Saturday, 22 June 2013

10 Ways to Save Money on Groceries without using coupons

There is no doubt that coupons save you money. Most of the time, a lot of money! With them I have been able to build a stockpile of non perishable goods for a fraction of their cost. In fact, my stockpile has grown so much I have decided that I am going to live off it for the next year, not add to it and only purchase fresh food. 

Since fresh food coupons are sometimes hard to come by I have had to find ways to save money without using (as many) coupons. Here are 10 ways I save money on my groceries without using coupons:

1. Only Buy Items on Sale
If it isn't on sale I don't buy it. It's as simple as that. Even if I want it, no matter how bad I just don't buy it if it's regular price. Some sales are better than others, I always check the local flyers to make sure I am getting the best deal. 

2. Shop the Clearance Shelves
Clearance shelves are like sales on steriods! They are a great place to score fantastic deals. Items found on clearance shelves are either nearing expiry or the store has an overstock of the product and needs to move it quickly. When you are buying from clearance shelves make sure you check the expiry date so you know when you have to use the product by.
Photo Credit

3. Buy Produce in Season
There are a number of benefits to buying produce when it is in season. The most important benefit (to me) is the cost. When produce is in season it is a lot cheaper than during the off-season. Fruits and Vegetables that are in season are more flavourful and are bigger or have a higher yield than produce that is out of season. During growing season your favourite fruits and vegetables are more likely to be grown locally (unless like me you love exotic fruits!). Locally grown food supports your local farmers and because it didn't have to travel far it is likely to be fresher than if it has to be trucked in from afar. 

4. Look for Discounted Meat
Grocery stores don't want to throw away food any more than you do. They are willing to sell food nearing it's expiry date for deeply discounted prices because if it is in the garbage they lose 100%, at least if they sell it to you at 25% the retail price they recouped some of their losses. Every time I go to the grocery store I scan the meat aisle for discount stickers. Some stores have $ discounts, such as $2 off, others use a % discount, like 50% off regular price. Make sure you either freeze or use your meat right away after you purchase it. No deal is a good deal if you have to throw it away because it went bad in the fridge! Photo Credit

5. Buy Bigger sizes/Bulk
If you can't buy multiple small products for free or near free with coupons it is often better to buy big or in bulk for the best savings.  The reality is we aren't just paying for the food we are consuming, we are also paying for the packages it comes in. It takes less paper to package 10kg of sugar than it does to package 3 4kg bags, making it cheaper per kg to buy the larger bag. Especially when it goes on sale! In general I buy all of my baking products in bulk, as I bake every week. 

6. Buy Store Label
Store label products are cheaper than name brand. If there is an item you buy frequently that you can't get coupons for, or rarely get coupons for consider buying the store label of that product instead. If I am not buying my baking products in bulk, I buy store label. My baking tastes the same, and I do it at a fraction of the cost! The savings can range from a few pennies to a dollar or two.

7. Grow Your Own Fruits/Vegetables
Even if you don't have a big garden you can still grow your own fruits, vegetables and herbs. When we used to live in a tiny apartment we used our tiny balcony for a garden. We successfully grew peppers, strawberries and tomatoes. Gardening is a cheap way to produce a lot of food, and really isn't that difficult. For the best savings grow from seed, but if you are like me and like to plant and watch grow, you can still buy starter plants for relatively cheaply. If you don't want to fertilize you don't have to, but your food will be smaller. If you don't have outdoor space for a garden, consider growing an indoor garden insteadThere are other benefits to growing your own food than just saving money. When you grow your own vegetables you know that they are organic and free from pesticides, home grown vegetables generally have more flavour than store bought and there is nothing fresher than food you have just picked. 
 8. Bake Your Own Goodies
Cookies at the store are expensive, and so are things like granola bars, cakes and muffins. The thing is the ingredients to make them are relatively cheap and for the price of a bag of cookies you can make literally dozens of your own. Like I said earlier, I bake something every week. I usually bake muffins, some form of cake and sometimes cookies. We eat them throughout the week in our lunches or for dessert. There are many recipes online for every kind of baked good you can imagine, even gluten free!

9. Cook From Scratch
Packaged food is more expensive, period. For a fraction of the cost, and a little bit of time, any one can make a great meal. Mashed potatoes made by boiling potatoes and mashing them yourself taste better and are cheaper than the boxed product. Spaghetti sauce is another example. You can make your own, in large quantities and then frozen for later use for the same cost as a single jar of prepared sauce. Just like with growing your own food, when you cook or bake from scratch you know exactly what you are putting into your food, and it is healthier than buying packaged food. An added bonus to growing your own garden and cooking from scratch is you get double the savings!

10. Reuse Packaging
There is no need to spend big bucks on plastic containers when you can just use your empty yogurt container from last week. Wherever possible I try to reuse any packaging I may have. I use produce bags when I make my own "shake n bake" chicken, yogurt containers to store leftovers, and I wash and reuse Ziploc baggies whenever I can. Why not try making a bird feeder out of an old milk jug? How about planting your seeds in your old egg cartons? If you have small children, save your toilet paper rolls and use them to make puppets, or trains, animals or maybe even a rocket. The possibilities are endless!

You don't have to do all 10 things on this list, even doing 1 or 2 will definitely have an impact on your grocery budget. What are some ways you save money without using coupons?

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