How to Save Money on Groceries - Part Three

Who's ready to hit the grocery store for food? Here are my very best detailed tips for saving meaningful money on groceries in ways that go far past the conventional "start with a meal plan" and "stick to your grocery list" and "don't shop hungry". Those three tactics are good advice, for sure, but we've got to plot harder and act smarter to make a serious difference in a household grocery budget.

How to Save Money on Groceries ♥, a multi-part series packed with practical tips and ideas.
If you're new to this series or just want to review the basics, you may want to start at the beginning, see How to Save Money on Groceries: The Introduction. Otherwise, let's dig in again, shall we?

We're finally mentally ready to shop for groceries. We have adopted a frugal frame of mind. We are motivated to save money. We recognize that cooking (more of if not all of) our own food is essential to achieving our budget goal. We're armed with good intentions and smart grocery shopping tips. We've gathered the fortitude to withstand all the marketing messages that will bombard us inside stores. We understand how easy it is to fall to temptation: food companies don't become successful by selling us less. Stay strong. We're up for it!

First, a word. This series of posts is not sponsored. My recommendations are based on personal experience and a life-long study of household food costs. I mention certain stores but promise that there is zero coordination / remuneration between the companies and me. When I recommend products sold on Amazon, I do earn a small commission if you buy something after clicking that link. (This doesn't affect your own cost.) I'll remind you about this by labeling each Amazon link as an "affiliate link". My Disclosure Promise

Second, encouragement. There's much to absorb here, it would be easy to feel overwhelmed and just move on. Instead, may I suggest honing in on one or maybe two ideas that make particular sense to your own situation? If they're effective, it they're meaningful, applying them may soon become ingrained not extra effort. I wrote much of the early pages of this series back in 2008. But many years later, I still use these same practices week in and week out, almost without thinking. Yes, I've empowered my phone over time. And oh yes, the Year That Is 2020 has created new wrinkles ... but these ideas really can become deep-seated habits.

So let's get to it, shall we?

Shop Wisely for Groceries

"Just food. Only food." This is our mantra when planning meals and shopping for groceries. We're only going to buy food, just food and only food. No health and beauty aids. (That's supermarket speak for shampoo, aspirin and all the other personal care items). No paper products. (Think toilet paper, plastic wrap and paper towels.) No cleaning supplies. (Think dishwashing liquid and laundry soap.) No pet food.

As a reminder, call your local store what it should be, a grocery store, not a supermarket. All the other items are considerably cheaper at big-box discount stores and warehouse clubs. (Think Walmart. Think Target. Think Sam's Club and Costco.)

If you track family expenses, separate food costs from all the other stuff. If you are shopping for groceries at one of these stores, separate the non-groceries in your cart and put them onto the checkout counter together. Often, the receipt will list items in order, it'll be easy to separate the two categories, food vs everything else.

Real food. This tip is perhaps the most important of all. To save money, to be frugal grocery shoppers, we are only going to buy real food.

What is real food?

  • Much "real food" is one ingredient long. Lettuce. Carrots. Milk. Chicken.
  • It's an ingredient not a product.
  • It hasn't been cooked by a company. It's not processed food.
  • It likely doesn't have a brand name and a promotion budget.
  • It doesn't come in a printed box or fancy packaging.
  • It's "whole food". It's the base of the dinner chain, it's low on the food chain.

Shop the priorities first. At the grocery store, fill the cart with all that "real food" first. This means vegetables and fruit, protein and for many families, milk. These departments are nearly always on the outside walls of the store. That's why smart shoppers learn to "shop the perimeter" of the store.

Bypass the empty calorie aisles. Don't even go there! Avoid the temptations of wasting money on non-essential commercial foods mostly found in the center aisles. They are budget killers and also largely unhealthful, full of empty calories. Think potato chips. Crackers. Candy. Cheap pizzas. Ice cream. Soda. The deli counter: ugh, especially the deli counter. Frozen meals. These are "food products" and not "food", not "real food" anyway.

Eyes averted, make quick forays into the middle of the store. One "processed" food that delivers value is frozen vegetables. Even so, make sure to buy one-ingredient vegetables – just peas, just broccoli, just green beans, just frozen spinach – no butter sauces, no herbs. The plain bags of frozen vegetables are often on sale for $1 a pound, a real value worth stocking up on.

