Unique Ways to Save Money at the Grocery Store

I’m sure you’ve all read the usual ways everyone saves money at the grocery store…cutting coupons, using phone apps, buying generic. I’ve even kept a price book in the past to compare prices, but the store prices change so often, I just couldn’t keep up with it all! I’ve honestly gotten really tired of reading the same thing over and over when I try to find new ways to save money.

I also do not have the time to be cutting coupons, checking 17 different phone apps, and driving all over the country trying to get a cheap pack of toilet paper. I like my free time. A lot. And I’m not going to keep a binder with 5,000 coupons in it. It’s a miracle I even remember to use a coupon before it expires.

I felt compelled to share my sane, time-saving secrets with you to save money at the grocery store…

Check the sales ads of the stores you frequent

Okay, I do check the sales ads of the stores I go to on a weekly basis. I do most of my grocery shopping at Aldi, so I always check to see what they have on sale that week, and meal plan accordingly.

I also check my local Ingles ad (a Southeastern grocery chain), to see what deals they have on meat. My local Aldi doesn’t always have the best meat, and I can usually get a good price at my local Ingles.

I subscribe to the sales ads so that I get them emailed to me every week. We don’t subscribe to our local newspaper, so it’s easier to just open up your email to see what’s on sale that week.

Buy in bulk

If you get a good deal on something, buy enough for at least the whole month! I have a budgeted amount of money for each month, so I usually only buy enough to get me through the month.

What freezes well? Here are all of the things I buy in bulk to freeze:

  • Meat
    • If it’s a large pack of meat, I separate it into meal-sized portions and wrap it in freezer paper before putting it into the freezer.
  • Bread
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Yogurt
  • Butter
  • Nuts
  • Flours
  • Dried Fruits
  • Some pre-made cookies, crackers, and baking mixes if they’re near or past their expiration date (the oils begin to turn rancid)

Buy at discount grocery stores

Most everyone has access to a discount grocery store in their area. I only frequent ours once or twice a month, and stock up for the month. If I go more than that, I tend to buy more than I need. It also causes me to go a bit over my monthly grocery budget.

This is where I get most of my gluten free and organic items. They are just not in our budget if I buy them at regular grocery stores (other than a few items at Aldi). If I can’t get what I need for the month (this rarely happens, though), I try to make some of it from scratch if I have time. If not, I just meal plan accordingly.

Check the expiration dates, and don’t be afraid to ask for a discount!

This is the main way that I save money at the grocery stores! Most of the stores I frequent don’t do a very good job at rotating their stock (although my local Aldi got really good at it over time because they got tired of me finding their expired items and getting discounts).

In the state of North Carolina, stores cannot legally sell most items past their expiration date. This can work in your favor, if you find products before the expiration date. Unfortunately I do find expired items from time to time, and the stores will not sell them to me. They have to throw them away. Which is awful. I mean, most food is usually fine for a few days after the expiration date if stored correctly!

Each store has different rules when it comes to discounts. Some will mark the product down for you up to two days before the expiration date. You will almost always get a discount if it expires the day before. Your best bet is to go to the store on the day the items expire. I have checked the dates on items, then returned to the store on the day of their expiration to get a deep discount.

Get to know the managers of each department. They are the ones who have the ability to give you a discount on certain items. For breads, I go speak with the bakery manager. Meats, the meat department manager. At Aldi, you can usually just ask a cashier, but it also helps to know the manager of the store.

For a few months, my local Ingles had whole organic chickens that were expiring the day I came to stock up on meat. I found the manager of the meat department, and offered to buy all of the chickens that were expiring that day if they gave me a good discount. I got them all for $1 a pound! I ended up with at least 20 whole organic chickens over the course of two months using this method.

I have also gotten deep discounts on sandwich meats at my local Walmart. They had a large stock of pre-sliced boneless hams and turkeys that were about to expire, so I found the meat department manager and pointed that out to him. I got all of them for $1.00 each (these meats are usually $4.50+ per pound).

I have also had luck buying bread, cheese, vegetables, and fruits with this method. If it has an expiration date, check it!

So there you have it! I’m sure there’s some unique ideas that I’ve left out or haven’t thought of. Feel free to leave your unique ideas in the comments!

