How to Save Money on Groceries Without Using Coupons
Several years ago extreme couponing was all the rage. Thankfully, most couponers I know today have a more moderate and balanced approach to couponing.
As well, many former extreme couponers like myself have completely given up using coupons. Although it may sounds like we’ve all gone back to overpaying for groceries that isn’t the case.
Before I learned to coupon I was definitely overspending on groceries. Couponing taught me a lot about sale cycles and I’m grateful for that, but as it turns out I never actually needed coupons to save money on groceries.
Read on to find why I stopped extreme couponing and how to save money on groceries without using coupons.
Why I Stopped Extreme Couponing
Once upon a time I was a self-proclaimed coupon queen. I cut my grocery budget for a family of five from nearly $1000 per month to around $300 a month by using coupons from the Sunday paper.
My pantry, fridge, and freezer were full and I was looking into more storage options to contain the overflow. My bathrooms were filled with toiletries and cleaning products – many of them products I’d never tried before because they didn’t fit my budget. Now I was getting them for half-price or even free.
Today, I’m proud to say that I rarely use a coupon when I shop for food or other products.
But, why did I give up couponing?
Four Reasons I Stopped Using Grocery Coupons
I Stopped Eating Processed Food
By far the most important reason I stopped using coupons was because I stopped eating processed food.
I enjoyed couponing for a while – until I learned the food I was buying with coupons was so worthless that even being paid to put it in my cart and take it home to my family was much too costly.
Food manufacturers and grocery stores can afford to give us this food for a sale price or even completely free because it doesn’t cost them much to make or obtain.
These lifeless, health-robbing food-like products are lining the pockets of a handful of corporations and causing Americans to fall into chronic diseases such as infertility, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Coupons = Health Issues
I won’t go into detail in this post, but I developed health issues after a year of eating the boxed, bagged, and canned foods I bought using coupons.
Oh, I thought I was being smart, of course. I was following the dietary guidelines and eating the “healthy” processed foods. You know, the ones that promise heart health, digestive regularity, wholesomeness, and added vitamins and minerals.
I wasn’t sitting around eating chips and drinking soda all day – although I could have done that almost for free by combining sales and coupons. I thought I was making healthy choices because the words on the boxes told me I was.
When my family switched to a truly healthy real food diet, my health problems vanished and I quickly lost weight.
Real Food = No Coupons
Since I can’t give my farmer a coupon for our raw milk, pastured eggs, or grass-fed beef and there are few, if any, coupons for the produce we buy at the grocery store (and certainly none for what we buy at farmer’s markets) I stopped using coupons regularly.
From time to time I get a coupon for cheese or organic chicken or some other product I use from Earth Fare, but I’ve never used a coupon at our local health food store.
Many of the pantry staples I need are bought online at a price cheaper than I can get them at the grocery store or health food stores, but there are no coupons for these products.
I’ll tell you later in this article how I feed my family real food on a budget.
Couponing Was Too Time Consuming
Even before my family switched from a Standard American Diet (SAD) to a real food diet, I found curating, clipping, organizing, and shopping with coupons to be time consuming.
Of course, saving so much money made it worth the work that extreme couponing requires. Then again, time is money, right?
Honestly, I’m glad I don’t have to spend so much time on couponing to save money. Meal planning and using a free grocery pickup service sure beat spending my Sunday afternoons and evenings swimming in a pile of clipped coupons.
I Was Overwhelmed by Food and Toiletry Stockpile Clutter
I can’t deny that extreme couponing made food and toiletries extremely cheap. I had stockpiles of boxed, bagged, and canned foods. I had shelves and storage closets full of hair care products, baby care products, body care products, and more.
The trouble was that I ran out of space. I felt overwhelmed by clutter and quickly realized that there’s a thin line between saving money and being greedy. It just felt bad to have so much.
Frankly, couponing can become an unhealthy obsession and not wanting to ‘leave money on the table’ can lead to unnecessary purchases – especially if they are ‘money-getters’ or totally free.
After I stopped couponing I donated the excess, which was a silver lining to a situation that had left me wondering how I’d accumulated so much . . . stuff.
I Chose Quality Over Quantity
When I stopped couponing I traded quantity for quality.
On a real food diet my family eats less because the food we eat is nourishing. We don’t need as much of it to satisfy our nutritional needs.
As far as personal care and household products go, the ones I use are high quality and non-toxic. They are usually super concentrated and, therefore, cost the same or even less than those I used to buy with coupons. (See the non-toxic products I use.)
How Much Do I Spend on Healthy, Real Food Groceries For My Family?
Now that you know why I stopped using coupons to buy groceries let’s talk about how much I spend on groceries these days. I think you’ll be surprised! I know I was thrilled to discover that feeding my family a real food diet wasn’t nearly as expensive as I’d though it’d be.
We’re a family of five with three teenage boys and our healthy, real food diet only costs us around $400-600 per month in groceries.
Sure, it’s not $300 a month, but let’s put it in perspective: The US government’s monthly thrifty food cost plan for my family is $868.90. That’s the least expensive plan that follows the carb-heavy, low fat US government dietary guidelines.
I consistently spend $200-400 LESS than that on high fat, low carb, healthy, real food for my family – without using coupons. It CAN be done!
How I Feed My Family Real Food On a Budget
Now that my boys are teens my grocery costs have gone up. Still, I’ve managed to keep my grocery budget for a family of five under $600/month while eating a real food diet. (Except for an embarrassing real food grocery budget challenge I did several years ago. My priorities were all wrong then!)
Here are some of the ways I save on groceries without using coupons:
- I feed my family real food on a budget by eating organic produce from the dirty dozen list and not wasting money on organic produce from the clean fifteen.
- I grow my own as much as possible.
- We eat less meat. For example, instead of serving whole portions of meat as the main dish, I make casseroles or cut the meat into bite-sized pieces so that there is some meat in every bite. (Yes, this still works on a low carb diet.)
- I make my own snacks and desserts so that I know what’s in them and save money at the same time. (We eat fewer snacks and desserts than before because our meals are filling and we try to avoid sugar except as a special treat.)
- I buy local. I paid only $3.00 per pound when I purchased a quarter grass-fed beef from a local farmer. I don’t know if you’ve priced grass-fed beef at the grocery store recently but . . . well, I got a steal!
- I buy in bulk.
- I shop online. Amazon makes it possible for me to feed my family real food on a budget. (See my favorite real food products to buy on Amazon.)
Find out more about how I feed my family a real food diet on a budget: