Using coupons might save you some money, but it can be a hassle. Did you know you can save money on groceries without coupons? It’s true! Keep reading to find out how.
Welcome to Week 3 of the money-saving grocery shopping challenge!
I’m so glad you’re still here! That shows me you’re serious about saving money on groceries every month.
In case you need to catch up, here are the links to Week 1 and Week 2:
- Money-Saving Grocery Shopping Challenge Intro
- Week 1 – How to Comparison Shop to Save Money on Groceries
- Week 2 – Meal Planning to Save Money on Groceries
This week’s challenge is how to save money on groceries without coupons.
According to the USDA, the average family of 4 spends anywhere between $679.10 to $1350.20 monthly on groceries. That’s just the cost of eating food at home. That is not including any restaurant or takeout meals.
When you think about it, that’s a lot of money! I know we have to eat, but I can think of a lot of ways I can use $1000. I bet you can, too.
Since we’re trying to save as much money as possible to buy a new home, I’m cutting back everywhere I can. One area I know we can cut back on is food. We’re eating out less and cooking at home from scratch more.
My thoughts on couponing
Years ago, I spent hours clipping every single coupon out of the Sunday paper. My mom would give me her leftover coupons and I would clip all of those, too. My coupons were kept nicely organized in a coupon binder.
At the end of the month, I would go through my coupon binder and throw away all the expired coupons. After a while, I realized I was tossing more coupons than I was actually using. This whole process was taking up way too much of my time. Not to mention it was starting to get a little bit stressful. It just wasn’t worth it anymore.
When I look back, I was actually saving more money without coupons than I was using them. And I was definitely saving time by not using them.
I do want to point out that I’m not entirely anti-coupon. While I no longer use paper coupons, I do still use electronic ones on the grocery store app from time to time.
How to save money on groceries without coupons
As I quickly learned, couponing can be a huge aggravation. It takes time to clip all those coupons and organize them. Then more time is spent trying to find coupons to match the items on your list. Not to mention figuring out coupon and store restrictions and rules. And most of the coupons are for processed foods and sweet snacks anyway.
So how do you save money on groceries without coupons? I’m about to share all those little secrets with you.
1. Buy what’s on sale
For most shoppers, the best tip is to buy what’s on sale. Just about everything goes on sale from time to time. Find out when the items you buy the most go on sale and buy enough to last until the next sale interval. A lot of items can be frozen (bread, milk, meat, etc.) to keep them from going to waste. Keeping a detailed price book will help you see when your favorite items go on sale.
Keep in mind that not everything lasts forever. Be sure to check expiration dates before you stock up.
2. Buy what’s in season
Plan your meals around produce that’s in season. For example, watermelon and berries in summer and citrus in winter. Even non-perishable foods have a sale season, too. For example, baking supplies, canned soups, and oatmeal are at their lowest prices during the winter.
3. Don’t buy more than you need
If you’re throwing away a lot of foods, then that amazing sale really didn’t save you a lot of money. Tossing foods proves that you’re buying too much. Overbuying can get very expensive.
4. Use what you buy
Freeze or repurpose leftovers instead of throwing them away. For example, if you have a lot of mashed potatoes leftover from dinner, use them to make shepherd’s pie the next day. If you have foods leftover that you’re unsure what to do with, use the “search by ingredient” section on allrecipes.com to find a recipe.
5. Learn when there are markdowns
Ask the store’s department managers when the best time of day is for markdowns. Our local Kroger marks down ground beef prices early Saturday mornings. Learn when the best times and days for markdowns are and shop during those times.
6. Shop clearance racks
Even grocery stores have clearance racks. I’ve found great deals on bread on the clearance rack near the bakery in our local Kroger. The bread can always be used as breadcrumbs in recipes such as meatloaf.
7. Buy store brand
Store brands are really not that much different than name brands when it comes to quality. I’ve noticed while researching nutrition facts that most of the store brands are “healthier” than the name brand. I have to watch my sodium intake and I’ve noticed that most of the store brands contain less sodium than name brands.
8. Cook from scratch
Pre-packaged meals might be convenient, but they are not cheap. (Or healthy!) Learn how to make your favorite pre-packaged meal from scratch. Play around with new recipes that only have a few ingredients. This is a great way to get creative in the kitchen and find new meals that your family will love.
