Our biggest expense is our grocery bill, this drives me bananas every month. I know we all have to eat but why does it have to cost so much! As much as I would like to be, I’m not a coupon clipper – I simply don’t have the patience. So instead of spending all my time clipping coupons, I have figured out how to save money on groceries WITHOUT using coupons.
The best part is that smart grocery shopping really doesn’t cause me any inconvenience, but it does SAVE me hundreds each month.
After 3 years on the road, I have come up with a few good tips and tricks for reducing my grocery bill dramatically and avoiding waste. Stick with me and I’ll show you some of the best ways to save money on your groceries.
Some of these tips you might already be doing but I guarantee you are not doing all of them. I know that because I wasn’t, however once I started following my own advice, the savings started to pile in.
How To Save Money On Groceries Without Coupons!
1. Meal Plan
I’ve heard people mention a meal plan before but I just didn’t feel that it would have that much effect on reducing my grocery budget. Boy was I wrong. Take the time to sit down and create a meal plan. Use Pinterest for suggestions on different meals you could make. I do this every month and it gets easier and easier.
Quite frankly it’s also nice not to have to think about what you are going to make in the morning, all you have to do is check the meal plan on the fridge. Remember to leave at least one day per week for leftovers.
UPDATE: I now use this $5 meal plan which saves me even more time and helps me to plan delicious meals for my family.
2. Check Your Fridge and Cupboards Before Leaving For The Store.
I can’t tell you how many times I have come home from shopping only to find out that I now have two large jars of Tahini. RV living doesn’t come with a lot of space so make sure to check both your fridge and cupboards before you leave so you know what exactly you have and what you need.
3. Make a List
Fellow RVers, as you know, there are times when you can be miles away from the nearest store and you have to drive 45 minutes to 1 hour to grocery shop. The last thing you want to happen is to get all the way home and find out that you forgot to buy toilet paper. Take a few minutes and sit down to write a list. I have a magnetic list that I attach to the fridge and add stuff that I need daily, so by the end of the month, my shopping list is mostly done.
I have since switched to using a memo pad on my phone, which means it is always with me!
4. Reduce Your Grocery Budget By Shopping Sales
Anytime we are near Winn-Dixie (SE USA) or other discount chains, we head there and stock up on whatever they have for sale. However, make sure that you are buying food that you know your family will eat. We eat a lot of turkey mince in our family. I make spaghetti bolognese, chili, hamburgers so if it’s on sale at Winn Dixie I will buy at least 5 and make-up meals/ sauces and freeze them.
If you are paying attention to the grocery sales cycles, you will begin to be able to anticipate slaes and plan accordingly. You can even try making a price book to track the sales cycles and stock up accordingly.
As you’re scanning the aisles for sales, make sure you are also thinking about meals you can use the food for. Spending money on food no-one will eat is costing you money.
5. Get Rid of the Kids
I know that sounds a bit harsh, but I don’t enjoy grocery shopping and just want to get done. Shopping with kids takes much longer than shopping on your own! Sometimes I will have Frank take the kids to the toys aisle so I can get in the zone and run around and get it done faster.
It’s hard with kids hanging off you and grabbing everything and anything because they want it. ” MOM, LOOK ITS SUGAR COATED SUGAR GOOBERS WITH SUPER SWEET FOOD DYE BITS AND A TOY INSIDE! CAN WE GET SOME PLEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAASE!”
6. Reduce Your Grocery Bill Dramatically Buying Generic Brands
Yes, there are certain brands that I love, but for the most part, I will buy generic. Nobody can taste the difference, but the difference in price can be quite substantial.
If you’re a little nervous about doing this, do a test with something you are quite familiar with and see if you notice the difference. Over time you will realize which items can be purchased and which ones just suck!
So go for the generic and save some bucks.
7. Buy in Bulk But Be Practical.
Here is another awesome way to save money on groceries without coupons – buy in bulk. Yes I know that not everyone has a residential fridge in their RV, but if you do, this is a great way to save money on groceries!
We do a lot of our shopping at Sams Club and we save a LOT OF MONEY this way. I buy cereal, bread, vegetables, chicken, and a whole lot more. This is all food that we use on a regular basis, plus we have a fifth wheel with a residential refrigerator and I know I can fit everything in. (Side note, I use these for cereal, they keep everything fresh and they fit perfectly in the cupboard. I purchased this hanging storage for snacks and it works beautifully, and has done for 2 years now!).
