INSIDE: Don’t always feel like clipping coupons but you still want to save? Learn how to save money on groceries without using coupons. Here’s a comprehensive list of more than 50 ideas to save money on food for your family!
When it comes to groceries, most of us can save money without resorting to extreme couponing. Whether your grocery budget is $75 or $275 a week, here are some simple tricks you can use to reduce your grocery spending.
Not everyone wants to use coupons because couponing can be a hassle and doesn’t always result in savings on the items you need. But you can still save money on groceries by getting a bit creative.
Here are more than 50 ways you can save – without using a single coupon!
HOW TO BE A FRUGAL FOOD SHOPPER
Make a grocery plan
Before you run to the store, you need to have a plan! You may already use a grocery list, but that’s just the first step to following a plan that will ensure you save money on every grocery trip.
One simple way to save money on food is to create a menu plan. Meal planning helps ensure you buy the items you need for all of the meals you want to prepare that week.
If you aren’t up to making your own, you can use a menu planning service. One of my favorites is 5 Dollar Meal Plan. It’s affordable and has meals your family will love!
Cook from scratch
Ready-made foods cost more than food you make from scratch! You can find thousands of recipes online, on sites such as Pinterest. Try these 5 Frugal Dinner Ideas Under $10.
Another way to get the most out of your grocery budget is to learn stores’ sales cycles. Every item goes on sale on a schedule, usually ranging from every six to 12 weeks.
You can figure out when the items you need will be available at the lowest price by creating and using a price book.
Shop with a grocery list
Never walk into your store without a grocery list in your hand. Then buy only the items on your list.
Don’t shop hungry
If you walk into the store when you’re starving, you’ll be more likely to make an impulse purchase (or several).
Shop alone, if possible
Leave your kids and spouse at home (if you can). Otherwise, they might “help” you find items that aren’t on your list.
Start shopping at Aldi
If you live near an Aldi, you can find ridiculously low prices on all of your groceries. The savings can be 50% or more off the prices at your local grocery store. But before you go, make sure you know the tricks for shopping at Aldi and the items you must buy there.
Explore new stores
Another trick to save money when grocery shopping is to try something new! If you normally shop at a particular store, consider shopping at another grocery (or a warehouse store or dollar store, such as Dollar Tree). Look at its weekly ad, and start out by buying the sale items. You never know what other amazing deals you’ll find.
Substitute, if needed
If you’re out of buttermilk, don’t run to the store to buy it. Create a workable substitute using milk and vinegar.
Get multiple meals from one large item
Have a meatless meal
At least once a week, prepare a meal that doesn’t include meat. Beans and other inexpensive proteins can be simple substitutes.
Limit your trips
Visit the grocery store just once a week. The fewer times you visit, the less money you’ll spend. Your menu plan will help ensure you get everything on your grocery list in a single visit.
Know your budget
Before you go to the store, know how much money you have to spend by checking your weekly grocery budget, then stick to it!
There is no right or wrong amount to spend because people’s needs differ. If you want to set goals, aim for $25 to $40 per person, per week. That means a family of four may want to budget as little as $100 a week.
This ensures you never overspend – because you can’t!
Read more: How to Use The Cash Envelope Method
Use virtual cash envelopes
If using cash is too much of a stretch, opt for a virtual envelope app, such as ProActive. You can still use a credit card or debit card, but you won’t overspend.
Read more: The “Cashless” Cash Envelope System
“AT THE STORE” TIPS FOR HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON GROCERIES WITHOUT USING COUPONS
Knowing how to shop at the grocery store is a big key to knowing how to save money on groceries without using coupons. Here are the best tips to follow…
Shop the perimeter
Processed foods are in the center of the store. Stick to the perimeter to find the produce, meat and dairy items you need.
Buy the weekly loss leaders
The loss leaders are the items on the front of the store’s weekly ad. These items are at the lowest possible price. If you want to use a coupon, this is where it really pays off.
Beware the end caps
Items at the end of an aisle aren’t necessarily on sale. Or if they are, they’re not really a great deal. Find the item on the regular shelf and look for lower prices. Stores often use this sneaky trick to get you to spend more money.
Look high and low
The most expensive items are usually at eye level in the store to entice you to buy them. Take a moment to look above and below those items for different brands that cost less.
Know the best day of the week
Many times, stores will offer a short sale, which is different from the regular weekly sale. For instance, my favorite store runs its weekly ad from Wednesday to Tuesday. But they also have a shorter sale on Friday and Saturday (and sometimes Thursday and Sunday). I shop only on Friday, so I can take advantage of the regular weekly sale and the short sale.
Shop in the morning
Another idea is to hit your store early in the morning, when the previous day’s meat is marked down. That doesn’t mean it has gone bad. The store just wants to sell it to make way for fresh cuts. Even if you don’t plan to use the meat right away, you can buy it and freeze it.
