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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


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


Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, apples, carrots


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

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.


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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  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.

    • Sarah says

      Haha! Love this. Gwyneth likely purchased her groceries at Whole Foods or some co-op (which are totally wonderful to support if you have the funds). Praise the LORD for Aldi. I need to go back soon.

  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!


  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!

  13. Stephanie says

    This has great tips and good menu options. Personally I have a household of 5 (6 in September :-)) and I am around $100-$150 weekly. That is including everything diapers/baby, health/ beauty, cleaning products, and of course food. My main goal to save money is useing what you buy, I cant stand throwing out a 1/2 a pan of last Tuesdays dinner. I always make large meals so its enough for dinner plus lunch the next day. In addition fresh produce is surprisingly cheap and the best for nutrition and cooking! Buy whats in season.

  14. MaryGay says

    Caution! The “honey” at the dollar stores is usually flavored corn syrup. I know this because we use the buy a loaf of bread, jars of jelly and peanut butter trick all the time on vacation. They are usually a good place for mustard and chicken or beef stock too. (Btw-I also get my sudoku books at Dollar Tree, just over a penny a puzzle.)

  15. Cynthia says

    I like the concept, but a few things that confuse me:

    How big a bag of chicken breasts? Apples? Carrots? And only four bags of frozen veg? Where are the stir-fry veggies from? (although the rice and chicken could be leftovers!)
    I’d tend to go for a bag of leg quarters because I know how to carve the meat off the bone and I can use the bones and trimmings (and carrot peels and ends!) to make the broth for the soup. Also, chicken thighs and drumsticks have more flavor in stir-fry. (And leg quarters are usually cheaper!)
    Regarding the dry beans, two words: pressure cooker! (if not, slow cooker can also work overnight)
    Recipes for the chicken soup and the rice and beans for those of us to whom these are new dishes (or not normally made without a can)?

  16. Hazel says

    I personally think that a good tip is to get to know your neighbors – and work together. If you see a great deal on chicken thighs – buy an extra package for them. If they see a great deal on hamburger – they can buy you some hamburger. They’ve got a plum tree/apple tree/berry bushes they don’t fully use? Ask if you can have some, then give them a jar of jam. Pool your $ together to buy 50-100 pounds of flour, then divide it up – a homemade loaf of bread only costs 35 CENTS to make. You’ve got a food processor, but they don’t? Offer to make peanut butter, if they buy the peanuts. Several families working together can make it easier than going it alone. We’ve forgotten how to do that in our modern world. It think it’s time to reclaim the “community”.

  17. says

    I love that you provided a grocery list showing the items you can get and the food you can prepare for just $30 a week. Our food budget has increased significantly now that I am expecting and trying to eat more fruit and nuts. Before that, my husband and I were spending $50 a week on groceries. It was tight (especially when we needed to buy laundry detergent or shower gel or the likes) but we made it work. Love the thought of only $30 a month though.

  18. says

    oh I remember the days when I would spend $150 for 2 weeks worth of groceries for my family of five. I sure do miss Aldi. We no longer live where there is an Aldi. What a very helpful post. I’ve got to figure out how to feed three teenagers on less than $200 a week. You post was encouraging. At least I know where I can start. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Robin says

    What a great challenge! I honestly have no idea how I could do this but I know even if I saved a little it would be great. I live in California and I think the prices are higher here than in some other places but I’m pretty sure I don’t need to be spending at least $1,000 on food monthly for our family of 4 like I do. I need to be better about eating leftovers and not wasting produce.

  20. Jackie says

    Prices are so high where I live ( Los Angeles), I often find a larger quantity of a product on sale so I just call a friend or two and ask if they want to split the package so I can get more for the same or a lower price. Just thought I would share that.

  21. Carissa says

    So glad i found this post. I was getting very discouraged when I’d go To check and find that spent half my budget for the month. :/ but this gave me a good starting point. Also you can coupon at dollar tree! Say you need dish soap. 1$ off one Palmolive soap= free at the dollar tree! :) just thought I’d share that.

  22. Alyson says

    Another thought I would add is to buy in bulk rather than buying prepackaged items when you can. Not only does this mean you’re only buying what you need, but it can be considerably cheaper! For example, at our grocery store, you can buy oatmeal in bulk for as low as $0.70/lb, which is considerably cheaper than $2.50 for a 42-ounce (2.6lb) canister at Walmart! And bulk spices can cost less than a dollar for the same volume that you’d pay a couple dollars for at Walmart.

  23. Val says

    Living on a super tight budget can be done. I am currently a stay at home mom, and I am feeding my family of five on 35.00 a week. It’s pretty amazing how little you have to spend when you put your mind to it. We live in a very rural area, and this fall, we collected 20 bushels of apples, 3 bushels of pears, 40lb of wild grapes, and and 3 bushels of hickory nuts off of state land. They were turned into apple sauce, diced pears, sliced apples, grape and pear jelly, wine (for gifts), and all canned and frozen. A 50lb bag of deer carrots goes for 5.00. Wash them, peel them, slice them up and can or freeze. We have a potato farm close by that sells 50lbs of “unclassified” potatoes for 10.00. Do with them as you did with the carrots. I make pancake syrup out of hickory bark. It’s quick, easy, and only the cost of sugar. In late summer, you can harvest raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and mullberries. The bread store charges .50 per loaf of bread, rolls, bagels, and buns. As far as meat, we eat a lot of ground turkey, and there are some great specials at certain stores. For example, Kroger did a buy one get one free on turkey tenderloins. It came to 9.00 for enough tenderloin for 5 nights of dinners. I use Aldi for everything else. They only charge 1.79 for a gallon of milk. We also have the “chicken” lady around here that charges 1.50 per dozen of farm eggs. With your milk, you can easily make your own yogurt .Add some of your free berries, and you have great snacks and breakfasts. I make my own granola for super cheap. I bake like crazy, but my children have good food, and they even pack their own lunches. They also take home made jam to their teachers as gifts. If you up the anti a bit, and learn to save your seeds, then your garden produce will cover most of your needs. If you hunt every year, and process your own deer, turkey, birds, and small game, then you don’t have to buy any meat. I suggest bow hunting, because you get to take advantage of early and late hunting season. All your left with is dairy items, and your baking supplies like flour and sugar, once you get the hang of it. It may sound exhausting, but its not, and the kids really do enjoy helping to collect berries, climb apple trees and make jam. The best part is when they can identify “safe” plants compared to “poison” plants. Anyway, hope I gave some ideas.

  24. Elizabeth says

    I live in Edinburgh, it is fascinating to read your food plans and what you cook
    In the US. Trying to think what I could add from how we budget as many of your tips are similar to what I do here. One thing is veggie soup, the secret is the stock flavour and have discovered Morrisons local Supermarket sell fresh
    Bones from in shop butchery. They can be boiled for about an hour then all the veggies collected from leftover etc added with lentils, or soup pasta, or dried minestrone mix. I have learned also that scrubbed potatoes peeled about half an inch thick give great flavour. Meat from bones goes to dog or into the soup.
    Love visiting US on holiday have been 4 times. Elizabeth

  25. Gail says

    I used a lot of bacon ends and pieces for flavoring rice and beans. I also used chicken, beef and ham flavorings. I mixed milk with dry milk 1/2 and 1/2 in a gallon and the kids never knew the different if it was cold. I used ground turkey with beef flavoring to make chilly, ect. Back in the day ground turkey was cheaper than ground beef. 25 years ago I fed 6 people on $140 a month. We only spend $200 a month now for. Thanks for your tips; good article.

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