How to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons

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We all know that coupons are a great way to save money, but you can also save money on groceries without coupons.

How to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons

Coupons definitely have their place, but every now and again, even the most seasoned couponer experiences coupon burnout. Or, maybe you’re not a couponer at all. Luckily, there are additional ways to keep a healthy grocery budget without clipping a thing. Read below to learn how I save money on groceries without coupons.

My grocery hauls used to look like this…

How to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons

And this (There is a 16 lb turkey in that picture)…

How to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons

And this…

How to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons

But, they no longer look that way.

I have been a dedicated couponer for a few years now and I’m good at it. Every now and then, however, I go through a period of not even wanting to look at coupons –I’ve couponed so hard, I’ve burned myself out. That’s where I am right now.

My breaks have never lasted this long. They’re usually maybe 1 month to 2 months tops. Since it’s been going on for so long this time, I honestly couldn’t tell you whether this is just a long break or a for-good break up with couponing. Only time will tell. But for now, I have to find a way to keep my grocery budget down until I feel the urge to coupon again.

I’ve been doing some meal planning which REALLY helps to give me direction when going to the store and giving every dollar a name.

Below you’ll find everything I know about how to save money on groceries without coupons

Meal Planning Quick Tips

1. Write down what you have.

When I see it’s time to go food shopping, I’ll grab a notepad and a pen and head to my kitchen. I start by writing everything down in my pantry even if it’s only a few items. I then move on to the fridge and freezer. On a separate page I write down my condiments and seasonings too, so I know what my options are for seasoning my meals with what I have on hand.

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2. Match items to make meals.

Even though I usually feel like I have NOTHING left in the house, I can usually pair together about three dinners just from what I have in the fridge, pantry and freezer. If there are several “almost meals” like potatoes and frozen veggies, I’ll pair those together and make a note to buy meat or fish to complete the meal.

3. Check store ads for sales.

After writing it all down, I go online to check the weekly circulars for every store in my area. I make note of the items that are a good deal and seem like I can pair with some of my unmatched food items I have in the house. An awesome way to save even more money is to find the best deals in the grocery ads and then price-match the items at Walmart. I plan on price-matching but haven’t yet. Publix is usually my favorite store. But lately without coupons, their BOGOs aren’t the best deals for me. Now I’m splitting up my grocery trips between Winn Dixie because of their meat prices and Aldi for their seafood and produce (I got lucky – my store is one of the few with a nice selection of un-yucky produce). Not all of the ingredients you need will be on sale or featured in the weekly ad.

  • Tip: I use apps like Checkout 51 to earn cash-back on produce, dairy and other groceries.

This picture is from a Winn Dixie trip.

How to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons

I spent a total of $13 for $25 worth of chicken and fish. Because it’s just two of us, that’s five nights worth of meals if the chicken is used in ways that can stretch it out a bit. I stretch my chicken by only using two pieces to top salads or to go into pasta dishes so it isn’t the main focus of the meal and I can get away with using less.

Tip: If you have a chest freezer, or are able to split your order with a friend or family member, I highly recommend ordering chicken from Zaycon foods. I was able to purchase a 40-lb case of chicken breasts for $67, or $1.69 per lb.

At this point my dinner menu plan is done. I don’t menu-plan breakfasts or lunches, but I’ll go ahead and tell you what I usually do for these meals anyway.

Breakfasts

How to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons

I don’t eat breakfast every day. I do occasionally boil and peel a few eggs ahead of time and stick them in a tupperware container to account for the mornings I do want a little something. I eat two at a time. Whatever I don’t use is just sliced and placed over a salad.

On our weekends (which is never actually a Saturday or Sunday), we eat omelets. We just throw in whatever extra veggies, lunch meat and cheese we have in the fridge. Neither of us are big breakfast people, so we just split one omelet and have toast and sausage. On a VERY rare occasion, I’ll make my own Nutella stuffed crepes or I’ll premake a batch of homemade strawberry breakfast muffins and pop them in a storage container for the week or some other fancy thing. But seriously, this is rare. We know what we like and we stick to it.

Lunches

My husband eats lunch at work and I work from home. So I’ll usually just eat a salad, wrap or leftovers. Because I can count on leftovers to account for most of my lunches, I’m not too rigid with this category. But I do always have something easy on hand like ingredients for wraps or salads. When I’m busy working, ready in under-five-minutes beats healthy-and-balanced meal every time. That’s just the way it is.

Update: My husband experienced a layoff (you can read our story here) since the writing of this post. Now that he’s found a new job, I prepare his lunches and include those in the cost of our meal plan. 

So all in all, this week’s menu plan looks like this:

  • Chicken fettuccine alfredo
  • Homemade Chili served over macaroni
  • Loaded mashed potatoes with steamed veggies and dijon chicken
  • Asian rice with tilapia
  • Spinach lasagna rolls (recipe here)
  • Beef and bean tacos
  • Spinach fettuccine

I only spent $19.90 on the ingredients for a week’s worth of dinners. Remember, I started out with a few ingredients because I directed my meal plan to be based mainly on what we still had left in the kitchen.

* I typically serve most meals with a side salad or some kind of veggie.

 

To be perfectly precise, I had to purchase these items to complete my meal plan.

  • Alfredo sauce (for chicken fettuccine and spinach fettuccine)
  • 1 lb. ground beef (for chili and beef and bean tacos)
  • 2 boxes of frozen veggies (one to go with potatoes and dijon chicken, the other for Asian rice and tilapia)
  • Frozen chopped spinach (for spinach lasagna rolls and spinach fettuccine)
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese (for spinach lasagna rolls and beef and bean tacos)
  • tortillas (for beef and bean tacos)
  • 1 can Diced tomatoes (for chili)
  • Riccotta cheese (for spinach lasagna rolls)

 

As you can see, almost all of the ingredients are being used in at least two meals. That’s my secret for saving big. Reusing as many ingredients as possible without making the meals too similar will help you save so much money.

If you think I had a bunch of things in my kitchen, think again. I just used a little creativity. The ingredients I had were pretty random.

 

My Final Tips on How to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons

1. Try to use as much of what you already have as possible.

You’ve already purchased the food… no sense in throwing it away. Use it or lose it. ;)

2. Buy ingredients that can be used in more than one meal.

You will see a significant difference in your budget if you can reuse many of the ingredients in other meals throughout the week.

3. Get creative.

You’re going to feel like you have nothing in the house, but trust me, you probably have enough to make a few meals or at least plan a few side dishes to go with what you’ll have to buy.

4. You don’t need as much meat as you think you do.

Almost every recipe I’ve seen for chili requires 2 lbs of ground beef. I only used 1/2 a pound and it turned out amazing. And we have tons of leftovers.

5. Cut your beef costs by incorporating beans.

This is easy to do in tacos and chili. If the recipe calls for 1 lb of ground beef, use 1/2 lb of beef and 1/2 lb of beans.

6. Stretch chicken by making it part of the meal rather than the star.

Use chicken in a stir fry, in pasta or in a salad. I never use more than 2 chicken breasts for these meals. And often, I can get away with just using 1 large piece of chicken. Another thing I do to make it *feel* like we’re eating more chicken is to cut the strips width-wise (is that even a term?) instead of length-wise. We still have chunky strips, they’re just shorter.

7. Cook for the amount of people you’re serving.

I waste TONS of food by cooking too much of it. Of course, we can have leftovers, and we usually do. But often times, we have too many leftovers to feed two people. I can have leftovers for lunch the next day, but after that… I don’t want to eat it again. It gets repetitive. I find that I often have to halve recipes just to get the amount of food to a comfortable serve-two-people-and-have-one-serving-of-leftovers amount.

Well that’s it, folks. That’s how I save money on groceries without coupons. Meal planning does wonders for the grocery budget. You could go a lot more in detail and plan out every single meal including breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. But I find that’s a little too hardcore for me. Just do what works for you and your family.

