Reusable Grocery Bags

by Ryan Yates

Reusable Grocery Bag from KrogerPaper or Plastic? That’s not a choice that we need to make anymore. Over the past few years another option has been given to us, helping our checkbooks and the environment. The reusable bag is a cheap and environmentally friendly product that is being used to carry our groceries, our books, and even our wallets. Earthwise is the leading manufacturer of these cheap reusable bags, they provided the gift bags at the Oscars this year.

I’m sure you’ve seen these bags before; every supermarket sells their own version of the bags. Since I shop at Kroger I’ll use the Kroger bags and saving program to show you this week’s frugal tip.

The Cost of Reusable Grocery Bags

These bags are cheap. A 2-pack can be purchased for $1. If you perform the complicated math, the unit cost is $0.50 each.

We have 8 bags bringing our total investment to $4. Kroger offers $0.05 credit for each bag resulting in a $0.40 savings each trip to the grocery store.

I know 40 cents doesn’t seem like much, but I know many people who get excited when they come across a 40 cent coupon for a product they love. It’s the same thing, money credited is money saved.

Tricks of the Trade

Kroger credits the bag discount before any groceries are scanned. If you have 8 bags, the cashier will big you 40 cents. If you have 10, you’ll get 50 cents. Even if the bagger does not use all the bags, the discount will not be change.

The bags can be used in many other way besides transporting groceries from point A to point B. I use them to transport my 2-liters of pop to work every week. Carrying 3 or 4 bottles of pop is easy with the reusable bags.


It takes 10 trips to the grocery store to pay for the investment of 8 bags. We grocery shop once a week, so there will be 42 weeks left in the year to realize our savings. 42 weeks x $0.40 = $16.80. This is money earned by using the bags.

I can’t think of many products that actually earn money instead of siphoning it. That’s over a 400% return on investment, not bad in my book.

I understand that many people will think making $16.80 a year is pointless, but money is money. I don’t think anyone would walk by a $20 bill sitting on ground, so why would you not want to get a little extra for something you already have to do anyway.


Marie April 16, 2010 at

1 not 2 reusable bags here is $0.99 plus sales tax makes each bag $1.08.

My Kroger counts my bags 4 discounts me 2. Used 3.

I have been using my bags for 7 weeks and between Kroger + Target (where some cashiers argue with me that it must be a Target bag to qualify) have recently gotten $1.10 in bag discounts. I can now go and buy another bag after 7 weeks.

I’m not sure if we’ll continue because its given me hassles up the wazoo, like remembering to put bags from kitchen back into car and then into the store while managing 3 fighting little ones.

Jeffrey Kosola April 17, 2010 at

@Marie, I understand the frustration. The biggest advantage we see is the ease of emptying the car. With the reusable bags we can empty the car much quicker. We also don’t have to worry about the little ones stealing a plastic bag and playing with it. My kids are pretty quick and can steal a plastic bag in the blink of an eye :-). The savings are not much, be many people like to help the earth out so it becomes a better choice to them.

Forest April 16, 2010 at

Great tip Jeff… If people just found 5/6 tips with around the same saving then that’s $100 extra a year which is more like the kind of savings people perk their ears up at…. Basically I am saying the little things add up!

I use my back pack and a reusable bag at the supermarket here for green reasons only as they don’t actually charge for plastic bags here and even give you a strange look when you don’t take them! In fact they are trying to throw plastic at me at any given opportunity! I’m sure it was similar in China for you.

Jeffrey Kosola April 17, 2010 at

@Forest, it’s a shame that more people to realize that the little things are what add up to be real savings. People will pass up $2 to save $0.50 and don’t even know it. Having a good since of value and prices will allow a family to begin saving much more each year.

In China, people gave away a ton of plastic bags. The was also other people going through the trash to find the bags for recycling. People make their living collecting plastic, cardboard, paper, and metal to sell to the recyclers. The only things that ended up in the trash were trash.

Forest April 19, 2010 at

That’s interesting about the recycling, kind of like Garbage City here in Cairo.

Cathie April 16, 2010 at

Better still-last year my husband and I stopped at a Farmer’s Market on the way home from somewhere, and PNC bank was giving reusable bags out for free! So we each got one. We also scored a few free ones at the dump-not as gross as it sounds-every once in awhile we’ll go during their public drop-off hours to get rid of something large. The township was giving bags to everyone that day that we went last. Of the 8-10 bags I have, I think I only bought about 1/2 of them. If only I could remember to bring them to the store!

