How to Shave More Than $100 From Your Grocery Bills This Month



No matter how many coupons and deal-stacking tactics you use, it probably feels as if prices at the grocery store just keep getting higher. That’s because they are: Food costs are expected to rise by as much as 4 percent by the end of the year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But that doesn’t mean your bills have to soar, too. The solution is to get even smarter when it comes to what you drop into your cart. For every step you take in the supermarket, there’s proven tip to help you trim your costs. All together, you could whittle more than $100 off your bills each month.

  • Bananas: Save $4.00. Looking for a bunch of bargains? Buy reduced-for-quick-sale bananas. They can go for up to 50 cents a pound less than full-priced alternatives. American families eat about 8 pounds of bananas per month. If you do, too, buying 2 pounds each weekly shopping trip, you’ll pocket $4 a month.
  • Pineapple: Save $1.50. The average family eats about half a pineapple monthly. If you expect to eat only that much, ask a manager to cut one in half. You’ll pay just for what you eat. The fruit sold for about $3 last year, so you’ll save $1.50.
  • Applesauce: Save $1.96. A 24-ounce jar generally retails for $1.99. If you can find apples marked down to $1 per pound, buy 1½ pounds to make the same amount as in the jar. If you normally buy four jars each month, you’ll save $1.96.
  • Carrots: Save $1.68. Smaller isn’t always cheaper in the produce aisle. To get the best deal on this veggie, don’t reach for the precut baby carrots. They are $1.69 per pound; the full-sized unpeeled veggies go for 99 cents per pound. If your family consumes the average 2.4 pounds per month, that simple swap adds up to a total monthly savings of $1.68.
  • Lettuce: Save $14.88. Leaf lettuce is $1.99 per pound, whereas that bagged mix works out to a hefty $5.71 a pound. Yes, the packages are convenient, but take 10 minutes to rinse and dry loose greens. If you eat the average 4 pounds per month, you’ll save $14.88 in that time.
  • Soup: Save $1.62. Head to the clearance bin. You might find three slightly battered cans of soup (once $1.09, now 55 cents)—and save $1.62. TIP: If cans are too dented to easily stack, pass them up.
  • Tacos and chips: Save $1.43. Prepping for Mexican night? Instead of buying chips and taco shells, make them yourself from tortillas. Grab two packages of a dozen corn tortillas for $1.49 each (which works out to about 12 cents per tortilla) and make 12 taco shells by brushing them with oil, draping over an oven rack and baking until crisp. Compared with a $2.49 12-pack of taco shells, you’ll save $1. Use the remaining 12 tortillas to make 48 chips by cutting them into quarters and baking on a cookie sheet. These homemade chips work out to 3 cents per chip, versus brand-name tortilla chips, which come to 4 cents each. On that batch you’ll save 43 cents, bringing your total to $1.43.
    • Coffee: Save $8.68. To get high-quality taste for less, buy generic coffee at around $4.43 per pound and mix it—part for part—with the pricier stuff, which can go for as much as $16 per pound. That cuts the cost by as much as $5.79 per pound. If two adults in your household drink the average 1½ pounds of coffee each month, you’ll see a savings of $8.68.
    • Milk: Save $7.30. Marked-down milk often has a close expiration date—but don’t let that sour you on potential savings. It’s safe to consume after being frozen for up to three months, and it retains essential nutrients (although the texture changes, so you might prefer using thawed milk for baking rather than drinking). The key is to jump on a great deal: Reduced store-brand cartons go for at least 50 percent off, which is up to $1 a gallon cheaper than brand-name dairy. If your family goes through the average 7.3 gallons of milk per month, stocking up and freezing will save you $7.30 or more.
    • Iced tea: Save $8.64. Jugs of regular or lemon-flavored tea can cost as much as $1.10 per quart. Tea bags cost from 1 to 5 cents apiece—which translates to as little as 2 cents per quart (assuming you use eight bags to make 1 gallon of iced tea). If you go through 2 gallons of tea each month, that’s a savings of $8.64 per month.
    • Vegetables: Save $1.29. It’s rarely a sound financial idea to buy canned veggies unless there’s a great sale—or you like paying for water. We recently weighed the contents of a $1.39 15¼-ounce brand-name can of corn and found out it had only 8 ounces of actual veggies. Instead, buy a 1-pound bag of frozen corn for $1.49, and save $1.29 per pound of vegetables.
    • Oatmeal: Save $2.40. Instead of grabbing that $1.69 box of store-brand oats (which contains 13 servings), load up on the 99-cent-per-pound oatmeal (about 12 servings) from the bulk-food section—and save 5 cents per serving. If your family eats oatmeal three days a week, that’s 48 servings per month and a savings of $2.40.
    • Popcorn: Save $5.28. Bypass microwave popcorn, which can cost as much as 37 cents per serving. Instead, opt for a bag of kernels and cook it on the stove or in a popcorn popper. Doing so will set you back only 4 cents per serving. If your family eats popcorn every Friday night while watching a movie, you’ll save $5.28 per month.
    • Spices and herbs: Save $9.86. These items from bins can be 300 percent less expensive than those in the baking aisle. For example, ground ginger costs $3.33 a pound in the bulk section and $13.19 per pound in the baking aisle. Buying 16 ounces? The bulk department can save you $9.86.
    • Bread: Save $3.92. Maintain your price book, and whenever your store puts $2 stickers on that $2.98 multigrain loaf—the average price last year—buy four (and freeze three). You’ll save $3.92 per month on the sandwich staple.
    • Pickles: Save $3.38. Almost out of dills? Instead of paying for another jar (at $2.69), buy an English cucumber for between $1 and $1.50, slice it up and drop it into the jar of juice you already have. Within a few days you will have more pickles and will pocket as much as $1.69. Assuming you go through two jars per month, you could see $3.38 worth of savings with that one move.
    • Meat: Save $24.20. You don’t need to go meatless to save a lot of money. Ground beef costs between $3.59 and $4.49 per pound on average, but you can ask the meat department manager to grind a cheaper roast into hamburger meat for you. When roasts go on sale for $1.99 to $2.99 per pound, your costs could drop by as much as $2.50 per pound. If you and your spouse eat the average 58.1 pounds of beef per year each, your monthly savings will add up to an impressive $24.20.
    • Cottage cheese: Save $1.11. Did you know you could make your own cottage cheese? It’s as simple as heating a gallon of milk, adding ¾ cup lemon juice or cider vinegar and letting the mixture strain through cheesecloth or a flour-sack dish towel. Cottage cheese made at home with milk marked down for quick sale costs $1.48 per pound versus the store-bought $2.59, a savings of $1.11.
    • Gelatin snacks SAVE $8.96. No surprise here: Gelatin cups aren’t a bargain. A 4-ounce serving costs about 76 cents; the same amount made from a mix is 20 cents. Assuming you put gelatin into two lunch boxes twice a week, you’ll save $8.96 a month.

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