A while ago, I started seriously clipping coupons to make the most of my grocery money each month. A friend referred me to theGrocery Game and I've been hooked ever since.
Each Saturday afternoon, a new list of my local sale items is posted along with detailed instructions on the quantity to buy using which coupons. I print out the list and based on what's on sale and what I already have, I make up a weekly menu. Then I go shopping. (In my case, I shop from home and pay $10 extra to have my groceries delivered since this virtually eliminates impulse shopping, which is huge with me; plus there's the time factor, which is also huge with me.)
For our family of three humans, two dogs and a fish, I try to keep my spending at about $100 a week (including food, cleaning products, and personal care items). Most weeks I come in way under that amount. (Just to give you some idea of the savings, in my pre-couponing days,I could easily blow $200+ a week at the grocery store.)
A lot of serious couponers will buy multiple papers just for the coupons and they'll make multiple shopping trips to multiple stores to buy large quantities of sale items.
Sorry, but I'm not that much of a savings freak. I get one paper each Sunday and I make one shopping "trip" a week to one store, plus an additional stop every two weeks at Whole Foods for dog food and tea. And one stop a month at Costco for things like soymilk and Starbucks coffee for the caffeine fiend. (By the way, after I started shopping with coupons elsewhere, the Costco bill went from $300 a month to about $100 a month.)
Also, when I first started using coupons, I was buying a bunch of crap that I normally wouldn't have. This happened once or twice and then I realized the money I was saving on junk food wasn't worth the resulting heart attack that was sure to happen if we ate it all. So instead, I started stocking up on healthy things that I knew we would use.
For instance, the last two weeks my grocery store has had a sale on beans -- kidney beans, great northern beans, black beans -- they were all on sale for 44 cents a can. Since we eat a lot of beans, I bought 24 cans of them over the last two weeks. I then stored them in the basement Mini Mart (or as my daughter calls it, "the snack aisle"). They joined a case of soup, which my daughter loves; a bunch of tuna; cereal; fat-free popcorn; and various varieties of canned tomatoes -- all bought at drastic discounts or even free in some cases. (And, yes, I still buy the occasional box of Pop Tarts. Man, woman and child can not live on healthy food alone. ...)
In addition to the basement Mini Mart, we have the upstairs drug store. At last count, I had 20 bottles of shampoo, 12 tubes of toothpaste, and enough deodorant and feminine hygiene products to last a lifetime.
So that none of the food stuff goes bad, I make sure to rotate the older stuff to the front of the shelves each week. I won't buy sale stuff even if I know we'll use it if my shelves are already full. And, at least once every month or two, I try to skip grocery shopping entirely and plan our meals based solely on what we already have in the house.
The system isn't perfect. I know there are others out there spending a lot less on grocery shopping (like this woman). But it works for us....