November 5, 2013

How-To: Cut Costs for Non-Couponers

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I love saving money just like everyone else! However, to be honest, in regards to saving money at the grocery store, I don't have the time nor the patience to research and compare store ads or to cut piles of coupons! Therefore, I had to come up with another way for my family to be as cost efficient with our money and still be able to eat well! If you are looking to cut your grocery bills in half or for couponing tricks, unfortunately, this is not the post for you. BUT, if you are looking for tips on how to eat well while on a budget, then this is the perfect post for you!

1. Buy in bulk.  
2. Stock-up on popular kitchen staples.   
3. Plan your meals in advance.
4. Always have a grocery list.
5. Have a budget and stick with it.


Seems logical doesn't it? It really isn't that much of a secret. These are things that many people already know! However, the trick is how to actually accomplish and follow through with it! In this post I will share with you my tips and tricks that help me!
Buy in bulk
Buying items in bulk can greatly affect your grocery savings! I usually do a Sam's Club run once a month. When I go, I tend to stock up on baby items, snacks, and meat. Yes, meat at warehouses are expensive, but if you calculate the cost per pound, you tend to get a better deal. I'll usually buy a 5 lb bag of chicken wings and a 5lb bag of chicken breasts and that lasts my family of 4 all month. Our family loves chicken! haha! And when you do buy meat in bulk, just make sure to freeze anything you don't use right away so that you don't waste anything! By buying in bulk, you will not have to include those items in your weekly grocery run. Not having to buy meat every week helps reduce the price of your grocery bill greatly! You WILL notice a difference! Below is a list of things I recommend that you SHOULD buy in bulk:
  • Paper towels
  • Toilet paper
  • Cereal
  • Bottled drinks
  • Detergent and cleaning supplies
  • Meat
  • Diapers and baby wipes
  • Individually wrapped snacks
  • Pasta
  • Grains
  • Beans
  • Canned goods

Stock-up on popular kitchen staples
A trick to cutting back on the amount of things you need to buy at the grocery store is to maintain a well-stocked kitchen. Below is a list of things that I make sure to always keep on hand. They are great kitchen staples that can be used in a majority of recipes. By always having these staples in your kitchen, you can save on your grocery bill every week! To help you stock up on your items, buy them whenever you see them on sale and always maintain a record of things you are running low on so that you can keep your kitchen ready for every meal!

Shredded Cheese
Heavy Cream
Whipped Cream
Sour Cream
Cream Cheese
Frozen Berries
Frozen Veggies
(Peas, Spinach, Broccoli, Corn)
Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Paprika, Rosemary, Sage, Parsley, Coriander, Garlic powder, Onion Powder, Garlic Salt, Sea Salt, Table Salt, Black Pepper, Nutmeg, Ground Ginger, Cinnamon, Cumin, Dill, Bay Leaves, Chili Powder
Pasta (Spaghetti, Elbow, Penne)
Long-Grain Rice
Dried Bread Crumbs
Chicken/Beef/Vegetable Stock
Tomatoes (Canned, Pasta, Sauce)
Spaghetti Sauce
Canned Beans
All-Purpose Flour
Granulated Sugar
Powdered Sugar
Brown Sugar
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Corn Starch
Vanilla Extract
Cocoa Powder
Chocolate Chips
Sweetened Condensed Milk
Evaporated Milk
Olive Oil
Canola Oil
Vegetable Oil
Cooking Spray
Spicy/Yellow Mustard
Ranch Dressing
Italian Dressing
BBQ Sauce
Soy Sauce
Teriyaki Sauce
Worcestershire Sauce
Hot Sauce
Maple Syrup
Vinegar (White, Apple Cider, Balsamic)
Peanut Butter

Plan your meals in advance
I always plan all my dinners a week before. To help me plan my meals, I usually go into my freezer and see what meats I have on hand that I can cook for the week. Also, I check my pantry and fridge for anything that is about to spoil or expire. I tend to center my meals around those factors. By using a lot of the things I already have at home, I save lots of money off my grocery run! Also, I know that cooking EVERY night isn't ideal or practical for everyone and it's nice to have a break once in awhile, so make sure to reserve nights for leftovers or, if your budget allows, go out to eat! Here is a sample of my typical weekly meal plan. I also make sure to include sides!
As you can see, we REALLY do like chicken!
I know that cooking or even coming up with recipes isn't for everyone, so here are a couple links that I hope can help you plan your meals in advance!
  • For those who have a bunch of random ingredients on hand and need ideas on what to make with them, check out! All you have to do is input the ingredients you want to use and it will search thousands of recipes to find the perfect one for you! You can also include the ethnic cuisine you are craving or any allergies you may have!
  • Another great website to get tons of easy and yummy recipes is You can find thousands of recipes for meals, sides, desserts, etc! I don't like cooking things that are extra complicated, so if you want a quick view of some recipes that I have "pinned", you can check out my board at Pinterest - Recipes to Try (mizzmabby). Make sure to follow me on Pinterest if you do not yet already!

