Photo: Courtesy of Cherie Lowe

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The Ultimate Money-Saving Grocery List

Cherie Lowe, Queen of Free blogger and the author of Slaying the Debt Dragon

Amount paid off: $127,482 in four years

Her Grocery Money-Saving Strategy: Effective meal-planning to cut waste

Money writer Cherie Lowe, based in Greenwood, Indiana, started her journey with her husband to pay off $127,000 of debt in 2008. For the next four years, the couple cut their grocery bill from $100 to $250 a week to $80 to $90 weekly by effectively meal planning.

One of the most important steps to eating on a budget is limiting waste, Lowe says. "Before I go grocery shopping, I will look anywhere food is stored to really get a good evaluation of what we already have on hand," Lowe says. Then, build the 1-item list: You may have all the components of a meal except for one1 ingredient—like pasta and sauce, but no protein. "After building the 1-item list, I look at the ads to see what's on sale and how we can build around that," Lowe says.

Eating the same thing for breakfast every day can keep money in your wallet. "When my husband figured out he could fix oatmeal for pennies a serving, oats with peanut butter and a bit of brown sugar became his go-to," Lowe says, who typically eats an apple with a spoonful of peanut butter while her eldest daughter prefers cereal.

The best money-saving ingredients that are versatile enough to use in several meals, like rice or large cuts of meat. Using what you have means being intentional; food prep begins immediately after shopping. "I chop vegetables like peppers and onions when I get home because they work well on pizza, salads, fajitas and pasta very quickly," Lowe says.