How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half Part 1
Feeding yourself, and even more so feeding a family, is more stressful and expensive than ever before. It is, however, possible to eat frugally and even cheaply if you make use of a few workarounds that will drastically lower your expenses.
- Eat less meat. Depending on where you're from, you may have been raised with meat as the centerpiece and focus of every meal. It can be difficult to change old habits and perceptions, but to drastically reduce your grocery bill, drastic changes are necessary. First, try stretching the meat you use in your recipes. For taco meat, try mixing in lentils, beans, rice, or oats. Rather than eating a steak, try cutting one into strips and stir-frying it with vegetables and serve over rice. Research vegetarian and vegan recipes, then build them into your rotation with increasing frequency.
- Have a meal plan. When you know exactly what you'll be eating and what you need to make those meals, you are much less likely to stray from your budget by making impulse purchases.
- Shop less often. The less frequently you visit the grocery store, the less opportunity you have to buy things that are out of budget.
- Buy in bulk. A membership to a warehouse club like Sam's or Costco is worth the investment. Even if you don't have the money for one right now, most grocery stores have an area where you can buy condiments, certain canned goods, and other staples like pickles or pancake mix in large packages that usually save you quit a bit in the long run.
- Learn to make things from scratch. Loaves of good, dense bread are often over $5 at the grocery store, but if you make them from scratch you may very well find that they cost less than a dollar. Everything from ketchup, barbecue sauce, spice mixes, baking mixes, salad dressings, and almost anything else you can imagine can be made at home for a fraction of the cost of store bought.
- Cut out convenience foods. The deli area has some pretty amazing things that are really tempting. Pre cut vegetables, packed salads, bottled teas, already-assembled sandwiches, even little things like boiled eggs to save you time. The problem is that you pay a premium for that convenience. It may be a bit more work, but cutting your own vegetables, making your own salad and sandwiches, steeping your own tea, and generally putting in the work to take your meals from their most basic form to finished product yourself is very much worth the effort based on how much money it will save you.
- Stay organized. It's important to keep careful track of what you have on hand, especially perishable items. This doesn't have to be complicated or difficult; it can be as simple as keeping a dry erase marker on hand and marking down on the fridge when your milk expires and what vegetables are in the crisper.
What is most important is that you shift your mindset from 'easy' to 'frugal.' When you begin to look for ways to save money on your groceries, you will be surprised by how frequently you will find ways to cut costs.