Mini Paleo Pot Pies (Grain Free, with a Dairy Free Option)

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.” -David Mamet

I cannot think of a time that some pot pie didn’t make my day 100 times better. Cold and rainy? Pot pie. Stressed and tired? Pot pie. Kids are sick? Pot pie. You get the idea.

As a big pot pie fan, I’m also aware of the fact that they can really make me feel crummy if I’m going for the cheap frozen ones. You really don’t want to read the ingredients in those pies!

Paleo Pot Pies to the rescue! These are grain free, and have a dairy free option. They are full of nourishing vegetables, broth, and meat. The perfect combination for an all-in-one meal. They can also be easily frozen, thawed, and re-heated, so feel free to make more than you need!

I used 6 of these cute little ramekins. They are 6.7 oz each. This recipe will also work in a 9 inch pie pan, but you will need to adjust the time and cook a bit longer. You can tent a piece of foil on top of the crust to prevent over-browning.

Ingredients

  • 1 Paleo Pie Crust
  • 2 Tbsp Butter or Palm Shortening
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 1/2 cup minced carrot
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock (or turkey stock)
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked turkey or chicken, diced
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1 large egg, whisked (for the egg wash)

Method

  1. Prepare the Paleo Pie Crust, and refrigerate after rolling it out between parchment paper.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Heat butter or palm shortening in a medium to large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook, stirring, until all of the veggies are tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle in the arrowroot flour and stir into the veggies until well combined. While stirring constantly, slowly stir in the chicken stock until it is well incorporated. Then slowly add the coconut milk, continuing to stir constantly.
  5. Cook, simmering uncovered and stirring, until the mixture is thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and add the frozen peas and diced chicken/turkey.
  6. Remove the Paleo Pie Crust from the refrigerator. Take one of the ramekins, and cut out enough circles of pie crust for all 6 of the ramekins.
  7. Place the 6 ramekins on a baking sheet, and evenly divide the filling among them.
  8. Remove a cut out piece of pie crust (gently pushing from the bottom of the parchment, peel it off), and gently set it on top of the filling. Press it onto the sides of the ramekin, to cover the filling. Repeat with the other ramekins.
  9. Using a paring knife, make one small 1/2 inch slit in the center of each of the pie crusts. Using a brush, carefully brush the top of the crust with the egg wash.
  10. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven, and cook until golden brown and crisp on the top, about 20 minutes. When the cook time is complete, remove from the oven, and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes (these will be hotter than a Hot Pocket!).
  11. Garnish with extra thyme leaves, if desired. Enjoy!

Paleo (Grain Free) Pie Crust, with a Dairy Free Option

This is the easiest pie crust ever. It’s great for pot pies, quiches, and dessert pies. It mixes quickly in a food processor, and is grain free, gluten free, and family approved!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • 3 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 2/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup butter (sub palm shortening for dairy free)
  • 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 1 large egg

Method

  1. Add the blanched almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, butter, and sea salt to the bowl of a food processor*. Pulse all the ingredients to create thick crumbs. Add the egg and pulse until a dough forms. It will be somewhat sticky. Gather the dough into a ball and place it on a large piece of parchment paper.
  2. Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper. I always roll to about 1/4 inch thickness. Place the rolled out dough into the refrigerator to cool.
  3. When ready to use, you can either cut out the size needed (if using ramekins), or flip the dough into the pie dish, removing any excess dough from the sides. Press the dough into the bottom and sides of the dish to fit. The dough breaks easily (since it lacks gluten), but it’s very easy to repair any breaks in the dough. Simply add more pieces and press them together. It’s very forgiving!
  4. Once pressed into the pie dish, gently pierce the dough with a fork all over so it doesn’t puff up while baking.
  5. For a partially baked crust, bake at 375 degrees F for about 6-8 minutes, until barely set.
  6. For a fully baked crust, bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes, or until very lightly browned. If you notice the edges browning too soon, you can loosely cover the crust with foil.
  7. This crust is perfect for quiches, desserts, pot pies, and anything else you want a crust on! For double crusted pies, double the recipe. Happy Cooking!

Notes

*If you don’t have a food processor, mix all of the dry ingredients. Then take a cheese grater, and grate (preferably frozen, but refrigerated is fine) the butter into the dry ingredients. Mix with a fork. Then whisk the egg, and add to the dough. Stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms.