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. Emily says

    I feed a family of five (three are little ones, but they eat a lot!) for about $60 a week. My secrets: Aldi, and a basic rotating menu of economical ingredients. Tons of variety, though….we don’t have stroganoff every single Tuesday. :) I don’t even coupon!

      • Amy says

        I would love to see some of your menu ideas as our family struggles to stay under our grocery budget.

    • Bethann says

      Emily, I also have a family of 5 with 3 kids. The oldest is 7yrs and he is starting to eat alot! What do you feed everybody? I do not want to feed my family ramen (although, they would love that)! My husband and I are starting to budget and I find the hardest part is the shopping. I just don’t know how to make cheap & healthy type meals.

    • Lucy A says

      Try to find a free web site that matches weekly grocery sales with available coupons. Here in MI I use bargainstobounty.com

    • Lucy A says

      P.S. I can no longer afford to buy newspapers for the coupons (even though they can save you the cost of the newspaper) so a couple of my neighbors give me their coupon inserts when they have taken what they need. This still allows me to use many coupons.

      • Emily says

        I should probably clarify that I buy a few things at other stores than Aldi and don’t include those in that $60/week. But it really is only a few things. I don’t go shopping very much – every other week to Aldi, and maybe once a month to a Super Target or Dominicks (our Safeway). I usually by flour at another location because Aldi only carries bleached, and I buy basically all of our beef at other locations because if I wait for a good sale it’s way cheaper even than Aldi. But we don’t eat very much beef so I don’t think that makes a huge difference. I make basically everything that’s baked from scratch, except regular sandwich bread, so no pancake mix, etc. Probably 3-4 dinners a week are vegetarian, but just naturally not “painfully”, e.g. pasta & sauce without meat, etc. I think mostly we just limit unnecessary variety…I used to love to experiment and cook “exotic” or ethic, but then realized that with little ones (and sometimes my husband, too!) no one really liked it. So now we focus on basics: pasta, grilled chicken with sides, tacos, rice & beans, omlets for dinner, homemade pizza, etc. We only buy one kind of cereal, usually (Aldi Cheerios) ,because most of us don’t eat it for breakfast. I find in general I spend less time than I used to cooking up elaborate meals and it saves money too. Basically, it’s all just simple stuff. :-) Oh and I mostly just clean with vinegar, soap and water, and rags, so my cleaning budget is nil.

        • Emily says

          AND…. :-P I don’t buy lunch meat. Even cheap stuff is very high per pound. We eat more eggs and such, peanut butter sandwiches at lunch. I don’t buy juice or soda, we drink mostly water, tea, coffee, and milk. I think mostly I just try to figure out what is best per pound nutritionally and cost-wise. I almost always cherry-pick the meat sales around town, but at most once a month, and then freeze enough for the next few months. Menu planning for two weeks at a time really works for me, and just entering the stores less frequently of course saves me money!

  2. Kathy says

    I really enjoyed those who posted lists with menus. Whlie the tips offered are helpful, the lists and menus are great for someone who is just starting out.

  3. e says

    2 words farmer’s market for freh fruit and veggies some even have fresh eggs and usually less. Pesticides wax and chemicals. Look for what is in season. I usually only spend 5 to 10 $ for a family of3. and I get salad stuff bag of potatoes onionsvgarlic and tons of fruit…when I spend 10 I usually have a full cart of goodies. I also have gotten herb plants for my garden that look great and are edible perennials saving a lot. I save the extras in a couple containers in the fride and add to soup stock. I cook whole chickens or legs and thighs then boil the carcass for chicken stock. I use the chicken stock to boil rice or veggies for extra oomph of flavor add a little chicken and veggies yum. Cooked for rice. Raw chopped with cold. Pastd and herbs for pasta salad yum.

    • says

      Totally agree! We have a Sprouts store in northern Colorado and I can walk out of there with bags of fresh produce for $5-$10 each week! They do double ad Wednesdays, too, where you can combine the best deals from the previous and current week.

  4. Angelia Sanders says

    We are a family of 5 with 2 dogs. Including dog food and other needs i have it between $60 -$75 a week. We have a child who has Celiac, so she is 100% gluten free and the rest of us are about 80%, It is easier to cook one meal for supper and one for breakfast. And I do my best to coupon. Our money mostly goes for fresh fruit and veggies and Gluten Free foods.
    We used to spend at lest $100 a week, so I am proud of our cut back…and NO ONE goes hunry, not even our furry family members.

    • Susan says

      This is where I run into trouble: we have a daughter who is both gluten- and dairy-free, and we also try to avoid preservatives, MSG and artificial colors (modified Feingold diet), at least for her. I’m encouraged to see that you’re able to keep the budget so low, considering the cost of gluten-free foods.

    • Lucy A says

      Sorry for all the posts, but it seems I have so much to contribute today.

      We have differing diet needs in our family, but meats, fruits, and veggies are, on the whole, both gluten and dairy free so I can meet both diet needs with only 1 menu!

