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Cut Your Grocery Bills

With the price of gas going through the roof, you may look at your straining budget (you arebudgeting, right?) and wonder where you can save money to offset your increased fuel expenses. Well, your food costs are a good place to start.

I recently shared one good idea that I'd found on our discussion boards: shopping late. Here are some others, from our Living Below Your Means board:

  • Community member Gastrolith offered "obvious" tips (use coupons, look for lower costs per unit, find sales, buy store brands, look at lower shelves, try different stores, and buy non-groceries at big discounters) and "not so obvious" ones (buy fewer prepared foods, buy more fruits and vegetables, eat more beans and rice, make a plan and stick to it).
  • ToddTruby chimed in: "Menu planning is probably the quickest, most effective way to reduce overall food expenses. You will eat out less and eat more of what you buy. Also, this will tend to minimize impulse purchases. Forethought to what you can use leftovers for could also be factored into your menu. For instance, you don't necessarily have to have the same dish two nights in a row, but use the same meat more than once."
  • Bethdig offered: "You may want to try the websites www.couponmom.com or www.grocerygame.com as well. Coupon Mom is free, and Grocery Game [is not]. Basically, they help you organize your coupons to match up with the sales being offered by your store. I have found it really helpful, and between that and the double coupons at my grocery store, I have been saving anywhere from 30% to 50% on our usual bill."
  • XCgeoff gave what might be a rather unpopular suggestion: "Buy less food." (2gifts replied, "Clearly, you don't have any teenaged boys in your house.")
  • Diablo2Queen said: "Try buying some groceries at a big-box store. Target (NYSE: TGT  ) has the best price for Eggo waffles . Cracklin' Oat Bran, Mott's Apple Juice, and Post Raisin Bran in my area."
  • Hunnypot1 added: "Costco (Nasdaq: COST  ) ! For great prices on butter, eggs, bread, tortillas, hot dog/hamburger buns, hot dogs, potato salad, ground beef, pre-packed salad, romaine lettuce, juice, crackers, granola bars, beef jerky, microwave popcorn, nuts, salad dressing, marinades/sauces, canned goods . cheese, lunch meat, etc."
  • Eblover suggested: "Don't be brand-loyal. Buy store brands whenever you can." (To which I'll reiterate that it's useful to not be store-loyal, too.)
  • Mastiffmama offered: "Make a list and stick to it, shop fewer times per month to limit impulse purchases, give up or limit beverages (instead of pop, juice, beer, wine, etc., drink water, home-brewed iced tea, or plain soda water with a lime if you must have the bubbles), grow your own veggies or fruits, decrease your portion sizes, cook more things from scratch, learn to use cheaper cuts of meat, and find ways to use everything you buy and reduce waste."
  • And finally, Grevinnan offered this: "Don't buy processed or prepackaged food. Limit meat, chicken, or fish to special occasions. Eat whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, and nuts. You will [see] your food budget plummet." (SeattlePioneer retorted: "Heh, heh! You will live longer but wish you were dead." Now, I would miss processed foods if I cut them out, but I don't think that eating fresh fruits and veggies and nuts and beans would be so unpleasant.)

There a lot more good ideas in the rest of the long discussion. Check out the board to see what other tips you might glean. Then poke around and click into some other discussions. This one shares 101 money-saving tips that were distributed to employees (many of whom face being laid off) of Northwest Airlines. One of the tips is "Don't be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash." That may seem tacky to suggest, but it's a practice that some dedicated Fools on our Dumpster Divers board practice.

And finally, if you're excited by the prospect of saving more of your hard-earned dollars, check out our brand-new financial newsletter, GreenLight -- it's packed with terrific ideas and guidance and is written by some of our smartest and wittiest writers and analysts.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Costco, which is aMotley Fool Stock Advisorrecommendation. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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Selena Maranjian
TMFSelena

Selena Maranjian has been writing for the Fool since 1996 and covers basic investing and personal finance topics. She also prepares the Fool's syndicated newspaper column and has written or co-written a number of Fool books. For more financial and non-financial fare (as well as silly things), follow her on Twitter...

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