Is it possible to survive on a $30 per week grocery budget?

I am single and have about $30 per week for groceries which I find hard to do and get a balanced diet. I do go to multiple stores to get the best prices and use coupons the best I can. The thing that bothers me, is when a staple item I use is on sale, I normally don’t have an extra $5 (let alone more) to spend to purchase it. How can I stock-up on sale items when I have such a little bit to get by with anyways? -Renee

Contrary to what many people may tell you, I think you can definitely eat well on $30 per week — and you can find a little wiggle room to buy ahead, too.

My husband and I both lived on a $30 per week grocery budget when we were first married. This included all the ingredients to make 21 meals for both of us each week, plus all household products.

A Can-Do Attitude Is a Must

Don’t let yourself think, “There’s no way I can eat on this small of a budget.” Instead, decide that you’re going to do the best you can with the resources you have.

Make it a game, of sorts, to see how well you can do on a little. By challenging yourself to exercise creativity and think outside the box, you’ll enjoy it a lot more. And when you’re enjoying something, it no longer seems so difficult.

Make Short-Term Sacrifices

In order to be able to scrape together enough money to start buying ahead and building up your stockpile, I’d encourage you to commit to eating really simply for a few weeks. Cut your grocery budget back to $25, and save the extra $5 to invest in those rock-bottom, can’t miss deals — or to purchase almost-free toiletries and household products.

If you’re thinking there’s no way you can eat on $25 per week, here’s a grocery list and menu plan I came up with:

Sample $25 Grocery List and Menu

Prices are approximate and will likely vary a little by area. You may be able to beat these prices with great sales and/or coupons.

Regular Grocery Store, Aldi, or Walmart

1 canister of oatmeal –$2
1 gallon milk — $2.50
1 bag of apples — $3
1 bag of carrots — $1.50
4 bags of frozen vegetables — $4
1 bag of frozen chicken breasts — $7

Dollar Store

1 loaf of bread — $1
1 jar of peanut butter — $1
1 jar of jelly or honey — $1
1 bag of dried beans — $1
1 bag of rice — $1

Breakfasts:

Oatmeal with milk (add in some chopped apples, honey, or peanut butter to change things up a little)

Lunches:

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, apples, carrots

Dinners:

Beans and rice with steamed veggies on the side
Chicken, rice, and carrot soup
Baked chicken breast on a bed of rice, steamed veggies
Rice, chopped chicken, and steamed veggies mixed together and sprinkled with salt
Homemade refried beans, baked chicken, steamed veggies
Chicken and veggie stirfry served over rice
Leftovers

Yes, this isn’t a very exciting menu. But if you’re willing to scrimp for a few weeks and eat very simply, it will free up that extra $5 or so each week to start buying a few extra things that are on a great sale (like a bag of flour, like that incredible deal on strawberries — some to eat now, some to freeze for later, or that fantastic special on beef).

As you invest some of your grocery money in the rock-bottom specials and deals, this helps you to build up more of a stockpile so that, over time, you’ll be able to have more and more variety without increasing your budget.

grocery-university-300x250

Want to cut your grocery budget but don’t know where to start? I highly recommend checking out Grocery University. This step-by-step course has helped thousands of families lower their grocery budget — and it can help you, too! Read all about it here.

For more grocery-saving ideas, check out my 31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget series and find the best deals at your local store(s). Also, read my post Help! How Do We Cut Our Budget When There’s Nothing Left to Cut?

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Comments

  1. Jenny says

    Not sure what I’m doing wrong but we spend about $125/week for our family of 4! I would love to cut that down. I’ll be looking around your site to see if there is help for that…my problem is variety–I don’t like to have the same thing often and I wouldn’t want to have rice every day, but it would be worth the sacrifice to be able to build up our emergency fund.

  2. Chris says

    $60 a week for a famil….I WISH that were the case here in the north east. A half gallon of organic milk cost about $5 and that doesn’t last too long in my house!

