Stretching Your Grocery Dollar Without Using Coupons Part 1

How do you stretch your grocery dollars? I know some people do an excellent job trimming the grocery budget with coupons. I am trying to work on that, but I have not had that much success. I am not a coupon maven.

To try to make up for that, I have routinely found ways to stretch the food I buy. For instance, during my freezer cooking bout this weekend, I had several chicken dishes on the menu. I bought 3 packages of chicken for $1.99 a pound. Each package had roughly 6 chicken breasts in it. We need 4 chicken breasts per meal. Since I bought 3 packages, I had 18 chicken breasts, or enough for 4.5 typical meals. I stretched this buy cutting each chicken breast in half lengthwise, giving me a much thinner cut of meat. Then I was able to stretch those 18 chicken breasts into 9 meals instead of 4.5. As long as I serve the meal with a starch and a veggie or two, we don’t miss the extra meat.

Likewise, when I was making Tuscan Bean Soup, the recipe called for 8 cups of chicken stock. We are a bit sensitive to the taste of salt, so I simply added 4 cups of broth and 4 cups of water. We didn’t notice any adverse taste in flavor.

While I am no coupon maven, I am doing my best to stretch the basic ingredients I buy to lower our grocery bill overall. What tricks do you use to save money feeding your family?

Check out the other parts of this series:
 Part II – Buy multi purpose foods

Part III – Check Prices

Comments

  1. While I am a big couponer, I don’t generally buy food with my coupons (my husband and I are both vegan, so we mainly eat produce). To save money, we like to shop at “ethnic” markets, we are usually able to pick up specialty and regular produce for significantly less than the regular grocery store. Plus it gives us a chance to eat new foods and get variety in our diet! Our favorite places to shop right now are the Chinese Cultural Center, a Mexican food market and a Japanese Market.
    To save on bread, we found an Orowheat bread outlet store, where you can get whole grain breads and Bob’s Red Mill flour for 50%+ off of retail prices.

    • Thanks for the tips! I will check out some of these ideas. We do have a Japanese store near us but have found their prices to be more expensive.

  2. It is refreshing to hear of someone else who admits to not being good with coupons. Try as I might, I just never seem to be able to have the time, patience, or resources to be good with coupons. So I do like you and try to reduce my food costs in other ways. One thing I’d like to point out about your post, is that by reducing the meat amounts and adding extra veggies and starches you are most likely eating healthier, too. That’s a win-win in my opinion!

  3. It’s hard to use coupons if you aren’t buying the things in the middle of the store. Coupons for produce don’t exist for the most part. While you can get a ton of food for a small amount of money if you are buying processed unhealthy food than you really aren’t helping yourselves. About a year ago I tried to use coupons, but was buying things that we didn’t need/shouldn’t be eating just to get the deal. I just use coupons for non food items now, and that’s only if I haven’t been able to get something at Sam’s. While Sams might be a little more expensive, not going to multiple stores each week is nice. I only hit Sams every 1-2 months and get what we need there.

    • Well said, Holly. We have been drastically cutting down on our processed foods. I used to use coupons for CVS & Walgreen’s, but I haven’t been following the deals there for months. Maybe when I get some more free time when the baby is bigger. . .

  4. I too wish I could get on board with the coupons but for some reason I cannot wrap my brain around that process! Thanks for the chicken breast tip…I will have to try that out. My husband is a BIG meat eater but this might be a great way to keep the meat but save on money!!!

  5. You know i go back n forth between buying bread at the bread outlet ( i freeze it, cause that stuff is always close to going outa date) & making bread in my bread maker. I have been using my bread machine much more lately. Its great to just make batches of dough, save yourself all that stirring & kneading. I use it to make pizza dough n then freeze it or the dough for buns & rolls then bake them & freeze. It all depends on what works best for you though, some times you just don’t have the time. I actually happened upon my bread maker by accident in a good will when i was looking for a coffee maker i think. Got it for like 12 bucks. Personally i think its more than paid for its self in the 5 months or so i;ve had it. Also, do you price match? i always price match & then go to walmart. It helps me realize what is actually a sale or not too, since i have to look at the prices a lil more. I will say i totally agree w/ you about couponing becoming daunting though. I can save a decent amount normally, but sometimes its just so tiring. In those cases, when it overwhelms me, i honestly just ask for help from someone, like my husband or mom. Cause, in reality, its not as big as i’m making it, its just that huge to me since i have like 3 million other things i’m doing. So when i get help, it goes much quicker (even if i have to explain it ) and i can breathe again. 🙂

    • I haven’t tried price matching before. I will have to try that and see if it lowers our grocery spending. Thanks for the tip.