      Rice is gluten free, and easy to prepare with a rice steamer. I bought my rice steamer at a garage sale. The owner thought that it no longer worked, but it was only a build-up of lime from the water on the heating unit. A good soak in a small amount of vinegar cleaned it out, and my rice cooker has been in constant use with periodic cleanings for at least 15 years now, and still counting.

      Rice is pretty cheap either at the Indian store, or at Gorton Foods (10lb bag for $4.99). Nuts are cheaper in bulk at Gorton Foods where I buy my almonds (good source of calcium). So I go to GFS when they have their $5 off $50 purchase coupon and stock up on rice and nuts for 10% discount off bulk prices.

      • Angelia Sanders says

        I stock up on things when they go on sale. Today we went to Kroger’s and they had certain Kellogs cereals on sale…AND the GF Rice Krispy’s were one of them for 1.99 a box (SCORE!) we bought 5. Which will last or should until the next sale on them. I LOVE Potato’s (my family is German and Irish) but my family does not share my mmmmm for them. So we eat rice in place of where I would cook taters more now. We do GF meals for everyone for the most part except for anything that has to do with Noodles. I cook the sauce and then I do GF noodles as well as gluten ones. When we do have the occasional fried chicken I use King Aurthur’s GF flour…Everything I have baked with that comes out great! We buy GF bread when it is on sale or on the clearance shelf. My daughter takes her lunch every day except on taco days (twice a month) and pizza day (when we send a pizza to school with her and her school cooks it in a separate oven away from anything that may contain gluten) My mother shops on base and they have GF things on sale she buys them for us, but she is always buying my daughter bread and roles. The commissary is the only store that carries a certain brand and my Daughter really enjoys them. I also use any GF deals that I may find online. I have called a few companies and asked if we could receive coupons for their GF products but no dice there as of yet. We are BIG salad eaters and we have a SMALL garden with lettuce and potato’s (that is all that is left everything else died how sad!) we normally have a larger one. We do not eat a lot of bread in our house in fact 1 loaf of gluten bread has been known to last our family a month (we keep them in the freezer and pull out as we need it.) I make our “snacks” and as soon as I can afford it i will be buying large air tight containers to pre-mix flavored oatmeal, cookie mixes, and other things that come in a box. SUPER easy and Affordable that way! We eat out maybe once a month as a family and once a month one child and an adult normally sneak out for something “special”.
        The dogs only get dog food. My husbands dog can have only 2 brands of dog food without having issues and we can normally find coupons for them. My dog is 15 and gets a mixture of the normal dog food and a wet dog food, also COUPONS GALORE out there for FREE canned dog food.

        • says

          We have special diet needs, as well, with my hubby being allergic to dairy, nuts, and eggs. We have to spend a bit more on staples for him like rice/coconut milk, special margarine, etc… but it helps me also to cook more from scratch and eat healthier with mainly meats, veggies/fruits, and breads. It does add a bit more to the weekly budget, but we try to keep ours at $60/week and stock up on allergy friendly items when they hit their rock bottom. I’m also pregnant, so I have allowed myself to keep our grocery budget a bit higher for a better variety of fresh foods.

  5. Samantha says

    I live in SW Missouri in the middle of no where, so we used to grocery shop only once a month. Our budget was $200 a month for my husband, daughter and myself. I wish we were eating more organically, but right now, we can’t afford meat at the organic price, and to be honest, I hate how smart chicken drys out on me everytime I cook it. Walmart has packs of chicken for about $10 with between 6-8 huge breasts in there. I can buy 3 packs of chicken and we can eat all month plus some on that chicken. My daughter and I have one breast, and my husband another. Little one and I have brown sugar oatmeal, and recently we added dehrdrated apple pieces with cinnamon for breakfast. pb&j’s or ham (if its on sale) sandwiches on homemade bread, and everything from chicken to tacos to biscuts and gravy for dinner. We also don’t peel our potatos and my daughter loves mashes potatos with the skin on. I used to peel them until I saw all the peels in the trash, so we stopped. Eggs are kind of pricy, but I have a friend who gives me a dozen or two for bringing his Azure Standard order back to my house (I am the drop coordinator for the Branson area) and when they are on sale at Country Mart I will cook them in muffin pans then freeze them for sandwiches for my husbands breakfast =] We are working on lowering our grocery bill, but I don’t have a ton of options. Maybe now that we have a car getting 30mpg compared to my husbands old truck getting 8-10 mpg I might be able to go up to springfield once a month for better deals. =]

  6. amber says

    We are a family of four (me, hubby and two girls 4 and 7) and spend $50 a week on groceries. What saves us the most money is cutting back on meat. We no longer have meat with dinner. Instead we will either by sliced ham for lunch or sausage for breakfast for the week. Some other things we do are.
    - Eggs, toast and fruit for dinner once a week
    - leftovers for lunch
    - Making a big pot of potato and cheese or veggie soup will last a few days
    - Making your own bread (I bought my bread maker at a yard sale last year for $5).Our favorite is french bread, it is only four ingredients water, flour, yeast and salt.
    - Making muffins from scratch. Once you find a good basic recipe you can change up the fruit you use.
    -Make tea and don’t buy soda.
    - Cook dried beans. You can eat them as a side dish, in soup, mash the up for refried beans.
    - In the summer we also have a garden. We will eat lots of tomato sandwiches on bread I made.
    - Also if you have a salvage grocery store shop there for things you need. Just make sure you check the expiration date.
    - Potatoes are cheap and can be used for lots of different recipes.
    - Check your freezer and your cupboards before you go shopping. You will probably already have enough ingredients to make another meal or two.
    - Clean out your fridge once a week. Freeze leftovers before they go bad. Cut up stuff like green peppers and stick them in the freezer for later.

