How to Save Money On Groceries Without Coupons

So yesterday we talked about the use of coupons and whether or not they are worth clipping. I think they are but using coupons is not where I save the most money. Today we’ll talk about how to save money even if you don’t use them. At times, I’ve had to get very frugal with our money. I’ve learned a trick or two so here they are:

  • Shop the bulk aisle. I can’t tell you how many times in the past I’ve wasted money because I purchased a pound of almonds or a large container of spelt when I only needed a certain amount for one recipe. The bulk aisle eliminates this issue. If I only need 1/4 cup of pecans then I only buy a 1/4 cup of pecans. Okay so I always buy a little more because I just can’t keep the boys from stealing them out of the bag. When I do go to the store to purchase from the bulk aisle I am not afraid to say that I bring my plastic measuring cup and spoons with me. I would much rather get only what I need then once again waste money. You can find almost every kind of grain, flour, spice, nut, granola, and dried fruit you would want right there in the bulk aisle.
  • Use your sales circular. Every product a store sells will go on sale at some point during the year. The majority of them will go on sale a few times a year. The best thing I can recommend that you do in order to be on top of the game with the sales cycles is to google the name of your city and “grocery deals blog”. For example, I googled “Baton Rouge grocery deals blog” and found My Baton Rouge Mommy. I follow her blog and can usually find out if an item is at it’s lowest price or just an all around good deal.
  • Buy meat only when it is on sale and stock up. Become friendly with your store’s butcher. Ask the butcher what the usual sale cycle of meats is then shop accordingly. If you know chicken is at it’s lowest price at $0.89 a lb every 6 weeks then stock up six weeks worth every time the sale comes around. I just stocked up on ground chuck from our local grocery store. It goes on sale about 4 times a year at $1.89 a lb. When it does I load up. I have about 2 months worth in the freezer. I couldn’t fit any more or I would have bought more. I never, ever pay full price for meats.
  • Shop your local farmer’s market. I prefer this for two reasons. First, you get good fresh produce unlike most chain stores that buy it after it is a few days old. They do that to save a buck. Sometimes at the farmer’s market I pay the same amount that I would at the grocery store but the difference is that it won’t go bad in two days. I can keep it for sometimes up to 10 days. The stuff I buy at the big chain stores is wilted, mushy, and brown before I even get it home sometimes.
  • Don’t buy more than you will use or want. Don’t buy something just because it is a good deal. There are a lot of 10 for $10 deals in grocery stores but the truth of the matter is (in the majority of the stores) you don’t have to buy 10 to get the sales price. Just buy what you will need for that cycle.
  • Don’t forget to check the salad bar for things you only need a little of. Just like with the bulk aisle, if you only need half of a squash or a few rings of red onion for your mans burger then don’t buy the whole thing if you know it will go to waste. Buy it for pennies from the salad bar.
  • Look above and below on the grocery shelves. Think of grocery store shelves as real estate. Distributors pay top dollar to be in your face. Yes, the pay the stores for the most appealing placement. Anything eye level, on an end cap, or on display in the aisles is likely not something you want to buy. Those are typically one of two things: unhealthy and/or most expensive. For low sodium, low saturated fat, and lower priced items you will want to look at the shelves above and below eye level. Try it. I bet you will discover things you never knew existed.
  • Make a list. This always makes the list for ways to save money while shopping. There is a good reason for that. It is because this one tip can save you hundreds of dollars per year. You already know the reasons why.

🙂 So do you have any tips that you can share?

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  1. GREAT tips – I’m so proud that I do some of these things. My one trick is that for Pizza night I always go to the salad bar and get some of the toppings there.. like you said.. pennies! I’ve used the bulk aisle but I’ve never thought to only buy what you need, literally! Great tips!

  2. I try to menu plan from what I already have in the house and then use my weekly budget to shop sales and stock up as much as possible.

    I also have an app on my iPod that I use for shopping. I just enter in the item, price, quantity, etc through the week to make my list. It organizes it by aisle for me as well as keeps track of how much $ is in my cart and how much $ is still represented on my list. It will also add in tax to an item if I indicate to. If something is cheaper/more expensive I can just change it there.VERY helpful as I know exactly how much my total should come to at the checkout.

    Thank you for these great tips you shared here!

  3. The grocery list is essential! I started keeping a magnetic one on the fridge and we all just add to it whenever something has been used up. I also kept a price list for a while. That way I knew when something was a deal or not. I usually make a star or highlight the item if I have a coupon. I also write specifically what I need to buy to use the coupon (size of item, or need to buy 2).

    The salad bar idea was new to me. I never thought about that! I love learning new things!!

  4. Great tips, Amy. My best tool has been my shopping list. I don’t go to a lot of different stores, I buy the majority of my products at one grocery store (less than a mile from my house). When I first began shopping there, I went to the store and made a list with all the aisles and what is in each aisle that I typically purchase. Then I come home and type up a 5 column page with each aisle in bold and underlined. Then under each heading, I type the items we buy regularly. I also leave blank space before the next aisle heading so we can add things. There’s also plenty of white space elsewhere. I print about 10 of these and stick them on a clipboard and put it in a handy location with a pen and highlighter. When something needs to be purchased, it merely has to be highlighted. If it’s not a regular item, it gets written in. Everyone in the family can use this.

    When I’m at the store, I know if I need to go in a particular aisle or not. Not only that, but I already know that I need only 2 things (or however many) in that aisle, so I zip down there, grab what I need, and move on. I can leave the house, grocery shop, and get home in about 45 minutes when I’m focused like that. I also don’t overspend or overshop because I have a plan.

    Sometimes I fall off the wagon with it, but when I use this, it helps tremendously. Before going to the store, I also make notes next to the items (i.e.; 10/$1) that are on sale or if I happen to have a coupon (C).

  5. You know, Amy, I shop pretty frugally – using a lot of the techniques you mentioned in your post. But what I hadn’t thought about was the salad bar. That never even crossed my mind!!!! What a great idea!

    As far as coupons go, I have found for us they don’t really save us much. Because we eat mainly a whole foods, cook from scratch way, most of the stuff we buy you don’t find coupons for (i.e. produce, meat, dry beans, whole grains, etc.). I have found that using a lot of these techniques you’ve mentioned are the key for us to shop frugally. Menu planning and making a grocery list is crucial. Then I look at what produce is on sale in the flyers and I try to base snacks and meals around what’s on sale. We don’t have a farmers market close so shopping the produce sales is key for us to be able to have a variety of fresh fruits and veggies each week.

    Recently, the ground chicken and ground turkey we like to use went on sale so I bought extra of that. Stocking up when things are on sale really does help. We can’t always stock up as much as I might like to sometimes, but when I can it really helps save money.

    Thanks for sharing all the tips for frugal grocery shopping!
    Have a great day!

  6. See – THIS is how I do most of my saving. I especially use my circular religiously.

    The other thing I do is buy generic. Maybe I don’t have discerning tastes, but with few exceptions (generic Clorox wipes are one) I can hardly tell the difference. That’s also a reason I don’t use coupons as much as I might. Most of the time, the generic is less expensive than the name brand, even with a coupon (though when it’s also on sale, the coupon sometimes makes it cheaper).

    And the looking above and below is SO key. Especially in the toy aisle (if only I could train my 6-year old! LOL).


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  2. […] we did a few things. We started shopping the sales and using coupons but don’t worry, you can save money without using coupons too. For larger items we budgeted what we were willing to spend and shopped Craig’s List, […]

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