How Do You Save Money on Groceries?

Reader Contribution by Staff
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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!