How to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons

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Everyday I read stories about people who spend very little on groceries because they are excellent coupon collectors. I've tried to join the coupon community but I never seem to find coupons for things I want to buy. I admire these coupon heroes who are able to match their discounts with stores who are already offering sales on the same product. It must be a great feeling to leave the market with hundreds of dollars worth of food and only spend $50. Several years ago I worked as an analytical chemist where I encountered many chemicals. When I read ingredients in the supermarket I put 90% of the items I pick up right back on the shelf. So, how do I save money on groceries when I don't have coupons for the things I want to buy?

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Seasonal Produce

Growing your own produce is an excellent way to save. Obviously the savings will increase as the size of your garden increases. Even a few tomato plants can be used for several months. Turn the tomatoes into sauces and salsas and can them for the months ahead. During the peak of summer the local farmers market if full of seasonal produce. Whether you buy seasonal produce at the market or the grocery it is often cheaper than the out of season varieties. Items which are out of season have been shipped a long distance which drives up their cost. The time that elapses between harvest and display at the market decreases the level of nutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables.So, seasonal produce is potentially grown closer to home so it doesn't have to travel as far to reach the store shelf. In addition when there is an abundance basic economics will drive the price down.

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Spices

Herbs and spices add a tremendous amount of flavor to food without having to use an abundance of salt, sugar, or fat. There are a few perennial herbs I have had a lot of success with because they seem to grow anywhere. Thyme, sage, parsley, and oregano don't require any special maintenance. Simply put them in the ground and water them occasionally. Rosemary is also easy to grow but it is a bi-annual. After the first year take a cutting from the plant and dip it into rooting compound to grow a new plant.

When buying spices in the market there is a wide variety in the Hispanic food aisle. Many of them are under $1 because the are sold in plastic bags instead of bottles and jars. If you don't have a spice rack simply save your current spice containers and refill them. Instead of buying spice mixes or flavored salts such as garlic salt I buy the single spice and create my own blends or add salt to the garlic powder. This enables you to use your spices for multiple dishes without having to buy additional spices.

Meat

Meat is one of the more expensive ingredients bought at the market and coupons are rarely offered. The easiest step is to sum up your portion size, it should be the size of your palm. Cheaper cuts of meat offer an added benefit to those who don't have much time to cook. They are generally tougher cuts of meat filled with a lot of connective tissue that requires slow cooking in a crock pot. Simply place the meat in the slow cooker before you leave for work and come home to a glorious feast of roast beef, country ribs, or a small chicken.

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Most quart sized containers of beef and chicken stock in the market are $2.50 to $4 and I don't think they taste as good as homemade stock. Even if you don't braise the meat, the pan drippings and remnants can be used to make stock. On the first night have roasted chicken. The next day use any remaining chicken for a salad, pasta, or casserole dish. When you've eaten all of the meat, place the bones, skin, and any remaining chicken into a pot of water with herbs and spices. I recently spent $8.50 on 2 chickens that were $0.89/lb and made 8 quarts of chicken stock after 2 chicken dinners. Without any coupons I still feel like they paid me to take the chicken out of the store.

Inexpensive Ingredients

Another obvious choice is to make friends with the inexpensive ingredients. Typically these are starchy foods such as pasta, rice, and potatoes. Their charm lies in the blank canvas they create. They cook relatively quickly and can be used for an easy dinner when combined with leftovers or simple ingredients.

Don't Throw Food Away


As it turns out, Americans waste an astounding amount of food — an estimated 27 percent of the food available for consumption, according to a government study — and it happens at the supermarket, in restaurants and cafeterias and in your very own kitchen. 1

To save an instant 27% on your grocery bill don't throw away food, eat your leftovers. There are people out there who can eat the same thing several days in a row. For those of us who need variety it's time to get creative with what's in the fridge. Fresh produce is usually the first to go so throw the fruit into the blender to make smoothies. Vegetables are perfect for frittatas, soups, stir-fry's, and side dishes. Turn last night's meatloaf into chili, an Italian meat sauce, or use it to make stuffed peppers. Roasts can be used for sandwiches, stews, or a stroganoff. The possibilities of creation are endless.

When it comes to dairy use the cheeses for toppings and sauces. If you can't think of anything to pair them with, fruit, chocolate, crackers or a baguette, and a bottle of wine make a great midnight snack with a plate of cheeses. Most store bought milk has an expiration date within a week of the day it is purchased whereas organic milk has an expiration date which is a month from the date of purchase. If you find yourself pouring out spoiled milk every week switch to organic and save yourself some money. You'll also cut unnecessary steroids and antibiotics from your diet as well.

Drink More Water

Water is the best thing you can put in your body. Every chemical reaction and electrical signal sent through the body rely on the blood's watery matrix. When you're dehydrated things don't travel as efficiently as they could. Instead of bottled water or sodas buy a filter for your faucet or a filtration pitcher. Some people take a filtration pitcher to work and use it to fill a water bottle several times a day.

