Think You Can’t Save Grocery Money Without Coupons? You totally can! Here's how-to... (Part 1: Start at Home)

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by Robin & Ed

You might think a couple that writes a blog called Frugal Family Times would be totally gung-ho about coupons. You probably picture our hands calloused and papercut from many hours of clipping coupons and all the while we smile and laugh with the exquisite joy coupons bring us. 

That’s not quite us. Not even close. We’ve tried to like coupons, but we just don’t. Couponing is a hassle in our castle.

That doesn’t mean we spend way too much on groceries. While couponing is the UFC of grocery shopping, we prefer grocery ninjitsu – patient, stealthy and with catchy slogans we can repeat like a wise sensei. 

In this series, we will share our proverbs and help you become a couponless grocery warrior.  

Step one begins at home...

  1. Only buy what you need.

Only buy what you need? That’s what passes for a savvy tip these days?! 

Apparently, it does.  We Canadians need to hear it. 

  • "Individuals waste some $14.6 billion worth of food every year, about 47 per cent of the total. This mainly consists of food items that Canadians buy with the intention of using in their homes, but never do, so it ends up eventually in a landfill or composted." 
  • Source: cbc.ca (Dec 11th, 2014)

You’ve got better things to do with your cash than throw it in the trash!

With a few minutes of planning, you can cut down this waste to zip, or close to it. We’ve talked about it before: Menu Planning is our numero uno tip for saving money. Though we made a snazzy menu planning board that works great for us, it doesn’t have to be fancy. Just scribble down a few meals you’ll eat this week.

Quick tip: You don’t need to scroll through Pinterest and flip through fancy cookbooks to choose meals - that can be overwhelming. Start with food you already know how to make. Build from there. The key is to just start.

  1. Make a list and stick to it.

Making a list is another totally non-groundbreaking tip, but it’s hard to cook a meal if you don’t have the ingredients in the cupboard. And impulse purchases add up. A list will also cut down on extra trips to the store, which will save you gas or bus fare, plus save you from picking up 10 other tempting things.

Quick tip: After you’ve jotted down a menu plan, check your cupboards, fridge, and freezer – maybe you already have some of the ingredients? If not, add stuff to your list. Make it as complete as you can before you head to the store. It will save you time wandering around and wondering what to cook and what you need.

Here's the list we swear by. (It's a free printable, too!)

  1. Get familiar with your flyers.

Every grocery store wants you to choose them and they are willing to sell some foods at a loss to get you in the door. You will find deals here that you can’t find coupons for: fresh produce, meats, poultry, fish, milk. Your strategy here is simple: buy more of the sale items and less of the regular priced stuff.

Quick tip: If you don't have the time read all the store flyers cover to cover, and few of us can, focus on the front page. The best deals are usually there. You can read flyers online, too.

Better yet!

Flipp is a free app you're going to want to download - it's invaluable - read more about it here.

  1. Learn to Recognize a Good Deal: Keep a Price Book

If you see a price in-store and wonder, “Is this a good price?” your Price Book will give you the answer. Basically, a Price Book is a place where you keep track of the cost of the things you buy regularly in order to compare. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, and you don’t have to keep track of everything. Start with the 5 or 10 most expensive things you buy.

We started our Price Book at home by copying the prices of the more expensive items from our grocery receipt, along with the name of the store and the size of the package. Before long we had a sense of what was a good price and what was a price to pass on.

Quick tip: Cassie at Mrs. January has a free Price Book printable to get you started.

  1. When the Price is Right Stock up

Your freezer and pantry are your frugal friends; when you see a good deal - stock up.
As you watch the flyers and consult your Price Book you will get to know when you’ve hit payload. When the price is good, buy as much as you can afford the money and space for, as long as you know you’ll use it.

Quick tip: Our kitchen is small. We don’t have room for a pantry, but that hasn’t stopped us from creating one. We keep a stash of food in the basement in an old cupboard. If something we use is at a good price, we store extras down there until we need them.


  1. Hey Robin ... My newest saving technique is using Zhers new "Click & Collect" that rolled out this week. I shop on line (which also shows current flyer), select my needed items (which are super easy to choose on line for best savings as almost every item has the price/gram/litre listed), I avoid impulse shopping in store, and my time is freed up while someone else does my shopping for me. (They even make substitutions for me, if I indicate that is acceptable). $3/order is WAY less than what I would spend on unnecessary items if I were in store. I love it. Pam

    1. That sounds amazing, Pam! Just $3 per order. I need to try this out. What a great solution for people with mobility issues or small children too. Thanks for sharing! :)

  2. New way to save money! Thank for the tips! I learn so many new things from your blog! Keep it up!

  3. That's another amazing way to save money! I've never thought of that before. Thanks a lot for your great tips!

  4. Great way to save money. Helpful tips. Thank for sharing this.


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