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The busy shopper's guide to saving money on groceries

Justina Huddleston is an editor and the head writer for TDmonthly Magazine. She has been a freelance writer for several years, though her real passion is cooking. You can see the recipes she creates on her vegan food blog, A Life of Litt...

Because don't you have better things to do than collect circulars and clip coupons?

When it comes to saving big on groceries, I still have nightmares of my family's over-stuffed coupon organizer, which was perpetually bursting at the seams with (usually expired) deals on things we'd never actually need. And nothing was worse than trying to find the right coupons to hand over to the cashier while the other customers in line behind us glared.

But luckily, times have changed. We talked to Lisa Lee Freeman, the Flipp App savings expert, about how to save big on groceries in the modern age. So put your coupon-clipping scissors away and get ready to save the 21st century way.

More: How to save money using coupons if you seriously hate using coupons

1. Use those circulars the easier way

That bundle of grocery store deals you get in your newspaper that you immediately throw into the recycling bin can actually help you save big. But don't worry about bringing them into the store with you. It's much, much easier than that.

You bring your phone with you everywhere, so why not use it to keep track of those supermarket deals too?

Freeman recommends the Flipp app. Load your own grocery list, and "the app will automatically find your local circular deals, including coupons, for everything on your list!"

2. Ask for a rain check

Did you know that if a sale item at your store is out of stock, you can often get a rain check on the deal? "A rain check entitles you to the sale price when the item is back in stock," even if the sale is technically over, Freeman explained. "Most rain checks do come with time limits, so read the fine print. If you had intended to buy multiple of the item, make sure that is noted on the rain check."

More: 21 money-saving tips that are so much smarter than "bring your lunch"

3. Don't forget the dollar store

Dollar stores don't just sell off-brand and no-name foods, as some of you may already know. "More dollar stores are now offering big savings on major food brands like Heinz and Jif," Freeman says. You can also get staples like milk and eggs at deep discounts. Check your local dollar store's circular or website for weekly deals — you may find big discounts on some of the staples already on your shopping list.

4. Use loyalty programs

Don't ignore the loyalty programs at your local grocery stores — taking a couple of minutes to sign up could save you a lot of money in the long run. "Some stores will require a loyalty card in order to receive sale prices. Many also offer incentive programs like gas savings when you spend a certain amount on groceries," Freeman explained. Check in at your favorite stores and see what sorts of perks their loyalty programs offer.

5. Plan a weekly savings strategy

One of the biggest keys to smart shopping? Planning ahead. According to Freeman, there are three smart savings strategies you should be using every week: "1. Determine where to shop based on which stores have the best deals on the stuff you need, 2. Plan meals around what's on sale and 3. Plan big stock-ups of sale items you use regularly. If you're not doing all three, you're missing out!"

With these easy tips, you can save a lot of money — no coupon-clipping required.

More: What to buy at your local Asian grocer

Because don't you have better things to do than collect circulars and clip coupons?
Image: Yvonna Groom/SheKnows

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