How to Save on Healthy Food: Produce

There are many myths to couponing and not being able to coupon for healthy food is one of the main ones.  Sure, couponing for the packaged foods containing all kinds of sugar and salt and who knows what else to keep it’s shelf life longer is easier, but it is very possible to get deals on healthy foods as well!

For more info on Myths: “Couponing Myths

I went grocery shopping this week and bought $138.92 worth of groceries and personal care products for $56.91.

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When looking at the picture be sure you notice the bananas, grapes, apples, sweet potatoes, corn, yogurt, organic juice boxes, Quorn product, and milk.  Lots of healthy, non-processed or minimally processed foods.

So here are just a few examples of ways to save on healthy foods like produce!

Post 7Produce

Fresh produce is a must in my household.  With two growing children, we do our best to give them a healthy diet.  So, in order to not break the bank, I do several things to keep the costs down.

First, I watch the sales.  If a certain brand of apples is on sale, then I will purchase those for that week.  If grapes are on sale over strawberries, then we are snacking on grapes throughout the week.  Buying only the sale items will automatically save money without using coupons!

Second I purchase produce items whole and clean and cut them myself.  A head of lettuce will set you back about $1 or less, but a bag of precut and cleaned salad will cost $3 or even $4.  Don’t be lazy- cut up your own fruits and veggies and see that savings!

Third, check out the websites of your favorite products and sign-up for the mailing lists, like Driscoll’s for berries!  They will give you coupons for being a member and more for sharing your opinion on their products!

Ibotta gives you money back on fresh produce!
Ibotta gives you money back on fresh produce!

Finally, I use rebate apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 to get money back on fresh produce.  And the best part about it all is you can double dip in rebate apps by submitting to all that apply!

For more info on Ibotta: “Rebate App: The Ibotta Edition

Post 2For more info on Checkout 51: “Rebate Apps: Checkout 51 Edition”

And if you are unlike me and have a green thumb, then it is always a great idea to grow your own produce!  Not only can you save your family money, you can share with friends and family when the crop over produces!  That’s what I love about my next door neighbor, we have tomatoes all summer because of his little garden.

If you have another tip please share in the comments!

5 Reasons You Need a Plan

You’ve tried and tried to coupon, you’ve clipped, you’ve spent hours in the store looking for those specific items and you’ve found that once you got there, it was cheaper to buy the generic brand.  It felt like a big waste of time.  Why bother?  Maybe those crazies on TV can do it, but it’s just not for you!

I think I can help.  What you need is a plan. Well, at least a better plan than the one you threw together before you left for the store in 10 minutes based out of what you need for that week.  Items that may or may not be on sale.  Items for which you may or may not have coupons.

I make a spreadsheet every week.
I make a spreadsheet every week.

To make couponing successful (think Savings!) then Planning is KEY.  I won’t lie to you, it will take more time and organization for you get your grocery list together.  But if I can help you get a savings of 60-80% on your groceries, like I get on mine,  then we can agree that it will be time well spent.

Here are 5 reasons why planning is so  important?

  1. Planning keeps you from making impulse purchases.  My favorite talk show radio host, Dave Ramsey, tells his listeners to “give your money a name” and then you won’t be wondering where it all went.  I always know how much money I’m going to spend and what I will buy.  If its not on the list, its not in my cart! (unless my husband is with me, because he always wants to buy stuff he “needs” that he only remembered he “needed” when he walked past it in the store) 

    I said NO!!!
    I said NO!!!
  2. Planning keeps you from wondering from aisle to aisle hunting for the best price.  When you’ve already made your list based off of what on sales and the coupons you’ve clipped, you won’t need to sort through 25 brands of pasta sauce to find the cheapest.  With a PLAN, you grab what you need and go.  (If you’ve brought your entourage of children and spouse, this is a great way to give them a coupon and have them find the item.  They get to participate and save you even more time) which leads to my next point….
  3. Planning saves you precious time while inside the store.   Many of you reading my blog have young kids and know how kids + grocery shopping = disaster!  Getting in and out of the store quickly saves you time and your sanity…oh by the way, saving money is just an added bonus!

