Sure, it’s amazing to see extreme couponers walk into a store and come out with a cart full of items for just a few pennies.
But for most of us, extreme couponing is not reality. We don’t all have access to the same stores, the same coupons, and the same inventory. We forget our coupons. Some days we forget our lists. We don’t always take the time to plan our shopping trips the way we should.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you still can’t find savings at the grocery store.
How to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons
If you’re serious about saving money at the grocery store, you’ll definitely shop with a list and learn to use coupons. But there are several other simple ways you can trim your grocery bill.
Look high and low. Merchandisers pay a premium to make sure their items are in your direct line of sight. And you’ll pay for that! Look up high and down low on the store shelves for better bargains.
Check the unit prices. Buying in larger quantities is often the best way to save, but not always! Figure out how much you’re paying per ounce, per pound, per bar, etc., and you’ll save money.
Shop for fruits and vegetables in season. Plan your meals around the fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season to avoid paying a lot of money for those that aren’t. If something you really want isn’t in season – like strawberries – consider buying frozen instead. You’ll still get the taste, but not the expense.
Watch the weight (of your fruits and veggies!). Before you throw a 5-pound bag of apples into your cart, weigh a few bags. You just might find a bag that weighs more than 5 pounds for that 5-pound price! You should also give that fresh produce a shake. Many grocery stores water their vegetables frequently which can weigh them down. Shake off the excess water and you could shave a few pennies in cost. And another tip – if you’re buying a fruit or vegetable by the item (for example, one green pepper), buy the largest one! Whatever you don’t use in your recipe can be saved for the next night’s meal or put in the freezer.
Shop for items near their sell-by date. Grocery stores would rather sell items for cheap than have to pay to dispose of expired goods, so look for deep discounts on items at or near their sell-by date. I’ve gotten bacon for $1 a pound just because it was 3 days away from the sell-by date. I took advantage of the price to stock my freezer. Check the meat department, produce section, and dairy department for the best discounts.
Check the scratch-n-dent section. Many stores offer big discounts on items that have been damaged in transit. Ignore the appearance of the package and pocket the savings.
Avoid grocery budget busters. Certain items like convenience foods are often overpriced and loaded with unhealthy preservatives. Learn what the grocery budget busters are for your family and make a conscious effect to avoid them.
Shop for store brands. Many store brand items taste just as good (if not better!) as their name brand counterparts. You can shave quite a bit off your grocery bill by picking up the generic versions of recipe staples like pasta rice, beans, milk, cream soups, and cheeses.
Seek out help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from supermarket employees. They know their inventory and can help you find the best deals. The butcher can help you find the best cuts of meat for the lowest prices. The checkout clerk can give you tips to save on your next grocery trip. Customer service can give you a raincheck on a sale item that was out of stock. Be friendly and courteous and you’ll learn new ways to save.
Make fewer trips to the store. If you’re always rushing into the grocery store to pick up one or two things, chances are you good that you leave with 5 or 6. Fewer trips tot he store means you’ll have less impulse buys , which means big savings.
These are just a few of the ways I save money on groceries without coupons.