Other "real food" finds worth our dollars found in the middle aisles: frozen orange juice concentrate, peanut butter, canned tomatoes, bags of dried beans and rice, big tubs of old-fashioned oats and baking staples like flour and sugar.

Invest in the future. Okay, the "real food" is in the cart so let's stop a moment. Add up what's been spent so far. Is there money left over? If there's money left in the budget, use it to make next week's food dollar go further. Some ideas:

  • Buy an essential food in bulk. (Think a big bottle of olive oil or a large bag of brown rice.)
  • Buy a pantry item that will enhance the taste of home-cooked food. (Think dried herbs and spices.)
  • Purchase packaging that makes it easier to store and carry food. (Think freezer containers and portion-sized plastics.)
  • Purchase a kitchen tool that makes it easier to cook in large quanties or to save money. (Think a slow-cooker or a Dutch oven or a Food Saver for preserving food.)

Name brands versus store brands Private-label products – that's the industry term for products made by food product companies but branded with the store's name or the store's branded food line – are often comparable in quality but lower in price.

Grocery companies like private-label products because (1) the products offer consumers lower-priced alternatives (2) the products create the impression that the store offers something other stores do not and (3) even when sold at a lower price, the store makes a higher margin (another word for "profit").

Do try store-brand, private-label products. But take notes on the quality.

For example, I find store-brand oatmeal to be fine for baking but for eating, I really do prefer the Quaker Oats Old-Fashioned Oatmeal. Since I cook oatmeal for breakfast nearly every morning, I'm happy to pay the small premium.

In contrast, I've learned (by noticing taste and the identical nutrition labels) that my favorite brand-name cottage cheese is private-labeled by a local grocery and sells for $.30 to $.40 cents less per container.

How to Transform Your Morning Oatmeal ♥, half steel-cut oats and half old-fashioned rolled oats cooked in part milk, part water. Great texture. Great for meal prep. Weight Watchers Friendly.

Watch out for semi-prepared food, especially in the meat and seafood departments. A few spices or a little bit of marinade or skewered kabobs will double the price of meat, easily. These feel like "real food" (and compared to the drive-through or carry-out alternatives, they are) but here again, we're paying someone else to do very simple prep work. If you want to save money on groceries? Do simple things yourself.

Don't fall prey to sale signs. We can't help ourselves, our eyes are drawn to sale signs on shelves. And some times products on sale are a good value.

But when potato chips are on sale, they're still empty and expensive calories. Ask: is it "real food'? is it a necessity or a want? can we do without? is it on the list? how good a deal is it, really?

Do the math. If you end up really liking those potato chips on sale this week for $2, will you want to buy them again? maybe every week? Those $2 potato chips suck you in. Keep up the buying chips every week for $3 (because the sale price won't last forever ...) and by the end of the year, you've spent more than $150 on potato chips.

What's "on sale" isn't necessarily a bargain. Food that's "on sale" isn't always a good price.

In July, my grocery store sold blueberries "on sale" for $3 a pint. A week later, the price dropped to $2.50, still $.50 higher than last year's low price of $2.

Watch for unit costs, too. I often see that the unit cost on a small package on sale is higher than the unit cost of a larger package at the regular price. If you can actually use the extra amount, then it's the better value choice.

Don't fall prey to the suggestion of X for $Y. Price quotes like these are suggestive of sale prices, even when the price is nothing special. Unless the fine print dictates otherwise, unless you need four of whatever, get what you need, not what's suggested.

Watch for purchase limits. Chances are, if a store applies limits (for example, "purchase limit 2 with $25 purchase" or "purchase limit 4"), the price is good, perhaps even a loss leader.

Don't shell out for water. It's well known that bottled water is expensive, both on our budgets and on the environment. But think of the other products that contain water.

Cartons of orange juice. Juice boxes. Cans of chicken broth. Cans of cooked beans. Low-fat coconut milk. Jello cups. Applesauce. Popsicles. Chicken and pork injected with "flavoring" (think water and salt). Canned soup. Kool-Aid bottles. Soda pop.

Many thanks to my friend Nupur from One Hot Stove for enlightenment about the many places that expensive water is hidden!

