4 Ways to Save at the Grocery Store Without Coupons

May 3, 2016

If you are trying to reduce your expenses, you have probably already learned that the amount you spend on groceries has a HUGE impact on your monthly budget.

In fact, it is most likely one of your highest non-fixed categories. Learning how you can save at the grocery store will have a tremendous effect on your bottom line.

Plan your meals. Shop with a list. Don’t shop while you’re hungry. Sign up for your store’s loyalty card. Most of us have heard these tips, so I will leave them off this list. If you haven’t yet, be sure to implement them right away. (Although, no one ever mentions not to shop while you’re thirsty. One time I did and bought at least five different types of beverages – no joke.)

So, let’s review some other things you can start doing to save at the grocery store.

Typically, we…march off to the store and hope for the best.

1. Know Your Prices

Your grocery store’s circular lies to you. Just because something is “On Sale!” doesn’t mean it is actually a good deal. If you want to start shopping savvily, then you need to learn the lowest prices of the items you usually buy.

For example, a box of cereal that is $3.99 full price will go “on sale” for multiple prices including $3.89, $3.00, $2.49, $1.99, and $1.88. If you don’t know your prices, that $3.00 sale looks pretty good, especially when it’s dressed in a HUGE RED FONT. But if you are in the know, you leave that $3.00 box on the shelf, because you know it will soon be $1.88.

For about six to eight weeks, watch the prices of the items you usually buy. Start with the ten or so items that are always on your grocery list no matter what. You can record these prices in a notebook, your phone, or remember them mentally. Now that just about every grocery store has a “shop at home” app, you can easily look up the prices of your items without even going to the store. The goal here is to identify the lowest couple of prices your items sell for.

2. Change The Way You Shop

Typically, we write a list of things we need for the coming week, march off to the store and hope for the best. Now that you have identified the lowest prices of the items you frequently buy, start strategically buying them when they are at their lowest (or close to lowest) price. Look at your circular before going to the store, and make your list based on what you now know is a good deal.

So, instead of shopping your old way which was buying the items you need when you need them, you will now start buying the items you need, when you can get them at their lowest prices.

3. Stock Up

Make some room on your shelves and space in your freezer! In order to maximize your savings, instead of purchasing just one of an item, (or enough until your next trip), you want to start buying enough to last you until that item is at the lowest price again. If you’ve watched the prices of your items for about eight weeks, you’ll see that the same prices repeat. Most items run on a six-week cycle.

Going back to the example of the cereal, since we know the price drops down to $1.88, when it does, we want to buy enough to last us until it’s at that price again.

4. Shop with Cash

Ever walk into the grocery store with a goal of spending $100, but you walk out with $125 worth of groceries? Eliminate going over your grocery budget by shopping with cash. Leave your debit card in your glove compartment, and you will shop completely differently. You will make sure you come in under $100, because who wants to be removing items at the checkout line?

You could really maximize the impact of these tips by adding couponing to the mix.

Bonus Tip: Coupon!

I intentionally made this list without coupons because I know it can be intimidating to some and I wanted you to see there are ways to save without them. But, these tips actually serve as the foundation to couponing. You could really maximize their impact by adding couponing to the mix.

For example, take the box of cereal I mentioned. If you purchase it at $1.88 and combine it with a $.50 coupon (which doubles to $1.00 at most stores), then you’re scoring a box of cereal for $.88. Since you’re applying all the tips, you’re probably going to pick up four or so boxes. So, with coupons you are now scoring four boxes of cereal for $3.52 which is less than one box at the full price!

If you’d like to give couponing a try, learn how in the Beginner’s Guide to Couponing.

 

What works for you? How do you save at the grocery store? Let me know in the comments below.