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

Think it's impossible to live on a tiny grocery budget? This post will inspire you otherwise and give you the tips & tricks you need to make it happen!

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.

Do you want to take better control of your grocery budget? If so, you’ll want to read my newest eBook, 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget!

This eBook will give you all the tips, tricks, and practical advice you need to create a grocery budget tailored to your family’s needs that you can actually STICK to (because that’s the key!)

In this eBook, you’ll learn:

  1. How to create a grocery budget that fits your family’s needs and your finances!
  2. New systems to help you keep track of what you spend at the store!
  3. How to actually stick with your new budget and save money for years to come!
  4. Ways to save up to $50 off your grocery bill THIS WEEK by using the 10 simple strategies outlined in this eBook!

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476 Comments

  • Kristin says:

    DEFINITELY possible. I fed myself and my husband on $120/month for ages. I still don’t spend much more than that. It took a lot of planning and coupon clipping, but it’s definitely possible. The things I found most expensive were vegetables, but I bought what I could frozen and stretched them as far as they would go. Soups, stews, etc. Make everything you can from scratch. It’s pretty liberating. Another thing to consider is growing your own veggies.

  • Diane says:

    Thank you for your posts. They are always so inspiring especially during these trying times. You are doing wonderful things! I have a family of 5 and we aim for that per person. We don’t always succeed but it is great to be reminded to stick with it!

  • Leah says:

    I don’t have any prices, but this is a favorite of mine…
    Whole chicken… Day 1 Roasted in the oven serve w/ steamed veg.
    Divide leftovers… Make chicken salad from half of the meat and chicken vegetable soup made from the bones and some of the meat…. Add rice or pasta to make a little more hardy. (get mayo from dollar store.. pasta try to get it when it’s one sale or free and same for the pickles)

  • Susan says:

    I love this. Even though I have a family of five, we get pretty tight on cash towards the end of the paycheck. Thanks!

  • Amanda L says:

    We aim for $50 a week for our family of 3. The baby is still young, but formula is EXPENSIVE. We tried to simplify our foods. We did buy some beef in bulk from a farmer by saving things up for a while. I try to buy whole cuts of meat and use them for several meals. We also skip most cleaning products and use baking soda and vinegar for many things. I actually start my list with the rock bottom prices and then fill in around those. I can use previous rock bottom finds to fill in the menu for weeks ahead. I’ve also found using a monthly menu and planning ahead with rock bottoms I find helps me stretch the money further.

    • Ann says:

      Ask at your pediatricians office if they have any formula samples they can give you. I did that with my last child and sometimes they gave me enough to last a couple of weeks! It’s worth a shot – every bit helps!

      • Amanda L says:

        Thanks Ann! We do get them now and then, but we’re on one of the more specialized formulas for a health issue. If the doc does get samples, they don’t part with them so easily. 🙁

        • Rebecca says:

          if you are on a special formula for health reasons you maybe able to contact the manufacturer and let them know if it financial strain for you, my pediatrician gave me a contact number to do this when our son was on a special formula and we did not qualify for wic. The manufacturer sent us a whole case!

        • Yes, Amanda, I would definitely contact the manufacturer.

          Another thought – when I worked at a daycare, some parents were actually able to get coverage through their health insurance for specialized formulas if they were for health issues. Just a random thought I had.

          I know how expensive even regular formula is…we are planning to adopt and I told my husband we need to start saving now for formula. 🙂

    • Donna says:

      You can some times find it discounted on places like Freecycle, LSN, and even your local CPC can help if you get in a bind.

  • Angelique says:

    It is very possible! My goal is to spend no more than $40 a week on our family of 4, and while some weeks I go over slightly, it is very do-able. Especially if you stock up on non-perishables or frozen items that you can use in other weeks.

    • Brandy says:

      Can I ask if the $40 a week includes anything but groceries, like cleaning products, paper towels, etc? Not judging, just trying to decide if I could possibly be doing better. 🙂

      • Ellie W. says:

        I feed my family of 4 on $40 a week. We don’t use paper products (we use cloth napkins rather than paper ones or paper towels). For cleaning products, I use vinegar & baking soda along with microfiber clothes. There’s not a thing in my house that can’t be cleaned with those! lol I use coupons to get dish soap for free or less than $1 (I don’t have a dishwasher.) Also, I make my own laundry soap (1 c borax, 1 c washing soda, 1 bar grated Fels Naptha) so I spend next to nothing on it! All that is why I’ve been able to stay at home & homeschool my kids! It’s not always pretty & fancy, but it gets us by! 🙂

        • Kayla P says:

          That sounds exactly like my family, except that there are 7 of us! Our weekly budget is $50. We do the same things – cloth napkins, clean with vinegar and baking soda and microfiber cloths, and make our own laundry soap (we even use the same recipe! 🙂 ) I also homeschool 2 of our 5 children right now, and I do feel that my part in the finances is making them stretch as far as they will go. Only by God’s grace can I make them go as far as they do! 🙂

        • Caroline says:

          Curious on how the homemade soap does long term in the washer? We live in a hard water area, and found from a repair that using soap rather than detergent was clogging up the pipes in the washer. After that expensive repair on the advice of the repairman, I switched to liquid detergent only, not even powder. He said he has done hundreds of repairs because of soap build up in the inner workings of the machines. Other than that ditto everything except vinegar- hate the smell, dollar store or free with coupon cleaners work well enough to squeeze $2 a month into the budget.

      • Angelique says:

        I have a decent stockpile of paper towels, shampoo, dish soap (have a dishwasher, but never use it), dental items, etc. I don’t have diapers stockpiled, but have 2 kids in diapers so that is separate.

  • Jan says:

    I buy whole chickens when they are at rock-bottom price, and boil or roast, then bone. I can get at least four meals, sometimes five, per chicken, for two people.
    Chicken soup, chicken with noodles, Chicken with rice, chicken burritos or tacos, barbecue chicken, chicken and dumplings–just a few of the meals possible. I portion into meal-size packages, put in zip-lock bags, and put all the little bags in a gallon size bag and freeze.
    By having the chicken already cooked, my meals is half done, which saves time you can use to organize your coupons, and search the weekly adds.

    • Allison says:

      If you put a whole chicken in the crockpot and season with salt/pepper, nothing else, it will actually fall off the bone. It was amazing to me to see how much chicken is actually there when the meat falls off. Then, I add onion and carrot tops and peels and about 7 cups of water and cook on low all night. Makes great stock! I get about 4 meals after we eat dinner that night (family of 4).

      • Amy says:

        Thank you so much for sharing! So after I take away all the meat you leave the bones in there and add veggies and water and that will make stock? I thought there was more to it than that! Very easy!

        • angel says:

          Yep. I add a little vinegar too, which helps some of the calcium in the bones to get into the stock.

        • Allison says:

          Yes, that is it! I just take it out of the crockpot whole and remove the skin and bones and then put those back in with the veggies and water. The next morning, I strain the both out and discard the veggies. Once it cools in the fridge, you can remove the fat from the top and put it in jars/bags in the freezer (it will be like gelatin). You can save the fat in a container and use it to stir fry cabbage/onion/broccoli (or whatever you have on hand) with some ginger powder and then add rice and soy sauce mixed with some honey for fried rice. Delicious and only costs pennies. Cabbage lasts forever in the fridge and I use only a little frozen broccoli chopped small.

        • Oh, chicken broth is sooo easy! I always thought it was super complicated, but it’s totally not. I haven’t purchase canned broth in almost 2 years now.

          Laura at Heavenly Homemakers has an awesome tutorial with pictures:

          http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/homemade-chicken-broth

      • Amy says:

        An awesome way to do this is to keep a gallon bag in your freezer, and whenever you have onion, celery and carrot scraps, throw them In the freezer bag. Then when you’re ready to make stock, you already have the veggies!

      • Caroline says:

        Another good way is to Rotissere that chicken first or use pre-cooeked one from the deli. (The price is sometimes no more than a raw chicken and they cook it for you!) I got a rotissere accidentally from freecycle (thought I was getting a George Foreman grill.) But it makes a nice meal that tastes “special”. Then proceed as above. I save poultry fat to use in place of butter whenever possible – biscuits, bread, stir-fry, etc. This saves a considerable amount of money, one of the reasons I have rarely purchased chicken breasts.

  • I’ve found it helpful to make my own mixes – like seasoning mixes, baking mixes, etc. rather than buying them already made. I also make our yogurt in the crockpot which saves a lot of money! Having a menu plan is key – with a plan, I have been able to feed our family of 4 on $50 a week!

    Also, I recommend stocking up on items that are a good buy, as much as your budget will allow!

    Here’s the really easy taco seasoning mix that we use all the time:
    http://myongoingprojects.com/?p=15

  • Susan says:

    I feed my family of five and a cat on $120 a week, or $24 per week per person, and this includes all toiletries, cat food, cat litter, paper products, etc. Sometimes it is tight but we eat well and have treats every day. We do go out to eat one or two meals (breakfast, lunch or dinner — but not all 3!) every week. Life is for living, after all!

    • Rachel says:

      That is a great budget for your family. I think the person asking this question is on a small fixed budget. The probably don’t have extra money to go out to eat much.

      I have decided to raise my budget for a family of four from 250 to about 300. And than decrease it 1-3% each month like Crystal suggests. I want to see how low I can get it without sacrificing our needs. We need to start seeds inside for our garden; this will definently help.

      • Susan says:

        Yes — we do use restaurant.com certificates when we can buy them for pennies on the dollar and buy-one-get-one specials. My kids laugh because they know that if there is not a coupon or special deal, we don’t go! My point was that we spend less than the $30 the OP wanted to spend — it’s definitely doable! We tried on less, but it was too much to keep up with for me (I work full time), and this is a good number for us.

  • Caroline says:

    Our family goal for 12 people is $150/wk. I don’t always make it, and things like pull ups stretch the budget quite a bit, but that is my goal. For years my husband and I lived on a $100/mth budget and ate quite comfortably. Food has gone up since then, but I think the principles I used then are what help me to continue feeding my family now with much less thought. If a meal is going to cost over $10, then I don’t make it. Period. If I aim at spending less than $1 per person per meal (less for breakfast and lunch), then I fond we stay afloat. We splurge much less on food now then I did back then… gone are things like juice… but we still eat a very healthy and nutritious diet.

  • Alyssa says:

    I’m so thankful to see a post on a grocery budget this small! I sometimes get discouraged, because even the “tight” budgets people post about aren’t as tight as ours (just $150/month for our family of 4 (though one is just a baby and is still nursing)). With very careful planning, it is definitely possible! We certainly don’t eat gourmet, nor as much organic as I would like, but we do eat balanced and healthy. One thing I find to be very beneficial is to rarely serve a portion of meat by itself. For example, if I were to serve baked chicken breasts, my husband could eat 2-3 breasts himself. But, if I shred the meat to serve as a taco filling, for instance, I can bake just 3 breasts for the whole family. Also consider that with just one person eating the sample menu Crystal put together, there will probably be peanut butter and jelly left over, so that won’t have to be purchased again the next week–something else can take its place, like a $1 or less box of pasta, to work toward a stockpile!

  • Brenda says:

    You can do it! When I was single and in college I had about $40 a month to spend on groceries, and some how I managed. My parents would bring a few groceries now and then, and my boyfriend (now husband) would treat me out to special meals, but overall I was super frugal I did it!

  • Sarah says:

    I do think you can leave on $30 a week. My husband, two kids (4 and 9) and myself live on $50 a week and sometimes we have money leftover. For us the major thing that has helped us is simple meals and a menu plan. I purposely make sure that we have leftovers at least one night and also do breakfast for dinner one night (homemade pancakes, eggs, fresh fruit smoothies). If you meal plan, you can make sure you stay in budget. For any of the “fun” items that can hit your budget hard, I make them from scratch (i.e. cookies, muffins, doughnuts, etc.). For snacks, we usually have fruit, yogurt, smoothies or homemade trail mix. By not buying prepackaged foods, you can save a ton. You might also want to have at least two nights be meatless nights, since meat can be on the more expensive side. Don’t let people convince you that you can’t eat healthy on less money; it totally can be done!!

  • Christina says:

    Great job crystal! How inspiring. I am going to rethink my grocery list to see if I can simplify for awhile. We are paying off our last $6000 in debt, expecting a baby this fall, and possibly getting a job change and moving. So anything we can stockpile in the emergency fund would be great.

  • Becky says:

    I know I have found in the past, that if I had the time, which not everyone does, pancake mix can be another alternative that’s pretty cheap. I did it in college. I would mix together the apparipriate amount d powder and water and it would last me two or three days in the fridge. That one box lasted me quite a while. Not as healthy as oatmeal but it’s a pretty good meal 🙂

  • Bethany says:

    You can do it! We eat a balanced diet on about $20/person/week, including toiletries, paper products, diapers for multiple bedwetters and a baby, etc. Do you have a bread outlet nearby, something like Franz or Orowheat? If you hit their close date rack, then you can score good bread for very little money. Just get as much as you can and pop it in the freezer.

    If you buy a couple spendier purchases each month, but rotate which items those are, then it will all balance out in the long run. For example, I spend about $13 for a 25# bag of oats, but then I don’t have to buy oats for quite a while. So, the money I’m *not* spending on oats the next month can be spent on stocking up on something else.

    Bulk purchases are often less expensive per pound, but I realize you may not have the wiggle room to make a bigger purchase. Perhaps you could split a bulk purchase with someone else. You’d both get a better deal per pound, but neither of you would bust your budget in the process.

  • Chelsea says:

    Yes, it is! Our monthly goal for groceries, diapers, and toiletries is $125 a month (family of 3.) I have found the 3 most vital practices for sticking within our budget are couponing/playing the drugstore game, creating a meal plan and sticking to it, and planning extremely simple (but still nutritious) meals. I have also applied many more of MSM’s tips for lowering my grocery budget (it’s a series on her blog), and they really have helped! Keep trying by applying one or two practices at a time and eventually it will get easier. 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    This was ever-so helpful. This is currently my situation, and I have been trying to do this. Thanks for the extra tips!

  • Challice says:

    Our budget is $40 for a family of 5. (well, Mommy is eating for 2 right now. ;))

    I just want to chime in and say its very hard but very possible! Prayer is a wonderful thing. Some weeks its so easy just to be lazy but not so easy at the end of the month when there is no cash in the envelope.

    Its so much better not to grocery shop weekly. Try to do every other week.

    Make a menu. Look at your ad and see whats on sale. Find out when your stores discount their meat. Ours discounts ground beef to $1.49# every tuesday and thursday mornings. (Ground beef is reg. $2.99 sale here, gulp. Chicken is not much cheaper at $1.99# sale 😛 and I know that can be comparitivly (sp?) cheaper than some places)

    Keep your meals simple. I am not saying Renee’ you do this but often when I give out advice (that has been asked for by people) I am often amazed at the fact that people still want to create some amazing dishes on a limited budget. It just may not be the season to do that right now. That’s ok! 🙂

    It may not be possible to stock up when things are on sale. Honestly, and this probably wont apply for most, I cant. We have such a diet that does not allow wheat/gluten OR beans. 😛 But I do try to buy at least 1 extra pantry item to stock up on. One extra bag of rice one week, one extra can of tomatoes. BUT these are put aside as if I didnt have them. Last week they had an AMAZING deal on canned veggies. Canned veggies are typically on sale (store brand) for .79c They had Libby’s for 4/$3 with a $1 catalina wyb 4. I had a $1/4 coupon and a Albertson’s twice the value coupon (which will double man. coupons up to $1. Its the only doubles our town does and you are limited to 2 or 3… unless you are like me that goes around the neighborhood asking if anyone is going to use the doublers they got in the mail ;)) so I paid 4/$1 on canned veggies. We went without meat that week. I stocked up probably 20 cans. There are a few things we do canned veggies over fresh. But the idea is that you can do something similar when a sale comes up. Go without milk that week if you need too. Water is good for you. 🙂

    Also look for any other ways you can cut spending in yoru other categories. Can you use less gas one week? Just throwing that one out, I imagine not but thing outside the box. At first I always think, “No way! We’re barely getting such and such in our envelopes.” But over time I see a little light through the tunnel. Our electricity bill is $3 less this month. I was able to put $35 instead of $40 in our van this week and it DID last more than 2 weeks!

