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How To Save Money Grocery Shopping Without Coupons

I don’t watch very much television. I mean, I have a few shows that I consider must-see-tv and I have no issue admitting to you that Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Long Island Medium and Honey Boo Boo are on this list.

There is just something about that Boo Boo of a family that cracks me up.

I know Mama June ( who I cannot even grasp is younger than me) is an extreme couponer but I just cannot do it, no matter how I have tried.

how-to-save-money-on-groceries

Coupons are lovely and all but if you eat a ton of fresh fruits and vegetables, nutrient-dense foods, organic foods and more natural products, you aren’t going to find much success with the mainstream clippable savings.

If you watch Honey Boo Boo, you already know that if one of the clan utters a curse word, the punishment is to eat a vegetable.

In my latest attempt to save money in order to support my Red Mango and summer-dining-out-way-too-much habit, I have been looking for new ways to cut corners.

I always take a look at my monthly bills/expenses to see what I can eliminate or reduce.

Since I can’t give up electricity, I finally bit the bullet and canceled my old-fashioned daily newspaper subscription.

The main reason I was still holding on to newspaper delivery was for my favorite Sunday grocery coupon booklets.

coupons

Each Sunday I would get all excited to clip away only to be disappointed week after week to see only brands and foods I seldom eat or buy for the house.

I know we can print many a coupon from brand websites but I have also come to learn that this route doesn’t always save me much because I just end up buying more products or different products than I normally would costing me more money.

Not to mention, it’s time-consuming seeking out internet coupons and then printing them.

I got to thinking about other ways to save money on groceries without using coupons and wanted to share my thought-process/plan with you this morning.

Track the local store circulars:

Overall, Trader Joe’s will give me the best value if I need to pick one store to get the grocery shopping done.

They don’t accept coupons and don’t run sales but their regular pricing is decent enough that you are not overpaying when compared to other grocery store pricing.

However, if I have some time to hit an extra store or two, usually I can save some money by seeking out the weekly grocery store specials by sorting through the circulars each week.

grocery sale list

I jot down a quick list of the sales for the foods I may want in a language only I understand and keep the list in my planner.

I hate running to multiple stores but if the sales are significant, I am so there.

blueberries

I currently have six pints of blueberries in my refrigerator for $6.99. You can’t beat this deal and no, not one berry will go to waste.

Target Cartwheel app: If your local Target has groceries (which I think most do) check out the Target Cartwheel App for special savings.

I usually scan through the deals each week on my phone, click on what I think I may buy and then all you do is show the bar code to the cashier in order to receive the discounts.

If you have a Target Red Card too, that’s an additional 5% off of the total price. It may not sound like a lot but really, it all adds up.

My Target Red Card is set up as a debit card, meaning, it comes directly out of my checking account rather than act as a credit card that runs up a bill.

Limit grocery store trips:

This is a tough one for me. Keeping fresh fruit and vegetables in the house requires a few trips to the store a week.

However, popping in just for strawberries often leads to buying other things as well which costs more money than you intended to spend.

trader joe's shopping cart

I am going to work on skipping over a shopping trip or two that I think I need but really don’t.

I don’t need it all, all the time:

I just don’t need it all. I don’t need spinach AND kale AND romaine lettuce.

I don’t need broccoli AND cauliflower PLUS eggplant AND zucchini.

I am going to force myself to make my selections based upon what’s on special, skip the multiple types of produce and that’s that. No exceptions. I never have a vegetable go bad on me but I also don’t need to eat so many varieties in one week.

Dirty Dozen:

The organic food debate really deserves its own post entirely. Do you buy organic or do you avoid it because it costs more?

I do a little bit of both. I do what I can afford while keeping the Dirty Dozen list in mind.

I have read so much on this subject and the bottom line is, of course you want to buy organic when you can but the nutrients in the foods outweigh your risk from the pesticides.

Meatless Monday:

I won’t try to convert you to a plant-based diet but you should know that swapping out a meat based meal for plant-based will absolutely save you some money.

organic beans

A can of organic chick peas which offers about three and a half servings will cost you around $1.19 (at Trader Joe’s). A package of chicken cutlets will run you at least six dollars depending upon store and brand.

Honoring Meatless Monday as well as going meatless a couple more times a week definitely saves money and is good for your health too.

Use up what’s in your freezer before restocking:

Sometimes when I am grocery shopping I get all load-the-cart happy and throw things in that I will need….eventually.

I have stopped doing this and now try to wait until I use up what’s in my freezer and even my pantry before buying another bag of frozen vegetables or granola bars.

freezer

You have seen my freezer. We both know I don’t need another frozen item for a good month.

Costco and BJ’s isn’t always a money saver:

Buying in bulk gives you more food at a time but that doesn’t mean it works out cheaper.

If you aren’t going to eat five pounds of broccoli before it goes bad, you are spending more money on food than you should.

On this same idea, I buy the smallest container of skim milk because most of the time, we don’t even finish it.

And, if we run out, I can always buy more.

skim milk

It sure beats buying a half-gallon, paying more money and spilling out half of it.

