If you have room in your pantry and freezer, one of the best ways to make good use of your coupons is to stock up. Many people let their coupons expire, thinking, “I don’t need cereal right now”—but in three months they might. Meanwhile, that $1-off coupon is sitting in an organizer, growing old and eventually out of date. You might as well save the money now and store your goods until it’s time to use them.
- It’s important you choose the right space to store your overstock items. You don’t want to expose food to extreme temperatures, so if you have storage above or below your stove, save it for your pots and pans, because it will get too hot for most food. You want a place that is around 70 degrees, dark and moisture free.
- You may be surprised by the shelf life of certain grocery items. Cereal is the most popular coupon category and unopened, it can last 6 to 12 months.
- Household and personal care products like detergent and toothpaste have a lengthy shelf life, and you will really save by stocking these items. Plus, don’t you hate it when you go to brush your teeth and the tube is practically empty? It’s much better to open a new tube that you saved a buck on three months ago than to run to the grocery store late at night and pay $5.
- You can find some great coupons for frozen foods like Totino’s Pizza or Newman’s Own Skillet Meals. Having these on hand is helpful for those nights you just don’t have the time to cook and are very tempted by the ease (albeit high cost) of takeout. The problem is frozen food takes up space you may not have. Have you considered investing in more freezer space? A chest freezer is typically more energy efficient because less cold air escapes when it’s opened as opposed to an upright freezer.
- Think like a grocery store. As you buy new items, put them behind like products on your shelf or in your freezer, so the oldest is always at the front and get used before the expiration date.
Another way to make great use of your coupons is with meal planning.
- Planning meals ahead of time means you can avoid those last minute, full price trips to the store. Set aside 30 minutes at the beginning of each week to plan meals around coupons and store sales. We’ve given this tip before, but it’s so important because you can literally save thousands of dollars a year.
- If you want to take it a step further, keep bins in your pantry for each day of the week, and use them to corral together the non-refrigerated items for each night’s meal. For example, Italian night might have a jar of sauce, spaghetti, croutons and salad dressing. Taco night may have tortillas, taco seasoning, olives, a red onion and a tomato.
File weekly menus into a binder with recipes paper-clipped behind. When you’re looking for cooking inspiration, you can flip through and find recipes you want to try again. This is a great place to store special holiday menus, too.