    I need to stop here and feed a newborn but wanted to add that its very easy for me to type this up with information… but some days I am at the end of my rope trying to make everything work out. I just want to cry. And then I pray. Sometimes my friend is soo willing to barter some of my free toothpaste/shampoo/etc for leftovers in her fridge. She cant eat them fast enough, or people dont like the leftovers and its such a blessing. Just keep trying. Dont give up. It wont be something that comes easy… it wont be something that changes overnight. Over the weeks… months… even years, you’ll learn little bit more and a little bit more and soon you will be able to give advice to others… but still ever learning yourself.

    • Donna says:

      You do very well!
      Praying- good advice. I always pray before I shop…while preparing lists, looking at sale prices on line, clipping coupons, and then before backing out of the driveway. God is able to provide exceedingly, abundantly, above all that I ask or think!

      • angel says:

        What a GREAT post!
        And bartering with neighbors for leftovers.. what a wonderful idea! I try and share ours when I know we will have too much, but never really thought about just how much of a blessing it would be to those who are struggling!
        <3 you girly!

      • Danielle says:

        Donna, love this idea of praying before you shop, menu plan, organize the trip, etc. I am going to have to do this to. because it is so true!

    • jay says:

      Challice,
      I agree with you. I have been couponing for nearly 2 years now. Early this year, we decided to do the cash system for paying for stuff (after I gave hubby back his credit card and now lay out $240 for gas and groceries/month). When I went to prepay for gas at BJ’s (usually the cheapest), they didn’t know how to, but I was able to use $60 for two weeks to put gas in (not fill up) and currently I have a 1/2 tank left. Normally, I could have easily swiped my card and driven all over but I am very conscious at nearly $4 a gallon to drive less. Yup, a little more TV time, coloring time, play with your toys time and yup lets get creative….

      But I agree, the idea of $35 instead of $40 for gas, the drop the bill $3 adds up.

  • missy says:

    we spend almost $100/week for a family of 5! That includes food, all the paper products, personal items/care, dog/cat food, sometimes bullets (lol)! And sometimes we have money left over:) Also, laundry soap, dish soap, dishwasher soap, etc….I always go to Aldi’s first and then to Walmart. We live 1/2 from town and shop every 2 wks so i try to get all i can. Sometimes we run out…like now we are comepletely out of cereal, but that’s ok because I’m going stir crazy:) But menu planning is the biggest saver there is, along with making a list! I write out my menu and then add what I need to my list! Sometimes I’ll buy stuff not on my list if it’s a good price!

    • missy says:

      I forgot to add that if you live by Kwik Trip they have eggs, milk, bread for cheaper than Aldi’s…..Also, around here we have a Mennonite store that sells organic and things in bulk for cheaper. They also butcher meat. So check around your area to see what they have to offer!

  • Liz says:

    Canned tuna, canned salmon, and eggs are protein sources that are inexpensive that we use in our menu regularly. They run about $1, $2 and $1.50 a can or dozen respectively here, and a dozen eggs can make quite a few meals. I also buy whole grain pasta and brown rice for about $1.50 a pound to add whole grains. Carrots, cabbage and cauliflour are for most parts of the year under $1 a pound here so they are good fresh produce fill ins, and apples at certain parts of the year are 3 lbs for $1. If you are willing to make your own pear or apple sauce when they are in season and freeze or can it you have great choices in the off season.
    You can definitely live off that budget, with some research and sale shopping. We spend around $75 a week for three people and that includes all paper products and cleaning stuff.

    • Beth says:

      I agree with your list- I’d add potatoes- sweet potatoes or white to that list.

      • jay says:

        My MIL brought us a bamboo steamer. I thought she was crazy.

        My child loves veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, soy beans, etc) that are steamed (ok, or grilled). Now I fully believe anyone who doesn’t steam is crazy. :)– ok, maybe not completely, but steaming does a delicious way to keep veggies eaten and nutricious.

  • Crystal I love this post!! My family of 4 eat on $75/ week but that’s because we eat out once or twice a week. There are some weeks where we don’t spend the full amount. Once you build a cash reserve (setting aside the $5) for those”can’t miss rock bottom prices” you will be all set. I purchase all of my fruits and veggies from an ethnic grocery store and can score all of our fresh foods for less than $5. maybe you have one in your area.

  • Taking advantage of free offers (lotions, shampoo, etc.) can help stretch the HBA items to allow a dollar or two to go towards stocking food. Swagbucks is great for Amazon gift cards, which can be used to purchase food; Recyclebank offers great coupons, which also can be used for food.

    Just last week I was able to get a box of Kashi cereal for $1 at Target with a Recyclebank coupon. That box would last a week and save $1 over the oatmeal, which you could then put towards stocking up, or buying another box for the pantry!

  • Brandi says:

    My best advice for this is shop Aldi, if there is one in your area. This being said, know what is a good deal and what is not, both Aldis and other places. On sale at WalMart often still isn’t less than Aldi regular priced. This just takes some time. I spend $50 a week on my husband and myself, so that is $25 per person. You can do it!!!

  • Jan says:

    Buy a whole chicken or at least split fryer parts when they are on sale- don’t waste your money on boneless skinless chicken breasts they are way over-priced and you will get a lot more meals out of one whole roasted chicken plus you can make soup with the left overs. In my opinion- split chicken breasts with the bone in and skin on taste the best!

    • Jan says:

      Eggs are also pretty economical you can sometimes find them for $1 a doz.

    • Andrea says:

      I agree with buying a whole chicken or parts.

      The bagged chicken breasts are convenient and fairly affordable, but they are typically injected with a salt water solution. We don’t need extra salt and I don’t want to pay extra for salt water.

  • stephanie B says:

    as a friend told me once, “every meal does not have to be a party in your mouth!” it’s true! we forget that food is there to nourish us and give us energy, it doesn’t always have to be a gourmet affair. great tips! thanks 🙂

    • Anne says:

      I don’t want to listen to you….la la la la la 🙂

      This post has me thinking about how I can work in a few weeks of this kind of menu planning over the summer. Or at least designating a certain number of very frugal menu dinners every month and tuck the savings into our teenager’s college funds. Thanks!

    • Liz says:

      Stephanie B:
      This made me laugh. You are SO right! My husband always says “Food is JUST fuel, that’s all.”

      • Donna says:

        Love that comment Liz!
        My older kids tell my younger kids similar things when there’s something on their plate that they’re not particularly fond of. And then add; “It’s just food. Eat it and be done with it!” 😉

  • Kristina says:

    You can totally do it! My little family of 3 lives on $20/week and that includes groceries, toiletries, diapers, everything! It takes time and great sites like this to make sure you’re getting rock bottom deals and stocking up on freebies when you can. Keep a price list so you know where you can get things the cheapest and be open to store brands! Aldi and Bottom Dollar are great for cheap produce prices. You can often get frozen veggies for $1 or less, too. And like Crystal said get used to rice and beans – soon enough your stockpile will add up and you won’t be eating it all of the time! Then just keep saving every extra dollar you can find whether in your grocery budget or elsewhere and put it aside for those really great deals that you want to stock up on. Good luck!

    • Donna says:

      I love Aldi eggs too!!!
      They go from .39 to .69 a dozen here in TN.
      Great source of cheap protein!

      • Kristina says:

        WOW! I’ve never seen eggs that cheap! Aldi’s around here just lowered them to .79 which I thought was great. And you’re so right, a great source of cheap protein. I’ve got an egg recipe (Migas from Pioneer woman) that I love to make for dinner, I’ve been making egg salad a lot lately, good ol hard boiled eggs and of course super yummy deviled eggs!

        • Donna says:

          Kristina,
          I have seen some very old cookbooks that had recipes for various casseroles. They would have noodles, veggies, and some sort of cream (dairy, gravy-like, or tomato) and top these with sliced boiled eggs. No meat!

          Quiche and frittata are both easy dishes to use eggs as the main for lunches and dinners. 🙂

      • Oh my goodness. They are $1.59 in Topeka right now. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them that low either.

      • april says:

        eggs for .69 a dozen!!!! I go crazy when I can find them for 1.00 here in SW Mo…i was kind of disappointed aldi;s today had them at 1.29(2 weeks ago they were 1.19) but it’s still cheaper than 1.98 at walmart

        • Donna says:

          Gosh girls! I’m sorry- you two wanna move down here with me? 😉

        • lizajane says:

          We’re in SW Missouri too, and we also have several Amish around us that sell eggs when they aren’t selling to the hatchery. One told me last week they had pullet eggs (much smaller than regular) for 30 cents a dozen. I didn’t need them since I get mine for free from a family member. They have small regular eggs sometimes for 50 cents a dozen. You might be too far away from them to get those deals, but it doesn’t hurt to ask around.

          • april says:

            I’m in Springfield so there’s no great deals like that here 🙁

            Even at the Farmer’s market they are usually $3/dozen and going through 5 dozen or so a week, that’s not very economical

          • lizajane says:

            April – I work in Springfield so maybe we can work something out, especially if you’re going thru 5 dozen a week! Not sure how I’d contact you, unless Crystal can work some magic behind the scenes to give you my email address.

  • Jan says:

    One other tip we used when both me and my husband were out of work- see if there is a church near you that has a free or lost cost meal- sometimes called a soup kitchen- we would have Sunday lunch at a Chinese congregation for $2 a person and it was a nice meal- rice, steamed vegatables and chicken or pork- plus you get to meet some interesting people. Our church also hands out food once a week if you are unemployed or something we have had to use that too- I make sure I donate back now.

  • Barb says:

    Buy whatever meats and vegetables are on sale and use coupons on other sale items. Grow a garden or get extras from friends who garden. Pick your own berries and fruit in season(sometimes you can glean after the season for free). Cook and bake from scratch after you have stocked up on basics.

  • Bonnie says:

    Thanks for this post! We have been married for 27 years and raising children for as many, and I can still say that the most economical way to shop is to stay mostly in the perimeter of the store–produce, meats, dairy, and bread. Venture into the aisles for pasta, oatmeal, flour/meal, seasonings…maybe very few prepared items like ketchup, mustard. We live and eat well on very little considering there are 10 of us…14, soon to be 15 :-), on Sundays.
    I love these kinds of tips! You and your readers ROCK!

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It really inspires me to simplify. We’re a family of 6. We have my husband, myself, and 4 boys 14, 12, 5, and 3. We eat a whole foods diet. (mostly 🙂 ) We normally spend an average $20 – $30 dollars per person a week. However we’re about to buy a half a cow and today I’ve been building a menu to give us the wiggle room to do so and not go over budget. This was a very timely post for me!

  • Mandy Griffith says:

    Thanks for the great tips. It’s even more challenging on a budget when you have multiple food allergies as i do–but you gave me some great inspiration. I love your website! Thanks for all the hard work!

    • jay says:

      Mandy, if it helps, I find it better* to shop with food allergies. My son has a very serious all nut allergies. That allieviates us from buying extra candy, snacks, prepared meals, drinks. Mind you the pseudo peanut butter we use is pricy (as low as $5.99 on sale), we are eating much fresher foods and much much less non filling foods. I cursed the allergy when we first discovered it, but now I find it to be a blessing.
      *It is not easier — realize that there are foods you want or love and can’t have, but the internet has other options for food that makes up for it (I feel your pain)

      • Mandy Griffith says:

        I have found that too! If you can’t have it you can’t buy it! That helps. Thanks for the great tips!

  • Heather B says:

    You can absolutely do it! About 5 years ago (before I got myself out of debt–thank you Dave Ramsey) I got my paycheck, made all my bill payments, including bare-minimums on my 5 credit cards, and at the end of all that I had $10 left for food–and that needed to last TWO WEEKS. No joke. I called a frugal friend (Thank GOODNESS for her!) and she told me to get the following: a dozen eggs, a bag of $1 spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, ramen soup, frozen veggies and cheap canned fruit. I had some other “stuff” in the house (crackers, frozen meat that I had NO clue how long was in my freezer), so that supplemented my small budget. I survived. I made it two entire weeks. And that experience was such a catalyzing moment in my life–it has been my personal life goal to NEVER feel that feeling ever again. But knowing it’s do-able is also a comfort. I have no doubt that you can do it, too!

  • vmarir says:

    Love this article. My husband and I and our infant ( table food )eat well on about 35 a week.. the local store by us always has potato 5 lb bags on sale for 1.99-2.99 and onions for under 2.00 a bad. Those are always incorporated into meals. Usually a bag will last for 3 meals to 5 meals depending. I also buy carrots at around 1.99 for a 3 lb bag. We spend around 3-4 bucks each day on the main parts sometimes less and eat leftovers for lunch and breakfast is oatmeal, cereal or fruit . We buy chicken quarters which are dirt cheap and do it with tomatoes and spices over pasta ( buy one get one ) or in the oven with potatos onions and carrots . Ramen noodles are about .39 a piece or les s and we make those an add butter no spices for a quick cheap lunch. Soups also freeze well and u can make a ton of it with some grilled cheese sandwhiches for dinner or lunch. Just to bring another element

  • Mary says:

    I would also suggest using any “extra” money that comes in to build a stockpile. Maybe from a couple extra hours at work, some online surveys, pet or baby sitting, etc. $20 to buy several pounds of meat at a rock bottom sale price will do so much to help your budget.

  • Great ideas!
    Definitely doable 🙂

    I’ll need to use these tips next year when I have an apartment.

  • Rae says:

    I have had that as a grocery budget for our family of four- but have used them in addition to what’s still in the cupboards. Last week, I had a $20 grocery budget that went like this:

    2.50 milk
    1.20 eggs
    1.00 2 lbs of rice (from bulk)
    $5.00 for doz. chicken thighs
    $5.00 for block of cheese

    This left just shy of $5 for produce, where you can get carrots, potatoes, spinach etc cheaply, or follow the sales…

    It didn’t cover EVERYthing, but it made what we had already stretch for even longer. Hillbilly housewife has a LOT of recipes on her site for stretching money and eating cheaply and well.

    Good luck! It takes research, but you can do this!

    • Donna says:

      Rae, you did really good!!!

      • Rae says:

        Thank you! I have to admit that on weeks like that I pray on the ride over that I’ll make the most of what I have, and it never fails that I use all but 20-30 cents.

        • Donna says:

          Yes! Praying is a necessity on this issue. I’ve watched the Lord direct my steps over and over, while grocery shopping. Sometimes leading me to places I never go only to find mark down produce etc. Once I found strawberries 2/$1. I bought extra to make homemade jam for cheaper than I could every buy it. Another time I bought a HUGE leg of lamb for $10…I bought 2 and praised the Lord all the way home! One was so big that it fed my family for a week!

        • Linda G. says:

          My friend just mentioned to me the other night that she holds up her grocery money to the Lord and asks Him to bless it and He surely does! I have forgotten to do so but those words have echoed in my ears ever since.

  • Michele says:

    I think Crystal’s plan is great, but I probably wouldn’t save $5 for the first few weeks. I would add in a dozen eggs ($1.50), another fruit that is in season like strawberries ($1.50) and some cheese ($2). This will allow you to have more variety for the first week (mix up oatmeal breakfasts with scrambled eggs or cheese omelettes). You can even eat eggs for dinner and save some chicken for the following week. I think if you use the whole $30 for the first 3 or 4 weeks, you will be able to build up more variety so for week two you can maybe buy ground beef. And then you could have chicken one or two nights with ground beef for a few nights. By adding in eggs the first week, you would have oatmeal left over for week 2, so you could buy something else to add variety to your breakfasts for week 2.

    I say this because we recently moved, and I went back to our old house for a few days to clean out. There was no food in the house, and I didn’t want to eat out, so I went food shopping. It was hard to do it cheaply because I had no base supply. Normally, I’d have no problem spending say $50 for me and my three kids for a week, but starting from the beginning with no food on hand, $50 did not go far. That’s why I’d spend the full $30 the first few weeks before putting money aside to do bulk or special deals buying.

  • Donna says:

    Great post and sample list!

    I see you use rice and beans.
    My family loves rice and bean burritos!

    Ever eat masa flour?
    I made a porridge of it today for breakfast. It cost me .12 cents for 5 servings! (Plus sweeteners.)
    http://momsfrugal.blogspot.com/2012/04/atole-masa-porridge.html

  • LeaDawn says:

    $30 a week is definitely do-able, but it does take planning. Our budget is $150 per month for our family of 3. $50 of that is for stock-up items (like great deals on meat and other freezable or non-perishables).I only go grocery shopping once every 2 weeks (unless there is a great deal). The week I go shopping we eat more fresh fruits and vegies. The second week we eat a lot more frozen or canned items.

    We have a fairly simple menu. Most of the items we eat are made from the pantry. We buy flour, sugar, wheat, oatmeal, and rice in bulk which saves us a lot. We rarely buy processed or pre-made type meals or items.

