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Lower your grocery bill without clipping coupons

I’ve received numerous emails from people recently asking how you can
lower your grocery bill if you don’t live nearby stores which have good
coupon deals or if you don’t have time to clip coupons. While
I’m a big proponent of coupons, I understand that they don’t work for
everyone in every season of life in every area of the country. Here would be a few of my top recommendations for ways to lower your grocery
bill without clipping coupons:

1) Plan a menu and stick to it. Seriously. If this is the only thing you ever do, you’ll greatly reduce your grocery budget.

2) Shop once per week or less. The less you shop invariably means the less you spend. I recommend you have a grocery budget, plan your menu and list with your grocery budget in mind, use a calculator to tally up your running total as you shop, and only bring the allotted amount of grocery money with you in cash.

3) Stick with simple, inexpensive meals. I’m a big believer in simplicity. There’s an occasional time and place for the elaborate, six-course dinners, but for the everyday, keep it simple. We like to have a main dish, homemade bread of some sort, and then fruit or veggies of some sort to round things out. I plan our main dishes around what we already have on hand and what meats and other mainstay ingredients are on sale.

4) If you live nearby a store which does run sales, plan your menu based upon the store sales. The simple step of taking a few extra minutes each week to browse the store fliers and create your menu based upon what is on sale there will greatly enhance your savings. If you have more than one store which runs weekly sales, check both fliers and decide which store to do your shopping at based upon which store has the best sales. 

5) Shop at Aldi. I know every area doesn’t have Aldi stores, but if you do, you should be shopping there. I don’t recommend buying everything at Aldi, but there are many things there which are very comparable to name brands at the store, but which are routinely quite a bit less. Our Aldi standbys include: fruit (especially bananas, apples, oranges, grapefruit, and frozen fruit), tortillas, some veggies, frozen veggies, and staple ingredients. You have to be a bit flexible since Aldi doesn’t always have everything in stock and the produce is sometimes hit and miss, but we’ve saved hundreds of dollars each year by buying 25% or so of our groceries at Aldi.

8) Cook from scratch, as much as possible. It’s a no-brainer, but cooking from scratch with simple, inexpensive ingredients is likely one of the greatest ways to save money on your grocery budget while also eating more healthfully. We enjoy some processed foods as a treat, but I attempt to have the bulk of our diet made up of fresh fruits and veggies and homemade items. With some planning ahead and cooking in bulk and freezing, you can eliminate the need for many processed foods without spending a great deal of time and thought.

One of my best tips to help one be more efficient when it comes to cooking from scratch is just to look for ways you can make extra. If you’re making waffles, make a double batch or triple batch and freeze the leftovers for breakfast later in the week. If you’re making cookies, double the recipe, bake what you’ll eat right away, and freeze the rest of the cookie dough in balls and then pull out how many you’ll need and bake them later.

Another thing which has worked well for me is to try and bake for a few hours one day per week or to take 20 minutes everyday and bake up a triple batch of something and freeze most of it. This guarantees I almost always have a few different things on hand for quick breakfasts or snacks or bread to go along with dinner.

What are your best recommendations for saving money on groceries without clipping coupons?

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70 Comments

  • Toni_KY says:

    Hi, Crystal! I love reading your blog!

    I was wondering if you could direct me to some of your older stuff? I’m really interested in how you and Jesse survived your early years of marriage, living on so little. I found your blogspot blog, but was wondering if there was anything older that that.

    Keep up the great work!
    Toni_KY

  • anna lebresh says:

    I agree completely. One thing to add (I feed our family of six on about $200 a month)… the meat we eat for the week is whatever our grocery store has that week for a dollar or less a pound. (it isn’t even a “managers special” it is just what they do. I buy an freeze a number of packages and then we can eat it later also. (for example once or so a month they have chicken legs or thighs for 88cents a lb. it is the good freerange/nothing added chicken). We are not picky here and always try new ways to cook items. By the way, we do not eat out EVER if there is enough money every couple of months we get our local take and bake pizza (with good coupons of course). You are right about not eating the processed foods (sure some of it tastes soooo yummy) if you really look at it we don’t need all that extra junk in our bodys and most of the time it is cheaper to make it yourself.
    I am new to this site but I have saved so much money already. I love what you do here. THANK YOU!!

  • See if your store participates in a paperless coupon system like P&G’s store-card coupons or ShortCuts. (www.shortcuts.com) I don’t think P&G has a site of their own, you have to check your store’s website and see if they offer it there. Kroger offers both services.

    You just choose the coupons you want loaded to your card, and it’s automatically added, you don’t have to print out or clip anything. And I think you can use them in conjunction with paper coupons, but I’m not totally sure about that.

  • I just recently started shopping at Aldis. I was surprised at how inexpensive their items were and they taste fine. I know some people worry about that.

