This week I looked over the coupons in the paper and the new grocery store circulars and realized that there were not many great deals out there for my style of eating. I don't eat hot dogs much and I've stopped eating most of cold cereals that coupons come out for.

What all this means is that the monthly grocery shopping will be almost coupon-less. But I'm not worried, I can still keep my food bill low by shopping without coupons.

List and Calculator
I keeping a running list on my whiteboard and then when there are sales weekly, I jot down what I need and grab them for the week. When the monthly grocery run comes up, then what is left over on the list goes with me. I have a $110 grocery budget for food when it comes to food items. Of course the weekly runs take me over that, but it is easily covered by setting aside $20-50 for those runs.

If I come under the $110 budget for the month, that is then a good time to start stocking up on Thanksgiving or Christmas food. Recently, duck was on sales at a good price per pound and there was room in the monthly budget to get it, so that will go into the freezer until Thanksgiving.

The calculator is just for me to stay on budget. I round up to the next dollar (since I can't keep track of what is taxed and what isn't.) and use that as my guide to trimming my list down or adding more items for an upcoming special meal.

Food Circulars
I do my monthly shopping at a specific grocery store and then the weekly shopping is usually done at the stores nearest my house, depending on the deals. But I do look at them and check for items on my whiteboard grocery list.

The best deals for each store circular are on the front page or the flap that promotes deals for the weekend only. But since my list is pretty small during the week, it takes at most 5 minutes to glance through the weekly ads to King Soopers or Safeway to decide what has the best deals.

Loyalty Cards
I don't like it that if you want the better price (sale price) you have to have a loyalty card to get it. I do like it better that a sale is a sale whether you fill out personal information or not. However, since it is already done I can't complain much. The downside is if the card is forgotten or you used the card to scrape the windows last winter and haven't gotten a new one. Most grocery stores allow you to enter your phone number.

I have heard that if you try the popular phone number song, 867*5309 with your own area code, you may still be able to get a good deal or two. But I haven't personally tried it. I know that lately some grocery stores will give a money back if you buy a certain number of name brand items on top of the usual weekly savings, so cards do come in handy.

Dump Brands
In most cases, if I don't have a coupon for the brand name item, the store brand comes in under the name brand. There are a few items where there are no store brands or the item's store brand didn't cut the quality test for me. At those times I take the name brand, coupon or not.

Walk the Circumference
I would say that over half of the items I buy are on the "outside ring" of the stores. Milk, bread, poultry, fruits and vegetables. The items in the middle are more processed than I would desire, except for the baking aisle and frozen area (ice cream).

Go Clearance
For markdowns on meats I ask the employees when they mark down the meats, in one store they do it around 8-9am. Another store has set aside half of a freezer area for marked down milk, eggs, cheese and the like. And most all grocery stores have an area in the back - usually around the entrance to the back room, where they mark down shelf items like dented soup, bread and bakery items. I get most of my bread from these areas.
flickr/cc- Genista
That sums up my plans for this coming week on how I'm going shopping without coupons. A little planning and a budget. Then I keep my eyes peeled for clearance items I need and store brands that area cheaper in price. And finally I mostly keep to the outside ring of the store to stay healthy and I usually make sure to use my loyalty card for the extra discounts.


  1. Frugaljoe // Friday, October 29, 2010 12:59:00 PM  

    Well coupons are not the answer to everything, but a dollar here and dollar there adds up. Most everyone uses toilet paper, paper towels, tooth paste etc. I manage to save $30-$40 dollars a month with coupons, pays for my DSL service if nothing else. These websites that claim they pay only 35 cents for $1000 of grocery's each month are kind of out there.

  2. Isobel Wren // Monday, November 01, 2010 1:56:00 PM  

    ROFLOL! 867 5309 has gone from the number to call for a good time to the number to enter for a frugal time?

    While I love the idea that a grocery rewards club has such a great sense of humor I imagine that most grocery stores work like the chain drugstore I worked in. Your area code and seven zeroes works just fine.

    Jenny will be so disappointed!

  3. Kelsey // Tuesday, November 02, 2010 2:06:00 PM  

    These are great tips, especially only visiting the "outer ring" :)