Meal Plan:

I don’t meal plan. I don’t like having to decide what I for dinner Tuesday night on Sunday.

Rather, I keep the house stocked with my staples and throw it all together each day according to my mood.

I know that people love their meal planning and it can certainly help you to save some money buy shopping specifically for what you plan to make and eat.

Ironically enough, my son likes a meal plan during the summer. He comes home from camp really hungry and he enjoys planning out what I will have ready for him for dinner each night.

I think I will get a bit more into detail regarding our recent summer dinner meal plan next week but one of his favorites is “The Big Sandwich”.

big sandwich

He requests a big roll (whole wheat which I get at Whole Foods) with turkey, cucumbers, lettuce, pickles and mustard.

Cheaper (and healthier) than Subway.

If you ever wonder why I never run out of things to say, it is mainly because once I start typing, the thoughts start flowing. And, once I start writing one post, more post ideas develop.

From writing this post, I am now thinking we need to address the following:

  • Must-have foods (regardless of price/sale/special)
  • Organic, Hormones/Antibiotics in animal protein and the Dirty Dozen
  • Meal Planning
  • Easy Meatless Meals

I think I will get to work on those posts today!

********************

Are you a coupon clipper?

Favorite reality television shows? You can admit them, I won’t judge.

How do you go about saving money on groceries?    

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  • Tina Muir July 8, 2014, 7:41 am

    Good tips here! I try to embrace a lot of these, especially limiting trips to the store, shopping what is on sale in the circulars, and shopping in season. I also try to make things myself rather than purchasing them, like almond butter and granola. I am with you on coupons though, whenever I look through the flyers, they are all the crappy, processed junk that I do not want! Or they are like 20 cents off when you buy 3 at $5.50 each, which just annoys me!
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  • Lish July 8, 2014, 9:14 am

    These are great tips – I am usually at the grocery store a couple times a week too. And, I think my biggest downfall is that I go in for just a couple things, but TJ’s gets me way too excited to try new things and I always come out with more than I need 🙂

  • JenB July 8, 2014, 9:36 am

    I mom was SUCH a couponer when I was young. Those packets that come in the Sunday paper? She was in touch with all those in the neighborhood who didn’t use them and had them set them out on their porch. It was my brother’s job to go around and pick them up, my mom would cut them, and I had to “file” them into 20 different shoeboxes. I remember my mom coming in and jumping on my bed so excited when one of the stores was doing “double coupons”.

    A little bit of the frugality rubbed off on me, but I’m no where near what my mom was. I’ll glance through the coupons and try to cut and use some. I will load the electronic coupons onto a couple store cards. Walmart will match ads, so I do watch and try to do that. I just don’t like making separate trips out … but I will to get some sales. Sam’sClub (which I go to instead of Costco) does have some good prices, but you do still have to watch, because as you said, bigger is not always better, especially if things end up going to waste.

    I buy 4-5 gallons of milk for my family (I do have 5 boys and a hubby who loves milk). I DO totally struggle with produce going bad before I can get to it. Funny how families can be so different (I’m SURE your household is healthier than mine!) We have a big, separate freezer in addition to the small one in the fridge. It is a challenge to remember what is in there, what we already have (that goes for the pantry too).

    I get a little frustrated when I do work hard to save … and then hubs goes out and blows a bunch of cash without a second thought. Arrrggg! I do shop mainly at the grocery store where my purchases earn fuel points (they do add up! I’ll often get $1 off every gallon, which can be almost $30 with a suburban!).
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  • Jaclyn @ BumpSweat July 8, 2014, 10:05 am

    Awesome tips! In our area, there’s a few farms that sell super-fresh produce on the cheap. I love when summer rolls around, because I save so much money by buying our fill-in produce there instead of the grocery. Also, I don’t know if you have an Aldi in your area, but they’ve started to carry more organic and healthful items, and their produce tends to be pretty high-quality.
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  • Susie @ SuzLyfe July 8, 2014, 10:46 am

    Real Housewives (but only certain groups), and Million Dollar Listing. And Flipping out. I like Bravo 😀
    My husband eats A LOT of Kashi, so I only buy it from certain places, and there are a lot of things that I will only buy at certain prices, or if they are on sale. we have quite a few grocery stores in our area, so we are lucky and I can shop around a bit, but it can still be hard to keep costs in hand. I’m not a big couponer. Sorry not sorry 😉
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    • The Cookie ChRUNicles July 9, 2014, 10:32 am

      I definitely do the shop around from lots of grocery stores in the area to seek out the best price. It can be annoying but so worth it sometimes.

  • Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl July 8, 2014, 11:05 am

    I really need to work on limiting my grocery trips and using up what is in my freezer! I totally hear you on the coupons too. There are hardly ever healthy products in there at all 🙁
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    • The Cookie ChRUNicles July 9, 2014, 10:31 am

      I am trying really hard to cut back on my Trader Joe’s stops during the week!

