Believe it or not, the average American household spends 12.5% or just over $7,000.00 on their food budget alone, annually. Crazy, right?
As the prices of grocery products increase year after year, people will spend more money on groceries.
One popular way people save money on groceries is by using coupons. That said, clipping coupons can be time-consuming and may not be necessary at all times.
I admit that even though spending a few minutes clipping those is one way to trim your food budget, there are other ways to save money on groceries without coupons.
I have found there are many ways to save money on groceries that can bring those grocery bills down a few dollars, if not hundreds of dollars.
If you are ready to find what they are, read on!
You’ll be surprised that you don’t have to think outside the box to save money without using coupons. My wife and I have used the following tips and tricks, which have brought our grocery costs down from $400 to $150 for a family of 6.
Just FYI, we don’t eat ready-to-eat frozen foods to save money.
1. Create a Grocery List
When my family makes a trip to any of the grocery stores near us, we always make a list of the things we need. We take a few moments to go through the contents of our refrigerator, freezer, and pantry.
Ask yourself … What are you running low on? What do you have in stock? What do you actually need for the week?
Don’t leave the house without looking at your refrigerator and/or pantry to take food inventory. Doing this will help you avoid buying more products than you need.
Also, getting in the habit of doing this will help with your impulse buying, which can eat away at your budget quickly. In fact, did you know that by avoiding impulse buying you can save you up to 23% on your grocery bills?
That’s crazy! So, stick to the list if you want to save money.
2. Check the Ads Before Meal Planning
Shopping sales is an effortless way to reduce your grocery expenses.
You don’t even need to open the local newspaper anymore. Most stores have made it very easy to shop the sales by putting their weekly flyer on their website!
So, when you’re making your grocery list and menu for the week, you can easily combine these discount foods with the items you have on hand to put some easy cash back in your pocket.
If you’re like me, you are always thinking about how to save money on groceries and eat healthily.
You can maximize your savings by shopping the sales at more than one store. Check online flyers for multiple stores in your area and cross-compare prices with what you need. In fact, some stores even offer price matching, saving you precious time with a little research up front.
3. Use Meal Planning Services
One way to keep your grocery bill so low is by using a healthy meal planning service.
It’s a service that sends you yummy, healthy meal plans and shopping lists each week. All the hard work is done for you so you can spend more quality time with family or do whatever else you’d instead be doing.
Using a healthy meal planning service can make a significant impact on your food choices, food quality, and food savings. Some people have praised meal planning services because of the ease, convenience, and the freshness of foods they provide.
Meal planning services are especially great for busy people who don’t have time to cook for themselves but want to eat healthy. In addition, they are great for those who always end up wasting food because they buy more ingredients than they need.
4. Use Leftovers
Leftovers can save you money when you consume them. Or they can be a waste if you are not a fan of eating leftovers.
In our household, when we cook, we also try to cook enough so that there’s leftovers for lunch the next day. It not only saves us time on cooking, but it also gets us two meals out of one! It’s a win-win, and definitely a money saver.
If you’re looking to spice things up, think about ways you can reuse your leftovers in different ways. Maybe you made a fried chicken last night. Do you have anything in the pantry you can use to transform it into a completely new meal? Maybe you could turn it to a chicken pot pie or something.
5. Make Your Own Frozen Foods
With two young kids, a staple in my household is preparing frozen food on the nights that we can’t get around to cooking. However, the price of frozen food can really add up, and that’s why we love to plan ahead and prepare our own DIY frozen food.
Believe it or not, making your own foods and freezing them costs less than buying frozen food. Plus, you know exactly what ingredients are in those foods.
You can freeze just about anything, from meat (between 3 and 12 months depending on what type of meat it is) to even milk (3 to 6 months).
That said, some foods should not be frozen, which include raw and hard-boiled eggs and mayonnaise.
Hack: Save money by buying meat in bulk when they are on sale, cooking them, and freezing them. Meat-based meals can last up to 12 months in the freezer.
6. Earn Free Money From Your Groceries (I made $383.25 to date)
Heard of money saving or money making apps for groceries?
One of the popular ones that people like to use when they want to save money on groceries without coupons is Ibotta.
Ibotta is a money-saving app that helps consumers save big on all the biggest brands (even the store brand ones). Whether you’re buying oatmeal by Quaker Oats or bananas, you’ll find that Ibotta offers cash back on just about any grocery products.
If you’re spending too much money on groceries and want to save money and make money at the same time, week after week, Ibotta may be for you! Not to mention the fact that you’ll get a $10 bonus from signing up.
Last year alone, I earned over $300 using it. Granted that my family only spends around $150 per month, chances are if your grocery expenses are higher, you’d be getting more with Ibotta.
7. Get to Know Your Clearance Sections and Markdown Schedule
Saving money on groceries doesn’t mean you always have to buy the cheapest of the cheap stuff. You can buy pretty great products on clearance, even at the grocery store. Many grocery stores have multiple clearance sections. Usually, these sections are not advertised very well (if at all), so it takes a trip to the grocery store to scope out.
That’s where getting yourself familiarized with the layout of the grocery store, where things are, where the clearance spots are, among others can be helpful in saving you money on groceries.
Next time you’re grocery shopping, make sure to check the following sections: bakery, produce and non-perishables. After you find where these sections are in your local grocery store, make sure to check back each week to see what deals you can get.
While you’re at the store, it’s also a good idea to talk to an employee or two about the markdown schedule. That way, you’ll know exactly when the best time is to raid the clearance rack for produce or whatever you may need!
8. Compare the Unit Price
And last but not least is one of the most straightforward ways to save money on groceries, that is, comparing unit prices.
It’s easy to get confused when you are bombarded with a ton of products of the same kind. You can do the math in your head or on your calculator, but there’s a better or easier way to see which product is less expensive.
The unit price for a product is usually in small print in the corner of the sales tag. It often says something like ‘$0.45/oz.’ This number comes in handy when you’re trying to compare two similar products and see which one is better. Usually, the cheaper one per unit is the way to go.
All that being said, you should also consider the quality of the products. Just because one product is cheaper than the other doesn’t mean it’s a high-quality product. Sometimes, you might end up paying a little bit more to ensure you’re getting the quality you deserve.
So next time you’re planning a grocery store visit, remember, there is money to be had if you’re willing to put even the slightest effort in.
Above all, remember that being able to save a ton of money on groceries without coupons doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and practice.
If it were easy, then a lot of people would be saving a lot of money now.
Don’t bang your head if you cannot figure it out on the first try. It happens. As you get familiar with the tips and tricks mentioned above, the easier it is for you to apply them. In due time, using these tips will be second nature to you.
Allan Liwanag is the blogger behind The Practical Saver. An analyst by day and dedicated blogger by night, he loves to share his thoughts – based on his research, personal knowledge, and experience – on topics related to family, life, and money.