Don't pay multiples for sugar. Breakfast cereals are a good case. Choose low-sugar cereals if you must but better still, cook oatmeal then for "sweetness" add a spoonful of peanut butter, a few nuts and some chopped fruit. Pudding mixes and cake mixes are also 90% sugar albeit 90% convenience. Fix on a pudding or two you can make at home; find a cake or two that you love and mixes up quickly.

Don't pay for salt. Specialty spice mixes are all the rage. There are dozens of them, especially during the grill season. They're also 90% salt. Instead, invest in a few base herbs and spices, then make your own DIY Spice Blends.

Speaking of dried herbs & spices. Herbs and spices are pantry staples that add flavoring and satisfaction to many dishes. They are good investments! But do beware of grocery-store's every-day prices in the spice department, they are astronomical! Sale prices are more reasonable, especially right before Christmas.

Better, find a good source of high-quality spices. A St. Louis institution is the Soulard Spice Shop at historic Soulard Market, a working open-air and enclosed market since 1779. The Spice Shop is a definite destination: think 20-30 people lined up for herbs and spices on a Saturday morning. It's an old-fashioned shop: the owner does take online orders now (an improvement!) and also takes telephone orders during business hours, Wednesday to Saturday although I'd avoid calling on Saturdays. The number is 314-783-2100, there's no answering machine so you may need to keep trying. The prices? Exceptional.

International groceries can also be another source of good-quality often inexpensive dried herbs and spices. Often, the packaging is decidedly low-key but I've had great success with both quality and price and variety.

For easy online purchases for quality spices, turn to the motherlodes, Penzeys and The Spice House.

Consider minimizing. But then again, maybe we don't need all those spices??? Consider paring down a spice cabinet to the essentials, the personal favorites, the most-used, the basics, then sticking to those.

I'm definitely talkin' to me-myself-and-I here and my goal in this next year is to pare down my own collection. I might start by listing the known favorites. Cumin. Curry. Smoked paprika. Italian seasoning. Dried mustard. Fennel. Cinnamon. Ginger. Nutmeg. (Your own favorites?)

Or maybe I'll open up a temporary place for the herbs and spices that are used over the course of couple of months, then cull out the rest over time.

Do avoid the temptation of the "huge" containers of spices at some groceries and especially, warehouse clubs. Herbs and spices have a relatively short shelf life: try to buy no more than might be used in a year.

Don't drink up your food budget. No, this isn't an Irish novel where Da is downing a week's pay at the corner pub. But it's still easy to save money by considering and then consciously deciding what we drink as well as eat, especially if we have every-day drink habits. Coffee. Cans of soda. Bottled water. Even beer and wine.

Cold-Brewed Coffee ♥, for smooth, low-acidity coffee, just brew coffee grounds in water overnight. It's a summer saver!

Pay for food, not wasteful disposable packaging. If a food is heavily packaged, chances are it's not "real food" and the price is many times higher than the commodity price of the base ingredient. Watch especially for the super-easy-to-make favorites.

  • Use milk and unsweetened cocoa powder you've already got on hand to make chocolate pudding, not plastic containers of pudding.
  • Buy whole-grain old-fashioned oatmeal, not instant oatmeal packets.
  • Buy a bag of popcorn kernels, not popped corn or worse, microwave popcorn bags.

How to Cook Popcorn in a Microwave In a Paper Bag ♥, like an airpop, no oil!

Pay for nutrition, not snacks. Some of the worst nutrition:value in the grocery store? Breakfast cereal. Snack crackers. Potato chips. Tortilla chips. Even those stupid "vegetable" chips. Breakfast bars. Pie crusts. Boxes of mashed and scalloped potatoes. Mac 'n' cheese.

The list is longer than could be catalogued here: it all makes me weary. Some times I become almost sick seeing aisle after aisle of empty calories in the stores. I often wonder, How many useless calories in all those aisles of pre-packed gift baskets before the holidays? and in October, all that Halloween candy? and in February, all that (not) cheap but cheap chocolate? and in spring, all that Easter candy? When, exactly, did our holidays begin to revolve around sugar? When did we become such a rich-poor country that mass-produced, glitzy packages of sugar seem "special"?

Sorry: soap box. /End rant

Pay for quality when it counts. While house-brand and private-label products are often a good value, some times there are meaningful quality differences. I go through butter, here, like you wouldn't believe, for baked goods, for vegetables, for eggs.