Buy in season
A simple way to keep your grocery budget in check is to buy produce that’s in season. When you buy out-of-season items, you pay a premium.
Buy frozen produce
If the produce you want isn’t in season, check out the frozen section instead. You can still enjoy the fruits and veggies you want, without the higher cost.
Don’t be so brand-loyal
Be open to trying new brands. You never know when you’ll find something that tastes even better – but costs less!
Try store brands
In most cases, store brands are big-name brands with a different label. There’s seldom a difference in quality. Try the store brand of the foods you love, and you may never notice a difference.
Price match to get the best deals
Many stores will now match their competitors’ prices! Ask about your store’s price-matching policy, then take advantage of it.
Get rain checks
When items are on sale, they may sell out before you have a chance to buy them. If so, visit customer service to get a rain check. Then go back the next week, when the item is back in stock, to get the low price.
Know the per-unit price
Before you add any item to your cart, check the price of different package sizes. More importantly, check the per-unit price. Sometimes, it can be less expensive to buy a larger item – or to buy two smaller ones that are on sale.
Watch the prices scan at the register
Make a mental note of the prices of items you find on sale (or snap photos with your phone). As the items are scanned, be sure the proper sales price comes up. Sometimes prices aren’t reduced due to glitches.
Pay attention to dates on packages
If you know you won’t consume an item before the “Best If Used By” date, it could result in wasted food and wasted money.
- “Sell-By” – This is the last date a store can display the item for sale. If you find an item past this date, it does not mean it’s bad, but you might get a discount. In most cases, you should buy the product before this date so you can eat it before the quality declines.
- “Best If Used By” – This is the date recommended for the best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
- “Use-By” – This is the last date the manufacturer recommends you use the product. Again, this is not a safety issue, but a quality issue.
Stock up when there’s a sale
It just makes sense that when you find a great deal, you buy additional items to freeze.
HOW TO STOP WASTING FOOD
Learning how to save money on groceries without using coupons should always involve not wasting food. In fact, nearly 40% of the U.S. food supply is wasted each year.
Buy only what you’ll eat
This is the best way to avoid food waste. When there’s a good deal at your store, it can be tempting to overbuy. But if you have to throw away food that spoils, then it’s not a good deal.
Throwing out leftover food really costs you. Don’t call them leftovers, but set everything on the table and call it a potluck meal or something fun.
Don’t fix too much
If you’re not good about consuming leftovers, then prepare less food. Only cook what your family will eat for dinner that night, so you have little or no food waste.
Keep foods visible
If a carton of strawberries slides to the back of the fridge, they’ll spoil and you’ll have to throw them out. Keep items that may go bad quickly where you can see them.
Rotate the pantry
After you shop, it’s easy to just slide the new boxes into your pantry, which sends older items to the back. This can lead to waste in the form of dried-out, stale and expired foods. Rotate items so the oldest foods are always in the front.
THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T BUY AT THE GROCERY STORE
When it comes to knowing how to save money on groceries without using coupons, you need to keep in mind that there are several things that just shouldn’t be purchased at a grocery store either because they will never be a good deal or because you can get them for less elsewhere.
Cans of soda pop
Stick with liter bottles so you pour only what you need (versus throwing out a can that’s half full).
Unless you have a picnic to go to, skip the paper and use your regular dishes instead.
When you find a great deal at Kohl’s (or another store), stock up on cloth napkins. You can use them over and over and will save the money you’d spend on paper napkins.
This can really kill your grocery budget. Buy reusable water bottles and fill them yourself.
Skip these and do it yourself. We created a snack basket. I buy a large box of the snacks the kids want, then repackage them in the amount I want them to eat. I have better portion control and save money at the same time.
USE APPS TO SAVE ON GROCERIES
While I said you don’t have to clip coupons to save, you can take advantage of digital coupons and apps to lower your grocery bill.
Walmart Savings Catcher app
If you shop at Walmart, this app can easily save you money. When you buy the items you need, the app searches local stores to see if they have the same items at a lower price. If it finds something, the app will deduct the difference – you don’t have to do a thing!
The Ibotta app pays you back for buying certain items. You find what you want, then follow the instructions to add the amount of cash back you can get. Once you buy, scan your receipt and the rebate will be deposited to your account.
This app is like Ibotta – but with different offers. I like it because there are times when it has offers I can’t find elsewhere. Learn more about Checkout51.
Use store savings
Some stores offer digital coupons you can find on your phone. No clipping needed – just show your phone.
Follow your store on social media
Another way I save money on food is to follow our local grocery store’s Facebook page! Each week, they have “fan only” offers. As a follower of the page, I just have to show the image to the cashier to save instantly.
EASY AND INEXPENSIVE IDEAS
Use discounted gift cards
If you do your grocery shopping at a big box store, such as Target or Walmart, you can buy gift cards at a discount at Gift Card Granny. You can pick up a card with a $50 value for $45. That could easily save you $20 or so each time you go shopping!
