Food & Drink / Frugal Living

Ways to Save

Photo Compliments of Matthew Rutledge

Photo Compliments of Matthew Rutledge

Food Costs

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found in 2009 that the average American spent $6,443 annually on food. This is roughly 13 percent of the annual household income.  If you divide your average food expenditure by an average of two visits to the grocery store per week, that comes to roughly $60 per trip.


1. Buy discounted meat, poultry and fish; plan your menus around what’s on sale.  Local grocery stores put different cuts and types of meats on sale every week. Grab what’s on sale. If it’s your favorite, stock up.

2. Eliminate soda and sugary drinks.  This will improve your health and it’s great for your wallet. Last year, a Gallup poll showed that nearly half of Americans drink soda every day.  Stick to water whenever it is possible.  You can diversify with powdered drink mixes or tea and then of course make it yourself.

3. Opt for whole produce.  A container of fruit salad at my grocery store is almost always more expensive than when I buy the fruits separately and slice them myself, the same money will pay for a week’s worth.

4. Try Meatless Monday…Less meat can mean less fat, clearer arteries and lower expenses. If you can’t imagine a meal not centered on meat, look online for recipes. There are thousands upon thousands.

5. Consider buying only food at the grocer.  Many times buying laundry detergent and deodorant cost more at the grocery store.   Think through what you are buying and where you get the best deal; plan appropriately.

6. Make your own snacks or move to healthier fruits or vegetables, 

7. Visit farmers markets.  There are now more than 160 farmers markets in Washington State.  Click Farmers Markets for a listing of those in the Seattle and Puget Sound Area.

8. Buy generic; from flour to salt to pasta, you can save 30 percent or more with store brands. This can work for most of what’s on your grocery list.

9. Prepare and make larger batches.  Why not cook extra? Roast a chicken with veggies at the beginning of the week and use leftovers for chicken salad, tacos or a pasta dish. Stretch your meals.

10. Make essentials yourself.  When it comes to staples like bread, pasta sauce, soups and stock, save by making them yourself.  This gives you the added advantage of controlling ingredients like salt content.

11. Make a list.  I build a list from my meal plan for the week, which is based on what’s on sale and what I already have on hand.

12. Grow your own.  Whether it’s on your apartment patio or in your backyard, you can grow your own herbs, vegetables and possibly fruit.  The Seattle Tilth Society is an excellent place to start

13. Clip coupons.  Look through weekly circulars, grab the Sunday newspaper, and look online for coupons.  Ask if your store will price match.  The weekend Seattle Times is available for free at my local library with all of the store ads.

14. Clean out your kitchen.  Take inventory so you can see what you need and what you have on hand to work with.

16. Purchase organics selectively.   Normally organically grown costs more, and there are some items for which the potential benefit is minimal. For example, fruits with protective skins we don’t eat, like bananas and avocados, are much less likely to be affected by pesticides.


If you are trying to save on your grocery bill this is a very important fact. According to a study from the Natural Resources Defense Council, from farm to fork, waste consumes up to 40 percent of American food annually. Within a household, about two-thirds of household waste is due to food spoilage from not being used in time, whereas the other one-third is caused by people cooking or serving too much.


I and my wife shop weekly for our family and spend $100 weekly.  We typically get a 45% discount and get between $0.25 and $0.75 off a gallon of gas.  We fill both cars at the same time buying 20 gallons.  Tour view is that this is an additional $10 per month to $20 per month in additional savings.


Please share your successful methods and processes on how you a save on groceries.



  1. This year, I started buying meat from a butcher’s shop who has almost daily specials at better prices than grocery stores. His specials are on a printed calendar. Each month, I circle the specials. Luckily, he’s not far away.

    I use frozen veggies so that I can cook just what I need. Leftovers are put in a 3-way divided plate for lunch the next day.
    Linda Jones recently posted..Plant ExchangeMy Profile

  2. I find that making a weekly menu is a huge help. Since I know what I’m going to make, I can check my cupboards and make a list based on what I need. It also then helps prevent waste, since the meals and leftovers have been planned out.

    The fewer processed items you can buy, the better, as well, for both your health and your wallet!

    I spend a little more than 100 dollars a week on groceries now, thanks to a 15 year old boy in the house, and his 13 year old sister, who are both members of a swim team, and, during the season, eat five meals a day!
    Kimberley at Cosmos and Cleome recently posted..Purslane, Verbena, and ScaevolaMy Profile

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