    I also try and cook what I can ahead of time.

    Great tips!

  • Jodi W says:

    Buying store brand items is a great way to save. I love Stop & Shop’s own brand whole wheat bread, crackers, beans and vegetables, soups,etc. Sometimes I find them to even be cheaper than an item 50% off (this happened with a sugar substitute)! Creative use of leftovers is another good way to save money. Last night I had some leftover spaghetti from dinner and I used it to make a spaghetti pie by adding eggs, parmesean cheese, sausage crumbles and sauce. Sometimes I make a frittata with leftover pasta and veggies. There are many ways to reuse leftovers that disguises what they once were.

  • Ace1234 says:

    Hi, Crystal!

    New to your site and loving it! In one month of following your suggestions, our grocery expenses have gone from $120/wk to $80/wk for a family of six, (while still buying diapers for the toddler and filling up a 12 yr old boy!) My next goal is to get down to $60/wk.

    We use some coupons, but most of our savings have come from menu planning. My days are so much easier now that I don’t struggle over “what’s for dinner”. We make and freeze extras too. I’ve found it easier to freeze cookie dough in a roll or “cylinder” shape, then I only have to slice the dough and bake the cookies. THANK YOU for all of your work on your site. You are such a blessing!

  • Michele says:

    I think those are all great recommendations! Another important point for saving money is to have meals planned in advance. If you wait until the last minute to decide what you’re eating for a meal, then you’re more likely to do take-out, eat out or buy convenience food which is always more expensive. Also, try to buy fruit and vegetables in season – it’s cheaper and doesn’t come from far away. Can’t wait to read everybody else’s ideas!

  • Minda says:

    I find that shopping at a warehouse store has helped us save money. We buy our laundry products, frozen meat, canned goods, individually packaged snacks, paper products, etc. there. If you have a freezer, you can really stock up on good savings. It’s also cuts down on our weekly shopping since we have so many things ‘in stock’.

  • Carrie says:

    Learning to separate what we eat from our sense of achievement and status in life. I.E. I might have once thought that since my husband and I went to college and he has a good job, we SHOULD be able to splurge on certain high end foods, and we SHOULDN’T “have to” eat beans and rice or clip coupons. Now I’ve managed to divest the menu from our self-images and we realize that we can watch the budget in order to achieve goals (i.e. me staying home, fixing up our house, saving for college) without that saying anything about who we are.

  • Cook from scratch… buying the basic ingredients such as flour, sugar, etc. can net you the basics for many recipes thus eliminating the purchasing of many of the boxed mixes

    Garden – growing a vegetable garden whether traditional or in containers can provide you with food and if you save the seeds from what you grow you can further your savings. Gardening is also great exercise

    Buy in Bulk when you find good sales.

  • I do a lot of my shopping at grocery salvage stores. The prices are just as low or lower than what I would pay at a regular store with sales and coupons. You can do a Yahoo local search to see if there are any in your area. Just last week I bought about $45.00 worth of stuff (the $45.00 is based upon what I would have paid at sale plus coupon price)for only $18.00.

  • Jeana says:

    Meat is usually the most expensive ingredient, so cut down or cut out meat from some of your meals. Beans are your friend, they’re cheap and filling. Whole grains and whole foods are more filling and satisfying than their white, processed counterparts. When we were in England and there were no coupons, I started buying whole milk and watering it down. We were used to skim or 2% and we noticed very little difference in taste. Even if you only do this for cooking, that makes a difference. Milk is expensive!

    Oh, and drink water. Not the bottled kind, the kind from your tap. Even if you have to invest in a filtration system, it’s cheaper and better for you than…well, just about anything else you drink.

  • Laralee says:

    We have a large family with many adult-sized eaters, so we buy in bulk. But, even when our family was smaller, I purchased in sale items in bulk and froze or stored my goods.

    We purchase oats and rice in 25 lb. bags when on sale at Sun Harvest. Wheat in 50 lb. bags through the local co-op (we go through about 15-20 bags/year). We store our grains in large food-grade buckets from the local bakery.

    We shop at Costco and Sams for things that we need in bulk that are cheaper there. Like bulk cheese, orange juice, spices, organic sugar, maple syrup, q-tips, tortilla chips, organic lettuce and spinach, vinegar for cleaning, etc. I only buy what I know to be cheaper than the market. I don’t buy the expensive fad kind of goods there.

    If I find something we normally use on sale/clearance, I buy as much of it as possible. Like the 70+ cans of pumpkin I found on clearance for .25 each. I bought them all. We’re now eating a lot of pumpkin!

    We bake/cook from scratch. Boxed cereal is only purchased when on sale and I know we need a quick breakfast for a busy time that we don’t have muffins or something quick fixed for.

