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Keeping your grocery bill under control can be a challenge for even the most frugal consumer.  Just about everyone whose even been grocery shopping can attest to the fact that it’s very easy to overspend.  Go hungry, and you’re even more likely to pay too much for tasty convenience foods.

So, what steps can a frugal consumer take to reduce the cost of their grocery bill?

Here are four tips to take the edge off of your weekly food expenditure:

1. Go local.

Local food producers often provide discount prices on their goods. Better still, their products are more likely to be organic, and you’re supporting your local economy. Go to the local farmer’s market to find produce growers in your area.  For meat, seek out farmers who will sell you beef and chicken in bulk.  Consider buying a freezer for your garage.  Organic, grain-fed beef can be bought at $6.00 per pound or less.  Non-organic beef and chicken can be purchased for even less.

2. Plan ahead.

Don’t set foot in a grocery store without a list. If you have trouble sticking to a list, consider taking some non-conventional steps to ensure you stay on track. My family saves $50 per week on food simply by ordering online.  Sure, it costs an extra $3 to order online and pick up your groceries at the store, but seeing the total summed up on the list before ordering eliminates impulse buys.  While many families have no problem sticking to list while shopping, we do what works for us.  Identify your weak points and deal with them in a way that works for you.

3. Grow your own.

The cost of high-quality vegetables has never been higher thanks to the long distance most produce is shipped before it ends up on your store’s shelves. Even a small garden in your backyard can provide enough tomatoes and other produce to last your family through the whole year.  Canning is quickly coming back in style, and there are many good books detailing the process for beginners.

4. Cook in bulk.

Watch for sales on food items and make large quantities of foods that can be frozen. If eggs are on sale, for example, you can make spinach quiche to freeze and reheat on a night when you don’t want to cook.  Most people have work and school obligations that make cooking a full meal on a nightly basis highly impractical. Cooking ahead can eliminate the temptation to eat out, thus saving a substantial amount of money.

Crystal Questions:
I use a few coupons and buy meat in bulk from Sam’s Club.  What do you do to lower your grocery spending?