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When my first baby was born, we made a plan for me to stay home for a year. We downsized our apartment, created a budget, and cut back on extra spending.
One of the easiest places for us to cutback and save extra money is in our grocery budget.
6 years later and we’ve added 2 more babies. Our life is busy and I have left couponing behind BUT not the savings!
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Here’s how we save money on groceries without coupons:
1. Create a Grocery List: Every time I go to the grocery store with a “mental” list of things we need, I always end up forgetting things or buying things that weren’t on the list! When I have taken the time to prepare for our meals for the week, I like to create a grocery list based on meal planning and sales that are happening at my favorite stores.
2. Meal Planning: There are many different ways to meal plan. You can scour Pinterest for ideas of budget friendly recipes, use the same recipes every week, or sign-up for a service that sends meal plans to your inbox like My Freez Easy or $5 Dollar Dinners. Another one of my favorite membership sites is Dashing Dish. Katie of Dashing Dish shares healthy nutritious recipes that you can use to set up your own meal plan.
I love cooking in batches and freezing meals to have something on hand when we are busy or I’m just too tired to even think about cooking. Having a meal plan will help you save not only time, but also you won’t be rushing through the drive thru for dinner.Freezer meals will save your wallet when you're too busy or too tired to cook! Click To Tweet
3. Use Leftovers: When I cook dinner, I try to cook enough to have leftovers for lunch the next day. Thursday night is our leftover night for anything that hasn’t been eaten yet. It saves me from having to cook a full meal one night a week…and it saves us money. I also try to use up what we already have available in the pantry. Sometimes if we have leftover meat I’ll use it in a different recipe on another night.
4. DIY Your Own Food: There are so many quick and easy ways to prepare your own meals and snacks. Sometimes it seems easier to just buy a frozen lasagna, rather than making your own. (That’s why My Freeze Easy is such a great asset in the kitchen!) Preparing your own snacks, sweets, and meals will help you cut out preservatives and save you money!
Here are some great ideas for things to make at home:DIY your food! Don't buy pre-packaged or frozen foods.Click To Tweet
5. Shop the Sales: Every product goes on sale approximately on a 6-week sale cycle. I try to stock up on items that I know we will use over the 6 weeks. For example, spaghetti sauce will go on sale for $1.49 which saves me $0.50. I buy 6 of those because spaghetti is usually in our weekly meal rotation. 6 spaghetti sauces will last us until the next sale and I won’t have to buy spaghetti sauce at regular price. I do this for several other items, but since we don’t have a freezer chest right now I don’t buy anything that needs to be frozen.
6. Clearance Section: Find ALL the clearance sections at your favorite stores. My favorite grocery store has 3 clearance sections. There is one clearance section in the bakery, another section in the produce department, and a clearance section of non-perishables. I always check the clearance sections to see what I can get a deal on each week.
7. Get to Know the Markdown Schedule: Take some time to talk to the employees! They will let you know when meat will be marked down. You can get a heads up for the best time to raid the clearance rack for produce! I know that at my local store Wednesdays at 5pm is when they mark down meat.
8. Compare the Unit Price: When you look at the price of an item that is on sale, make sure you compare the unit price to find the best deal. The unit price is in small print in the corner of the sales tag. It usually will say $0.32/ounce or something similar. Sometimes the sale price is cheaper than even the store brand when you compare the unit price.
9. Pay Attention to the Sales: My favorite grocery store often has specials that are Buy 6 items save $3. They have a variety of items to choose from that can be mix or matched, but you HAVE to buy 6 items or you don’t get the savings.
If you don’t pay attention to the number of items that you have then you could end up spending more money!
A couple of helpful hints… when shopping a sale like I described fill up a bag with all 6 sales items. Once the bag is filled I tie it together so I know I have 6 items from the list. Sometimes I need a filler item to get the discounted price. In that case, I will buy something like a bag of chips for $0.79.
