(WZZM) - Sarah Jehnzen of Cedar Springs has been a thrifty grocery shopper for a solid decade. She used to share her tips across online message boards. That's why three years ago she decided to put all of her tips in one spot, her own blog, sarahsdeals.net.
"I spend $40 a week for groceries each week," says Sarah. "I document it on my blog. Every Friday I go through and tell you what I bought and where I bought it. I think I'm up to 17 stores that I cover on my blog." All of the stores are Michigan stores.
She's so popular across our state, she also teaches classes on thrifty grocery shopping. "
I've got a standard class that I've got down pat. I can get through it between an hour and an hour and a half."
She teaches her class at churches and other venues. We spent a morning with her recently going over some of her best tips.
#1 - Avoid brand loyalty
"If you can get something cheap or free then (you should) try it once. If it doesn't work for you, then you didn't spend very much to try and figure it out. If it does work for you, then you've saved some money and you have an alternative."
#2 - Use in-store cash-like coupons on meat and produce, items where coupons aren't normally offered.
"Watch for deals where you buy ten cans of Del Monte Fruit, you get $2 off your next shopping order. Use that $2 off to pay for those fruits, veggies and meats that we see fewer coupons on."
#3 - Figure out when the stores mark down their meats. Then either cook it right away or freeze it.
"I know some Meijer stores have started marking it down in the evenings. I know my local Save-A-Lot here marks down in the morning."
#4 Buy only in-season produce.
"Rotate what's in your refrigerator. Every couple of months something else is in season. I'm getting ready to stock up on apples. We're going to be eating a lot of apples in our house." Buying out-of-season usually costs more.
#5 - Know your store's policies and lingo when it comes to what you can use as far as combining coupons.
Sarah also says you should contact the management at your local store if you feel you aren't being allowed to save the way the company claims you can. That includes combining manufacturers' and store coupons.
Keep in mind "Best By" dates when making purchases. And if all else fails and you just think you're too busy to apply these methods, Sarah has one piece of advice for you. "Buy what's on sale, not what you want. Adjust your plans for your meals, what your family is eating around what's in the (sale) ad. That is the quickest and easiest way."