The Coupon Mom Puts Her 'Strategic Shopping' Strategy to the Test

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Stephanie Nelson, the founder of, shows how to feed a family of four for an average of $82 a week.

With the price of gas and groceries climbing, more households are cutting back at the grocery store. Stephanie Nelson, founder of, says it is possible to fight the rising cost of groceries without sacrificing favorite foods by learning how to use simple savings strategies.

Nelson, a mother of two, says cutting your grocery bill in half is easy. She launched seven years ago to show other shoppers what weekly sales and savings are available - saving them time, and of course, money. In the past year, traffic to the web site has more than doubled and now has more than 700,000 members.

"Strategic shopping is not about changing the way you eat, it is about changing the way you buy the food that you like," says Nelson, "In many cases, shoppers can get free groceries when they use sales and coupons at supermarkets and drugstores."

To prove the point, Stephanie tracked her grocery savings in June and managed to feed her family of four a healthy diet at half the retail cost. Nelson shaved $480 off her grocery bill, paying $363 for $844 worth of groceries over a full month, a savings of 57% overall and at a weekly average of $82. By using her Strategic Shopping strategies, any shopper can fight the high price of groceries.

Nelson also recently went head to head with a television reporter, shopping in the same store with the same list supplied to feed a family of four. At checkout, the reporter spent $232.60 for the week's worth of meals and the Coupon Mom's total came to $73.35.

"The average shopper is doing what the reporter did -here's the brand I always use - it's only 50 cents more," says Nelson, "But if you're the average family buying a hundred items a week, that add up quickly. My bill was still about $100 less than the reporter's, even without using coupons."

Here are some of the Coupon Mom's favorite ways to "Strategically Shop" on your next trip to the grocery store.

1. Pick one day a week to shop and plan your week's meals and snacks carefully to make a comprehensive shopping list. The extra planning time will save the time and expense of unplanned shopping trips mid-week.

2 Compare prices for your common items at a few nearby stores and cherry-pick the deals if necessary. Nelson found the lowest prices on fresh produce and milk at local discount stores (Trader Joe's or Aldi's) and bought the rest of her week's groceries at a typical supermarket using sales, loss leaders, "buy one, get one free" offers and doubled coupons.

3. Study the stores' sales circulars and use online resources like to find the best sales. The free service does the work of finding coupons and deals for shoppers by listing grocery bargains at 41 retailers in 50 states.

4. Stock up on your common items when they are at their rock-bottom prices. By getting a few weeks' supply of an item, you will have enough on hand until the next sale. Getting in the cycle of stocking up in this way will get you out of the cycle of paying full price for anything.

5. Maximize your coupon inventory. Buy multiple copies of the Sunday newspaper during high coupon weeks, watch for coupon displays in the store, pay attention to your register receipt coupons, use electronic coupons at and even email the customer service contact at manufacturers' websites to request coupons for their products. Having more coupons will enable you to stock up on your common items when they are at rock-bottom prices.

6. Buy the Entertainment coupon book for your area if it has store coupons for your grocery store. Nelson's book had 10% and 15% off coupons for Kroger stores which saved an extra $10 to $15 per week.

7. Take advantage of grocery retailers' special tax stimulus rebate promotions.

8.Sign up for your stores' loyalty cards and provide complete mailing and email information. You may be sent coupons for products you buy regularly.

Stephanie Nelson shares her savings tips on national television, radio, and print media. You can find more of her savings tips at Media inquiries, please contact Nanette Noffsinger at 615-776-4230.


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