  6. Great tips! Although I use coupons and have been fairly good at it in the past, I love seeing new tips that are different than the usual “use coupons” tips.

    I am going to link to this post on my round up post on Saturday.

    • Great. Thanks for the link up! I’ll come check out your blog to see if I can learn how to better optimize coupons.

  7. We have Meatless Monday at our house, which saves some money. Also, you can make your own chicken stock by boiling chicken or bones with an onion with the skin on. It looks just like store bought, but is free. I try to buy whole chickens for casseroles or other meals which call for cooked, chopped chicken rather than using BS breasts. I use one chicken for 3 meals (2 adults, 2 toddlers).
    Another way to save is to cut out the convenience items and make more from scratch.
    Also, ehtnic recipes (Latin, Italian, Chinese) tend to be more cost effective than traditional American meals. Chicken fried rice, bean burritos, veggie fritatas are all inexpensive to make for example.

    • Thanks for the tips. What would you recommend as a good price per pound for a whole chicken? I only know a good price for boneless skinless. Thanks.

      • ChellBell says:

        I just found your blog and while I’m not a mom, the hubby and I are trying to be better about planning our meals, eating healthier, and saving money for a new car.
        Anyway, as far as whole chicken prices, I usually wait until the stores here in Houston (HEB and Randall’s (part of the Safeway chain) have the Sanderson Farm brand on sale – usually 69 to 79 cents per pound. SF doesn’t add water/solution to their chicken where as Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride typically do.

        • Thanks for the response! I just bought a whole chicken for .69 a pound, so I guess it was a good buy. I’ll check for the solution. (I didn’t even know about that!)

  8. Using smaller portions of pricey ingredients is a great way to save! Your chicken will go even farther if you make recipes like stir-fry, casseroles, chef’s salad, and others where the protein is in small chunks with a lot of other ingredients.

    I save by stocking up on foods (especially non-perishables and things that can be frozen) when they’re on sale. Most vegetables can be frozen if you’re going to cook them. Just cut or grate them, pack a meal-size portion into a plastic bag, squish out all the air, seal, and mark the date on it. We’ve found that kale works in a lot of recipes and freezes well and is very affordable.

    We joined a health-food co-op where many foods are sold in bulk and you fill your own container (like an old peanut butter jar) which you’ve weighed so that they charge you only for the weight of the food. By not paying for packaging, you save money AND help the environment! Many of the bulk foods, even organic, are less expensive than the cheapest supermarket version.

    My family doesn’t cook meat at home, and that saves money because beans, nuts, eggs, and most other vegetarian proteins cost less than meat. There are lots of meatless recipes on my site.

  9. Thanks Becca. I will check out your site.

  10. What a great tip! We do some of this too. Though I have to admit, my husband does more of it than me!

    What would you do with a $75 gift card?  I have a  giveaway on my blog right now for just that!  

    Come on over and enter!  

  11. I got to this post through another site and thought I would put in my two cents. I buy whole chickens when they go on sale and stock the freezer. We get two meals for a family of six. First you bake the chicken in the oven. Then when you are done you take the leftover meat and make a pot pie. When you only have the bones left you boil them with onions, celery and carrots to make stock. We have made our own stock and used it instead of chicken broth for years and it has no salt. By the way I love your site and will be back to visit.

    • Thanks for the tips! I would love more details as this is all new to me. How long do you bake the chicken? What is a good price to pay per pound? Thanks for the good info.

      • I only stock up at 59 cents a pound. I live in Colorado so that price hits aobut 3 times a year usually in the fall. I bake the chickens for 3 hours. 2 and 1/2 covered and then uncovered for the last 1/2 hour. I use the dark meat to make the pot pie or whatever else I decide to do.

        • Thanks for the details!

        • That’s a long time to bake chickens – are you cooking them on very low heat? if not, and they aren’t overcooked, is your oven calibrated? Or are you cooking them all at one time? I’m just curious about this since I do the same thing but never cook them that long. Is it because of the altitude?

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