Our store also offers 10 items for $10 on a regular basis. You don’t actually have to buy all 10 items to get the $1 per item deal. It’s the store’s sales pitch instead of saying items for $1.
It’s important you know your stores sales so that you can always take advantage of getting the best deals!Don't be fooled by a sale at the grocery store! Play by the rules and compare unit prices.Click To Tweet
9. Try Different Brands: If you don’t mind using different brands then you will have more options available to save money. There are a few items that I personally just can’t give up like my deodorant and shampoo. I just try to buy those items when there is a good deal, but for the most part we are not brand loyal. I just try to focus on what is the best deal that I can get and still meet our grocery needs.
10. Ibotta App: This is one of my favorite ways to save money on groceries! All I do is check the Ibotta app to see if there are any cash back items that are on my grocery list before I head to the grocery store. Then when I get home I scan the items and the receipt as I’m putting my groceries away. You can read my full review of the Ibotta app here.
11. Shopkick App: This is another super easy app that I like to use to earn gift cards from grocery shopping. All you have to do is walk into the store! You earn points that can be traded for gift cards. There are also options to earn points by scanning products in the store or purchasing products and scanning the receipt.
12. Shop Around: In our local area I like to shop Kroger, Walmart, Fresh Market, CVS, Walgreens, and Trader Joe’s. I don’t go to every store, every week…because I don’t have time for that! But I know the best deals at each store so I check the sales cycle and make a plan based around the sales cycle.
13. Keep Track: Use a spreadsheet to keep track of the best prices you get for each item. Once you get out an idea of how much you need to spend then you will be able to tell if find a good deal. You can update this document over time.
14. Sign up for a Grocery Rewards Card: Make sure you sign up for your store’s grocery rewards card so that you get the best savings on your groceries. Some grocery stores also have discounts for gas if you use their rewards card.
15. Download Coupons to Your Rewards Card: Most major stores have some kind of app or program to download digital coupons. I like using these because I don’t have to physically worry about cutting out coupons and taking them to the store. I just check the website before I leave the house and download them to my card. At checkout I just scan my card and the discounts are automatically taken.
16. Shop Online/Grocery Pick-up: I have found that if I order online, then I don’t end up over spending in the store. One thing I love about shopping online is that I can see the price as I put things in my basket. I’m totally aware if I am staying in my budget, so I don’t go over. Most grocery pick-up services will let you use your store card or online coupons.
17. Shop CVS for Toilet Paper & Paper Towels: CVS is my favorite place to shop for toilet paper and paper towels. They have a special sale $10 off $30 purchase of certain brands that include laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, etc. I always buy our toilet paper and paper towels at this sale. The last time I got this deal I bought 4 packages of toilet paper and 1 ALL laundry detergent for $30. I got back $10 to use in the store on my next trip! I essentially paid $6 each for toilet paper (18 rolls) and a 32 ounce laundry detergent.
18. Grocery Shop Fewer Times: I try to stick to a schedule of grocery shopping once a week. My boys are bad about grabbing an apple and taking 3 bites out of it and then leaving it somewhere random! By sticking to the “grocery shopping once a week” rule they are learning to not be wasteful with their fruit.
I was shopping twice a week just because we would run out of fruit or I would forget a couple of things for particular meals. I always ended up buying more than I had planned for during that second shopping trip. Now if I am out of something we just try to find a substitute for what we already have in the pantry.
19. Shop for Groceries Online at Amazon: Amazon is a great way to save on items that aren’t commonly sold in your grocery store or items that are specialty items. I buy almond flour, coconut flour, and a few other items through Amazon Prime Pantry. This is a super convenient way to get bulk orders! Check out Amazon Prime Pantry and Amazon Subscribe and Save for more savings!
20. Join Facebook Groups for Saving Money: Facebook groups are an amazing place to find like minded friends who have a passion for saving money on everything! You can type into the Facebook search bar *Any Store Name* Savings and Facebook groups dedicated to sharing the best deals at that store will pop up!
Here are a few of my favorites:
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