7 Ways To Save On Groceries Without Using Coupons

Are you a coupon clipper? No? Lots of people like saving money, but don’t really buy the sort of products that have coupons, or don’t have time to waste searching and clipping. These tips are for you.

1) Don’t waste money on pre-chopped food.
Pre-chopped or single serving food is expensive! Want to save money? Buy a good knife and some plastic bags.

2) Pay attention to unit pricing.
Just because something is bigger or has a sticker on it that says “special value,” doesn’t mean it costs less per unit. If you hate doing math, use a calculator!

3) Try store brands. It might be the exact same food you’re used to eating.
The no name food you see in stores is often made by the exact same factories that produce the brand name stuff. For example, Walmart “Great Value” peanut butter is really just Peter Pan with a different label. Try the store brands. You might like them.

4) Compare prices in different areas of the store.
Deli meats, cheese and olives may be a better deal than similar products in other areas of the store — or they might not. It pays to walk around and compare, says Consumer Reports.

5) Try other stores.
The grocery store isn’t always the cheapest place to buy food. Sometimes drug stores have good deals on things like milk, and liquor is cheaper at warehouse stores. Discount stores like Aldi can have great deals. Farmer’s markets are fun and often inexpensive. Be careful not to blow your budget by driving all over the place to save $0.50 on organic turnips, however.

6) Make a list that fits within your budget.
Wandering around the grocery store when your hungry is a terrible idea, particularly if you don’t have a set budget or a list of items you need. Take a few moments to plan your trip. You’ll be done faster and you’ll have saved money.

7) Eliminate waste.
People waste a lot of food. The New York Times says we Americans toss about a quarter of what is available to eat. That’s not cool. The Guardian has a list of tips that will help you cut down on the food you waste.

Hate coupons, but love money? Share your coupon-free tips in the comments.

(Photo: flyingember )

Comments

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  1. Triborough says:

    I have found that Trader Joe’s has some really good prices on stuff (for instance Morningstar Farms veggie sausage is a few dollars cheaper than at the supermarkets for the same thing) especially their house brand.

    • howie_in_az says:

      @Triborough: But Trader Joe’s rarely has sales on them whereas my local Fry’s supermarket has 3/$8 deals on the same Morningstar Farms stuff.

      Those patties are amazingly delicious in some Japanese curry sauce with carrots and assorted veggies, btw.

  2. Mr. Guy says:

    i have found, at least in New York City and Albany, that farmer’s markets are generally the most expensive places to buy any of the items they sell.

    • Kristina Jorgensen says:

      @Mr. Guy: VERY, VERY TRUE. If you ask people you know or people you know who have a booth at a farmers market you’ll find that some buy the products they are selling at the grocery store and re sell it. Of course it will be more they have to make there money back plus some.

  3. Mr. Guy says:

    I have also found that “I have found” is a popular way to start comments on this thread.

  4. shorty63136 says:

    I, personally, LOVE coupons and will spend all the time necessary to clip them – while watching re-runs of Scrubs.

    I, however, cannot seem to find any good coupons here in Atlanta. Are they in the Sunday paper? All my Sunday papers end up rather light in the coupon department.

  5. shorty63136 says:

    The word for the day is “I”, boys and girls. Let’s all use it to start our comments…

  6. Maniacmous says:

    In reference to #3 – I would certainly hope the brand name food I see in stores is made by the factories where brand name food is made.

    • cozynite says:

      @Maniacmous: You can also usually find this info out on the web. My friend found out that Kirkland vodka (Costco house brand) is actually Grey Goose.

    • Anonymous says:

      @Maniacmous: If you read recall information, you’ll see that brand names and generic items generaly share the same line, such as the case of salmonella contamination with (guess who)…Peter Pan & Great Value!

  7. javi0084 says:

    “2) Pay attention to unit pricing.”

    Supermarket I shop at already has price per unit somewhere in the price tag.

  8. GearheadGeek says:

    Specifically regarding Wal-Mart’s store-brand stuff… one of the reasons I don’t like shopping at Wal-Mart is that much of their store-brand food doesn’t tell you WHERE it was produced and/or packaged. It typically says it was made “…for Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Bentonville, AR” which tells me exactly nothing. I know it was made for bloody Wal-Mart, I want to know WHERE it was made.

    I don’t really need more excuses NOT to shop at Wal-Mart, but that’s a good one.

  9. Etoiles says:

    @Mr. Guy: Really? In Boston and in New York I found outdoor farmer’s markets to have very good deals on in-season produce. (Though some of the more specialty products certainly cost twice what they were worth.)

    I can’t say the same for what I’ve found so far in DC/NoVa, though. $6 for a half-sized bunch of asparagus? That’s worse than NYC supermarket prices!

  10. Erwos says:

    Cutting down on waste is always a good start. We always try to buy stuff that we can freeze for later eating.

  11. snazz says:

    Shop more often and buy smaller quantities. This helps with guaging how much food you eat on a daily basis, so that you dont overbuy. It also helps with fresh foods, since that bag of string beans you bought last week wont go bad sitting in the fridge.

