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Members Share How They Save Money on Groceries

Over 30 Tips to Shrink Your Food Bill and Still Eat Well

-- By SparkPeople

Most people spend about 10% of their take-home money on food, but it's a misconception that you can't buy quality, healthy foods on a tight budget.

SparkPeople members contradict that myth by sharing the many ways they stay healthy and eat well for less.

 

  • "When I make my shopping list, I write things like 'dinner for 3 days' and then once in the store, I see what's on sale. Also, look in the short-dated section in the chill cabinets. I quite often get something for that night's dinner or to put away in the freezer."
    --NELLGWYN
     
  • "I have a co-worker who goes to the farm and buys a whole cow at one time, then pays a butcher to cut it up so she can deep-freeze it. Sometimes they go in on a cow with a friend since it gives you tons of meat at a lower price."
    --TEEBOP6
     
  • "I take a list. If it isn't on the list, it doesn't go into the cart. Period. No impulse items. I also bring my little calculator to be sure that I am getting the best deal on what I need. And buy generic when possible, if it is cheaper."
    --DEMIKIT
     
  • "We plan our meals for the week, so we know what we're eating and buy only what we need. The exception to this is if there is something we use a lot that is on sale, we will take advantage of the sale price. We use this also with produce—a recipe may call for red bell peppers, but if the yellow ones are cheaper, we get those instead."
    -- TRILLIANTOO
     
  • "By eating less meat, we can save our money for wild salmon and seafood and lean chicken or turkey."
    --MARYLOUK
     
  • "I've stopped using coupons on most groceries because they evened out the prices on a more expensive brand or tempted me to buy things I didn't need."
    --ANARIE
     
  • "At the store we buy from bulk bins as much as we can, even buying teas, spices, and granola. We have a coffee grinder we use to grind whole spices, so we don't get both a whole and ground version of the same spice. We reuse our own spice jars, filling it up from the bulk bins."
    --TRILLIANTOO
     
  • "We buy quality meats and fish, but use discount grocery chains for pantry items like milk, bread, yogurt, etc."
    --CSTEVENSON
     
  • "Slightly limp or wilted fresh vegetables don't need to be thrown away. Sautéing them will bring them back to life."
    --WYLDMOONWOMAN
     
  • "I always thought I couldn't afford to buy the healthy foods that I knew I should be eating. Then, when I got serious about losing weight, I stopped buying cookies, candy, donuts, chips, and such. Lo and behold, I had enough money to buy fresh fruit, veggies, whole grain cereals and pasta and more!"
    --WANNABE46GRAM
     
  • "My friends and I started our own version of a food co-op. Every two weeks we go to a warehouse club and pick up boxes of fruits, vegetables, and staples. We return home and divide them up. My shopping for the month is only about $200. I use to spend over $120 per week before we started 3 years ago."
    --OLIVEME
     
  • "Be flexible. If you get to the grocery store and they have something unbelievable on sale, then adapt your menus accordingly."
    --JENNIW70
     
  • "I cook on the weekends and freeze single servings of dinners so people can grab what they want and we're not eating the same thing for three days until it's gone. I also reuse plastic bags (rinse and hang to dry)."
    --KIKISMOMMY
     
  • "Eating whole foods is cheaper than eating processed foods. You can get a couple bags of chips for the same price as a 5 pound bag of apples. A cantaloupe costs as much as two chocolate bars, and you can get a box of Cream of Wheat for the price of a fast food meal."
    --OLIVEME
     
  • "Dry beans are a great, cheap source of protein and fiber. Once you soak them overnight, they cook quickly."
    --WYLDMOONWOMAN
     
  • "I've signed up for coupons on the Internet. I have them sent to a separate email account and only check it once a week. I print what I want and shop once a week. My favorite thing is triple coupon week. I pass a million grocery stores on the way home so none of them are out of the way. My husband and I eat off of the triple coupon groceries for weeks. We only buy non-perishables and go every day that the specials run."
    --MYABERT
     
  • "Look for sales on the items that you normally eat and stock up, such as frozen vegetables or canned foods. "
    --OLIVEME
     
  • "To keep costs down, have a couple of 'go-to' meals that you like to eat, are easy to make and relatively cheap to make. My average bill is $150 per month for two people because I bulk shop for those items we eat pretty regularly and I just rotate a few menus. If I want to try a new recipe and it turns out great, I'll add it to the rotation and probably take something else out so I can keep our food bill low."
    --NUBIENNELADY
     
  • "Don't waste money on pre-packaged foods. If you like flavored oatmeal, add cinnamon and brown sugar to your bulk oats."
    -- CRMAGNO
     
  • "Buy in bulk when you find sales, especially on beans, rice, pasta, and meats. Don't throw away meat that is left over after meals. Put it in a plastic bag and freeze it. When I want a quick dinner, I take out a few bags, toss the meat with rice and some spices. Sometimes I add some veggies, frozen or fresh. Sometimes I throw in some beans to stretch the meat a little."
    --CRMAGNO
     
  • "I do batch cooking. I cook a chicken in the crock pot that will feed us for at least three meals, and I also am make big pots of chili. It helps me save money at the grocery store when I have my meals planned for the week!"
    --1LBATATIME
     
  • "Every Monday I don't serve any meat. We are not vegetarians, but I felt that this would be a good way to be a little more inventive in my cooking and save a little on the food budget."
    --AM.GIRLINBRAZIL
     
  • "I save empty cans and plastic bottles to get a container deposit refund. In California, throwing plastic bottles away is like throwing away money. I make over $7 for each garbage bag full."
    --OBLAIDON
     
  • "I gave up buying cereal. Toast, fruit and oatmeal are all cheaper than a box of cereal that only lasts a few days. I also get my bread in bulk from a bakery outlet and freeze it until I need it."
    --1LBATATIME
How do you save money on healthy foods? Share your tips in the comments section!

 

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Do you buy generic brands at the grocery?
Yes, whenever possible
Sometimes
Never