How to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons

Comments

  1. 3

    says

    We live in a world of excess, so a pantry or freezer week where you don’t shop or only buy what you need to go with what you have is a great way to cut grocery expenses.

    • 4

      says

      My husband and I actually just did that this last week because we are moving into a new place tomorrow and wanted to use up all of our food. Some nights, we had some pretty inventive things but I find that we always have more than we think.

  2. 5

    Anonymous says

    I do a lot of couponing (my husband & I are on a fixed income). I find that, if I buy King Arthur baking mix, it eliminates the need for pancake mix, Pillsbury biscuits and other things too. It saves me quite a bit of money. Also, buy hamburger & make your own patties instead of buying the 1/4 lb. patties in a box at premium prices. Just a few ways to cut corners.

  3. 9

    says

    I tried the Walmart price match the other day and it went well. Walmart beat about 2 items and then the cashier needed a manager to enter some codes because we saved more than half the bill. SCORE!!

  4. 12

    Anonymous says

    We have some special ziplock freezer containers that are used for leftover to use for lunch.. we put our left overs in them, mark date and what is and toss in freezer for me to take to work. We used to do the whole eat it until gone without freezing and we got really sick of it. Now I just go to freezer and grab something knowing not getting last night’s dinner.

    It also helps on portion size since putting it in containers right after dinner keeps us from thinking we need to eat more of it now so doesn’t go bad.

    We have been doing this for last 3 years and have saved lots of money doing it between portion sizes and having lunch ready to go. Also, I eat much healthier and look forward to lunch.

    thanks

  5. 14

    Anonymous says

    I don’t do coupons so I tend to have a higher grocery bill. I really wish food companies would do more to offer them to whole food items.

  6. 16

    Anonymous says

    Great article! I found you from blissful and domestic’s links party!

    One thing I try to do that helps is to plan my leftovers–especially sides into another meal. It I have fish with cole slaw, I plan to have BBQ later that week, and finish the cole slaw then. That way, it feels more like a normal, planned dish instead of just something I threw out that doesn’t fit. If I put out leftover baked beans with the spaghetti dinner, I just get weird looks!

    • 19

      says

      Thanks for stopping by Lorraine. I’m back to very occasionally couponing if there’s a deal that’s too good to pass up. But I’m no longer the crazy coupon lady I once was lol.

  7. 20

    Anonymous says

    Nice post. We tend to do huge couponing trips at once (like 25 cans of veggies, 10 soups, etc.) and then apply these principles for the meal planning. One thing that REALLY made our lives much easier – which is all based on location- is finding a good meat market. GOOD being the keyword. Some are pricey. We bought ourselves a deep freezer and it has been worth every penny. We go and spend $50 on meat and it lasts us half a year, usually. Divide it up into portions and freeze it and just defrost as needed. We do the same with veggies, go to a veggie market (we have a great one in town but we really like Aldi too, though ours is 50/50 on the yuck factor) and then blanch and freeze the vegetables we aren’t using right away. Though, not everyone has a good meat/produce market. Last time I went, I spent $12.54 and got bananas, 10lb bag of potatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, 1 turnip, and a small bag of radishes. I don’t remember what else. $25ish at the meat market gets 1 lb ground pork, 2 lb ground beef, hot dogs, bacon, a rack of ribs, a 6 pack of chicken breasts, a 6 pack of pork chop, pork loin, and a 10 pack of steak fingers.

  8. 21

    says

    I can completely relate about couponing burnout! I also go through periods where I use less coupons, but like you said, I also eventually go back to using them. I find that making things from scratch along with growing my own food is cheaper and healthier. Great post!

  9. 23

    says

    Your tips are great! Especially the one about buying ingredients that overlap between meals. I should do more of that to simplify things a little.

    And check for manager’s specials too. It’s the only way to get roasts at a decent price here, so sometimes I just write “meat” on the menu plan and wait till I get to the store to see what’s been reduced.