    Walk to the grocery store. It helps with your general heath. You also will have to carry everything home, so it helps with keeping you from overbuying.

    • valthun says:

      @snazz: that walking to the store thing doesn’t always work. The closest grocery store to me is about 2 miles away and all hills. I am not going to walk for that food.

      But the more often and less does work. Like heading to the store on the way home from work to pick up just enough for dinner and maybe breakfast.

  12. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    I save by just buying raw ingredients and cooking them.

  13. In college, one of my professors (in a business class) told us that most times, the store brands are manufactured by some of the brand-name companies. Also, the “no name” products tend to be the remainders of the aforementioned items – so you’ll get pieces that weren’t of a high enough quality for the branded foods.

    • Canino says:

      @scarletvirtue: Some of that is true. I used to work at a plant on the lines that produced contact lens chemicals and saline solution. The lines sometimes produced the name brand, sometimes off brands, sometimes store brands. It was all off the same production line. Target brand saline solution? Same exact stuff as Alcon saline solution.

      However, Food Club crackers are definitely NOT the same as the Nabisco crackers they’re supposed to be copying.

  14. MissPeacock says:

    @snazz: I agree with buying smaller quantities. I’m single and live alone. Often, it’s cheaper to buy in bulk, but then the food is never eaten and must be thrown away.

    As an aside, many people simply cannot walk to the grocery store. The closest one to me is across six lanes of unforgiving highway.

  15. Our Receptionist has found that one awesome way to cut down on food costs is to take her lunch with her to work.

    Imagine how much the average person spends daily on lunch either by ordering for a delevery or by visiting a restaurant.

    For affluent professionals, that is no problem. Many take business lunches with clients.

    But if you are living on a budget – think of the difference shopping in the local supermarket and bringing you lunch with you for the day (of – if your company provides a fridge & microwave – for the week)

    The time it takes you to run to the store during the busy lunch hour – you could make a tasty tuna or cold cuts sandwich. Or even open and heat a large can of quality soup and dinner leftovers. Perhaps even bring a pie or cake that will remain fresh for the week. You can use the bottom desk drawer as a storage area for your treats

    In this era of skyrocketing gas prices and rent prices – there is no shame in using your resources to the fullest

  16. TropicalParadise says:

    I would love to know where people FIND coupons. I would love some but am unaware as to where people find such awesome ones!

  17. Hate_Brian_Club_I'mNotOnlyThePresidentI'mAClient says:

    Things I can freeze and canned goods I usually buy in huge quantities while they’re on sale. My local supermarket typically has pork on sale one week, chicken the next, beef and so on.

    If I ever decide I don’t want to go grocery shopping for a month or two I can survive off of soup and pork chops, I just may end up with scurvy from the lack of fresh vegetables.

  18. CountryJustice says:

    Are we really at a point, economically, where it’s okay to encourage people to buy anything at Wal-Mart? I like saving a few bucks too, but I like the feeling that comes with knowing I didn’t have to go to Wal-Mart a whole lot more.

    @Snazz: I have a Publix about a mile from my house and I’ve started walking there every other day or so. Your words are gold-dipped truth. Gone are the days of forgetting about the fresh fruits and veggies in the crisper, as I now just leave them all on the counter and use them up within a day or two.

    Also, for the pedestrian grocery shopper, those “green bags” that all the stores are selling now are AWESOME for lugging your junk home. Way more comfortable to carry than plastic sacks, and they hold a good deal more.

    • samurailynn says:

      @CountryJustice: A lot of stores also give you a few cents off your total for each tote bag used. It’s only a few cents, but since we’re talking about saving, I thought I’d mention it.

  19. mbz32190 says:

    @GearheadGeek:
    All store brand stuff is like this…it will say Manufactured for (Insert Store Here), (Insert Headquarters city here). Very rarely do you see any other information to give away who really made the product.

    • Anonymous says:

      @mbz32190: It is a little know fact that, and peanut butter seems to be the example of choice, multiple brand name peanut butters and the store brands are all manufactured at the same facility as the store brand. It make good business sense for these business to outsource their products. I worked in the food label industry for years and saw these third party companies order labels for the name brands and the store brands all on the same order. The difference is that the name brands will demand that their recipes be used and also have higher standards for the finished product than the store brands. Sometimes it makes a difference, sometimes it doesn’t. It is almost always worth trying the store brands, though it doesn’t always work out.

  20. Kaz says:

    @Triborough: yeah, we stock up on the MSF bacon there, as it is about 1/2 what we pay for it at the supermarket…

  21. goodywitch says:

    Shop at ethnic food stores: better groceries, less cost

    Shop at farmer’s markets: when they’re closing. They don’t want to pack up the stuff, and they mark it down a lot (YMMV)

    Make your own junkfood: more fun, healthier, cheaper

    Menu Plan: so that you can use ingredients from the night before for the next day’s recipes, and reduce waste/eating out

    Learn to Cook: not follow recipes. Being creative lets use make use of odd stuff you have at home, and you don’t drive to the store for just one “essential” ingredient.