    We have free-range chickens for eggs and dairy goats for milk. In a few months we will have a steer and a couple of goats to butcher for the freezer. These are not necessarily cheaper than the store, but they are better for us and we know the animal’s history.

    I purchase most of our herbs and supplements on-line from http://www.vitacost.com. Their prices are so much better than anything I’ve found in local stores and it’s shipped to my gate for $4.99. I can’t drive to the nearest store for $4.99 any more!

    We do not have many options in our area when it comes to couponing and marketing. Costco/Sams, Sun Harvest & HEB are our usual shopping stops. No Aldi’s here. Going to town to shop is a 30-60 mile one way trip, so it’s an all day deal and not much time for a stop here and a stop there. I only use coupons that are for things I will definitely use/need and coupons that are good when I am already going to town. Sometimes coupons work for me, other times they don’t.

    Bulk buying on sale is my shopping strategy.

    Laralee,
    aka The Tent Family
    http://PlymouthRockRanch.com
    Recording the Faithfulness and Provision of God for Future Generations

  • Ann says:

    Crystal, Do you have any easy homemade bread recipes you could post. I feel like this would be so much healthier and less expensive than store bought rolls/bread. Thanks!

  • clarice says:

    Good day Crystal, I hope I do not sound like I arguing with you, I so enjoy your blog. But I disagree that having a menu saves you money. Actually I should say that for some it does not. I spend much more money when I make a menu. I find having a well stocked pantry and freezer, saves me much more. Making simple dishes like a roasted chicken, then interesting side dish using pantry items, like sun dried tomatoes and fresh herbs with a grain helps me save money. I hope you do not mind me chiming in here. Thank you again for your blog and all you put into it. Blessings Clarice

    ******************
    Money Saving Mom here: You are right, Clarice, that if you plan a menu with elaborate dinners using ingredients you don’t have on hand, you will likely spend a lot of money. However, if, as I encouraged in the post, you plan your menu based upon what you have on hand and the store sales and use simple meals with inexpensive ingredients, you will likely end up spending a lot less money. That’s the kind of menu-planning I encourage, but for those who have never planned a menu, starting with a plan is the first step. 🙂

  • Kendra Neal says:

    Invest in a Crock Pot! A Crock Pot will allow you to cook the less expensive cuts of meat and they come out splendid!! Also, it is a time saver, thus a money saver. You can put something in the Crock Pot and go run errands and activities and come home to a home cooked meal. Much less drive thru meals.

    Also, if you buy a crockpot without a timer you can make it a timed crockpot just by purchasing an appliance timer, like many use for Christmas lights. They cost about $5 at HardWare stores and it is so worth the cost. You can set the meal up in the CrockPot. Plug in the timer and set it for when you want it to start and finish and viola a Timer Crockpot!!

  • Monica says:

    Our Kroger puts out all their “scratch and dent” grocery items on a table once a week. I stock up on my canned goods/boxed goods here. You can’t beat canned fruit for $.33. I also have my eyes opened for mark down milk to freeze. I’ve gotten it for as low as $.25 a 1/2 gallon.

  • My husband and I have a budget of $50 week for us and our son (another on the way). We considered raising it, but even with the price of groceries going up, we’ve not needed to. We could actually probably spend a little less, but once a week we like to have one special meal…we’ve found this helps keep us from going out. Even that meal doesn’t have to be expensive though. We frequently get a nice steak or fish steaks for around $5. Considering that same steak would be around $12 or more per person at a restaurant, I’d say that’s a pretty good deal!

    My strategy totally relies on planning a weekly menu from a list of meals that I make. I then look through the menu, see what I already have to make those meals and make a list of the things I don’t have. That’s what I buy, plus if I need to stock up on something, I will shop the good sales.

    Another strategy…use chicken! Chicken is typically cheaper than other meats and it’s really versatile. I make a few pasta dishes where I only use one half chicken breast, cut into small pieces and sauteed…it makes the chicken go farther and you still feel satisfied.

    Another store that has good prices if you don’t have an Aldi is WinCo. One just opened up here in Southern California and typically they are at least half the price of all the other grocery stores in the area.

  • Anita says:

    Before I started using coupons heavily, I took advantage of both S.H.A.R.E. foods and Angel Food Ministries. Both are co-op type programs with no income restrictions. It really helped then, but I find I save a bit more and have more personal preferences shopping with coupons. If my freezer gets low I may do this again for a month or two.
    Your site has taught me so much, and has saved me hundreds. You have a fantastic ministry through your site, Thank You!

  • Jackie says:

    I would love to see a blog where someone matches up deals from the new grocery fliers and posts recipes! Anyone know if someone does that?? Anyway, I love your blog and read it daily. Thank you!

  • Heidi says:

    Thank you for these tips. Grocery expenses really do vary widely across the country.

    We do have an Aldi that is a bit further than the regular grocery. If I am driving that way for something else, I may check it out.

