My fiance and I feed both ourselves and his parents on WW. We stay with them to help take care of them, but at the same time we're trying to save for our wedding so I've pretty much mastered this! This is going to be long so please bare with me.
Until his mom helped me, I was clueless about how sales could help me since there never seemed to be ones good enough. People always told me the same thing, sales, sales, sales but I was always lost... so here's what I've learned.
1. First of all, find a GOOD fruit and vegetable stand. This is going to take TIME. We went to oh... probably 6 of them until we found one we liked. The one we go to sells grapes for .99 a pound while the grocery store sells them for 2.99 a pound. Now, I'm not sure where you live so obviously you may have a different experience. Mine is in Largo,FL far away from any farms lol.
2. Next, make sure you get ads from all the grocery stores in the area. If you don't, they always have ads on their website for their weekly deals and specials. Figure out when they start their sales... it will say on the ad. The reason for this is, because you want to go the first day otherwise really good sales will be gone.
3. The day before (if you get the ads in the mail), or the day of (if you view them online) go through each one of the ads to find the good deals of the stuff you enjoy. For example, we eat a lot of chicken. I do not, however, buy chicken breasts unless they are under $2.00 a pound. So if those are on sale, I buy them in bulk. If they're not, I move onto other stuff.
4. Make a list for each store. You won't actually be buying everything off this list, just making a comparison list. List the items that you would enjoy, or think you might.
5. Start planning meals. You decide... ok, turkey sausage is on sale buy 1 get 1 free and eggs are on sale. So I'm going to have breakfast for dinner tonight and make turkey sausage omelet. You also see that ground turkey is on sale, as well as taco bell dinner kits buy 1 get 1 free. So you decide to make turkey taco's.
6. Stock up! Anytime you see a deal on something you enjoy that's a really great bargain, stock up on it! I don't mean 20 cents off either. I love the Campbells Select microwave bowls. A whole bowl on average is about 4-5 points. But at 2.50 a bowl, I don't think so! So I wait until they are buy 1 get 1 free, or 4 for 5. I can handle 1.25 a bowl, and they are PERFECT for at work when you're in a hurry. Only 2 minutes to heat up.
7. Pick the stores that have the best sales this week and go to them. Don't go to all of them. It's time consuming, gas wasting, and frustrating. Just do your best at 1 or 2 of them.
Now, I don't like frozen dinners, but if they are on sale I will buy them. Like when healthy choice are 5 for 10.... I know that's 5 meals (usually at work) that week for only 10 dollars. So I get them anyway.
Last but not least, when I cook dinner, I always make more than I need. That way the leftover serving I can pack away in a container and take it to work. Obviously if it doesn't reheat well I reach for a frozen dinner, or campbell's soup. But usually they will reheat well.
Certain things are so expensive that I won't buy them unless they are buy 1 get 1 free. Tuna for example. Campbell's chunky soups. Bertolli olive oil, Bertolli Sauce.
Some things you will never find on sale, especially diet things. Like light chips, or Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta... So you have to save money elsewhere if you are going to get them. You could just get regular pasta, and not get chips (I rarely do but my fiance likes them from time to time).
For dieting, and for budget I stretch everything out with vegetables. Again... only if you have a good fruit and vegetable market near you. Almost everybody does! Either at the fleat market, a harvest market type thing, or a produce stand.
Here's two examples:
2 meals for 4 people
My shopping list:
1 pound - 20 ounces of ground turkey 2.79 on sale
4 green peppers - $1 at produce stand
1 onion $.25 at produce stand
Zucchini (my personal splurge) $1 at produce stand
Then Ronzoni pasta (8 servings) about $2
Bertolli buy 1 get 1 free
Light hotdog buns
2 medium potatoes
In a food processor I process half the onion, a green pepper or 2, 1-2 carrots then throw in meat, breadcrumbs, eggwhites, etc... turn into meatballs and you get a lot of them. Enough for pasta with meatballs 1 day (leftover pasta by itself another day) and meatball 'subs' the next day.
I sautee the green peppers, onion and zuchhini in a TINY bit of olive oil, mix that with the pasta sauce and it doubles it's size, as well as the size of the pasta servings.
Then I take the leftover pasta to work with me maybe with whatever other leftovers I find and have meatball subs with potatoes made into 'french fries'.
I told you this would be long, but hopefully it helped. I still have some kinks to work out, I'm not as great as his mother at it... but then again her idea of dinner is frozen salsbury seaks, instant potatoes, and stove top stuffing. Not diet friendly at all!
Good luck! Hope this doesn't hurt your eyes. I really does hope it helped, I really needed it ages ago.