For awhile, I bought large blocks of less-expensive butter at Sam's Club, that is, until I twigged that Sam's butter is less expensive because it contains less butter fat! Plus, it just didn't have that sweet, creamy butter flavor so important to cookies and cakes. So I returned to my favorite Land O' Lakes butter, though with an eagle eye on prices so that it's easy to buy a few pounds for the freezer when it goes on sale.

Good news! As of September 2020, at least my local Sam's now sells one-pound boxes of Land O Lakes butter, not just the butter laced with canola oil, 100% butter. It's the first time I've seen that in maybe 20 years?! Christmas baking, anyone?!

Pay for pleasure, not convenience. That box of pizza that calls out, "Buy me! Buy three of me!" Sure, it's convenient. But does it taste good, really? So many of these food products are laden with high levels of fat and salt that deaden our taste buds to the pleasures of real food. They create a viscious cycle of purchases without pleasure, stuffing our faces and padding out bodies, without pleasure.

Coupons. Who's ever seen a coupon for broccoli? or milk? Unfortunately, there are few if any coupons for real food because there are no excess margins (for the consumer, read "savings"). Coupons are produced only for the most highly processed foods. If we begin shopping only around the edges of the grocery store for real food, the time spent clipping and sorting coupons will soon become a big waste of time.

Contrary point of view: Some folks swear by clipping coupons. I even know one mom who asks her neighbor to save the Sunday coupon section for her, double coupons.

Coupon exception: Non-food items are often included in newspaper and online coupon sources. Go for it! Just don't buy these items at – what do we call the place we buy food? – the grocery store. :-0

Possible exception: I'm inspired by Lauren Puryear who uses extreme couponing to feed thousands and thousands of homeless and food-insecure families. Wow. That's scale. Could it work in a single household? Maybe.

Watch the price signs. One week last summer, fresh blueberries were priced "4 for $10". This, of course, suggests the need to buy four pints for the $2.50 a pint price, a common technique to upsell shoppers. But I've learned that this store will charge $2.50 at the register, unless – this is where you have to watch – the fine print reads, "Must purchase 4 pints, regular price $3." or something similar.

Power up your phone! Okay, sorry, this is admittedly a little nerdy. But unless you're a math whiz in your head, your phone's calculator will help figure unit costs, to help make decisions between brands. A note app or digital spreadsheet can help track the sources and prices of the foods purchased most often. Be organized! Organization pays.

Focus on the essentials. When getting started, don't get bogged down (and so overwhelmed you give up) by tracking every single food item on your grocery list. Start with the items purchased every week, milk, bread, eggs, chicken, etc. The next week add another 5 or 10 items to your tracking list. Saving $1 a week on eggs adds up to $52 a year, where saving $.30 on chocolate chips purchased once or twice a year, well, the difference of the impact is obvious.

Don't sacrifice value for price. White bread may be cheap-cheap-cheap but nutritionally, it's without value. Pay for whole grain bread, with more fiber, nutrition and flavor. It's not just about expense, it's about our health. Better yet, figure out how to work homemade bread into your food cost-saving practices. The idea is to work homemade bread into your week's routine vs a special occurrence.

Our Daily Bread: My Easy Everyday Bread Recipe ♥, the one I make again and again, every few days. It's an easy bread to make often, to fit into small spaces of your cooking life.

Learn to calculate unit costs and percentage difference. If the one-pound bag of brown rice costs $1.00 and the three-pound bag costs $2.70, the unit cost is $1 per pound for the smaller package and $.90 ($2.70 divided by 3) for the larger package, a difference of $.10. (Duh. I'm using easy figures so the concepts can be visualized.) So buying three pounds saves 3 x $.10 or $.30.

To calculate the percentage difference, divide the $.10 difference by the first price, that is, $.10 divided by $1 = .10, move the decimal two places to the right, you've saved 10 percent.

Use advanced math. For families with debt and savings/investments, calculating the percentage saved is particularly useful. If you're paying 15% interest on a credit card, say, it doesn't make sense to save 10% on brown rice today so long as you use what the difference to pay down the card balance with a higher rate. If savings and investments are earning 8%, then saving 10% on rice makes sense but saving 5% might not.

Talk to your grocer. A personal pet peeve is that store shelves quote unit prices for the regular price but not the sale price, making it more difficult to compare. Ask the store manager, write to the company owner. The more of us who ask, the more likely it will happen.

