And I bought stuff we actually use like peanut butter, brown sugar, pasta, spaghetti sauce and obviously a lot more!
Ok - so here's my strategy and oh yes, there is some planning involved. I get coupons from the Sunday paper (next week I will buy two papers), magazines, and online. The online coupons are probably my biggest source. I have a laser printer, so it is very affordable to print them out. I print out the max allowed - sometimes this is five coupons but sometimes only two.
I visit these sites to find them: www.couponmom.com, www.smartsource.com, www.ecoupons.com and www.couponbug.com. There is some overlap in the coupons, but I'll print the max allowed. Then each week, I spend about an hour visiting manufacturers websites, where you will almost always find free coupons, such as www.landolakes.com and www.pillsbury.com. There is a great forum at www.couponmom.com where readers provide links to new and varying coupon offers too. I also google specific coupons i.e. "produce coupons." I found several for Dole salad greens this way!
Now, you need to know your store's coupon policy as they do vary. I shop Giant for the bulk of my large grocery trips. They have a flyer in Sunday's paper that provides six coupons to TRIPLE ones you take with you - this is a freebie - use it. They double coupons up to $1.00 - so any coupon between $0.50 and $0.99 will be adjusted to give you a dollar off! A $0.35 coupon will net you $0.70 in savings. However, you may also use multiple coupons per purchase up to the item price. They will double the first, but not subsequent. Note though that the cashier's usually override and double it anyway (I don't think they understand the policy).
For example . . . I have three $1.00 off coupons for a bag of dog treats that is priced at $2.93 each. I give them three coupons and save $2.93 - the purchase price - IT'S A FREEBIE!!
I also watch the store sales and combine them with the coupon offer. If the coupon won't expire for a while, then I may hold it until the item goes on bonus buy to amp up my savings or until I need the item.
The cashier admitted that in his year's employment - this was the most coupons he'd ever seen for one trip (smile). If you approach it like a game or challenge . . . it's fun!
So . . . . dear family and friends . . . if you don't use coupons - please give me the one's out of your Sunday paper!