Jeffrey Kosola April 17, 2010 at

@Cathie, those are great ways to get bags. I won’t call you the “bag lady” but you seem to have a knack at collecting them 🙂 Remembering the bags is THE hardest part. We leave out car keys on the kitchen table until we are done unloading the bags. They act as a reminder to put the bags back in the car. You can add the bags to your grocery list to act as a trigger to bring them with you into the store. We’ve even gone as far at placing our coupon book and list inside the bags so we remember to bring them.

Bucksome Boomer April 17, 2010 at

Often you can find free reusable bags as giveaways especially during earth week.

We switched to using reusable bags a couple of years ago for environmental reasons. It’s nice that there is also a budget benefit.

Jeffrey Kosola April 17, 2010 at

@Bucksome, since Earth Day is this coming week (April 22) I’ll be on the look out.

Money Funk April 18, 2010 at

I love reusable grocery bags; especially Trader Joe’s canvas bags.
Unfortunately, I keep accidently leaving them at home. And then when I do put them in my car, to have at all times, I forget about them. *sigh* Maybe I should consider buying those ones that fold small enough to fit in my purse. Then I have No excuses.

The bad thing about reusable grocery bags… most are still made of woven polypropylene. Which is not eco friendly. So we are going from non biodegrade plastic to non biodegrade woven polypropylene. Leaving the fact we are still not doing good at making the planet better.

Jeffrey Kosola April 19, 2010 at

Hey Funk, I believe anyone who uses the reusable bags forgets them in the car 🙂 We have a Trader Joe’s here but I’ve never been there. I hear the ads on the radio all the time and it sounds like an interesting place. Might have to venture over there at some point.

Bucksome Boomer April 19, 2010 at

Jeff, you gotta go to Trader Joe’s. They have some of the best prices on organic (and non-organic) food.

We used to leave the reusable bags in the car until we got tired of trekking back to get them.

Money Funk April 19, 2010 at

Trader Joes is just yummy! And they do have really good prices!

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff April 19, 2010 at

I didn’t know that Kroger offered discounts for reuseable bags! Cool…I’ll look into this during my next grocery trip. Thanks!

Double My Net Worth April 20, 2010 at

I used to work as a bagger at two different grocery chains whom does not credit their shoppers for using reusable bags so you have an advantage there to save more. I wonder how many chains are doing this because it sounds like it does help there for you but not here for me.

Jeffrey Kosola April 21, 2010 at

@Double My Net Worth – I’ve heard back from a few people that their stores do not credit for the bags. Too bad, I’m just glad it’s been working for use for the past few months. We’ll have to see if our Kroger phases out the program or not. Thanks for the feedback.

Money Reasons April 20, 2010 at

I admit, I don’t use reusable bags. Don’t get me wrong, I do think they are great!

But I have a cat… And what I do with my bags is use them for collecting refuse from the litter box! I also use my plastic grocery bag for room trash can liners.

Believe it or not, using the bags for these mainly these purposes (and a few other ones), we never throw the plastic bags away unless they have trash of some sort in them…

If I didn’t have a cat though, reusable grocery bags would definitely be a route I would go!

James April 21, 2010 at

i think you hit the nail on the head. to blow this up even further, it also helps our environment and its hard to put a price tag on that.

i have to admit i never use the re-usable bags, i feel horrible about it but for some reason i have not fully jumped on this ship yet, maybe next time

ashley August 14, 2010 at

Using reusable bags is good. There is no need to use plastic bags anymore. Plastic bags can be bad for the environment.

Brenda January 27, 2012 at

Hi Jeffrey – love your site, and your dedication!! I’m currently the ‘stay at home mum’ who works 3 days a week and studies as well. BAd career choice when younger has hurt our finances a lot. Stuck with a house we had while living interstate and can’t sell it. Stupidly bought one here when we moved instead of renting. So things are tight and the debts we racked up renovating the other one are slowling strangling us. My hubby complains all the time about money but isn’t a fan of working more. I would but lose it in Tax and childcare. Looking at cleaning houses to make some tax free cash on the side while our boy is with me. Anyways – a note to ‘Money Reasons’ have you thought about getting a worm farm for dealing with the kitty litter? I currently take any free plastic bags I can to use for the same thing but am investigating the worm farm idea. No more plastic bags of stinky poo, and fertiliser for the garden. Awaiting answers from the worm farm people on qustions about the litter. Cheers – Brenda

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