Update – May 2022: Prices have obviously gone up – I used to pay less than 50¢ for this breakfast.
However, if you use the smart-shopping techniques described here, you can still cut your food costs by 1/3-1/2 for many meals. I still was able to get chicken quarters for 49¢ each and find BOGOs all over the place.
How is it possible to have two eggs, two strips of bacon, toast and milk for 48¢?
How can you have a quarter chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and iced tea for 71¢
And how in the heck can you have a four-course spaghetti dinner for $1.65?
That’s basically how much food costs if you buy it in a grocery store and make it yourself. And you don’t have to super-coupon, join a buyer’s club like Sam’s or Costco or drive around town to different grocery stores.
Look at the breakfast costs:
- Eggs at 79¢ a dozen are 7¢ each
- Butterball turkey bacon at $1.99/24 slices is 9¢ per slice
- Bread from the discount shelf is 50¢ a loaf, or 3¢ a slice
- Milk at $1.99/gal. is 13¢ for an 8-ounce glass
Technically, I made this meal cheaper because Kroger gives me coupons for eggs, but I thought I’d use these numbers.
You Need to Learn How to Smart-Shop
If you just buy generic spaghettis instead of name brand, you’ll save money. Several times per year, I can get Ronzoni pasta for 49¢ a box instead of $1.20 if I buy six boxes.
I wait until Kroger’s chicken quarters are on sale for $3.99 for a bag of 10 and they’re 39¢d each. I buy generic green beans or corn for 60¢ a can, or wait until Green Giant is on sale for 49¢ a can if you buy 10 cans.
The pasta meal you see below uses all items purchased at Lidl. It’s actually cheaper if I use Kroger items, but you get the point.
If you want to learn how to smart-shop, visit www.foodstampchallenge.com and learn how to eat three meals and two snacks a day for less than $4.
Once you learn the hang of it, smart-shopping is easy. You’ll learn what a BOGO is and when they come around. I like Tombstone pizza, or example. They are buy-one-get-one-free at Publix every four or five weeks, so I just wait and buy three pizzas and get three free.
How Much Will you Add to your Retirement Fund?
This isn’t about saving 50¢ here and 24¢ there and getting a free pizza every few weeks. It’s about cutting your $3,000 annual grocery bill by $1,000 to $1,500 each year.
If you’re someone who puts your groceries on your credit card and you carry a balance long-term, you might be paying an extra 15% to 20% extra for your groceries (in interest).
So, that extra $1,500 you spend each year on groceries actually costs you $1,800 when you add in credit card interest.
If you put that $1,800 into your 401(k), your employer will match half of that and give you $900 in FREE MONEY. If you earn 7% on that $2,700, you add $189.
In short, DOING NOTHING, you can add almost $3,000 to your retirement savings a year. Over the course of 30 years, you’ll add more than $22,000 to your retirement savings — again, doing nothing!
It’s free money!
How much can you save by brown-bagging it work one day a week?
Let’s say you eliminate one fast-casual (like Applebee’s or Olive Garden) lunch trip per week. By the time you’re done with tax and tip, that’s about $13 per meal. Add 20% credit card interest and you’re closer to $16.
Your brown bag lunch of a sandwich, fruit, carrot sticks or celery, a cookie and a bottle of water (you bring from home for free because you re-use a bottle) costs you about $2, so your net savings is $14 per week.
$14 X 50 weeks = $700. Your 401k match nets you another $350. You earn 7% on that and you end up roughly $1,027 a year ahead. Over the course of 30 years, you add another $7,800 to your retirement nest egg – just brown bagging it once a week.
You can find loads of ways to cut costs like this (like skipping one trip to the movies per month).
Want to retire early, or at least with a big nest egg? Start thinking small, not big and you’ll clean up.