How to get and build up a year’s worth of groceries for our family of 7, I never quite know how to respond to the blanket statement that couponing doesn’t work.
I have ideas as to how it might not be working for you, but unless one is vegan or highly allergic or has special religious restrictions (I’m talking orthodox kosher or hallal), you can always save money using coupons. I won’t spend time trying to convert someone to my way of thought regarding grocery shopping, but I will piggyback on to some of what Kimberly said (and thank you Kathryn for the link to localharvest. I’ll check it out in a minute.)
And by the way, when I refer to “you”, I’m referring to the generic YOU, not the original poster, so please don’t take offense. None is intended.
GROCERIES. By this I mean food items.
1. If you are not going to use coupons then you need to rid your mind of brand name products.
If you’re serious about slashing your bill to save money, you can’t be buying $5.99 Pantene when .89cent VO5 will do. It’s the same with food items. There’s no reason to buy Horizon organic milk ($5.29/gal in my area) versus store brand non-organic $2.89/gal. GM cheerios $3.89/box versus storebrand $1.89. You get the point.
2. Bulk up when it’s on sale, and fit your weekly menu to use sale items, rather than grocery shopping out of a cook book.
This means if chicken is on sale .99/lb, then buy 40# of chicken that week. And all your meals (well most of them anyway) is based off chicken. It means you can’t be picky about when you’re going to eat something (or not.) There’s no reason to pay full retail for some things when they are on sale, even if you don’t use it all that week. That’s what a freezer is for.
If you don’t have enough room to store it the original packaging (I’m talking value pack chicken breast on the bone specifically) then filet it off the bone and pack it single layer in a gallon ziplock bag. It will freeze almost flat. BTW, if you throw in BBQ sauce or some kind of marinade in there at the same time, it will defrost and marinade at the same time, and you can toss in a crockpot or whatever.
3. Shop outside your comfort zone.
I live in southern California. Most caucasian people won’t step foot inside the vietnamese grocery stores, because “the store smells funny.” Too bad for them ‘cuz 50# bags of rice are regularly $29, and vegetables run an average of .33 to .50/lb. Ground beef, not used widely in asian cooking, is $1.79 or less a pound. Regular price. Ditto for mexican grocery stores where beans in bulk run about .10 – .20cents/lb.
There is a “same or next day” produce market near me which has really really cheap prices for produce. But if you’re looking to save a bundle and are willing to use it that day, then you’ll save loads. If I was vegan or vegetarian, that’s where I’d be.
NON FOOD ITEMS
1. Get over brand name loyalty. (we just had an “discussion” on this list about CVS 1000ct TP versus Aldi’s double roll versus Scott or Charmin.)
2. Become a dollar store devotee.
3. Use coupons.
AND FINALLY…learn to make stuff from scratch. Bread, cookies, milk (talking powdered, not get your own cow or goat!), laundry detergent, dish soap, bath bombs, noodles etc. can ALL be made from scratch for pennies on the dollar. I make my own bread and snacks, cream of soup and baking mixes, but am brand loyal to non-powdered milk for drinking (I live with a milk sommelier!), and would make my own detergents and soaps from scratch if I didn’t get it for free using coupons, which I do.
Hope this helps.