I’ve always wondered how to save money on groceries without coupons. I don’t have the time or organization skills to track coupon sales and I wanted to save money on groceries and eat healthy, which coupons don’t always allow you to do. In my opinion, time is money and as a new mom, I need all the time (and money!) I can get. After months of trial and error, I have come up with the best way to save money on groceries without coupons and still eat healthy—and if I can do it, anyone can!
When I went full time with my blog last year, one of the big priorities was to figure out how to cut expenses since Scott and I are both now full-time entrepreneurs. One major way we did that was selling our house and downsizing. After looking through our monthly expenses, the one thing I found shocking was how much money we spent on food each month! We weren’t even eating anything super fun and extravagant like souffles and lobster—it was more like a random grocery run here, take out there, etc but it adds up FAST! I vowed to Scott (and myself!) that I would get our food budget under control and save money so it could go towards much more worthy stuff like travel (or craft supplies ?).
Luckily, I’m pleased to report that we have come up with a system that lets us save money on groceries without coupons, allows us to eat way healthier and saves us time each week! Wondering how to spend less money on food? Here we go!
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How To Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons: Pick your Grocery Store
First of all, pick a few of your favorite grocery stores. I shop routinely at Sprouts because I find their prices and produce to be best. This would also work well with Aldi or other grocery stores—you could even do this at Costco if you plan ahead.
Look at the Ads
Each week, I look at the Sprouts ads. Sometimes I get them in the mail, but usually, I just go to their website and download their ads. They, like most grocery stores, have a double ad day on Wednesday—meaning you can get sale prices from two ads on each Wednesday. Since I’m self-employed, it’s usually me and all the retirees shopping for groceries on Wednesday mornings. ?If you work fulltime, you can just go in the evening, NBD!
Wait for an Exceptionally Good Deal
Looking at grocery store ads, there are always weekly items that are an exceptionally good deal (see the image below). The hope is that you’ll be so excited to get chicken tenders for $1.99 that you’ll come in, buy a pound or two of the great deal item, then buy the rest of your weekly items at full price, thus making the stores money. We are going to trick the system just a smidge here.
When I look at ads, the first thing I look at is meat. Since meat tends to be expensive and something we consume daily since our diet is mostly paleo, getting a good deal on meat cuts my budget down significantly. For example, in this particular ad I know I will be stocking up on chicken tenders, chicken thighs and grass-fed ground beef.
How to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons: Bulk Buy Sale Items
I then bulk buy the meat on sale. So I would buy as many packs of meat as my budget and the store would allow. In this case, I go home with 4 value packs each of tenders, thigh and grass-fed beef. Since we try to only eat grass-fed beef, it’s very likely Scott or I will swing back later in the week to buy another four.
Stock up on Exceptionally Good Deals you Can Freeze
Does this mean we eat all that meat weekly? No way! We freeze the majority of it—so we would maybe eat 1-2 packs of tenders, 1 pack of thighs and 1 pack of grass-fed beef and freeze the rest of it. We have a list of recipes we rotate through for each type of meat…I have another post coming about that tomorrow, hang tight!
We do the same with produce. We love fruits and veggies, so we stock up on whatever is on sale. For example, this week one item to bulk buy would be blackberries since they are only 88 cents. I would purchase 10 or so of these—1-2 to consume fresh during the week, and the rest to freeze for smoothies and cobblers. A five-pound box of clementines is on sale for $3.88 so I would buy one of those to enjoy. Organic apples are also running 98 cents a pound so I would buy a pound to eat—if I was a canner I would get several and make apple butter but I’m not there in life yet.
How to Save Money on Groceries without Coupons: Meal Plan Exclusively Around Sale Items
Here’s where you put it all together. Red bell peppers are super cheap at 3 for $1. So I would look for a recipe that allows me to use red bell peppers plus one of the meats to create a super cheap meal. A few ideas are bell peppers stuffed with ground beef or chicken fajitas. I also would make a meal or two out of the sale fruit and meat, like a fresh salad with blackberries, grilled chicken and apple slices.
Once you stock your freezer, you can get even more creative! If you have pork chops in your freezer you could enjoy them cooked with apples, or with a blackberry sauce, etc.
Only Purchase what you can Freeze or Reasonably Consume
There are sales on almost everything if you wait long enough. This week organic dairy is on sale—so I can buy as much as we can reasonably consume before they expire—look at the dates carefully and reach for the back of the shelf to add a few extra days to the lifespan. For us, that means we can buy 2 half gallons of milk and 3 bags of shredded cheese. I know we can always make a freezer meal with shredded cheese so I could even buy a few more if it was an exceptionally great deal.
Don’t Forget the Bulk Section
The bulk section is another place where you can get crazy good deals. I’ve seen rice go as low as 70 cents a pound—I buy over 5 pounds when this happens! Rice will keep for a long time in the pantry, and we eat a good bit of it. I also batch cook it in my instantpot, and freeze it into individual portions to use later. Other items to watch for are oatmeal, sugars, nuts, dried fruits, etc. You could make oatmeal bars or cookies, or overnight oats with lots of fun toppings, etc. Options are endless! I plan ahead with each item on sale to know exactly how it can be consumed or frozen.
The key is before I even walk in the store, I know exactly what I am going to buy, and exactly how I will use each item by writing out a weekly meal plan.
So, I would be entering the store knowing that we are having fajitas (with the sale chicken and bell peppers and shredded cheese) on Tuesday and that I also need to purchase tortillas, avocados and sour cream. I know I will be making blackberry cobbler with the on-sale blackberries, sugar, and oatmeal, and also know that I need to purchase butter. I know that on Thursday we’ll eat stuffed bell peppers with beef and rice—and since I don’t know how to make that (yet) I’ll look up a recipe and buy whatever else I need.
Of course, there are items that we purchase each week that aren’t on sale and can’t be stockpiled. For us that includes organic lettuce, avocados (they are often on sale but not always), bananas, wine, etc. We live within a 10-minute walk of a Whole Foods, so we often just walk there later in the week and load up (the stroller makes this so much easier to carry!). Or, just grab them as you are grocery shopping and only buy what you need.
So, to summarize, here’s how to save money on groceries without coupons and still eat healthy:
- Look at ads weekly
- Create a meal plan for the week and get creative about how you can pair sale items together
- Write down exactly what you need for the week and stick to it
- Bulk buy items that are an exceptionally good deal
- Plan to freeze 75% of what you buy
- Supplement the sales with items that you need weekly
It really is super simple—and as your freezer stock grows you’ll have more options about what you can make. If there’s a week that you can’t, or don’t want, to shop, you can shop your freezer! The entire first month of Lily’s life we were set on our main meals thanks to our freezer stockpile.
What questions do you have? And how do you save money on groceries without using coupons? I’d love to hear it!