6 Money Hacks That Will Save You a Fortune on Your Next Grocery Bill

Here's how you can cut your food costs, reduce your waste and improve your eating habits.

2. Buy Fewer Groceries, More Often
2. Buy Fewer Groceries, More Often

In North America, many people snap up perceived deals by buying in bulk. Those supersized ketchup jugs and pickle jars are intended to save money, but they often end up creating more waste. A 2014 University of Arizona study looked at shoppers who stocked up at low-priced retailers such as Walmart and found that they rarely consider the dollar value of what gets thrown out. One participant who bought salad greens at Costco for “$3.50 or something” discarded a portion but still felt it was a better deal than buying a smaller container of greens for $2.50.

“The modern American tendency to shop infrequently is at odds with basic human abilities to predict future food consumption needs,” was what the author concluded.

A 2000 report out of the University of Illinois titled “The Mystery of the Cabinet Castaway” noted that as much as 15 per cent of the non-perishables in our pantries aren’t used and eventually get tossed. North Americans have grown accustomed to overfilling their fridges. My freezer is packed with packages of ice-encrusted meat, some of which have been with us for months. This frustrates Barr. Her rule: make sure things are coming out as often as they’re going in. To combat that urge to stockpile, Cohen endorses the notion of shopping more often and for less stuff. “It’s better to shop twice a week than to shop once and have a whole fridge of food go bad,” she says. Until recently, she operated out of an 18-seat restaurant where a lean budget wasn’t just commended—it was a matter of survival.

“We bought our vegetables every day. We never had leftovers at the end of the night. We always started fresh,” she says. “It really meant that we were using what we were buying, and that stuck with us at the new place.”

Though I worried it might be a logistical nightmare, I adopted her technique on our weekly shopping trip. We bought only what we needed to get through the weekend, cut down our meat purchases (which might have added an additional $30) and replenished throughout the week. To my surprise, the bill was a mere $40. The additional mid-week trip, for fresh vegetables, only added another $10 or so—which meant we’d shaved $65 off our weekly bill. If we did this one or more times per month, we’d reduce our yearly supermarket spending by nearly $1,000.

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