  22. Get the Sunday paper. Troll the recycling center and get other people’s Sunday paper inserts. THat’s how you make the real money, having multiple coupons. And get the internet coupons, double coupons (only in some parts of the country, no clue why some states have ‘em and some don’t–is it illegal in some states?).

    Anyway, I have found that I don’t like coupons. They’re a hassle and almost never for stuff I buy. I agree with snazz above–shop small, shop often, and walk to the store. Works for me.

  23. Robobot says:

    When I make a list I order everything from what I need most to what I need least. Then I set a spending limit before entering the store. Once I’m in I put things in my cart in order of the list, even if it means walking the length of the store five times. As I place items in my cart, I subtract their cost from my total budget. The stuff at the bottom of the list doesn’t always fit my budget, but at least I leave with what I need. I’m aware of sales if I need the item, but I don’t get too obsessed over them. It’s all about nutritious, cheap, and versatile basics.

    Also: As much as we hate on Target around here I go there all the time since they have great deals. Be aware of their sneaky pricing and use it to your advantage.

  24. sir_pantsalot says:

    @Advertising Guru: I bring my lunch and keep ramen noodles in my bottom drawer for when I forget to bring my lunch. It’s not fancy but realizing that lunch only cost me 15 cents is priceless. If your boss sees you making ramen noodles just tell him you need a raise.

  25. EBounding says:

    One thing I’ve noticed is how a lot of places will price things at “2 for $5″. That doesn’t mean you have to buy two of them though. They’re PRICED at 2 for $5, which means you can just get 1 for $2.50.

  26. Keep a price book. When you get back from food shopping, take the receipt and write down the date and price of each item. In a month or so you’ll be able to predict (pretty accurately) when supermarkets put the same things on sale. For example, I’ve found that every six to eight weeks, there’s usually a sale on things like WISK or TIDE.
    By being able to “predict” when things are on sale, I know when to stock up.

  27. dondiego87 says:

    This technically isn’t using coupons, but it does require the same kind of work… Check out the weekly circular for your favorite store and plan your purchases around what’s on sale that week. Even if you don’t need the item at the moment, if you buy now when it’s on sale you can be ready when you do need it. (This works best with non-perishables, obviously.)

  28. stacye says:

    A combination of 2 and 3: Pay attention to unit pricing between store brands, and regular brands.

    I noticed that my store brand toilet paper looked almost the same as the regular brand and priced less per package, but it actually cost more per square foot.

  29. Triborough says:

    Most supermarkets have some shelf space dedicated to clearance items. It is always a good idea to check them out.

  30. @goodywitch: The farmers market idea definitely works. Also, if you’re at a bigger market, shop around before buying. I’ve found that some farmers sell the same produce at different prices.

    @EBounding: That’s true, but I’ve also seen some places that indicate – in fine print – that it’s 2 for $5 or one for the regular price.

  31. ZeshawnWhiles says:

    Another thing to try is Shortcuts.com. It is somewhat limited now, but
    allows you to add coupons right to your savings card at various stores. The
    selection of coupons isn’t great, but it is much easier than clipping
    coupons.

  32. savvy999 says:

    I would also add — don’t buy cleaning and paper products at a grocery store. Go to the Dollar Store, or Ollie’s, or whatever is your local brand of thrift store and load up there.

    Either that, or buy in bulk at a Costco or Sam’s Club.

    Markup on normal size, name-brand paper plates, napkins, TP, dishwasher detergent, etc is huge at a grocery.

  33. EdnaLegume says:

    @TropicalParadise: use google and you’ll find coupon swaps online. For the cost of postage you and someone on the other side of the country can swap coupons. eBay is another place to find them.

  34. floraposte says:

    My little chest freezer has more than earned back its cost, since I’m particular and I like to cook but I don’t reliably have time, so I’ve got nice soups and stews and twice-baked potatoes and such in addition to meat bought when the butcher had a sale. It also means that I was able to stock up before the summer heat and thus limit stove use in the A/C days, reducing cooling costs. I’ve also been influenced by some of the American bento lunch blogs, so my packed lunches have both improved and been better at using up small quantities that would otherwise have gone to waste.

    I also sometimes have no-shopping weeks, where I have to put meals together from what I’ve already got, and I also pull the overlooked stuff from the back of the cabinet periodically and require its use in something so as to avoid forgotten-can, decade-old sauce bottle syndrome.

    And I finally admitted that I don’t like lettuce and won’t eat it if I buy it, so I quit buying it.

  35. GearheadGeek says:

    @mbz32190: You misunderstand. I don’t mean where as in specifically what company’s factory, I mean what COUNTRY. For example, the Safeway store-brand dijon mustard and bread-and-butter pickles from Tom Thumb that are in my refrigerator at the moment say they’re manufactured for Safeway, but prominently beneath that say “PRODUCT OF USA.”