Now if I was to buy a huge bag of rice to save money, that wouldn’t be practical as I would have nowhere to store it So buy in bulk when it makes sense. We usually find we can buy very close to a months worth of food in one go. We even freeze milk when it is a buck at Walmart. Then just short trips to the local store for fresh fruit etc.
8. Avoid Pre-Packaged Foods.
Sometimes its easier to buy meals that are already made up, however they also tend to be more expensive. The greatest accessory we bought for our RV kitchen is our crock pot. I use my slow cooker at least three times per week if it’s a meal I know we all love, I’ll double up the ingredients and freeze a batch. These are my favorite meals that I cook on a regular basis.
The slow cooker also allows us to take advantage of store deals on larger, less premium cuts of beef and pork. 8 hours in the cooker makes anything taste like filet! Also, remember to purchase slow cooker liner bags so the clean up is hardly anything. When I am doing a big shop, I’ll take something I pre-made out of the freezer that I can easily heat up after all the shopping is done.
9. Stop the Snack Madness And Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half
I remember looking into the grocery cart one day and immediately realizing where half of my budget was going. I was stunned. I mean the kids don’t drink soda, they don’t eat a lot of candy, for the most part, they eat pretty healthily.
Having said that I do like to give them little treats now and again, especially when we go out for the day hiking or to check out a new place, or on travel days. Then I might pick up some animal crackers, cheddar fish and fruit gummi’s. Suddenly I realized that I was massively overbuying on the treats for the kids.
Now I buy fig bars, crackers and cheese, or trail mix that I buy in bulk at Sams Club. They love these snacks and they are either individually packaged or can be put in zip locks for travel.
10. Shop Low Priced Items To Save
Chicken breasts cost a lot more than chicken thighs and wings. Look up recipes you can make with cheaper cuts, this will save you a bunch of money. Pork is ridiculously cheap these days, think about how many meals you can make from a pork loin. I usually cut mine in 3, freeze 2 and slow cook the other one. We can have pork loin for dinner and shred the leftovers the next day for BBQ sandwiches. Look for recipes that take advantage of off priced cuts of meat and vegetables and you will dramatically reduct grocery costs.
11. Cut Your Grocery Budget by Supplementing Your Food
We love meat in our house. If I started introducing vegan meals to my husband and son, I’d be in deep do doo. So to cut costs a little bit, when I make a pot of spaghetti, I will add in lots of corn, black beans and carrots to beef it up. This stretches the spaghetti to last for a few more days. Adding lots of rice and vegetables is a great way to fill their tummies too. From time to time I will serve up an omelette, or veggie fried rice using whatever leftovers I have.
The worst problem most of us moms have is not using up leftovers and eventually throwing them out. This is a complete waste of money, not to mention the food that gets thrown out. Schedule a day or two during the week that is leftovers day and go through what is in your fridge. We love to make omlettes or quesadilla’s using what’s left over.
The kiddos will eat almost anything served between tortillas and covered in melted cheese, so we can be creative. Or I’ll just heat food up and let everyone choose what they want. It’s fun for the kids and it clears out my fridge.
13. Cut Your Grocery Budget by Getting Rid of Expensive Items
You love steak and you’re not willing to go without it. I get it, I really do. We are a steak-loving family too. How about an alternative? Look for various beef roast’s on sale (Winn Dixie always has these for sale, we purchase as many as we can fit when they do). Sear it in the pan, throw it in the slow cooker with Lipton’s Beefy onion soup, carrots, onions, mushrooms and check back in a few hours.
This is one of our all-time favorite meals. Trust me on this, you will not be disappointed. The cost of chuck roast versus a steak is substantial. Cut soda and expensive treats out of your diet, you’ll save a fortune AND be healthier.
14. Checkout 51
I have tried and failed badly at couponing. I think it’s the fact that it takes up so much time and space, which I don’t have in an RV, plus I can never remember to put the actual coupons in my purse. This app works well because it’s something you can do when you get home. All you have to do is download the app, scan through the rebates and select the ones that you buy. After your purchase, simply upload your receipt, select your rebate claims and earn your credit. No coupons to forget.
15. Ibotta App Will Save a Bundle on Groceries
This is another app that works great and is extremely popular these days. All you need to use it is a phone. You can retrieve your savings from the comfort of your own home. Simply select your store and click on the purchases you made. After this simply scan the product that the rebate is for and take a picture of your receipt. That’s it!
Once you have earned $20 all of your earnings can be either transferred to your PayPal account or you can convert them to a gift card.
Use any of these tips and tricks and start putting some money back into your pocket.
Do you have something to add to this list that we missed?