Groceries are one of the largest monthly expenses for most people, but there are ways to save money on the foods you like.
You have to eat; there is no denying that. I also personally would not want to live in a world where I do not splurge on things like quality cheese or fresh fruit.
A rough rule of thumb according to the Credit Counseling Society is to spend 10-15% of your gross income (how much you earn before taxes and deductions) on groceries. So if you make $60,000 a year, they suggest keeping your groceries to $6000-$9000. This works out to $500-$750 monthly.
I do believe that money rules are something that should be considered to see if you are wildly outside of “normal”. However, I do not think this value works for everyone.
For example, in a lower income household earning $20,000 yearly, the rule would suggest spending maximum $250 monthly. In very high income households, you likely would not need to spend even close to 10% of your income on groceries to eat very, very well.
You will notice a common theme on my blog where I suggest to spend money in ways that make you the MOST happy. If you are a huge foodie and spend 20% on groceries, do not feel shame. If you spend way less than 10% because you value other things more than food, continue with what works for you.
I graduated with a lot of debt (read my debt story here) so I had to learn better ways of affording the foods I wanted to buy.
I have 8 suggestions below to help you save money on groceries without coupons. Even better, many will allow you to eat the same things you do now (or better!) while still saving money.
1- Shop at stores with valuable rewards programs
Many stores offer a rewards program in order to keep you coming back, and this can save you tons of money. A personal favorite of mine is Presidents Choice Optimum Rewards, which I use at Superstore. I get weekly offers for items I actually purchase (unlike many rewards programs which usually center around heavily processed foods of the stores choosing). Points for buying fresh produce like spinach? Score! They also track your purchases, and will offer points based on what you buy. Bought limes this week? You will likely be offered points to buy them again next week. I only buy items that I was going to purchase anyways, so it is literally free money given to me.
To learn more, check out the program here: https://www.pcoptimum.ca/
2- Shop on discount days
There are so many variations of discount days lately that it is hard to keep track. When you are trying to save money, this is a beautiful thing! Also no- I am not just talking about seniors days. My local SaveOn Foods has a 10% off day the first Tuesday of every month. I capitalize on this and stock up on favorite items that I can only buy there (Cheese stuffed meatloaf, I’m talking to you). If there are items that you regularly purchase that have a longer shelf life or are freezable, buy extra on discount days. Your piggy bank will thank me. On that note:
3- Shop at warehouse stores like Costco
Stores like Costco are invaluable when you are trying to save money on food. There are literally hundreds of blogs dedicated to the best deals at Costco. I’m not going to link to them, because I want you to keep reading this article (only half joking). But seriously, Google “best Costco deals” next time you are bored and watch your brain explode. Buying in large quantities (especially non-perishable or freezable items such as meat, frozen berries, coffee, soup) can be an effective way to save money without making changes to the types of food you buy. The trick is to buy amounts you will actually use before they expire, and to not forget you have them.
[Personal story that is unfortunately true: I was once in an overly long Costco line, and the guy behind me got chatty. I had a large cart full of things, and he asked me how many kids I had. I was too embarrassed to say that I actually live alone with a chubby corgi and all the food was for me, so I made up a story about my two kids and even named them.]
4- Cook once, eat three times
That is a fancy way of saying make enough that you have leftovers. One of the best ways to use those warehouse sized items you just purchased? Cook large quantities! I will admit I used to hate leftovers when I was younger. I wanted variety. My mom makes the best spaghetti, but we ate so much of it growing up that I literally cannot purchase spaghetti as an adult (sorry mom- I know you are reading this!). I have come to learn that leftovers are incredible though. Coming home from work and having something delicious to eat and all you have to do is warm it up? Perfection. It also luckily saves tons and tons of money because it cuts down on food waste.
5- Try a food delivery box
If variety is important to you, and you hated my leftover suggestion, a food delivery box may be perfect for you. They can be a fantastic way to get a variety of meals while trying new ingredients (especially if you live alone!). Most companies will offer an incredible incentive for your first order, and you are free to skip a week or cancel at any time without penalty. They also usually offer amazing referral incentives, so if you convince friends/family to sign up you can literally eat for free. As a side bonus, you will get free step-by-step picture instructions to make your meal which is valuable if you are a new (or terrible) cook. If you love a recipe keep the recipe cards to make the meal again later!
6- Make your own snacks
Snack foods are a massively overpriced category because companies know you will pay extra for the convenience. They often use poor quality ingredients (ie too much sugar, too heavily processed) and focus more on the marketing and packaging. Personally, I want a snack that will fill me up, be convenient, taste good, and provide nutrition! For these reasons, I make my own baked goods such as granola bars and protein muffins. Put on some music, spend one hour in your kitchen monthly baking things that actually taste great, and freeze them in individual pouches. You can save hundreds of dollars a year with this simple change!
7- Follow recipes
There are people out there that can throw items together and create delicious meals; I’m not one of those people. I can bake without a recipe any day, but creating a dinner? Forget about it. If you are not a confident cook (or even if you are), follow a recipe so what you make is more likely to turn out great and therefore actually get eaten. As you have probably figured out from previous posts: I love books. That includes recipe books. Two cookbooks that I consistently use:
Both books offer a large variety of meals from breakfast to dinner ideas, and use ingredients you can actually find/afford. I highly recommend both!
There are also a lot of websites that have fantastic recipes. A personal favorite of mine is:
8- Look at the unit price sticker!
Stores spend so much money on marketing and item placement to make you spend more money. But there is a magical thing called the unit price that is displayed on price codes (typically in tiny writing because stores hope you do not actually see it). Look at it!
This sticker will literally tell you the cost of an item in an easy to understand way so that you can compare it to a similar item you are considering. This can be particularly useful for non-food items that are often bought at grocery stores such as toilet paper or dish pods. [Serious talk for a second- how many kinds of toilet paper exist now? It’s getting almost ridiculous]. Use the unit price to determine the price per roll to ensure your fanny is getting nothing but the best AND the best value!
I hope that you like these ways to save money on groceries without coupons! Let me know in the comments below if you try any, or have other great suggestions for fellow readers.
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