Extreme Couponing: Step By Step

Last night I bought $65 worth of food for $13.55. What's more interesting is that wasn't the best deal I could have done - I screwed up and threw in two extra items that I didn't plan on buying (though I did have coupons for them.) Better yet, I'm still going to get another $6.95 back with a mail-in-rebate. Cool, right? I'm going to show you exactly how I did it because there's time for you to do the same thing!

First, take a peek at what I bought:

extreme couponing deal
  • 2 Marie Calendar frozen meals
  • 3 cans of Hunts tomatoes
  • 2 cans of Healthy Choice Soup
  • 8 packages of Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers
  • 1 six pack of Snapple
  • 2 cans of Pam cooking spray
This is only a small sample of the type of food available in the ConAgra sale at SuperValu stores across the country, (the sale ends next week so there's time for you to do this too.)

1) Look for a SuperValu store in your area. Odds are high that you have one: Jewel-Osco, ACME, Cub, Albertsons & Lucky are just a few that are SuperValu stores.

2) After you find a store in your area, look for the weekly advertisement and take note of the "Buy $25 Get $10". (If you don't find the ad with the ConAgra sale in it, call your store and ask if they're running the Buy $25 get $10 promotion.)

3) You can view a list of items and a sample ad from Cub Stores by visiting this A Full Cup forum. Or search for ConAgra Sale and you'll find blogs all over the country talking about this. If you can't find a forum or blog talking about a store in your area, leave a comment telling me what state you live in and which SuperValu stores are in your area and I'll find a resource for you.

4) Here's how it works: You buy $25 worth of products and then receive a $10 Catalina coupon good on your next purchase of $10 or more. (A Catalina coupon is that coupon that some grocery stores give you along with your cash register receipt. It's called a Catalina because it's run through the Catalina Marketing.)

There are several things you can do to improve your savings:
a) Use coupons for as many of the sale products as possible.
b) Note that the $25 total is based on the regular (or scan) price of an item and not on the preferred customer price or the sale price. This was the scariest part for me but it's true, that is the price the Catalina coupon is calculated on.
c) Use multiple transactions, with each getting as close to $25 as possible. You can even use the first $10 Catalina you receive to help pay for the second transaction you make. Or you can hold your Catalina for future visits if you aren't going to make more than one transaction.

If you don't have any coupons for any of the products listed in the sale, I can help you track some down - there aren't many left but there are some out there. Both of these offers can be printed twice, giving you 4 coupons worth $4.

1) Reddi-whip
2) Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers

Another way to increase your savings is to buy Snapple (or Diet Snapple) because there is a mail-in-rebate that you can take advantage of without having the rebate form. You just have to purchase the product, cut off the upc, write your info on a 3x5 card and send along with the cash register receipt - and you can do this once for each person in your family and send all of the rebate requests in the same envelope. That makes the Snapple completely free.

Here's what two transactions might look like, just with the two coupon options I provided you with. (Hopefully you have at least a couple more coupons to add to your purchases. Ask your friends and family members!) **Please note: The prices here are based on the prices in my area, yours may be slightly different so you'll need to check your prices carefully!If you're unsure, leave a comment and I can help you find some couponers who know what the prices are in your area.**

Transaction #1
1 Snapple $6.99 scan price
2 Fresh Mixers $3.95 each
2 Cans of Pam $2.50 each
1 Reddi-Whip $2.99
3 Cans Hunts Tomatoes $1.45 each
Total $27.23
Run your preferred customer card to knock that total back to $20.99
Provide coupons for $2 off of Fresh Mixers and Reddi-Whip for a total of $18.99 OOP (out of pocket).

You'll get back a $10.00 Catalina and you'll get $6.99 back from Snapple's mail-in-rebate.

Transaction #2
1 Snapple 6.99
2 Fresh Mixers $3.95 each
1 Can of Reddi Whip $2.99
3 Jars of Peter Pan Peanut Butter $2.49 each
Total $25.05
Use your preferred customer card to knock that back to $18.36
Use $2 in coupons for Fresh Mixers and Reddi whip for a total of $16.36

Use your $10 Catalina from the first purchase and pay $6.36 OOP (out of pocket) - and still receive $6.99 from Snapple's Mail-in-Rebate and another $10 Catalina back to use on your next purchase!

If you do both transactions, that's $52.28 worth of food for $25.35 OOP (out of pocket). You'll have a $10 Catalina to spend on a future purchase. And, you'll receive $13.98 back from Snapple in a few weeks. Which means, in the end, you'll have only paid $1.37.

If you won't use 3 jars of peanut butter before they expire, you can donate one to a food bank. Buy six extra cans of tomatoes ($6) and donate them to a food bank instead of buying the peanut butter - that still gives you a great deal on food you'll use plus allows you to help another family in your community.

These are just sample ideas - you can mix and match your own $25 deals based on foods within the promotion that you'll eat or use. (We buy about 10 packages of those microwavable dinners a year for TW's mom to fix for herself when we aren't at home. She's elderly and disabled and they are easy for her to make herself on the rare occasion when we aren't home to cook for her. Same thing with the frozen dinners. She doesn't use them often but she DOES use them and we appreciate having them around for emergency lunch and dinner options for her.)

Are you going to try this yourself? If you are - and you want to talk through your transaction, post it in the comments and I'll help you with your math.

It's a lot of fun to buy food ... for free. Try it.

~Denise
BlogHer Community Manager
Life. Flow. Fluctuate.

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