  36. Jeangenie says:

    Packing lunch is the way to go and don’t just go boring–fresh fruit, salads, and leftovers can share the space with sandwiches. Also, keep some crackers and peanut butter at work incase you forgot your lunch.

    And wean yourself off of soda onto iced tea. Almost free when you make it yourself.

  37. spryte says:

    I have definitely started paying attention to unit pricing, and you don’t generally need a calculator or anything – most stores will have the unit cost ($0.20 per oz, for example) on the price tag on the shelf. If they don’t, you can also just do a rough division of cost per serving, rather than per ounce or whatever.

    [Oh, and ummm...'scuse my analness, but in the first sentence in item 6, that should be "when you're hungry...". Sorry, English major, can't help it :)]

  38. TheLemon says:

    If you’re going to start stockpiling and you need multiples of certain coupons to combine with sales, you might try one of the coupon clipping “services”. You pay for the service, not for the coupons. I only remember one site (one of the largest), but there are many out there.
    [www.thecouponclippers.com]

  39. VikingP77 says:

    This works for me. Take lunch to work….it saves SO much $. Stop using paper towels and buy some cloth ones and use sponges. Don’t buy junk food when you can help it. It runs out so quick for me and my sister and we feel better when we don’t have it around to eat. We do go to a farmers market but its a local one. The ones downtown on the weekends tend to be the pricey ones because they aren’t permanent and are trying to make a buck. We despise the service at Winco here but they have a bulk section. Also they don’t take internet coupons but Wal-Mart does so we go there if there happens to be a coupon. The thing about coupons though is that they tend to be for the newest things that we don’t use.

  40. stupidjerk says:

    @Maniacmous: brand name food will always be brand name food no matter where its made, its the branding that makes it brand name food.

    take a close look, most obvious on the cereal rack, food manufacturers sell the rights to repackage their product on a lot of items like bread, cookies, crackers…it may not be all in the same store, but a piggly wiggly selling piggly wiggly bread in georgia might be the exact same recipe as the kroger bread in ohio as the ‘name brand’ bread in arkansas

  41. ct_price says:

    My father is a VP for a manufacturer in the grocery business. Store brands are almost always made by market leading manufacturers – not many other makers can make it in such large quantities for large store chains. His company makes Kroger and Wal-mart brand products and literally on the assembly line the only thing that changes is the bag they put it in…it is all the same.

    The formulation of many store brands food products *is* different – simply to differentiate it from the leading brand. So the green beans might be cooked a bit longer or more or less salt might be added to the recipe, etc. If you cracked open a bottle of Big K cola at Kroger and it was actual Coke, Coca-Cola would stand to lose quit a bit of business once word got out about that.

    Store brands are usually equal to or even higher quality than name brand food products. Think about it…if you get screwed on a poor quality box of store brand hot cocoa you may stop buying all store brands from that store – losing a substantial amount of your grocery dollar. Over a lifetime this would be worth tens of thousands of dollars of lost revenue for them. So they make the stuff to be as high quality as can possibly be gotten for the price so as to not f*** you.

  42. Miguel Valdespino says:

    @javi0084: Some stores around here do that. However, they often don’t use the same unit on competing brands. For example on multi-packs of toilet paper on brand will have unit pricing by the roll, another by the sheet and a third by the foot.

    @EBounding: That’s usually true, but some stores do “2 for $5″ and then have small rpint “Single unit price $3.99″

  43. Jevia says:

    I wish I could convince my husband to let me pack him a lunch. He claims he never knows if he’ll be in the office that day to eat it or not and doesn’t want to be bothered with a mini ice chest. He easily spends $40-$50 a week on lunches, but I can’t get him to try anything different.

    My main problem is that I like to eat lettuce on my sandwiches, but I can never get through more than maybe half a head if I’m lucky before it goes bad. I try to buy the smallest head of lettuce I can find. Any suggestions on ways to keep lettuce fresh longer?

  44. Gopher bond says:

    I save a lot with those bonus cards but I signed up with a fake name and always pay cash so they can’t spy one me. But if you ever get an email from Rusty Troembone, open it quick!

  45. RandomHookup says:

    @Advertising Guru: One of the ways to really cut down on lunches is to troll the area in the company where leftover client/meeting lunches are left. At my firm, I can usually catch a bagel or muffin at about 11 or so maybe 3 days a week and sandwiches at 2 to 4 pm. Somedays, it’s BBQ or pizza and somedays, chocolate dipped strawberries or cheesecake or birthday cake. I’ll even grab a sandwich and throw it in the fridge for dinner or lunch the next day.

    Of course, I keep a can of soup and some fruit cups in my desk as back-up for days when food is scare. And, yes, this doesn’t work everywhere…but if it does, yum.

  46. floraposte says:

    @Jevia: Trim it and put it in moist paper towels, then in a plastic bag (cheap shopping bag, not an airtight ziplock). Or follow my lead and give up entirely.