    I also agree with another commenter that buying certain things from a warehouse club (like quality meats) can help in some instances too, but not toiletries–those are better free from CVS. 🙂 Maybe if you shared a membership with someone else that would be even better.

  • melissa says:

    I use all these suggestions. Also – don’t forget angelfood ministries for people who have one in their area. Another thing I like to do, especially during the summer time is to frequent the farmer’s market, the fruits & veggies are better and more affordable. And when it comes to eating out, my best tip for saving money: My bank has a rewards program, so I earn points on all of my spending, every few months, I cash those points in for restaurant gift cards, and often times find a special or a email coupon to use too!

  • Sally says:

    One thing I’ve found helpful is to always accept any food that anyone offers us. If there is a surplus after a church event, we’re happy to take it.

    Last weekend I received a bunch of whipped topping (not a product I would buy) after VBS and determined to use it well. I did an internet search for recipes. I made four different desserts for the church picnic out of the salvaged whipped topping and some simple on-hand ingredients. I still have three tubs left to use the next time a ministry event needs a dessert.

  • Catherine says:

    Hi Crystal, I just found your blog and am really enjoying it! I’m very impressed by your thrift and also curious as to where in general you’re located. I had a HUGE grocery shock recently when my family moved from the deep south to northeast outside a major city. Even shopping and cooking the same way (using most of the tips you give here) my grocery bill literally doubled!! I’d love to hear tips specific to living in especially high cost of living areas if anyone has some.

    My tip to offer is to only buy meat on sale – stock up when its on major super sale and store in meal size portions in the freezer. It helps to have a big freezer of course!

  • Jenny says:

    I’m new to this site and am looking forward to saving $$$$! We are a family of six, so I try to stock up. Our local grocery store has a twice a year sale in thier meat department, we save HUGE by buying in bulk. We also go to Sam’s club for laundry detergent, dish soap, ect. For bread I go to a bakery outlet. We freeze our bread, hot dog and hamburger buns. I find bread for 75 cents a loaf or cheaper!

    Has anyone froze their milk? I read a book that the family freezes their milk, I just don’t know how it would taste. Is it worth being SO frugal for frozen milk?

  • CJ says:

    If you live where there is no Aldi, you might have one of these discount grocery stores: WinCo (NW) or Food4Less (California)

    Also, I think Costco can save a lot of money and time compared to shopping at a regular grocery store without coupons. Just be extra disciplined when you go- make a list and stick to it. I don’t need 24 fancy pens! Even at a good price! Unless I have a list I end up with a lot of awesome things that I don’t need, that are out of my budget!

  • Spoodles says:

    Yup. That’s pretty much my shopping philosophy. I hate couponing, and avoid it like the plague. To the things you’ve said, I would only include very carefully planning for portion sizes, so that nothing is ever wasted. Eat your leftovers, and never throw away food. We never use coupons, and yet we spend for groceries about the same amount that you do. The only difference is that we drink a lot more milk than you guys do, apparently. Our milk bill is easily 3 times yours. Otherwise, even without coupons, we eat like kings for very little.

  • Trixie says:

    Hi Crystal,

    I couldn’t agree with you more! Every week for as long as I can remember I’ve made a menu based on what’s on sale and what’s in the pantry. It’s save us more than anything else.

    Here’s my week’s menu and grocery shopping trip for all that are interested.

    http://farmhomelife.blogspot.com/2008/07/grocery-meal-planning-2.html

    Take Care,

    Trixie

  • jan says:

    I went to Aldi’s for the first time- some stuff seemed the same price as my grocery store brand. Some of the dairy and canned goods were cheaper but they looked “generic”. Do they taste ok? I’m not sure if it is worth going there to make a second trip.

  • jan says:

    Oops I wanted to say my one “hint” is shop early in the morning- at our store they always have meat marked down in the morning before 10am.

  • Kris says:

    Love the post, Crystal. I might also suggest:

    1) Try non-meat dishes a few times per week. Bean, rice, and pasta-based meals are generally significantly cheaper than dinners planned around chicken, pork, and especially beef.

    2) Stick to the perimeter of the supermarket, where whole foods like produce, dairy, and meat are found. When prepped from scratch, they’ll cost way less than pre-packaged, processed edibles.

    3) If you haven’t already, sign up for a store-specific savings card. They really do help with discounts.

    4) Pay attention to unit pricing. Sometimes the biggest package isn’t always the most economical.

    5) Bring a calculator (or a cell phone with a calc function) and the circular with you when you shop. It’s much easier to keep track of prices that way.

    6) Don’t buy pre-cut produce, meat, or dairy. Purchasing the same stuff whole and chopping it yourself will save a metric ton of money.

    Thanks again for the post, and for all your advice. This site is invaluable.

