I'm still learning how to shop cheap, eat like royalty. I'm guessing this will be a lifelong pursuit.
I'll share what I know with you now, and hope to add many, many bits o' knowledge to my list down the road.
1. Don't shop on an empty stomach, or you'll buy out the prepackaged and cheese aisles.
2. Always take a list. If you're like me, you will certainly veer off your list and make some unlisted purchases. Limit yourself to three, adding up to a total of no more than $10 (you can adjust that total according to your monthly budget).
3. Buy fresh fruits and veggies, but don't overbuy. Be realistic, and be prepared to buy fresh items each week instead of once a month. This will prevent a drawer full of soggy, unused parsley and a counter of brown bananas.
4. There's no shame in buying generic foods. Go for it. The following is my breakdown. I see a generic vs. brand-name blind trial in my future...
What you can definitely buy generic: beans, shredded cheeses, most baking mixes, pretzels, tortilla chips
Items that deserve a splurge: vanilla, olive oil, pickles, olives, salad dressing, crackers, bread, soda, coffee
5. Clip coupons, but know that many times you'll pay less for the generic brand - even after you factor in that 50 cents off coupon. So only use the coupons for "items that deserve a splurge."
Wow, this is a stinkin' short list so far! No wonder I ran out of money in October. As I said, learning is in progress here...