Saving Money on Groceries without Using Coupons

Here is a really simple way to slash your grocery bill, from Alison Kerr, author at The Homeschoolers Guide to the Galaxy, where she writes about nature, gardening, and Earth friendly stuff for moms who like to learn with their kids. This year her grocery cost has averaged less than $3 per person per day. Alison has 2 teens and 2 adults who eat the majority of their meals from food prepared at home.

I totally slashed my grocery bill this year with this very simple method. It doesn’t involve coupons, and doesn’t require studying newspaper inserts. However, I can take advantage of specials when I’m out shopping on Friday or Saturday – I just look for them among the things I’m already buying. I’m not good at keeping track of coupons yet so I can probably save even more through the ideas here at Little People Wealth. It can work for you too, provided you are willing and able to cook from scratch. Having said that, I don’t spend any more time in the kitchen that I used to when I was spending a lot more. To make this work, you just need to set and then memorize some very basic $ amounts.

The first part goes like this – set your prices for different types of items and/or for portions. Here is what I use:

  • $1 or less per pound of dry weight starch foods – pasta, flour, rice. Buy in bulk if you can to save even more.
  • $3 or less per pound of meat.
  • $1 or less per pound of fruit or vegetables.
  • 33 cents or less per person for breakfast.
  • 25 cents or less per person for dessert items.

The second part is just as simple. Limit the types and brands of prepared foods, like canned and packet goods you buy and try to select the least expensive one every time you buy. Foods I use this method for include: canned beans; canned tomatoes; graham crackers; savory crackers; eggs; milk and bread.

When I first came up with this method I thought it might make for a pretty boring diet, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Here are some of the groceries I’ve bought this year and some of the stores I shop at:

  • wholewheat bread, burger buns, hot dog buns, and raisin bagels – ALDI and Hyvee
  • canned tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste – ALDI and Hyvee
  • canned beans – ALDI and Hyvee
  • ramen noodles – Price Chopper
  • meat and chicken, including breaded items and hot dogs – ALDI and Hyvee
  • ice-cream, ice-cream bars, ice-cream pops, chocolate chip cookies, sticky buns – ALDI and Hyvee
  • cake mix – $1 per packet, which meets my $1 or less per pound for flour guideline
  • carrots, onions, green beans, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, apples, bananas, pears, grapes, cabbage, cucumber – Hyvee, Costco, and ALDI
  • frozen veggies – peas, corn, mixed veg, green beans, broccoli pieces – Hyvee, Costco and ALDI

For things which I need small quantities of like stock cubes, yeast, herbs, and spices I just choose the least expensive one I see on the shelf when I need some for my pantry. The same goes for things like margarine and jam, olive oil, pasta sauce, and tortillas. Sometimes I do buy things like tortilla chips, tortillas, and french fries, but more often I cook biscuits, pasta, bread, rice, or potatoes. We’ve eaten Irish Cheddar Cheese and Brie from Costco and not broken the budget, because you really use quite a small quantity at every meal.

Things I don’t buy, or buy very rarely:

  • ready meals and packet all-in-one foods like rice with flavoring
  • canned soup – I’ve made all but 2 meals worth of soup from scratch since January
  • canned meals like chili and spaghetti in sauce
  • canned and jar sauces, apart from $1 spaghetti sauce and sauces and condiments which you need only a little amount of like ketchup, mayonnaise, Lea and Perrins, and soy sauce
  • soda, juices, beer, wine – we’ve had apple and orange juice a few times when it was on sale

Whether you are a planner, or more spontaneous, this method can work for you, provided you are prepared to cook. If you have any questions please leave them here for me to answer. You can also visit my blog for some simple, frugal recipes and food-related posts.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Credit Sesame November 17, 2011 at 10:18 am

Love how simple this method it! We would definitely recommend this for people who don’t have time or patience for coupons. Sharing on our Twitter feed now!


2 Heidi November 18, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Coupons are great, but I save a lot more by just knowing what a “normal” price is!


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