8.5 Tips to Save on Groceries without Couponing

With the recent popularity of TLC’s Extreme Couponing, spending hours of clipping coupons from our weekly flyers has become the hottest new way of saving money at our local supermarkets. Let’s face it; food is expensive and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one looking to save a dollar or two.

But what happens if you can’t spend hours clipping away? Should you give up on putting that little bit more aside for that amazing chalet in the mountains or that car you can’t live without? I think not! I present to you the 8.5 (yes, you read right!) tips and tricks on how to save THAT much more on your grocery basket without the hassle of clipping coupons each week.

1. Do your homework

Supermarkets nowadays always have their flyers displayed online, so it makes it SUPER easy to see what’s on sale and where. With just a few clicks and by entering your postal code, the local flyer is at your fingertips. It’s the easiest way to comparison shop the weekly deals. If you want to go the extra mile, also check the flyers for your local pharmacy! Some of them have crazy one-day or three-day sales so it’s worth taking a glance at sometimes.

2. Make a list

I’m not going to deny, I have the worse memory in the world and, when I’m shopping for groceries, I do every aisle to make sure I don’t forget anything….. and usually wind up either picking up stuff I don’t need or accidentally buying something I already have. By making and staying to your list, you avoid those potentially pricey accidents. It also helps eliminate that feeling of temptation we all get when looking at ice cream or chips; that “Oh, I want it, but I shouldn’t buy it, but I will anyways!”. All you need is that extra push to not be tempted by yummy goodies.

3. Avoid shopping when you’re hungry

We’ve all done it; where we’ve gone shopping when your stomach is growling and everything just looks tasty. The general tendency (including yours truly!) is that we tend to pick up more than necessary because our stomachs are telling us that we must have it! It’s called “Eating with your eyes”. By avoiding this situation, you avoid not buying those extra few things that you could do without.

4. Switch to no-name/store brands (when possible)

Believe it or not, most things that you buy from big name companies, like Kraft and Heinz, you can find in generic store versions that taste just as good, but are less expensive. For example, while browsing through my local Provigo store, I found the following:

– Pepperidge farm Goldfish: $3.39
– President’s Choice cheddar flavoured penguins: $2.69

For the same amount, you’re paying less for the same product, but only with different animals. They are also just as tasty as the Goldfish, so flavors remain the same. Stores always keep their store brands close to their similar, pricier items purposely to tempt the consumer to buy their own mark as opposed to other companies. It makes it easier for you to get a reading on what’s available and what isn’t.

5. Avoid pre-made items

Stores have a tendency to raise the price of food prepared in store because they have to factor in the cost of labor to make these items, the items used to make them in the first place, and the packaging they put it in. A friend of a friend who works in a deli department at a grocery store, once told me that they had these red potato wedges where all they did was toss them in an oven and cook them, and they charged $5.99+tx for them (there wasn’t even that many in the packaging). Do you know how much they paid for them? They paid $2.87 each for them! That’s a 47% markup for frozen potatoes! For a different situation, let’s look at the cost of a simple ham sandwich prepared in store (again, found this out by browsing my local Provigo) versus how much it would cost to buy each item separately:

– Ham sandwich prepared in store : $2.99+tx
(Two slices of white bread, four slices of the cheapest ham cut thin,and mustard)

Now let’s break it down to how much it would cost if you were to buy each of these items separately:
– Four slices of the same ham: $0.63
– Single Kaiser bread roll (since bread isn’t available in individual slice: $0.59
– Three mustard packets (available at the deli counter): Free

So your grand total comes out to a grand total of $1.22, with no taxes. See the difference?

6. Buy in bulk (within reason!)

Canned products are one of the best things to buy in bulk because they conserve for a long time and it’s something we’re always going to use at one point during the week. Notice that your favourite soup goes on special? Buy a few! The same reasoning applies to cookies and crackers as well. As long as the wrapping isn’t open, air isn’t allowed to pass in it and hence you won’t get that stale taste.

Also, this logic applies to most meats as well. Ground beef, pork filets and steaks are all freezable and can stay there for months without worry. I knew someone that kept a turkey frozen for over a year and then cooked it! Once again, only buy what you need. If you start buying too much in bulk, you risk spending more money then you really need to.

7. Avoid the freezer section

I’m not going to lie; I use to be what I liked to call a “Microwave chef”. I had this bad tendency of always wandering into the frozen section and picking up something quick and easy. After awhile, I started looking at the nutrient values and was taken aback by how many calories and sodium was in them! Even the items that claim to be “healthy” have a ridiculous amount of sodium in them.

This doesn’t just apply to microwave meals, but anything in the frozen section (with the exception of fruits and vegetables) is filled with so many fattening ingredients that don’t make them worth it. Also, look at portion size; they are always never big enough and never filling enough. Where it might take more work, making food fresh is in the end the most cost efficient and healthiest thing you can do.

8. Always double check

Where this might sound tedious and, at times, a huge hassle for nothing, always check your bill and make sure everything went through at the marked price. Most, if not all, major grocery stores, get hundreds of price changes each day; from an increase in price, to a decrease, to a simple description change. It’s very easy for a store employee to accidentally overlook one, especially when their new sales start.

Under Canadian law, if the item in question is marked at a lower price, but passes at a higher price at the cash, the store has to give you the item for free (if the item is under $10). In basic terms, if that box of cereal you want is marked on the shelf at $2.99 and it passes at the cash at $3.99, you get it free. My father once got four things of tomato juice free from a local grocery store, all in the span of a month. Why? Because no one bothered to change the price marked on the shelf after a month! Free stuff is never a bad thing.

And now for that mysterious 0.5 I managed to work in there!

8.5 Check for free stuff!

A lot of companies offer free samples via their website just by clicking a button or by filling a survey! An easy way would be to venture over to the free stuff section and to find all the amazing freebies located there.

Happy shopping!

This article was written by Erin a friend of Vouchercodes. Don’t hesitate to submit to us any article that might be helpful to the community! Thanks.

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