Watch prices and sizes both. Food companies are notorious for dropping the package size while keeping the price the same. I subscribe to Mouseprint for a regular reminder about the importance of vigilance.

But it goes further, too. With the costs of ingredients rising, food product companies are dropping the quality and quantity of the ingredients used to manufacture their own food products. Maybe this will be a good thing? that when food products are increasingly less tasty, more of us will begin to cook our own food? I live in hope!

For easier comparison, think price per pound. Base the calculation on the edible portion of the food.

For example, bone-in chicken thighs and chicken legs are often sold for half or less the price of boneless chicken breasts. Are they worth it? Nearly always they are and not just in a real sense. So by thinking in price per pound, you get double savings, a lower price per pound and a smaller serving size.

  • Pound for edible pound, chicken legs (thighs + drumsticks) usually cost considerably less, probably driven by sheer higher demand for chicken breasts.
  • Chicken thighs and drumsticks are natural "servings" especially compared to the huge size of chicken breasts.

Contrary point of view: Think price per serving, not price per pound. This is especially useful for comparing two groups of essentials, meat proteins and vegetables. I use 1/4 pound (112g) per serving for both.

Watch prices and price tags with an eagle eye. We're in a rush, we've got our list, it's oh-so-easy to just toss food into the grocery cart.

  • Just yesterday, I noticed lovely pears on sale for $2.00 a pound at the entry to the produce department. Further in, a similar variety of pears were regularly priced at $1.50 a pound – ha, some "sale price", those $2 pears!
  • Later, in the frozen vegetable section, a 10-ounce box of spinach was $1.09 and a 16-ounce bag was $.99.
  • In the cleaning supplies section, a gallon of bleach was $1.54 and a half gallon $1.34.
  • For weeks now, seven of the eight varieties of apples have been $1.80 - $3.00 a pound while one variety, the Empire, a good eating and baking apple, is only $1 a pound.

My supermarket is also, ahem, sloppy about placing price signs. I've seen price tags for store-brand butter placed above my favorite and the more expensive Land O' Lakes butter. I've seen a pile of apples priced "$10 for 10lbs" right next a pile of oranges for "$10 for 10" so about $.50 an apple versus $1.00 an orange.

For what it's worth, when I've pointed out these errors, store personnel have been quick to correct them.

Loose versus bags. On occasion, packaging pays. Bags of onions, apples and lemons are often less expensive than individual onions, apples and lemons, so long as you can use them all. I also appreciate the smaller size of the individual apples that come in bags, about a quarter of the super-sized loose apples.

Remain vigilant at the check-out. Errors are often made at the check-out. Products are scanned twice. The checker inserts the item code for radicchio rather than radishes. Or perhaps you accidentally picked up the name-brand product next to the store-brand product. In addition, make sure all your groceries get into your bag, your cart and into the car.

Avoid food waste. This is h-u-g-e and frankly, deserves its own page and discussion. For now, let it suffice that once you've paid for groceries, make sure the effort and savings don't get thrown out. Cook with what you have. Pare way down before making the next grocery run. Use up leftovers and planned-overs within a day or two. Re-purpose planned-overs.


Feeling motivated? Good! Here are some ways to get started now.

Remember! Baby steps are good! Tackle one thing at a time so you let yourself get overwhelmed. And what you think might work at first may not turn out to be the final solution. It's worth experimenting to figure out what's practical and doable for you.

We're in this effort for the long-term, not just for the moment.

Effort counts: pick just one thing that'll make a difference. Then do it.

  • Figure out how to track individual food costs in a way that works for you, not long-term but for a few weeks. How about quick notes on your phone? Could Siri help? (She can! Just say, "Hey Siri, make a note." And she'll say, "What do you want it to say?") It's old-fashioned and analog but maybe a small notebook would be easier to grab than figuring out some special app for your phone.
  • This week, track just a handful of items, testing both the process and the value of the information. It should be easy to access on the fly, standing right in front of the milk section (or similar), just date, product, store and price.
  • Dig out last week's grocery receipt. Add up the "real food" and the "empty calories" and the "non-food" purchases like paper products, etc. What portion of your grocery budget is being spent on real food? If you'd skipped the empty calories, would they have been missed?

