I've seen this phenomenon many times: New coupon shoppers are gung-ho about getting started and saving money. But a few weeks into their coupon adventure, they start trying to use coupons for every purchase, and I receive emails like these:

“I really need to buy some chicken this week, but I don't have any meat coupons.”

“What do you do when you need something right now, but you don't have a coupon?”

“I'm afraid to buy something without a coupon!”

While I always encourage coupon use, the ultimate goal is to buy what you need at the best price possible. Not every shopping trip calls for coupons!

When I shop, my goal is to cut the price of each product I buy in half. Here are a few examples from some recent sales I've shopped, most without the use of coupons:

6-pound package of pork loin chops

Regular price: $4.99/pound

Sale price: 99 cents/pound

Notes: Even though I had no coupon for fresh meat (they're hard to come by), pork chops less than a dollar per pound are always a good buy.

Package of hot dogs

Regular price: $2.98

Sale price: 97 cents

Notes: This is another example of buying at the right time. I had a 75-cent coupon good for the purchase of two packages of hot dogs. I bought the two packages and paid $1.19 all together, or about 60 cents each.

Single rolls of paper towels

Regular price: $1.19 each

Sale price: 50 cents each

If you're a couponer looking for validation on some of your noncoupon purchases, look no further.

Prices on products in many stores are constantly in rotation, fluctuating from high to low in a regular cycle.

As a shopper, I'm always evaluating whether the price of a product falls in the low range. In the end, it's really about hitting that price range of 50 percent or less.

When you think about the big picture, it's easy to understand how this shopping strategy can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her website, jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.