    And there’s no need to be an “all-or-nothing” couponer. I don’t buy lots of the things there are coupons for, but when I do see a good coupon, I stash it in my wallet. For example, a coupon for $1 off 3 Brown Cow yogurts printed out at the register for me. Those go on manager’s special all the time, so I saved them. Just this morning I found them for .40 each–that came to a total of .20 for 3 organic yogurt cups! Can’t usually beat that with Yoplait coupons ;) Since I only clip a few coupons, it’s easy to keep a mental list of what I have and compare with any deals the store is running.

  10. 24

    Anonymous says

    one night a week we do a leftover buffet. I pull out any left overs and everyone takes a little of what they want. Who cares if it doesn’t go together….thats part of the fun:)

  11. 25

    says

    I follow this and preach this often. It’s not about the quantity of coupons its the quality of what you bring home with it. It’s true spending less with sales is amazing! There are so many sites now that coupon match for your grocery store along with circulars that contain deals so it makes it easy for our household and readers. I just got a new menu planner board that I’m ubber excited to post and use in our home.

  12. 29

    says

    Great tips! I had never found an easy way to coupon and so never bothered with them, but then I found out about thegrocerygame.com and have saved about 35-40% each trip to the grocery store since. For $10 every two months for one store, the site lists all the sales there and where to find the coupons for those items. I file my Sunday coupons by date and then cut out the coupons when listed to get the rock bottom price. I use Safeway for this and coupled with their Justforyou online club card coupons, save even more and get $ off gas. It’s worked great for us so thought I’d share!

  13. 30

    says

    Another way to stretch chicken breasts even further is to “butterfly” them if they are thick enough. One chicken breast turns into 2 that way…and if you thinly slice for topping on salads or putting in casseroles, you are golden!

  14. 32

    says

    I love your ideas too. We are a two person family as well. my Cowboy doesn’t mind eating the same thing 2 or even 3 nights in a row. I can usually handle it twice but the third day I’m itching to cook something different. I usually make crock pot meals or cassaroles but when I went shopping the first of the month I made up some hamburger steaks. I can really only eat about half of one. I guess I need to make them smaller. Anyhow, my point is that I made salad and baked potatoes tonight with them. Leftover salad tonight with be paired with something tomorrow night. The only thing I miss sometimes is the fresh produce. It just always makes meals taste better. Love ya. Kim

  15. 35

    Anonymous says

    Thank you for your helpful tips. We live in a small area with one grocery store and in order for us to use coupons we would have to drive another 20 minutes to another town. Therefore I try to plan my meals for the week and use what I have in my pantry. My husband likes to have a garden in the summer so we can and freeze alot of our items. We chose a small town to live in so we try to find ways to help our grocery bills since we are both retired.

  16. 37

    Anonymous says

    Watch out for Winn-Dixie in Florida and other stores here, they jack the price up double and triple in an area where you dont have food options. They do this where we are, because we dont have a bus line, a taxi would be too expensive, or you have to waste gas to save with coupons in another town. they will hold sales, and triple the price of the items, so when you do the BOGO you dont really get any deal. We also dont have double coupons in our area, and many stores are giving us a problem using coupons printed form coupons.com, WalMart has banned someone from using the competitors coupons (the individual owner did not allow it). Many Dollar Stores and Dollar generals give you a hard time for using coupons, some just wont do it, though the coupon policy clearly states they will. Also Florida pays a tourist tax on all food, and this is paid by the residents, driving the cost of our food higher, and why we dont have stores that allow double coupons. we not only pay the tourist tax which drives up our tax, we also get charged a higher price for foods. Kamiko

  17. 38

    Bianca says

    I just found you on Pinterest. These tips are GREAT! I have been wanting to start meal planning but it always seemed overwhelming. I like the idea of going thru my pantry/fridge/spices first and match up items. I’m definitely going to try this. When cooking dinner, I always make an extra serving to take for lunch the next day, Since it’s only my 9-year old daughter and myself, this works well for me. Thanks for the tips.

    • 39

      Jazmin Rode says

      I am glad you enjoyed the post, Bianca. Going through your current inventory of food definitely helps keep costs down.

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