  7. Lyn says

    You may want to research to see if there is a grocery outlet in your area. Twice a month I shop at a grocery outlet run by an Amish company out of Lancaster county, PA. They sell surplus, foods close to experation dates, and dented boxes/cans, which doesn’t bother me, but may bother others. For example I can buy a 12 pack of name brand greek yogurt for $2.99, seasoning packets for meals for 10 cents each, 24 oz pork tenderloin for $3.99, spaghetti sauce jar/can for 50-75 cents each, boxes of cereal for 75 cents- $2.25, 18 oz of fresh blueberries for $2.19, 15 cent kiwi. Someof their products are normal price (milk, half and half) but for the most partmuch cheaper. They do not take coupons but when I average it out I pay ~$1 per item which is way less than I would pay at the grocery store.

  8. michelle says

    I feed 5, sometimes 6steak or more each week on about 100.00 per week. And my family are complete pigs!! However my fridge freezer and pantry are filled to the brim with groceries. Also my stockpile. We have beef, pork, chicken, fish all in the freezer. I am able to do great variety and meals by couponing and sale shopping.

  9. says

    I actually think this is an excellent menu. As a single girl – I understand how hard it is to eat healthy, on a budget, for one. I’m not partial to oatmeal so if you want something different I’d buy a dozen eggs at the grocery store and a jar of salsa at the dollar store. I’d have eggs scrambled with salsa and one slice of toast for breakfast. Then you could also put salsa on one of your chicken and rice dinners to jazz it up. Another thing I’ve done – buy a 1 lb package of ground beef and split it into 4 meals – tacos, a small meatloaf, spaghetti, and a sloppy joe.

    • says

      I eat eggs and salsa almost every day as well. I’ve also made egg burritos with Crystal’s recipe, and those are great on mornings when I work and have to be up at 5am (no prep work = more relaxing morning routine!). I don’t eat sandwiches because I try to stick to a no-grain, no added sugar diet. For lunch I usually do leftovers at work, or on my days off I usually eat light – apples with a yogurt/almond butter mix, roasted nuts and cheese, frozen and blended banana with nuts, etc. Dinner is usually chicken or fish with salad and steamed or roasted veggies, followed by a tiny slice of REALLY dark chocolate or fruit for dessert. My favorite simple dinner in the summer is to hollow out a tomato and fill it with tuna salad. Refreshing and protein-packed. :)

  10. Amy says

    I think this is doable depending on where you live. If you lived in my area I think you would need the whole $30.00 for groceries.

  11. Karla S says

    Another tip is to grow your own veggies…now is the perfect time to do it. Even if you dont have much (or any!) space, you can find containers and grow a plethora of things on your porch or balcony. We just picked up seeds for .25 a packet (on sale, of course) and you can scout craigslist for food grade buckets or other containers. Additionally, some municipalities have compost/soil programs where you can get free or dirt cheap (hehe) compost and soil.

  12. says

    We went through a job transition, and for 2yrs. we lived on $25 a week for food, cleaning supplies, & toiletries for myself, husband, and teen son…I couponed like a maniac. I shopped Publix, and used the Iheartpublix website to do my grocery list..

  13. Heather says

    Family of 4: two little boys who eat more then their mom & dad. We budget $50 a week but only spend 40, and set aside that extra for stocking up or trips to the farmer’s market.

    After reading some comments about not liking oatmeal: I, too, don’t like warm oatmeal. My boys loved baked oatmeal, so I make a pan for them and it lasts all week. I like chocolate smoothies, also super cheap. I buy the brown bananas that are discounted, and peel & freeze them immediately. Then I blend 2 bananas, 1/2 cup of oatmeal, some milk or powdered milk or water, and 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder in the blender, and I have a delicious chocolate smoothie. So cheap, but really filling (because of the oatmeal) and really delicious and healthy (no sugar, just the bananas!).

    • Karen says

      I never liked oatmeal and then I heard about overnight oats. Add oats and milk together and refrigerate overnight. In the morning the oats will have absorbed most of the milk. Then add whatever toppings you like such as dried fruit, berries,apple,cinnamon,etc. Yummy!

  14. Dina says

    I spend $30-40 per week for a family of 3 but I buy lots of fruit. I have two kids age 11 and 15 and we usually have 1 or 2 friends eating with us at least twice a week. My main goal to keep it healthy, on budget and fast. I buy lots of fruit and veggies and we dont eat lots of meat. I add veggies to anything I cook. If I do mac and cheese I add a bag of frozen mixed veggies, if I do pasta with souce, I add a bag of veggies to the souce. Eggs are unexpensive and healthy and you can eat them not just for breakfast. A bag of frozen stir fry with scramble eggs can be a fast, healthy and cheap meal. I shop by the season and stock up if I see good sale on cereal, snacks, pizza, lunch meat, cheese, nuts, etc. I cook lots of different soups from scratch and use meat from the broth for additional dishes. My kids are kind of picky eaters,so I think if it would be just me, I could easily live on $15 per week eating healthy and balanced meals.

