Frugal Living 

5 Easy Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill

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Ghirardelli Pancake StackIn today’s economy, it seems everyone is looking for ways to cut back. The problem is, most people don’t know where to start. If you’re looking to cut back, I suggest starting in the kitchen. There are a multitude of ways to save money in the kitchen, and you can tailor how you cut your food budget so it doesn’t impact your lifestyle.

If you eat a lot of convenience foods, you can save time and money by doubling each recipe you cook and freezing half for those busy (or tired) nights. If you are attached to eating meat with every meal, focus on cutting your use of paper products or expensive side dishes. You can save a lot of money by making small changes. You put in minimal effort and get maximum savings! Don’t believe me? Here are 5 things I do to save money in the kitchen, and my family doesn’t even notice. (shhhh! don’t say a word!)

5 Money Saving Kitchen Tips

1. Make your own mixes. If you regularly use Bisquick for biscuits and pancakes, consider making your own mixes. It only takes a few minutes to whip up a mix, and it’s a lot less expensive than buying the ready made mix at the store. To get you started, here’s a recipe for all purpose biscuit mix:

Homemade “Bisquick” for Biscuits and Pancakes

  • 8 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 8 tsp. sugar (optional)
  • 1 c. Crisco

Directions: Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. Store sealed in pantry or refrigerator.
To use with:

  • BISCUITS – add 1/3 cup milk to cup of mix.
  • PANCAKES – 3/4 cup milk to a cup of mix, and I like to add an egg also but the original recipe didn’t do that.

I add a one quart envelope powdered milk, or 3/4 cup Carnation powdered milk to the whole batch as I make up the mix; and then I just add water when I use it.

Recipe from

2. Use less meat. By weight, meat of any kind is the most expensive part of your meal. You should try to use less of it. Notice I didn’t say cut out all meat. In fact, you don’t even need to make meatless meals. If a recipe calls for a pound of ground beef, try cutting back to 3/4 lb. or even 1/2 lb. I use between 1/2 and 3/4 lb. meat for every pound in the recipe for all of my casseroles. My family never notices.

3. Buy spices in bulk. Spices are incredibly expensive. I have a hard time paying $6 for a small bottle that I might use twice a month. Fortunately I don’t have to. Some grocery and health food stores sell spices in the bulk bins, and they cost $1-$2 per POUND! Don’t waste your money on fancy little spice jars. Go for the bulk spices. Your bank account will thank you!

4. Skip the paper. Begin using cloth napkins and towels in place of their paper counterparts. You can find both inexpensively at yard sales. I bought 50 cloth napkins for less than $5 at a yard sale last summer. I’ve already paid for the investment by not having to pay $2 for paper napkins every month and the Earth is a better place for it. And cloth napkins are so small, they only add one load of laundry a week. And my kids are messy eaters!

5. Eat leftovers. Much of the money that is wasted in the kitchen is from food that is tossed out. Jim even wrote a post about how his family uses a leftover calendar to ensure they don’t waste any food. Instead of thinking of that half-eaten casserole as trash, start thinking of it as money. How much did the ingredients cost? Even if its only $5, you’re throwing out $2.50 whenever you toss that casserole (and that’s not even taking into account the time it took to prepare).

Not convinced? Keep a tally for a month, you can’t escape numbers. How much money are you throwing into the trash? To combat food waste, make a plan for leftovers. Use them for lunch. Have a free for all night, where your family eats leftovers for dinner. Or don’t cook as much food. By using all your food, you waste less money.

What are your favorite tips for cutting the grocery bill?

(Photo: dnorman)

{ 21 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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21 Responses to “5 Easy Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill”

  1. Great post! I especially like the bulk spices. If you shop at a store like Winco, you can buy a pricey jar of spices is one section, or you can buy a bag of the same spice in another section for a much lower price. 🙂 Pretty funny!


    • Chris says:

      Do these expire or lose their potency if not stored in specific manner?

      • VeganEater says:

        yes, most spices become tasteless. I started out buying a huge cheap can of dried cilantro, and ended up growing my own cilantro instead because a) the dried one had no flavor at all, and b) in the fresh herb section of Trader Joe’s where I usually shop for groceries it’s so expensive! and not always available.
        Mint also loses most of its aroma. Same with dill.
        Dried rosemary, on the other end, preserves its flavor for a long time, so it’s easy to use for cooking. If you need to spice something up that’s served raw / not cooked, it’s better to use fresh rosemary.
        Peppercorns can be stored indefinitely, just buy a grinder and you’ll always have aromatic freshly ground pepper. Just make sure your peppermill is refillable – some of them aren’t.
        So the rule generally is: the denser the spice, the more aroma it keeps when dried. If it’s a delicate plant herb, most probably it will not preserve its aroma for long.
        Easy to remember.

