Do you want to save money on groceries but have no time to cut coupons? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with some great ways to save money and help lower your monthly grocery budget.
If you are looking to save money, your grocery budget is usually the first place I recommend you start. Why? There’s usually a lot of waste in your grocery budget.
Most of your bills are probably fairly set but the grocery budget has a lot of wiggle room. Even if you think you are already shopping fairly frugally, there’s probably still some room to save some extra money. Once you have your budget in place (check out our printable budget planner here), then you can get to work cutting your grocery bill.
Is Using Coupons Worth it?
I used to take grocery savings to another level. I’d spend hours and hours each week cutting coupons, organizing them, matching coupons up with my local grocery store deals.
I did save a ton of money. It also took a lot of time away from other areas of my life.
I had a great stockpile of food and household items, and I loved that. It was so nice to never worry about running out of anything. The downside was, I ended up buying a lot of products and processed foods that we didn’t use. We’d either use them out of guilt or throw them away — and then I felt like my time couponing wasn’t worth it.
In the end, I said goodbye to the coupons and decided that I could still save money on groceries without dedicating hours every week to it.
Save money on groceries without coupons
I may not save as high a percentage on my grocery trips anymore but I do still keep our grocery budget low. I feed our family of 8 for under $500 a month with these tricks. Our bill does go up on months where we have holidays or birthdays, but we save so much the rest of the year that I’m okay with that.
Plan your Menu
This seems so basic but the truth is, simply planning your menu for the week can save you so much money. Think about how many last-minute trips you make to the closest fast-food place when you realize it is 5:00 and you have no clue what to make for dinner (or desire to make it). Planning ahead takes the work out of that for you. If you know what you are going to make, you can prep food ahead of time, throw it in your crockpot or Instant pot if you need to, and have everything ready to go.
I know if I have to stop and think about what I’m going to make for dinner when I’m already hungry, I’m always going to take the easiest way out.
Print our free weekly menu plan (this has a grocery list right on the page. It is awesome!) and sit down at the beginning of the week to plan your menu. If you want something to put on display, turn this menu plan printable into a dry erase board by adding it into a glass frame.
Shop with a list
Never go to the grocery store without a list. You’ll come home with a dozen things you weren’t planning on buying. Plan your shopping trip out ahead of time (I make a list while I’m creating my weekly menu) and stick to it.
If you want to simplify things at the store, try our printable grocery list. It is separated by categories so you can grab everything you need in one section of the store instead of running back and forth. Huge time saver!
Shop your Pantry
As you plan your menu for the week, the first place you should look is your pantry (or freezer). Chances are, you have quite a bit of food that could be worked into your weekly menu that won’t even require a trip to the store. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather use what I already paid for than have that go to waste and buy something new.
Don’t forget to dig through the back of your pantry for anything that has been forgotten. I usually find some great things back there. Work any meat you have in your freezer into your meals as much as you can.
If you have some extra time to get organized, I’d really recommend going through and creating an inventory of what food you have in your home. This pantry/fridge/freezer inventory printable is a great way to get started.
Plan your menu around your store’s weekly ads
Your local grocery probably sends out a weekly mailer with their current deals and likely some coupons. I often don’t plan my menu at the beginning of the week. I like to wait until the new store sales start so I can get the best deal. When your store circular comes out, skim through it and find the best deals. Just because you aren’t using coupons, doesn’t mean you can’t shop smart. I plan my menu that week based around meat that is a great deal (if nothing stands out to me I use meat from my freezer), produce that is on sale (this has the benefit of generally being fresher than the other produce too), and anything else I see that is a great deal.
I don’t spend a lot of time doing this. I just use the store mailers as a jumping off point for my menu plan. I usually stick to one store for the week unless there are several really good deals. If something is on sale for an exceptionally good price, I’ll usually buy extra to freeze (or stash in my pantry) and use another week.
Join Thrive Market
When my family started trying to make healthier choices, we discovered really fast that keeping our grocery bill down was a challenge. Then I discovered Thrive Market. Thrive Market is an online subscription services that offers healthy food and household products at a steep discount. Think of it as an online Costco for health food.