    When I make my shopping list, I look through my list of favorite meals (12 or 14 meal ideas) and make sure I have everything for those meals. Since we have a decent stockpile and many of the meals contain similar ingredients, I usually only have to buy 1 or 2 items per meal to complete it.

  • Great post Crystal. I think that $30 sounds like a small amount, especially when if you go into a store and just start throwing things in your cart it can add up very quickly.

    Buying produce in season is huge. Plus buy produce that you can really stretch, Kale for example is so super cheap and so healthy too.

    I also would suggest buying a whole chicken, cutting it into pieces and then boiling the bones in water with onions, carrots, celery to make your own stock. Then you can use leftover chicken and veggies from another meal to make a soup- add pasta or rice to make it more filling.

    If you find something with a really good price, be sure to ask yourself if you will even eat it. I know something that is normally $7 on sale for $1 sounds great, but its a waste if you won’t touch it.

  • jay says:

    I have fallen in love with Aldi’s. I guess you could compare shop at Walmart, but I am not a fan.
    for $2.80 this week (I only had a few $$ left over from last week’s cash grocery bill).. I got 2 bags of carrots, 1lb of strawberries and 5 bananas. Now, about 5 meals w/ strawberries and carrots are wildly versitle (bake, slow cook them, soup them, raw, etc etc)…

  • Hannah says:

    My grocery budget is $75-$100 per week for a family of nine which will soon be ten in August. It was $50-$75 per week, but we relocated temporarily for my husband’s job, and because the cost of living is higher in our new location, I had to adjust. We eat organic and natural foods as well as follow a Gluten free diet. We also raise many of our own foods as well. In addition, we also barter/trade with others. For instance, currently we have an abundance of eggs and fresh goat milk. If a neighbor has lettuce or butter or cheese or meat, we may trade eggs for what we need. We have also traded labor. Last year our neighbor raised meat chickens on our property. Then, using our chicken harvesting equipment and help from my husband and sons, the neighbor harvested the chickens. He very generously gave us half of the meat harvested! I have also given away canned goods to people who want to learn to can and come help me with the process. The budget includes toiletries, diapers (we mostly use cloth), vitamins, as well as groceries. When we were in TN I shopped in closeout stores and for mark downs in the regular store as well as using coupons. There were weeks in the winter when our garden harvest was finished when I did not even spend $25 and would have fresh fruit and veggies as well as some meat. I usualky do mot spend much at all on groceries once our garden is in full swing. It is much more difficult here in MI to find great deals, but we are getting by. I am always on the lookout for mark downs and hope one day to discover a closeout store in MI like the United Grocery Outlet in the South. Before I was married, I spent well less than $30 per week and ate nearly 100% local, natural, and/or organic foods (1998-2000). In 2000 I was married (still in college) and my grocery bill went up a little, but was still under $50 per week. Therefore, to answer your question, YES, I believe a person CAN live on $30 a week or less for groceries and still eat well. You may just have to work a little harder and be more creative, but it is worth the effort!!!

  • Michelle K says:

    For sure! I feed my family of 8 (with 4 eating like adults) for $75-$100 a week. That includes 1 baby in diapers, 1 kid in pullups and another in goodnights, and all toiletries. It can be done when you put your mind to it!

  • Donna says:

    Can Renee do any gardening?

    We ate fresh turnip greens from our garden last night. That one meal more than paid for the seeds and we will likely have tons of them and maybe enough to freeze!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Where we live, I am not sure you could eat healthfully on $30 a week. Unless you grew all your veggies and fruit and had chickens. Maybe… I notice that many of the grocery stores on this site are not ones we have and we do not get such great sales. Even with couponing and the ocassional double coupon days…not even then. And we really cannot compare prices to what they were even 2 years ago, much less 7 or 8 years ago!! The cost has gone up significantly most places we go. If you ate vegetarian, maybe you would come closer to eating on that amount, especially if you ate mostly beans and rice and made everything from scratch…maybe! I appreciate the helps on this site, but sometimes we are not living in very comparable places I have found!! We live on the East Coast and travel some in other states, plus ocassional visits to Washington state and Idaho…so that is our experience.

    • Amanda L says:

      I was just going to post something similar Elizabeth! Some of the prices people are posting for items are not even close to what we’d pay here. I shop sales and coupon as much as I can, but we live in a higher priced area. I think $30 is doable here, but its not easy. Prayer and having a good attitude go a long way, but we can only do so much about the prices. With the cost of everything constantly going up, it seems like we need more money for food, but there is less money to go around.

    • Wendy says:

      Ditto here Elizabeth. Some of these prices that others are posting are unrealistic in our area. A gallon of milk for $2.50, peanut butter for $1 is not fit to eat. This is one thing I think you can’t scrimp on. I agree you could manage a few healthy meals, but would have to supplement with ramen noodles or some other cheap item. Also there wouldn’t be much variety at breakfast or lunch.

      • Crystal says:

        Yes, like I mentioned, some of the prices will vary by area. I gave approximate prices that I know to be pretty standard for much of the U.S. — especially if you shop at the dollar store and buy store brands and/or what’s on a good sale.

        This is not meant to be a long-term plan, but I shared it to show that it is possible to eat for $25 per week to provide some wiggle room to be able to invest in higher-quality products so that, over time, you’re able to eat much better. Many times, short-term sacrifices can propel you to much more long-term success.

        And a committed can-do attitude, even when you’re barely squeaking by, can take you a long way!

        • Elizabeth says:

          Glad to see you are calling this a short term plan!! Obviously, you can eat cheaper and get away with it, if not for terribly long…even in higher priced areas. We currently live in an area that is one of the higher priced resorts in USA. Soon hubby will retire and we will go elsewhere, one place has at least many of the different types of grocery stores you feature on your site, which should help.

          One not so healthy treat we enjoy at times, cheap but yummy, and I make it healthIER at least. Make up a package of ramen type noodles (one with the flavorings)…get it to the point that the noodles are broken apart and cooking, mix in flavor packet, lower the heat, drop in some eggs, put lid on and simmer at low heat for 7 or more minutes, depending on how cooked you like your eggs, and the size of the eggs. Then meanwhile, in small skillet stir fry some veggies (we like the oriental types and try to get them on sale at Harris Teeter, when it is b1g1 and I use about a half package). When finished divide contents into bowls and dump veggies on top!! This feeds the 2 of us very well. Might be enough for 2 adults and 1-2 children too.
          Elizabeth in NC

          • Wendy says:

            I replied to your comment above Elizabeth and I live in NC too. No wonder we both thought these prices unrealistic.

          • Elizabeth says:

            Well, hello Neighbor Wendy…yea, no wonder. We moved here almost 9 years ago (to be closer to family) and before we came everything we researched online said it was cheaper to live here than where we were in Washington state. Has that ever been a laugh!! What is sad is that NC is one of the poorer states as to income too…hubby often tells me he does not know how those who are not paid as well as he is can possibly survive. If you were a snowbird, we do get very little snow here and not every year, so MAYBE in the winter it is cheaper than some northern states, but groceries have always been so high. Things do NOT grow well here, we think the the soil is bad. Some do grow crops and succeed, much better than most home gardeners anyway. There is a veggie and fruit coop that has begun but last year it was about $27 a week for a small portion. Not all organic, but mostly. We live nearly an hour from an Aldis, Target, etc. We do have Walmart, but generally not very good produce, and not much organic. (I have seen them playing with the apples, throwing them into place…sigh). And my hubby who has shopped with me the last couple of years, laughed when I told him about $30 a week…his words: “You wouldn’t be eating healthy on THAT.” I have gotten some canned goods at dollar stores, but that is about it. We go up to Costco about 4 -6 times a year for a few bulk items. If our family was still at home, it would be work going monthly I think!! I am encouraged that there are still evidently a few places in the country that you can live more cheaply than we can here. One of the best ways we have found to save money here is to turn off our hot water heater, as it saves us probably 40% or more on that bill…a single person or couple should be able to do as we do. We do not run the dish washer or washing machine but about every 2-3 days and unless it is very cold, the water will remain hot enough for a short shower for at least 2 straight days. Keeping the thermostat at cooler in winter and warmer in summer helps too. To me that makes more sense as a way to save money, over scrimping on basic food.

            • Crystal says:

              Have you considered a once-a-month or once every other month stock up trip to Aldi? It may save you a lot of money — and be worth the extra cost in gas.

              You’d want to calculate things out, but if you’ve not considered it, I’d highly recommend that you do — especially if you have a freezer. I’m guessing you may be able to save $100 per month or more by making a trip there once every month or every other month to stock up on supplies.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Your suggestion about traveling monthly to do Aldis, would probably help others without our food constraints!! I have many food allergies, plus diabetes…so we read labels and when you do, you do not find many OK things in general. But we also shop Amazon, Vitacost, etc. for sales on special items we need which also helps. We have a small local health food store and they try to keep some things cheaper, even that are organic, such as apples and veggies. Cooking more from scratch helps as most people know. I got hubby to change to Almond Milk too, which is cheaper than organic lactaid milk here and he likes it ok. I have read it is actually higher in calcium too. He grew up on powdered milk, which obviously is not such a good choice for children (at least I think some of his health issues stem from some of the food lacks of his childhood). Not to say you must have milk, but you must get protein SOMEPLACE!! I do appreciate all the ideas people have presented here as with retirement looming soon, we need to cut back a lot more in many areas!!

  • jennifer says:

    sometimes they have small steaks at dollar tree great for one person

  • It is posssible! I feed 8 people for $100 a month, and that includes stocking up on bulk items to save money.

    I have 4 1/2 months of menus at that price with recipes as well. There are recipes for soups, recipes with beans (not just beans and rice), French bread for .25 a loaf, desserts, and more.

    We don’t have an Aldi’s nor do the stores do double coupons here. Often we have nothing to spend on food. In January, I had some Christmas money from my grandma. I used $35 towards food. That’s all I bought in January, and with it I bought 50 pounds of oats. That will last us a while, and it means feeding the family for breakfast for .22 for EVERYONE (not per person).

    There are ways to get food even if you have nothing to spend at all. I have information on that on my site, too.

    You can do it!

    • Allison says:

      Congrats on your new addition, Brandy! Hope you are doing well. Brandy’s site is great and will really inspire you to use what you have and cook frugally.

    • lyss says:

      Please don’t think me critical, because I know that you seriously make do with very little. But I’m curious how you budget things like seeds for your garden and the water for it. Last summer we spent somewhere around $200/month just to water our lawn, so unless you use rain water or something, watering a garden is a big expense! I’m sure what you save on produce makes it worth it, but I’m curious how you budget that when you don’t have $.

      • Donna says:

        Lyss, Save seeds from the year before. Let things ‘go to seed’ and keep and store them. There’s trading places online too. Free for the stamp!

    • Andrea says:

      Your suggestions are great for families, but it isn’t reasonable for one person to buy 25 pounds of oatmeal at a time. Buying in bulk saves a lot of money, but when you’re feeding only one or two, some bulk foods will spoil before being used up.

  • Sporksoma says:

    Would love to get milk for $2.50. Even the antibiotic-full, hormone-full, unhealthiest possible runs $4/gallon here on the MS Gulf Coast. The organic milk that we do buy is $5/gallon.

  • vmarir says:

    I already contributed but just found my ‘after’ budget for last week which means it reflects exactly what we spent .and ate
    Chicken quarters. Three were 3.29 one package another was 2.99 2 packages . Shake and bake 1.00 on sale bananas were .49 lb sale bought 3 lb carrots were on sale .49 a lb I bought two lbs potatoes 5 lb bag was 1.99 chicken breast I got just around 2 breasts for right around 3.00 bread for 1.00 on sale . Half lb ham ( on sale for 1.99lb ) , cheese, I ask by slice. One slice a day plus 3 for extras comes out to be under 1.25 paid around a buck . Pork chops there were 5 th in cutlets for 4.53 and a 3,lb bag of onions for 1.89 bought 4 apples for about 1.50 I bought Apple butter cuz oblige it and I splurged at 2.79 but that will last over a month for th ings like breakfast I bought one large green pepper .79
    Meals. Mon. Breakfast . Banal for hubby and a quarter of banana for son with oatmeal. Had ,(bought in bulk on sale ) Crock pot chicken with can tomatoes and seasonings. Had both . Lunch that day was a sandwhich for hubby and for me had some leftovers from night before . Tues same breakfast all three cept I skipped cuz rushing and lunch was leftover chicken for me and hubby a sandwhich . Dinner was pork chops with rice I had . Wed. Apple butter toastvfor me . Hubby Apple son Apple . Lunch. Left over pork chops . Dinner was chicken stir fryv wig onion and green pepper over rice I had. I made 5 of the potatos in to baked potatos tonight for lunchesb Thursday breakfast same as day before. Lunch for hubby was baked potato I had left over stir fry and forbdinner hubby had left over stir fry and I had a banana some fruit cocktail and Apple butter with toast. Made some ramen for myself to later. Son ate stir fry . I didn’t feel like cooking . Friday . Breakfast. Nothing for hubby and I . Son ate banana purree I made last week in freezer . We were rushing 🙂 lunch for hubby absconded was a 1 menu item from wendys as we had an accountant appt . Dinner was chicken roasted in oven wig potato and onion and carrot.. next day. Fruit and oatmeal breakfast for all. Lunch was the baked potatobfor hubby and a piece of ham for son with half Apple . I made some freezer peroigies I had. Dinner. Chicken roast left over . Breaffast the next morning. Used up the rest of the fruit and had some oatmeal. Lunch we ate some of the extra left overs dinner Onion soup . Spices we had, we had beef bouillion we had and we skipped bread and melted the extra slices of cheese . And had cheese from the week before so we had grilled cheese with it. We do it mostly out of simplicity not frugality but I like the challenge. Sons lunches are not listed cuz he always eats leftovers wig carrot sticks or on & j winh carrot stick . This menu was the simpliest menu we had in a while but mainly cuz nothing was really on Sale 🙂 . I went over ur budget a little but I make my budget 40 and I went way under mine, so I imagine it is possible 🙂 good luck

  • Jessica says:

    Watch on Freecycle if your area participates. I sometimes offer new/unexpired foods that, say, I got 2 boxes and we ate one but didn’t care for it.

    See if you can barter for food. If you have a skill such as knitting or sewing or landscaping, barter it.

    My list would be different.

    I would get:
    Bag rice $1
    Bag pasta $1
    Bag beans $1
    Bag potatoes $3
    3# bag carrots $1
    2# bananas $1
    dozen eggs $1
    bag cheese $1
    loaf bread $1
    peanut butter $1
    Jelly $1
    1 onion $.50
    2 cans tomato sauce $1
    oatmeal $2
    2# apples 1.50
    3 bags of frozen veggies or fresh if less than $1 per pound (think green beans, broccoli, corn on the cob if $.25 or less per ear of corn) $3
    2# of chicken or a discounted whole chicken $4
    tortilla wrappers $1
    =$26
    Breakfasts:
    frozen bananas, oatmeal with diced apples, apple dipped in peanut butter, peanut butter and jelly sandwich

    Lunches:
    fried egg sandwiches, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, chicken soup, baked potato with cheese and broccoli, bean and rice burritos
    Dinners:
    pasta with tomato sauce and veggies
    bean, rice and cheese burritos
    chicken burritos
    chicken and rice with veggies
    loaded baked potatoes
    stir-fry
    mashed potatoes with gravy made from chicken

    • Kristina says:

      This is great!

    • Jessica says:

      Thanks for all the ideas.

    • Sarah says:

      Definitely a great list of staples! But, I am curious where you are shopping since I’m obviously going to the wrong stores! At any of my 3 local grocery stores, that list would cost about $75. A small container of peanut butter is about $4, a bag of cheese is $3, jelly is $3, and a dozen eggs would set me back $2.50. And, the last time I bought a pound of beans I paid over $2. Do you shop at the dollar store, or do I need to move to your part of the country? 🙂

      • Melissa says:

        Seriously, I was wondering the same thing!! lol

      • Jessica says:

        These are items I saw at Dollar Tree, Aldi and Meijer in Ohio.

        In the past, I fed my family of 3 people and 2 cats for $40 per week for everything (cleaning, toiletries, hygiene, cat and people food). When my daughter turned 3, I got pregnant with my son and we increased our budget to $50 per week.

        My son is a big eater at the age of not quite 2! We also started buying beef from my uncle who raises organic pork and beef. My budget is now $60 per week, and I just found out I am pregnant again.

        We eat out once per month, sometimes less often. I budget $25 per month for eating out. When we do eat out, we usually get Chinese food.