    I like the blog at lunchinabox.net, which I think I first heard about here, for packed lunch tips, and she’s got lots of ways to keep stuff cool without an onsite fridge and lots of lunches that are okay even without additional chilling.

  47. dollywould says:

    @Jevia: Have you seen those thingies in the produce section of Whole Foods that supposedly keep produce fresher longer? I wonder if those work or not.

    I second Target. They have the same products as grocery stores for cheaper.

    Trader Joe’s – amazing. I will never live anywhere there isn’t a Trader Joe’s.

    You can print coupons at smartsource.com, though they are often the same coupon. Sign up at eatingwell.com to receive organic/natural foods coupons.

    I stock up on ground turkey at Costco – $11-13 for a 4-pack, and I freeze them in gallon freezer bags. Trader Joe’s natural chicken breasts freeze well, too.

    Always shop after you have a meal, so you’re so full you can’t even imagine buying things you might buy while hungry.

    Every Sunday I prepare the week’s lunches. Eating out daily is expensive and just not what I want to do. When I hit up the stores, I’ll have a couple options of what my lunch will be. If the makings aren’t on sale, I don’t do that for lunch that week. Usually it’s on sale the next week.

  48. RandomHookup says:

    @TropicalParadise: Great places to find coupons: the left-behind newspaper pile at Starbucks on Sundays, hanging off the coupon printers in the self-checkout lanes, left behind in the basket by other shoppers, hanging from the shelf by the product (one store has $1 coupons off all their storebrand paper products…right next to their products selling for $1 each…score), given out by sampling folks, printed from internet sites (legitimate ones of course), by joining mailing lists for specific products you use, by trading with other people who have coupons they don’t need.

    The main thing that made me a coupon pro was finding web sites that tell you what coupon insert the needed coupon is in. Once I found those, I could hang on to the inserts and then grab the coupons I needed without clipping all of them at once.

  49. cozynite says:

    I usually tend to buy pasta, frozen fish, veggies and such in bulk at the local Costco. I have plenty of staples at home so that when I do need to go to the grocery store, I don’t spend as much. Also, I almost always buy things that are on sale. I figured out that if I’m not so “brand loyal” I have more flex with what to buy that’s on sale.

  50. dollywould says:

    @dollywould: Oh, and I could kiss whoever decided to start coming out with half loaves of bread.

  51. gaya2081 says:

    @Jevia: Chop up half that lettuce for a salad with your dinner. Make sure you use a plastic knife and bowl-it will keep the lettuce from going brown around the edges.

  52. belle TL says:

    The new hand-held guns at Stop & Shop will try to entice you with individualized coupons/cents off based on your purchase history (you gain access to a gun via your loyalty card). I got the fancy, cage-free Land O Lakes eggs for $0.29 after a dollar off coupon on the shelf and a dollar savings deal from the gun. I was floored by how effectively S&S is using all of that data to actually benefit their loyal customers–it’s much easier to save more during a trip, plus you’re able to bag your items as you shop.

  53. I get into a system. One week, I buy completely meats for my house. Next week, boxed specials. Then canned for my pantry. Unless there is some spectacular sale or coupon that calls to me in my sleep, I try to stick to this. Its almost a rotating schedule… if you are spending $150 a week on food, try it this way. You’ll find that spending $100 a week on meat, then $100 on boxed, cans, etc… you’ll be buying more than enough! You’ll have much more left over that way, which keeps your shelves stocked in case you have a short month on cash. My house has more than sufficient food at all times. And it pays to wait for huge meat sales.

  54. As an alternative to #1, buy the amount of veggies you need off the salad bar, if you won’t use a whole one. A local chef taught me this. :) It’s cheaper to buy a few cauliflower florets off the salad bar than to get “cut cauliflower” from the deli or veggie section, which is weird, because it’s still cut!

  55. Imaginary_Friend says:

    I friggin hate coupons and would rather switch brands or go without than use them. Like rebates, I find them a waste of time and an insult to my intelligence. Just lower the damn price already!

  56. Beergoddess says:

    My brother is the QA manager at a very large national pasta manufacturer. He says that the store brand pasta widely available in my area is actually a superior product to the competing national brand (they produce both – he is speaking in terms of ingredients, protein content, etc.). This is probably not the case with all store brands (I have had good and bad) but it pays to check them out.

  57. bishophicks says:

    My standard advice to people about this topic is to simply pay attention. Sales usually go in cycles and if you can get a general idea of the pattern and buy in bulk, you never have to pay full price. Things like chips, soda, hotdogs, buns, rolls, etc. go on sale around cookout holidays like Memorial Day, 4th of July, etc. Peanut butter goes on sale several times a year, most reliably during August before school starts (sale price plus doubled coupon is always an excellent bargain – I haven’t paid more than 20 cents for a jar of peanut butter in 2 years). There is always something on sale in the meat department. Some sales are better than others. If you’re paying attention you know what is a good price and what is a great price and can buy accordingly. Last year at some point you could get chicken leg quarters for something like 49 cents a pound. We made fried chicken, chicken stock, chicken soup, chicken pot pie, chicken teriyaki. Bonanza.