  3. Sara says

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! I am so glad that I read it. I had not stepped foot in an Aldi for at least 20 years due to stereotypes and such.(They only sold junk food and highly processed foods.) I realize how WRONG I was!! I am so glad to have read this post because I went there today and bought oranges, strawberries, bananas, cucumbers, lettuce, turkey bacon, english muffins and cream cheese. (those last three were cravings!!) I got to the register and the total was $14!!! I was in shock! I had the misconception that with a super tight grocery budget we could not afford fresh fruits and vegetables. With the whole BPA risk with canned vegetables I didn’t want to poison my baby and it broke my heart when I didn’t offer fresh veggies and fruit. Now I have figured out a way to change it! Thank you so much for your dedication to offering suggestions to make grocery budgetting work for EVERYONE!

  4. says

    Love it! Re-read this in the wake of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Food Stamp Challenge and realized this certainly can be done. A big bag each of beans and rice, a few (dented) cans or frozen big bags of corn, peanut butter and bread offer protein, vitamins and fiber. Not an ideal diet, but it can feed you indefinitely. These are in my stockpile for hurricane season.

  5. says

    Also, look for free food opportunities – gallery openings if you live in a big city, company lunches if you work, campus events if you are a student or teacher, gardener friends with surplus, gleaning opportunities from farms at the end of the season or people with fruit trees, hiking in the woods where there are wild berries, and birthday freebies offered by (tons of) restaurants and shops. Save the money you would have spent to stock up.

  6. C says

    I think this is partially location dependent. There’s no way you could buy those things up here in Fairbanks for 30 bucks or less. Could have been useful down in WA though

  7. says

    Prices per area are realy very different. In my area (ct) milk is $3.40 or more. But I try to get shopping with $60 a week for 2.
    I look first for deals, than I make my plan for the week. That helps a lot and of corse coupons and rebate apps.
    Sorry for the bad English :-)

  8. Kayla says

    You are buying your frozen vegetables at a regular store, but our Dollar Store offers frozen veggies…maybe yours does too?

    • Shelly says

      Our dollar store carries frozen veggies but you need to keep in mind on the weight of the package. Something that costs $1 at the dollar store may weigh less than the $1 package at walmart. So you aren’t getting your moneys worth.

  9. Tammy says

    Here in Hawaii $30 doesn’t go far unless your eating processed foods. An example would be milk @ $7.00 (1/2 gallon) and bread loaf about $3.00 – $4.00. The list provided would cost approximately $60.00. We no longer have a dollar stores.

    Being that I’m a stay home mom of two boys, I have a tight budget. I also have been transforming our foods to organic slowly. I can see a slight difference of freshness, certain things last longer than others, and taste better. I have staples like bananas and apples always, but rotate strawberries to every other week as a treat. My regular groceries come from Costco, Produce from local farmers markets (biweekly), odds and ends at the regular grocer.

    I have yet to buckle down and plan meals. It’s a project in itself. My next task is to clean out the kitchen and take a written survey of all products, even down to spices like salt and pepper. Check dates and rearrange everything. The point would be to itemize things and as I buy new ones estimate the usage of how often I use it. I’m curious to see how many trips it takes to Costco for toilet paper for the year? Just another example for annual cost purposes.

    Well my bright ideas could go on and on. So I will end with Good luck from where ever you live. Shop smart, not hungry!

    Aloha!

  10. Mela says

    Your suggestion to shop for groceries at the dollar store is a good one. I think a lot of people have no idea that dollar stores even sell groceries, and that a lot of money can be saved by shopping there. You can stock up on a lot of common items that cost much more at ‘regular’ grocery stores.

  11. Pugsly says

    Some of you might be able to grow some of your food too. You really don’t need much time or space to supplement your daily food budget for a small upfront investment…here in south fl I am able to grow quite a bit of food, au naturelle, for my family and thus cut down on the overall cost of groceries. Just a thought as I noticed that lost of people who commented live in areas that would be amazing to garden in!!

  12. Sherita says

    To sum up the responses, in agreement, I must say Thanks so much for posting the info. I pasted the sample grocery list in my email for when I go shopping next time. Aldi and Walmart are my favs. I also look at the store brand items at regular grocery stores because there is definitely a price gap between store brand and popular name brand items. I hate paying more than $40 for just myself each week….trying to get healthy items so that hikes up the price sometimes. I didn’t read through all the posts but there are some raw mixed veggie bags in the salad section (ex: Safeway) and there are usually some decent prices.

    Good luck to us all. Trying to save for real!

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