Make Great Gifts with Grocery Bargains

When you’re short on cash and your gift list is long, it’s time to get creative by using super grocery bargains to make holiday gifts and attractive baskets. When you give a homemade gift, you also avoid the issue of trying to figure out the appropriate amount to spend for each gift recipient. People always appreciate homemade gifts for their thoughtfulness, you can customize them to each recipient’s personal tastes, and they help stretch your holiday spending budget at the same time. Try these ideas this year to give big and save big, too!

  • Make homemade baking mixes, layered in jars or plastic storage bags. Simply layer the dry ingredients for your favorite cookie or muffin mix. Attach a recipe card with instructions for adding the wet ingredients, the baking temperature and baking time. Make a colorful, simple card tied to the package with a ribbon. Take advantage of seasonal sales and coupons for baking ingredients like flour, sugar, brown sugar, chocolate chips, oatmeal, and nuts. You can find many good homemade mix recipes for cookies, soups, cocoa mix and more by using an online search engine or a recipe website. You can also find books in the library with dozens of creative jar mix recipes.
  • Of course, you can bake muffins, cookies and breads as gifts. Take advantage of canned pumpkin on sale in clearance bins after Thanksgiving to make muffins, frosted bars, cookies, breads and even pumpkin soup for dinner. Freeze muffins and breads for easy breakfasts and snacks for the kids-pumpkin is very high in vitamins.
  • You can give moist, healthy muffins as a gift easily with this inexpensive recipe. Keep your eye open for clearance prices on canned pumpkin after Thanksgiving and stock up on cake mix when it is on sale and you have coupons. Combine one box of cake mix (Spice Cake Mix works well) and one 15-ounce can solid pack pumpkin. Mix until well blended. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full and bake per instructions on cake mix box. Deliver a dozen in a bag tied with a pretty ribbon.
  • Make a favorite dinner recipe that can be frozen as a gift. Anyone would appreciate having a full dinner on hand during the busy holiday season! You can stock up on favorite casserole or lasagna ingredients when they are on sale with coupons, buy disposable pans at the dollar store, and make several at a time and freeze them. You can also make a favorite soup or stew and freeze it in a deep disposable pan. Deliver them to friends with a colorful recipe card tied with a pretty bow.
  • Make gift baskets or gift bags with coupon bargains collected over the year. Get baskets or gift bags at bargain places like craft stores or dollar stores. Watch for weekly coupons in craft store advertising circulars and get a bargain every week. All of these items could have been purchased on sale with a coupon at most grocery stores and drugstores for more than 50% off over the course of the year. Many deals are available now!
    • Spa basket: Shampoo, conditioner, bubble bath, lotion
    • Date night basket-coupon for babysitting for friend’s children, discounted gift certificate from (pay $5 for $25 certificate with a coupon code on
    • Coffee & Tea basket: Coffee, tea bags, mugs, homemade cookies or homemade biscotti, homemade cocoa mix.
    • Children’s craft basket: Crayons, markers, colored pencils, drawing paper, glue, construction paper, tape.
    • Baking basket-flour, sugar, nuts, chocolate chips, brown sugar, shortening, cookie cutters, printed recipes of favorite holiday cookie recipes.
    • Pasta basket-dry pasta, pasta sauce, homemade bread mix, salad dressing
    • Wine & Cheese basket-wine, crackers, cheese wheel, fruit, inexpensive wineglasses
    • Movie basket-microwave popcorn, large candy boxes from the dollar store store, gift card to movie rental store (with a coupon for the movie rental store of course)
    • Soup basket-homemade soup mixes, homemade bread or muffin mixes, soup bowls or spoons, recipe cards
    • Beauty basket-nail polish, nail implements, cotton balls, body lotion, lip gloss, mascara

These are just a few ideas-just use your imagination and your coupons to come up with many thoughtful, creative gift ideas.

Grocery Coupon Saving

Do you think people who coupon need to get a life? Do you think they waste a lot of time and effort for very little gain? Recent shows and articles have shown this isn’t true. You don’t have to do “extreme couponing” to save money. Even if you save $5.00 each week, that’s $260 a year. That’s a nice down payment on a vacation, holiday shopping, or whatever you’re saving for. This is easy to achieve. I’ll share what I’ve learned.

1. Only clip coupons you are REALLY going to use. (Have I bought it in the past? Will I really use that brand?)

2. Shop only a few stores. Running all over town, burning extra gas is not going to save you money, UNLESS you’re talking about a really great deal.

3. Know the stores in your area. Get the newspaper with the weekly ads. You may find that Store 1 has Soda Pop X on sale this week, while Store 2 has Soda Pop Y on sale. They may reverse next week. A store usually rotates its sales every few weeks.

4. Line up sales with coupons. If the store has a brand name item on sale, there’s a good chance that the manufacturer also put a coupon out for it. Look for these coupons in the newspaper or online.

5. Do NOT pay for coupons. This eats into your profit and isn’t necessary. Coupons are out there for anyone to find and use.

6. Be organized (not elaborate). You need immediate access to your coupons. You don’t want to be rummaging around drawers, purses and piles of papers. Get a cheap organizer or use an envelope system. Separate drugstore (personal care) from groceries. Separate grocery coupons into main categories (dairy, beverage, cleaning, etc.)

7. Keep current. Go through your coupons every time you shop (another reason not to keep extra coupons you might not ever use). Take out coupons that are about to expire. Decide if you will use them or throw them out (There will almost always be another coupon).

8. Have a routine. I sit down every Sunday with the newspaper. At some point, I scan the ad inserts for two grocery stores and one drugstore. Then I scan the coupon inserts and clip as I go. I make my shopping lists on old business envelopes (the kind you get in junk mail) and I insert the coupons I’m using into the envelopes. For instance, I may write Folgers* on the envelope. The * tells me I have a coupon. That way I will be sure to look at the coupon, when selecting the Folgers to make sure I have the right weight, etc.

9. Look at your receipt. See how much you saved. Congratulations!