    Another thing that I don’t see mentioned here is that when a company puts out coupons for a common product, that product WILL go on sale some time before the coupon expires. So if you go out on Ebay and buy 15 50 cents off Skippy peanut butter coupons that expire on 9/30, you can be fairly sure there will be a sale on Skippy over the next two months. Also, grocery chains usually don’t have sales on the same items at the same times. Skippy will be on sale a Stop and Shop one week, then on sale at Price Chopper the next. I’ve watched products on sale “hop” from one store to the next (Stop and Shop, Price Chopper, Shaws, Hannaford) for weeks.

  58. DeadWriter says:

    My #8, do mental math.
    Add up what your buying as you go around. I account for tax as I do it.
    If your end bill is off by more than a few dollars, then something is up.
    I have found items that were accidentally rung up multiple times as well as “miss marked” items.

  59. muckpond says:

    “when your hungry”

    YOUR != YOU’RE

    oh, and a big ol’ friday afternoon grrrrr.

  60. RedmondDesomma says:

    When I was a poor student in I would go to a grocery outlet store in
    chinatown that sold to all the local restaurants. Anything not sold in bulk
    was sold the next day to the public at about 25% the usual price (the meat
    was closer to 50%, so I mostly switched to tofu until graduation). Overall
    I was eating super healthy (cooking *everything* from scratch) on about
    $100/month.

  61. howtragic says:

    I save LOADS of money by eating lots of beans, whole grains, and seeds as the base of my diet. IMO, the last thing this country needs is cheap processed “food”. I think it’s a good thing that the cost of this junk is going up.

    And speaking from experience, eating healthy food is much, much cheaper than eating junk. I have no idea how this myth got started, but it’s about time it stopped.

    Shopping at the small ethnic stores really does save tons of money. This is a great tip and probably the most effective.

  62. SigmundTheSeaMonster says:

    Bag you own salad!

    I buy the red, the green and baby spinach in bunches. I have a salad spinner at home and wash these together. Then I separate handfuls into ziplock bags (you can wash and reuse). Sometimes you can find specials on other field greens to add:
    [www.foodsubs.com]

    When you compare how much the bagged pre-mix salads are, and the age of them, your own mix is cheaper, fresher and lasts longer (spoilage).

    Also, for “bachelor bread” and “bachelor milk”, I buy the potato-wheat bread (can last weeks without mold) and lactaid milk (gallon). The milk usually has a sellby date atleast 6 weeks away.

  63. majin_chichi says:

    @Jevia: The Debbie Meyer Green Bags of infomercial fame really do work. I’ve found them on eBay for cheaper than what her website sells them for, too. My lettuce stays crisp and fresh for two weeks in one of those.

  64. TanyaJagar says:

    Go with a list and shop the perimeter of the grocery store first. Only
    go down the aisles if you still need to and be selective about the
    aisles you choose based on what you actually need. Not only does this
    cut down the amount of impulse purchases of expensive packaged foods, it
    also cuts down on calories! Generally you can get those staple items
    that are more nutritious – produce, dairy, deli, meat and grains -
    without going down the aisles.

    Also, Trader Joe’s has a great frozen section, especially when it comes
    to fruits and vegetables. They are cheap AND individually flash frozen
    so they’re not all packaged in a solid clump of ice and freezer burned
    when you use them. Stock up on them when seasonal produce is minimal.

  65. HogwartsAlum says:

    @MissPeacock:

    I have the same problem, MissPeacock. If I buy a large package or bag, it doesn’t get eaten and spoils. Also, I get tired of eating the same thing every day in order to use it up quickly.

    It is actually more economical for me to buy a smaller size of something and eat all of it. I only buy nonperishables in large sizes like TP or trash bags or something.

    As for coupon hints, I don’t use them much. Most of the time, I forget I have them, or they’re not for anything that I use, except toothpaste or something like that. I try not to go in the “convenience” food aisles at the store too much, because it’s more expensive. And I shop at Aldi’s for most staples.

  66. bnelson333 says:

    I’ve found that a little effort goes a long way. Specifically, I plan out meals about a month in advance.

    I actually don’t plan very far in advance before I go to the grocery store because I want to see what they have on sale. That said, I usually go with a few ideas in mind, and replenish any ingredients needed to accomplish the task.

    When I get home, I plot out entrees, sides, and vegetables on a spreadsheet and sort by urgency (e.g. if something requires a fast expiring ingredient). Finally, I sort by variety (don’t want chicken 3 nights in a row) and make a plan. It also helps to include leftover nights every 2 days or so.

    I’m sure it sounds pretty geeky, but almost nothing goes to waste, and we can feed a family of 3.5 (pregnant) breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for about $300 a month. And it really only takes me about 2 extra hours a month to figure it out.

