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When you’re looking to stretch a dollar, try meal planning around online grocery sales. And, if you’re tired of eating the same old thing every week, using your store’s weekly sales ad may give you some new ideas.

Of course, you could use just one store’s circular, but if you shop free grocery pickup at multiple stores, you can save more with some careful research. I’ll show you how I did it.

For more money-saving tips download the KCL app.


Check your pantry, fridge, or stockpile for what you have.

A woman loads none perishable foods on to the shelves in a pantry.

Before you go meal planning around your local grocery store’s weekly sales ads, check your pantry, fridge, or stockpile for ingredients that could be used in main and side dishes. You could discover enough ingredients to create a few partial meals, which can help make meal planning for the week easier.

It’ll also help you know what items you’re out of and need to stockpile. More on that later.


RELATED: Creative Ways to Save Money Grocery Shopping Online


Browse online grocery store weekly ads the day they come out.

Woman looking at Meijer weekly ad on laptop computer while sitting on a couch.

Some stores like Meijer and Albertsons (and affiliates) update their weekly ads online and in their apps every Sunday. Others, like Kroger (and affiliates) and Aldi, start their grocery sales every Wednesday, while Giant Eagle comes out on Thursdays.

If you wait too long to begin planning, you may be stuck with fewer options at the end of the sale, or you may miss out on great bargains entirely, like chicken breasts and ground turkey for 50% off!

Here’s an example from my recent shopping:

Four pounds Tyson Natural Boneless/Skinless Breasts (reg. $3.98/lb.) sale $1.99/lb.
One three-pound roll (85% fat free) Honeysuckle Ground Turkey (reg. $3.99/lb.) sale $1.99/lb.
Final price: $13.93 (savings $13.96)


RELATED: Ultimate Meal Prep Tips for People on a Budget


Match sale items to recipes in meal planning apps like Allrecipes and SuperCook.

Allrecipes app on a cell phone held in front of a partly open refrigerator

If you find some great buys like half-priced ground turkey but you’re not sure what to make with it, enter your ingredients into a free meal planning app like Allrecipes or SuperCook. Both will list out various dishes that include your ingredients.

Allrecipes will also show you what’s on sale in every recipe. Their “On sale near me” feature displays the sale price, expiration date, and where you can find the item(s).

Pair up KCL app coupons with weekly sales ads for more savings.

KCL app displaying coupons, held in front of a bag filled with cereal and Annie's macaroni and cheese

Use the Krazy Coupon Lady app to get coupons that you can pair with the grocery ads.

For example, if you find pasta sauce and baguettes on sale, plan a spaghetti night:

One 24-ounce jar Meijer has Barilla Pasta sauce (reg. $1.99) sale $1.79
One bakery baguette (reg. $1.89) sale $1
One pound box of spaghetti $1
Use $1 off Barilla pasta sauce from the KCL app
Final Price: $2.79 ($0.70 a person for a family of four)


TIP: Not serving that many? Refrigerate or freeze leftovers to reheat later.



Shop multiple grocery stores with free grocery pickup.

I recently planned two meals based on the weekly sales from multiple grocery stores with free grocery pickup. I wanted to determine whether I could save more money than I would have if I shopped at one store.

Although I started with three stores, Kroger, Walmart, and Meijer, I ended up shopping at Kroger and Walmart because Meijer charges a $4.95 grocery pickup fee. Overall, I ended up saving about 6% by shopping for grocery pickup at more than one store.


RELATED: To see what I did, read: Use Free Grocery Pickup to Shop Sales at Multiple Stores.


Create budget-friendly meals with just one or two ingredients on sale.

Person holding Costco rotisserie chicken on the edge of a Costco shopping cart.

Meal planning doesn’t mean you buy a cart full of ingredients. Add what you have in your pantry with just one or two ingredients on sale; with a $5 rotisserie chicken or eggs, you could get several budget-friendly meals.


Stockpile sale items to make future meal planning easier.

None perishable groceries stock piled on on metal storage shelves

In order to stockpile grocery and household items, you have to buy at the lowest price possible. And to do this, you need to know two things: KCL’s Stock-Up Price for each item and when to expect a stock-up price.

When you buy stockpile items at stock-up prices, you save even more money than your typical weekly sale. And you will have ingredients on hand, making future meal planning easier.

PRO TIP: Remember if you don’t eat it, there’s no savings. So make sure that whatever you buy is something you and your family like, or else donate it.


RELATED: Easy Tips for Building a Better Stockpile


Don’t Scroll Up! Here are the articles I mentioned:

Creative Ways to Save Money Grocery Shopping Online
Ultimate Meal Prep Tips for People on a Budget
Use Free Grocery Pickup to Shop Sales at Multiple Stores
Easy Tips for Building a Better Stockpile


UP NEXT: Companies That’ll Send You Free High-Value Coupons (Just ask!)

Blue Bunny Ice Cream coupons held in front of ice cream cooler in store.

Meal Planning Around Grocery Store Sales