Where's the beef for the coupon shoppers?

I've been Super-Couponing for about four months now, and I am amazed at how many things I'm getting for free. I don't think we will ever have to buy another tube of toothpaste or bottle of shampoo again! I have a question on meats specifically. How can I save more on these, too?

Once you've cut your grocery bill significantly with coupons, your attention will likely turn to the area this reader asks about - saving on meat. It's true it's not always easy to find coupons for meats, but they're out there at times. A better way is to pay attention to meat prices.

The best ways to save on meats are to note the 12-week cycle lows. In past columns, I've discussed the grocery store's price cycle, where everything in the store hits its lowest price point once every 12 weeks. This holds true for meats, too! If you watch and pay attention to the meat prices at your store, you will likely notice a range in price for the same cuts and packages. Once you start to learn the highs and lows, you want to buy meats when they're at the low end of that cycle.

My rule of thumb is the $1.99 mark. Any time a meat cycles at or below that price, whether it's beef, poultry, pork or seafood, it's a buy - simply because that's the cycle low at my local stores. Occasionally it may dip even lower than that. Chicken breasts sometimes will go on sale as cheaply as $1.69/pound, and fish fillets sometimes go down to $1.29/pound - but if we need a particular kind of meat and it's under $2/pound, it's time to buy.

Then, when that good sale comes around, I'll look for coupons, too. There indeed are coupons for meats - think of the many brand-name manufacturers that package poultry and pork products. Many of these manufacturers' Web sites also will have printable coupons at times to further reduce the prices of ground turkey, frozen chicken patties, pork chops or similar products.

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