I used to do a lot of couponing. It saved me hundreds of dollars every month. Even though I still use coupons, I’m less extreme about it. It was easier without a child. But now to take the time to clip, sort, organize and the extra time at the grocery store to do sale-coupon matchups, it’s really just not worth the time.
With me and hubby both searching, clipping, printing and shopping, it took about four hours of each of our time for a total of eight hours. We would save about $100 per trip, but would end up with a lot of things we didn’t need or want that we just bought because it was cheap (or free). Plus, we ended up with a lot of junk food that I wouldn’t normally buy, and if I have junk in the house, I’m going to eat the junk. Don’t need it. Don’t want it.
However, I still find ways to save money at the grocery store for things I would normally buy full price WITHOUT extreme couponing. Here are a few things you can do that won’t eat up your time.
- Only clip coupons you will actually use
I do go through the paper, but instead of clipping every coupon, I skip the junk food and only clip the coupons for things I know I’m going to buy without them.
- Get on your grocery store’s mailing list
My favorite grocery store tracks what I buy using my store card and sends me relevant coupons. I’ll even get general coupons such as $5 off a $100 purchase, $2 off a $10 purchase in the produce department, or $2 off the meat department. I am going to buy those things anyway, so I clip the coupon.
- Digital coupons
Most stores have digital coupons you can load onto your card by going to their website. I quickly browse every week or so to see if there’s anything I can use. My favorite store also has a “Free Friday Download’ where I can get an item completely free. Most of the time, it’s worth a click.
- Gas points
Most grocery stores will give gas rewards for shopping at their store. I think most people don’t really pay much attention to this. We save a lot on gas using the points. My store will give $0.10 gas points for every $100 spent. That means I get $0.10 off each gallon when I fill up, which on a 15-gallon fill-up will equal $1.50 saved.
Every week they’ll have different items that you can earn extra points from, and I’ll buy those items if I’ll use them. If you really think about it, if they’re offering $0.05 gas points for buying a $3 product, if your tank holds 15 gallons, it’s $0.75 saved. However, I only buy the item if it’s worth it.
Points do add up. A lot of times we’re able to save $0.50 or more per gallon every time we fill up. Since I work from home, I don’t have to drive to work, so I fill up less often than the average person and can save those gas points, so that when I do fill up, it’s a lot less expensive.
My store also has a promotion a few times a year where they give you 4x fuel points for buying gift cards. I’ll buy a few $100 gift cards for things I’ll use anyway, usually a gift card for the store itself. That translates to $0.40 off per gallon, saving $6 per fill-up on a 15-gallon tank.
- Stock up when items are cheap
We invested in a freezer, because we knew it would be worth it. Every now and again, something like chicken breast will go on super-sale. I’ll literally buy $50 or $100 worth and put it in the freezer. Then I’ll stock up again when it goes on sale again, making it so I never pay full price for meat. If you have room for a freezer, it’s definitely worth the investment. Eventually, it will pay for itself.
- Costco is my friend
I save a ton of money at Costco. Sure, when I go, my bill is higher than at the grocery store, but buying in bulk saves. Plus, the fruits and vegetables they have are much fresher and last longer. I could (and probably will) write an entire post about why I love Costco.
- Plan meals around what’s on sale
Since I stock up when items are on sale, I usually have things like pasta, rice, and other staples handy all the time. If you go to a site such as MyFridgeFood.com where you can enter in ingredients you have and will give you recipes, it’s pretty simple to find something to make for dinner without having to spend money on that one ingredient you need that’s not on sale that week. Also, the fruits and vegetables we eat are what’s in season and on sale that week.
We spend roughly $150 per week on groceries, not including formula and diapers. It still may seem like a lot for just two adults, but keep in mind, a lot of the food that we buy is healthy and/or organic and we always have stockpile. I could literally not go to the grocery store for two weeks and feed us without going out to dinner.