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How to cut your monthly grocery bill in half, from a woman who lived on $14,000 a year

Associated Press

Kathleen Elkins, Business Insider

A simple way to trim your grocery bill is to buy less meat. “Try substituting beans and wheat berries for meat in your favorite recipes,” Wagasky suggests. “Enchiladas, spaghetti, and casseroles taste just as good with the meat omitted.”

If you have a harder time parting ways with your meat, start by establishing one meatless day a week. Eliminating meat just once or twice a week can make a significant difference in your grocery bill.

Go generic

Go generic whenever possible. It will save you money.

“There are some things my husband and I have learned truly taste the same as the name brand, while others can’t compare,” Wagasky writes. “The only way to know if you’ll like a product is to try it.”

Her pro-tip when shopping for generics: “Make sure to look up and down the shelves of food. Most grocery stores put the name brand items at eye level. They want that to be what the consumer focuses on. Generic brands are usually on the bottom shelf or the top shelf, so keep those eyes open.”

Stock up seasonally

Sometimes, when you buy is more important than where you buy.

“Buying seasonally is a great way to save and build up a stockpile,” Wagasky writes. “Each month grocery stores offer certain sales on items.”

For example, in the summer, barbecue items will be at rock-bottom prices, making it the perfect time to stock up on chips, crackers, ketchup, relish, mayo, and mustard.

Along the same lines, seasonal fruits and vegetables are cheaper, and they also taste better.

Eat produce in order

Flickr / Jamie McCaffrey/Business Insider

Produce can be tricky to shop for, as their expiration dates are not very forgiving. To make fruits and veggies last significantly longer, eat them in order, starting with the things that will go bad the soonest.

Here’s Wagasky’s guide:

First: bananas, berries, cherries, kiwis, avocado, spinach, lettuce, and grapes

Second: tomatoes, mango, peaches, pears, melon, apricots, and zucchini

Third: cucumbers, pineapple, and pomegranates

Last: carrots, potatoes, celery, apples, grapefruit, and oranges

Go homemade

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“Over the years, I have learned that the more we can make at home, the better off our grocery budget will be,” Wagasky writes. “In our home, we try to make as much from scratch as possible.”

One item she’s saved significantly on by going homemade is bread, a staple in her household: “If I were to buy bread from the store, I would be paying over three dollars per loaf. Thirty-six dollars a month is a hefty fee to pay for something I can make in minutes for one-third the cost.”

Wagasky also chooses to make homemade granola bars and trail mix rather than spending on prepackaged snacks, which tend to be pricey and unhealthy.

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