  15. Toni says

    I think she can totally live on $30 a week, especially if she uses the plan Crystal laid out; buying $25 worth of groceries and $5 worth of stockpile items. Since beginning couponing a year ago and s-l-o-w-l-y building a small to moderate stockpile (nothing like you’ve seen photos of around the internet), our weekly grocery spending has gone from an average of $107 to $65. That’s for a family of SIX. As Crystal said, initially it may be challenging (ie. somewhat difficult) and not too exciting. But 3-6 months down the road, she will have greater variety and less than $30 she’ll need to spend. As stockpile increases, spending decreases. Go for it!

  16. says

    I am frustrated in looking at meal plans that suggest cutting meat out to reduce cost. There needs to be a balance between nutrition and money savings. Pay the farmer or pay the doctor my Mom always said. Please don’t forget to balance your diet. Cutting the food budget may not be the wisest choice with your money, and while spending wisely should be a priority, cut everywhere else before looking at sacrificing nutrition.

    • Renee Huffman says

      There are plenty of non meat sources of protein and other nutriients found in meat. We still eat some meat but nowhere near what we used to and if anything, my family is healthier for it because we’re eating lots more veggies, and getting our protein from beanss, quinoa, dairy products etc.

    • Dina says

      Jen,
      I cut meat actually in order to keep our diet healthier. Sticking with Eggs, nuts, milk and soy products, beans, chicken meat will actually keep you much healthier and save you on your health bill at the end!

      • Jen says

        Please do some research on consuming too many soy products. There is some concern, especially for children, that the phytoestrogens can mimic human estrogen and cause health issues.

    • Kristina says

      Meat is definitely not necessary for a healthy diet!

      “The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, however, believes vegan and vegetarian diets, when balanced, are safe for children.
      “Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life-cycle including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence and for athletes,” the organization says on its Web site.”

    • Emily says

      Jen, I am a vegetarian and my mom is a registered dietician. As long as you are combining foods to equal a “complete protein” this way of eating is much healthier (rice+beans=complete protein). You receive much more of your needed vitamins and essentials by using a fresh foods approach with fruits and veggies. I started this lifestyle a little over a year ago while incorporating organic dairy, nothing else. I have lost 15 pounds, my cholesterol has dropped 40 points and my glucose and other tests have significantly changed. Purchasing cheap meat is not only worse for wear on your body but also for the environment.

    • H says

      Jen,
      I completely understand what you are saying. Meat is important to include in the diet, especially for gluten intolerant individuals like myself! I eat grass-fed beef with no added hormones, antibiotics etc. which has actually been found to have multiple health benefits, such as high levels of Omega 3′s, Vitamin E & C, & Beta Carotene. Grassfed meat has much lower fat content. In fact, eating 7 seven grassfed steaks is the equivalent of eating one regular steak (that was fed grains).

      • Karen says

        I’m a gluten intolerant vegan. There’s no need to eat meat if you can’t have gluten!

        • Michelle says

          Thank you! I wish more people realized you can be gluten intolerant and a vegan too! In fact I am healthier now than I have ever been before.

    • Andrea says

      I think it is important to find what works for you. Some people do well without meat, some people need it. Some people can’t tolerate grains (especially gluten) and soy, but some people are okay. There is no “one size fits all” diet!

      • Joanna says

        I am with Jen and Amanda respectively. I have now two chronic illnesses, and tried both vegetarian and meatless options since I was told it was healthier. I have found that really it depends on the person. I cannot tolerate grains and do much better on meat and animal protein. I do buy ONLY grassfed, pastured meats, poultry and dairy products. If it was altered by man I don’t buy it. I have way more energy with eating this way. Listen to your body and not what others tell you.

  17. Jennifer says

    To combat the costs of only cooking for one why not make a meal big enough for four and freeze the rest for later? Maybe for lunches or dinners next week.

  18. says

    Our Farmer’s Market has a markdown bin, I get bananas to freeze for muffins and onions. Bring the onions home, chop and freeze.
    You can buy your Sunday paper at the Dollar Tree and only pay $1.00. I’m not sure if that is all Dollar Tree stores.
    Save leftover veggies and chicken in the freezer separately. You can make veggie soup and use the chicken to make chicken salad or a small casserole that calls for 2 chicken breasts.
    Good Luck, I would love to hear from this girl to see how she is doing in a month or so.
    Amanda

  19. Lucy A says

    Check out freecycle.org for a group near you that can help you get items you need without having to spend anything more than the gas to pick them up.

    Some items that are frequently given away are used pots that can be used to grow herbs etc. if you don’t have any space for a garden.

