Tips to cut your grocery bill

Well, I am finally settled into my apartment, and I am getting closer to being fiscally responsible for all my financial transactions.  Aside from rent, food is the most important part of my budget.  Food expenses are some of the most crucial expenses Americans make, yet they are also some of the most wasteful expenses.  About half of our food is eaten away from home, while we toss out about 40 percent of what we eat.  With the costs of everything else going up, we need to spend less on what we don’t use or need.  Obviously, going out to restaurants less often and eating more of what we buy can help save money.  Here are some other strategies you and I can use to lower food costs and cut your grocery bill.

Eliminate soda.  A recent Gallup poll showed that about half of Americans drink soda on a daily basis.  The CDC reports that over one-third of Americans are obese.  Both numbers are growing.  By eliminating soda from your diet, not only will you be saving a few dollars with each trip to the grocery store, you will be cutting back on unnecessary calories.  You will save a couple dollars every time you substitute a soda with water at a restaurant.  (It’s free!)  Drink either water or tea, and put that can of Coke to better use, like cleaning your toilet or de-rusting metal objects.

Try Meatless Mondays.  You can do this on any day of the week, not just for alliteration’s sake.  Meat, especially steak and seafood, can be notoriously expensive, often over $10 per pound.  Going vegetarian every once in a while will save you a few dollars.  Whenever you do purchase meat from the market, do so when it is at a discount.

Buy generic.  Bread.  Milk.  Potato salad.  Grocery stores put their names on these products and more.  Generic products typically cost about 30 percent less than the popular brand name, and they’re made of the same stuff!  Other than the price, you will not be able to tell the difference between a box of Cheerios and a box of Toasted Oats.  Even with just one trip to the market, you can save a few dollars on generic frozen foods, snacks, and cereal.

Buy only food.  This sounds odd, but how many times have you gone to the grocery store and bought items that weren’t on your list?  You go for some bread and lunch meat, and you bring back toothpaste and magazines.  When you go to the grocery store, buy only food.  Other home essential items, like detergent and soap, can be bought for a more affordable price at Wal-Mart or a local drugstore.

Don’t waste money on organic.  Many people think buying organic is a healthier option because these products have not been subject to potentially deadly pesticides.  This may be the case, but it is also expensive.  It is also unnecessary in some situations.  Foods like bananas and melons have protective and inedible skins.  These foods are less likely to have been penetrated by pesticides, thus buying “organic” bananas and melons is a waste of your money.

These are just a few of many ways to save money on food.  You can also try growing your own foods (tomatoes and green leafy vegetables, for example), checking newspapers for coupons, or visit your local farmer’s market to get better deals.  Keep your receipts to determine your average monthly expenditures on food.  Finally, make sure you check expiration dates when buying food to cut down on waste.

David Pilley

David Pilley

David Pilley is a May 2010 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a B.A. in communication studies and a creative writing minor. He is a native of Raleigh, North Carolina.

He played clarinet for the Marching Tar Heels in 2005 and 2006. He also volunteered for STV, the student-run television station at UNC-Chapel Hill, in the spring of 2010. He shot video, wrote scripts, and acted for “Off the Cuff,” UNC’s longest running sketch comedy show. He has the rare distinction of having lived in a dorm all four years of his undergraduate college career. He was also on Franklin Street on the night of April 4, 2009. His future plans are to pursue a master’s degree in journalism and to one day work for the media as a sports journalist or broadcaster.

Being one of eight children, David realizes finance is an important topic to everyone, regardless of his/her knowledge of the subject. His interests are in personal finance, budgeting, and savings.

In his spare time, David enjoys watching sports and standup comedy, as well as doing crossword puzzles and writing in the first person. He also thoroughly enjoys trivia and, one day, hopes to participate on the game show Jeopardy!, where he will try to break Ken Jennings’ 74-game win streak.
David Pilley

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