13 Tips to Lower Your Grocery Bill

Rebecca Currie

1.        Muesli and outmeal are filling, healthful, and very inexpensive. In the winter I make oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar, or steel-cut oats with honey and almonds. I cook two servings of steel-cut oats and the leftovers I refrigerate then heat in a frying pan with butter and serve with maple syrup and sunflower seeds.

2.       I buy whatever fruit costs the least. Sometimes this changes according to the season —apples in the fall and citrus in the winter. In the summer I buy everything, because I love fresh fruit. Bananas are cheap all year —so I eat lots of them.

3.       Keep your freezer and pantry stocked with things you can use to make other things, so when you make a trip to the grocery store, you’re just restocking the pantry or getting fresh produce and dairy.

4.       Keep non-fat dry milk for cooking, so you can make pancakes or a white sauce without having to go to the store for milk.

5.       Use your pantry. Keep rice, pasta, noodles, canned tomatoes, condiments, canned tuna and salmon in the pantry. Your pantry is your friend.

6.        Use your freezer. Keep hamburger, ground turkey, and bacon for future use in casseroles, sauces, soups. Keep frozen vegetables in the freezer to throw into a casserole or stir fry, or to steam as a side dish. When frozen, fresh ginger keeps indefinitely. I find that frozen ginger grates easily for adding to stir-frys and sauces.

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Picture of card

7.       Buy day-old bagels, slice in half and freeze. Eat for lunch with tuna and cheese, for breakfast with peanut butter and a smoothie. Keep a loaf of bread in the freezer, eggs, and cheese in the fridge. Make a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich for a third of what you’d pay at a shop.

8.       Always have garlic and onions and potatoes on hand. Buy potatoes and onions in five-pound bags to save money.

9.     Keep flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder so you can make biscuits, dumplings, pancakes, muffins. The only fats you need are butter for baking (and for toast, and grilled cheese sandwiches), olive oil for sauteing and salads, canola oil for frying and baking.

10.      If you have mushrooms on the verge of collapse, you can sauté them and then freeze them and use them later in a casserole or add them to a white sauce to make a homemade version of cream of mushroom soup, which is suitable for all kinds of things.

11.     Lemon juice outlasts lemons. If you buy a lemon but then you don’t use all of it, squeeze the extra into a small jar. The next time you make a recipe with lemon juice, you’ll already have some. And you don’t have to throw anything away.

12.     You can make your tomato sauce, salsa, granola, or hummus. Do not think you have to buy processed versions of these items.

13.     Buy as much as is practicable, but be careful about coupons. Coupons can be useful, but you shouldn’t buy things you wouldn’t buy otherwise just because you have a coupon. In fact, I’m very skeptical about the real value of coupon-clipping. It seems to me that coupons are generally for overpriced processed foods – and processed foods are themselves already overpriced!

-These tips come from Rebecca Currie, the author of Less is Enough. Using these tips and a lot of discipline, she spends only ninety dollars per month on groceries.

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