Keepin’ it Real: Coupon Shopping Trip

I have received several comments and emails about my post Time To Get Real: How Much Can You Really Save With Coupons. Many of you have expressed discouragement and frustration because you are unable to save 70-90% with coupons as you were hoping. You also asked me to show you a “real” coupon shopping trip where I am purchasing a weeks worth of groceries I will actually use to feed my family, rather than showing you the highlights of my best bargain finds. So I thought it was about time I do that.

Much of my shopping is done at a local grocery store: HEB. I have an advantage at this store, because they have great prices and plenty of in-store coupons. Plus the store brand products are very high quality, so I am able to forgo the name brands many times. If you haven’t tried your store brands yet, you should give them a try.  They can save you as much as 30% or more compared to national brands.

If you don’t live near an HEB, you may have a store that doubles coupons or offers store rewards of some kind. So these deals should be similar to what you can find.  Here is a breakdown of my weekly meal plan and what I purchased. If I already had an ingredient I needed for a meal, I have indicated that as well.

My total spent was $93.13 ($2.22/person/day or $0.74 per meal).  That’s one weeks worth of food for 6 people.  I’m not counting my youngest son who is on a special diet.  We do his shopping biweekly at Whole Foods.
Total savings was $25.56. Includes mfr and in-store coupons.  Indicated below by an *

Dinner #1: Grilled Ham & Cheese, Soup & Veggies $6.64 ($1.11/person)

  • Bread $1.14
  • Cheese Slices $2.59 (24 slices so plenty left over)
  • Hillshire Farms Ham $2.43*
  • Chicken Noodle Soup (already had on hand)
  • Frozen Veggies $0.48*

Dinner #2: Hamburger with Cream Sauce, Red Potatoes, Salad, Homemade Ranch, Artisan Bread $9.88 ($1.65/person)

  • Hamburger, onions, garlic, heavy cream (already had on hand)
  • Mushrooms $0.96
  • Baby Red Potatoes $3.77 – enough for two meals
  • Lettuce for salad $0.79
  • Cucumber for salad $0.67
  • Tomato for salad $0.30
  • Flour for bread $2.50
  • Buttermilk for dressing $0.89
  • Sour Cream, Lemons for dressing (on hand)
  • Herbs for dressing (from my garden)

Dinner #3: Sloppy Joes, Veggies, Potato Chips $0.48 ($0.08/person)

  • Hamburger, Buns & Chips (on hand)
  • DIY Sloppy Joe Sauce ingredients (on hand)
  • Frozen Veggies $0.48*

Dinner #4: BBQ Chicken on the Grill, Veggies, Artisan Bread $8.46 ($1.41/person)

  • Chicken $5.98
  • BBQ Sauce $2
  • Frozen Veggies $0.48*
  • Flour & Yeast (on hand)

Dinner #5: Pepper Steak, Red Potatoes, Veggies, Artisan Bread $17.87 ($2.98/person)

  • Chuck Steak $16.08 (we have 4 hungry boys to feed, so you may be able to buy less)
  • Green Bell Pepper $0.68
  • Canned Diced Tomatoes $0.63*
  • Beef Bullion, Onion Soup Mix (on hand)
  • Red Potatoes (leftover from dinner #2 scenario)
  • Frozen Veggies $0.48*

Dinner #6: Taco Salad $4.23 ($0.71/person)

    • Hamburger, Salsa, Sour Cream, Cheese (on hand)
    • Organic Tortilla Chips $3.14
    • Lettuce $0.79
    • Tomato $0.30
    • Homemade Taco Seasoning(on hand)

Dinner #7 is our leftovers/eat from the pantry day.

Lunches for 4 Kids x 5 days $18.38 ($0.92/person)

  • Organic Apples $2.98
  • Baby Carrots $2.64
  • Bananas $2.38
  • Cookies $1.15 x 2 = $2.30 (store brand)
  • Cookies $1.21 x 2 = $2.42 (store brand)
  • Bread for Sandwiches $1.14 x 2 = $2.28*
  • Ham for Sandwiches (leftover from dinner #1)
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly for Sandwiches (on hand)
  • Yogurt 8 pack $3.38*

Special Saturday Breakfast: Chorizo Breakfast Tacos – my husbands special recipe $7.34 ($1.22/person)

  • Eggs, Cheese, Salsa (on hand)
  • Chorizo $2.98 (enough for next weekend too!)
  • Diced Potatoes $0.60
  • Tortillas – uncooked $1.51
  • Orange Juice $2.25

Other Purchases $19.85

  • DiGiorno Pizzas for snacking $4.53 x 2 = $9.06*
  • Extra loaf bread for freezer $1.14
  • Annies Mac & Cheese $1.62 x 2 = $3.24.  Special purchase came with free Annies Bunny Grahams (plus I’ll submit for free subscription)*
  • Vlasic Relish was $0.98 and had a $0.55/1 hangtag coupon so I picked up three = $1.29*
  • DelMonte Spaghetti Sauce was $0.89 and I used the $1/4 printable (nla) to get them for $0.64 each x 8 = $5.12*

These are the manufacturer’s coupons I used:

The rest of my savings was in-store deals & coupons.  Not only did I get enough food for the family, I ended up with a free magazine subscription, 3 jars of relish and 8 cans of spaghetti sauce for future use.  Plus I got a free box of Annie’s Bunny Grahams with in-store deal. And I’ll have sandwich bread, flour, cheese slices and chorizo left over for next week.

For our family, this is a nice combination of saving and eating well.  We have a couple meals on the expensive side, and a few cheap ones to make up for it.  Overall it averages out to $2.22 per person per day. We are able to enjoy a nice Saturday breakfast and the kids have lots of healthy goodies for their lunches.  But you can see, much of my savings came from opting for store brands, in-store coupons and sale prices.  Not manufacturer’s coupons alone.

Could I do better?  Yes.  We have some extras that we could do without in a crunch.  But overall, I am under budget and we will be eating well.


  1. Thanks for such a wonderful post! Lots of great ideas!

  2. Been couponing for almost 4 years. It is so good to hear your take on prices and “keeping it real”. Thanks so much!