I’m not a couponer. It hasn’t been the best way to save for us recently. About 2 years ago, I started to see that couponing just wasn’t fitting into our new debt-free lifestyle. It was causing me stress, I wasn’t getting the deals I’d gotten years before, and I didn’t have a love for it anymore.
For anyone that’s been reading this blog since it’s inception in 2007, this is probably a huge surprise to you. I started this little part of the internet to document how we were saving, especially our ways to save on groceries, and how it was steadily getting us out of debt. Coupons worked amazingly for our family and did save us from being hungry, homeless, and deeply dependent on others and possibly the government. But, it just isn’t part of our new frugal life now.
The main reason I stopped is other couponers in my area were stealing inserts from the stores I frequented. I would get there at the crack of dawn to buy 6 or 8 papers, and find that all but 2 or 3 had full inserts missing. Yes, I could have driven about 20 minutes North or South to the “good” neighborhoods, but that would defeat the purpose of saving. Wasting gas just to get coupons ain’t my bag, baby.
While I haven’t been readily using coupon inserts, I’ve still found other ways to save on groceries. Here are a few things I do:
Keep a price book
When I first started out saving, I wrote down the prices of all of our staple items: cheese, meats, milks of many varieties, rice, dry beans, etc. Still to this day, I pay attention to the lowest prices of our staples, and once they are on sale, I stock up. If the budget allows, I get six weeks worth of the staple since sale cycles are usually 6 weeks or so.
I buy in season
I’m pretty sure this is the easiest way to save when it comes to groceries. Stores make it easy for you buy always having produce that’s in season on sale every week. Same goes for proteins. During grilling season you see all types of meats on sale. Take advantage of the season and stock up.
I frequent Farmers Markets
Summer is my favorite season to save because of Farmers Markets. We find new produce and products to try, and we know that it is local and fresh. Also, I love to wait until the end of the markets and “haggle” the farmers down on price. They’re more willing to give you a good deal later in the day so they don’t have to put all of that produce back in their truck
We adopted the minimalist lifestyle
Most think that “frugal” and “minimalist” are interchangeable. That’s just not true. Some frugal folks may love the lifestyle, but feel the need to stockpile crazy amounts of items. Some minimalists love to keep their footprint low, but see no problem spending a big amount on food if it means that it’s local and will not take up much space in their pantry or fridge. We are a bit of both. I no longer “stockpile” but I do “stock up.” I get just enough items to cover us for about 2 or 3 months, but never go overboard. We just don’t have the room for all of that. By steadily paying attention to sales, there hasn’t been any reason for me to stockpile.
Looking for more tips on how to shop the grocery store on a budget without coupons? Check out this post from Adrianna of Military Money Chica: How to Save Money On Groceries Without Using Coupons.
How about you? Do you use coupons to save on groceries? What’s your best money-saving tip when it comes to food?