  2. Great thoughts. It can take a bit of work, but you can save a ton of money on groceries if you’re willing to put in a little time. One thought on the Bisquick recipe – my wife can often find Bisquick or Hungry Jack for next to nothing if she has a good coupon and uses it on a triple coupon day. It can be much cheaper than the raw ingredients oddly enough!

  3. Great post. Number 5 is especially important. Left-overs make great lunches for work the next day. Purchase a lunch bag/pale system that includes plastic containers and a good thermos. With such a system you can take almost any left-over to work the next day. This prevents waste as well as reducing lunch costs.

    Also consider stocking up on item like eggs, salad greens, and tacos. These are great “left-over” extenders. Eggs can be used with many left-overs to make great omlettes. Left-over meat and vegetables can be added to salad greens to make a dinner salad for the next night, and meat and vegetable left-overs can be combined with cheese to make great tacos.

  4. Jackson says:

    Also see if you have an ethnic grocery store near you. Here in MD we have a few Korean and Chinese ones that sell veggies and certain cuts of meats at a very cheap price.

    (But especially the veggies and fruits. They’re oftentimes cheaper than Costco!)

    • Jim says:

      I love going to H-Mart on 40 in Catonsville for that very reason, the produce prices can’t be beat.

    • MissMartha says:

      Ethnic grocery stores are also a great place to find spices! They can be much cheaper and better tasting than some of the ones that you find for $5/bottle at the local grocery store.

      Another good tip is to shop at a farmer’s market or at a food co-op for better prices on vegetables and fruits. Stick with in-season fruits and veggies and you’ll also save $!

  5. We cut back on shopping trips since we would often buy more food than we needed. I also enjoy the extra time on weekends cause now we only shop every other week. Saves gas, time and money since we won’t buy too much and are forced to use what we have on hand.

  6. Even if you don’t buy spices in bulk, shop around for the best price. I was as shocked as anyone to find out that the prices of some spices at my college’s on-campus grocery story were cheaper than the local grocery stores! Which made no sense at all to us, since we usually associate the on-campus grocery stores with charging absurdly high prices, since most people are using their meal plans to shop there. But now we know where to buy spices!

  7. Sarah says:

    Great post!! We use cloth napkins and I love it! Fancy and enironmentally friendly!!
    Also, we went the bulk spice route last year and it only costs us $5-10 to stock up on a year’s worth of spices! I was so amazed!!!!

  8. Matt Fyffe says:

    Solid post. I try and use towels for everything and avoid paper all together. Likewise, leftovers keep me alive. I cook for 3 days at a time and so, try and make the most of my food.

    It’s amazing how long you can get a meal to go for. Overall, as long as your conscious of your shopping, I think you can do a great job cutting costs.

  9. Maha says:

    I’m not a huge fan of leftovers if they’re eaten from the fridge within a week, other than to make lunch for the next day. I just get the willies thinking of bacteria growing on it (likely untrue, so it’s a mental barrier). However, since we bought a freezer, I have no trouble packaging up leftovers, and sticking them in there. I feel good knowing that I’m not wasting food and can eat it when I want, not immediately.

  10. John says:

    PC World recently also has an article about interesting sites that help people save and find bargains. It’s kind of a fun read…

  11. TStrump says:

    We eat lots of leftovers in our household which saves lots of time and money.
    We definitely eat too much meat.

  12. Rebecca says:

    Wow, I never thought of buying my spices in bulk. I’m able to save a lot on my grocery bill by hitting my local grocery stores first thing in the morning and snagging up meat and produce markdowns. We have a second freezer so we are able to freeze what we don’t use right away.

    I also have a couple bakery outlets near my home and I can get bread and hot dog and hamburger buns for about 75% off. A huge money saver!

  13. Paige says:

    This was a great article! One thing that I do to save money is to plan out my menu for the week. I try to use what I have in my pantry when making the menu, and then make a list of the items I need to pick up. I have saved tremendously by menu planning. Plus when you do this you can incorporate expected leftovers. Turn leftover roast into beef stew the next night or roast beef sandwiches, etc.

  14. I’ve saved a lot of money by making homemade waffles and pancakes, instead of buying Bisquick.

  15. Quackduck314 says:

    Spices in bulk is an excellent way to save money! I bought a “spice rack” at a garage sale for $2, and it has a jar for almost every spice I use regularly (No cinnamon, but basil, oregano, onion, and garlic are all there). Now I just buy in bulk and refill the jars. The same could be done for just about anything available in bulk (even parmesan cheese is in the bulk section)

  16. Shirley says:

    I use a lot of spices and buy them in bulk and repackage them in my own spice jars as needed. I have found many a bargain at

  17. Phyllis says:

    I save vegetable juices, bits of meat, veggies, leftovers and combine them into a top of the stove casserole or soup. The burner costs less than the oven and it is cooler in the summer or hot days. You probably could put it all in the slow cooker, too.

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