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A Quick Way to Reduce Your Grocery Bill

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If you are looking for a quick way to reduce your grocery bill, tell yourself that you can only walk to the store and carry all of your groceries home.

We desperately needed to buy some perishable groceries (I was out of lettuce for one and I NEED my salads!). After I got off work yesterday, we strapped on backpacks and headed for the store.

The total bill for our visit = $29.00. Our normal grocery store visit = $70 – $100.

What we ended up doing was buying only what we really needed and nothing more. Instead of being tempted by sales prices and sometimes buying things that we really don’t need at the moment, we were focused with our purchases. We now we had to carry all of our groceries back home with us and putting a physical element to it helped to keep the cost down.

If we could go shopping like that twice a week, our grocery bill would be about $240/month. That would be awesome. I’m not 100% positive that we would have enough food for the entire month for that amount, but it would be an interesting experiment. At the very least, it’s something to think about.

Is there anyone out there that currently walks all of the time to purchase groceries? Care to share your grocery spending and how you believe having to carry everything home impacts it?


20 Comments

  • Reply MollysBrother |

    Tricia–Sorry about your car breaking down. About a year ago, I decided that I was going to walk to the grocery store and this same unintended side effect occurred: I realized that I bought ONLY what I needed! No more chips. No more needless snacks.

    It’s great because you end up staying on the perimeter of the store and don’t wander up and down the aisles. On the other end, cooking became slightly more intensive because I had to cook fresh items.

    But the money I saved was worth it!

  • Reply kim |

    Pre-husband, I shopped carrying the basket in one hand – as soon as it got too heavy to easily carry, I grabbed milk and went to the checkout.

    We still do that, but it doesn’t work as well because my husband is a lot stronger than I am and thus, for fear of the bread getting crushed, we use two baskets.

  • Reply flippy |

    Maybe you should try this for a month and then consider making it permanent. What a GREAT way to meet two of your goals — cutting down your grocery bill (giving you hundreds more for debt) and getting exercise.

  • Reply The Shopping Sherpa |

    I walk to the supermarket to get groceries – but since it’s just across the road I’m not sure that counts, sorry!

    This month I’m on a Fiscal Fast and the only thing I’m allowing myself to buy is essential groceries, following (if possible) the 100k rule. I went to the supermarket once (toilet paper, milk and yoghurt) and the rest of my shopping has been at the Farmers’ markets – a real eye opener!

    I’m now thinking I might never go back to supermarket shopping…

  • Reply boomie |

    Hey! You guys are on to something. This is the way people shop in France and Italy and most other places in the world. They only buy what they immediately need and they go to the stores often and local. They are conservative with energy and fuel also.
    Cool!

  • Reply danielle |

    Well, a few posts back, I didn’t suggest walking, but I did suggest only buying a few things that you need. Someone else then said that would be impossible, because the stores set up displays that *make* you impulse buy, and it’s too hard to resist.
    If walking helps you not do that, then go for it! The exercise is good for you anyway.

  • Reply Rob in Madrid |

    three things I do. One is a good list and stick to it (I also give a lot of thought to what I’m buying), two currently I’m not stocking up I wait until I absolutely have to buy something before i do. While this may go against the grain of having your cupboard full. I find that I throw out too much food or it doesnt get eaten. I look at what I bought and didn’t eat and then don’t buy that. For example we’ve been throwing out alot of peppers of recent so I stopped buying them unless we plan on eating them.

    One other thing is I only go once a week, cutting down the extra trips can go long ways to reducing your costs.

    BTW Trish I suggest a spell checker, google has a great one for firefox, nothing more unprofessional that spelling mistakes. I’m a lousy speller so it’s a god send for me.

  • Reply Dasha |

    Well I don’t own a car, and live in a fourth floor walkup, so I am very conscious about the weight of things. We get our perishables locally and occasionally take a trip to Fairway for staples like sugar, flour, and dried pasta, which requires a car service back home. My dietary restrictions- I am a vegetarian and do not eat high fructose corn syrup- make groceries a lot cheaper as well, as does making everything from scratch.

