3 Ways to Lower Your Food Budget without Using Coupons

Many of us are interested in saving money on groceries. This is especially important as food prices inflation becomes increasingly problematic. Drought has struck across the country, causing problems with harvest yields, and resulting in higher prices.

If you’re like me, though, the thought of clipping coupons isn’t one that is very attractive. I know that people can do it as a part-time job, and clean up at the store, but a lot of the items that there are coupons for aren’t items that I use on a regular basis. On top of that, I just find the whole process irritating; I think of plenty of things I’d rather be doing with my time. So, instead of clipping coupons, here are 3 ways I save money on groceries, without using coupons:

1. Plan Your Meals

One of the best ways to avoid constantly resorting to buying something to eat is to plan your meals. Over the summer, we got a bit off track with our meal planning, and our expenses crept up on us. Now, though, school has started up again, and the situation has improved. Meal plans are back in action.

Look at what you have handy, and create a meal based around that. There are number of ways to use different ingredients, and raiding the pantry can be a good way to avoid food waste as well. Before you go to the store, sit down and figure out what you want to eat for the upcoming week. Then, list out your ingredients. If you want to glance at the sales fliers to see what’s on sale, so much the better. Stick to your shopping list, avoiding impulse buys.

2. Cook from Scratch

Consider cooking from scratch. The ingredients you use often mean a lower per-person cost than buying something that is already prepped. If you are worried that you don’t have time, make the slow-cooker your friend. I look on my calendar to see what is happening. For days that I have to take my son to activities, or that I am volunteering, or that I have a heavy workload, I plan a slow-cooker meal. I get all the ingredients ready the night before, and put them in the fridge. The next morning, all I have to do is pull the meal out, and turn on the slow-cooker. A from-scratch meal is ready when I am, with a fairly small amount of work on my part.

If something is more involved, I plan that meal for a day when I know that I will have time. I’m not a big fan of cooking (my husband does a good deal of cooking), but when I do cook, I like to be unhurried, and I don’t want to stress about it. So planning my attempts to cook from scratch to coordinate with my schedule is a must.

3. Preserve What You Can for Later

Whether you are growing your own food (gardening can be a great way to save money on food), or buying in bulk, preserving what you can for later is a great way to save money in the long run. Buy foods that are in season, and then freeze, bottle, or dry them for use later. One of my favorite money savers is growing my own herbs. No need to even spend by buying in bulk. During the summer, we use fresh herbs with our meals, and then dry the extra so we have inexpensive herbs year-round.

You can preserve fruits and vegetables as well. Even if you don’t grow your own food, it’s possible to save by purchasing produce in season, and then preparing it for use later. You’ll spend less buying in season, and when it’s out of season, you’ll be able to go to your stores without heading to the grocery store. You can also freeze meat and other products that you buy on sale. We often freeze cheese for later use.

With a little planning, and creativity, you can save a good amount of money on groceries over the long run, and you don’t even need to spend the time clipping coupons. 

What are your best savings tips for groceries?



Author

By , on Oct 15, 2013
Miranda Marquit Miranda is a professional personal finance journalist. She is a contributor for several personal finance web sites. Her work has been mentioned in and linked to from, USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. She also has her own personal finance blog: Planting Money Seeds.

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{7 Comments}

  1. Meal planning is absolutely key. I do it every week and it saves soooo much in the long term. We’ve also started shopping at a cheaper grocery store and in total we’re saving $15 per week a whopping $60 a month!

  2. The biggest way we reduced our grocery bill was by eating seasonally. We never realized how much the price of fresh fruit and vegetables rose and fell with the seasons until we started tracking it.

    Now we only eat them when they are in abundance (and cheap), there is always more than enough stuff to keep us healthy!

  3. These are great tips. I’m an avid slow-cooker user. Easiest thing in the world, throw some ingredients in and let it do its job. Meal planning is always a help. If you have a tip on the impulse buying, however, that would be nice, that happens more often than not.

  4. Amazing advice, I normally struggle with my money when it comes to food shopping and it often puts me very close to having no money in-case of an emergency. It got that bad that I now send my girlfriend shopping as she is better with the spending :D

  5. I tend to eat my meals in smaller portions so that i will have some left over to eat later. This usually helps me turn one meal into two and saves me quite a bit of money on that additional meal that i did not need to pay for.

  6. Nancy:

    I do all these things. I keep a pantry and freezer inventory so I know what I have on hand and use it to plan the weekly menu. We eat up leftovers for lunch or a Saturday night leftover buffet. I also keep a grocery price book and use it to guide spending.

  7. I agree on the recommendations. In fact, I bag my lunch to work 2 or 3 times a week. I bought grocery items from 99 Cents Store and Wal-mart for cheaper food. I am fond of fruits like grapes, apples and oranges.

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