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I can’t be the only one who rolls her eyes when yet another promise of “10 Ways To Save Money On Groceries” lists five different “money-saving” apps.
You know the ones. Where you have to buy certain items from specific stores and then some marketing company deposits two dollars into your PayPal account next month.
Here are 9 ways I save money on groceries each and every month without coupons, apps or warehouse stores.
9 Ways To Save Money On Groceries Without Coupons, Apps Or Warehouse Stores
1. You must plan your meals.
This looks different for different people.
Some people prefer to use a meal planning service or pay for a week of meal plans at a time. Others have a regular rotation of meals that their family likes to eat each month.
I personally like to plan as I shop based on what is on sale at my store.
And my family knows that I typically serve the same two or three dinners and two or three lunches on repeat for a week. It is easier and less expensive to buy the ingredients in bulk, and less food goes to waste.
Whatever method you use, have a plan for each meal, including breakfast and snacks.
Know what you will spend each day and in each category. It is much easier to catch yourself before you blow your budget when you know exactly what you have to spend and how many meals it has to cover.
If you have already accounted for 75% of the lunch budget, for example, but you only have lunches planned for three days, you know that you need to come up with an inexpensive meal for the remainder of the week or find a way to reduce the cost of the meals you already planned for those three days.
2. Use Budget Bytes.
This website is one of my absolute favorite resources for planning meals.
It is filled with recipe ideas that are inexpensive but still delicious and imaginative. I have discovered many new family favorites by checking in with this site every now and again.
It makes stretching a dollar way more delicious than I ever thought possible. These Poor Man’s Burrito Bowls are my personal favorite, and take about twenty minutes to make from start to finish.
3. Order your groceries online.
If you order your groceries online, you can see prices as you choose and add things into your cart.
This will help you avoid impulse buys and keep you focused. You can also easily remove things from your virtual cart as you watch your total climb higher.
Many stores offer an option to order online and pick up your order in the store in order to avoid a delivery fee. And you can typically still use coupons and store savings apps on these orders of you choose to.
But if you do shop in the store…
4. Shop alone.
It’s not just kids who derail our best efforts in the grocery store.
A hungry husband in the snack aisle can easily eat up a quarter of the week’s snack budget tossing things into the cart that are not on your list. And it can be hard to tell him no when he is the one technically footing the bill.
To avoid resentment and keep your budget under control, I suggest shopping solo whenever possible.
5. Use cash.
If you don’t have it, you can’t spend it.
Take only the cash that you have budgeted for that week’s groceries to the store with you. Don’t even bring a debit or credit card with you.
Then, you have no choice but to put back items that blow the budget.
I keep a running tally of what I’m spending on my iPad as I toss things into the cart. I even break it down by category. So at any given time I can look at my open document and see that, for example, I have already spent $35 of my $42 dinner budget for the week.
6. Shop at Aldi.
If you have an Aldi within a half hour of your home, I highly recommend checking it out.
There is simply nothing that comes close in terms of helping me save money on groceries.
The store carries mostly its own private label products, which are stocked on the shelves in their wholesale boxes. And the store is staffed modestly, so there isn’t always someone to help if you have a question.
You also have to bring your own bags or boxes as well as a quarter to get a cart. (Although many other stores have followed suit with the carts now.)
But in return for the limited product selection and other minor inconveniences, you can save as much as 40% off of your regular grocery bill.
Even if you already buy store brands or shop at a warehouse or big box store.
7. Shop once a week.
Once I have gone to the store, I do not go again that week for any reason.
That means if milk runs out, we do not eat cereal. If we are low on snacks after two days, we make cookies instead. It takes creativity, but once you commit to shopping once each week you will be amazed at the solutions you can come up with.
I have found that if we attempt to spread out our shopping and go only twice each month we are missing fresh fruits, and we also tend to overestimate the time it will be until the next shopping trip. So we end up buying more of some staples, like pasta pr eggs, than we actually need.
8. Have a no-shop week every other month.
If you shop wisely and avoid buying things that you do not need, you probably will not be able to do this every month. But every other month is a good goal.
We simply skip a shopping day and see how long we can make it before going again. More often than not we can make it almost a full week without shopping when we put our minds to it.
Dig out those english muffins in the freezer for pizzas. Serve scrambled eggs and salsa for dinner. And mix and match leftovers until the fridge and cupboards are bare.
9. Invest in a chest freezer.
Don’t go rushing out to spend money you don’t have.
In fact, we bought our chest freezer from a friend who sold it to us for less than half of what he had bought it for. It was sitting unused in his mom’s garage.
Now it’s sitting fully stocked in our laundry room.
If you have a chest freezer you can stock up on almost anything when it’s on sale at a great rate. We freeze bread, cheese, butter and meat, in addition to the usual suspects like frozen veggies and convenience meals.
We also use it to freeze cookies and baked goods when I make them in bulk.
You will be surprised at the the things you can freeze once you start looking around. Even guacamole and cold cuts freeze well.
You Will Not Believe What I Spend To Feed Our Family Of Four Very Well
You will be amazed how much money you can shave off of your grocery budget when you employ only a few of these techniques. I have gotten the food budget for my family of four to under $400 each months, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks.
Imagine reducing your grocery bill buy even 25%. And all that you could do with that savings. How will you get started keeping costs down on your next shopping trip? We would love to hear your ideas in the comments.