18 per serving
When it is all said and done,
there is one important question. Do you read the grocery ads or
look for coupons before figuring what recipe you're going to
use? It is the which came first, chicken or egg theory. One of
the great things about a restaurant is their menu is standard
and their recipes are standard. The items they need don't vary
like in the household.
Go to Step 8.
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