        In the past 4 weeks, I’ve gotten eggs for $.88 per dozen, jelly for $.45 after doubled coupon, peanut butter for $1 after coupon and tomato sauce for $.20 per can. I shop loss leaders and stockpile them. So currently I have about 20 cans of tomato sauce and 10 boxes of spaghetti.

        What you see in my shopping cart on my weekly trip would be a little odd and you’d wonder how on earth I could make a meal from it. But that’s how we are able to stick with a budget and still eat organic beef once a week. My husband and 2 kids go through 4 gallons of milk per week alone, which is 15% of our grocery bill right there!

        I do grow a small summer garden but mainly as a hobby with my daughter, not for preserving food.

      • Lauren says:

        Same here!!!

      • Jennifer Ott says:

        I hear you! I struggled with this for a while (in CA, outside Washington DC, and even in the midwest), but I think I could just about do it! I had to learn which stores had the best prices and be willing to go to WalMart… Our produce prices are never that low, but close enough!

  • Laura says:

    Look into local food co-ops. I just google them. My area has 3 two different types. They ask for volunteers, but even that is only for a couple hours and fun.

    • Jennie says:

      And not all coops require you to volunteer anymore. Each coop has their own rules about that. Coops are a good way to save money on organic product. You pay a fee to join, but it’s. One time fee, not yearly, and you get your money back if you quit.

  • raysmama says:

    I love to shop the bread outlet stores- like Franz. I can get good quality, whole grain breads for less than $1.00 a loaf. Often I can get the good yummy Milton’s bread from Costco at a real bargain.
    If you have a freezer you can make extra helpings and freeze the leftovers. I was pretty tired of hamburger lentil soup by the time it was gone, but a little bit went a LONG way! Research low cost, healthy recipes on the internet and start eating!!!!

  • Annette Holbrook says:

    Oh my gosh… I’m such a bad steward of my money!! I have a family of 3 and a dog and I find it hard to get by on $400-$500 a month. I need to read more of your blog and get educated!! It’s ridiculous the amount of money I must be wasting!!! Thanks for sharing this info. 🙂

    • Kimber says:

      I don’t think you’re necessarily a bad steward of money. I don’t know your situation but the USDA has a spreadsheet that shows the average food budgets at four different levels of spending. I looked up my family’s scenario and found that although my family spent much more than many people posting here, we are still below the ‘thrifty’ plan. I spend $400 per month for a family of four and I’m happy with that. I shop carefully and use coupons but I also eat out occasionally with my husband, buy ‘extras’ like ice cream occasionally, donate to women’s shelters, and so forth. When I was a newlywed, I had much less so I spent much less. And if my husband lost his job I could easily go back to spending very little. I think it’s all about finding out what works for your family. :o)

  • Ana says:

    Like everyone has said, you can absolutely do it. Positive attitude is huge, “woe is me” will only get you down… Be proud every week that you can make it work! Most of my tips have already been said: use meat sparingly and never by itself, etc. I also now make a menu plan and only shop once a month. It makes it easier to save money when you’re not at the store all the times, and helps with the “I wish I could afford that” feelings. Also, I have a book of all my recipes and I write in approx how much each one costs. I have some more expensive ones that I love, but when money is getting tight, I flip to the cheap ones to finish out the month’s list. I never buy boxed food, and always make enough for leftovers so that no money is spent on lunches out due to lack of planning.

    • Lyn says:

      What you say about attitude is true. It is easy to fall into a pity party when things are tight or tough. My husband just got laid off, so I am fighting this right now. It’s okay to have rough moments, but in general you have to keep pressing ahead.

      I like your idea, Ana, about your book of recipes along with the costs written down. We have pretty frugal meals, but having that cost factor to look at might help it easier to make better decisions in meal planning when things are tight.

  • Annette Holbrook says:

    Oh!! Sometimes churches in our area offer something called the Angel food program??? They’re predesignated sets of groceries including produce, for a set price. Check with your local churches! 🙂

    • K-Mo says:

      The Angel Food Ministry doesn’t exist anymore. The founders were embezzling money or something and it had to be shut down. Really unfortunate because it was a really good ministry.

    • Christy says:

      We looked into angel food ministry but it would have cost us more than what I could buy things on sale, plus you can’t pick your food and you have to pay for things you may not like

      • Heidi says:

        I agree Christy! Our church participated in the progam and we never bought it. I thought I was able to get more food for the money buying things on sale and with coupons at Meijer than purchasing angel food! Also think $30 a person in very easy to accomplish but $3o for a family of 6? I have recently cut our budget of $100 a week down to $50 and we are struggling. And that is with coupons!

        • Amy Medeiros says:

          Yeah, our former landlady’s church did the Angel Food program and she bought a box for us once or twice. About half of it was food we’d really eat. Some of the rest we gave away. That’s awful that they were embezzling; I hadn’t heard about that!
          And I agree, $30/person is much easier than $30 for a bigger family. I aim for $75/week for our family of four. If I needed to cut it down more, I’m sure I could, but it would definitely take more time! (And I spend a good 2 hrs/wk now on clipping and organizing coupons, meal planning, etc.)

    • Jessica says:

      Unfortunately, Angel Food Ministries shut down last September. I used to buy from them. BUT there is a new program that has started in light of that called One Harvest. They are in lots of areas already, but I think they are still working on getting more locations since it is new.

  • Rose says:

    We love to eat eggs and pancakes for dinner (or any other meals).

    We also love spaghetti. We only use 1/4-1/2 lb of beef for the four of us (two small ones) and it is filling.

    You can do it!

    • Ashley says:

      We also do Breakfast for dinner, or Binner as my daughter calls it! I make pancakes and eggs. It is a HUGE money saver. We usually have Binner once a week and it is a favorite for the kids.

  • Anna says:

    My household budget for 5 is $200/month or $50/week and that includes personal, cleaning, and food. If I did not have a stock pile it would be harder and to be honest I can often skip spending household funds because our family can eat from our stockpile. We do not have a large stockpile and I am selective about what I stockpile on too. I keep frozen vegetables, meats, canned goods in my stockpile. I do not stockpile cleaning or personal items in big supplies.

    .

    • Lydia says:

      We are a family of 4 (one is a baby) and we budget $200/mo. or $46/wk. for groceries/household items/cosmetics/diapers so I definitely think you can do a $30 grocery budget with a bit of work. I’m with Anna though in that we do have a stockpile built up which enables us to not have to buy certain things all the time.

      I would recommend making as much of your own things as possible. For instance I make my own Bisquick, yogurt, cream soup mix (for use in casseroles that call for cream soup) and more. Just doing that alone saves us quite a bit.

      The recipes for the above items can be found on my blog.

      • Rosie Franzone says:

        How do I get to your blog?? I am very interested in how to make the bisquick.
        THANK YOU 🙂

      • Amy says:

        We also survive off of $200/mo. for a family of 5. About the hardest thing for me to do is budget for purchasing diapers for two little ones each month. That really eats into my grocery money! Thank goodness for Amazon Mom and subscribe and save discounts! 🙂

        Any time I’ve been given money for a birthday, I’ve set it aside to use on purchasing a product that would help save the family more money (Ex: FoodSaver bags). I make my own bread items such as sandwich bread, bagels, tortillas, etc. and freeze the extras to use later. For $6.50 you can purchase a 25-lb. bag of flour at Sam’s Club and make over 20 loaves of bread as well as muffins and other snacks.

        Another great money-saver is making your own cleaning products out of simple vinegar, Borax and baking soda. So inexpensive and eco-friendly. 🙂

        • Marcela says:

          Amy ~ Loved your comment! The post was very helpful but the comments are also so very chuck full of tips! I don’t have a Sam’s card but my mother in law has a Costco card and she can probably purchase that flour for me at about the same cost I think. At $6.50 or so for 25lbs of flour that is a good deal! Would you mind sharing your sandwich bread recipe. I’ve tried a handful of recipes and although they’ve been all very tasty I’m still in search for my tried and true one. Thanks!

          • Amy says:

            Here’s the link. http://thekinnardfamily.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/sandwich-bread/
            Hope it turns out well for you! It truly is a simple recipe that is fun to make. The bread also freezes very well after baked. I make one batch (2 loaves) about every Monday keeping one out to eat and freezing the other. So far it’s been working great. If you wait to slice the bread until after it has had time to cool in the refrigerator overnight, you can use an electric knife to slice it really, really thin making each loaf stretch even farther. 🙂

  • Anna says:

    PART 2

    My top tips for keeping in budget are the following:
    1. Inventory what is on hand.
    2. Examine the sales. Circle what fits in my budget.
    3. Plan to eat meatless 2 times or more/week (beans, soup)
    4. Make a menu plan based on inventory and sales. Post on the refrigerator.
    5. Make a grocery list and stick to it when shopping.
    6. Shop 2 or more stores for foods.
    7. Use coupons as needed.
    8. Buy produce that is in season because it is cheapest. I usually buy the inexpensive fruits and vegetables at Aldis or farmers market.
    9. Portion control by using the food plate at every meal for adults and kids and put servings in baggies or storage containers at snack time and/or lunches.
    10. “Standardize meals.” I make some standard meal plans:
    Breakfast: breakfast burritos, muffins, cinnamon chips and applesauce, cereal (on occasion), homemade granola, cinnamon toast.
    Lunch: sandwiches, carrots, grapes (or fruit), homemade goodie, gelatin or pudding cup, homemade chips (out of tortillas) and Koolaid drink/water in a thermos.
    Dinner: 2 meatless meals, pasta night, 2 chicken meals, 2 ground beef meals (usually buy 2 4 lb bags of chicken/month and 2 lbs beef/week) and 1 large pot of soup or chili. I have recipes.
    Snacks: 2 snacks/day which includes protein and carbohydrate (cheese and fruit–portion sizes)
    11. Plan a baking/freezer day. I make all my sandwiches, carrots in baggies, grapes or fruit in baggies, baked goods, i.e. homemade cookies (2 cookies/baggie), baked chips (make out of tortillas) for lunch on the weekend for the week. I also plan breakfast by making a big batch of breakfast burritos, homemade muffins, cinnamon chips (made out of tortillas) and apple sauce. I also make pudding cups and gelatin cups for lunches and/or snacks. I also make a large patch of soup or chili for the week plus any meals I have planned. I also make Koolaid with sweetner and brewed tea for ice tea. Finally, I bake some.
    Once I standardize my menus I get a feel for how much I will spend each week on groceries on a regular basis because I am usually purchasing the same things.
    12. Take leftovers for lunch.
    13. Build up staples (rice, beans, spices, frozen foods, canned foods).
    14. Do not overstock.
    15. Shop clearances at Wags, CVS, Target, Walmart for food items on a regular basis and at least every few weeks. Buy some things on clearance after holidays (I picked up 5 packs of refrigerator cookies for free with coupons last week after Easter which I can use for lunches or special occasion).
    16. Learn to cook with what I have on hand.
    17. Eat out minimally to keep costs down.
    18. Take snacks, lunches as needed with me for kids when going places.
    19. Drink water. Keep water bottles in the refrigerator filled and available.
    20. Schedule snacks and portion snacks by using baggies or containers (for me and kids).
    21. Grocery shop with a plan in mind at all times.
    22. Eat at the table for all meals and snacks.
    23. Make the meal look “pretty”.
    22. When I have extra money (savings) left over from my household funds, put aside for later when I can plan how to use.

    • Marcela says:

      Oh my goodness! I just commented on Amy’s tips just above yours and of course now I have to tell you thank you for your comments and tips. I am actually going to copy and paste your list onto word file for future reference and as a reminder during those days when I’m unmotivated. Thanks again!

  • Naomi says:

    I did this for 3 years of college – it can definitely be done! You just have to be committed to simplicity and eating leftovers.

  • Naomi says:

    Also – and I wish I had realized this when I was in college and really needing a smaller budget – NO packaged foods (unless they are ‘bulk’ type items like oatmeal or pasta) whatsoever. That ALONE will save you tons in your grocery budget. Cereal is a biggie here – it’s expensive! It may be hard to give up initially, but you can save $3-5/week just on that right there.

    • Susan says:

      On a blog (Goodbye House, Hello Home) they gave a recipe for homemade cereal using oats, craisins, nuts, etc. It looked AWESOME! If you miss cereal, this might be a nice treat!

    • Donna says:

      Crystal has an AMAZING recipe for Peanut Butter Granola that is post on Tammy’s Recipes!

      It’s frugal and my kids LOVE it and it’s a great sub for cereal!

  • yes! my husband and I are currently living on $36/week. I coupon incessantly and we only eat chicken, beans and shrimp (all three proteins are extremely affordable when bought with sales/coupons/etc.) But we do love veggies and fruit so those are bought weekly (to prevent spoilage).
    I have “mastered” the CrockPot (I throw the frozen chicken breasts straight in there!) and the rice cooker (rice bowls are our favorite!). One pot meals make for great leftovers and are much easier to clean up!

    It can be done!!
    xoxo, adri

    • Margaret says:

      Adri,

      How do you make your rice bowls? Are they like Chipotle’s?

      • I add the rice + water, can of beans and can of corn to the rice cooker all at once. Then I make my own pico de gallo (tomatoes, red onion, avocado, cilantro, garlic salt, lime juice) and we top it with a little sour cream.
        I have a friend who uses “YUMM” sauce in her rice bowls.
        I guess Chipotle’s rice bowls are pretty much what I’m making, a burrito without the tortilla, served in a bowl.

        We love them and we mix it up all the time – sometimes chicken, sometimes beans, etc.

        xoxo, adri

  • Katie D. says:

    From the perspective of a college student with a similar budget, I would say go meatless as much as possible for awhile. I like meat, but I find I don’t miss it when I’m eating eggs, beans and rice, and quinoa. All of those are much less expensive protein sources and will allow you to buy either the more expensive fruit (which I like much better than apples/bananas) or to stockpile. And then after you’ve stockpiled a little, you can start integrating meat back in a little bit. But honestly, I don’t really ever buy meat because I’m just as happy without it. Also, see if you know someone with a Costco membership who you can shop with – it’s a great way to buy cheap eggs and fruit and veggies. At our Costco, you can buy 5 dozen eggs for about 5 dollars. It’s totally possible! I have also found that hardboiled eggs (either by themselves with fruit and string cheese or peanut butter or as egg salad) make great quick and easy lunches. Hope this helps!

  • lyss says:

    I think the key to eating super frugally, as Crystal outlined in her idea, is to eat simple foods. In general, the more ingredients you add, the cost goes up. Base your meals on cheap, nutritous ingredients such as oats, beans, rice, pastas, potatoes, carrots, or whatever is on sale or cheap in your area. We eat lots of fruits and veggies, but I ONLY buy what’s on sale/in season.
    Eating somewhat “boring” for awhile is a great idea to save $ towards stocking up on larger purchases.
    Simple doesn’t have to mean bland, though. I’m all about using spices…I buy them in bulk for pennies. If you have any grocery store that sells spices in bulk, check it out. For instance, I bought garlic powder for $6/lb. That sounds like alot, but I only spent 78 cents and filled my spice jar!

    • Jessica says:

      I second spices! When food is bland I end up not wanting to eat it which means it goes to waste and I spend money I shouldn’t on getting out.

    • Our Aldi’s has lots of spices for $1… I think that’s been my favorite Aldi find besides their cheap produce! 🙂

    • Candice says:

      If you don’t have an Aldi nearby, check your local dollar store for cheap spices. Also, check the hispanic or asian food sections of your local grocery store. Sometimes they stock bagged spices for much less than the jars in the main spice section.

      • Courtney says:

        Just beware of how old the spice is. It may be better gain for your dollar to spend $2, but only have to use 1/4tsp because the spice is fresh, than to spend $1, but be using 1 tsp every time because the spice is old. Our dollar store always has really old spices.

        If you are willing, check out a local “specialty” cuisine store. The chinese market sells spices, and basics like rice wine vinegar, or soy sauce for 1/2 of what the grocery store sells them. I can also pick up basmati rice on sale at the Indian market for cheaper than Costco, and tons cheaper than the local store. It’s all supply and demand.

  • Carla says:

    I do buy food occasionally at the Dollar Tree. sometimes they have name brand food items, and when I find them I buy several if I can. However I saw or read something from Consumer Reports about the food at dollar stores. They heavily cautioned not to buy any thing that is an off brand or made in another country. Also to check expiration dates and be careful of packaging that looks like store brands. I hope nobody takes offense to this. It was researched by reputable people. I always buy store brands at the grocery store, so I am not a “brand snob”. I also have to count my pennies when I shop. Best to everyone!

