16 Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

Photo (cc) by cogdogblog

How much of your money gets gobbled up by food?

If you don’t know, you should be using a free tracking service like PowerWallet to find out. But however you discover what you’re spending, don’t be surprised if it’s hard to swallow.

For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Making Health Easier site has a sobering statistic: In 1960, about a quarter of what Americans spent on food was for meals out of the house. By 2011, food eaten away from home swallowed half the average food budget.

Since restaurant meals are typically more expensive and less healthy than home-cooked, one way to salvage both budget and waistline could be less eating out.

But dining in can also be problematic. According to a study from the Natural Resources Defense Council, from farm to fork, waste consumes up to 40 percent of American food annually. Within a household, the council says, “About two-thirds of household waste is due to food spoilage from not being used in time, whereas the other one-third is caused by people cooking or serving too much.”

There are two ways to radically reduce food-related expenses: Spend less eating out, and waste less food.

But that’s just the beginning. Depending on where your money’s going now, it’s possible you could slice your food-related expenses by up to half. Check out these ideas:

1. Buy discounted meat, poultry and fish

What most of us do is create a menu, then go to the store and buy the ingredients. A better way might be to plan our menus around what’s on sale.

One of my local grocery stores, Publix, puts different cuts and types of meats on sale every week. Grab what’s on sale. If it’s your favorite, stock up.

2. Eliminate soda and sugary drinks

Not only is this good for your health, it’s good for your wallet. Last year, a Gallup poll showed that nearly half of Americans drink soda every day.

Stick to water whenever possible; it’s nearly free. Need more variety? Buy powdered drink mixes or tea and make it yourself.

3. Opt for whole instead of cut produce

A container of fruit salad at my grocery store can cost $5. But when I buy the fruits separately and slice them myself, the same money will pay for a week’s worth. Slicing fruit isn’t rocket science.

4. Try Meatless Monday

Monday isn’t a requirement, but consider joining the Meatless Monday movement. Less meat can mean less fat, clearer arteries and lower expenses. If you can’t imagine a meal not centered on meat, look online for recipes. There are thousands upon thousands.

5. Buy only food

Do you grab home essentials at the grocery store, where laundry detergent and deodorant cost more? You’re paying extra for convenience. Stores like Walmart and Walgreens have much better deals. See The 10 Best Things to Buy at Drugstores and learn how you might find some items super cheap, even free.

6. Make your own snacks

Cheez-Its, Goldfish and all manner of snacks are a quick pick, but they add up when you check out. Pack lunches and after-school snacks with fresh fruit, carrots or homemade granola, and you’ll lower your calories and spending. Strung out on Goldfish? You can make them yourself.

7. Visit farmers markets

Big-box grocers offer a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but variety doesn’t translate to inexpensive. Visit your local farmers market, which may be less expensive, or go straight to the farm. See 7 Ways to Score Cheap Locally Grown Food for more.

8. Buy generic

From flour to salt to pasta, you can save 30 percent or more with store brands. This works for practically everything on your grocery list. But even if you hate generics, it’s hard to argue it’s worth paying more for these seven things.

9. Make more

If you’re stocking up on meat and veggies, why not cook extra? Roast a chicken with veggies at the beginning of the week and use leftovers for chicken salad, tacos or a pasta dish. Stretch your meals.

10. Make essentials yourself

When it comes to staples like bread, pasta sauce, soups and stock, save by making them yourself. There won’t be any mysterious or unpronounceable ingredients, and you can create the flavors you prefer.

11. Make lists — lots of them

I use Wunderlist for my grocery list, and share it with other members of my household. They can add items when we run out, and it means I don’t have to be the pantry police. I build my list from my meal plan for the week, which is based on what’s on sale and what I already have on hand.

Create a cycle: See what’s on sale, make a meal plan, add items to your grocery list. Once you get into a groove, the time spent is minimal. And the beauty of a list, when used properly, is that it prevents impulse buys.

12. Shop more often

This may sound counterintuitive, especially for busy families. But buying less more often can save money in the long run.

I go grocery shopping two or three times a week rather than making one big trip every other week. I buy the freshest products, which are consumed before they go bad, reducing food waste.

13. Grow your own

Whether it’s on your apartment patio or in your backyard, you can grow your own herbs, vegetables and possibly fruit. See how to start your own garden.

14. Clip coupons

Look through weekly circulars, grab the Sunday newspaper, and look online for coupons. Stack manufacturer’s coupons with store sales. Ask if your store will price match.

15. Clean out your kitchen

Take inventory so you can see what you need and what you have on hand to work with. This is especially important for your refrigerator, where items can get lost in the back or leftovers can be forgotten.

16. Don’t waste money on organic

Some shoppers swear by organic and others think it’s unnecessary. But there are two things we can all agree on: It normally costs more, and there are some items for which the potential benefit is minimal. For example, fruits with protective skins we don’t eat, like bananas and avocados, are much less likely to be affected by pesticides. See 10 Foods You Shouldn’t Buy Organic — and 12 You Should.

Did we miss something? Tell us how you save on your grocery bill on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
12 Expenses You May Be Tempted to Claim as Tax Deductions — but Shouldn’t
12 Expenses You May Be Tempted to Claim as Tax Deductions — but Shouldn’t

Thinking of trying to deduct a few of these things on your federal tax return? That could be a costly mistake.

13 Affordable Products for a Better Night’s Rest
13 Affordable Products for a Better Night’s Rest

These Amazon products can help you finally catch 40 winks — or more.

It’s Worth Paying More for These 7 Things
It’s Worth Paying More for These 7 Things

Sometimes, the difference in quality makes it worthwhile to open your wallet a little wider.

Can My Wife Use My Social Security Benefits While Letting Hers Grow?
Can My Wife Use My Social Security Benefits While Letting Hers Grow?

Your self-discipline in not uttering three little words helps determine whether you can use a key claiming strategy.

3 Ways to Downsize Your Life to Save Money, Time and Stress
3 Ways to Downsize Your Life to Save Money, Time and Stress

Downsizing can cut the bloat in your finances — and give you more free time and less stress.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

15 Products You Need — Even If You Didn’t Know It
15 Products You Need — Even If You Didn’t Know It

Discover some must-have products on Amazon that you didn’t even know you were missing.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach
10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach

Does the pandemic have you reaching for bleach more than ever before? Learn the ins and outs of using this powerful disinfectant.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.