  • Reply Aine Callan |

    Excellent – Trisha!
    It’s soul destroying when you have to throw away food because it has not been eaten and not only for the money it cost. The exercise will be great for you as well – just watch the weight on your back though. You’re lucky you don’t live in a location where you actually need a car to get to the stores, so that is a blessing.

    Just looked at other areas of your site – you’re doing brilliantly with getting the debts down. Good luck to you. I am sure you are inspiring many with your blog.

  • Reply arduous |

    I do this every week- I walk to the Trader Joe’s and buy my food for the week and then walk home.

    It makes SUCH a difference. I end up only buying essentials.

    As someone else said, making a list before is essential. I spend an hour on Sunday coming up with what I want for my lunches and dinners. Then I make a list, and then I only buy those things. In addition to that, I have a set amount of money that I allow myself to spend aside from that grocery trip once a week. If I have a bad day at work and I just HAVE to have some chips or a cookie or something, that’s a separate trip and it comes out of a separate “allowance.”

    And I ALWAYS walk to the store. Even when making my separate grocery trips. So, because I’m lazy, that makes little sidetrips not always worth it to me. Hence I spend less. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Tricia |

    Well, a few days into this and things are still going well. We had to walk to the hardware store on Saturday and my husband is suggesting that we do this all the time (winter excluded, of course…too much snow then!). I think we will try to walk to places when we can. If we want to go to Walmart or something, we’ll still need the car since it’s too far away. But for our grocery needs I think we’ll keep trying it for a while.

    Rob – suggestion for a spell checker taken into consideration, and I fixed the spelling of desperately LOL. I’ve been going without one on here to try to keep up with my spelling skills (if I question a word I look it up). For a brief moment, I second guessed my spelling of desperately but I forgot to look it up. I’ll try to keep more on top of that πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Patrick |

    A lot of people who live in cities do this because using a car for such a small trip is a waste. It is more difficult for people who live a longer distance from grocery stores.

    But, I think this is a very good idea to eliminate unnecessary purchases.

    As a side note: I lived in England a few years ago as an American servicemember. My British friend’s family of four used a ‘dorm size’ fridge. Because they had limited storage space in their fridge, they only bought what was necessary and what they needed for the week. They used less electricity and wasted less food.

  • Reply Lauri |

    I used to do this when I lived in a larger city with markets in walking (or bike riding) distance (and damn I miss me some Trader Joe’s badly).

    Now, what I do is only get the baskets you can carry instead of a push cart. Once the basket is full — I’m done.

  • Reply Msnln |

    I walk half mile to the store with my kids (3 and 5 year old) every Saturday morning and I carry an extra large shoulder bag for the groceries. I initially started doing this to save on gas, get some exercise for me and the kids and save plastic grocery bags by putting groceries in my carry bag. As I have to haul all the groceries and have hands free so I can hold kids hands when crossing the streets, I am very conscious about what I buy for the week. My typical grocery bill used to be $80-$100 a week when I drove to the store but now, each trip is $30-$50 range. Not only do we save on grocery bills but we get much needed exercise, help the environment, and get chance to get closer to kids. Kids actually look forward to the their weekly walk to the store.

  • Reply Kristine |

    Great tip! I don’t walk to the store, but I do get a small basket instead of the push cart, like several others who commented. Spending too much on groceries is a bad habit I’m trying to squash, and I think grabbing the small basket helps, because I’m limited in how much I can carry (I don’t grab soda or bottled water, which I would probably do if I had a push cart). I’m definitely open to other grocery saving tips though!

  • Reply Sumar |

    One trick i always use when i go shopping is that i eat a heavy lunch, and walk to the supermarket? Why? Because this will keep me away from buying unnecessary candies and chocolate bars and burritos that sure is a waste of money… Since i’m already full and not hungry, i will not be tempted to buy useless items and rack up high grocery bills…

    Abdul @ Debt Consolidation http://www.3debtconsolidation.com

  • Reply Cheryl |

    Great idea! I only live about 1.5 miles from my grocery, so I can save money by only buyiong what I can carry back, save gas, and get a nice healthy walk in!

  • Reply Megan |

    I cannot walk to a store. The closest one is 10 miles away. I would like to know what meals do you eat on $30-50 / week?

So, what do you think ?