Confession time: I HATE clipping coupons.
I know, it’s crazy. I love to save money, so I thought couponing would be a natural fit for me.
Turns out it’s not.
There is a struggling minimalist buried deep inside me that just can’t handle the collecting and scouting and comparing and stockpiling that goes along with real coupon savings.
I mean yes, if I get some ExtraBucks from CVS, I’ll use them (it’s free money, right?), but I just can’t do the whole stacking and doubling and filing thing that “real” couponers do so successfully.
Since I am not a couponer, but we do live on a budget, I’ve had to find other ways to save those pennies on our groceries. And with three growing boys in our house, that’s no small feat.
Here are my suggestions for how save major bucks on your groceries even if you aren’t into coupons.
Method #1: Start Shopping at ALDI
This was a serious game-changer for our family. Every time I get to the checkout counter, I’m honestly shocked by how LOW my total is. I can often shop there for an entire week’s worth of groceries, for a family of five, for less than $120.
I was hesitant to try it at first. I worried about the quality of the food and lack of selection, but as you’ll see, we often eat BETTER food when I shop at ALDI at about half the price of other stores.
If there’s an ALDI near you, you owe it to yourself to check it out. It won’t be as big as other grocery stores, but to me, that’s a good thing. I don’t really like standing in an aisle comparing six cans of corn, when all I really want is one that tastes good and doesn’t cost too much. ALDI is a little bare bones, but it makes shopping much simpler. My inner minimalist is smiling.
My Favorite Reason to Shop Here: You can afford to feed your family good, wholesome food even while you’re living on a tight budget.
*Hidden Gem: ALDI carries lots of other stuff besides groceries. I’ve bought diapers, a home laminator, pillows, blankets, pajamas, toys, kitchen gadgets, holiday decorations, even amazing patio furniture there, all at amazing discount prices. It’s a little like Costco Lite…minus the overwhelming warehouse and bulk sizes.
The inventory changes weekly, so it’s a fun surprise to stop in and just see what they have. Of course, this also means there’s no guarantee that something you really need will be there, but you can view their weekly flyers online to get a heads-up on what’s in your store each week.
Things to know before your first trip to ALDI:
- The grocery carts are “for rent”, so you’ll need to always bring a quarter with you.
- To cut overhead costs (and offer cheaper, high-quality goods), ALDI doesn’t employ someone to round up grocery carts from the parking lot. They are all kept at the entrance on little locks. You simply insert a quarter to retrieve your cart. When you’re done with it, return it to the lock and get your quarter back.
- Bring your own bags (and be willing to bag your groceries yourself)
- Again, to keep costs low, ALDI does not offer free bags (they have reusable ones for purchase if you forget your own), and they do not employ baggers. So bring your own bags (and, you know, save the planet while you’re at it).
- After you check out, take your cart of awesomely cheap groceries to the long counter and bag ’em up. Easy peasy.
- You can also take any empty display boxes you find in the store to box up your things.
- I purchased an inexpensive plastic milk crate to carry heavy items like milk, juice and wine (why yes, ALDI does offer a great selection of wines).
- Be willing to buy store brand items
- Although they do carry some name-brand options, ALDI is primarily a store-brand grocer. Once you see the price comparison, I doubt you’ll care about paying an extra dollar just for the name.
- Most of the ALDI brand goods we’ve tried we like just as much, and often better than the name brand.
- You can find lots of organic and gluten-free options
- ALDI has worked very hard in recent years to expand its selection of organic items: produce, kids products, pasta sauces, you name it. They also offer grass-fed beef, organic cage free eggs, and lots of GF options for those of us hoping to feed our families WELL on a budget.
- They ONLY accept cash or debit cards – NO CREDIT CARDS
- A few times I’ve been in line behind someone who didn’t realize this. And once I was the person who forgot my debit card (and never carries much cash).
- The checkers are always courteous, and usually they are happy to suspend your transaction if you need to run to an ATM. But, it goes without saying, it’s better not to find yourself in that position.
- If you buy something you don’t love, you can always return it for a full refund and replacement.
- They don’t offer or accept any coupons. Since coupons are produced by big name-brand companies, and ALDI offers mostly its own brands, this makes sense.
- HOWEVER: Watch your weekly circulars. Every once in a while, ALDI will send out a $10 off coupon in a circular. So keep an eye out! I like to look at their flyers anyway because I often see cute new things or great deals I want to snag.
ALDI is hands-down the BEST way to pinch pennies on groceries without having to go to the trouble of clipping coupons. I’m so glad I finally tried it out.
However, if your budget has a little more wiggle room, I highly recommend my second method as another great money-saver with the added bonus of convenience you just can’t beat. Read the next post to learn more about it.
Try out your local ALDI this week and let me know what you think!