Coupons: Why you don’t need them to save on groceries

Coupon Pile Stock Photo
You have the best intentions: You get the little pile of coupons that print with your receipt every shopping trip and diligently put them in your purse or on the fridge for next week. You get the weekly fliers and go through them to find the best coupons and cut them out. This is the week, you say. I’m going to use them this time!

A week goes by, and another and your pile of coupons grows. You finally remember to grab them for your trip and they are expired! Oh, no! Next time will be the time you use the coupons to save on your groceries!

What if I told you that I almost never use traditional coupons and I still save around 50% on groceries? What if you didn’t have to do any more clipping, filing, saving and most importantly, remembering? Well, here’s my plan for saving a tom of money without coupons!

First of all, I have nothing against the use of coupons. If I have a really good one, and I remember to bring it with me, I will absolutely use it. I just have two major issues:

1. The foods I buy almost never have coupons
When you are focused on eating whole, real foods it is difficult to find coupons. When’s the last time you received a coupon for meat or veggies? Since most coupons are from manufacturers and they offer mostly processed items, I rarely need any coupons for those items.

2. I don’t have the energy required to maintain, sort and remember the coupons
If I find a coupon on the product that says “save $1 now!” I will gladly peel it off and use it then and there. However, if the coupons are all in a bunch in the bottom of my shopping bag, I am very unlikely to remember to pick out the few useful ones and pack them in my wallet for the next grocery trip.

So, what’s a girl to do in order to still save a significant amount on groceries (especially real, healthy, unprocessed foods) without using those coupons?

Learn the Best Prices on Items You Buy Regularly
You don’t have to do anything major. Some people are super organized and make a price book to find the absolute best, rock bottom prices they’ve seen and only buy the item then. I prefer to just make a mental note of best prices and only shop at a couple of places to keep it less confusing. I shop at Kroger mostly, with Aldi and Target supplementing when I want a change or find a great deal. I know that I like to buy bread when it’s $1, milk for $1.99, etc.

Shop the Sales Ads
When you get the flier out and choose just the best deals, you will automatically save more. I always plan my weekly list around what’s on sale. I also shop in the “manager’s special” sections first before choosing the sales items in case I can replace $3.99 meat with $1.99. There are almost always even better deals there if you know what day the major markdowns are!

Plan your Meals
When you are trying to keep your grocery budget low, having a plan to buy just what you need for the week is key. Check out my method for meal planning here. It is important to make your list and stick with it, otherwise your budget can double, or even triple! Believe me, it has happened to me on more than one occasion! Those little impulse buys add up in a hurry!

Use Apps to Save Without Coupons
I don’t like all the paper and organizing of coupons, but that doesn’t mean I won’t use them if they are at my finger tips! There are several apps I use to help me save on groceries with minor effort on my part.

Kroger App: This allows me to shop the weekly ad on my phone, make a list and quickly download the electronic coupons to my loyalty card without having to keep up with anything.

Target App: There is a place to check the weekly ad as well as an instant mobile coupon bar code. Just scan at checkout and see if you have any savings!

Target Cartwheel: I use this quite a bit at Target. You can save up to 50% on an individual item if you use cartwheel! I like to scan the bar code on any big ticket item to check for a discount or if I’m feeling especially frugal, sort the deals by discount percent and see if anything I want is above 20% off.

Checkout 51 and Snap by Groupon: these are for after I’ve shopped. You just scan in your receipt and it will give you cash back on items you have already bought. I like that they both have things like milk, eggs, bread and produce so you can actually get cash back on real food items!

There are tons of ways to save on groceries without coupons and these are just a few methods that I use regularly. What are some of the ways you have found to save without making yourself crazy, clipping, organizing and remembering those coupons?

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12 comments

  1. Misty Nicole Roberts says:

    Hi there! While I enjoy this post, there are a lot of misnomers. First, there are numerous ways to save on whole foods and organics, in fact I blog about such weekly. Also worth noting, that while sales cycles are important, this is actually the least effective way to shop at stores; one should buy goods, and then compile meals and menus based off what goods are available to you. Monthly sales cycles are not the greatest way to save money at the store. Also, maintaining a coupon binder can be done in under an hour weekly, and doing so has allotted me to save upwards of 90% off my groceries, and is well worth the effort for my family; all unused coupons can be mailed to service members to use as well, even six months past their expiration date, from Coups For Troops. As well, just this past week, my family was able to donate $4,123,43 to local charities, solely from couponed goods, which cost us applicable tax-only, to do so. As well, while app deals are great, not using purposed, coupons in conjunction with these sales, is frankly, careless. I think that people should stop portraying coupon shopping in such a negative light, and instead think of ways to better revamp their grocery shopping, instead of giving manufactures, ad executives, and corporations the ability to dictate their grocery budgets, and a nearly 400% markup, on most consumer perishable products. Thanks for the post!
    Misty Nicole Roberts recently posted…Giveaways!My Profile

    • savingsanely says:

      Hi, Misty! Thanks for the “other side of the story!” While I stated that I have nothing against couponing, it just personally takes up more time than I am willing to spend. I have reduced my family’s grocery budget to less than $75 per week for real foods without having to fret about extreme couponing measures but obviously you do what is working for your family! Thanks for checking out my post and putting in your two cents!

    • savingsanely says:

      Thanks, Abigail! I know it’s tough when you have more important things on your plate but meal planning from the sales is my go-to anyway, so I know you can do it too without having to put forth too much effort!

  2. Linda@MixedKreations says:

    Great post! I save coupon, but you are so right they usually expire before I can use them. I am thinking of canceling the paper. I go through the ads every week, and price match at Walmart, and use their app Savings Catcher, and that catches what I missed when price matching. And I use the phone apps Snap, Ckeckout 51, ibotta, and Favado (which shows what on sale at stores and if theres a coupon. I don’t do to good on the apps except for the walmart savings catcher because I don’t buy a lot of what they give cash back on. But hey every bit helps (-; Thanks for sharing!
    Linda@MixedKreations recently posted…You And Me Wooden Heart Block With KeyMy Profile

  3. vegan diet says:

    An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a friend who has been conducting a little homework on this.
    And he actually ordered me lunch simply because I found it for him…

    lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this topic here on your web page.
    vegan diet recently posted…vegan dietMy Profile

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