Grocery shopping can cost a lot if not done right. Messing this one up can blow any budget. This is the area of my life I have worked the most at. It is easy to go into a grocery store and buy whatever you want all the time and not check prices. It is okay to buy what you want in moderation if you want to stick to a budget.
1. Have a Plan
Knowing what is on sale that week and what you already have at home will save money. I tend to build meals this way. Plus it stops me from buying extras of something.
2. Eat more like a vegan
With the cost of meat always on the rise, it is something that can also affect a budget. Just cutting back on this area can save a lot of money! Do you have to be 100% vegan? No, but if you are the type who eats meat 3 times a day, then cut it back to 1 time a day and you will see a savings.
For my mornings:
A typical day might be, for breakfast, I eat my oatmeal with my cinnamon. At Aldi, you can get a container of oats for about $2.39 which last me for about 3 weeks and cinnamon $.95 which seems to last forever.
For my lunch:
Lately, I have been using my crock-pot for lunch. I have been making a lot of bean soups. I have a 8 quart and usually use about 32 oz. of dry beans which is $1.39 at Meijers. Then I put what ever vegetables I want in it. If there is a vegetable that is on sale this week, that will go in. This week, I’m putting black beans, chilies, jalapenos, tomatoes, corn, okra, carrot, kale, vegetable broth, chili powder, salt, and lemon juice. I like to fill my crock-pot all the way to the top. Usually the lid isn’t on all the way. This usually last my husband and I about 5 days.
For my dinner:
For dinner, lately I have been making quesadillas. Depending on what is on sale for the week, will usually make my decision of what I put in it. This week was zucchini which was 2 for $.79. I also have garbanzo beans in the freezer that I will use. Other stuff I bought for it was sweet potatoes, salsa, sweet peppers and cheese. I love using garbanzo beans and sweet potatoes. They have fat in them meaning it is going to keep you fuller for longer. I have enough for about 6 days
Do I eat the same thing every week?
Yes and no. The oatmeal I do for Monday thru Friday mainly, because it is easy to prepare it at work. On the weekend, I usually don’t eat oatmeal. Lately, I have been eating fried potatoes and eggs. All the other stuff may change depending on other factors. I may eat soup and quesadillas for awhile until I’m ready for a change, but what goes in them changes every week. Once I’m ready for something new, then it changes. Plus, when a meal last for 5 days, that means I don’t have to cook often which is a plus in my book! I love to eat, but not a fan of cooking!
What other stuff I may eat?
I have done vegan burgers, vegan mac and cheese, vegan spaghetti and meat balls, vegan pizza, vegan pancakes, tofu scramble, salads, ect… As you can tell, I usually stick with vegan type meals. Does that mean I’m vegan? No, I still eat meat, but not often. I don’t feel deprived. No only the cost of it drives me from not eating it, but I also hate cooking meat. It is hard to get that right. It either comes out raw or over cooked. I don’t have to worry about getting sick from a raw vegetable, because I didn’t cook it correctly.
* pictures down below are 100% vegan and made by me
What is my usual budget?
My max is $400 a month for my husband and I, but I rarely ever reach that. A normal grocery trip usually cost about 70-80 a week. Once in a while, I will challenge myself and see how low I can go and still have a full meal. Which I was able to do for about 30 a week for my husband and I. I don’t do those often, because it is restrictive. But if you do it for only a week every so often, you can save a lot of money for the year. If I do the max, usually I’m trying new recipes and eating more diverse.
3. Eat more of the cheaper items
A 10lb bag of potatoes at Aldi never cost more than $3.99. I’ve seen it go as low as $.99! A bag of big carrots is $.99. If you don’t plan on using all of something, throw it in the freezer. I have done this to carrots. Bananas have gone as low as $.36 per lb! Dry beans and rice goes a long way! Now Aldi doesn’t carry dry beans, but I live next to another grocery store that does usually either Meijers or Martins. I tend to stock up, so I don’t have to go to those places often.
Not an Aldi shopper?
Maybe you aren’t an Aldi shopper like I am. That’s okay! Sometimes, I will go to Whole foods too. If you stick with the 365 brand, that is usually the cheapest brand. Usually I will get frozen veggies, tortillas $2.99 and tofu $1.99 here. Aldi has a small selection of frozen veggies, so they might not always have what I want. If you want some frozen okra, Whole Foods has it for $1.99 for 16 oz.
