If clipping coupons or trying to keep them organized annoys you, you can still cut your grocery bill.
Bakery Thrift Stores: For six years, I drove right by a bakery thrift store without a thought. So except for those rare times our brand of bread was on sale, I always paid full price at the grocery store (coupons for bread are rare). As a family of 6, we go through a lot of bread and at $2.69 a loaf, we’ve spent a lot of dough on bread alone. Price at the local bakery thrift? $1.39. In addition, name brand ‘brown and bake’ dinner rolls that are typically around $2.69 at the grocery store were only 65 cents. If you have a bakery outlet nearby, it’s worth a once a month trip to stock up on bread products. Just make sure to freeze them as soon as you get home.
Meat: If you can manage to get to the grocery first thing in the morning, that’s the best time to get Manager Specials on meats that will pass their sell by date within a couple days. Choose your meat carefully, but most of the time there is no difference in quality. Again, make sure to freeze your purchases as soon as you get home. Also, if you can, reduce the amount of meat you use per meal. For example, if you buy a double pack of ground beef, when you get home, separate it into 3 separate meal servings. You won’t notice the difference in those typical ground beef meals such as tacos, chili, hamburger helper or spaghetti sauce.
Vegetables: As convenient as prepared salads are, opt for the whole heads of lettuce and chop it up yourself. If you think about it, it only takes a few minutes to cut up lettuce and the savings will add up over time. But pre-packaged produce is not always a bad deal, just determine how much you need and see if it is worth it. For example, I am extremely fond of pico de gallo, but no one else in my family cares for it. By the time I purchase all the ingredients (onions, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapenos, etc) to make this myself, the cost would be considerably higher than the $2.99 packaged, ready-to-eat pico de gallo. Sure, I’d have a lot more if I made it, but I would never be able to eat that much by myself. So in this case, it is better to purchase the convenience package.
Know your grocery store and stock up on sale items: When an item is on sale, buy extras if it’s a good deal. But keep in mind that advertised prices do not necessarily mean a good deal. For example, grocery stores will often display 12 packs of soda with large signs that say “3 for $12,” which makes no sense when the regular price of that soda the week before was $3.99. It actually costs one penny more if you take advantage if this “sale.” You have to know your store, and know what truly is a bargain and which is not.
Stick to a Grocery List: Use your grocery store’s weekly ad to make a list of the good deals you should stock up on. To keep yourself from impulse buying, make sure you eat before you go.
Keep an eye out for close-out items: While shopping, keep an eye out on price tags that say “Close out.” You have to look carefully, because they do not make those price tags very noticeable, and do not advertise these items in their ads. But these will always be your best deals. Close out items are typically over 50% off, and are often name brand products that you can use. For example, name brand toothpastes make so many varieties that even though you may use “Super Cavity Fighting,” which costs $2.89, the “Extra Whitening” right next to it may be on close out for $1.12. Unless you’re super picky about your toothpaste, it’s a good buy.
Take advantage of instant savings deals: Every now and then, grocery stores run specials such as “Buy 10, get $5 off instantly at checkout.” When preparing your list, try to take advantage of these deals, but only if you can see yourself using those 10 items within the next month or two. Once, I saw this deal applied to 59 cent cat food – if you think about it, 10 cans would cost $5.90 but with $5 instant savings, all 10 cans would have cost a total of only 90 cents. A great deal (if you have a cat!). It’s coupon savings without the hassle of coupons.
Be on the lookout for … coupons: No, not the ones you clip out of the Sunday paper, because if you’re reading this, you probably don’t want that hassle. I’m talking about the coupons that may be sitting right next to the product at the grocery store. Some items will have coupon dispensers right next to that product, so if you’re picking up a product, you might as well grab that coupon. Sure, it may only be 50 cents off, but the only work required from you for that 50 cent savings is to carry it from the dispenser to check out. No clipping or organizing required.