Not everyone is into couponing. Coupons are a great way to spend less at the grocery store but you can also save money by making smart shopping choices. Below you will find 17 ways to save money on groceries without using coupons.
1. Visit the grocery store less. If you currently go to the store three times a week, cut back to going only once a week. The more you go to the store, the more opportunities you have to buy things you do not need.
2. Make a list and stick to it. A grocery list saves both time and money. You will save time because you will not be wandering the store looking for tonight’s dinner. You will also save money because sticking to a list helps prevent you from buying things you really do not need.
3. Buy produce in season. Buying produce in season is a great way to save money. The produce on sale in the grocery store’s weekly ad is usually what is in season. You can also check out the USDA’s season produce list here.
4. Buy Generic. Generic products are close to name-brand quality yet less costly. Often times the manufacturer that makes the name-brand product manufactures the store brand products as well. Sometimes, it is even be the same product in a different package. If you are worried about quality or taste, have no fear because most come with a money back guarantee. For example, Aldi offers a double guarantee which means if you are not satisfied with the product then they will replace the product and refund your money. Check with your local grocery store to verify if their store brand has a guarantee.
5. Look for markdowns on meat, produce, and dairy. Many stores mark down meats, produce, and milk that is about to expire. Save some money by purchasing these items if you plan to consume them quickly. Whole milk tastes fine for about a week after the store expiration date. You can also freeze the meat you do not plan on eating right away.
6. Take advantage of store sales. Watch the ads for sales and get items when they are reduced in price. I suggest finding a couple of stores near you and compare prices. If it is not too inconvenient, think about purchasing the better deals from each store. You will save some extra money, but you will have to invest a little more time. Make sure it is worth it.
7. Stock up when items you regularly buy go on sale. When items you regularly buy go on sale, stock up. Do not just buy one. Purchase as many as you think you will consume before it will go bad or until the next sale rolls around (normally 12 weeks). If the item has a long shelf life or you can freeze it, buy several and save big.
8. Avoid prepared, prepackaged, and individually wrapped foods. There is no need to pay the store extra for something you can do yourself at home. You can peel and cut up fruits and vegetables yourself. You can make potato salad at home. There is also no need to buy individually wrapped snacks when you can buy the full sized product and divide it evenly into ziplock baggies.
9. Leave the kids at home. I am sure you know that when you take your kids to the store, you end up buying items that were not on the list. This also can apply when you take your husband to the store. Or at least it happens when I take mine.
10. Check the unit price. Look at the tag on the shelf below the item. The shelf tag shows the item price and price per unit for the product. Knowing this information can help you determine the best value. For example, last week I was buying vegetable dip. A 12 oz container was regularly price at $1.89 ($0.16 per oz) while the 16 oz container was on sale for $2 ($0.125 per oz). Even though the small container was cheaper, it was not the better deal.
11. Reuseable bag discounts. Some retailers such as Whole Foods Market and Target offer a cash discount for bringing in reusable bags. Reusable bags are also stronger and hold more groceries than the plastic ones.
12. Credit Card discounts. Some retailers such as Target, Meijer, Kroger and more give a percent off discount or points to redeem for rewards for using their store credit card. This is a good option for you ONLY if you pay off the balance at the end of each month. If you let the balance roll to the next month, you will pay interest which means no savings for you.
13. Shop at discount stores. Aldi and Save-a-Lot are great examples. I love Aldi! We shop there two to four times a month for produce and a few other things. These stores are very basic and you probably will not find every item you need but they will save you money.
14. Buy in bulk. Shop for bulk items at stores like BJ’s, Costco and Sam’s Club. It is best to buy paper products, laundry detergent, batteries, meat, coffee, milk and pet food at the warehouse clubs. Just remember to look at the unit price to make sure you are actually getting a good deal.
15. Scan the top and bottom shelves at the grocery store. Save several cents to several dollars by simply buying products off of the top or bottom shelves. The bottom shelf is home to store brands, oversize, and bulk items. This is where you will get the most bang for your buck. The top shelf is usually reserved for smaller brands and regional brands (both of these can save you some money as well), along with gourmet brands. Best sellers and name brand items can be found at eye level, what some call the bull’s-eye zone. These are typically the higher priced items or those with the highest markup.
16. Plan your meals. Look at the weekly ads and plan your meals based on what is on sale along with what is already in your cupboards. For example, if hamburger is on sale this week and you have pasta and sauce already in your cupboards, then you can make spaghetti and meatballs for next to nothing. Plan your meals around the season as well. Cookout food is cheap during the summer months and soup is cheap in the winter months. Don’t get me wrong, you can eat what you want, when you want, but remember that you might pay a little more.
17. Price match. Very few retailers price match anymore. Target and Walmart are two of those that do. If you plan on shopping at one of these stores, take your local grocery ads with you. When you check out show them the price of the item you want to price match and they will give you the cheaper price. Price matching is great because you will not have to run all around town for the best deals. Save time, gas, and money!