I like coupons, but I have resigned myself to the fact that I will never be the home manager who buys $200 worth of groceries for $4.35. I know there are many people out there that can do this, but it is not me. I usually average about $5-$10 in coupons on each weekly shopping trip. Health and Beauty products are another story. I don’t buy any of those products with out a coupon, but they are easier to come by. Many of the food products that we eat generally don’t offer consistent coupons.
Whether you are a coupon queen, king or clutz, there are many other ways to save money on groceries and coupons are not involved.
1. Menu Plan
I wrote about this process in my Ten Simple Strategies for Easier Meal Planning. Develop your own routine, stick to it and save money.
2. Institute a ‘Raid the Fridge’ Night
One night a week, raid the fridge to get rid of leftovers. Set the leftovers up buffet style. Everyone’s plate might look different, but you’ll at least use up the leftovers and reduce the waste.
3. Utilize the Freezer
If you’re not going to eat the leftovers before they spoil, then freeze them. With the exception of maybe pasta dishes, a lot of food can be frozen. Cooked chicken and veggies can be frozen and used in soups or casseroles at a later date. Raw vegetables like carrots, peppers, onions and parsley can be shredded or chopped and bagged and stored in the freezer for future dishes. What about the last hot dog or hamburger roll or unused cheese – Freeze it.
4. Don’t shun the store brands.
I’ll give the store version of a product a try and if I don’t like it, I’ll go back to the brand name. I buy store brand versions of many things from butter, flour and sugar to pretzels, bread, canned tomatoes and aluminum foil. There are a few instances where I went back to the name brand, like Heinz ketchup and Sargento Shredded Cheese.
On a recent grocery trip, I compared the prices of some store products and the name brand counterparts of some items on my list and found savings of 20% – 40%.
- Canned, diced tomatoes, 15.5 oz, store brand 59 cents vs. $1.00 for the Hunt’s brand.
- Canned red kidney beans, 15.5 oz, store brand 59 cents vs. 95 cents for Hanover brand.
- Honey & nut O’s cereal, 12.9 oz, store brand $1.99 vs. $2.79 for Cheerios brand.
- aluminum foil, 75 square foot, store brand $2.69 vs. $3.29 Reynolds brand.
5. Compare price per unit and if the size makes sense go for the best price per unit.
Again, on my recent shopping I compared the price per unit of a couple different products and the sizes. Unless I think the size is too big for us to consume in time, I go for the best price per unit.
- Heinz ketchup – 32 oz @ $2.29 = $1.15/lb, 64 oz @$3.49 = .87/lb
- Kosher Dill Spears – 16 oz @ $2.39 = $2.39/pint, 24 oz @ $2.49 = $1.66/pint, 32 oz @$2.69 = $1.35/pint
- Hummus (I know I can make my own hummus, but I’m proving a point here) – 8 oz @ $2.49, 16 oz @$3.98
6. Have and Know Your Buy price and Stock up.
I don’t keep a price book, but there are a few items like diapers, detergent, chicken that I know the best sale price offered. When I see Perdue Oven Roaster Chickens at 79 cents a pound, I stock up my freezer, because that is a price that doesn’t happen very often. I just focus on my most expensive pantry/freezer staple items. For the big ticket items on your shopping list, know the best price and stock up when you find it.
7. Buy or grow local produce in season. Freeze for later use.
We live in the northeast and we are heading into asparagus season, when we can find it at $1.49 a pound or even 99 cents a pound. We will be eating a lot of asparagus in the next month or so. After asparagus, comes strawberry season, which after Christmas is my most favorite time of the year. There is nothing better than local, fresh, ripe strawberries picked right off the vine at a U-Pick farm for $1.30 a pound. And then we head in to high summer vegetable season and, well, you get the point by now…
8. Cut out the crap, save some dough.
We rarely buy sodas or other sugary drinks. On occasion we might cave for root beer, but we mostly drink tap water. The same goes for junk food. The bags of Cool Ranch Doritos scream at me in the store, but I really try not cave in. For two reasons: I can’t stop at just one and if it doesn’t contribute to the nutrition of our family, I try to avoid it. I am not a purist though, I do splurge on occasion, but we try to limit the non-necessities.
9. Have an emergency back-up meal in the freezer or pantry
For those crazy evenings or maybe you forgot to thaw the main course, have a back up meal to avoid take-out. For me it is homemade soups that I keep in the freezer. They are easy to thaw in the microwave and I pair it with some fruit from the fridge and I have averted a potential meal emergency.
What are some non-coupon strategies that you use to save money on groceries? Let us know in the comments.
Thanks for reading FamilyBalanceSheet.
If you would like to receive FREE updates of FBS through your RSS Feed, please click here to sign up. Or sign up for FREE email updates, by submitting your email address in the top left side of this site.
Or follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/fambalancesheet.