  67. Jandek says:

    That drugstore anecdote isn’t true for me. At my local daves supermarket a box of rice krispies is $2.50. At my local walgreens a box with around 4 ounces less of cereal costs $4.50.

    However, alternate stores are great! My local price rite halfs my shopping bill.

  68. ElizabethD says:

    @Jandek:
    Jandek: Dave’s Supermarket as in Rhode Island??

  69. halo969 says:

    I’m in the West suburbs of Chicago and the farmer’s markets have terrible prices. I was led to believe this is the cheapest way to get produce but now I don’t believe it.

  70. Dansc29625 says:

    You have to watch out for farmers markets. Some are actual farm markets and some are jokes. Look for poor people and you will find your best deals. If you see a Denali parked beside a new VW, might skip it.

  71. JoannaC says:

    I disagree that you should buy plastic bags, they are wasteful to the environment. Buy reuseable containers!

    My number one money-saving tip? Do not buy any product with high-fructose corn syrup in it. I w as diagnosed with a corn allergy and had to start reading labels for this stuff. No more granola bars, fruit chews, frozen dinners, packaged snack foods, many candy types…it is unbelievable ow a box of granola bars here or there adds up. I save so much money on groceries now, it is insane.

    My other trick is to have certain things on-and all the time and to freeze individual ingredients as opposed to pre-made dinners. In the time it takes to heat up some quick-cooking brown rice, rice noodles, pasta or couscous, I can thaw half a can of of beans from the freezer and a cup of frozen vegetables. Toss them with the pasta or rice and some sauce, or onto a baked potato, or into a wrap, or into some soup broth, and voila, almost instant dinner.

  72. OletheaPapagano says:

    Senior day at Kroger. First Wednesday of the month, and my grandmothers phone number.

  73. SisterHavana says:

    @Triborough: I love Trader Joe’s! I know that Jarlsberg is about half the price there as it is at any other grocery store in the area. Their house brands are also really really good.

  74. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @bnelson333: This is great advice. I use a program called YummySoup to do this on my Mac, but Recipe Box, which is also very good, is cross platform.

    [hungryseacow.com]
    [sonoragraphics.com]

  75. myfigurefemale says:

    bringing my lunch has saved me literally HUNDREDS of dollars a month. also, my biggest money saver is acknowledging my bad habits and working with them..i know that in the summer i’m lazy and hot and don’t want to cook, so i only buy stuff that i can eat raw or is easily prepared. also, i know i am really bad at waking up in the morning to make lunch, so i keep a stash of microwaveable stuff (like ramen, frozen burritos, etc) and some fruit on hand so i have something to grab when i’m in a rush. it’s gotten to the point now where i’d actually rather go hungry than buy lunch (not that it comes to that) so i think i finally turned this bad habit around.

    also, i only buy stuff on sale, which is usually the store brand. NYC supermarkets are expensive, i don’t know how you people can buy peanut butter for.20 cents or meat for .49 cents. that would be a miracle here.

  76. Japheaux says:

    I have found (lol) that a box of Dexatrim will save me $200 a month on lunches. Oh wait, nevermind, that was one of those Olsen twins’ ideas.

    An old acquaintance of mine told me he used to hop around Sam’s Club eating all of the snacks/foods to sample on Saturday afternoons. He said he wouldn’t have to pay for lunch that way. Holy cow! I never thought people would actually do this. Does Sam’s Club provide an aisle menu for those looking to eat free?

    • Chuck Barris says ROLL TIDE! says:

      @Japheaux: When I was single and poor (who am I kidding?–I’m still poor, just not single), my Saturday lunch was always made up of samples from my local market. These days, my family does our Costco shopping on the weekends, and we load up on samples while we’re there. The kids love it because they get to try things I won’t normally buy, and we’re all usually stuffed by the time we leave the store. I haven’t had to buy or prepare a Saturday lunch in ages.

  77. mythago says:

    @Dansc29625: some “uppy” farmer’s markets have good deals mixed in with the expensive stuff. My local market has cheap organic veggie stands next to booths selling hand-painted silk scarves at $100 and up.

  78. coolkiwilivin says:

    @Advertising Guru: “In this era of skyrocketing gas prices and rent prices – there is no shame in using your resources to the fullest”. That’s the whole reason why we are in a mess. Rising costs is NOT the reason why you should be using your resources to the fullest. People have a waste mentality. Frugality, saving, saying no to yourself, being responsible are not a typical part of most people’s vocabulary. This is where people expect the government to fix their problems instead of taking responsibilty for themselves. BTW, if you think gas prices are bad now, wait til the dems get in office. the only thing Obama is not happy about is that we got to these price levels too fast. figuring out how save money on groceries won’t be a problem b/c you’ll be paying soo much more in taxes, yes you to Mr. “I only make 30,000 a year” person, that you won’t be able to buy groceries. Now that’ll be some change!

