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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Living on the Cheap.
The trend for $4-a-day budget meal planning was popularized by Leanne Brown in her free online book “Good and Cheap,” developed primarily for those using SNAP (food stamp) benefits. When I heard about the project, I decided to try the $4-a-day food budget as a way to save money on groceries.
Spending only $4 a day was a big change from my previous budget, averaging nearly $12 per day. After the first couple of grocery shopping trips, I found there seemed to be several rules to adopt to achieve this goal.
Here are a bunch of strategies you can use to bring your grocery budget down to just $4 a day.
1. Eliminate bottled water
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Bottled water is simply an impossible expense in low-budget meal planning. Drink tap water if you have confidence in your municipal source.
If you prefer not to use tap water, then buy bulk filtered water; the cheapest source is usually at a station where you fill and haul a container yourself.
Invest in a Brita filtered pitcher for drinking water, or take the savings plunge and look into Berkey filters, which remove fluoride and other ingredients in tap water. Purchase a filter straw for travel.
2. Eliminate or greatly reduce your consumption of fruit juice
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If you think of fruit juice as a sugary, high-calorie beverage, you’ll have an easier time eliminating it from your grocery shopping list.
If starting your day without a glass of O.J. is too traumatic, then try reducing the size of your glass, or drinking juice only on weekends.
You could also dilute it with some of that water you just filtered, so the juice lasts longer.
3. Eliminate or greatly reduce your consumption of coffee or tea
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Coffee and tea are luxuries, but going without a morning “cuppa joe” is a tough habit to break for some. (It was for me!)
The cheapest source for your favorite brew is to buy bulk coffee beans or tea leaves, and then limit yourself to one great brewed cup per day. I sometimes use coffee grounds twice, like they do in Ethiopia, where they invented coffee, so why not try it?
If you notice you aren’t finishing every drop of that cup of coffee, start saving the remainder in a glass jar in the fridge and use it to make a cool frappe.