Don’t have time to clip coupons? You can still save big with these easy money-saving tips from a mom of six who has a $350/mo. grocery budget!
It’s true, using coupons used to be one of the big things that helped me keep our grocery budget at just $200/mo. In fact, there were many years that I saved a whopping $1,500 from just coupons alone!
And while I love couponing and in many ways would be happy to see more people using them to save on their groceries, I’ll be the first to also say that using coupons is not the only way to save on groceries.
I get it that some people just don’t enjoy the whole coupon thing. I realize too, that depending on where you live, it may not be very feasible for you to easily coupon.
And sometimes, even if you would enjoy doing it, the season of life you are in simply does not allow you the time you need to do it. Whatever the case, there are definitely other great ways to save too!
6 Ways to Save on Groceries Without Using Coupons
1. Use a Grocery List
Shopping without a list means that you are less likely to think through your purchases and much quicker to grab anything that looks appealing. As a result, you obviously spend more money!
Here’s how a grocery list can help:
- Keep a running grocery list. When you open a new box of something that you normally keep on hand, add that item to your grocery list to avoid running out and having to make a last-minute trip to the store.
- Before you head to the grocery store, think about any other items you need. Look in your cupboards and assess what you are low on. Were there things you missed adding to your grocery list when you used them? Are there events you need to take food to this week? Any cleaning supplies or toiletries that you are low on?
- Think about the food you plan to make that week. Planning your menu so you know exactly what items you need to purchase can be super helpful.
- Take a look at your grocery store’s sales flyer. What times are on sale for a great price? If it’s something you regularly use, add it to your list.
Once you are at the store, stick to your list. Don’t let that package of Oreos end up in your cart just because they look so good!
2. Look at Unit Prices
It’s easy to think that bigger packages are always cheaper than smaller ones. And honestly, they often are.
However, you might be surprised to find out just how often smaller packages are actually less expensive!
Make it a habit to look at the price per unit (such as $0.98/oz.) which most stores have displayed on their shelf price labels. Compare the unit price and buy whichever size is the least expensive.
3. Buy in Bulk
Many stores offer things like rice, pasta and grains in bulk. Often it is cheaper to purchase these items this way rather than in the smaller-sized packages.
Again, check the unit price to make sure, but often you will discover that you can save by purchasing larger amounts.
I also typically purchase ground meat and chicken breasts/legs in bulk too. Grocery stores will also often give you savings of up to $1.00/lb. for purchasing larger quantities (5 to 10 lbs.) of meat.
When I purchase these bulk packages I like to repackage them into smaller portions and put them in the freezer for future use.
Sometimes I even take it a step further and cook the meat before freezing it. That one small step can really simplify meal prep!
4. Stock Up
I mentioned that I like to look at the sales flyer to see what items are listed at a great price that week. If I have wiggle room in my budget and if it is an item that I can either use before it spoils or that I can freeze, I like to stock up on it.
I do this frequently on things like butter, salsa, pasta sauce, pasta, sugar, crackers, and toilet paper.
This might not seem like a huge way to save but it really does add up. In fact, it is one of the big ways that I’ve been able to save as much as I do on my groceries.
It’s easy to think, “But I’m only saving $0.40 by purchasing this box of butter on sale now and that’s not really that much.”
But look at it this way. Say you use about 8 lbs. of butter a month. If you stock up and buy 8 lbs. of butter when it is on sale for $0.40 off the regular price, you are saving $3.20!
Funny how $3.20 sounds much more impressive than $0.40! And the thing is, if you do this over and over with all the items that you regularly use, it gradually adds up to big savings and gives you a lot more wiggle room in your budget!
5. Buy Only What You Need
Okay, so I know that sounds like I’m contradicting the stock-up concept that I just told you about. Trust me though, I’m not talking out of both sides of my mouth!
For perishable items like fresh fruits and veggies, milk and sour cream buy only what you know you can use before it spoils. These items are the ones that people end up throwing out the most.
Remember, a great deal is no longer savings if you end up throwing it out.
6. Watch for Clearance/Markdown Items
Stores are always changing out the products they stock and items are continually getting close to their sell-by/expiration date. When this happens, typically those items get either put on clearance or given a markdown sticker, making them a great deal.
Clearance items will be found all over the store, usually marked with a bright-colored shelf label.
For markdowns, I’ve found the best spots to find them are in the meat, deli and dairy departments. Generally, those things get a markdown sticker when they are within a day or two of their sell-by date.
Don’t let the sell-by date scare you- the product is still perfectly good! And if you won’t be able to use it right away chances are you can freeze it, making it still a great way to save money.