Also see: Stop Losing Gift Cards
Buy in bulk
Sometimes warehouse stores, such as Sam’s Club, offer a good deal when you buy in bulk. Just be sure you know the price per unit at your regular store for comparison. Then break down the bulk item into the sizes you will consume as a family.
Use storage containers
While convenient, baggies, aluminum foil and plastic wrap can really take a toll on your weekly grocery bill. Instead, invest in reusable containers to store your leftovers and open foods.
When it comes to nonperishable items, such as toilet paper, it can pay to go online. Often retailers such as Amazon offer online coupons (with the bonus of the items being delivered right to your front door).
Your local grocery store may also offer digital coupons and online shopping services, which may include delivery.
Look into a home delivery service
There are two ways you can save money by using a local delivery service. First, you can’t overbuy! When you walk through a store, you’ll often add extra items to your cart. But when you’re shopping online, you can’t do that. You have to put everything into your cart and check out.
The other way you can save is through incentives to use the service. For example, Walmart has offered new customers a discount of $10 off a $50 purchase.
Turn saving into a game
One thing I love to do is challenge myself. If I budget $250 for groceries for two weeks for my family, I will do all I can to spend $225. It’s fun to play this game against myself where I try to save as much as I can each week.
Go to a drugstore
Sometimes you can find grocery items at a lower cost here than at your local supermarket. Drugstores don’t make their money on food, so they may offer super-low prices to get you into the store – hoping you’ll buy other things too! Check prices on items such as eggs and milk to see if you can get a good deal.
GROCERY SHOPPING TIPS
Learning how to save money on groceries without using coupons wouldn’t be complete without understanding the grocery shopping tips that will help you save big on meat, produce, bread and grains, and all foods from A to Z.
SAVE ON MEAT
Use the butcher’s secret
Find the largest cut of meat you can, then ask the butcher to cut it for you. The butcher can make hamburger, steaks, roasts or whatever you want!
Buy in bulk
Many times, you can get meat at a reduced price per pound if you buy a large quantity. You don’t want it to go to waste, so buy freezer bags and break it down into smaller portions. Label what it is and the date it was frozen, so you use it up before it gets freezer burn.
Buy larger sizes
If you buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself, you’ll often pay less than when an item is already cut up.
Shop at your local meat market
Sometimes, you can find a lower price at these stores. It never hurts to look.
Avoid the deli
I’ve purchased both packaged and deli meats, and I honestly can’t tell much difference. Packaged items also often have coupons, while deli meats usually don’t.
SAVE ON PRODUCE
When you’re buying a product that has a set price for a package, like $1 for a two-pound bag of carrots, take an extra minute and weigh three or four bags. Weight can vary a certain amount and still be within the guidelines.
Buy canned or frozen
One of the easiest tips I have for how to save money on groceries without using coupons is to buy canned and frozen goods. If you’re using an item as part of a larger entree, this can be a great way to cut down on cost (and time). Plus, they keep longer.
Visit the farmer’s market
When you pick up fresh produce at your local farmer’s market, you not only cut out the middleman (the grocery store), you get the chance to support local growers in your area.
Plant a garden
Skip some of the produce at the store by growing it yourself. If you can, join a neighborhood garden, where everyone plants different foods and you all enjoy the fruits of your labor.
SAVE ON BREAD AND GRAINS
Shop at bakery outlets
Many brands of bread have outlet stores. The bread that’s left on the truck at the end of the day that stores didn’t need, or that they pulled because it was within a day or two of the sell-by date, is marked down for quick sale. You can typically find bread from 50% to 75% off the retail store price.
Make your own bread
Bread is pretty easy to make. You can find great recipes on Pinterest. Even without using coupons or stocking up on ingredients, you can cut your cost by at least 50% on a loaf of bread.
Homemade bread can also be frozen, so you can bake four to six loaves in one day and freeze all except the one you need. A bread machine is an investment, but making bread with one will only take about five to 10 minutes.
Bread can dry out before you use it. You can save that bread to make croutons. There are many recipes out there – here is one idea.
Buy rice in bulk
Rice is a staple you can find in most bulk food stores. You can also find it at natural food stores and specialty Asian food stores. Rice is a reasonably priced grain you can buy in bulk to get the best price, and it stores well for a long time.
SAVE ON FOODS FROM A TO Z
The best way to save money is to not waste it. Some foods have a limited shelf life, and others can last longer if you freeze them – but the key is to store them properly. Below is an alphabetical list of popular foods and tips to make them last longer!
FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON GROCERIES WITHOUT USING COUPONS
It’s not difficult to save money when you grocery shop when you follow our tips. You’ll easily lower your grocery bill by finding good deals and eliminating food waste and you’ll be so excited when you have so much extra money to spend elsewhere each week.