    If you only have a front yard, you can grow herbs etc in with your front yard along with the flowers, and as posted by someone earlier, most herbs are perennials that allow you to save money by not having to purchase new plants or seeds each year.

  20. Keri says

    I LOVE chicken, but it adds up fast. Everybody says to cut out meat, but if you are smart about it, you don’t have to. For instance, If the sell by date on the chicken is 4-19-12, then go the day before and it will be marked down considerably! We don’t have a lot of grocery stores in my area. I do, however, prefer Safeway’s meat to Wal-Mart’s. Plus, we are trying to go organic (especially with meat) and my wal-mart doesn’t carry any organic meat. But, if I’m at Safeway, picking up produce that’s on sale ( I hate Wal-Mart’s produce) than I will go look at the meat and see when the chicken goes on sale. Sometimes I make a special trip to Safeway just to stock up on meat (it’s 4 miles and takes about 4 minutes to get there) or plan my grocery day around that. The organic chicken breasts are $9.48 a pound and I’ve learned Safeway (don’t know about when other stores do it) marks their meat down the morning before the sell by date! I went a couple of weeks ago and bought organic chicken breasts and Whole chickens ( LOVE whole chickens…bake it and it’s one meal, then we scrape and save any piece I can off the chicken and make soup.) I bought about 20 pounds of chicken ( I don’t always get that much, but if it’s on sale, it’s on sale.) I spent $1.75/pound. so I spent about $35! NOrmally priced, all the chicken would have been $300!!! So, I just freeze it and then I don’t have to buy chicken at regular price ever again, because I just pick up a package here or there when it goes on sale. Sometimes, I go, and there isn’t any on sale, because it’s all sold, and they have fresh meat with a new sell by date. THat’s ok, though, I constantly check back. THey do it with all other meat too!!

    • Courtney says

      My store does the same with beef. They offer fresh ground beef every day. So at the end of the day, whatever didn’t sell is tossed into their freezer. The next morning instead of being $2.99/lb and up I can pick up the previously frozen for $1.89/lb. (really good for the Northeast).
      I’ve learned by asking when things are marked down, and found out that the best day for meat shopping is Wednesday mornings.

      I’m lucky because I live a block away from the lowest average price store, so I can walk over 2 or 3 times a week to pick up discounted produce as well.

    • says

      I do that to a lesser degree- every time I am at the store for any reason, I see what meat is on markdown. I buy most of it. Usually not steaks, but that’s just because even on markdown they are $3-$4 a pound & it takes AT LEAST 1.5 lbs for my family.

      I get to try new stuff that way- ground chicken, ground lamb, stir fry chicken, one time I got filet mignons for $1 each.

  21. Lucy A says

    Grocery shopping at the very beginning or end of the day is a good way to find discounted meats that need to be cooked or frozen immediately, but a little added care adds up to $$ saved.
    My husband grew up by the ocean and LOVES fish, but it is super expensive to buy the fresh fish he craves. However, I am able to buy it about once a week by buying it when it is discounted. It is WAY cheaper than succumbing to the urge to eat out in order to have that treat.

  22. Mindy says

    My secret is I buy a cow and a hog from a butcher. We split it with my sister to keep cost down. For a family of 4 I was spending $400 per month on grocerys and I spend $40 a month if that now.

    I know some don’t have the spaces so it wouldn’t work for most people but that’s what I do to save money on food. I also use coupons for side dishes, etc…

  23. Kim says

    I am VERY jealous that someone can find milk for $2.50! No really, I am glad that someone can find it for that price! The cheapest I have found it is $3.79. And the organic is more than that. We do not have an outlet around here!

  24. says

    I LOVE this! If you are in a part of the country where produce is cheap you can maybe even mix up that produce (IE – here in CA – I regularly see apples, oranges, peaches, etc for well under $1/lb).

    We have friends that have orange trees and we are growing our own tomatoes this year – so that is a fun freebie! I know not everyone can grow their own produce – but sometimes people can =-)

    Also – I buy quick oats from the bulk bin as low as 50 cents a POUND! So you could get a dollar or two wiggle room there also! Bulk bin beans & rice are sometimes cheaper too!

    I also have bought quick sale chicken breast for only $1/lb before!

    We admittedly spend way more than this on groceries – but it can be done!

  25. Lucy A says

    As always, the closer an item is to its natural state, the less added $$ in food costs, (someone, like you, has to pay the employee for their time) so finding recipes you like that use basic ingredients saves added $$.

    This even applies to spices. Here is a recipe we used often when our kids were growing up:

    Taco Seasoning Mix
    3 tblsp chili powder
    1 tblsp ground cumin
    1 tblsp salt
    1 tblsp garlic powder
    1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
    3/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
    1/2 tsp turmeric

    Use 2 – 3 tsp mix per 1 lb ground meat. Add to ground meat after you brown it and drain off the fat. Add approx 1/4 cup of water. Mix. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes until meat has amount of liquid you prefer.

    You can play around with the ingredients to reach your preferred taste.