I switched to Thrive Market earlier this year for all my household cleaning products and supplements because after checking all my local stores and comparing with Amazon, their prices won every single time. Now I make a monthly order for cleaning products, shampoo, and natural foods that we love.
They have a way better selection on natural foods than my local stores do and you really can’t beat their prices. There is a low yearly membership fee but they give members all kinds of perks, including free gifts and free shipping perks, that I find the membership really saves me money.
Join Thrive Market here. If you order right now, they are giving away a free jar of their awesome almond butter (this stuff is my favorite!).
Include Meat-Free Meals Weekly
One of the biggest expenses you likely have in your weekly grocery budget is meat. Meat gets expensive fast, especially if you are feeding 8 people like I am. You can seriously cut the cost of your weekly grocery bill by including a few meat-free meals in your menu plan. My family is not generally a fan of vegetarian meals but I get creative and can often sneak a few into the week without them complaining.
Here are a few of our favorite vegetarian means:
Stretch your meat in recipes
I can’t get away with making meat-free meals every night but I can get creative and stretch the meat we use so I don’t need as much. With a family of 8 (including teenagers), this makes a huge difference.
One of my favorite ways to stretch meat out is by adding beans. This works great for any Mexican dish. For example, when we make tacos, I typically use equal parts meat and beans for the filling. If your family isn’t crazy about beans, you could also stretch meat out with quinoa or rice.
Soup and casseroles are another great way to get more out of smaller portions of meat. I love this hamburger orzo soup and I can feed my entire family with 1/2 pound of meat if I want. I typically stretch this out to a pound but compared to meals like hamburger where we can go through 5 pounds of meat in a sitting, this is a great option for us.
Buy cheaper cuts of meat
The type of meat you buy definitely makes a different in your weekly grocery budget. We already mentioned shopping on sale but don’t forget about buying cheaper cuts of meat. Drumsticks and chicken thighs are way more flavorful than chicken breast and I can often find them for $0.79 a pound.
If you are buying beef, look for cheaper cuts then slow cook it in your slow cooker to make it more tender or cook it in an Instant Pot (this is the Instant Pot I have) to get the same results in less time.
Cook in bulk
I know bulk cooking may seen counterintuitive if you are trying to save money, but hear me out. When you buy in larger quantities you can get a better price. I like to buy in bulk, make freezer meals, then stock my freezer. This saves me money not only on the cost of the food, but I also have a meal ready to go for busy nights so I can avoid ordering a pizza when I run out of time to cook.
We have two awesome freezer menus (complete with grocery list) ready to go for you. I can make ten meals in less than an hour when I use these menus so it is such a huge time-saver for me.
Take advantage of the bulk aisle
If your store has a bulk food aisle, it can be a huge money saver for you, not because you can buy in bulk but because you can just buy what you need. I do buy some things in bulk but only things I know my family will go through. For other things, it makes sense to buy just what you need. If you need 1/2 cup of almonds it doesn’t make sense to buy the Costco bag even though they have the lowest price per ounce. Go in to your store’s bulk aisle and scoop out just the 1/2 cup of nuts that you need. Your grocery bill will be lower and you won’t have any food waste.
Eat your Leftovers
Food waste is the biggest way to kill your food budget. If you want to save money, the first thing you need to do is make an effort to reduce food waste (we have some tips to reduce food waste here). For me, this means when I am extra busy I buy frozen veggies instead of fresh so I don’t risk them going bad. If you know you aren’t going to eat your leftovers, freeze them. You’ll save them from being wasted and you’ll have a meal ready to go the next time you need it.
If you aren’t a leftover person, try repurposing your leftovers. If you made a whole chicken one night have chicken enchiladas the next night. If you made pot roast one night, make beef stroganoff (try this crockpot beef stroganoff recipe here) the next night. Get creative. You can totally change the flavors of your leftovers just by shifting things up a bit. When you do that, they don’t feel like leftovers anymore.
If food waste is a big problem, I highly recommend Blue Apron. They only send you exactly what you need to create each recipe so it is much more affordable than buying food that you know is going to go to waste and their recipes are fantastic. We tried it out (see what we thought of Blue Apron) and my family is hooked.