How to use coupons while living gluten-free

I started couponing as a result to save money on all the other things we buy in our household to offset the cost of gluten-free foods. When I talked about it, other people shared their tips and stories with me as well. Here is a guest post from Christy over at Celiac411 with how she manages to save money as well!!

How to organize coupons
How to organize coupons
First understand that when I started, it was out of necessity. After working for a software development firm, from home, for over three years I was laid off. The company made some bad financial decisions, and, as the saying goes, sh!t rolls down hill.

So my first discovery was www.coupons.com. They offer decent coupons and they have new coupons weekly. It’s one of the easier and more simple sites to deal with. You literally select the coupons you want, make sure you’ve downloaded their printer software (don’t worry it’s safe) and then click print.

Getting your local Sunday paper is always a plus. This was my second discovery. By combining the coupons found at coupon.com and those from the Sunday paper, there are times that  you can literally create a “double coupon”. Just beware, some stores have certain coupon rules that don’t allow for this….more on that below.

At this point I still wasn’t seeing the big savings that some people brag about. So I searched the internet and found Lozo.com. This site is pretty awesome. It literally finds all the different coupons offered by tons of different sites each week and brings them to you. Now it can be a little frustrating. After you select your coupons from Lozo.com, it will batch like coupons together (i.e. all those offered at the P&G website) but then you have to click on a tab that will take you to the outside site. Sometimes the site will allow you to directly print, other times they will make you sign up for a mailing list. My suggestion: create a coupon only email address. This way you can sign up for all the different outside websites using the same email and forgo filling your personal email with blast emails. Once you get over the initial signing up at 30 or so site, the next week is a breeze…all you have to do is select your coupons at Lozo, then sign in when you are directed to the outside sites.

Winn-Dixie and Publix both offer online e-coupons. With Winn-Dixie you link your WD card, select the e-coupons that you want to load on it, and it automatically incorporates them at the time of checkout so long as you scan your WD card. These coupons can be used on top of any paper coupons that you have, so if you have an e-coupon and a paper coupon, you’ll get both of the savings.Publix offers something similar but they only allow for one manufacturer coupon per item, period.So if you sign up for their e-coupon and you have a paper coupon for the same item, it will not take both….but it does use the one that is worth more savings.

Lastly, if there is a product that you use on a regular basis and you can’t find a coupon for it, go to the manufacturer site. A lot of times if you sign up with them directly they will email you a coupon.

Savingstar is another site, but it works a bit differently. Here you can link your CVS, WD or Publix cards (among others), select the online offers that you’d like, and then when you buy certain items you’ll actually get cash deposited into your SavingStar account that you can use or have transferred to another account (like your checking). In other words, you wont see the savings at the register, you’ll get them later on. It’s not much of a savings but anything helps!

My top tips for couponing:

1. Know the grocery store’s store policy on couponing (i.e. Publix vs. Winn-Dixie)

2. Look at the prices of items in the store. Sometimes you’ll save more buying 3 smaller items (such as diapers) than you would if you bought just one big box.

3. Organize your coupons. I use an organizer and it’s made shopping so much more sane. I organize by the following categories:

Baby
Food
GF Foods
Paper Goods
Cleaning
Misc. (vitamins, dog food, batteries, etc)

4. Don’t buy items (if possible) unless they’re already on sale. This way you get the sale price plus additional savings from coupons.

5. The biggest treat is landing a BOGO item! A perfect example was me buying ALL laundry detergent. I caught it on a BOGO so the price originally was 2/$8. Since it was BOGO it made it 2/$4 which was great but I had an additional coupon to save a dollar….so I got both for $3. Not too shabby!

6. Be open to trying new brands, if you can. Your favorite brand may not be on sale every week….branch out and use coupons to explore new options.

7. If a coupon doesn’t say “void if copied” you can make copies of the coupon and use it again on your next shopping trip, so long as it isn’t past the expiration date.

That’s the gist of it. It may sound like  a lot but really once you get past the “set up” phase, it’s not that bad. It takes work, yes, but like I told you the other day, I saved $184 in one trip! Since February 18th, I’ve spent $680.80 on $1145.20 worth of groceries, saving $464.40. It‘s helped us out a lot since I stay at home/work from home with our three boys.

Gluten-Free at Target? It can be done!

Can you shop gluten-free at Target?
Can you shop gluten-free at Target?

Gluten-Free at Target? Yes, It can be Done!

