Top 5 Tips for Keeping a Low Grocery Bill + $10 Free in Groceries to Our Readers!
Dan feeds his family of 3 for roughly $300 per month of groceries. Dan’s family dines out for a meal or snack roughly a less than one meal per person per week. Here’s how he keeps his grocery bill as low as he can:
- Shop at no-frills grocery stores. This includes everything from Walmart to most neighborhood ethnic food stores. They have no-frills storefronts and the insides are packed with products instead of fancy displays. Dan used to live in California between a higher-end grocery chain called Ralph’s and a lower end one called Food 4 Less. Guess what? Both were owned by Kroger, and usually sold the same exact products. Food 4 Less had a smaller staff, you had to bag your own items and relied on a combination of natural lighting and harsh white HCFL lighting. Ralph’s had a modern interior, was staffed with baggers and plenty of helpers in the aisles, and had a fancy coffee shop inside. Dan estimates that Food 4 Less usually saved him about 20% over Ralph’s. The worst thing you can probably do is buy food from a gas station or convenience store, where the markups are just plain outrageous.
BONUS FOR OUR READERS! If you want 10 free dollars to spend on Walmart groceries, click here. Even better? You order online and they deliver it to your car in the parking lot. Dan and his wife swear by this set up. Don’t like how something looks? Turn it in and you’re automatically not charged for it. Is what you wanted out of stock? They’ll give you the next size up, with no extra charge. We definitely recommend at least trying it. [Disclosure: Walmart is not paying for this endorsement, but Dan may receive referral compensation – but that does not detract from his two-thumbs-up review of their service.]
- Use unit pricing on non-perishables. Guess what? That mega size mustard costs less than half of the mini one per ounce of mustard. When you’re feeding your family, you can reduce the number of trips you need to make and your overall cost per item when shopping by unit pricing. This includes everything from paper towels and toilet paper to baking supplies and cereals.
- Avoid food waste. Dan’s family does this by using leftovers from dinners almost exclusively for lunches throughout the week and for an occasional dinner as well. They often have a stir-fry of vegetables and meat using frozen vegetables that are often way less expensive than fresh ones that go bad. Chilis are also fairly inexpensive and a great way to use up tomatoes and peppers that are about to go bad. When making pasta sauce, they often take that week’s leftover beef and pork (if they aren’t glazed over with other sauces) and put them in the sauce for flavor addition and a nice, tender meat of some sort of flavoring. Brown bananas turn into banana nut bread. When fruit starts getting soft, they make homemade skillet jam. Just tonight, Dan made homemade apple sauce in his slow cooker with leftover apple halves and bits his daughter had left uneaten.
- Avoid eating a lot of red meat. In the long run, this is probably healthier anyway. Currently, beef and most cuts of pork are more expensive than chicken, beans, and other sources of high quality protein. The family probably have a beef of some sort one or two times per month and pork maybe 2-4 times per month. For most meals, they make a combination of a chicken, a vegetable or two, and a starch like rice of some sort.
- Avoid prepared foods. Dan and his wife Mandi love cooking, but they didn’t always. You can save a lot of money and eat a lot healthier if you purchase a $15-30 slow cooker. Once you start making your own delicious meals, you’ll want to learn how to cook, bake, grill, and fry plenty of other foods. This allows Dan and Mandi to avoid eating most prepared foods. They shun frozen pizzas, frozen desserts, frozen french fries, and cookies as the markup on these items is just too high and with little to no nutritional benefits.
There are many other tips and techniques to saving money. Not the least of which is coupons. One of our personal rules is to never grocery shop hungry. You’d be surprised how much it helps you avoid the sugars and prepared meals!