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Lowering Your Grocery Bill: How to Plan a Month of Meals

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For years I struggled at the grocery store. I’d ring up $75 worth of food and later stare disappointedly at my fridge. I didn’t know what to do with the remaining chicken from the four-pack of chicken breasts that were on sale. My lettuce would always wilt early, and I would chuck huge bundles into the trash after using it to garnish one sandwich. I’d be left eating Cheez-Its for three days before heading back to the grocery store and trying it all over again.

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I’ve finally started to get it together, keeping basic staples for salads and sandwiches on hand, as well as finding a few recipes a week I enjoy and can make ahead. (I’ve learned tupperware is the single cook’s best friend.) I’ve reduced my grocery bill to $40-$50 a week, which includes items like dish soap, paper towels, etc.

So when a friend sent me a link to the website Cook for Good, I was impressed. Not only does it provide a shopping list that will create meals for a month, it offers a green option for those who want to shop organically.

Using the planned menu, the costs range from $25-$37 a week, which averages about $1.20 per person per meal.

What I like most is that the shopping list breaks down into a calendar of how to use the ingredients over a given week. And the meals are more than just “another turkey sandwich,” a frequent limitation of my own system be. A sample Cook for Good lunch is a pizza with mustard greens and sweet onions. Each meal’s cost is shown (breakfasts are often under 30 cents) as well as its protein value.

While I like to have a little more creative freedom, this plan is helpful in pointing out cheap ways to combine staples, as well as providing a functional shopping list for those looking to build a good pantry and diverse refrigerator. Also, be sure to check back with Cook for Good, which is regularly updated with seasonal options.

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