  • GrnMtnGirl says:

    My husband and I are a twosome but we cook enough for 10 people. Usually it lasts 3-4 meals (he eats a lot!) and we eat leftovers every other day. I tend to avoid white sugar and flour which means I don’t eat many cheap foods like white rice, white pasta, or white bread. We eat 5 fruit/veg a day and approx 1/2 lb meat each/day but still keep the budget under $240/month.

    It can be done!

    ((Crystal)) for sharing your tips here. I wish we had a cvs or walgreens nearby. Your deals are so good! But we do what we can sans coupons or grocery games!

  • Bethany says:

    1. Know your prices. You can’t spot a good deal, if you don’t know what the regular price is.

    2. Compare prices- sometimes the store or off brand is a better deal than a name brand on sale w/ coupons, sometimes the name brand is better. Compare prices by “unit price”- i.e. price per ounce, vs the total item. At times I’ve found that the “discount” items may be priced less per package, but the package size is consideraby smaller.

    3. Once you can sort out the true values from the “sales pitches”, start buying mainly, or ONLY sale items, and buy enough until the next sale. I’ve learned over time that my main grocery usually repeats sales every 6-8 weeks or so, so I will buy enough to last, and put back for storage. Other shoppers will sometimes look cross eyed when I have 6 cases of canned goods, or 12 lbs of oatmeal in my cart though 🙂 Over time, I’ve built up about 3 months worth of non perishables, and about 6 weeks worth of meat; so I know I can afford to wait for and shop only the sales. (I once managed to spend $28.00 in one month by using what was already stored- and the $28 was fresh produce, bread and milk. I really didn’t have the energy to bake the bread at the time, and the family would revolt if I tried to use only powdered milk except under extrememly dire circumstances!)

  • Kara says:

    Kids love snack bags. I did when I was a kid, and so do my kids. I buy a big box of crackers or pretzels or I cut up vegetables and put them in a bunch of little snack bags. They get the “snack” sized portions to carry around. I get the savings of buying a bunch. Plus, if it doesn’t have meat or cheese in it, I wash them and reuse them. I also keep a garden. Just a small one for herbs, and veggies for the family. It is a tremendous savings. And other gardeners are happy to share what failed in your garden if you’d do the same with them.

  • It has helped me to plan ahead and stick to it! I have to remember that eating out costs more than $, it costs time and energy. It is so much healthier to stay at home, and have time to play with the kids instead of driving around searching for a meal 2 or more days a week.

  • Leah says:

    Cut down on the meat! Plenty of delicious, healthy meals can be made with beans and nuts and veggies and grains. Much cheaper, much better for the earth, and the animals themselves. I’m not advocating cutting it out entirely – just try to cut down. Then cut down a little more. Every little bit helps! I try to do my weekly menus to showcase vegetarian options if anyone’s interested. My boys all scarf down the vegetables since they’ve had them since birth. Hope this helps!

  • Jenni says:

    Try launching out into ethnic cuisine. In many other parts of the world, people don’t have a lot of the convenience foods we do, so their recipes naturally include inexpensive (and usually healthier) ingredients. I think there’s a Mennonite cookbook called “Extending the Table” that has a lot of great and easy recipes to try out. If you have kids who are picky eaters, you could still try having a once-a-month family time where you learn about another country and then try one of their dishes.

  • Teresa says:

    We make almost everything from scratch…bread, muffins, granola, pancakes, tortillas, buns. This cuts our food spending tremendously!

  • Betsy says:

    I love your blog and comments here. I, too, have tried a number of ways to cut our grocery bill as much as possible. Here are some other ways we’ve accomplished that:

    1. No more frozen pizza– this is a Sunday night tradition for our family of four, so I didn’t want to cut the tradition, but I wanted to stop paying $6 for a pizza. We now make our own pizza and it not only costs less, but gives us great family time together.

    2. We now have one “farmer’s dinner” a week which consists of veggies, bread, fruit, etc. but it meatless. My husband wasn’t so thrilled about this at first, until we name the night and I worked hard at preparing delicious veggie dishes that are still filling. This also cuts out the high cost of yet another meat dish during the week.

    3. Almost always buy generic brand at Walmart.

    4. Peruse websites like yours to find out about the best deals and stock up!

    Hope this helps!

  • Andria says:

    Eat less meat! We eat less because now we only buy locally-raised meat from the farmers market, and it’s much more expensive. But skipping the meat can also be healthier and save money. The net is full of good vegetarian recipes. We had cheese enchiladas and crock-pot refried beans last night. Throw in a salad and some homemade salsa (and some homemade spanish rice if you need) and you feel content without the meat. Even my meat-and-potatoes husband has enjoyed some of our new recipes.

  • Karen says:

    Here is a recipe for “cream of” soup. These are widely used in casseroles and soups.

