My family of 3 survived for a while on a $100 a week grocery budget. Here are all my tips for how I would spend $100 a week on groceries.
It is possible to eat well on a small budget! For years, before we had kids and I had more time to coupon, we were able to spend $30 a week on groceries. After our first son was born, I had less time to coupon, but was still able to feed the 3 of us on a budget of $100 a week.
Here is how I was able to do it:
Every Thursday I go through all the food we have and set up my post for Food Waste Friday. This has been the biggest way I’ve learned to save money on grocery shopping. Through inventory I am able to better know what we will need and not need for the next week of meals.
Check weekly ads
On Sunday afternoons I sneak away from my husband and son for a few minutes to check the Publix weekly ad and coupon match ups on the True Couponing website. I always check to see what their BOGOs for the week are because that is where I save the bulk of my money. I stopped clipping coupons and I only use printed coupons and store coupons from Publix.
Meal plan around weekly ads
While I’m checking the weekly ad I also try to get meal planning ideas. I learned long ago that I should plan my meals around what is on sale, not what I want to eat that week.
On Sunday evenings I meal plan. This is very informal. Sometimes I meal plan and write it on my calendar, other times I put the meal plan in a note on my phone. Other times I write it down at my desk. The point is, I get it done every single Sunday night so I’ll be ready for grocery shopping on Monday afternoon.
Follow the first in, first out rule
I try to live by the “first in, first out” rule for food. We always eat leftovers before cooking something new. This helps me buy only what we need at the store and nothing else.
Buy a minimal amount of processed food
I’ve found that the less processed food I buy, the less money I spend. Everyone always says that real food is expensive and I understand that argument to a certain point, but I can tell you from experience that a bag of carrots and hummus lasts me longer as a snack than a bag of chips. And the carrots and hummus are cheaper per serving. Chips, cookies and other processed foods aren’t cheap. I’d much rather spend my money on real food.
Stick to the list
There are obviously times that I mess up and buy something that wasn’t on the list, but for the most part, I stick to my list and put my blinders on for everything else. Once you get in the habit of sticking to the list you don’t care to look at other items anymore.
Always have a backup
My backup meals consist of frozen chicken, frozen tilapia and frozen vegetables. I make sure we never run out of those staples. You can cook a frozen chicken breast in 40 minutes and have dinner on the table in less than an hour when you combine it with frozen veggies. Having this backup meal ensures that we won’t run out of food options for the week and feel like we need to go to the store, or worse, buy takeout.
Always put the staples on your list
I buy non-dairy milk, eggs, bananas and apples every single week, even if we aren’t out. I rarely have to throw those out and would rather have too much than too little. Once again, making sure we have these staples keeps me from doing random grocery trips in the middle of the week.
2017 UPDATE: As a family of 5, we no longer only spend $100 a week. We now spend $150-200 a week. We recently increased our food budget to allow for fresher and more expensive food because cooking makes me happy.
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What are your favorite tips and tricks for staying on budget at the grocery store?