    P.S. If you are lucky enough to live in a city that has ethnic stores, you can save a lot of money buying that way. Example: large bottles of soy sauce from an Oriental store, Ground spices in larger quantities than the miniscule bottles sold in grocery stores from an Indian store, Fresh pita bread, parsley, lemons, from a Middle Eastern store….have fun with this one!!

  26. Andrea S. says

    Wow! Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I too have been cutting out meat. We hardly eat it unless we go out. I try to stay at $100 a week but always seem to go over. I don’t coupon a whole lot. We eat mostly organic so I look for those coupons and can find pretty good deals. I also shop markdown sections at our local fresh and easy. Sprouts market is where I save the most money with my coupons. Thanks!

  27. says

    Thought of some other things :) – First I do think having rice for dinner is a bit much – I try to limit my carbs a bit. I would only buy 2 bags of frozen veg and then buy a head of lettuce and an onion instead. That way you could have a salad with or before dinner. I do try to eat plenty of protein – that’s why I suggested the egg breakfast. Also – some of these items – like the oatmeal, honey, peanut butter – would last you more than a week. If you buy them the first week then that money would be freed up to purchase a greater variety of items the following week. Also if there is a Fresh and Easy in your area you should check out their sale section. They lower the price on items that are about ready to expire like meat and veg.

    • Lucy A says

      Actually, if you eat less carbs from grains, what you get from the meat, veggies etc. is enough. If you are feeding your body good nutrition and enough protein (all sources) you will find that you are satisfied with the same size of a meal minus the starch.

      Protein takes longer to digest, so a small handful of nuts for a snack will actually keep you from being hungry for longer than a large muffin, bun, bagel, or whatever.

      • Andrea says

        Definitely agree, Lucy! I’ve stopped eating grains after lunch (I try to have two servings or less each day) and I feel so much better. I’m often not hungry when I wake up in the morning; I used to be ravenous.

      • Tosh says

        My husband and I have started attending the gym regularly completing intense workouts each day. My body went into shock mode when it wasn’t getting what it needed after the increased workout schedule. As I have always cooked from scratch and stayed at a $60 weekly budget I thought I was doing okay with nutrition and such. BUT after lots of reading and asking around it seems that there was not enough good protein in our diets and too many carbs from grains. I purchase mostly “superfoods” these days: greek yogurt, eggs, nuts (pistachios, almonds), raw honey, everything whole wheat or make it myself, coconut oil, trail mix, lots of veggies and fruits, fish, chicken, pork loin, a little beef etc. My food budget has since gone through lots of ups and ups, but I feel that it’s worth every penny. If it’s going to keep me well and alive for even a year longer I’ll be happy. I have noticed a HUGE difference in the way I feel, I have lost the last 5 pounds I’ve been wanting to lose, and and the smallest (inches) then I’ve ever been (thanks to the strength training). My four boys and hubby have also noticed a difference-especially my child with ADHD.

        Lesson learned for me personally-I’m more willing to cut a lot of other things first before I sacrifice the food bill.

  28. Andrea Fuller says

    Thank you for posting this list. I have accepted a charity challenge to eat for 5 days on $7.50 only – poverty line level!!! This list will give me a place to begin. I do pretty well feeding my family on $100 a week – with 3 very hungry teen boys. We all talk about how well we do, but there are people out there who are really challenged! We need to keep on getting the word out on how to keep our bills down. Thanks for this website!! The challenge begins May 1st. wish me luck ya’ll!

  29. Alexandra says

    I live very close to an agricultural university and they sell meat that is from the animals two days every week. I can buy fresh ground beef (never frozen) for less than $1/lb. I can also buy 2 dozen eggs for about $2 but you have to get there before they open on the first day of the week or the local Chinesse resturant will buy them out of eggs. We buy all of our meat from them except for seafood. We can buy the seafood from the fisheries department from the same university (however, due to the fact that I have a shellfish allergy, we only do that about once every couple of months). During the spring and summer months the univeristy horticultore department also does a farmers market and there are organic gardens that you can go pick from year round for free. This saves us a ton of money on our groceries.

  30. says

    There have been times when we didn’t have money and we survived by spending less than $10 a week or less. I don’t really recommend as a healthy lifestyle, but if you have to survive, you can do it.
    You have to use your imagination, eat things you thought you would never eat sometimes, but you can do it!
    Our diet was very basic, but something that we found we could make very cheap was soup. We ate a lot of soup. It is filling, cheap and can be made healthy.
    My list of essentials to buy would be this for $30 a week
    6 heads lettuce $3
    1 head cabbage $1
    5lbs carrots $3
    10 lbs potatoes $3
    Celery $1
    1 lb Margarine (I know it is not healthy!) .69
    5 lbs flour $2
    3 lbs. oatmeal $2.50
    2 Whole chickens $7
    2 lbs. turkey ham $3.80
    3 cans green beans $1.25
    2 loaves bread $2
    Salt .50
    Total- $28.74

    I would roast one chicken to start with, pull it all off the bones, and then boil the bones in a huge pot with salt. I would freeze some of the broth for later weeks as you can make a couple gallons or more with this amount of chicken. I would divide the chicken up, make a batch of soup with some of it, some chicken gravy to eat over potatoes one night with green beans or salad, Chicken and potato hash with cabbage salad on the side…etc.

