I used to extreme coupon with a girlfriend of mine a few years ago. And boy did we make an adventure out of it! We stockpiled a lot of stuff, including organic lemonade, razors, lotions, and body wash. Our kids used to laugh their pants off at us because we dumpster dived for coupons. Yep, we sure did. And no, it wasn’t nasty- Sunday papers with coupons are in a paper recycling bin, not a trash bin!
However, while it was an awesome rush to save so much money and stockpile so many things, it got old for me really quickly. Because I have a much larger family than her, it became this heavy chore with tedious planning and coupon cutting and I just hated it. Now don’t get me wrong, I still use coupons here and there- especially for things like oil and tire changes, dining out, movie theater tickets and haircuts– but nothing like I used to do before.
If extreme couponing is your thing, my hats off to you, but I just can’t keep up with that and homeschool, and run a business, and and and… So, I have a few tricks up my sleeve on how you can save money on your grocery bill, with a little effort on your part. Because seriously– the amount of time that was going into ‘extreme couponing’ is much wiser used to build my businesses.
Here are my top 10 tricks to saving a lot of money on groceries WITHOUT couponing:
#1- Shop At Discount Grocery Chains
For starters, there are generally a range of 4 different grocery store types:
- The discount grocery stores (Aldi, Save A Lot, etc)
- The ‘everyday’ grocery stores (Wal-Mart, Kroger’s)
- The upper scale grocery store with more exclusive, higher quality, or more organic items (Giant Eagle)
- The organic stores (Whole Foods)
What I have done for a long time now, is do the majority of my shopping at a discount grocery store. I shop at Aldi for everything I can, because their prices can’t be beat. For items that I can’t source at Aldi, like fresh kosher meats, organic coconut oil, jumbo bags of cereal and more, I get those at another store. Shopping for *exactly* the same items at Wal-Mart will result in me paying approximately 15-25% more than shopping at Aldi.
#2- Shop For Other Items At Your Regular Grocery Store & Use This Grocery Rebate App
This is so simple to do. Install this neat little grocery rebate app on your phone, and see what grocery items are giving a rebate that week! I had seen this around a year ago but it wasn’t until my good friend Chris brought it up that I decided to download and play around with it. (Thanks Chris ^_^)
Here’s what it looks like, and here’s where you can get it. As an added bonus, you can share with others in your network and earn a $5.00 referral fee when they redeem their first rebate.
#3- Use Wal-Mart’s Price Match Guarantee
Hey, if you’re going to be shopping there anyway (which I frequently do for cat food, litter, borax, and mondo sized bags of cereal that only my brood could wipe out in 3 days…) take advantage of the price match guarantee on other items you need anyways and can’t get at Aldi’s. Bring your local grocery circulars with you (and preferably look at them beforehand).
#4- Grow A Garden!
I know. You’ve been planning to for years but somehow you just never get it started and then it’s mid-June. So start small and don’t over commit. Get some tomato plants and zucchini started. You can do a lot with these two vegetables! By the way this is extremely therapeutic, especially for ADHD kids or kids that like sensory activities. It’s also a great way to instill pride for what they put in their bodies since they can see the process from seed to plate.
All you need are dixie cups, toilet paper rolls, or aluminum cans and some starter soil and heirloom seeds. Get on Pinterest for ideas. And here’s another secret: I save the seed from my organic produce to grow my own, instead of buying the seeds. Cha Ching! Extra $avings.
#5- Can Your Own Vegetables
This is sort of related to you doing #4 🙂
Want to learn how to can? Here is a GREAT tutorial on everything you need to know about canning:
#6- Grow & dry your own Herbs
I love herbs, lots of them. And I especially love fresh herbs that I’ve grown. Rosemary, dill, basil, thyme, sage, cilantro and parsley are must haves. When they’re growing, I pick off what I need to cook. When growing season is over I pick the rest and dry them on a tray in the sun. If it’s raining you can dry them on a cookie sheet inside or bake them at 100 ° until they look dry. Chop them and store in large ziplock bags for year-round use.
Don’t want to grow your own herbs? You can buy bulk organic herbs here. I usually place 2 orders a year for oils, herbs, castile soap and more and save a ton of money this way.
#7- Harvest & Dry Wild Edibles
This is something I look forward to every spring! I pack up the kids and we make a day of it at least 4 times a year. This is a really FUN and FREE family activity. It doubles as great exercise and is a good stress therapy. Kids and adults alike can learn so much when in nature. It inspires curiosity in my kids. One of our favorite things to do is pick things we haven’t seen before and bring it home to identify on google. Pack some water bottles, snacks, and plastic bags and just enjoy nature. Depending on what month you may also need insect repellant 🙂
Mid March to early May/June is henbit and purple deadnettle season. Depending on where you live, there are probably at least 5 wild edibles you can harvest yourself and dry for use later. I live in Ohio, and the wild edibles that I have easily found are dandelion greens and flowers, red clover, purple deadnettle, henbits, wild garlic, and chickweed. There are at least a dozen other wild edibles that grow here that I haven’t foraged for yet.
Once picked, I wash them, pat them dry and let them dry in the sun or bake them at 100 ° for a few minutes. Then I chop them up and store in ziplock bags.
#8- Make More Foods From Scratch
This is kind of obvious but several years ago it wasn’t for me. When I became grossed out by the never-ending list of things I could not pronounce I decided to learn how to make more things from scratch. I don’t buy canned soup, boxed potatoes, flavored rice or pasta in a box, lunchables, ravioli, pre-made salads, cut up fruit, hot cocoa, brownies, iced tea, croutons, hot pockets, frozen dinners, muffins, and I rarely buy herbal teas. Why? Not only are they so artificial tasting and not good for me, but they’re also costly.
#9- Make Your Own Cleaning Products
Same concept applies here. I stopped using chemical cleaners about 7 years ago (with the occassional exception of bleach for limited use) and started making my own about 5 years ago. It’s really a lot easier than you think it is. It’s healthier for your home, your pets, and the environment and as an added bonus they smell so fresh! Here is a collection of my Best DIY homemade natural cleaning recipes.
#10- Make Your Own Personal Products
For me this comes very naturally now. But there was a time when I didn’t know the slightest thing about making personal products. It was just a matter of trial and error and I started with something simple like lip balms. With a few simple ingredients like coconut oil, baking soda, olive/sunflower oil, peroxide, honey, beeswax, raw cacao butter and essential oils you can make things like:
- body butter
- lip balm
- cough & cold salve
- hand or foot salve
- and more…
There are so many good recipes on the internet. I’m a visual learner, so I would search YouTube for tutorials like this one:
BONUS TIP! #11- Use A Mobile Coupon App
I found this mobile coupon app that frankly is awesome! You can search for deals or coupons by zip code, store name, or category. You can download the mobile app here. They also have grocery coupons, but not on the mobile version. You have to go to their full website and print those if you’re interested in that.
This is a great mobile coupon app for saving on everything from clothes and shoes, to jewelry, dining, car maintenance and office supplies.