  79. coolkiwilivin says:

    @Jevia: I’ve read to keep lettuce fresh longer is separate out the leaves, wash and dry them and then keep a piece of paper towel between each leaf. The lettuce goes bad b/c of the moisture so keeping as much moisture off each leaf helps. also keep the whole mess in an airtight container. As for your husband, he needs to grow up. I pack my lunch pretty much everyday. Admittedly I don’t know if he’s a construction worker or maybe a salesman who lives in his car but he definitely needs to get over it. Maybe work out a deal. Since he’s spending $200 a month on eating out. Let’s say, You pack lunch for a week. Whatever you saved you split. He gets half and the other half goes to pay off either debt (CC first, then mortgage) or if you have no debt go to savings, either serious or frivolous.

  80. cerbie says:

    2. …except when one brand or size is measured by weight, and another by volume…makes it harder. I’m seeing this more and more.

    5. yes, yes, yes! Especially check out stores other than big chains. Many things (beans and spices come to mind) are cheaper and of greater quality at most ethnic stores. But, you have to hunt for them, sometimes. I didn’t find out there were two Latin food stores right under my nose until I was talking the guy that owns a Mexican restaurant here.

    6/7. Also, plan your leftovers. It’s not easy (at least for those of us with common American lack of dietary tradition), but it is a way that really does make your food cheaper. You end up with less of, “the fridge is full and there’s nothing to eat!”

    I’d love a cookbook of stuff that could be brought in that would keep well, not use a microwave, not take a great deal of time, and be like real food (IE, from scratch, and no microwave use).

  81. Indecent says:

    I can rarely use coupons, as I’m vegetarian and try to stay away from processed foods – you’ll rarely (if ever) come across coupons for fresh fruit and deli-made bread, so I learned a long time ago the only lesson you really need when shopping – scrutinize and analyze everything.

    If you’re really looking to save, the price per unit, ounce, or pound is really what matters.

    And if you’re a fresh fruit/veg fiend, watch your cashier closely, as they get those 4 number codes mixed up often. Just today, they typed the code for “green peas” instead of “green beans” – the difference? 4 dollars per pound.

  82. JanetCarol says:

    Farmers markets are expensive. Wegmans is the greatest!
    We occasionally go to whole foods/giant/safeway/shoppers for sales – but Wegmans has the best prices on the usual items! Plus their store brand items are always awesome!

  83. Anonymous says:

    There are several coupon sites on the internet that have really good coupons. My family waits until the item is on sale then pull out our coupons and buy it. Sometimes the store will sell beef in really large chucks (10 pounds). When they do we buy one and have the butcher cut it up for me. If your butcher charges there are seveal websites the tell you how to cut up a side of beef. (Youtube is one of them) We shop at Wal-Mart for many items. You have to be careful sometimes the Wal-Mart brand items do not taste as good as other store brands or the name brands. The Wal-Mart yougurt taste powdery and bland to me. Always go shopping with a list. This is something your kids can help you with. List all of the meal you make and spread them out on a calendar. When you go shopping for that week you will have a better idea what you need to put on your shopping list by what meals you have listed on the calendar for that week. We always have a frozen pizza in the freezer for nights when time is tight. We use our crockpot alot. That saves time because the meal is ready when you get home. If there is any leftovers we freeze it for lunch and take it to work or school.
    Being a singleparent family we have found many ways to save money. The 99 cent stores are good. Just make sure what you are buying for less is the same size as in the grocery stores. Finding bargains and become a game for our family.

  84. Anonymous says:

    Try your local butchers for meat and chicken. Ours is always cheaper then the grocery store and fresher and never shrinks up because its not filled with water.

  85. Gary Charles Cox says:

    In reference to suggestion number 5 “Try Other Stores”; I would suggest trying a different kind of grocery store, the Salvage grocery store. These stores are different from the bulk buy and discount Aldi type stores and you can save quite a lot of money. Salvage grocery stores purchase packaged food items from salvage warehouses. Salvage warehouses purchase food, that has either soon approaching or just past its expiration date or its packaging has become damaged. The food is perfectly safe to eat and can cost substantially less. I have a local discount grocery store where I purchase a box of name brand cereal for $1.00 a box and name brand instant flavored oatmeal for $0.50 a box. I also fine 28oz. cans of tomatoes for $0.80 a piece. Also some of the food has simply come from markets that wanted to try something new and it didn’t sell or markets that had to close. I have never had any problem with a product purchased from a salvage grocery store and all of the stores I have been to are more than willing to accept the return of an item that you are unsure of. Many of these stores have unusual specialty and ethnic items that I would never dream of paying regular supermarket prices just to try them; but, for what little I pay for them at a salvage store, I am willing to give them a try.

  86. Chuck Barris says ROLL TIDE! says:

    My husband stumbled across a great idea when he went to the Honeybaked Ham store to reserve our Christmas ham this year. They had ham bones for sale for $5.99 each, and he bought a couple while he was there. He trimmed off the ham that was on the bones before giving them to the dog, and found that there was enough ham to make several meals. We lived on ham sandwiches for lunch for about two weeks, and the dog enjoyed a yummy treat as well.