  • Michelle says:

    Don’t forget that you can grow something, almost no matter where you live. A pot with some tomatoes and basil will help add some tasty zing to a more basic meal.

  • Jennifer says:

    Great suggestions ladies. Definitly agree to take some extra money at the beginning and stock up. That will help each week because all you have to buy is great deals and produce/meat.

    Some things we do to make things strech: cook snacks from scratch. We make homemade fruit snacks, wheat thins and pita chips. We also make stuff like bisquick and other dry mixes from scratch really cheap. I usually take one day a month and make a bunch of snacks and mixes. That way I’m not spending tons of time each day making homemade stuff.

    We also mix half beans half ground meat. Really stretches meat out and is still healthy. In our area ground turkey is only $1.50 a lb at Aldi. I stock up on that and make a lot of dishes out of it. I’ll use it for spaghetti, tacos, or add spices and make sausage out of it!

    • Jennifer says:

      Oh I also make weekly trip to Walmart where I price match all the local produce deals. We get super cheap fresh fruit and veggies this way! We have 15 different grocery chains in the area so we have a lot to price match if we choose.

  • Joan says:

    I have a family of 10 (8 kids). Four of my kids do not live at home (married/camp ministry/college for two). We are dietary vegans, so we eat LOTS of fresh fruits and veggies. We spend about $3 per person per day. We home school and my husband works from home, so that’s for 3 meals a day for 6 of us. It is doable. I buy nearly everything at Aldi, Ingles, and Walmart…no special co-ops, farmers markets, etc. The only thing that does not include is a couplel times a year spending about $50 for wheat berries.

    • stephanie says:

      What do you do with the wheatberries? I have some I am trying to find ways to use.

      • Donna says:

        Stephanie, You can grind them for flour for bread. You can cook them and use them sorta like rice, you can even sprout them and use them on salads. Big wheat flour fan here! 😉

    • Jennifer Ott says:

      Oh, please share more! We are vegetarians/going vegan and eat LOTS of produce, but I run out of easy ideas! We have only 4 kids so far though… I just ordered some wheat berries for only $22/50 #! So excited since it was getting harder to find Hard White!

  • Patty says:

    I really struggle to keep ours at $50/wk for me and a 9 yr old. I coupon, shop sales, do non-meat meals, etc., but it just adds up so fast. Some out of the box ideas for you:
    –Costco samples in sufficient quantities can be lunch. If you don’t have a card, go with a friend who does.
    –Glean for your local food bank. Ours has a volunteer program to glean veggie fields and fruits. The volunteers get to take some of the produce.
    –Encourage friends to invite you over for dinner. You bring the dessert or a fresh loaf of bread or a cheapo bottle of wine.
    –Wait tables a few shifts a week where they provide a free meal.
    –Babysit now and then and eat when you feed the kids.
    –Attend any potluck you hear about at church, work, etc. You can take a respectable veggie/rice dish that doesn’t cost you much.

  • Jen says:

    I did cut my grocery spending to $25/week for 1 month recently (for a family of 5), but I had a stockpile of flour/Bisquick, cereal, meat, and frozen veggies. I also have a mother-in-law whose job involves food/catering and often brings us leftovers. It would definitely be a much bigger challenge if we had no stockpile. My norm is more like $400 a month but my 2 freezers are always full and there is lots of food around at all times.

  • Heather says:

    Great topic and comments. Many people are mentioning how their families with more people live on less than $30 each. However, do be aware that it is easier to do that with more people. Much harder with just one person, speaking from experience. So don’t feel badly.

    For a few months in college, I ate off of $30 A MONTH, until my loan came through! This was 15 years ago, when prices were lower, though. It was quite a learning experience.

    Some ideas:
    Consider potatoes! Cheap and nutritious, if you don’t put a bunch of sour cream and butter on them. Home fries and onions are quite a tasty supper. Did that many a time.

    You might want to consider a whole chicken instead of the frozen
    breasts. Or a pack of legs or thighs. Some fat in your diet is important. Roast the chicken with salt and pepper in the oven for nice, crispy skin. I find boneless breasts to be rather bland on their own, but I know that that is what some people prefer.

    Eggs.

    • Jessica Valentino says:

      It’s true that the same methods that work to save money for a family are kind of hard for a single person. A large family can make a large batch of something frugal and the family will eat it for dinner and maybe lunch the next day and then they move on to something else.

      Most people don’t want to eat the same thing for dinner the whole week. That pot of lentil soup which tasted pretty good on day one may make you contemplate ordering out by day four.

      To get around that, I would suggest this method. For about 5 weeks choose one night a week where you make a large batch of something frugal, but tasty for dinner. Eat it for dinner and then freeze the rest in serving sizes. (I would suggest freezing in ziplock bags and then putting the individual bags in larger ziplock bags so they stay organized in your freezer). During that first five weeks don’t dip into your freezer meals so you can build up a stockpile.

      After five weeks you’ll have a lot of freezer meals ready to go. Then when you are planning your week of groceries maybe five out of seven dinners will already be prepared. Each week continue to make a batch meal that you divvy up in order to keep your supply up.

      You can have a lot of variety that way, you won’t have to cook from scratch every night, and just think of how much money you’ll free up to start stocking up on deals.

      For your once a week stock up meals, choose something that costs about 5 dollars or less to prepare.

      My suggestions:

      Pasta sauces
      Taco meat stretched with beans, lentils, or rice
      Quiche made with your favorite veggies and cheese
      Homemade pizza- make yourself an individual pizza and then make pizza packets with the rest of your ingredients: a small ball of dough, sauce, cheese, toppings
      Burritos
      Chicken and broccoli casserole
      Lasagna
      taco soup, lentil soup, creamy tomato soup, chili, lots of different soup options.
      Bean burger patties
      Shepherd’s pie
      Lentil shepherds pie with sweet potatoes
      Any favorite meal where you could freeze all of atleast some of the meal.

      I think you will be amazed if you start following this option how much you will be able to save over the long run.

    • celina says:

      potatoes often don’t make the list..but i remember growing up and potatoes were ever present..just like pasta…a great filler…and a great way to use up the leftovers in the fridge.

      it may seem alot to pay for at once..but don’t buy them by the pound..by the 10 lb bags ..they last a LONG time

      onions, potatoes, eggs, pasta, powdered milk (to cook) would be my top staples along with sugar and flour of course.

    • Andrea says:

      Sour cream and butter can add up price-wise, but the fat in them will help you feel fuller longer.

  • Donna says:

    We’re a family of 7 right now- with teens.

    Here’s a sample of last month’s shopping:

    -for $68, I bought a bunch of chicken and divided it up for 16 meals and froze it ($4.25 per meal)
    -for $43, I bought enough fish for at least 8 meals ($5.38 per meal)
    -for $28, I bought enough ground beef for about 6 meals ($4.67 per meal)
    That’s one month’s meat for $139.

    The rest is here:
    http://momsfrugal.blogspot.com/2012/04/highlights-from-this-months-shopping.html

  • Mary says:

    Some people may not agree with me, but for a couple of weeks, go to a couple of church-sponsored food pantries. $30 is not much to work with when you are starting from scratch. Give yourself a little bit of a boost to start with by getting a box or two of freebies – most pantries (at least where I’m from) don’t require any documentation.

    Once you manage to save $10 or $15 and can start to stockpile, using coupons, store deals, etc., you can generously “pay it back” by donating some extras back to the pantry, 6 or 8 months down the road.

    I’m guessing you have internet access since you posed the question and must be a MSM reader – so sign up for swagbucks or another point system. I make $5-10 in Amazon credit off swagbucks every so often and you can save up that credit and get yourself something from the grocery part of Amazon when you have enough saved up. There are bulk foods like oats, rice, honey or other products that you can buy and save on – just watch for posted deals.

    But seriously, give the food pantry a try. Get yourself some healthy soups, canned veggies, bread, etc., to give your budget a bit of a break, just til you can start to stock up.

    • Donna says:

      Great idea Mary!
      Most church pantries also LOVE to give- as many get(some fresh) foods that need to be used very soon. It excites them to feel they can put it to good use.

    • Jennifer Ott says:

      I know people won’t agree with you, but I work at our church’s food pantry and clothing closet, and we love helping out! That’s WHY we exist!

  • Rhonda Hall says:

    I use a crock pot quite a bit and I can fix a small roast & get 3 night’s supper out of it…potatoes and carrots one night, beef and noodles the next and on the 3rd shred and add BBQ sauce for sandwiches and some french fries and fruit….
    Also, soups: vegtable soup, chili, potato soup will last for days..speghetti for 2 or 3 nights…
    same with a whole fryer chicken, put in crockpot..have chicken & potatoes one night, shredded chicken sandwiches one night and chicken and noodles with the rest…
    make you own muffins for breakfast or snacks….
    buy big bags of chips ect.. and bag up in baggies for snacks….

  • Mary says:

    And I should have mentioned – sign up for all the food freebies you can. I sign up for the granola bars, tiny boxes of cereal, whatever I think I’d like. Also shampoo, soap, toothpaste – even a couple of days worth helps. Amazing how these fill in the budget!

    • Lyn says:

      I had started to dismiss getting freebies, not seeing them as being significant. However, they can make a difference – once they add up, which is why I am signing up for them again. Even a small tube of toothpaste can last quite a while (if one uses less).

  • Cathie says:

    I normally don’t write comments, but I had to respond since I am also single and strive for a $25 weekly grocery budget. Friends and coworkers think I’m crazy, but I can usually stick with it. I agree that simplicity is the key. Breakfast consists of oatmeal and yogurt. Lunch is a sandwich with a yogurt and piece of fruit. Dinners could be: pasta, beef stew, beans from the crockpot, eggs and toast, cereal, turkey chili, or chicken and vegetables. I buy the canisters of oatmeal and the tubs of yogurt whenever the individual servings are not on sale and/or I have no coupons. I admit that I used to be a frozen skinless chicken breast snob. However, I bought some bone-in breasts a few months ago, took the skin off, threw them in the crockpot, and they were delicious, and cheap! I love leftovers, and will generally make a dish and eat it until it’s gone (usually enough for three meals), However, I recently bought some freezer-safe bowls from the dollar store and began to put some meals away for future use. I have also learned not to be picky about brands. I used to only eat Healthy Life bread, but will now buy whatever wheat bread is on sale. I typically grocery shop every week, but every few months I challenge myself to skip a week and “eat from the pantry.” I am proof that you can eat healthy and not overspend.

    • MelissaZ says:

      If you’re buying oatmeal, check out the bulk section- it’s often cheaper in bulk than even the off-brand canisters, and you can get the exact amount you need!

  • Sharla says:

    I spent a couple years while I was single spending about $100/month on groceries, although that doesn’t include the cost of eating out, which I did once or twice a week. I didn’t even spend that little because of budget constraints–that was just really what I ate. I think the key was that I didn’t eat much meat. I didn’t go vegetarian, but I probably ate less than one serving of meat a day, mostly ham, ground beef, or chicken. I had a lot of beans, which I really like. That was about seven years ago, so inflate that price a little bit, and it’s probably still possible.

  • Our grocery budget for a family of 3 (going to be 4 next month) is $150 per month. This includes stocking up on items. I then try to keep our household items under $50, which is pretty easy since I get most of them at CVS or by price matching at Walmart – our stores take the price after rewards! Saves me lots of money.

    Good luck! Just get creative – oh and grow a small garden if you can. It helps out a lot.

  • Liz says:

    This might have been said already (I didn’t take the time to read all of the comments!), but shop the “loss-leaders” for your local grocery stores (those really great deals usually listed on the front of the weekly ads) and plan your meals around those – ie. if chicken is on sale for a great price one week then that’s what you can plan your menu around for that week. And if there aren’t any great loss-leaders for a week, then plan meals around inexpensive, but yet healthy, staples – like beans. And, if you can buy dry beans and cook them yourself, you’ll save even more money. For example, a 1 pound bag of black beans costs about $1 but when cooked up is the equilivant of about 4 cans of beans.
    You can certainly eat for $30 a week with some creativity and perseverence. I know food prices have gone up in the last few years, but before I got married 2 years ago my food budget was $100 a month, and I could usually even afford one meal out a month on that budget!

  • Julie says:

    Have you considered going in on some food with friends and splitting things? This might allow you to take advantage of some sales and bulk items that you otherwise would not have the money for or could not use before it spoiled. Perhaps the ten pound bag of chicken at the really great price is beyond your reach for that particular week, but if you had a friend go in on it with you, it would bring it within your budget. It’s something to think about.

  • daniela says:

    I didn’t read all the comments, so I apologize if somebody already said it, but a vegan diet, animal products free, would be the cheapest option.
    Beans, grains, fruits and vegetables, along with nuts and seeds, is the cheapest and healthiest way to eat. And in the long run you save on doctor’s bills!

    • Jessica says:

      Where do you find cheap nuts? I can find other protein sources much cheaper. Here in Ohio, almonds and walnuts are $5.99 per pound raw on sale. I buy organic beef for $2.50 per pound from my uncle who raises beef.

  • Erin says:

    In my college years, I would go to the local sub shop (Jimmy John’s), which sold day old loaves of bread for 50 cents. I would buy one every other day. I would go to the grocery store once a week and buy 10 slices of ham and 10 slices of American cheese at the deli counter, which were about $1 each. For $4.50, I had a nice, hearty sandwich for my lunch every day (would snag mayo packets when I bought the bread–hee). I paired that with carrots/celery/broccoli (a super sale veggie), a banana/strawberries/raspberries/apple (a super sale fruit), a yogurt or string cheese and some crackers, and fill up a huge, reusable bottle of water. For about $10, I had a nicely rounded lunch every single day.
    Breakfast was coffee made at home, oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon and a super sale fruit. Dinner was a salad or egg salad sandwich or chicken breast with a super sale veggie. Never bought a beverage, except for my coffee grounds, which I made at home. Snacks were popcorn, cheese and crackers, chips and salsa. Never wasted any food, and I never over bought food.
    You can totally eat healthfully for not a lot of money.

    • Donna says:

      Erin- what a great way to do it! Yummy!

      • Erin says:

        Thanks, Donna! Ramen noodles only taste “so good” for so long…people at the deli counter looked at me funny when I ordered by the slice instead of by the pound, but they weren’t paying my grocery bill! 😉
        Forgot to mention, obviously, eggs and toast (the leftover bread, if I had any) for breakfast. Super duper cheap. 🙂

  • Emily says:

    Not a chance…..no way. I spend $150 per week on my family of 4 (2 adults, 2 kids). Now, I do buy mostly organic produce and dairy and we do eat meat with almost every meal. I think if we weren’t doing those things, we could definitely come in much less per week, but they are important to us and we have the extra money to be able to do it so we do.

  • Stacey says:

    Learn to fish. My grocery budget is $100/month for a family of five and has been for years. My dh hunts and my entire family fishes which provides meat for the table. We also plant a large garden and can tomato products every fall!

    • Ashley says:

      We have been living on a very limited budget since February. Luckily, we live on a lake and my husband has been able to stock the freezer with fresh fish! Hunting and fishing is a fantastic way to eat for less:)!

  • Momof5 says:

    We fell off the grocery budget wagon this month, so these comments have been sooo inspirational! Time to get back on it. Just want to add one comment – where we live, bread is ridiculously expensive, especially considering our area grows most of the wheat in the northern hemisphere. I watch the bakery outlets (try to find ones at the actual commercial bakeries, not the Bakery Outlet stores in strip malls – the actual bakeries sometimes have great deals plus the wonderful smell is free 🙂 ). We have cut way down on sandwiches using bread and instead use tortillas (corn are cheapest, and they last forever in the fridge plus can be used for dozens of fabulous casseroles). Rice is a good swap for bread, too – you can’t make sandwiches, but fried rice with a few veggies and an egg, or rice balls wrapped around a veggie or a chunk of cheese or hard-boiled egg and cooked are delicious.

    One other thing – don’t be shy about letting people know you could use food. I cook with 9 or 10 eaters in mind most days, even though only 6 of us live at home at the moment. Some stuff works great as leftovers, but sometimes I wish I could just package a meal up and share it. So speak up! I can’t be the only one who mis-judges quantities 🙂

  • Joy says:

    I also think this depends on the region you live in. If you live in a region that doubles coupons or has higher value coupons, then that helps. Watch for coupons for fresh produce. They do exist you just have to be patient and then print as many as you can or get friends/family to print for you. Also, grow your own veggies and/or fruit if possible.