    You can use mushrooms, onion, celery, etc.

    You are going to be surprised how easy this is and you control the type of fat, salt and pepper that your family consumes.

    Saute what ever type of “cream of” soup(ie, mushrooms, onion, celery) you would like in Olive oil, canola oil, butter or margarine.

    When the veggies are to your desired doneness, add as much all purpose flour as your did fat. (For example, if you sauteed your veggies in 5 tablespoons of oil then add 5 tablespoons of flour.)

    Cook the flour until a little brown, while stirring. When cooked start by adding about 1-2 cups of milk. Stir this in slowly as you may not need all of it. Cook over a medium heat until thick. Salt and pepper to taste.

    Hope this helps to stretch that grocery budget!

  • Jen says:

    My family stumbled across this plan as a result of my husband’s work schedule (keeps him at work for 3 dinners a week, and home the other 4).

    We make homemade pizza one night. Then for 3 nights (when the hubby’s home), I cook a dinner big enough for us to eat that night and have leftovers for another night.

    The next three nights, we eat those leftovers! Simple and cheap.

  • calina says:

    Something I have recently started doing after reading Nourishing Traditions and because organic is so expensive, is making my own broth. It’s so easy. It does require some prep though. I cook a beef roast in water for a day (in the crockpot)before we actually eat the roast to get the broth. I cook the chicken in the crockpot all day, we have a meal, then before I debone the leftovers I fill the crockpot with water, cook overnight, strain in the morning. Chicken broth. This makes noodles, rice, or gravy. All of which stretch your food $$$. Another $$$ saving idea I use is to serve a salad before a meal. Then you can fill up more on salad, and hopefully stretch the meal into lunch or part of a meal the next day.

  • Great tips, Crystal.

    I have two more to add, both of which I’ve blogged about on my blog:

    1) Shop the farmers’ market. For more on this visit, http://www.googoobuybuy.com/2008/07/saturday-at-farmers-market.html

    2) Leave your husband and kids at home when you’re doing the shopping. Why does this make sense? I explain the reasons here: http://www.googoobuybuy.com/2008/07/another-way-to-save-money-at-grocery.html

  • Save100ADay says:

    A suggestion I have not tried yet is to join a csa; it’s basically a share of a local farm that gives you fresh produce weekly. I am looking into http://whittonflowerandproduce.com/ which is local to me. Click on csa at the top of the page to read what one is.

  • Lori says:

    The two biggest things for me lately have been:
    1. eat less meat. Usually this means not eating meat for lunch, and also trying vegetarian dishes at least once a week. You can also supplement ground beef with beans or textured vegetable protein so that you aren’t using as much meat for each meal.

    2. I am still working on this one, but getting better: Try not to throw away food. I freeze the “slush” of veggie juice and beef drippings that are left over from my meatloaf to put into soup. (Don’t try to imagine it. I don’t know anyone else who makes meatloaf like I do.) I have used the broth from collard greens as a base for bean soup. But usually it isn’t even about saving something for later, but just learning to use it now… for example, I had always just thrown out the stalks from fresh broccoli until I figured out that I can peel the tough stuff off and chop up the inside to use in fried rice. One of the favorites around here is a chopped salad that I make when it looks like some veggies are about to go bad. Chop up any combination of cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, broccoli, onions, etc and top with a few tablespoons of dressing.

    It ain’t much, but that’s all I got.

  • Great post Crystal! I always tell people that if you don’t have time to coupon, just shopping the sales will save you a lot of money.

    Thanks for being such an encourager to everyone to do what you can in your stage of life. It is so important!

  • SarahMay says:

    If you don’t have an Aldi’s store in your area, look for a Save-A-Lot store. They are very similar to Aldis and for us, they are closer.

  • Jennifer says:

    This tip is a little bit of work, but it can really help to make good shopping decisions. An idea given in “The Tightwad Gazette” is to make a price book. Basically you make columns of all your regular stores, then you write down the prices at each store of items you regularly buy (ie. flour, milk, lettuce, etc.) This way when you need an item you know the best place to buy it, also, it really helps when deciding if a sale is good or not.

  • Amanda says:

    Check out http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com. She has a wealth of money saving ideas for grocery and she does not advocate coupons. She uses simple meals and inexpensive ingredients. Her recipes are very easy to follow even if you don’t cook. She really walks you through every step.

    Another idea if money is tight. Look into http://www.angelfoodministries.com. Angel Food Ministries is a Christian organization that provides low cost food packages to anyone who desires it. The standard package is $30 and is available regardless of income. You may even pay for your order with food stamps. My family hasordered from Angel Food Ministries in the past. This is a great source of low cost meat!! I have found that by combining sales and coupons, I can save more money at the grocery store than with Angel Food Ministries. But, if I did not have access to coupons or to a vehicle (for mulitiple shopping trips) I would use Angel Food Ministries every month. Packages must be ordered in advance so check out the website now to find a host church in your area.