  • Alexis Teevens July 8, 2014, 1:18 pm

    I do the same things! I always think I need ALL the vegetables, but I can never get through spinach and kale and mixed greens and arugula. There’s only so much salad a girl can eat.
    I’d love to see a post on your not-super-intensive meal planning. I’m similar: I keep things on hand that I know I can sautee and throw in a big bowl all together with some salsa on top and call it a day. But more variety and organization is always a good thing. Can’t wait to see those posts!
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  • Amanda @ .running with spoons. July 8, 2014, 1:26 pm

    I very much fail at life when it comes to couponing — I just don’t have the patience for it, and don’t usually find many coupons for things that I want. That and I don’t get any flyers in the mail, so I don’t see many coupons. I do generally know which stores have the best prices on things, though, so I try to hit up at least 2 or 3 different ones when I’m restocking my kitchen.
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  • Leslee @ Her Happy Balance July 8, 2014, 3:40 pm

    I am kind of awful when it comes to budgeting for food. If I crave something, I’ll buy it even if it’s expensive and not on sale, just because I HAVE to have it. [I do not have to have it] But I do try to buy produce from local farm markets and such like that which helps with the cost. I buy organic spring mix from Costco because I eat a lot of it and can go through two bulk containers in a week easy. Same for eggs, I eat a TON of eggs so that’s always a must-have for me. It’s so true that we don’t have to have every vegetable at one time though. I admit, I like my variety, but I usually end up wasting a little when I buy too many things. Great tips.

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles July 9, 2014, 10:34 am

      I never really let a vegetable go to waste but I started thinking that I really don’t need them ALL and could save a few pennies by limiting my varieties and sticking to what’s on sale. It’s so hard to deny yourself a craving, especially when it’s a Whole Foods food bar craving!

  • Amy July 8, 2014, 3:52 pm

    Hello Meredith,
    This is exactly what I do too! I look in the circulars of all the stores around me (and it’s pretty much all of them (Albertson’s, Safeway, Bashas, Fry’s, TJ’s, Sprouts), and I write down the lowest prices of the items I’m going to buy during my grocery outings. And…like you…I do the least trips as possible, which is just once a week on Saturday. I honestly do all my shopping at Walmart, and they “price-match,” meaning all I have to do is tell them the lowest price and which store for the items that I’m getting (I always have my inserts in case they need to see, but typically they trust me and also know a lot of the lowest rates at those competing stores). Like you, I also Meal Plan, make a list (grocery), although I keep it flexible b/c I tend to go out to a dinner1-2 a week (I just don’t share a lot of my personal life on my blog…just “because).”

    Anyways, great informative post here! Very good! Although I do a lot of what you mentioned, you mentioned a few things that I hadn’t thought of before, so I appreciate it!

    ~Amy 🙂

  • Carmy July 10, 2014, 8:09 pm

    darn it – I didn’t get the email notification and just saw your post now! I’m terrible at grocery shopping. I usually just buy chicken and beans in bulk then let me roommates handle the rest because I am SO bad at waiting/shopping sales because I get impatient and I don’t usually plan what I will make for the week. I really gotta work on that ):
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    • The Cookie ChRUNicles July 11, 2014, 12:15 pm

      I am sorry on behalf technology. I still haven’t figured out why posts didn’t send via email the other day. I hate trying to understand and fix blog issues!

  • Elizabeth July 13, 2014, 11:54 am

    I too tried to get into couponing but I just can’t do it. It takes so much time and sometimes my sanity is more important! I do like these tips, though. Meatless meals are definitely a good choice, and just yesterday I found some things in my freezer I had forgotten were there. It sure helped with dinner! Great ideas!
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  • Diana July 13, 2014, 8:32 pm

    I hate clipping coupons bc I always forget them anyway. Lol. I shop by circular prices and use cartwheel at target …..when I remember. 🙂
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    • The Cookie ChRUNicles July 14, 2014, 11:01 am

      I forget my coupons as well. I even have them in my car and still forget them…Cartwheel is great when I remember to use it, which I did yesterday!

  • Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets July 14, 2014, 6:22 am

    As a woman who specifically bought a big freezer last summer so she could process and save half of her CSA produce, you can bet I’m working on cleaning it all out now. I’ve actually pulled everything from the big freezer and crammed it into my use now freezer in hopes I will start eating it all. I can say I’m appalled by how many bags of caramelized onions and tomato pesto I still have. I’m thinking this year I won’t make as many of those. Live and learn right.

    That big sandwich is epic.

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles July 14, 2014, 10:59 am

      Thank you, my son feels that sandwich is the best thing ever too. Makes me happy to outdo Subway in his eyes…I love caramelized onions so feel free to send them my way.

  • Megan (The Lyons' Share) July 14, 2014, 9:41 am

    Great post – thanks for the practical tips! I don’t clip coupons myself, but do a lot of these to save money, particularly limiting trips and meal planning. Not needing it all, all the time is such a good one – and one that’s tough for me!
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    • The Cookie ChRUNicles July 14, 2014, 10:55 am

      It’s a tough one for me too! But it is so true. I won’t let it go to waste yet at the same time, I don’t need it all. I certainly won’t go hungry from skipping kale and spinach and lettuce but I will save some money.

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