    Sometimes churches do free bread giveaways and offer free community dinners. These are open to everyone regardless of income, at least in my area they are. I have not used them but know people who have.

    Search for local blogs for your area that do grocery match-ups for your local stores. Also, check to see if your grocery store offers online coupons on its Web site or Facebook page. Often, you can stack these with a manufacturer coupon.

  • Allison says:

    Request all the free samples of cereal and snack bars that you can. Ask friends to do it for you too. Then you can start eating those and saving the money towards larger bulk purchases.

  • KED says:

    Love all the ideas, and reminders that I can tighten my own budget up a bit more. Grits are another option for breakfast in lieu of oatmeal and it can always be used for other meals as well. They are super cheap and filling. I also do well buying dry beans, rice, pasta, whole grain breads, frozen fruit, frozen steak fries and frozen veggies from Dollartree. The frozen items are regularly name brand and easily half the price of the grocery store. The bread store in my town is hit or miss, but I have stumbled on overstock and purchased whole loaves of bread at 4 for a $ 1.00. Good luck, it can be done! I look forward to reading other comments and ideas.

    • Mel says:

      KED, It’s 11 pm here and I haven’t had dinner! I’m going to make some grits RIGHT NOW! Yummy. Perfect idea. And I second the idea that grits can last a long time for just pennies a serving. Thanks again for the idea!

  • Carrie says:

    Wow, there are so many great ideas. Since you are a single person, is it possible to pick up a part-time job for a few months. If you are this close to the financial edge, I would strongly encourage an emergency fund. This would also allow you to make up a stockpile of food and then go to the cheaper weekly budgeted amount by hitting the sales and loss leaders.
    I would also use any gift certificates or freebies that you can to buy food. If there was a disaster, you would not have much food to live on.

    By doing a major Aldi’s run every so often (there isn’t an Aldi’s in my town), I am able to keep my costs down. I spend about $100 per week for groceries, pet food, and household needs. I make a lot of my own products, use cloth whenever possible, and have a small garden. I am a single mom with five boys.

  • Margaret says:

    I spend about 55 dollars a week for 3 adults but we go to the salvage food store once a month for things that are cheap and fresh, cheese lunchmeat, I bake all my own bread ,bagels,muffins.. buy all that you can from markdown stuff…

  • Donna says:

    Other areas of the budget:
    -toothpaste= baking soda
    -no paper towels-= make your own cloth, or buy second hand, or ask for at Christmas
    -learn to cut your family’s hair
    -Make your own vinegar cleaner: http://momsfrugal.blogspot.com/2008/06/limes-3-ways-to-use-em.html
    -use a clothes line or hang up around the house
    -drink water
    -stay home as much as possible, reserve one day every 2 weeks for errands and make lists and do everything that day
    -shop once a month http://momsfrugal.blogspot.com/p/once-month-shopping.html

    Other frugal sources of protein to consider:
    egg noodles, gelatin, sprouts (which you can do yourself), many fruits and vegetables, canned salmon is packed and you could stretch this quite far in pasta, salad, etc, make main dishes from dairy (eggs, milk, and/or cheese), make bean dips, yogurt dips, peanut butter dips on low meat days, also consider organ meats and using them for ‘flavor’ as they are very high in nutrients, …

    And this one is crazy, I know, but I’m able to get free fat scraps and I render my own fat.
    http://momsfrugal.blogspot.com/2008/10/more-on-rendering-beef-fat.html

    Check into local butchers for free ‘scraps’ and bones for broths too.

  • Stefani says:

    Don’t forget the art of canning!

  • My future roommates and I have been discussing budgeting recently, and since I am the lover of coupons (and shopping…and the most health-conscious of all of us), I am in charge of shopping. From my calculations, all 3 of us will be able to eat 3 nutritious meals a day AND take care of all of our household needs for $20 a week each.

    Don’t forget you can cut your costs elsewhere. Turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth. Drink only water, milk, or coffee/tea (no juice/soda, and use the milk in your coffee instead of flavored creamer). Instead of buying expensive name-brand cleaning products, use vinegar, baking soda, and tea tree oil. It’s healthier for you anyway and doesn’t cost near as much, which may help give you a bit more wiggle room for food.

    It’s almost summertime, which is prime farmers market time in our area. Be sure to check those out as well, as farmers markets are a key in how my roommates and I will be able to afford such a small food budget!

    Good luck! You can do it!

  • Rachael says:

    Right now Target has a coupon on its website for a pasta and sauce for $1 total. We stock up on these and it makes a great meal. I bet you could get 3 meals at least out of a box of pasta and sauce!

    • Lyn says:

      Yes, that was one of my great deals of this week! The pasta and sauce were on sale for $1.00 each, so the end price after the coupon was .50 each, which was awesome. 🙂

  • Corey says:

    We spend about $80 per week on groceries (I know some of you are gasping) but that’s down from $120. There are five of us in our family which includes a 12 year old boy (who is eating us out of house and home), and 8 year old boy and a 6 year old girl. I saw our budget go up each year as the kids have grown, but I’m so happy where I am now. I shop regularly at Aldi and spend about $60 there. I’m able to get 100% whole wheat bread and mini bagels, string cheese and other favorites for much less than the regular stores. Then I go down the road to Stop and Shop and get our organic milk, lunch meat, deli cheese and two dinner meats (chicken, pork etc) and spend $20-$25 there. I get so much more food this way than I ever did and much of it lasts into the following week. It’s not $30 a week for sure, but we are happy with it and my kitchen and pantry are very well stocked.

  • Amy A says:

    I would love to know how you get honey and peanut butter for just $1! A regular (bear-shaped) container of honey is usually around $4-5 here, and I don’t often (if ever) see coupons for honey. Peanut butter is similarly priced; even store brand, or on-sale name brand with coupon is still $2-3. Is this something you buy at Aldi? Are you just talking about a very small container?

    • Crystal says:

      The dollar stores often sell small containers.

    • Courtney says:

      I don’t see honey for $1. However, honey is one of those things that last practically forever. If you have any apiaries in your area, see if they sell to the public. I was able to buy a 25 lb container for $40 ($1.60/lb). If it crystallizes on you, just put the container in a hot water bath and it will be back to runny. If you can buy honey local, it may assist with allergies (if you have any). The bees are using local flora, and that puts small amounts of the flora in your body when you eat the honey.

    • Rachael Waller says:

      I have been buying honey in bulk at Sam’s because I use it a lot in baking. It is a lot cheaper!

    • Andrea says:

      There’s a good chance that dollar store honey is mostly corn syrup, especially if it is imported.

  • Alisha says:

    My crockpot has allowed me to save a lot of money on groceries. I can buy the cheaper cuts of meat and they come out very tasty. It also lets you stretch meals. I’ll cook a whole chicken and save the carcass to make stock the next day.
    Also, I’ve found that the local Indian and Brazilian markets have MUCH cheaper spices. Using different spices helps bland meals become exciting.

  • Erin says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It was perfect timing as my attitude needed a little adjusting to be more positive about what I can do on a small budget. It has been great to read all of the comments to learn even more ideas.

  • Emily says:

    I am single as well and currently my budget each week is $30. However, I am a vegetarian and know that meat can be one of the more pricey items at the grocer. I have a nice stockpile, nothing huge, but it helps week to week. I would recommend if you are trying to build a stockpile to go vegetarian for a few weeks and give yourself a good cash cushion. Don’t spend it immediately but keep it in case you run into a good deal.

    1. I play the drug store game for most of my toiletries to save as much of my budget for food.
    2. I also take advantage of “free food” deals. For example, there was a $4/4 coupon for Kelloggs cereals a few weeks back. Several stores placed the Raisin Bran and Corn Flakes on sale to allow me to pay $1 or less for each box. There was a rebate if you purchased 10 boxes, you would receive a $10 Discover giftcard in the mail, so it made the cereal free after rebate. I racked up 20 boxes, gave some to my sisters and the rest went to my stockpile.
    3. I am not brand loyal. I will try any product for any purpose as long as its a good deal.
    4. I shop at a grocery store that is similar to an indoor Farmer’s Market called Sprouts that puts great specials on their fruits and veggies. This past week I paid $0.88 for lettuce, $0.99 for a pint of grape tomatoes and $1.25 for strawberries.
    5. I price match a Wal-mart and use coupons on products that give overage. There’s no use in driving all over the city and wasting fuel. Bring your ads to Wal-mart and they will price match any other advertiser’s deals.
    6. I found out that my local Safeway chain, Tom Thumb, marks down everything on Monday’s. There’s one on the way home from work so I stop in and check the freezer, dry goods and dairy sections. They even have a section for meat. Everything is 50% off the shelf price. I have gotten great deals on dented cans and boxes, organic dairy products and even diapers to give as gifts!
    7. I ask my friends and neighbors for their Sunday coupons and collect them every Monday so I can take advantage of certain deals more than once and I don’t spend money on the Sunday paper anymore saving me $3/week.
    8. Lastly, I check blogs like MSM a few times each day to keep up with the lastest deal points.

    It may seem like a lot of work but it really is easy once you set a routine. I love seeing how much I can buy with my $30. Most week’s I have money to “rollover” to the next!

  • Andrea says:

    I’m single and my grocery budget is about $25 a week. I’m so excited that Spring is here because I’m able to get a lot of healthy fruits and vegetables from the farmers market for low prices. I plan my meals based on what’s on sale and my grocery stockpile, but I also write to companies for coupons for my favorite products. There are so many great tips here about how to make a $25 food budget work…it’s definitely possible!

  • 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!

    • L Crawford says:

      would love to see your menu plan

    • 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…. 😛 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

        • 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.

  • 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. =]

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Melinda 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.

    • 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. 🙂

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • natalieJ 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..

  • 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!

  • Julie says:

    Where is this?

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Jen 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.

    • Betsy says:

      I agree!

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • Mary says:

      Good Ideas! Thanks Keri!

    • Jessica 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.

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!!

  • 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!

  • Melinda 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • Crystal 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

    • Andrea says:

      Do you have Fresh & Easy? They have some great mark downs sometimes.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • Syble says:

    Renee,
    You might try checking out http://www.cuckooforcoupondeals.com/ and click on the Walgreens link under “stores”. She has a scenario every week to only spend $5 out of pocket. It’s a great way to stock up on health and beauty items and household items.

  • 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!

  • 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 🙂

  • 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

  • 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.

  • BRIDGET says:

    aLDI MILK $1.79 all the time

    Target all the time frozen veggies no coupon 54 cents

  • Ann says:

    The Hillbilly Housewife has a $40/week menu for 4-6 people:
    http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/40dollarmenu.htm
    You could use the same menus

    • 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! 🙂

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sarah 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!

  • 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.

  • Barbara says:

    I hope Renee updates us on how she is doing!

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • Sharon says:

      i don’t know what part of the company you get those kind of prices but it sure isn’t here in canada! no way could i get that may groceries for $30/wk. 🙁

  • 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.

    • Brenda says:

      I hear you! I’m in Australia and our prices are much similar to what your saying in Akaska! We have dollar type stores but they mostly have close to outta date foods and nothing is really $1! We also don’t have food coupons. I will try some of the suggestions where I can as I’d like to change our overspending. We can egg bread for $1 but it is the cheapest most unhealthy stale like bread that u would have to replenish each day. My goal is to find a healthier option for my family not just the cheapest one 🙁
      Would love some help from an Australiab cost perspective.

      • Jo says:

        I also hear you Brenda. I live in Australia and I have learnt how to create healthy low cost meals by buying staples like lentils, rice and beans in bulk and cooking from scratch. I have developed around 230 recipes which cost around .60 cents per serve. It can be done but you need to enjoy planning every meal and cooking.

        • Chelsea says:

          I would love your list of recipes that are 60 cents and less! Can you email me? chelsea.usm@gmail.com

        • susan till says:

          I would love to hear some of your recipes, even though I live in the states, we garden and can everything we grow. also buy in bulk as much as we can. may problem is I have health issues that make it impossible to cook all the time so my disabled husband and his mother (84) can’t/won’t cook like that so I we have to have easy pop in microwave type things and as I type this the light bulb came on duh–freezer homemade meals —lol I have to laugh at myself—now off to find some freezer meals to gather to ingredients for and try on my next good day.

    • Kelly zh says:

      I live in Alaska too. $30 bucks won’t go very far. I shop the sales and I’m lucky if I don’t spend at least $100 a week.

    • maesaysdoit says:

      There is so much you can get on the internet these days. Dry goods can be shipped using free shipping methods for Alaska you need to order in advance so you can use ground shipping. If you are military pkgs and have family or a friend willing to ship to you use USPS ground least expensive way and many times it is less expensive for someone to ship tp you rather than you buying there. Many stores have free shipping even to Alaska if you spend a certain amount. A lot of food lasts longer than the time you’ll be there so be on the lookout (have family do so too) for staples that you know you’ll use, and get it shipped to you. I ship things to friends around the worl all year and they save money. No cost to me because I do it while I’m out doing errands. Ask your family I’m sure one will be willing. If you ARe military let the store know some will ship free to military in “remote” locations. You’d be surprised how many are willing.

    • Baytrees Bark says:

      The best way I found to save on groceries is to grow your own beans and potatoes etc, can be done in any container such as old wash baskets, car tyres etc I try grow to get a glut so that I can dehydrate and store in jars, dehydration lasts much longer than winter.growing in pots can be taken with you as you move. I have moved over fifty times but always taken our growing stock.worth investing in a dehydrator. There are always nice people around to share their glut of fruit and veg.scrumping for apples and nuts etc in the country side is worth a day out.then you can dehydrate your God’s free food. I have saved a lot by doing this which has enabled us to have luxuries like blankets and full wool socks.when holes in socks they are darned until no more then carefully undone to add to other pairs undone to make into another pair, with all same colours there is no odd.people throw their wool blankets and jumpers out, rescue them and spend a wet cold day indoors pulling the items apart, wind into a ball and make yourselves nice blankets, clothing etc.as my last kid grew out of clothing I would turn these into rag rugs, rag cushions etc friends and neighbours give me their old clothes that they would have chuck away!!! I gratefully receive them and make things out of them, sports bags for the kids P. E. Kit, even indoor slippers out of someone’s old jeans, shirts I turn into tea towels and old skirts and dresses into towels, dish cloths, cleaning rags, rag rugs, cut skirts dresses old sheets into STRIPS and knit blankets, rugs, bags. I even take old plastic bottles to make decorations, cut out shapes to put onto gift tags, or cards. Surprising where you can save a lot of money so that you can afford some herbs and spices to go with your home grown food.i have sold some rag rugs which I got lots of galvanised buckets to grow more beans.i ask around for books that people don’t want and this gives me free entertainment.free newspapers old letters etc for making fire bricks,I enjoy trying to live free, it runs in my family, I learned from my dad.i even go out to collect willow to make my baskets and sell some to get money for birthday and Christmas treats.i ask friends for Christmas puddings, fruit cake instead of presents, these last long time in the cool cupboard and I try make it last as well.we was even given a lovely set toothbrush Toothpaste soap and Flannel and we loved this, they know I can not work, I can only do 4 hours or less a week so my friends know that to most people they are basics but to us it’s luxuries and helps us to have pennies for candles, hot water, milkshake powder and my coffee but I have just learned to make coffee with dandelion roots so I am going to try that and hope its nice because that would save me a lot of money. I should write a book on this because then I hope the rich people buy it to give to us that need a little advice to make life easier. Hope this helps even just a little.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Gina says:

    Love this post and menu ideas. Thank you so much for the ideas and motivation.

  • Love this gonna try it

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Anne 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.

  • Linda c says:

    This will certainly come in handy when I retire next year! Thanks!

  • Laura says:

    can’t wait to try it out!

  • 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

  • Stefanie 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 🙂

    • Sleepless in Chicago says:

      Grocery shopping for 2 for about $60.00 is absolutely doable. The original list contains frozen food. Why. Fresh chicken and fresh vegetables will not cost more, but are healthier. I shop at a local ethnic discount market, sticking to my usual shopping list (with minimum or no processed foods) and varying fruits and vegetables if offered seasonally on sale. BTW, I do not sacrifice quality; my shopping list includes 1 quart of goat milk at about $5.00 and organic eggs at about $4.00 per dozen.

      • Jamie says:

        Many times frozen veggies are far more healthful than fresh. The frozen veggies are picked and frozen the same day. God only knows how long the carrots have been out of the ground by the time they reach your local store.