  • Patti says:

    I love your web site and all the comments!!
    Here are some ideas I’ve used:

    One of my favorite cookbooks is The Use It Up Cookbook: a guide to using up perishable foods by Lois Carlson Willand. It may be out of print but you can find used copies on eBay or Amazon.com. It will help you tremendously with leftovers or when you have too much of a good thing… like summer produce.

    Another favorite cookbook is More With Less which is a Mennonite cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre. Both are good to help with new ideas which is the hard part of the planning process.

    A web site recommended in Women’s Day this month is great, too, especially if you type in “Meals under $1.00”. It is receipefinder.nal.usda.gov.

    Looking forward to everyone’s ideas!

  • Jamie says:

    Hi, love love your blog!! You are amazing, and so helpful. I, too, am a baker and wonder what types of things you bake and freeze? Sorry if this has already been asked, there are a lot of comments up there!

  • Sherry says:

    Love your website and all the great ideas!

    A few things that we try to do –
    1. Don’t run to the store each time you run out of something – improvise.

    2. Meal plan – look for what you have in your pantry, fridge and freezer before you make your list.

    3. Cook once, eat twice or three times. I will cook a roast or chicken and then make the leftovers into other type dishes say for roast, I’ll make beef stroganoff or orange beef stirfry, fajitas. For chicken I might make enchiladas, chicken soup, etc.

    4. Meatless meals – twice a week we have meatless Mondays and then Wednesdays we have brinner (breakfast for dinner).

    I have just found Aldi’s recently and have been pleased with their products plus they have a double guarantee. 😀

  • Sara says:

    I’ve learned to save a lot of money on produce by learning to like new foods. That way I can buy fruits and veggies that are grown closer to home and are seasonal. These two factors cut out the shipping expense for the store, usually making these items cheaper to begin with or often on sale.

  • Marsha says:

    There’s many good tips here. I would like to add one more that saves me about $120 a year: Always check your cash register tape before leaving the store. About one time out of ten, I catch a mistake (almost always in the store’s favor). Some stores will give you the product free, or a few dollars off for finding the error, but you have to ask if they do this–most won’t offer to. To be fair, I always bring it to their attention if I’ve been undercharged, but almost always they don’t want to bother charging me the correct, higher price. It may seem to not be worth the bother, but it really adds up over the course of a year.

  • Morgan says:

    My husband and I go through about 15-20 tortillas a week. This would cost about $4-$5 to buy readymade at the store. But the ingredients are so simple and cheap! So I make a batch on the weekend and then put them in a zip-lock baggie in the fridge for use during the whole week. It also helps to invest in a tortilla press, they come out perfect everytime.

    I pretty much ask myself, “What would my grandmother do?”. She grows most of her own veggies and fruits and cans them in her pantry for selling and eating in the winter, she NEVER purchases disposible (paper towels) items or highly processed items (Pop Tarts), she makes everything from scratch, rarely goes out to eat, cleans everything with baking soda or vinegar…and this behavior was commonplace in her generation.

    -Morgan

  • Rebekah says:

    We buy 1/4 a cow for what works out to be $2.77 a pound. Of course we had to make the one time purchase a deep freeze, but even with the coast of that and running it ($12 a year) it workes out to be cheaper… and taster!
    Not to mention how much I LOVE how easy it has made meal planning! I could never go back.:)

  • Erin says:

    A good idea that was given to me to cut back is to have a potato bar night once a week or once every other week. You will literally be feeding your family for pennies for that one meal. Also saving any leftover veggies, put them in a container in the the freezer and when the container gets full over the weeks turn it into a stew. Its a good way to use the little bit of veggies that are leftover after meals that is not enough veggies for another meal but to much that you feel bad throwing the food away.

    Another way to save and have yummy salad dressings is to make your own. Its very cheap. I found some recipes of Rachel rays where she makes salad dressing in the honey bear container with the little bit of honey that you can’t get out of the container. It lets you use the last little bit of honey without wasting it and you reuse the honey bear again.

  • Michele Helms says:

    PLAN, PLAN, PLAN A good plan is always key. Know what you have in your kitchen and make a list. Make sure when you are making your list you use your calender (the goal is NOT to go back to the store) for instance if you know you are going to be at ball practice on Thursday night….you may want to plan a picnic so you do not end up in a drive thru! If you are going to Aunt Susie’s for Sunday dinner and you are responsible for the green beans…write that down as well. Be Prepared!

  • Catherine says:

    No Aldis where I live. I shop at Super Wal*Mart instead.

    I agree with menu planning.

    One thing I do at the store is look at the price per ounce when trying to decide which brand to buy.