    How can I get out of this store faster with two kids????
    How can I get out of this store faster with two kids????
  4. Planning allows you to try a variety of new items.  Since I started couponing I have tried lots of new products or at least new to me!  Some are hits, like the Campbell Slow Cookers sauce or the seemingly infinite flavor combinations of Combos.  Some items are duds with my family so they become gifts or donations.  Either way, I would have never purchased an item for full price, but for $.40…yeah, we’ll give it a whirl!

    I paid $.40 per bag. Had I not couponed, I would of never tried them.
    I paid $.40 per bag. Had I not couponed, I would of never tried them.
  5. Planning saves the MONEY!  When you go in and know what is on sale, plus you have coupons for added savings in your back pocket, you are keepin’ that cash in your wallet!  Walking into the store with no plan means you are going to purchase items you don’t need, you’re going to pay full price on the majority of those items, and you won’t have those money saving coupons.  (Not to mention that when you run out in a week, you’ll be back to the store to buy it again for full price because your plan does not also include a Stockpile…but that is for another blog)

For more info: “Creating a Stockpile

You need a Plan!  And there are SO many resources to find those deals!  By spending just a little time on your computer scanning the websites and making your list, you’ll be saving more money, buying more name brand, and enjoying the shopping experience more!

Rebate Apps: SavingStar Edition

When I tell a group of ladies (and sometimes the random gentleman) that I made money on a product during a couponing class, I usually get this sideways looks of “are you serious?”  The biggest disconnect is thinking couponing is only cutting out a coupon from the newspaper.  The truth is there are layers to purchasing a product.  This includes the use of rebate apps.

All rebate apps are slightly different, but the idea is you will purchase an item from the list given, usually use your phone to scan the barcode of that item, and then submit a picture of that receipt.  Then usually within 24 hours you will get that money back.  Once you build up a certain amount of money then you can get paid through gift cards or paypal.

Screenshot 2015-09-05 21.43.13

SavingStar is a rebate app that I have recently come to LOVE!  When I first started using rebate apps my old phone would not scan the products, so I had to enter the bar codes in manually.  Since SavingStar didn’t offer that option I didn’t get much use.  With my new phone, I’m enjoying the savings I’m earning now.

First, be sure you select the store you shop at.  Kroger, Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and even dollar stores like Dollar General and Family Dollar are options!  Even better, some stores like CVS or Rite Aid will allow you to connect your store rewards card meaning you don’t even have to submit a receipt and your purchase will automatically add the money when you meet the product qualifications!


Next, you will need to select offers.  Simply click on the orange circle with the plus sign to add.   The biggest mistake I’ve made is not selecting the offers before I purchase the product and then being denied the rebate.  Whenever I get a notification that new offers are available I jump on my app and add all available offers.  There is no limit on how many you can activate but if you wait too long, some offers reach their maximum activations and you will miss out.


Once the items are on your “List” you can purchase the items as indicated and start collecting the savings!

SS7Besides getting a specified amount of money back on a product, SavingStar regularly has a “Healthy Offer” for a % back on a produce item, like the Tomatoes seen in the picture to the right.

There will also be opportunities for a freebie offer!  Just purchase the item offered, submit your receipt and get your money back in full!

You can also earn a larger amount of money back on a product that you purchase regularly.  For example the Ore-Ida Frozen Potato products seen below: You do not have to spend the full $25 in one transaction to get the $5 back.  You can submit receipts over a period of time and work up to the $25.


Click on the items you wish to purchase and read the offer details.  Be sure you purchase the required product in correct size and quantity.


To Submit:

  1. Click on the receipt sign on the right hand side of the upper blue strip.  SS8
  2. Select the store in which you purchased the product.
  3. Scan the bar codes of the products and the items will automatically be marked.
    • For healthy items click “Produce without a UPC?” below the scanner.  Type in the title of the item and click “Submit”.
  4. Click “Continue” in the lower right hand corner.
  5. Double check all of the  items you are claiming appear on the summary and when complete click “Take a Photo” on the bottom of the screen.
  6. Line up your receipt and take a picture of the receipt.   Be sure you capture the entire receipt including the name of the store and the date the products are purchased.
    • If the picture is clear click “Looks Good”.  If you can’t read the receipt click “Re-Take” and try again.
  7. Continue to take pictures of the receipt until the entire receipt is captured.  Once you have it all, click “Done”.
  8. Finally a message will appear- “Did you capture the entire receipt?”  Click “Yes, submit” and your request for a rebate will upload.