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • Azie says:

      $30 weekly would be a dream for me, living in Hawaii and a family of 4. Almost all of my veggies come from the farmer’s matket, eggs from the local egg farm and I use coupons when possible. No sugar juices and soda. Meats are almost unaffordable here, we eat chicken & pork amd only when I can find it at under $2 a pound. I’ve had to shift & save in other areas of my budget to keep up with food. Gas & Prescriptions from Costco, dilute dish soap & cleaning agents, etc… Good luck out there! Aloha from Waimanalo

      • Ann says:

        You can find meat under $2/lb? I’m in Chicago and only extremely rarely see it at that price. It’s closer to $5 or $6/lb lately.

  • Becky says:

    I wish i could get groceries that cheap where i live. 8 chicken breasts cost me $18 yesterday.

  • 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.

  • 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!!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.)

  • 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)?

  • Wine Harlots says:

    I love Spaghetti Aglio E Olio.
    Which is just pasta with olive oil and garlic and red pepper. It’s comforting and super-inexpensive. (And if you say the name in Italian, it sounds fancy.)

    http://www.barefootcontessa.com/recipes.aspx?RecipeID=863&S=0

  • 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”.

  • Portia 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.

  • Portia says:

    I love the idea of only spending $30 a week on groceries. Thank you for the challenge!

  • Dee Dee 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.

  • Lesley says:

    So we just decided to shop less and save more, and this idea is perfect.. Thank you

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Cindy Brick says:

    We’ve lived this way a number of times during our 33+ years of married life. Husband just retired, which cut our income back again, but I’m not afraid. I know how to save.
    Here’s a post that deals directly with $30/week for groceries…for 2-4 people.

    This might help, too:
    http://cindybrick.blogspot.com/2015/09/secret-weapons-to-keeping-yourself-out.html

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Cheryl says:

    I live in the country, and the grocery stores are miles away. Our food is more expensive here and there is no Aldi, etc. A gallon of cheap milk is $4.50-ish or $10 for organic. A loaf of bread is over $3, even at the dollar store. There would be no way we could eat on $30 a week.

  • Lisa says:

    Check your local churches. My mothers church picks up day old bakery items from Panera on a weekly basis and is left in the church hall for anyone who wants it. She often brings me loaves and rolls that I wrap well and freeze if I can’t use it right away. Also check Entenmanns/Bimbo bakery outlets. Aldi has a Fit Active line of poultry . I buy ground turkey there for less than half my regular grocery store and it is much leaner and better looking than the name brand packaged ground turkey.

    • Jennifer Copeland says:

      I also find some excellent deals at our Bimbo outlet. Not only are the prices cheap, we get a punch card to get free bread, and we always get a free item that is going out of date (with a husband and three boys everything gets eaten fast)!

  • Summer says:

    There is no way you could spend only $30 a week on organic produce and free- range, no anitbiotic/ hormones chicken and milk, it just isn’t going to happen. It is sad that if you want to eat healthier, support sustainable and enviromentally friendly meats and produce you have to pay more. I suggest your local farmers market or grow your own. Its sad, but true.

  • Anne in Canada says:

    To ensure higher quality food, we often:
    – make our own bread in our bread machine;
    – buy very large bags of rice – cheaper overall (this only works if you are on a tight budget but have the money flow)
    – use carrots in a variety of ways: grated for salads (inc. coleslaw), in chunks in stews, raw with a dip, steamed and then drizzled with butter and honey
    – buy cabbage; last forever in the fridge, can be used in different salads or cooked
    – learn to drink water
    – eat apples, raw or cooked as a dessert

  • Jennifer says:

    I have actually saved money by not stocking up on things and not shopping at costco/sams. I realized I am an overshopper and can’t resist a ‘deal’. So when things got tight I started shopping at Walmart when I realized their prices were about the same as the sale prices elsewhere, especially on baby formula. And even though I am not a Walmart fan, i find it a lot easier. I still stock up some basic things to have on hand when we need something to eat fast (spaghetti, tuna, peanut butter) but I try and plan meals and mostly buy just what we need for the week. I also work full time and have a long commute, so it saves me a lot of time. Couponing, and looking at sale adds and going from store to store took too much time. I am definitely less stressed now!. And I go early int he morning when it is less busy!

    • Mariana says:

      Jennifer I used to do the same. I used to overshop with the mindset that “Oh, i’ll eventually use this.” or “I think i’ll use this in the imaginary dish I’m concocting in my head right now as I shop.” instead of actual meal planning.

      It took my dad being physically ill and going on disability and FORCIBLY having to save to actually get my shit together and stop wasting money by throwing food away each month.

      Now I have to budget his money carefully, create a vague meal plan and compare prices. and NO MORE buying things I don’t need like snacks or things like agave nectar or jones soda or greek yogurt anymore. Cost effectiveness is the name of the game and “frugal” is my middle name.

  • Lisa says:

    A friend shops the weekly grocery ads and then does her shopping at Wal-Mart because they price match, so no having to run all over for the best prices.

  • Bethany says:

    When I do this, my spouse goes and blows it with all kinds of GMO/sugar laden/ MSG filled junk. Yes, getting on the same page, I understand all that, but the bread-winner does have the final say in our house.

  • evita says:

    I think is a good idea to make homemade bread. Flour use to be cheap and you can make many breads on a row to maximize the energy of the oven and freeze it for last.

    In Spain we usually make soup with rest of vegetables and bones and adding rice or pastry to that broth.

    I’m sorry for my bad english, I hope you can understand me

  • Jessica says:

    Any tips for shopping on the cheap for the paleo diet? I like to try to get in at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables every day, which is the high end of the range recommended by the USDA and is less than the amount recommended by most nutritionists. I already spend about $25-30 per week just on produce. And grain isn’t a regular part of our diet. Suggestions?

    • Andrea says:

      Buy the seasonal produce that is on sale…we had turnips this month because they were 39 cents/pound. Cabbage was also very cheap. Some months, we eat a lot of the same one or two vegetables! If you have cool, dry storage space, butternut squash and sweet potatoes will keep for months. Buy extra when they are on sale, if you can. I buy whatever type of bagged apples are the cheapest, usually $1.69-$1.99 for 3 lbs.

      Make a minestrone-like soup (without the beans and pasta, of course) with bone broth and frozen mixed vegetables. Broth is filling. Chicken legs are usually the cheapest meat I can find, and the bones can be simmered for broth. whole chickens are usually cheap, too. We use zucchini in place of pasta…I can make a great sauce with a jar of sauce, 1/2 lb of ground beef, canned tomatoes, onion and 1/2 bell pepper (which I find on the markdown rack).

      Also, keep in mind that this post is from 2012.

  • Hillary says:

    Hi! I am about to be living on my own, and buying groceries for the first time! Alot of recipes I see don’t usually say how many people it serves. It just being me I don’t want to waste anything, but I also don’t want to have to run to the store several times a week. Anybody have any tips?

  • Michelle says:

    I have been a follower of your blog ever since you first started and have loved eating on a budget…I found it as a game in a strange kind of way that I enjoyed. Things changed the beginning of this year when I became bed ridden and later diagnosed with an auto immune disease and can no longer have oatmeal, rice, grains, corn, gluten, dairy, egg whites, nightshade veggies for a time, and only grass fed meats or wild caught fish. It’s basically a strict auto immune paleo diet. The diet has helped me immensely (as well as many prayers) and I am able to drive again, but it’s made shopping on a strict budget extremely difficult for my husband and I. I buy markdowns whenever possible and we’ve cut back on everything we can. The only thing extra I’m holding on to is a $30 Internet bill. Can you suggest any other ways to save on an all organic diet?

  • Lisa Stewart says:

    For my budget I’ve found scratch cooking and baking is the best and easiest way to save. Just today I made chicken pot pie for dinner and 2 extra for the freezer. I put a top crust only and skipped the store bought rolled crust which is super easy and convenient but pricey. I opted to make homemade crust since I already had butter and flour on hand. By making that teeny tiny decision I was able to spend those few dollars on a sale of a pantry staples this week. Same goes for biscuits….. I’ll make a triple batch and freeze them. By doing a few make ahead things every week as time permits I’m able to stay ahead and have a nicely stocked freezer and pantry. It’s taken time but the savings are showing! Keep going ladies! Every single effort is worth it!!

  • Gran says:

    I can’t even feed myself and my boyfriend for less than $150 a week (that includes household: toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex, dental, menstrual, cleaners, storage supplies, napkins, supplements etc…) We don’t eat extravagantly at all. I shop the flyers. I’ve tried so hard to cut down but it seems impossible when you have to pay $7 for a gallon of milk, $4.59 for a loaf of POM bread (yeah, I need to start baking) and minimum $7.99 a pound for chicken…can’t afford fish or beef anymore. Pork when it’s on sale. We have so many food allergies…this $30 a week thing is a pipe dream. But I guess you got a “hit” from me so you’ll make your commission off it.

    • Pat says:

      My husband I actually had a grocery budget of $120 a month at one point. Now we are like $300 monthly for our family of four. I honestly think that prices are very dependent on where you live. I’m sure that having so many food allergies really play a roll in spending. While it isn’t the most convenient I’m sure it can be doable as long as you don’t live in a super expensive area.

    • Megan Bockbrader says:

      I have found that buying whole chickens helps with the cost. When you get them on sale you can get a whole chicken for about .98cents/lb! I bake them and that will be good for a couple of dinners for my boyfriend and I. Although you say you don’t buy “extravagantly”, I think it is interesting that your milk is $7 a gallon – even at our speciality stores our milk doesn’t go about 4.50 (organic Sprouts farmers market).

      I am probably doing about $70/week for the two of us and I would love to cut that down! We buy our toiletries in bulk at Costco so that is only an investment every few months or so.

      • Ellen says:

        I like to buy at Wholefoods…expensive but did you know you can have them cut a cabbage in half or buy just a half or a third of even smaller parts of salmon. I started buying by servings and pre

        think ahead and found I have no waste and I have dropped my groceries way down…The other day I bought 2 meatballs and flatten them down and it was more than enough meat. Steamed carrots and a nice organic salad was enough. as Americans we really eat too much. I buy organic Valley milk because of the high rating on milk and also buy from farmers market …It also helps with losing weight by buying by servings
        Just the two of us

      • Michele says:

        I suspect she lives either in Alaska or Hawaii. Prices are gougingly expensive there.

        • Carissa says:

          You are very right. Hawaii is awful as far as their cost of living goes. I didn’t know Alaska fell victim to the same issue. Interesting. Hopefully this doesn’t sound stupid, and I know I can just research, but I don’t feel like it. lol. I have to make dinner, and I will get distracted by the ads or something on Google – so, let me ask; is it so expensive living in these places because of the fact that they are not physically connected to the US?

          • Anne Salter says:

            Alaska doesn’t have as much local fresh food, due to the very short growing season. So if you add the cost of transportation to the cost of the food, it’s very expensive. Just like most of northern Canada.

    • S says:

      That quite high for bread and milk.

      My family of 3 hasn’t shopped in roughly a month. My income dropped. And my husband changed jobs. So our income is low. That seems a bit extravagant to me. We by 99¢ bread and our milk doesn’t go over 2.50.280-ish I love the expensive bread but knowing I’m in a budget I choose not to spend on the pricy items just to feed myself or my family. If you want a lesser grocery bill it may be time to reevaluate what it is you’re purchasing. Even before the income changes in my household my family of 3 has been able to spend way less than 100$ 8 outta 10 times when we grocery shop. But we also just get what we need and not what we want.

    • Jen says:

      I think that key here is that there is variance between different areas in the country. Where i’m at, I usually get milk for $1/ gal, eggs $0.50 doz, chicken breasts $2/lb, pork is rarely more than $2/lb., wheat bread $1.39… white is cheaper. I can’t imagine paying $8/lb for chicken, or that much even for beef. If it was that price, we’d be eating variations of beans pretty often!! 🙂

      It’s always the prepackaged/convenience foods that make my grocery bill add up quickly.

      • MEGAN says:

        Gosh I wish I knew where you lived I need to move there! Those prices are insanely low The lowest milk goes here is $1.99 the highest it’s ever been here is about $4.50 a gallon when fuel prices are highest. We mostly use tap water in bottles but I do like to have a case of bottled water in case we’re in a hurry to go somewhere – the lowest a case ever is $1.99 the highest is about $4 you E can get a small pack of 6 at the dollar store. Eggs are about $1.00 for 6 or $2 for a dozen, I have seen a dozen eggs at $4 before, though.

      • Shelly says:

        I live in the east bay near San Francisco, I think we’re considered the most expensive area in the US.
        But I can buy .99 bread and milk is under 4.50 at Sprouts/Whole foods/Trader Joe’s. I can find meat for wayyyy under the prices you stated.
        So I’m really not buying that milk costs 7$ for you, because the most precious organic ultra awesome milk at the speciality stores here are under 5$
        And like I said my area is the most expensive in the country. I live in Walnut Creek specifically.
        I have a family of 4 with two teenage boys and it is possible to shop for under 100$ a week and that’s for dinners, lunches, breakfast and snacks, toilet paper, ect . It’s not easy and not always the most exciting but it is totally possible.

        • Debramarie says:

          Thank you for this positive comment. I have found over the years that the best way I can save money is to take the time to make the meal plan, source best prices (some online ordering is way cheaper) and to make as many items as I can from scratch. The prudent homemaker and money saving mom have assisted me many times over the years. It may seem daunting but it truly does help reduce bills when you diligently plan your meals. There are many simple meals which are easy to prepare in advance and are healthy and less expensive. It definitely takes time but it can be fun and the end result is rewarding.

        • daw says:

          It is possible that the poster with the 7 dollar milk is in a place like Hawaii or Alaska. I know in Alaska the prices are insane. Our company gives a huge tax paid bonus for people to move there.

          • Courtney says:

            I was looking for a comment that mentions this! I live in Alaska and western family milk is $5.30, tillamook cheese (western family cheese is gross) is $13, and meat varies but I just bought ground beef for $2.99/lb. In bigger cities the prices are much better of course, and if you live farther north or on the chain, you end up paying $18 for regular old orange juice. I love these meal plans though, because even if they aren’t as cheap as the author’s prices, they are still inexpensive compared to other meals.

    • Carina says:

      I have a wheat allergy and several other food allergies. I feed two adults on $35 a week. I eat beef, fish, chicken, or pork, with fresh fruits and veggies almost every day(I eat vegetarian One day a week). I have to cook from scratch and menu plan in order to do it. I live in eastern Washington.

    • Daisy says:

      Where do you live? At our Aldi s they have bread for $.83.You must live in New York or somewhere? The cost of living are really high!

      • Kathy says:

        I live in upstate NY and I have never had to pay prices like that. Even the little mom and pop stores in the country are not that high. Wow! I pay $1.25 for bread, $3.79 for milk, we have our own chickens for eggs, but we can buy a fully cook chicken for less than $6 and get at least three meals from it. We buy and split a beef with other family members and this last one cost us about $1 a pound when the smoke cleared. It was not an angus, just a cow. We garden and can all of our veg. and a lot of fruit. My DH,S&DIL picked 536# of apples two years ago for .25 a pound. I canned apple things for two weeks, but we will eat from them for at least three years. We go to Shoprite once a month, early in the AM and get marked down meats very cheap, take it home and divide into meal size pkgs and freeze. We got three meals of preseasoned chicken for about $4 last time.

    • Barb M. says:

      Please tell us all where you live! We live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula bordering on Canada & are off the normal trucking routes. Still, our skim milk is $1.58, eggs are .48, ground beef with 20% fat is $2.99 on sale though I buy leaner than that, and chicken breasts are $2.99 lb. My husband and I (both retired on small fixed incomes) spend about $120-150 once a month for the month’s staples (including all non-food household stuff except meds) and sale item stockpiling–then about $20 a week for fresh foods/needed items. I garden and preserve food, buy almost all store label foods, shop the dollar store first with my list, stock up on great cheap finds, buy bulk at our local co-op store, and don’t purchase luxury type foods or many convenience foods. We don’t eat out much anymore either–but we eat delicious, well varied meals.

      If the cost of living is so high where you live, then there must be some other benefit to living there such as the beauty and climate of Hawaii. If not, relocating would be my advice.

      Also, I believe bloggers only make commissions when you click on ads on their sites or buy through their links–but regardless, manners & kindness still count online. You may not have comparable prices or care for the menu–but the blogger, Crystal, delivered on what the title stated and then some as I could buy that list cheaper. This is not a blog/blogger that misleads anyone and you should be ashamed about that last comment! Your mama must have, or should have, taught you better!

