I am all about saving money any chance I get, especially when it comes to groceries.  If you’re like my family, groceries are one of our largest monthly expenses,  right behind housing.

But I’m busy and definitely don’t have time to clip coupons, scour the ads and run all over town to save a few bucks.  I’ll admit I’m kind of fascinated by those extreme couponers that are able to walk out of the store with baskets full of groceries and more money than they walked in with but that type of shopping isn’t for me.  Besides, I don’t really need 87 jars of pasta sauce and 132 tubes of toothpaste.

I want practical, everyday ways that regular people like me can use to get in and out of the store with exactly what you need for the week while keeping as much of my hard-earned money for myself.

Here are my top 5 tips to save money on groceries without clipping coupons:

  • Plan your meals ahead of time.  Use a meal planner like this one to make a list of what you’ll be eating throughout the week.  Make sure to list out each ingredient needed so you don’t forget anything and have to make an additional trip to the store.  A list will help you get exactly what you need, nothing more and nothing less.  Take a quick look in your pantry to see if you already have any of the items on your list to avoid buying extra.  Make sure to stick to the list and avoid impulse purchases that can ruin your budget.
  • Look for substitutes.  Try replacing ground beef with less expensive ground turkey.  Your family won’t know the difference, but your wallet will!  Subbing vegetarian ingredients such as lentils or beans for meat can save lots of money as well.  Black bean and sweet potato tacos, spicy vegetarian bean soup, and veggie egg muffins use inexpensive ingredients and you’ll never miss the meat.
  • Buy in season.  Produce can be expensive, particularly if buying out of season.  Know what fruits and vegetables are in season and stick with those.  Check out this list for in season options.
  • Stick with one store.  You probably already know which store in your area has the lowest prices in general.  Don’t worry about saving a buck or two by going to a different store – stick with the one you know.  This strategy will allow you to get in and out and not be distracted by items you don’t need.
  • Use a smaller shopping basket.  With a large basket, consumers often feel compelled to fill it up, even if they don’t need all of those items.  Try using a smaller cart instead.

Did you also know that the music that grocery stores have playing while you shop is specially orchestrated to slow you down?  Just as an energetic, fast beat helps you workout harder, the slower, more relaxing tones of shopping music encourages you to spend more time in the store.  Tricky, tricky!  Bringing your own music can help you choose tunes that will keep you moving!

What other tips do you have for saving money on groceries?

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