FAIRFAX, Va., (WUSA) -- "Today we are going to talk about realistic ways that you can coupon," Laura Harders says.

She teaches the rest of us how quickly small change adds up to big savings.

"It's a great tool to be able to stretch yourhard-earned dollars further," she says.

This Manassas mom of two scours the savings-sphere and blogs about ways to bring down your grocery bills. And, it starts by knowing the basics, especially when it comes to manufacturer coupons.

Laura tells her workshop participants,"This 50 cent coupon will actually double savings at many of our local grocery stores."

Finding the coupons is just the first step on the path to savings. Laura says, step two is to check the Sunday newspaper coupon inserts.

"You're going to collect these inserts then you're going to go back to them once you have a high value coupon that matches the sale that is going on," she says.

To find out what's on sale, Laura says you should give yourself an hour each week to mark up your grocery circular, match up coupons and plan your meals.

"You're actually able to save money on the ingredients your family is going to use in their meals and consume," says the Bargain Beltway Mom.

That means no more trips for one ingredient here or there. Laura visits her neighborhood Giant store to show us how to put all three steps into practice.

She says, "I'm going to get the cottage cheese that's on sale. After the coupon, it will bring it down to 89 cents each. So, it's regularly priced at $2.50 and I'm getting it for just 89 cents."

The frozen aisles give her plenty of meal time options.

"On sale 2 for 8 plus it's part of their buy $25 worth get $10 off instantly promotion. And I have a coupon."

The best deal may be on a pasta night special.

"I have a $1 off two coupon. I'm going to get these for just 29 cents," she says.

And, Laura says don't overlook the discontinued products. She's ready for cold season for next to nothing.

Once the coupon saver fillers her list and her cart, it's time to checkout.

Her grocery billadds up to $134.64 before the coupons are scanned. In the end, Laura cuts her bill more than half.

Consumer correspondent Lesli Foster says, "Now it's down to $52.80."

"Yes," Laura says.

She says she is a believer in "using coupons and strategic shopping that can really save a lot of money."

Laura says she saves thousands of dollars each year just by using her three strategies to save.

Identity the coupons you'll use

Mark up grocery store circulars for the week

And, plan your meals for shopping

Also, make sure you have an easy way to carry your coupons. Laura sent us something called a couponizer that can help you on your deal saving quest.

Tell me how you save. Look up Lesli Foster on Facebook or Twitter to keep the conversation going.

Written by Lesli Foster
9 News Now

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