Shared Your Own Best Tips

Your Two Cents = Two Dollars = Two Hundred Dollars = Two Thousand Dollars = Two Million Dollars. Collectively Kitchen Parade readers must have thousands of money-saving tips. Please! Do share them, either in a comment or via I'll collect your tips for a special post to close this series. Your two cents, multiplied by thousands of readers, can really add up.

Bloggers! You know you want to chime in! Write your own post about how you save money on food and groceries, then link to the introduction post of How to Save Money on Groceries. I'll collect your posts to share with readers at the end of the series. Together, we can make a difference!

How to Save Money on Groceries ♥, a multi-part series packed with practical tips and ideas.

How to Save Money on Groceries: The Series

The Introduction
Part One – Frugal Eating Starts in Our Heads
Part Two – Frugal Food Shopping Requires a Plan
Part Three – How to Shop Wisely for Groceries (you're here)

Part Four – Investing in the Future (coming next week)
Part Five – Reader Tips & More Resources (coming in two weeks)

To follow this series of posts over the next few weeks (plus Kitchen Parade's usual recipes), sign up for a free e-mail subscription.

If you think a friend might appreciate this series (plus the usual recipes), please forward this post!

"How to Save Money on Groceries" is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg, author of the recipe column Kitchen Parade which features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a money-saving tip that other Kitchen Parade readers might find useful? Leave a comment below or just send me a quick e-mail via If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2008 & 2020 (repub)

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I know one of my best shopping "secrets" is going to our neighborhood bulk food store, aptly named "Mr. Bulky's". Since I live alone it is very hard to follow all the money saving tips I would like too. If I want pizza buy the time I buy all the stuff sometimes it is cheaper for me to just by the $3.99 one that is on sale. It is hard for me to use up all those leftovers and my freezer only holds so much, and then things go to waste. That is why I love Mr. Bulky's. It reminds me of an old time general store (minus all the "general" stuff lol) It has bins and bins of anything you could need for cooking. You can by candy, candy making supplies, there are tons of different flours, salts, sugars, spices, nuts, loose teas, gourmet coffees, you can even find cheese powder like they put in the mac and cheese boxes, or rice pilaf or couscous mixes. And the wonderful thing is not only is it cheep, but you only buy as much as you need so you know you always have the freshest. For example living alone it is hard for to justify spending say $4-$6 on a bottle of say rosemary when I know it could take me 2 years to use it all. I could go and by a tablespoon or two at Mr. Bulky's for say $0.30. Their spices are so cheap that I could even buy as much as in what is in a regular sized bottle of Spice Island and still only spend say a $1. They get shipments every week so I know it is fresh, and because I can get as much as I want it has encouraged me to try spices I may never have thought of or been willing to because spices at the "grocery" store are so expensive. I love their variety it is probably my favorite place to go! I don't bake too much but say I wanted cake flour I can go and get just enough for that cake instead of buying a huge bag I won't use in time, and even if I wanted the whole bag buying it there is $$$'s cheaper. I can get steel cut oats for like $.50 lbs! When at the store it may cost me a few bucks! So if you have a bulk food store in the area I would highly recommend checking it out. You can find some really great products for fantastic prices!

  2. Lauren, what a great tip. We all should be so lucky to have a Mr Bulky's in our neighborhoods! I do think that for many people, cooking for one or two is its own special challenge for both cooking and saving money on groceries. Hmm. I might deserve its own attention. Thanks for the idea, I shall mull that over.

  3. Anonymous9/09/2008

    I am loving this series on Kitchen Parade! You'd be proud of me today. The commissary had a Manager's Special on pork shoulder roasts (Boston Butt)-- 69 cents a pound! I only bought one because I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. I made Kalua Pig in a slow cooker, served with rice (it's a Hawaiian thing), cabbage, and fresh pineapple. Then I filled up a quart size freezer bag for a future meal+leftovers, froze 4 Kid Thermos Size portions for school lunches, and have another 2 cups or so of meat for later. That's a lot of meals from a $4.50 hunk of meat!

  4. Karen, Miami FL9/17/2009

    Excellent series, though I found it late, and can't find the conclusion. My sister, who works in the international division of one of the major US food companies, points out that in India, flour in a bag is considered a convenience food. It's a reminder that even buying whole wheat bread rather than white bread is still paying someone to make something for you. A bread machine is simple to use, if you don't want to do the whole thing by hand. However it's also very very simple to mix flour, water, salt and yeast (OO optional) and make your own pizza crust - make a triple recipe and freeze the rest. We can get much closer to 'real' food without much effort.

