A few months ago, my wife and I noticed an interesting phenomenon: Our grocery bill, which used to be so consistent, had
started to slowly, steadily creep up week by week. At first we assumed that rising prices were to blame—after all, the
economy is in the gutter right now—but a quick double-checking of some of our staple purchases proved this wasn’t the case.
No, it turned out that our grocery costs were higher simply because we had stopped focusing on our core money-saving
As any supermarket-savvy shopper will tell you, how you eat can make a huge difference in how big your bill is. Because each
purchase is in itself so small—will it really add up if I choose a $5 box of cereal rather than a $4 one?—it’s easy for tiny
decisions to accumulate into a substantial rise in your bill. For us, that meant that what seemed like perfectly normal
eating habits—a package of chicken breasts, a pizza, a few lunches out—added up to major costs.
Now is as great a time as any to return to smart-shopping values. In fact, EatingWell’s editors have identified six easy ways
to save money that, when taken together, will put over $250 back in your pocket each month. (If you stick to these ratios
every month for the year, you could save up to $3,000!)
1. Eat Vegetarian a Few Nights a Week
Try to include a couple of vegetarian meals in your menu for the week. Skipping meat, even once or twice a week, can help
save money, since meat is usually the most expensive part of a meal. And you will have a lighter impact on the
environment—almost one-fifth of the world’s manmade greenhouse-gas emissions are generated by the meat industry, according to
the United Nations.
You can save $17.33 per month if you replace 1 pound of sirloin [$5.99] with a 14-ounce block of tofu [$1.96] once a week for
Make It: 21 Cheap Meatless Meals You Must
2. Minimize Waste
One of the easiest ways to save money is to make sure you’re not wasting food. According to the Environmental Protection
Agency, Americans throw out more than 25 percent of the food we prepare. And a study at the University of Arizona that
tracked food use and waste from production to the table to the landfill estimated that the average American family of four
throws out $590 worth of food each year. So we need to do a better job of using leftovers and learn what to do with food
before it’s past its peak. You can save $49.17 per month. (Estimated value of the food an average American household of four
wastes in a month.)
3. Plug in Your Slow Cooker
If you don’t have hours to be at home tending a braise, then try a slow cooker. It will give you the same effect (i.e., it
makes inexpensive cuts of meat meltingly tender), but you can plug it in, leave for the day and come home to a dinner like a
Rich Chicken Stew made with chicken thighs (instead of pricier chicken breast).
Get the Recipe: Rich Chicken Stew and More $3
Recipes for a Crock Pot
Other inexpensive cuts of meat that work wonderfully in the slow cooker include pork shoulder, beef chuck and brisket. You
can save $6.45 per month if you replace 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast [$4.99] with 1 pound boneless, skinless
chicken thighs [$3.49] once a week for 30 days.
7 Winter Crock Pot Secrets
4. Discover Great Ways to Use Canned Fish
Just like their fresh counterparts, canned salmon and tuna provide omega-3 fats, which help keep your heart healthy by
lowering triglycerides and blood pressure. The difference: canned fish is significantly cheaper. Here are some fantastic recipes for canned
. You can save $18.53 per month if you replace 1 pound of fresh tuna [$7.99] with 1 pound of canned tuna [$3.68]
once a week for 30 days.
5. Don’t Order a Pizza—Make One at Home
Ordering pizza seems like a cheap and quick solution for dinner. But a typical pie costs more than $15. You can make your own
at home for a lot less and in about the same amount of time delivery takes. If you make pizza once a week instead of ordering
you can save $43 per month. Domino’s large, Brooklyn-style Sausage, Pepper & Mushroom Pizza is $17.58 with tax (but not
delivery charge) included. Our Sausage, Pepper & Mushroom Pizza is $7.58.
Get the Recipe: Sausage, Pepper & Mushroom Pizza and
More Easy Homemade Pizza Recipes
6. Pack a Lunch
When you’re busy at work, the easiest choice is to grab a bite to eat someplace nearby. The problem is that the cost of
buying lunch takes a toll on your food budget. (The average lunch at the national chain Panera Bread, which specializes in
sandwiches, soups and salads, is $8.50.) So try bringing a lunch from home. When you make dinner, think about what you’re
going to eat for lunch tomorrow. If you’re making a salad, make a little extra and put it in a container, undressed. And what
about your leftovers? If you have a little extra chicken or half a can of beans, toss that in with your lunch salad. Make
more than you’ll need for dinner, and reheat it for lunch the next day. You can save $118.25 per month if you replace an
$8.50 lunch with a $3 lunch from home 5 days a week, for 30 days.