    Lunch….turkey ham sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, leftover soup or leftover dinner.
    Breakfast- tea, toast and oatmeal, if you have baking powder, you could make pancakes or muffins to eat as well. You could make tortillas too or homemade artesian bread that can be made without any yeast if you have patience.

  31. Elisha B says

    WOW! It’s been YEARS since I’ve seen those prices in the grocery store! I think it’s important to note that it REALLY depends on WHERE you live. I shop sales and coupon and still don’t get anywhere NEAR the prices listed in the above example.

    • says

      Do you have an Aldi, Walmart, Salvage, or Dollar Store nearby? You should be able to find fairly similar prices at those — possibly a little higher, but many areas also have lower prices than these listed.

      Many times, it’s a matter of knowing where to shop in order to get amazing deals. Almost every part of the country has stores with fantastic deals — you just have to go hunting to find them!

    • Lisa says

      I kind of agree-when I see what people are listing from Aldi (our least expensive store) I still can’t get some of the prices, but it is a basic list to start from. I buy bread from the brownberry plant in town and even the close to date loaves are 1.40 so it does depend where you live, I am in the midwest and we don’t often see fruits and veggies for under 1.00 a lb. I have been watching for it more though.

    • Shauna says

      Me too. I don’t have an Aldi near me and our dollar store is not very nice/clean kept. I’d love to see if there are any NY ladies on here. I’m always so envious of the prices everyone seems to get.

  32. Allison says

    Great list! I was looking at it and something looked wrong about the even $25 total. And then I realized this food would cost me almost $27 dollars when food tax is added on (we pay 7.75%). It’s good to keep this in mind if you live in a state with high food taxes.

  33. Megan says

    Does anyone have great store suggestions for those of us in the Central Valley of California? I wish Aldi’s or a similar store were here, but no such luck, and no stores that double coupons. Besides just simplifying our menu, any great shopping ideas?

    • Joy Smith says

      I’m in northern California (Sacramento area) and shop at WinCo for my groceries, except for my produce which I get at our weekly farmer’s market. I’ve found that WinCo and The Grocery Outlet have the best deals, although at the 99 cent store I find fabulous deals, as well.

    • nikki says

      I grew up there. 99cent only stores have a great food section. I could easily feed my fam of 4 on $400 month and we ate like kings in CA, even in southern CA. When money was tight $300 was still very doable. Fresh in season, on sale, limited processed food. Mexican food ingredients are always cheap and readily available, we usually had mexican 3-4 times week in some form(im not talking taco shop). If you want a lower food budget you have to change the way you eat. ($500 is my average where I am now, $400 is a bare minimum I can pull off and still keep a balanced diet. We no longer do as much mexican but focus on asian since thats the dominant food culture here, ingredients are cheap!)

    • Jessica says

      I live in the Central Valley as well! One suggestion is to find a discount grocer that sells the dented cans and almost out of date stuff. You can save so much money there. They always have random stuff, but I go there every couple weeks and hunt for “treasures”. Also, Target has great deals on a lot of staples. Check http://www.totallytarget.com to see the deals each week. And, if there is a Sunflower Market in your area, on Wednesdays they honor the sales from the week before and the next week, which means most of the produce is on sale then! Lastly, being in the central valley, you can get local, in season produce for cheap. Figure out when things are in season and buy them then. Last year, during apple season, I bought a 40lb box of apples for $16!! I canned them (well, actually 2 40lb boxes) with some cinnamon and we have been eating them all year in oatmeal, as a side, dessert with some whipped cream on top, etc.

  34. Annette says

    Our Kmart is constantly marking down their eggs for 50 cents a dozen..Not sure this happens everywhere, but just thought I would share.

  35. Lisa says

    for just me, I spend about $40 per month on food, I just stock up a few things per month + dairy/veggies per week. Freezer cooking helps a lot! I make a bunch of meals and then put them in individual containers in the freezer (ends up being 28 dinners when I freezer cook)

    http://loveofcoupons.blogspot.com/2011/12/freezer-cooking-122111.html

    then each month I stock up on whatever happens to be on sale on my stockpile list, different things: chicken breast, spaghetti/pasta, ground turkey, rice, cheerios, cheese (lg bag divides into smaller ones), cream of chicken soup, refried/black beans, canned/frozen veggies, tortillas, etc.

    look for clearance stuff at target, fred meyer, etc, this helps!

