The Grocery Budget Is Breaking Us.

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For almost 3 months, Brandon and I have been limiting ourselves to $50 a week for groceries (this includes eating out!). In the beginning, I had high hopes. I felt extremely encouraged because we were doing it! We were saving money, eating healthy and delicious, and only spending $50 on food!

After the first month and half though, my “staples” started to run out; nuts, seeds, nut butters, dried fruits, dressing/sauces/vinegars/oils, beans, flours, etc. In order to stock ourselves back up, we had to strategically spend from the extra $25 we allotted for non-food items; baby stuff, hair product, toothpaste, etc. If we absolutely needed these items though, we would either spend over-budget OR sacrifice our meals for the week (aka eat REALLY boring foods).

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This got old REAL fast. I wasn’t the first to cave. Brandon wanted out. The accountant decided that we should spend MORE on groceries because his (and my) taste-buds were killing us.

After a long talk this past weekend, we decided to add another $25 to the food budget. We can spend $75 on food and $25 on toiletries. I am hoping that an extra $25 can either be used to occasionally go out to eat OR on those “staples” that keep me able to make many a home-cooked meal!

My final thoughts on eating healthy AND organic on a budget? It’s tough. If you want to eat 100% organic on $50 a week it takes CAREFUL planning; planning that most of us just don’t have time for. It also takes creativity and a little (or a lot) of extra time in the kitchen; prepping foods, baking breads, making your own sauces. Thankfully, these are all things I love, but if you are super busy, it might not be very practical!

Do I still believe you can eat healthy on $50 a week? Absolutely. Even if you aren’t able to feed your family 100% organic, conventional fruits and vegetables are better than none. And let’s be honest here; frozen meals are definitely NOT cheaper than making a home-cooked meal, especially when you can get more than one or two servings out of most recipes.

My BEST advice to anyone looking to eat well on a low food budget is:

  • Plan ahead.
  • Make recipes that will give you more than one night’s meal.
  • Keep cash. I ¬†find it so much easier to stick to the budget when I only use the cash in my wallet. Less room for impulse buys.
  • Stick to SALE ITEMS ONLY. If your recipe calls for an ingredient that happens not to be on sale that week, don’t buy it! It’s not worth it. Many foods swap easily for the other! Google. Someone, somewhere is probably looking for the same swap!
  • Fresh vs packaged. I have found that the less processed and packaged items are always cheaper. Don’t buy Quaker Oatmeal for $5 when you can get the same amount of oats from the bulk bins.
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11 comments to The Grocery Budget Is Breaking Us.

  • I love this post- it’s always so interesting to see how others meal plan and budget their groceries! great tips!

  • Biz

    I grocery plan the same way – if chicken breasts are not on sale, I am not having chicken that week. I also like to use meat twice, since my daughter moved out and its just me and my husband. I’ll roast a chicken one night, make chicken salad with the leftovers, then make chicken soup with the carcass.

    I spend $75 a week for my two person family, but I also cook breakfast for my one boss 3 times a week, and lunch for my SIL and boss 5 days a week. I charge $5 a meal, so I “make” $65 dollars a week so I use that cash first to pay my grocery bill – everyone wins!

  • Oh man, that’d be hard! The hubs and I could maybe do $75 but definitely not $50.

  • great tips! I do find planning meals and using ingredients we already have (rice, pasta, etc) helps so much before I go shopping!

  • Brandon @ stop lyme disease

    In the US it’s possible in Europe it’s quite impossible do live with 50$ in grocery !

  • $75 is still very little to spend on food! You deserve a pat on the back either way!

  • Hey you did an amazing job! It’s incredibly hard. You have to find that balance and I definitely think y’all are.

    Planning, key and equally hard to do.

  • Amy

    Thank you for sharing – the honesty is refreshing! And truly, you’re still ahead of the game even setting a budget to begin with – it’s a great way to stay in check! We don’t generally have a budget – we just shop sales and bulk whenever possible and try not to splurge. This sort of makes me want to challenge us to stick to a specific number, just to see if we can!
    Thanks for the savings tips!

  • I commend you my friend! 50 is really tough! I can see why you have to up the budget. Still very inspiring though, keep on giving your tips and sharing! I can’t wait to share them with my readers too for a March challenge!

  • We are on a strict budget in an effort to pay off all debt. I try and do my part by keeping the grocery budget as low as possible. Saturday is my grocery shopping day. Before a trip to the grocery store I take a look at the ads and the coupons that I have then I meal plan from there. I then make a list of what I can buy. I have done well not buying things that aren’t on the list. It takes time but it makes things a lot easier and more affordable in the long run. Of course, that is quite easy for me to do right now because we don’t have kids yet. We will see what happens when that changes.

  • I had to read this post because Nick and I have gone through this ourselves. For two years we were tracking EVERY PENNY we spent, and trying to stick to a budget of $400/month on groceries. It was fine at first, but then it got really touch….and…boring. We didn’t stick to the budge often, and we ended up getting super annoyed simply by having to record every penny, it was awful. We finally said no more, and just try really hard to stop and think before we buy ANYTHING (just like we do when we eat, mindfulness!).

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