Keeping a Low Grocery Budget #3

Part 2 of my 10 part series on The Top 10 Things I Don’t Pay for:

Paper Products

You might be surprised how much paper products can add to your grocery bill. I haven’t bought paper napkins or paper towels in so long, I can’t really tell you how much they cost, but I’m sure they add up over time, like everything else. One aisle of the grocery store I can completely stay away from is the paper towel and napkin aisle.

When we moved to Iowa from Colorado in 2006 I simply stopped buying paper towels. At first it was on a trial basis. I wanted to see if I would miss them. I figured out pretty quickly that I did NOT miss them! Instead of using paper towels, I use cloth towels. I’m pretty sure that’s what people did before there were paper towels! And it’s really no hassle at all – I have a lot of towels and they get washed regularly like everything else. The only thing I was unsure about was what I would put my greasy foods on, like bacon or fried potatoes. Well, turns out cloth towels work okay for grease, too! ;-) It requires a bit more laundry, and my husband asked me a few times for the paper towels, but since I do the laundry AND buy the groceries, he didn’t fight me on it!

I also don’t buy paper napkins. We use our shirts sleeves… Just kidding! :-) My mom always used cloth napkins when I was growing up and frankly, I don’t like paper napkins. My husband and I got a set of napkins for our wedding some {ahem} 13 and 1/2  years ago and we still have them. My mom’s strategy was to buy many different napkin rings – actually, she has no two that are alike. Each person is responsible for deciding when his or her napkin is dirty and putting it in the laundry. That works fine with a bunch of grown people who are neat eaters. However, I’ve found that piggy children who slop food around NEVER end a meal with a clean napkin so kids’ napkins go directly to the laundry most nights. My dear hubby built my beautiful table when we lived in Arizona and he had the foresight to build a drawer on each of its four sides. I simply keep clean napkins in each drawer and that’s how my husband and keep ours separate because they are in different drawers.

What paper products do I buy? Toilet paper and tissues. I really should bite the bullet and make or buy hankies. I just haven’t done so yet. And, I have no desire to use cloth for toilet paper. For some reason, even though I wash cloth diapers, adult pooh just sounds much grosser to me! :-) When I do buy TP and tissues, I get it on sale or use RR at Walgreens. I recently found the Marcal brand that I really like. Granted, I grew up in Germany where the TP was rougher than sand paper, so I think it’s nice! :-) I like that it’s recycled and I LOVE that they put out a ton of coupons. Just this past Sunday there was a FREE roll coupon or $1 off. I use the coupon at Fareway to get a free box of tissues or a 20 cent 4-pack of TP. I also beg, borrow, and steal all these coupons from family and friends so if you happen to have some you won’t use, let me know!!

Doing all of these things help me keep my budget down. If you missed the first installments, Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here!

How do you reduce the impact of paper products on YOUR grocery budget? Stay tuned next week for Part 4: Laundry Detergent.


  1. I'm with you on the idea of cloth toilet! Toilet paper is the only paper product that I buy. I've found a simple tissue solution though - I cut up stained/old t-shirts. I don't even sew the edges so they aren't pretty but they do the job!

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