  36. says

    My wife and I eat for $30 combined each week and have plenty of variety. We wrote a book called Eating Well For Only $2 A Day that documents it and shows people how to do the same. We include over 150 recipes and each cost less than $1 per serving without coupons or sales. (SimpleFamilyFinance.com) It’s not really that difficult once you add in the ability to coupon (which Money Saving Mom helps so much with) and look for deals. Aldi has great produce prices to add plenty of fresh fruit and veggies to your diet. It can definitely be done – we’ve been doing it for quite a long time. You just have to have a little discipline and know-how. And creative recipes don’t hurt either :)

  37. katie t says

    Thanks for this post! it seems that alot of us are trying to budget, menu plan and fine easier/cheaper ways to cut corners and get a meal on the table. unfortuntely, if anyone is like me, you fall short of a menu and go for quick/fast..and it becomes old news {for example, my fiance is sick of spaghetti} or take out..which isnt the best choice. i try to budget 25 dollars a week, but i didnt break it down like how you did with breakfast/lunch and dinner ideas and prices. thanks again for always thinking about your readers/fans and giving us more information and options to choose from! katie

  38. says

    It’s possible. When we were 1st married I had a grocery budget of $35 for 2 people. Now I budget $500 for 6 people (my kids are 3-8 yrs). The keys are planning ahead and cooking from scratch. And keeping things simple. I also budget food in terms of a month rather than week-to-week. This allows me to take advantage of monthly sales without breaking my budget for any one week.

    • jessica says

      she updated the menu a not to long ago to show that her 40$ menu would now cost about 70+$ ! going to the same stores in her area. unless you love beans and breads…i MUCH prefer the veggie/chicken/rice menu Crystal suggested. Nonetheless i really like Hillbilly Housewife and have been inspired from her menu plan too! :)

  39. Susan says

    It’s definitely possible to eat well on $30/week (or $25 to save money for can’t-miss deals). I feed my household of 2 adults almost all organic for $50/week. I feel that as I stockpile more organic staples, I will be able to reduce my spending even more without making sacrifices.

    I purchase my grass-fed beef ($6/lb for ground beef) and eggs ($4.50/doz) from pasture-raised chickens directly from the farmer. I spend $6 for a gallon of organic milk and use 1/4 to 1/2 gallon to make yogurt. I now bake all my bread from scratch, and am still on my first 1lb package of instant dry yeast, which I can purchase at a local co-op for $3. I save my veggie ends and trimmings in a ziplock bag in the freezer to make soup stock.

    I’m part of an informal group that orders 2-3 a year from Country Life Natural Foods. My local co-op has periodic specials on 5lb bags of bulk grains, legumes, & rice, so I stock up when I have the chance.

    I also take advantage of markdowns on close-dated and blemished groceries. A couple weeks ago, I purchased about 4 lbs. of assorted blemished veggies and made a jambalaya.

    I’d like to finish my sharing a blog I recently stumbled on – Poor Girl Eats Well http://www.poorgirleatswell.com/
    This gal shares some great low-cost recipes. PGEW does better than $25 a week; she can stretch $25 to last two weeks.

  40. Veronica says

    Once you can start setting a little money aside, you can keep your eyes open for good deals with Groupon and Living Social. I’ve seen some great deals at butchers, farmer co-ops, and stores. Recently I bought a $10 Amazon card for $5 and used it for a subscribe and save item at Amazon. Last year I bought a Whole Foods voucher for $10 that was for $20 worth of groceries. I waited until they had a great sale on chicken and bought 4 all natural chickens with the voucher. We have also worked a few times at a local CSA and were able to pay only 1/2 price for a share. I noticed some single people were splitting the workload and the share, so that could work well for you, too.

  41. says

    This really inspired me this week and brought me out of a lot of discouragement. I do something on my blog called Thrifty Thursdays and today I linked you up and encouraged my readers to come look at your blog and this post in particular. Thanks again!

  42. Andrea says

    Where do you find organic milk for cheap. I’m here in so cal. The cheapest I’ve gotten it is 5.50 a gallon on sale! When it comes to dairy, I try and buy organic. If I’m low on money then I don’t mind buying organic but I really prefer organic dairy whenever possible.

  43. Angie says

    I don’t know how popular this idea will be but my husband hunts. We can get so much meat from just one deer. Something to think about if your husband wants a hobby and you want some meat. Also the animals your husband hunts doesn’t have to be corn fed. I also use a lot of beans in the diet. Like a bean roll. It is refried beans in a corn tortilla. Or a cheese roll it is refried beans with cheese in a corn tortilla. Delish. Making food from scratch is essential. Gardening. Buying snacks from the dollar store. There are 10 packages of individually wrapped cookies for $1 at my dollar store.

  44. angela says

    It is possible… I feed our family for $60 a week, and that includes diapers for two. Without diapers, about $45, and I feel like I don’t stick to my list and splurge on a few items. We also have the advantage of being able to use the commissary. I have tried shopping weekly sales, but the commissary beats the local stores 99% of the time. If any of you readers are military, definitely check out your commissary! Especially if you don’t buy diapers online… ours is cheaper than even Sam’s club generic ones.

  45. Tish says

    I wish we could use more of these suggestions, but in interior Alaska a gallon of milk is close to $6, a loaf of bread is $3, peanut butter is $4.59 for the smaller jar, a dozen eggs are $1.89….I could go on and on – did I mention those are “cheap” commissary prices? To get to town where there are 3 grocery stores (Safeway, Fred Meyer & Walmart) it’s nearly an hours’ drive each way, so can’t possibly even out to be worth driving to one store for milk that’s .50 cents cheaper this week than it is here.. and there isn’t ONE dollar store in this God-forsaken town… counting down to when we get to leave & return to civilization – a little over 26 months.