The Tightwad Gazette – Slashing your grocery bill

As I have mentioned before, this is such a great book, and I keep going back to it time and time again. Amy’s advice is so timeless (for the most part) and her approach is no-nonsense, and non apologetic. Since I have been consciously trying to shift our focus lately and live a simpler life, her book has come in handy as a way to remind me to be aware of my consumerism and focus on the things that are important. Reducing our spending has been a necessary step for us, but the mind shift that has gone with that is equally important. To learn how to feel satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment by reusing and making do with what we have is important to making these changes long lasting and part of an overall lifestyle.

Amy talks a lot about saving money on groceries – this is one of the few areas that we have a lot of control over within our budget. Here are some of the things she suggests:

-Gardening: while we aren’t homesteaders with multiple acres and endless time to can our food for the year, growing a small garden can help to offset some of your grocery costs. Keeping a small herb garden, or canning your own tomatoes is a great way to know where your food is coming from, and put away some food for later on.

-Preserving:  this doesn’t just have to apply to food you grow yourself. You can preserve food that is on sale at the end of the season (i.e. when a normally expensive food goes on sale, but in bulk and freeze or can it. Last fall I bought 15 lbs of peppers when they were on for $079/lb and cut them and froze them for use all winter. Since they can get up to $4 or $5/lb then, this was a significant savings).

-Price Book: I have a couple of articles on this here; but this is a great way to keep track of prices so that you don’t overpay for what you think is a good deal.

-Stock Up: This is a basic, but buy enough of something to get you through to the next sale. So if chicken is on sale once a month for $2/lb, and you use 5 lbs per week, then you need to buy at least 20 lbs to get you through to the next time it is on sale. While this may seem like a lot to buy at once, your cost of chicken will be about $40 per month. Comparably, you could spend $10 on chicken one week (sale week), then $18 the non sale weeks (x3) for a total of $64 for the month.  Buying enough for the month at once is more money upfront, but saves you money overall.

-Elimination of non-nutritious foods: these foods give you very little nutritional bang for your buck. It’s better to spend money on things that are providing vitamins and nutrients.

-Elimination of convenience foods: it’s tempting to buy boxed side dishes, and pre-grated cheese. But it’s much cheaper (and often healthier) to make these yourself

-Choosing less expensive foods: opt for cheaper options, such as chicken leg quarters instead of boneless skinless

-Buying store brands/generic: these are often comparable quality (in many cases) and much cheaper

-Buying marked down/damaged goods: most grocery stores have a produce/dry goods discount section. These are often products that are no longer carried, or close to expiry. After the CBC special on food waste, Wal-Mart has committed to reducing food waste by packaging and reselling damaged produce at a reduced rate to avoid having to throw it out.

-Coupons: these can save you significantly – but use them wisely and only for things you will use/get for free

-Vegetarianism: have a couple of ‘meatless’ meals each week for significant savings

-Portion comparison: many packages look similar but are actually very different in weight. Compare unit prices for similar products

-Free food: in the form of gardening, or bartering, or overage coupons

-Preparing foods from scratch: it takes minutes to make a loaf of Cuban Bread for just a few cents; buying two specialty loaves of bread in the store would be at least $5

-Maintain optimum weight

-Waste nothing; leftover nights and having yesterday’s dinner for lunch are great ways to eliminate waste. Have a bag in your freezer where you save scraps for stock.

-Eat fewer meat and potato meals (casseroles): another great way to stretch your meat budget and also recreate your leftovers


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