My health also matters
Sometimes I shop at Whole foods, because I might not like the quality of something at Aldi. I’m not a big fan of tortillas at Aldi, because of the ingredients in it. I try my best if I get something that is processed. I usually pick something that has the most natural ingredients in it. If I don’t know what it is, I put it back.
Now does that mean I never eat anything truly bad? No, I just make sure I don’t indulge too much or often. In September, DQ brings back the pumpkin pie blizzard for a short time. Not even close to healthy, but it is that guilty treat that I have only once a year.
Eating junk every day for every meal will affect the body. If you eat more good than bad, the body tends to be forgiving.
How to read labels
I also check the labels for sodium and sugar. Processed food can run high in these. Make sure what you are buying is low in sodium and sugar. Also, be aware of the serving size. If the serving size is 1 cup, the label is showing you how much sodium and sugar is in 1 cup and NOT in the whole thing. If you are one of those people who do sits down and eat the whole thing of whatever it is, make sure you understand how much is in it. If it says there is 10 servings per container, then you take 10 X sodium for 1 serving = how much you will consume by eating the whole container.
Cooking at home will be the cheapest and the healthiest at home, but sometimes we don’t have time to make every little thing from scratch such as tortillas. Plus I don’t enjoying cooking, so I try to do it in 30 min or less. Checking labels are important!
4. How I snack
As of right now, I haven’t been snacking that much. What I have been eating has been keeping me full and satisfied. But when it isn’t doing the trick, then it it time for a snack. I usually keep some unsalted peanuts from Aldi on hand.
Recently, I have been making these grilled peanut butter, jelly and jalapeno sandwiches. It might sound weird, but it is GOOD!
Another thing that I will do is smoothies. I usually have some frozen fruit in the freezer. Before my bananas turn brown, I throw those in the freezer.
Yesterday, I made this yummy bowl which I had blended cashews, dates, avocados, bananas, spinach and peppermint extract. It was good, healthy and satisfying!
I might also make some vegan muffins. I never use a recipe for muffins. I tend to throw it all in a bowl and hope for the best. The way I make them depends on what I have on hand. Last time I made them, I put strawberries, bananas, dates, flour, flax seed with water (egg replacer), salt, baking soda and almond milk. Those turned out so moist it like melted in my mouth…lol.
And yes, I have done the avocado toast thing too. Aldi had avocados on sale last week for $.49. Now that is cheap! Avocados also has fat in them which the fat will keep you fuller for longer.
*pictures down below are 100% vegan and made by me.
5. Do what makes you feel comfortable, but also step outside the box
If you restrict yourself too much, you will not stick to your plan. I did not always eat how I do now. I have changed the way I eat just by adding something new every so often. I use to eat meat 3 times a day, but when you add new items is when change happens. It has taken me years to eat how I eat now.
It might be as simple as trying a new recipe once a week. Over time, you will experience more variety, and you might also like those better than how you were eating.
I also use to be one of those people who had to eat something new for every meal. I couldn’t eat the same thing in a row. The reason this has changed is, because I’m not a big fan of cooking and also trying to plan out a new meal every time tends to be a lot of work for me. It would overwhelm and stress me out, so that is why sometimes I’ll eat my crock-pot soup that will last 5 days in a row…lol.
Make a budget that is right for you and your lifestyle. My way might not be right for you. My methods are not perfect either when it comes to the cheapest and the healthiest. Maybe you might want to have a bigger budget then I have or even eat a little different. I just share my experiences in hope that it will help you in some way. Maybe it will inspire and challenge you to think a little differently how you grocery shop and eat. Maybe it will try to push you in a healthy way to try to cut cost a bit. Maybe you are trying to save up for that dream vacation? Food is the one area we have a lot of control over when it comes to a budget.
Will how I grocery shop and save money be the same in 5 years? Probably not, I’m always growing in this area and try to do better. I love self-improvement! I’m always changing, and the way I think today may not be how I think later. Plus it keeps life interesting, too.
I also do try new recipes here and there and look into ways how I can make it healthier. I’m always open for suggestions on how I can improve even further and if you got some ideas, go ahead and comment down below. That is the whole point of this blog, so we can help each other and grow! 😉