I’m pretty frugal when it comes to spending, and I’m always looking for ways to save on groceries… but I have a confession: I HATE coupons.
I’m not anti-coupons. I’m just really bad at using them, and I think there are two main things that hold me back.
- Couponing takes time, and
- Coupons never seem to save me that much money.
Sure, they save me a few bucks here and there, but there just never seem to be that many coupons for foods I actually buy. As a result, couponing doesn’t really seem worth my time. Maybe you’ve had the same experience?
The good news is that there’s more than one way to save, and there are many ways to save on groceries.
I might still occasionally clip a few coupons, but here are the five easiest ways to save on groceries that I use on the regular – no coupons needed.
Pay Attention to Unit Prices
There’s the actual price of an item, and then there’s its unit price. The unit price tells you how much you’re paying, well, per unit. In other words, the price of something per pound, per ounce, etc.
The unit price is typically listed on the price tag on the grocery store shelf (below or beside the actual price). When you’re choosing between different sizes of a product or two different brands of the same food, the unit price is how you know which is the better deal.
For example, if you’re looking at a regular size box of Cheerios compared to a jumbo box, you might just assume that the larger box is the better deal, but not always! Look at the unit price to determine which box is cheaper per ounce, and go with that.
This is the EASIEST way to save on groceries, and it requires zero extra time. If you’re not doing this, you absolutely should be.
Consider the Store Brand
Don’t let advertising fool you. Often the store brand of a product is exactly the same as the regular brand, but at a fraction of the price.
As I’ve already said though, don’t just blindly pick the option you think will be the lowest price. Often store brands are the cheapest, but sometimes the commercial brands are on sale for an even better price, too. Compare the unit price of the store brand to the other options available, and choose the best deal.
Shop the Sales
Most products in the grocery store go on sale at some point (usually every 4-6 weeks), so the trick is to know when the items your family buys are on sale. The best sale prices are 50% off or more on the original price.
Virtually all stores now list their weekly sales online, so you don’t need to get a newspaper to be able to check them out ahead of time. Take 10-15 minutes while you’re making your grocery list to look over the week’s sale ads, and make note of what you should purchase.
Remember, don’t buy more than your family can actually use, and don’t buy things you don’t need just because they’re on sale. If you do, you’re not actually saving any money.
Shop More Than One Store
It may seem like a pain to shop at more than one store, but it can be more than worth it.
Some stores have better sales (or prices in general) on perishable items like meat and dairy, while other stores have better prices on packaged foods. You can save a lot of money by shopping at a few different stores so that you’re getting everything you buy for the cheapest price in the area.
At the very least, get to know the grocery stores in your local area, and take a look at their weekly ads. If a store has a lot of items your family eats for good prices, it’s worth the trip to shop there.
And, if you plan ahead, there’s no reason you need to go to multiple stores every week. If you have some extra freezer or pantry storage space, you can get away with buying items like cereal, snack foods or meats in larger quantities less often.
Go Meatless Once a Week
Let’s face it. Meat is one of the most expensive things in our grocery cart. You might save a buck with a coupon, but you can save way more than that simply by cutting back your family’s meat consumption by one meal a week.
(Pro tip: Double your meatless meal recipe so you have leftovers. You’ll have saved on two meals for the time and effort of one!)
I know people have varying feelings on this, but going meatless for one meal a week is seriously so easy. I’ve been doing it for so long that I honestly don’t even need to think about it anymore. Your family might object at first, but I promise after a few weeks they won’t even miss the meat.
Here are a few of my favorite family-friendly meatless recipes to try:
- Vegan Sloppy Joes
- Broccoli Cheddar Egg Muffins
- Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
- Baked Broccoli Mac and Cheese
- Chickpea Pot Pie w/ Cornbread Crust
In the end, there are many easy ways to save on groceries, so try a few of these strategies over the coming month and see what works best for you!
Looking for more ways to eat healthy on a budget?
Check out these 20 Easy Swaps to Save You Money on Groceries!