  • Georgia says:

    We like to shop at Mennonite salvage grocery stores because they have name brand canned goods and groceries for closeout prices! They get their goods from slightly damaged shipments, although all that they stock is in good condition.

    We can find canned organic soups for 75 cents, pasta for 40 cents, or maybe Kashi cereal for around a dollar! For those who live in Georgia, there’s one in Metter called Metter Farm Market, and one in East Dublin called Tim’s Country Store.

  • Jodi W says:

    Be aware of certain times of the year for stocking up on items.For example, Memorial Day and Labor day are great times to stock up on condiments and hot dogs. Easter has great sales on baking and also pasta and cheese (this is when I freeze blocks of mozzarella). Thanksgiving also is a good time to stock up on baking items, plus cranberries and pumpkin. You get the idea.

  • Hannelore says:

    I second the ideas of discount stores (in our area- the SE it’s United Grocery Outlet), drinking water, , following the sales, buying in bulk (the freezer is your friend!), freezing anything you can’t use right away to avoid waste (these don’t freeze well: tofu, eggs, potatoes), and eating less meat. Milk does freeze well-just defrost and shake well! Also eating sufficient fiber (whole grains, veggies, fruit really fills you up more than processed foods), and eating breakfast for dinner sometimes. Thanks moneysavingmom for all you do to serve others!

  • ottan says:

    I’ve found we saves money when we don’t actually plan a full week of meals. I’ll go to the farmer’s market on Saturday and plan for a couple of meals, but then I try to be creative with the leftovers during the week. It’s hard to estimate how much of each thing we’ll still have, so then I might pick up an item or two on my way home to round out a meal.

    Also, to prevent waste, we make “clean out the fridge” dinners. I’ll make a big batch of pizza dough, and store that in the freezer. We can use veggie scraps on that for a quick dinner. Frittattas are also good for using up veggies.

    Then we save all the leftover bits of vegetables (extra celery, onion skins, etc.) in a bin in the freezer. When it’s full I make vegetable stock out of it.

  • Bridgette says:

    I use most of the tips I’ve seen here, but I also buy chicken in bulk. Generally thighs are cheaper than any other part. I buy almost all of them when they’re on Manager’s Specials and freeze them. When I want to make something that calls for chicken, or if I want to substitute chicken for another meat I thaw, remove skin, and put a whole pack in the Crock Pot at one time. Once it’s done, I then remove the chicken from the bone effortlessly and cut up the pieces. This is more flavorful than cut up chicken breast and WAY cheaper.I use the juices in the crockpot for chicken broth.Since I thaw more than I need I use freezer bags and store the cooked, cut-up chicken for later use. This meat has made quick quesadillas, homemade “chicken helper” when mixed w/boxed macaroni & cheese, or chicken and noodles.

  • Angela says:

    My Frugal Friday post is about most of the points you’ve covered here too – and let me tell you – it REALLY works!! Thanks for a great list.

  • Melanie says:

    Crystal,

    Thank you for posting this. I enjoy reading your blogs and those of other frugal minded women but since I live in Mongolia, where there are no big store chains, much less sales, I sometimes feel a little “left out”. You covered the basics in your post and gave me a shot of confidence, too!

    Keep up the good work,
    Melanie

  • Diana says:

    Anther way to save without switching to powdered milk is to buy FULL FAT Vitamin D milk at the bulk discounted price (two for 6 instead of 1 for 4+).

    Then, take one gallon of full fat milk, and one empty, fully washed and sanitized milk jug. Pour 50% of the full fat milk into the clean empty jug and then add water to both containers.

    The results taste, cook, and work like 2% milk but now you got FOUR GALLONS for Less than the price of TWO. Freeze portions that you cannot use within a week. (yes it defrosts and tastes just fine, just make sure to shake well before the first serving) 🙂

  • Sherry Summers says:

    When you can find meat on sale, try canning the meat instead of freezing it. This saves freezer space and the canned meat keeps better and tastes better than freezing. Just look in a Ball blue book on canning and freezing.

  • Liz M. says:

    I find it a challenge ( at times) to save money since I live alone in an apartment with a SMALL freezer and not a lot of other space either. Most bulk buying is out and sometimes regular sizes of things are even too big. There are a very few items I almost never buy unless I have coupons (it seems to me that the coupons tend to be for the same things over and over), but mostly my best strategies have been to eat NO meat and to try to buy only sale and clearance items when I can. I do buy organic milk because for some reason it stays fresh way longer! I have been getting some organic produce but this is almost always expensive. I have not had good luck with Save-A-Lot / Aldi because they don’t carry much in lowfat, high fiber or other healthy food items. I also wonder where their produce comes from? By far the greatest savings have come from FORCING myself not to get any fast food, pizza slices, and other meals out. I am not always successful with this, but when I am I really notice a difference. Enjoying your column, Liz M.

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