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How to Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half

Article by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead.

While I’ve never been a big fan of fear mongering, it’s clear that the US economy is in a little more than a slump. There are many ways we can live more frugally, and that includes spending less on groceries and being more conscious of the things we buy.

I’m not recommending that we buy less quality foods for the sake of cutting costs. I won’t recommend buying conventional over organic in order to save money. I don’t think you should have to sacrifice quality in order to have less of an impact on your wallet. There are, however, some great frugal tips that I’ve learned to help save money at the market.

  1. Don’t buy plastic wrap, tin foil, sandwich bags, etc. For everything that you could think of needingĀ  – a sandwich baggy, tin foil, or other disposable nonsense – there is a non-disposable alternative. Use tupperware instead.
  2. Buy in bulk. Certain things like rice, beans and grains are much cheaper when purchased in bulk.
  3. Don’t buy in bulk. Sometimes when you buy in bulk, you’ll have a tendency to eat things faster. If you have a 400 count box of twinkies, you’ll likely eat them much quicker than one with only 4. Try to buy things in bulk that you know won’t tempt you to binge on.
  4. Don’t buy pre-made. If you cook something often, you’ll save a lot more buying the ingredients and cooking yourself, than buying it frozen.
  5. Shop at farmer’s markets. Often local farmers can match or beat supermarket prices because they don’t have to pay overhead and transportation costs. Check this site out to do a search for a farmers market in your area.
  6. Grow your own. I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t have the time or space (I live in an apartment) to grow much of my own food. Little things like herbs or indoor tomatoes, however, can be easily grown in your kitchen without much hassle. Basil, oregano, cherry tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts and mint are easily grown in your kitchen window.
  7. Eat leftovers, instead of eating out. The convenience of eating out is often hard to resist. One way to avoid this temptation is preparing meals that can be eaten more than one day. Try making casseroles or lasagna that will last 2 or 3 days.
  8. Eat out intelligently. Take advantage of restaurants that have 2 for 1 buffet, or lunch specials. Or make eating out a ritual on a certain day of the week. My wife and I only eat out on Fridays. Having a set day that we only eat out
  9. Use coupons. It never hurts to do a little old fashioned coupon clipping. Now, however, you don’t have to clip them, you can print them.
  10. Don’t shop hungry. If you don’t follow any of these tips, follow this one. Every time that I have spent way more than I expected at the grocery store, it was because I went there hungry. When you shop hungry, everything looks good and you want to buy everything. After you get home and eat, you’ll probably find yourself wondering what you’re going to do with all of that food. And much of it inevitably spoils and goes bad. If you do nothing else, don’t shop hungry.

Do you have any tips for saving money on food? Share with us in the comments.

This article was written by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead of the Illuminated Mind blog. For more ways to improve your life, grab a subscription to Illuminated MInd.

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