Buying groceries at the store

Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bills Without Coupons or Chasing Sales (Updated 8/31/2023)

Dennis Weaver Dennis Weaver Jul 25, 2022

We originally published this article over a year ago. Food prices have been climbing since then, not quite as rapidly but steadily. So, we pulled up this article to review those past suggestions and see if there is anything we can add. There is.

Eat at Home Rather than Downtown.

We work long hours. When we finally quit, we often go to town to eat. I enjoy that. It's easy. I enjoy my wife's company when we both can relax. But I always felt a little guilty, like it cost us a lot of money. I decided to find out. suggests that the savings is $250 per month, per person. I don't know that kids cost that much, but for Merri Ann and I, that's $500 a month or $6,000 a year. That's a lot.

They have three suggestions:

  • Don't go cold turkey. Cut back on your downtown meals and reduce you downtown spending as you can.
  • Plan your meals at home and schedule your meals away. "By having a plan, it just makes it all easier. There isn’t an excuse as to why you wouldn’t just cook at home."
  • Order your groceries and pick them up. If you walk through the store, you'll spend more money. Everyone does a little impulse buying.

    Which Costs More, Recreation, Travel, or Entertainment?

    I've told myself that it's cheaper to go camping with simpler meals than going to shows or ball games, paying for parking, and paying for meals. I don't know.

    It depends on what you're paying for. Vacations are expensive. Camping gear is expensive. But then, most of that gear should last 10 to 20 years. But you may not want to camp in ten years.

    Staying home and going out on the town is expensive too.

    In our case, it's gasoline. If we were content to camp close to town, it's cheaper. But it's gasoline. The West is big. We drive and drive and drive. I love it. I love being with my wife and just talking. I love the discovery. I love the vistas and the wildlife. And we do it often. 

    If we need to save money, we'll stay closer to home. Then--I think--it's less expensive than travel or entertainment.


     Our granddaughter, Quinn, at Bayhorse Lake near Challis, Idaho. She's showing her mother that she caught two fish.

    This is our granddaughter, Quinn, showing her mother that she caught two fish, at Bayhorse Lake in Idaho.



    Two Types of Shoppers

    The original post was prompted by a Wall Street Journal article. They found that there were two types of shoppers: Those that buy mostly prepared foods and those that buy ingredients.  It was evident that ingredient shoppers get more food for the buck.  It costs less to eat at home. Cooking and baking from scratch costs less than eating prepared foods.


    Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bills

    Without Coupons or Chasing Sales

    Now there’s nothing wrong with clipping coupons or chasing sales. You’ll save money. But they take time. And we’re busy. We want ways to save money that are less demanding.

    Look at these.

    Make fewer trips to the grocery store. Stores live off impulse buys. Displays and packaging, even the store’s layout, screams “buy me” and the professionals that put those together are good. But how do you do that?
    1. Plan your trips carefully so that you don’t miss something that you need to go back and buy. Always use a list.
    2. Shop online. Sometimes it’s cheaper, especially if its free local pickup. Besides, there’s no rush at your computer and you have more time to think through your purchase. Instead of buying ground beef, you can try ground chicken for that casserole. 
    3. Shop from a menu. Plan your meals for the week, then shop. It’s a proven way to save money.
    4. Use it up; don’t throw it out. Americans, on average throw away 30 to 40% of their food. Cut that in half for big savings.
    5. Create a “use me first” shelf at eye level in your refrigerator. Put leftovers on that shelf. Put dated food on that shelf. Check it and use it.
    6. Consider “Fresh Bags. They will extend the life of your product by a week or so.
    7. Freeze some of your food. When I take a loaf of bread home, which is often, I slice the loaf and freeze half of it. I put waxed paper squares between the slices. To thaw it, put a slice or two in the toaster. There are other foods you can freeze, especially meats.
    8. Use self-checkout. This may be the easiest of all. For some reason, we spend less when we check ourselves out.

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