Are you struggling to stay on your budget? Does the cost of food and groceries get you down? Would you like to have more money in your budget to spend on the things you want (rather than having to spend it on food)?
Read below to hear about 7 simple ways you can start saving money on food now (without couponing)!
7 Best Ways to Save Money on Food
Here are my 7 favorite ways to save money on food without couponing!
1: Have a List
I know you’ve seen this one on every single ‘grocery budget’ list out there! However, it bears repeating!
When you shop with a list, you buy all the things you need, and nothing you don’t.
You don’t wander around the store aimlessly, so it saves you time.
You can stock up on sale items and stockpile, which saves you money.
You get everything you need in one shopping trip, so you don’t have to go back to the store, which saves you more time (and money)!
Bottom line: never shop without a list! (Read my post here about the right way to shop with a list!)
2: Plan Well
Plan your menu in detail including side dishes. Plan breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and potlucks. The more detailed your plan, the more satisfied your family will be. And therefore, the less likely you will be to fall back on drive-thru, snack machines, concession stands, convenience stores, frozen entrees, and restaurants.
When you thoroughly plan your food (and buy everything you need), you won’t need to make any trips back to the store mid-week (which again saves you time and money).
Add to this the practice of preparing meals your family actually likes and looks forward to, and you’re even more likely to avoid eating out or listening to your kids beg for snacks.
(Read my post here to learn the 5 easy steps to creating the perfect menu plan!)
3: Balance Cheap Meals with More Expensive Ones
I usually ask my family members for input when I put together a menu plan. But if I left it completely up to them, we’d eat frozen foods (pizza, corn dogs, chicken strips, burritos, etc.) for nearly every meal! Not only is this unhealthy, but it’s also pretty expensive! So it’s up to me to space out their requests with some cheaper things along the way.
Since I have a freezer full of meat (see #6), I can cook hamburgers, steaks, and pork chops pretty cheaply. A bag of potatoes on sale for $1.99 and sides are nearly covered too. It certainly beats the $6 minimum I’m going to spend on any of those frozen meals!
Here are some of my cheap favorites:
- Hamburger-Potato Casserole
- Hoisin Beef and Rice
- Grilled Steak (or Pork Steaks or Pork Chops)
- Sloppy Joes
- Hamburger Helper (homemade sometimes) or Beef Stroganoff
- Roast or Pulled-Meat Sandwiches
- Breakfast for Dinner
Most of these meals cost me $0-3 without the meat cost included. If you are buying meat each time you shop, then stick with lots of hamburger and chicken breast-based meals for your ‘cheapies,’ and add in the more expensive stuff like steak and seafood in between.
4: Weekly Circulars
I live in a small town, so there are only three places to purchase food without driving a half an hour.
Walmart is my go-to because they generally have the best prices and selection. Dollar General is another chain, but I typically don’t shop there because their selection is so small and I don’t want to stop at three stores every week (that’s just a waste of time).
The third place is a locally-owned grocery store. This store puts out a weekly circular, and they usually have prices that are competitive with Walmart. Besides their sales, though, most of the prices are higher than Walmart.
I don’t like having to stop at a second store, but the sales are too good to pass up sometimes. So in order to make this time-efficient for myself, I will only stop there every two weeks, and buy everything else I need at Walmart on the alternate weeks.
Hint: The Walmart Savings Catcher app (see #7 below) usually takes into account weekly circular prices from all the competing stores in your area. If you buy these things at Walmart, and they are advertised cheaper somewhere else, you get the difference back in cash. This saves you from having to stop at 2+ stores just to get the best prices. However, not all stores are included (as is the case with my local grocery store).
If you buy a lot of the same things regularly, you naturally get to know the normal prices for those things. So if you see something on sale, it is a good idea to stock up.
I am likely to stock up on pasta, shredded cheese, peanut butter, bread and buns, frozen pizzas, frozen corn, cereal, butter, pasta sauce, tomato sauce, frozen chicken breast, water bottles, cream soups, and canned veggies. These are all things that either have a good shelf life or I can freeze. I may buy as much as 8 of each item when on sale (more if I can freeze it).
This method allows me to get the most for my dollar, and not have to buy certain things for a long time. (It also helps with menu planning.)
6: Buy Meat in Bulk
If you have the freezer space, buying meat in bulk (i.e. a half a beef or a whole hog) is a great way to save money on meat. For our family of 5, we spend $1100 a year on bulk meat, which pays for a whole hog and a half of beef. We do space this out a bit with chicken, fish, game, and a few meatless meals.
Once you have a freezer full of meat, it really eases up the tension in your grocery spending. Now you can spend your money on vegetables, dairy, and staples without having to scrimp on meat!
It saves you time at the grocery store every week since you never have to pick out meat. It also helps you with meal-planning because you can throw in some grill nights without much extra cost. And if you forget your morning meal-prep, just throw some frozen pork chops in your Instant Pot and have dinner ready in an hour!
In order to afford these huge purchases, I recommend setting aside $100 a month – however you need to do this. $50 per paycheck, $25 per week, etc. If you have this amount auto-deposited into savings from your paycheck, you’ll never miss it! But you’ll have the bulk savings when you need to pay for the bulk meat.
There are a lot of ‘savings’ apps out there. Here are the ones I actually use:
- Walmart Savings Catcher
- Receipt Hog
- Receipt Pal
I use all of these apps as a way to get free cash back for things I’m going to buy anyway. I never purchase things just because they are offered on Ibotta or in a coupon!
It takes me less than 5 minutes when I return home from the grocery store to enter my receipts into all four of these apps. Then once in awhile, I get a gift card. Cha-ching! Getting paid for doing what you do anyway? Nice!
Just Say ‘No’ to Couponing
Who has time for couponing?! I am trying to help you save money and time on your food budget. All of the items above are methods I use regularly and have found helpful in saving time and money.
Here’s a secret: any of the above 7 tips individually will help your grocery budget. Best of all? You don’t have to be great at any of them before they will work! Try them all out – you’ll get the hang of it! Good luck saving money!
Do you have any other non-couponing methods for saving money on food? Leave a comment below so we can all learn!