Written by Brooke Wagner

DENVER (CBS4) – Many dedicated souls spend hours matching coupons to store specials to chop their grocery bill to a fraction of its former self. The Internet makes this more possible than ever with websites like coupons.com and retailmenot.com, or even upromise.com, where you can get coupons and college savings at the same time.

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It’s the matching up with specials that can be time consuming, but with some patience and guidance from the right bloggers (just search your store and “coupon matching” for starters) it can be done! Just keep in mind, your time is worth money too, so it’s all a balance.

I make my grocery and meal list when I get my store’s circular on Tuesday. Often the store special on one brand of item is cheaper than another brand, even with a coupon. So I buy according to what’s on sale.

For instance, “family size” packaged meats are often on sale. The four of us can’t eat “family size” portions in one sitting! But if you have room in your freezer, you can still get in on the bargain and save time too.

Let’s say you buy 3 pounds of ground beef in a tube. You can split it into three 1 pound portions (or whatever size fits your needs), form each into a patty (for easier thawing), wrap each one-meal portion in plastic, stick in a freezer bag and label clearly with the weight, number, and date. It will take 5 minutes, but will save you so much time later when you just pull out a patty, thaw, and throw it into your meal!

You can do the same thing with any meat — bacon, for instance. Fatty items freeze well. Split the strips into the right serving for one sitting, wrap in plastic, put all the packages in a freezer bag, and label.

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My mom is the queen of freezing foods. Thanks for the tips, Mom!

I’ll leave you with two of my biggest grocery store no-nos: Don’t buy something you don’t need just because you have a coupon, and don’t leave the store without checking your receipt. Many stores will refund the entire cost of an item if you’re over-charged or don’t receive the sale price. I have gotten several refunds and it certainly beats getting all the way home and realizing you were over-scanned.

Right now King Soopers is doing its buy 10 participating items, get $5 off deal. To take advantage I made a second shopping list of only the participating items I needed, so I could be sure to buy them in multiples of 10. You don’t have to buy 10 of the same item, just 10 participating items – and there are quite a few. My mom saved $60 on her bill doing this.

Here’s a freebie for you – chips and queso when you sign up for Chili’s e-mail club: http://www.chilis.com/EN/menu/Pages/home.aspx. I love queso!

Happy bargain hunting! Let me know about your finds in Comments.

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