  5. Karen ~ Thanks for all your kind comments in recent days! I love the idea of 'flour in a bag' being a convenience food, isn't it funny what we get use to?!

    As of the series, it got 'interrupted' by life and so still remains to be finished. Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Anonymous4/30/2010

    I used to ocasionally buy herbs at our bulk store, but then, my daughter-in-law bought the place. She explained just how much we pay for those pretty bottles of name brand spices. So, I emptied my old bottles, took them to her, and she fills them without charge (it saves her buying the plastic bags, and that saves the environment.) Now I get fresh spice, lower prices, and I don't even have to empty the spices into the bottles.

  7. Thank you for starting this inspiring series. Sometimes a few common sense reminders and fresh perspective on what we know we could be doing is what it takes to get excited and moving into action. I'm ready to revisit a concerted effort at cutting 10% off of our 'food' spending in the months ahead (and hopefully my waistline while I'm at it!)

  8. I hope you remember to finish this!

  9. Aiii Kate, it wasn't so much forgetting as losing the ambition. But thanks to your encouragement, it's back on the list for early 2011. Feel free to keep bugging me!

  10. Ms. Tery2/13/2011

    I hope you are working on the next phase of this blog. It has been so refreshing to read and I realize there is more I can do. One thing I didn't read is how to handle the real food once it comes home or is ready to be stored for later. I was losing alot of food to the trash bin until I got organized. Food gets pushed to the back of the fridge and tossed in the freezer - forgotten very easily. I bought some colored plastic caddy type bins with holes in the sides, and organized my fridge first. Lunch items, veges, fruits, small misc items. Measure your shelves first, height and depth. I haven't lost a slice of cheese or a green onion since, because you have to pull the bin out - you see what else is there and needs to be used! Same for the freezer - was worse than the fridge. I have one for meat, veges, fruits, soups, baking. I do have a chest freezer, so the big big stuff goes in there, in covered plastic stacking bins - labeled in the front. it's much easier to pull off the bins than to rummage through the bags of unlabeled mysteries. Even with only two of us at home, we still manage to make a mess of the bins. But in order to get something out, you gotta pull the whole thing with it - so it forces you to look at the big pic. One more thing - I invested in two vacuum sealers. One large and one small. I can make my own sized bags for left overs - perfect for lunches at the office. I put the food right in the bag, don't seal, then freeze solid (sometimes overnight), then seal the bag. saves a ton of messy liquid spills and unsealed bags. Also handy as "tv" dinners for the spousal unit, when I am out of town. All store meat is immediately repackaged into the vacuum sealed bags. The cost savings in being organized has been shocking, hundreds of dollars a year. Let's not render all the planning and shopping pointless once we get these groceries home! And for the record, my trash bin is very sad - I save most of my cooking scraps in the produce bags and place in the freezer container marked - 4 THE GARDEN. Come spring I thaw them for the lasagna garden beds. I love to grow my own veges, very frugal and healthy, given many fresh produce items lose their nutritional value over short periods of time. Keep up the good work here, please!!!!!

  11. Very useful information, thanks!

  12. Anonymous12/30/2011

    Hi Alanna,

    It is Dec 31 2011 and we are just about to head into the continuing economic uncertainty of 2012. Perhaps this year we can all work together to finish this series??

    Thank you

  13. Elaine in SC8/22/2012

    Here it is late August 2012...and we are still waiting...please finish this cliffhanger. lol. Loved it so far

  14. Busted! That's me - but you're all right, it's time to finish this series. Thanks so much for the gentle encouragement!

  15. Nancy from Arizona5/07/2023

    Did you ever finish the series (How to Save Money on Groceries: Part Four – Investing in the Future (coming next week) Part Five – Reader Tips & More Resources (coming in two weeks) first listed in 2008? I enjoyed parts 1, 2, and 3.

    1. Alanna6/01/2023

      Hey Nancy! You're so sweet to ask, but no, I haven't. I wrote the whole series way way back and the next parts are probably buried in my laptop. I always have good intentions, thanks for the encouragement! :-)


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna