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Use Coupons Wisely

Lately, clipping coupons is the subject of TV shows. Maybe you have seen the shows that feature people with grocery carts full of food and stacks of coupons.

Yes, you can save money with coupons, but sometimes you might be enticed to buy things you don't need.  Try these questions.  If you answer "yes" to most of these questions, you are taking steps to save money at the grocery store and enjoy high-quality food with-or without-coupons:

Do you organize your coupons in categories for easy shopping?
  • A recipe box or shoe box is a good way to organize coupons.
Do you keep your coupons in a spot where you can find them easily?
  • If you leave your coupons at home, you won’t save any money.
Do you know the coupon policies for your favorite grocery stores?
  • Check to see if the store offers double- or triple-value coupon days.
  • Find out if they honor coupons printed from couponing websites.
Do you read the grocery store’s sales ad and pair a manufacturer’s coupon with a store coupon when possible?
  • Compare prices of store brands vs. name brands with coupons.
  • Sometimes store brand foods are still less expensive.
Do you shop for good nutrition as well as good value?
  • Be cautious about the temptation to buy high-sodium convenience foods even if you are saving money in the  process.
Do you use coupons only for items you would normally eat?
  • Resist the urge to buy a food just because you have a coupon.
Do you look at the back of your grocery receipt?
  • Some stores offer coupons on the back of receipts, and some sales registers automatically print coupons for your next visit based on what you bought.
Do you read the “best if used by” and “sell by” dates on foods?
  • For best quality, select foods with the longest “shelf life."
When you return home, do you label the foods with the date of purchase?
  • Organize your pantry in “first in, first out” order.
  • Rotate your food supply for best quality.


Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

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