Most savings will take several days (up to 22 days) before they post into your account.  Check your email for notification that it has been processed.

To Cash Out:

You must have a minimum of $5.00 in your account before you can request payment.


  1. Click “ACCOUNT” on the upper right hand side of your app and something similar to the picture above will appear.
  2. Click “Cash Out”
  3. Then select how you would like to receive the money- ex: Bank Account deposit, PayPal, or a number of different gift card options.
  4. Complete the directions for whichever choice your picked and click “Continue.”

For information on other rebate apps: “Rebate Apps: The Ibotta Edition” & “Rebate Apps: Checkout 51 Edition

Couponing Terminology: CAT

When I first started to coupon, I had to learn the coupon lingo or as my dear husband calls it “couponese.”  To fully navigate the couponing lexicon you must be well versed with terms like RP, SS, P&G, Blinkie, Peelie, CAT, oop….what???

Wait, aren’t they just called a coupons?

Well, this can be frustrating for those just getting started in the coupon world.  So, take a deep breath, a sip of tea and take look at least one element of our couponese- CATS! (Don’t worry, I’ll hit the others in future posts).

Photo Credit: Sorry, UK fans, not this kind of CATS!
Photo Credit:
Sorry, UK fans, not this kind of CATS!

Catalina or CAT  is a coupon that is printed at checkout.  These coupons are the ones you get from that little machine next to the touch screen at the U-Scan (or the ones the cashier hands you with your receipt).  They print off while you’re paying for your goods like those tickets you get at Chuck-E-Cheese for playing games.  The type of coupon you get is based on your personal buying habits or from a scheduled promotion for a specific product that you are purchasing.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

Look for the Catalina machine near the checkout.  Also, make sure to always look for the little green light to be on so you’ll be sure to get those CATs.

There are 2 types of CATs:

  1. Manufacturers Coupon CATs
    • These coupons work just like any other manufacturer’s coupons that you would cut out of a newpaper or print from a website like  They are for a specific product and take off a certain amount of money when you purchase that product.   Cat 1
    • These CATs generate because of something you are purchasing or based on your previous buying habits.  You may also generate a competitor’s coupon to encourage you to buy their product next time.  For example: I bought a name brand box oftampons and received a CAT for a Free box of Kroger brand tampons.

      FREE Tampon Catalina
      FREE Tampon Catalina
  2. On Your Next Order (OYNO) CATs
    • So, these coupons are for scheduled promotions.  If you buy a specific brand in a specific number of that product you will get a coupon for money off your next purchase.  Baby Food
    • This type of Catalina will be good towards anything you purchase in your next transaction. (think, gift card)
    • For example:  Hi-C Drink Juice Boxes  are generating a catalina from Aug 10- Sept 9.
      • Buy 2- $1.00 OYNO
      • Buy 3- $1.50 OYNO
      • Buy 4- $2.00 OYNO

Cat 3

Easy as that!

But what happens if you purchase a product expecting a CAT to print and it doesn’t?

(Make sure before you go into a checkout lane that the Catalina machine is working and has the little green light on.)

However, we live in a fallen world and there are cases in which the CAT doesn’t print even when the machine is working.

You can try going to customer service but they really can’t help you.  The Catalina company works separately from the store itself, so you will have to contact them.

You need to contact them within 14 days from the purchase.  You can either submit the claim online: or call 1-888-826-8766.  Be sure you have your receipt and are clear about what you were expecting to receive.

I recently had this experience and had to submit 3 claims online.  It did take a few weeks for the Catalina company to process my claims but once they did, I received all 3 CATs plus an apology letter in the mail.

Catalina Letter

Remember- catalinas (or CATs) are just another great way to save money!

SWS Pro-Tip:  You can use your OYNO CATs  with a manufacturer’s coupon to stack that savings!

For more info on stacking: “Stacking Coupons…