Saving Money on Fresh Meat, Produce and Dairy

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on April 8, 2009

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Today’s Guest Post comes from Stephanie from Couponing 101. She taught me something new today…can you guess what it is???

Many people believe that coupons are only for junk food and boxed, processed food. It is also common to hear complaints that there are never coupons for fresh produce or meat. Neither is true! You can eat healthy and still save money!

Use Coupons

When you think about buying produce you typically just think of what variety you are going to buy. What you may not notice is that there are different brands of produce. Chiquita, Del Monte, Green Giant, and Driscoll’s are some popular brands of fresh fruit and vegetables.  Take a look in your refrigerator, what brands of fresh produce, meat and dairy do you see? Once you know the brands your store carries, you can start looking for coupons.

I have seen coupons for fresh foods in the newspaper and online though they are fairly uncommon. The best source of coupons for fresh food is directly from the manufacturer. Go to the manufacturer’s website and look for a “contact us” link. Send a short email asking if they have coupons available or have a coupon mailing list that you could be put on. They will more than likely send you a few coupons! You can repeat this every 3-4 months to get coupons regularly.

Winetags are another way to save on fresh food. If your grocery store has a wine section then go over and browse. You are likely to find coupons hanging around the necks of the wine bottles called “winetags.” Most will be for savings on the wine, but occasionally
you find coupons for fresh food! These rare coupons are for savings like $2 off any meat or $1 off any produce. Read the coupon carefully to make sure no wine purchase is required to use the coupon. If no wine purchase is required (be sure to read the fine print!), you are free to take the coupon off the bottle of wine and use it!

Store coupons are the most common way to save. Look for these coupons in the weekly ad, stuck on the package, or printables on the store website. Make sure you are on your store’s mailing list.  Most stores occasionally mail coupons to their loyalty card
holders. These mailers may include coupons for fresh food.

Shop the Sales

The number one rule for buying fresh meat and produce is to buy what is on sale. Buying the foods that are in season is a way to get
variety as well as save. Look on the front page of your ad circular for the “loss leaders.” Loss leaders are the deeply discounted items that the store puts on sale to lure you into the store. The front page is usually where you will find the best deals on fresh food. If you see a rock-bottom price on a cut of meat that you like, stock up and freeze it for later use.

Manager’s Specials are the beautiful discount stickers stuck to packages of meat, cartons of milk, or bags of produce. Managers mark down the fresh food when it is close to expiration and they don’t think it will sell before the “sell by” date. 50% off the regular
price or better is what you want to look for with the markdowns. Make sure the food has not gone bad yet before you buy it. Then cook it or freeze it as soon as you get home to ensure it doesn’t spoil before you use it.

Match up your coupons with the sales and you can get great savings on fresh food!

Stephanie blogs at Couponing 101 about the hottest coupons, deals, and freebies.  Stop by Couponing 101 to get your Free Coupon Education.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

April April 8, 2009 at 8:57 am

Hi why would you suggest taking a coupon off something you wern’t buying?Doesn’t the product maker put those there for the person buying that product? I just wouldn’t feel right about doing that. Please explain if it isn’t that way that is just the way I have always interperted a coupon being on a product.

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Amphritrite April 8, 2009 at 10:04 am

I always giggle when I see posts like this because inevitably, the naysayers flock to it, whining, “But *WHINE* the only coupons I ever see are for processed foods! Why would I want to put that junk in my body?” or “But *WHINE* I don’t have time to hunt down coupons!” or my personal favorite, “But *WHINE* coupons are so….so…ungreen. They’re glossy paper for goodness sakes! You can’t recycle glossy paper!”

The facts are:
1. A LOT of coupons are for processed foods, but they only make up a slight majority at around 52%. And those are newspaper coupons; watch for store sales coupons as well because that’s where the fresh food coupons really start stacking up.

2. If you have ONE HOUR a week, you can do it. You have time. If you break that up over the week, it’s like ten minutes a day. Seriously. Get your time management skills together.

3. You CAN recycle glossy paper and have been able to since about 1995. It’s a bit of a couponing myth that the glossy paper coupons are nonrecyclable, and people hide behind it instead of putting (GASP) work into couponing and saving money.

On the other end, when someone starts their WHINE rants, I ask them when the last time they took a vacation was. Usually, they say they can’t remember or just roll their eyes. And then I tell them that they could fund a semi-yearly vacation easily by clipping coupons and planning their meals.

You should see the shock ;)

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Meredith April 8, 2009 at 11:05 am

We have also bought some fresh produce in bulk, to save money. This works particularly well for potatoes, but you need a cold place to keep them. We have a cold cellar under our stairs. My husband bought a 50lb bag for $8 which has lasted us all fall and winter, but are still in good condition.
We also find that frozen fruit and vegetables (without sauce) bought on sale, often with a coupon, are a good way to add out of season produce to our menu at a reasonable price.

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Jami April 8, 2009 at 11:46 am

I usually buy my meat at Fresh and Easy and only
When they have their 5 dollar coupons
and the meat is on clearance.

I will buy only loss leaders in the grocery store in the meat department as well . As far as fresh fruits and veggies . I stick to the basics unless it is on sale ( bananas, and a mixed fruit bag like apples and oranges) Most people don’t realize that you lose NONE of the nutrients by buying frozen fruits and veggies and you get great coupons. In fact I read an article where frozen fruits and veggies were actually MORE nutritious than fresh in many cases as they are allowed to fully ripen on the plant as opposed to after being picked and shipped.

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Anonymous April 8, 2009 at 3:05 pm

I’m sorry but is it ever REALLY ok to take coupons off of a product when you have no intention of buying the product? I’m all for saving a buck but that just sounds wrong…even when a purchase isn’t required.

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Leslie April 8, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Taking coupons off the wine bottles doesn’t seem like “honest couponing” to me. Those coupons are obviously intended for the purchaser of the wine. Do you support taking peelies off of boxes you don’t purchase, or tearing coupons out of magazines and leaving it on the rack?

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Erin April 11, 2009 at 11:41 am

1. I’ve run into the people putting the tags on the bottles of the wine and they say: please take them and use them!
2. If it says “no wine purchase necessary”….well, obviously, that means I don’t have to buy the wine. The coupons that do require the purchase of the wine should not be removed.

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Jan April 8, 2009 at 7:58 pm

I always look for meat and produce mark downs- I rarely buy at full price.
http://theworkingmomblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/shopping-for-grocery-markdowns.html

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Becky April 9, 2009 at 2:05 am

I have bought potatoes in bulk also and stored them in my basement too- they do last a long time if stored in a dry, cool place. Sometimes I buy fresh fruit (in season, and on sale) such as strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries in bulk (1-2 flats), slice them, and put them in the freezer for smoothies! One thing I should also mention is that I am also very contentious about the environment. I don’t like to buy products that are wrapped in packaging that is unsafe for the planet. This used to be a real problem for me- I had a difficult time finding products that met my need of having healthy nutritious food. However I picked up a great book titled, “The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget, “ by Josh Dorfman. This book introduced me to lots of green companies and products that I never knew existed. I am so happy that I am now able to know where to go to find inexpensive, healthy and ‘green’ foods.

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Tracy April 10, 2009 at 12:06 am

I have been shopping for meat and produce this way for years…it is the only way to do it in my opinion! Thanks for the great post!

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Kelly Monroe April 7, 2011 at 7:25 pm

I want to get into “real” couponing. What are some good websites to find coupons for grocery items as well as produce, meats, and dairy? I am excited to save big!

Reply

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