First Person: Cutting Our Grocery Bill by 30% Without Gardening

Yahoo Contributor Network

Throughout the years, I've been able to cut our grocery cost by growing a vegetable garden and foraging for wild elderberries for jelly and pies. Living in Florida, I can take advantage of the mild weather to enjoy two growing seasons. However, this year I haven't had the time to grow a garden or forage for edible foods. After receiving a pay cut, I wanted to adjust our spending so that we could continue to move forward on our goal of paying off our mortgage and saving money for a new car. My goal was to drop our grocery costs from $1,000 a month to $700 a month or to reduce our spending by 30 percent. I know my family of four probably spends more money on groceries compared to the average American family, but I didn't want to give up my gourmet and organic foods.

Visiting a community garden

One way we saved money on our produce was by visiting a community garden that includes a produce stand open to the public. The gardeners ask that everyone leaves a contribution. I leave the suggested amount of money in the payment box, but they only request a small amount of money. I can enjoy organic produce that is grown locally without paying the expensive prices at the health food store.

Eating leftovers more often

I noticed my family was discarding leftovers instead of eating them the next day. My solution was to wait until everyone had a serving of the main dish. Then I immediate wrapped up the casserole, roast or main dish and stored it in the freezer. About a week later, I would use the leftovers to create a completely different meal. No one in my family noticed that they were eating remnants of a meal from the week before. I essentially tricked them into eating the leftovers they once loathed.

Going vegetarian once in a while

Most of us have met people who insist they are vegetarians, yet they still consume chicken, seafood and even steak on occasion. We became semi-vegetarians in order to save money. Meatless meals can be just as satisfying, we found. One trick is to use hearty eggplant when making a marinara sauce for pasta. I also find it's not expensive to use tofu in stir-fry dishes. When I want my family to have more protein, I serve eggs as well as a combination of beans and rice.

Taking the bruised fruit

Since I live in Florida, I'm able to frequent orange groves. I've found some orange growers are more than happy to sell their more homely pieces of fruit at a steep discount. When I lived in Indiana, I took the bruised apples that the apple orchard owners gave away. Oftentimes, the fruit is extremely nutritious even though it may have some blemishes.

In addition to buying less meat, using leftovers and buying inexpensive, local produce, I also clipped coupons. To save time, I often clipped my coupons out of the in-store flier as I pushed my cart around the store. I hope to have more time to garden in the future, which will save us more money on our grocery bill. Maybe one day, I'll cut my bill down to $500 a month instead of $700 a month. But at least for now, I've found ways to cut my grocery bill without having to weed or water a garden.

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