Always have a grocery list
Now that you have your meals planned for the week, you can start putting together your grocery list! You only need to include things that you don't already have on hand for your meals and any kitchen staples that you may be running low on! Below is the standard grocery list that I created that I use every week:

Make your own re-useable shopping list!
CLICK ON IMAGE for bigger view!

This list helps me keep track of all my kitchen staples and also allows me to write any additional items that I may need to purchase for my recipes! I wrote out this list on excel, printed it out, and put it into a sheet protector (you can also laminate it, but I haven't had a chance to do that yet!). Then every week, I go through each item on this grocery list and mark (with a dry erase marker) any items that I am running low on or need for my dinners. Then I bring my grocery list with me and I ONLY BUY WHAT'S ON MY LIST! Don't buy anything else! Having a list on hand helps prevent you from making impulse buys of costly items that you don't need. Don't forget to include on your list any toiletries you may need and foods for breakfast and lunch! I highly recommend creating your own standard grocery list similar to mine. Just make sure it is customized with items that YOU use on a regular basis! The great thing about using the same standard list over and over is that you can easily wipe off things as you pick them up! Since it's all written on a sheet protector with a dry erase marker, you can simply mark it off your list with a rub of your hand or tissue! Once your done, you can just swipe everything clean and use the list again next week!
Have a budget and stick with it
I budget $75/week for my family of 4 and reserve $150 a month for our monthly Sam's Club run to stock up on bulk items. So overall, we reserve about $450/month for groceries and typical household items. To some, $75 a week for a family of 4 (without coupons!) may seem tough, but if you follow the tricks that I listed above, I'm sure you can do it! 

To help make sure I stay on budget, I keep an eye out for sale items! Also, don't ignore store brand items. They tend to be cheaper and are just as good quality as the brand name items. Since I already have a majority of my items at home, most of my weekly grocery list consists of fresh produce and kitchen staples, which don't add up to much. And the fact that I don't have to buy meat easily helps me stay within budget. Meat tends to be one of the costliest things when grocery shopping! So by buying it in bulk, I don't have to spend money from my weekly grocery budget towards it. Also, avoid buying pre-made meals. Not only do they tend to be high in sodium and have questionable ingredients, their costs add up quickly! 

A trick I use to keep track of my purchases is to add up the dollar amounts in my head as I go (making sure to round up). It may be easier for me to do in my head because I love math, but for those who are a little mathematically challenged, make sure to bring a calculator with you or use the one on your phone! By seeing your items add up right in front of you, you somewhat have your own personal register and it will make you more conscious of the price of each item and how much you have left to spend!

After buying everything on your list and you end up being above your budget, then you can either deduct from your next grocery run or you will need to put back some items or exchange it for a cheaper version/substitute! DO NOT GO ABOVE YOUR BUDGET. It may take a few grocery runs for you to become familiar with prices and the best budget for you, so don't beat yourself up if you do go over by a few dollars the first few times. However, after about a month, you should be able to gauge more easily the cost for your meals and how much you can spend. And in a situation where you are below your budget, you can either save the monies and use it towards your next grocery endeavor or splurge on some items you don't really need but would like to have. I typically save any extra money towards my Sam's Club run since diapers and wipes get costly!

Those are my tips on how to Cut Costs for Non-Couponers! I hope you found it helpful and possibly may have picked up a few tricks to help you cut costs yourself! Please make sure to "pin" this on Pinterest or "share" on your Facebook timeline for future reference! Also, please comment below any thoughts or suggestions you may have to help other "non-couponers" save!

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  1. Great post Mabby! My tip to save money is: Don't go to the store hungry! hahaha

    1. Haha! Yes, that is always a good tip to remember! ;-)

  2. Great tips !!! Organized planning is the key :D

    1. Yes! Being organized and knowing your game plan before going to the store helps you stay on budget and avoid unnecessary purchases!