Since we moved to Virginia, we pay an absorbent amount of money for rent and are still carrying our mortgage for the Columbus house until we can find renters. Because of this, I’ve been looking for ways to stretch the good old dollar… especially since I am back 110% living gluten-free after my gluten challenge. That’s why I’m creating a new series on my blog documenting how I’m trying to save money and ideas for ways you can incorporate tips into your own life.

First up… Target!

Okay, now I’ve been hard on Target in the past for their lack of gluten-free options. Right before we moved I noticed they started carrying some items that I love like Van’s chocolate chip bars and Van’s gluten-free waffles. HOWEVER… our new apartment is within walking distance of Target and I’ve been spending a lot of  my time there so I set out on a mission to see if I could get a full weeks worth of groceries there for me and Aaron.

Sure enough, my trip was a success and I left Target spending less than $150 and that included toilet paper and paper towels (which cost a fortune for some reason).

I broke it down for you so you can see what I bought for each  night of dinners and then the snacks at the end. I incorporated some items that I already had in our pantry, so bear with me on that one but you can certainly substitute for your own stuff! If you are someone who is very interested in buying all organic items or staying away from certain big name brands, then this might not be the most relevant post for you. However, there are many people out there who are looking to live gluten-free on a budget and can’t afford Whole Foods!

One last thing, Target doesn’t label their shelves with “gluten-free” tags so you have to be armed and prepared to look for items but it certainly is worth it the first time because then it’s so much easier the next time… and the time after that.

If someone that works at Target is reading this blog post, email me because I can significantly help you out in your grocery department!!!

Gluten Free Dinner via Target
Gluten Free Dinner via Target

First Night: Lean ground beef 90%/10%, Red Fork Gluten Free Sauce (you actually need tomatoes with this sauce too), Canyon Bakehouse Bread and Steamed Green Beans

Gluten Free Taco Night
Gluten Free Taco Night

Dinner 2: Taco Night! Jennie-O Ground Turkey, Ortega Corn Shells (says gluten-free on box), Fontera Taco Sauce (says “no gluten ingredients used” on label), Black beans and some Uncle Ben’s Rice. Be careful with Uncle Ben’s rice, not all of their flavors are gluten-free. I added some spinach I already had in the fridge on mine but you can add whatever veggies you want, they sell them at Target as well.

Dinner Night 3
Dinner Night 3

Dinner Night 3: Baked chicken tenders using Van’s bread crumbs (bread crumbs not purchased at target), steamed green beans and roasted red skin potatoes. I have a secret recipe for them I’m going to share next week so stay tuned, but there are minimal ingredients and they are delicious! You can just cube them and bake for 25-30 minutes on 425 degrees with butter, garlic and salt. Amazing!

Dinner Night 4
Dinner Night 4

Dinner Night 4: Steak pinwheels that are baked as is and steamed green beans. We love green beans, what can I say? I add toasted sesame seeds, grass fed butter, sea salt and garlic to make them tasty!

Dinner Night 5
Dinner Night 5

Dinner Night 5: Grilled chicken on the George Foreman Grill, redskin potatoes with the Red Fork Sauce and some stir fry veggies to go with everything.

Gluten Free Snacks at Target
Gluten Free Snacks at Target

Now, these are just some of the snacks for the week that they had at Target and I wanted to show you. The frozen berries are perfect for my shakes, the brats are for lunches and bacon for breakfast or lunch. I try not to buy a million different products during our trip because I found that much of it goes to waste, so really focus only on what we are buying for that week. I usually go to the store 1 time on the weekend and stock up for each night. We make a list on the calendar of what’s for dinner, so the person who is home first can start making it without worrying what to fix.

This is just one shopping trip I took to Target and I have very specific tastes. I can tell you there are many more items at Target you can purchase that are gluten-free! Learning to read labels is key to saving money and also being able to do a quick google search from your phone in the store.

I also saved money on this trip by using the Target Cartwheel App, along with store coupons they mailed to me for fresh veggies, fruit and produce AND you can use manufacturer’s coupons. So, for example, my husband likes the Mio sport drink drops. They were 20% off on the cartwheel app, I had a .50 off coupon and then I got another 5% off for using my Target Red Card. We have the debit one, not the credit card. You can also earn 5% off coupons by getting your prescriptions filled at Target and signing up for their pharmacy rewards program. That way you can get some 5% off shopping days if you don’t want to sign up for the card.

Hopefully this post will save you some money too and give you ideas for the next time you are planning your trip.

Have you had any luck at Target? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.