Avoid Convenience Foods

Convenience foods are found throughout the market. Although they can help a family find extra time during the day there are a prices to pay. Initially these foods are often more expensive due to the amount of processing that was required for their creation. Convenience foods that immediately come to mind are in the frozen food aisle however they can also be found in the produce aisle. Consider the cost of a bag of carrots versus baby carrots. Look at the difference in price between spinach you have to wash at the pre-washed variety. The same is true when you're buying meat. If the bones and skin have been removed the price is higher.

Creativity

With a little imagination in the kitchen and simple math at the market you can save yourself quite a bit of money without coupons.

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Comments 19 comments

hush4444 profile image

hush4444 4 years ago from Hawaii

Wow, I had no idea that organic milk had such a long shelf life. I will definitely switch. You've outlined some great tips, especially since payday is still a week away.


missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas

very practical and useful tips Jennifer. Great job.

Voted up and sharing here and elsewhere :)


alissaroberts profile image

alissaroberts 4 years ago from Normandy, TN

Excellent tips! I do love some coupons but I have really been wanting to start a garden to save money on fresh produce. Your hub may be just the inspiration I needed. Thanks for sharing - voted up, useful, and tweeting!


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho Author

hush4444, I've bought organic milk for years because I'm not a milk drinker. When I was single and still buying the "regular" I poured out 1/2 to 3/4 every week. One day I noticed the expiration date on the organic milk and I haven't looked back. There isn't a noticeable difference in the taste but after years of drinking organic a latte made with the other tastes a little bitter. I just left my job in December to be a stay at home mom so I'm always looking for ways to save.


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho Author

MissOlive, Thanks for voting and SHARING : )

Alissa, I love coupons when I have them but those people who align their coupons with store sales are the real heroes. I just don't have that kind of time with a toddler. The way things are going we're all going to have to plant our own gardens. The good news is Willard Scott who does the 100+ birthdays on the Today Show says only the gardeners make it that long. Thanks for SHARING, voting, and tweeting : )


SanneL profile image

SanneL 4 years ago from Sweden

Some excellent and very useful ideas!

Well done! I'm sharing this and voting up of course!


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho Author

Thank you SanneL for voting and SHARING. I hope you found some tips you can put to good use.


Marla Neogra profile image

Marla Neogra 4 years ago from Parkersburg, West Virginia

Thanks for all the insight. I do almost every thing you listed except grow my own veggies. I have a deck so I should really get back into it. At least container veggies. I like the concise what you put things.


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho Author

Marla, Thank you so much for your kind words. Personally I need to reclaim a portion of the back yard from the dogs. They have gourmet palettes and ate all of my herbs when they were puppies. Now I grow all of my herbs in the front yard.


peti profile image

peti 4 years ago

Thank you for these great ideas! This is a great alternative to those who don't want to coupon or can't find the time to manage it!


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho Author

Peti, You are very welcome : ) I don't get the Sunday paper because I rarely read it. I've tried to find coupons online but that requires a lot of time as well. Thank you for sharing your time and thoughts.


Cloverleaf profile image

Cloverleaf 4 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

Hi Jennifer - these are some really great tips for saving money on groceries! I do save a lot of money using coupons but I agree that the foundations of savings are gained when we buy seasonal, fresh produce and properly plan our menus. I also find at my local supermarket that even good quality meat can be marked down quite substantially when it approaches its best before date; it's a good time to buy it and throw it in the freezer. Thanks for sharing all this useful info - voting up!


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho Author

Thank you Cloverleaf for voting and sharing your grocery tips. I've tried printing coupons but for some reason my computer won't let the software run. It's definitely a game of comparison shopping and buying what is in season.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Another good one from Jennifer! I'm becoming a regular fan. I rarely use coupons so this hub is a great one for me. Voted up!


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

Just goes to show that you don't need technology, just some good common sense, to save money with groceries. Voting this Up and Useful.


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho Author

vocalcoah, I'm grateful you enjoy reading my hubs. I use coupons when I can find them for things I want. I hope you can put these tips to good use. Thanks for the vote : )


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho Author

alocsin, Common sense and math skills are really all a person needs to save money on groceries. Thanks for the vote and sharing so much of your time reading my hubs : )


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

Hi Jennifer ~ these are great tips. Although I do use coupons when I can, I have become very picky about what coupons I actually cut out and keep.

It is a shame all the food that is wasted. I know a family who will not eat leftovers and they are not wealthy by any means. I was always shocked at that. And about drinking water, I have thought about it a lot because some beverages can be so expensive. One of my favorites is orange juice which I now add water to my glass. I can't drink straight orange juice any longer since I started doing this. Great tips-thanks!

Sharyn


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho Author

Sharyn, I know what you mean about being picky with coupons. If it isn't something I would normally buy then I don't cut it out. To me there's no need to buy something simply because you have coupon for it. I wrote an article on my food blog about all the food that is wasted in America. In grocery stores, restaurants, cafeterias, and homes approximately 122 lbs of food are thrown out every month based on a family of 4. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your tips.

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