How Do You Save Money on Groceries?


Save Money On Groceries
We asked you recently how you save money on groceries without compromising quality. Hundreds of readers shared a buffet of interesting tips, including one reader who "asks my Mom to buy me groceries" (Brennan Gage of Austin, Texas), and another who stopped buying meat to save money but "slathers everything in cheese instead" (Jim Cassius in Madison, Wis.).

Most folks we talked with know that cooking and growing your own food is the best place to start, and they round out the cost savings by buying in bulk, preserving food and planning meals conscientiously. What follows are some of our favorite nuggets of advice. Go forth and save!   

Neighborly Advice 

Relying on neighbors strengthens social capital in your community, and may keep some capital in your pocketbook, too.

  • Holly Best Parker splits a share in a community supported agriculture (CSA) program with pals in Little Rock, Ark.
  • Patty Hoth gleans fruit from neighbors who have fruit trees with extra to spare in Decatur, Ga.
  • Linda Albonico trades her home-canned soups, salsas and jams for wild game and fish caught by her buddies in Spring Lake, Mich.
  • Marci Hallock of Tillamook, Ore., gets bones from hunting-and-fishing friends, and transforms them into nutritious stocks and broths.
  • Anna Gattuso operates a “micro co-op” by buying large quantities of items, such as fair-trade coffee and boxed wine, that she splits with fellow students at the University of Memphis.
  • MOTHER EARTH NEWS Assistant Editor Jennifer Kongs volunteers for a farmer every Saturday at the farmers market in Lawrence, Kan. She gets paid in leftover produce, and enough seconds to supply her with canned goods for the winter!
  • Carmin Simons (Goddard, Kan.) and Jean Coruscant (Missoula, Mont.) contacted their local police departments to add themselves to the list of takers who are called when a deer is killed by a vehicle. They have to pick up the deer and have it processed, but the resulting venison burgers are to die for.

More Is More 

Incorporating items that add bulk to meals is a quick way to save while boosting nutrition and the number of servings.

  • Missy T. of Forth Worth, Texas, tosses all manner of odds-and-ends, such as leftover scraps of veggies, into delicious, easy stir-fries.
  • Kelly Evans of Oceanside, Calif., often cooks with “fillers” (such as rice, celery and onions) that add flavor and texture to dishes.
  • Diana Nelson Varnes of Montague, Texas, adds oats, brown rice and potatoes to dishes that call for a filling.
  • Mandy Lange of Boise, Idaho, sometimes substitutes beans for meat in recipes.
  • Though he admits he’s “easily a little more bean-crazy than the next guy,” Keith Berner has promised to host “Bean Fest 2011” in Brooklyn, N.Y., to spread some of the bean love he got directly from a local farmer in the form of a cost-efficient, 50-pound bag of dry beans.
  • While sipping on a pricey glass of wine at a restaurant in Alexandria, Va., Jenny Noble Anderson suddenly gasped, “This is the equivalent of four bottles of Trader Joe’s budget wine! Two Buck Chuck, my friends. Husband aside, the only man that never lets me down!”

Post your own suggestions in the comments section below!


Desiree Mandelbaum
4/19/2011 8:17:05 PM

Hi Guys, My name is Desiree Mandelbaum, and I am a Casting Director for a new docu-series about people who "Eat for free". I was curious about fallen fruit, it looks awesome. I was referred to you guys by Would you be interested in speaking with me? We are casting nationwide and would LOVE to get in contact with people, and see there different techniques on eating for free. Attached is our written verbiage about our casting. Thoughts? Thanks, Desiree Mandelbaum Casting Director "Untitled Eating For Free Project" All-new Docu-Reality Series Seeking People who eat for FREE! Do you get a thrill out of spending little to no money on food? Do you dedicate your life to scoring meals in clever ways? Have you perfected the art of dumpster diving, coupon clipping to an obsessive degree, or bartering your way to a full stomach? Do you crash events, meetings and open houses just for the free feast? This all-new series for a major cable network will explore the lives of people who have mastered the art of eating for free. We will follow individuals who dedicate their lives to acquiring food in crafty ways and revel in the thrill of their success. If you are a resourceful renegade who has forged a way of living that enables you to eat practically for free, whatever your reason/strategy may be, We want to meet you! To be considered, please send us your name and contact info, along with a brief bio explaining your specific situation and app

3/5/2011 11:01:31 AM

Having to budget has really taught me how to save money on the natural, organic foods I like. I used to buy all pre-made packaged natural organic foods, very expensive- now I make them myself! I go to the bulk section and load up on organic flours (oat, wheat, rice, etc.), nuts, etc. and make my own bakery- my recipes don't have artificial ingredients and are mostly organic. I have founds some great gluten-free recipes too. I cook with dried beans every week and bought a dehydrator! I never was one much for baking, but knowing I'm saving money and giving my family healthy food (that they say tastes better than anything bought) has made it a lot of fun! We raise our own chickens and two steer- selling extras to make a little money. Our family is eating better now than before when we had more money and I have more fun cooking! (I even make my own laundry and dish detergents and cleaning supplies!)

Annette Campbell
3/2/2011 10:48:59 PM

Hi Tabitha, I like your idea that we need to leverage our neighborhood or social capital to reduce our expenses and increase our savings. Although we may be shy knocking on doors in our neighborhood, we can also reach out to our neighbors online. Through, you can invite your neighbors or find people interested in bulk buying and splitting expenses near your area. The site is new but it has useful features that can help people organize the logistics of mini-cooperatives, or for community volunteers to spread the word out, about their bulk purchase deals with local farmers without maintaining their own website. So hopefully, people who see the benefits of taking your neighborly advice’ to reduce their expenses will also consider SplitStuff and get their neighbors and friends on it and start splitting stuff. All the best, Annette Campbell

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