    • lex says:

      now u eat paleo and lots of refined carbs make my joints hurt and I feel bad so cheap options like rice, beans and pasta dont work well for me but i still find this helpful….where on earth do you live. eggs and milk are now sometimes 0.89 or 0.99 per 30 count of eggs and by the gallon ((aldi and target) and 7.99 a pound for chicken??? yikes. maybe 2.99 but 7.99 is it golden chicken?

    • HD says:

      Where in the world do you live that you pay $7 for milk?!

    • Serena says:

      Our family was spending $250 a month for 6 people for over a year. It is doable. I have never seen prices as high as you reference. I think this will vary a lot by location. A gallon of milk is $2.50 here, $1.99/lb for boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 89 cents and up for a loaf for bread….

  • Lindsay says:

    Rice and beans are so easy to store, and you can make them so many different ways so you’ll never get tired of them. Lentils are a great cheap, nutritious diet staple too for soups, and I’ve even made vegetarian meatloaf, sloppy joes and meatballs with them. I think it’d also be great for stretching beef for tacos.

    • Julie says:

      Thank you for the idea about the veg. meatloaf, I never thought of that! I will be trying out a recipe for it soon.

    • louise says:

      I use rice,beans and lentils. strong vinegar,and vanilla can e watered down. Sharp cheddar has a strong flavor and can be grated with bread crumbs to add tasted to casseroles and so on. whole milk can be diluted 1/3 to 1/2 to save on milk. left ovrs can be kept in a container in the freezer and mixed with water,milk,canned beans and so forth to make soup

    • Carissa says:

      mmmm!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE lentils! You can do soooo many things with them. Very versatile. They are a great bean-like substitute. Not only that, they are so damn healthy. I just discovered them a couple of years ago, but really put them into action with meals, recently. I actually usually just make them as a side dish; boil them in chicken stock, throw them in the rice cooker with rice + diced tomatoes and some kind of stock/broth, boil them in water and then add some seasoning. Love them. I’m actually going to try them with my chicken burrito/wraps when I make them right now. Oh, and ummm – THANK YOU for these other ideas!! <3

  • Carol says:

    Our bread is $4 a loaf spring onions $7 a bunch. I would like to see $1 bread. I live 2 hours from a big city. Imposable to do.

    • If you have a bread store in the big city, you might find day old bread there for $1 or less. You can buy a bunch of it and freeze it!

    • Sandy says:

      You have never seen 1dollar bread? Its not the best…and usually at a bread store or even Wal-Mart or ….a dollar store hun..I have traveled the hour the US….and I see those store all over the US

    • Leanne says:

      I live in the uk and spring onions or scallions are never normally over a £1 a bunch. They are realy easy to grow as well

  • cindy says:

    If anyone has a Dollar Tree store you are lucky. I can buy a jar of pasta sauce and a pack of pasta for a dollar each.everything there is $1.00. also soups are very cheap to make and you can eat off of it for a few days. add different things to it each day to make it taste different. as much as people think it is difficult it really is easy to make bread,cinnamon rolls and yeast items.I am single as well and disabled and live on a fixed income.Tonight i had a salad with bagged salad $1.00 at aldi’s,leftover cheese,tomatoes Aldi’s $ 1.40,salad shrimp $1.00 dollar general,leftover onion,croutons $1.00 Dollar tree. dressing i already had in fridge. also every community usually has a food pantry,always feel free to use them that is what they are there for.

  • Audrey Jortdan says:

    I have always lived simply and run my household on a minimum budget. It is possible of you put your mind to it

    • Amaya says:

      The poster probably has an allergy to synthetic estrogen. I live in Wisconsin and have seen organic milk sold as $7 per gallon at our local walmart. We’re supposed to be the dairy state, but if someone wants or needs specialty foods here especially dairy they jack up the prices just because they can.

  • Cathie says:

    I would quit eating bread before I paid that much for it. Anyway, home made bread is so much better and costs a fraction of store bought. And we also don’t pay that much for even organic milk. I thought our food prices were high; I guess not. If cleaners are taking a bite out of your grocery budget you can cut back and use vinegar and baking soda – both incredibly inexpensive and useful items. Really, it can be done. You just have to find the best sources.
    I don’t understand people who make rude comments on blogs. You are free to read or not; to take advice or not.

  • Cathie says:

    Also- paper towels and napkins are luxury items in my house. I only buy them at deep discount, if at all.

  • Gladys says:

    I probably could buy a few items for $30 a week but not a complete grocery list for me, not even at Family Dollar or Walmart. I shop at my local grocery supermarket.

  • Bonnie says:

    We are a family of 3 and live in a fairly high cost of living area. The benefit to this is there are a lot of grocery stores competing with each other. We used to spend about $500 a month for 2 adults and now we spend about $260 per month for 2 adults and a child. We stopped buying drinks, snacky foods (crackers, chips, cookies, icecream) and started making everything from scratch. We could get this down lower if we want but in general we eat the same foods that we did when we were spending much more, only now I’ve learned how to shop, freeze, and never waste food.

  • Great tips. Aldi also has a lot of organic options now, which I love!

  • Janice Nichols says:

    I’m anxious to read about freezer tips. Thanks

  • I like your post. Great ideas on how to save money. I can relate to when money is so tight and gave to eat frugally.

    Some of the things I do when money is tight:
    1) Powdered milk. Rarely had it as a kid & remember it being yucky. Its much
    better nowadays. The trick is to mix it up & refrigerate over night.
    2) Eggs any way with buttered toast. Good anytime of the day.
    3) Love peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, but sometimes want a change.
    Some of my cheaper sandwiches are grilled cheese sandwiches, egg salad
    sandwiches & flour tortillas spread with refried beans & sprinkled with
    cheese & rolled up & microwaved x30-45 sections. These tortilla wraps are
    good for breakfast or lunch. If transporting then pack separately &
    assemble when ready to eat. Sometimes just like chicken bouillon in a cup
    of hot water along with crackers & cheese.
    4) Meal planning. When I do it I always save money. If I don’t I spend too much
    5) Freezer meals & crock pot meals. Some of these are too expensive to make
    so I am selective. I try to do the 2-3 ingredient recipes. Always good to have
    a few freezer meals ready to go. My favorite crock pot meal is to dump 2-3
    boneless skinless chicken breasts & a jar of salsa in crock & cook on low for
    5-6 hours. Once done then shred the chicken while in the crock & mix with
    the salsa. Can eat multiple ways: on a tortilla with cheese, lettuce &
    tomatoes; over rice or in a bowl with cheese on top.
    6) I love stores like Sams & Costco but found I was spending way too much
    money & buying too much bulk that was taking up too much space & often
    going to waste. I still go, but not as much & am very mindful to keep dollar
    amount down when loading up the cart.
    7) Frozen foods. I used to buy them a lot more but have cut way back…too
    processed, too much GMO & too much sodium. But I do buy a few frozen
    items when really broke such a Banquet’s frozen chicken pies…about a
    $1.25 or less. Yes, probably too much sodium & too processed but when
    broke they are quite good with a roll & a side of fruit.
    8) Sphaghetti. When I was younger I’d make sauce from scratch, but after
    raising two kids I found that Hunts Garlic & Herb sauce is just as good.
    Costs $1.09 -$1.30. Much cheaper than the jarred stuff. Comes in several
    flavors but garlic & herb is our favorite. They usually hide it on the shelves
    at the top or bottom away from the jarred stuff. When I make spaghetti I
    actually use vermicelli which is thinner & buy the store brand which is about
    $1. When money isn’t tight I mix the sauce with sautéed 1/2 pound of
    ground beef. But if tight then I omit the beef & it’s still very yummy with just
    sauce & pasta.
    9) Store brands. I have found that store brands are cheaper than couponing.
    You have to experiment which store brands you like at which stores. I like
    most but not all.
    10) Bags of frozen boneless skinless chicken. My mom never used frozen
    chicken so when I first thought about doing it I was hesitant thinking they’d
    be too dry & tough. But when the prices for fresh chicken went sky high I
    decided to give them a try. I found that if you thoroughly defrost them &
    pounded them with a meat mallet then they are quite tender & delicious.
    The best prices for them are at Aldi. You will save so much money instead
    of buying fresh. It’s the only way I buy chicken now.

  • Chrystal Gilley says:

    I try to purchase reduced Everything. Reduced produce, including tomatoes, bananas, and salad mix. I purchase reduced meats, and packs of lunch meat when I find them and freeze. This saves a lot of money and they are fine if you freeze them. I have learned to grow some foods also. Currently I am growing yellow squash and zucchini in containers, herbs, Swiss chard and tomatoes. I purchased all my seeds from the dollar tree. This helps to reduce your over all grocery bill. I Brew my own tea and coffee to drink, or drink water. I have found that I can make crustless quiches in so many different varieties, using whatever cheese, meats, or veggies I have on hand or find at reduced price and these make great meals for anytime of the day. I always take my lunch. This alone has saved me so much. Sometimes I cook extra for supper and take for my lunch. Overnight crock pot oatmeal is awesome and cheap. Many recipes to choose from.

  • Candace says:

    I appreciate any ideas that can save me on groceries. We are a family of 5 and we have a budget of $150. I don’t feel as though we want for much. We buy our groceries, toiletries and anything else that falls under “grocery store shopping.” Some of your meals I am going to implement so that I can push money into those good deals.

  • Esther Ball says:

    We eat a lot of beans and rice (black beans and rice is SO yummy!) You can also make Uganda beans and rice with red beans, carrots, onions, tomato sauce/canned tomatoes, and curry powder. We also eat a lot of eggs. Dollar Tree sells eggs and cartons of oatmeal for $1. I often make healthy oatmeal cookies for my kids to eat instead of granola bars.

  • Esther says:

    Also check with some local food bank ministries in your area. My mom works with several ministries that receive day-old bread from Publix and Whole Foods. Some of these are even the healthy, whole grain breads. Maybe you can locate a ministry that gets day-olds and get bread for free.

  • Robin says:

    I love these budget posts. Sometimes I can get new meal ideas from them. I spend maybe $100 a month on groceries for 2 of us. Not only am I able to make 3 meals a day when I need to, I also turn some of those groceries into freezer meals. It saves a lot of money by doing that. I buy 95% of my groceries at Aldi and the rest I get at cub or Sam’s club. Once every other month I go to my favorite Asian market and buy a few whole tilapia or other fish for like $1.29 lb and a slab of pork belly for about $4. The pork belly alone contributes to at least 3 meals. I also buy a lot of rice(both white and wild rice), pasta and beans because they are cheap and can go a long way.

    • Gretchen Marsh says:

      I find that I can eat pretty well if I plan my menu based on what’s on sale. I also shop at certain stores for certain things as I know where to get the best deals. I live in Chicago and take public trans so I don’t make a separate trip just to grocery shopping, but at some point, I visit Aldi’s, Trader Joe’s, Jewel and a great produce place if I get a ride. I plan my meals according to what’s on sale, and only make a grocery list for things that never go on sale, buy several different frozen entrees from Trader Joe’s that will yield at least three servings each, grind my own coffee beans, even found chai tea and cold press coffee concentrates I prepare and bring with me. I went by jewel a few weeks ago and got $75. of groceries for just over $50. I really don’t feel I’m skimping, I’m just not eating out and overspending for things that I can get for less.

  • Lillian says:

    As a college students living off of minimum wage, my roommate and I still only pay about $80.00 on groceries every two weeks. It really comes down to getting the cheapest stuff, and planning ahead.
    Usually for breakfast, we choose from: eggs, eggos, toast, bananas, apples, coffee/creamer. For Lunch, there are always leftovers from last nights dinner! Finally, for dinners last week we made spaghetti, taco salads, pizza, hamburgers, and lastly, baked chicken w/ potatoes, carrots, onions.
    All it takes is planning, commitment, and sacrificing. Do I want that bag of Cheetos? Yes. Do I NEED that bag of Cheetos? No.

    I wish all of you the best of luck in your shopping endeavors!

  • Vanessa says:

    Thanks for sharing! Eating more plant proteins help the budget too!

  • Liz says:

    This is my kind of post. I think trying to keep groceries down is fun!! I know, I’m weird but I think of it as a game. What can I get for X amount? We are a family of 6 and I spend about $70 a week on healthy food (not including toiletries, just food). We eat alot of beans, rice, eggs, carrots, bananas and frozen veggies. My biggest tip is look up to see if there is a grocery outlet around you. One here in TN is called the United Grocer Outlet. All the local stores send their soon to expire food there. Most things don’t expire for another 6 months but grocery stores get rid of it to make room for new stuff. Anyways, I find organic frozen pizzas there for $1.99! And Ezekiel bread for $1 and grass-fed ground beef for $2.79 all the time. Hope this helps!

    Nerdymommyof4.com

  • Amy says:

    These are such great tips! We are a family of six and have been on a $50/week grocery budget for over two years now. It’s fun and actually really forces us to be very creative. We eat very healthy, well balanced meals. We focus our meal plan around Aldi’s produce specials that week and also what I can get with my coupons. Once every 2 months we have a empty the freezer/pantry week where we use up what we already have on hand that we stocked up on when it was next to nothing with coupons and then only buy milk, bread and fresh produce from Aldi that week. Our goal for that week is $10 or less and then I move the other $40 into an emergency savings fund. Toiletries, etc. are always cheap to free because of my couponing. Best of luck to you all!!

  • Sonia says:

    Wow. You guys in the US really have it good, no matter where you live! I’m Aussie, and you can’t even buy dog meat for $4. Potatoes are $3.50/kg on average, so you can imagine what we pay for meat!

  • L says:

    This is crazy. It’s only works if you live where the groceries are cheap. The cheapest gallon of milk in Hawaii goes for 4.99 on sale. Regular price 6.99. Bread is 2.99-3.09 on sale regular 4.99-6.99. We do not have dollar or 99 cent stores. Bread and milk are 2 major staples that take alot of money out of your wallet. Meat is well over 5 bucks a lb some times also. Fresh fruits and vegetables are pricy even at a farmers market. It is possible to shop on a budget but not a $30.00 a week budget in Hawaii.

    • William McBride says:

      I lived on the Island of Guam for 15 years. Most people don’t realize that nothing can be brought in with a truck or train, or even grown for that matter. So, it is very expensive for groceries. Plus, by the time they get there, fresh is not nearly as fresh as it was when it started out. All of these islands have the same problem,

  • Abigail says:

    I dont buy milk which means is not part of our regular diet. I think milk is a complete waste of money especially if you’re trying to save money.

  • NYCAQ says:

    Hi All,
    I live in Queens, NYC. Prices can get high but not as high as Manhattan.
    When I am not busy- I look through all of the ads that come in. I know which local grocers carry what items at the best price. I buy a whole wheat bread from a bakery that delivers to a grocer for about $2.50 a loaf. I buy regular milk, if I see a good price. I shop the circular of every store- so if I have to buy alot of chicken, I do.
    Prices have risen in the last two years, however….I look to pay $1.50 or less (.99) per pound for tomatoes. 3 or 4 cucumbers for 2 dollars, Chicken at less than $2.00 per pound or less for boneless skinless. I try to only buy processed food on sale (ie Cereal, granola bars). I do buy sweet potatoes and other squashes, usually at the best price available. Basically, I look at the best price I have seen (ie .29 cents per pound for watermelon, of 8 for $2 corn on the cob,) and the further the price gets from my sweet spot, the less I am willing to pay. I buy Tedde Peanut Butter from Walmart or my local market- no sugar, and tastes great. (I love PB after never eating it as a kid.)
    I buy frozen veggies on sale.
    I also buy all of my Shout type products from Walmart. I check prices of Detergents vs. sales at drug store. I buy cheap and nice paper towels, depending on what it is needed for. I buy napkins from Walmart (walmart or target.com). Cleaning products- I’ve been purchasing at Walmart/Target or home Depot. I buy a very large size of diswashing liquid and fill up the little bottle.

    If you can shop the sales, do so. If you have a car, look for a neighborhood with multiple markets in one place. I don’t have to cook for a family, but I do manage.

    I will say Costco’s rotisserie chicken, and premade grilled chicken salad are great deals if you have a membership.

    I buy bagged beans, also, because I prefer them bagged. (Though I don’t eat tons of them).
    When I buy cheese, I buy feta, because it is more filling. (2.99, 3.99, 4.99 per pound)
    Good Luck!

  • Meya says:

    I live alone, but I save lots on making large batches of food and freezing it. Use the cheaper proteins, getting a whole chicken is great. Eggs are some of the most nutritious foods on the planet, and they are cheap. Lots of veggies in my food. That way you always have food in the fridge, and don´t have to get takeout when you don´t have the time or energy to cook.

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