Using coupons is a great way to save money on groceries and other household items but the truth is sometimes we all get so busy that we just don’t have time to clip coupons and scour the sales papers to find the rock bottom prices. We just simply can’t always go to the grocery and get $200 worth of food for $10. It just doesn’t always happen.
I’m not saying don’t use coupons. I use coupons but I also have to make smart shopping choices for those times that I don’t have coupons. Here are 20 tips to help you save money on groceries without using coupons.
20 Tips for Saving Money Without Coupons
1. Buy store brand or generic items. There are certain items that I am a “brand snob” about and refuse to buy generic. One is canned soup. If I want tomato soup I am always going to buy Campbell’s. I have never found a store brand or generic that compares. Most other items though I can’t really tell a difference so I usually reach for the generic brands.
2. Look up and down. Those retailers are tricky folks. They like to put the most expensive items at eye level. Look at the shelves up high and down low to find the lowest prices.
3. Buy in bulk and compare unit prices. Sometimes it is cheaper to buy a larger package versus a smaller one. For example, a 16 ounce package of meat for $5 is a better deal than a 12 ounce package for $4.50.
4. Drink more water….and not the bottled kind. Invest in a water filtration system and some reusable bottles. This is much cheaper in the long run than buying bottled water. Plus you are helping the environment as well.
5. Avoid pre-packaged conveinence foods. For what you would pay for a ready made meal in a box where you just add the meat you could make this same meal from scratch about 2-3 times in many cases. Its a good idea to do most of your shopping in the outer aisles. That where you will find the healthiest food anyways. Yes it may require more effort in preparation but in the long run its cheaper and healthier.
6. Shop with a list. If you have trouble remembering to take your list with you, there are apps you can download on your smartphone which you can use to create your grocery list. If you are like me I prefer to organize my list in the order that the items are found in the store. This saves time at the store and helps avoid unnecessary trips back and forth in the store where you might be tempted by those sneaky retail impulse purchases.
7. Don’t waste food. In my house there’s only my husband and I so we often have leftovers. We usually take the leftovers for our lunch the next day or sometimes I freeze them, especially if its something like soup or chili.
8. Shop at discount stores. In my area we have Save a Lot and Aldis. Both of these store have great deals. I especially like to purchase produce at Aldis. I can usually get great deals on fruit there.
9. Buy items on sale. Just because you are not using coupons doesn’t mean you have to avoid sales. I like to stock up on meat when its on sale. I then divide it into freezers bags, label the bags, and freeze then for use later on. I recently did this when Kroger had some great meat sales. I haven’t had to buy meat in over two months thanks to some great sales. I also like to visit sites like couponmom.com. Even if you aren’t using coupons you can view the sales in your state to see what’s on sale. There are often links to printable coupons in those lists if you did want to print a coupon and save a little extra money.
10. Buy in season. This is especially true with produce. You will get the best prices when buying your produce in its peak season.
11. Don’t be afraid to buy frozen vegetables. If choosing between frozen and canned….go with the frozen. Its a much healthier option. I usually stock up on frozen vegetables when Kroger has a sale. Often they will have a 10 for $10 sale on frozen vegetables. Great time to stock up!
12. Choose cheaper cuts of meat. Of course a good juicy New York Strip steak is great but if cooked properly a cheaper cut of meat can be just as tasty.
13. Avoid conveinence cuts of meat. Don’t be afraid to grab a good knife (carefully of course) and be your own butcher. Boneless, skinless chicken breast is great but its fairly easy to remove the skin and bone and prepare the cut of meat yourself.
14. Buy local. We have a local market ran by a group of local Mennonites and we also have some local farmers markets where local farmers bring their goods to sale. You can always get a much better price at one of these markets than at a big chain grocery and you know you are supporting local farmers as well.
15. Shop late in the day. Stores are required to dispose of food on the sell by date. By shopping later in the day you can usually find cuts of meat that have been marked down and also low prices of bread that the bakery has marked down as well.
16. Stock up when items are sale. Be careful though because not everything had a long shelf life. You can freeze meat, fruits, vegetables, and even bread. If you can invest in a small chest type freezers it will benefit your budget in the long run.
17. Speaking of stocking up….shop from your freezers and pantry. Its a good idea to check your stock on hand to make sure you aren’t buying items that you do not need.
18. Avoid the deli counter. Buy the whole cut of meat and prepare it yourself. I like to buy a turkey breast when they are on sale. Sometimes I can find them less than $1 a pound. I will usually buy a couple and put them in the freezer. Then I cook the thawed brest in my large crockpot and then slice it up for sandwiches. I love a good turkey sandwich!
19. Enrolled in a store loyalty program. I do a lot of shopping at Kroger. With my Kroger card I can take advantage of sale prices just for card holders. I can also load e-coupons onto my card. Much easier than clipping lots of coupons!
20. Plan your meals. This goes along with making a list. If you know what you need you will be less susceptible to impulse purchases.
Check out this post for my recent grocery shopping adventure and why I don’t let my husband do the grocery shopping.
For more money saving tips check out this Frugal Friday post on saving money at the grocery.