ABC7 is your guide to doing Thanksgiving on a budget. For the next three days, we'll show you how to save big bucks on that Turkey Day meal. In part one, D.C.'s queen of couponing tells us how to get things rolling.
You don't have to break the bank to feed your family this Thanksgiving. As a matter of fact, if you plan ahead and clip a few coupons, you can save more than 30% on your grocery store bill. Too good to be true? Not if you follow the advice of Laura Harders, also known as the "Beltway Bargain Mom".
WJLA.com: Thanksgiving flyers and coupons are already stacking up on our doorsteps. Where do we start?
Laura: Start by glancing over the flyers to find the best deals and plan out your shopping trip. I recommend taking a highlighter or sharpie and marking up your circular, to help you pinpoint and remember the top sale items, and then incorporate those items into your meals for the upcoming weeks and holiday. Making a meal plan may be an initial investment of time, but it will help you save both time and money in the long-run.
WJLA.com: We know that planning and making a list is key. But what exactly does that entail?
Laura: First determine the number of people at your holiday meal and if anyone is willing to help bring a side dish. When you figure out what you'd like your Thanksgiving meal to include, start looking at your store circular for those key ingredients - if you don't receive one in the mail, you can view them online by going to your grocery store's website.
I purchase the "loss leader" items, ie. featured sale items sold at a loss in order to draw in customers, and sweeten an already good sale with manufacturer coupons from my Sunday Washington Post or from credible printable coupon sites.
I don't do all my shopping at one store, I pick two or three stores that have the best sales for that week, make my list and head out to those stores for the sale items. Sticking to your list will help you stay within your budget and avoid overspending.
Laura has been strategically shopping and using coupons for nearly seven years. In 2008, she launched BeltwayBargainMom.com, a blog where she shares local deals and chronicles her family's frugal attempts at living in our nation's Capital. She also teaches coupon workshops to help Washingtonians save money at the store.
WJLA.com: Online couponing is extremely popular. Any tips on how to navigate all those deals
Laura: I recommend focusing on ways to save at the one or two stores you shop at most frequently, and then you can branch out once you've mastered those. Make sure you learn the coupon policy and other perks/programs for your store.
For the brands you buy most, be sure to sign up for the e-mail club/newsletter on their website, "like" them on Facebook, and call their customer service line to let them know how much you love their product and ask for coupons.
Also, it helps to follow a coupon blog that does the hard work for you and shares the best deals with coupon match-ups for stores in your region.
We're getting down to specifics in Part 2 of our Guide to Thanksgiving on a Budget. The stores, the coupons and the deals you need to know about - check it out Tuesday right here on WJLA.com.