9. Check unit prices
Compare unit prices of items to get the most out of your money. Some grocery stores have the unit price displayed for you on the shelf sticker. For others, you’ll have to do the work yourself. To see how to figure out unit pricing, click here.
10. Look up and down
Retailers use tricks to get you to spend more. One of those tricks is to place more expensive items right at eye level. When you’re shopping for groceries, look up or down to find the cheaper items. Items on the top and bottom shelves tend to be several cents to several dollars cheaper than what’s right in front of you.
11. Buy off season produce frozen
When fruits and vegetables are in season, they have the best price. And sometimes you can get even better deals at farmer’s markets. However, when they are not in season, their prices run higher. It’s best to get frozen fruits and veggies during their off-season times to save money.
12. Stick to the list
You’ve heard me say this before and I’ll say it again – make a list and stick to it! Resist the urge to grab the candy bar at the register. Plan your meals for the week around sale items and don’t stray away from the plan.
13. Shop alone
If at all possible, go to the grocery store alone. Bringing kids with you to the grocery store will cost you both time and money. (Speaking from experience here!) Little hands are always grabbing extras – mainly because of the appealing packaging. And us mamas are usually giving in because our babies have “just been so darn good this week”.
The same thing goes for spouses. They like to “help” you find items that aren’t on your list, too. At least mine does!
14. Never shop hungry
Grocery shopping while your belly is growling is never a good idea. More than likely you’ll make a few impulse purchases and stray away from your grocery list if you shop while hungry. Eat a snack before you go into the store if you need to. Trust me – I learned this the hard way. Chocolate donuts and a Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino from the refrigerator at the register will not save you money! (And it’s not healthy!!)
15. Shop the perimeter
The freshest foods, including produce, meat, and dairy, are found in the outside perimeters of the store. Processed foods are found in the center aisles. Not only will this type of shopping save you money, but it will also keep you healthier.
16. Don’t shop the end caps
End caps are another sneaky trick the grocery stores play on us. Usually, the items located here are not on sale, and even if they are it’s not the best price. Go down the aisle to find the item you’re looking for and look for the cheapest price.
17. Use money saving apps
One of the most popular apps out there for saving money on groceries without coupons is Ibotta.
Ibotta is a cash-back app that offers you cashback on many different grocery items. As soon as you reach $20 in earnings, you can transfer the money to your bank account.
Another cashback app I love is Fetch Rewards. However, instead of earning actual money like with Ibotta, you’re earning points. But you can turn those points into gift cards. I usually save up the points and get gift cards to use for Christmas gifts.
Sign up for Fetch Rewards and use the code M2DCN to get 2000 points when you scan your first receipt!
18. Shop around
Chances are you shop at the same grocery store every time out of habit. Step out of your comfortable routine and try different grocery stores for the best prices. Compare prices between different stores to find the best deals.
Check the weekly ads at competing grocery stores in your area. You may be surprised to learn that your favorite grocery store could actually be costing you more money.
Nope – not that B!
Bring your own bags! A lot of grocery stores will give you a discount off of your total grocery bill just for using your own reusable shopping bags.
For example, some Kroger locations offer 5 fuel points for every reusable bag you bring in up to 10 bags. At Target, you can earn a $.05 discount for every reusable bag you bring in.
Check with your local store to see what promotions are available and when.
The Krazy Coupon Lady lists more stores for us here.
20. Shop online
Shopping for groceries online and picking them up later curbside is another great way to save money. I have been doing this for over a year now and I love it. It’s convenient, it saves me time, it’s less stressful, and it saves me money.
How does shopping for groceries online save money? It allows you to get exactly what’s on your list and cuts out the impulse buying.
21. Sign up for loyalty programs
If the grocery store you shop at has a loyalty program, take advantage of it. I normally shop at Kroger and I’m signed up for their loyalty program. I get fuel points every time I shop which helps save on gas.
Recently, Kroger started a cashback program, which means you can get cash back on certain items. Sometimes I even get vouchers for free food or so many dollars off my total grocery bill.
Coupons may seem like the best way to save, but that’s not exactly the case. If you follow the tips above you will see that it is possible to save money on groceries without coupons. It may take a little bit of effort, but not near as much as clipping and organizing coupons.
Do you use coupons while grocery shopping? Or are you a non-coupon person?