How To Lower Your Grocery Budget

Learn how to create a grocery list on a budget to save money and eat healthy food.

This Christmas season I spent a little more than a week staying at my parents’ house. I realized that my credit card bill wasn’t racking up. Why? Because I ate leftover turkey and ham for a couple of days, and have in general been eating at my parents house. Hello, home-cooked meals. Why can I not eat you when I’m alone in my apartment? Why can’t I resist getting Uber Eats because I have a sudden Indian food craving. Why am I too lazy to pack my lunch half of the week?

On average, Americans spend $8 per day on food, which includes both eating out and groceries. Being in a large city (Denver), I treat eating out as entertainment. But I’ve taken that to a whole new level. Y’all. I’m embarrassed. I spend so much money on food each month — I spent $100 in November on cafeteria lunches at work, which aren’t even that good. I have a real problem and in 2019 I’m going to change my food spending habits. Mainly because I need to pay off my student loans (sigh).

The United States Department of Agriculture suggests that one person households should spend $200 on groceries a month. I’ll add $50 to eat out a month as a special treat, which will put my total monthly food bill at $250, which is the average amount spent per month for one person with a moderate budget.

You might be thinking: that budget is sooo high or that budget is kind of low. That’s why a budget is personal. You need to calculate your monthly budget and see how much you can realistically spend on food. Whatever budget you choose, follow these steps to stick with the plan.

  1. Shop once per week

    I’m going to shop for food every Sunday for the whole week. How many times have you bought food for two weeks and you end up throwing away food because something went bad? By having a general idea of what meals I’m going to prepare for the week, I can shop for the food that I need and not waste money on food that I will never eat.

  2. Meal Prep

    I’m going to meal prep twice a week because the thought of spending all day on Sunday cooking seems like too much work for me. If I cook half my meals for the week on Sunday and half on Wednesday, I will ensure that I utilize all of the food I bought and also avoid food splurges. I won’t have the excuse of being too lazy to make my lunch on Monday night for Tuesday if it’s already prepared.

  3. Stock up on food that You crave

    But sometimes we just don’t want that food that we prepped. You know when you’re craving a cuisine that you don’t know how to make? It would be smart to learn how to just make the cuisine, but what you can also do is buy a prepared or frozen meal at the grocery store. For example, when I’m having my Indian food craving, I can simply pull out a $5 frozen meal of tikka masala, rather than getting takeout for $15.

With these three tactics, I’m sure that I can stay within my $250 food budget because it a bullet-proof plan against both laziness and cravings. Now, let’s go through an example of a week’s grocery budget and eating out budget.

Grocery Budget

With $200 a month to spend on groceries, I have $50 week or $3.57 per meal to feed myself (I only eat twice a day — my mom never gave me breakfast as a kid).

Let’s break down a meal that I can eat that stretches out into 4 meals: the burrito bowl. This is a perfect meal for that Chipotle craving at less than half the cost. I can eat this everyday and it’s packed with daily nutrients.

Keep in mind, this is how I want to make my burrito bowl, so it could be more or less expensive than yours. Also, sometimes we have the ingredients at home and sometimes we run out of butter and have to spend more than we want that week but it will average out across the month. These prices are based on Denver prices, so check your local grocery store.

What I Need to Buy:

  • 4 Chicken Breasts: $5.64

  • 1 Taco Mix: $1.00

  • 1 Lime: $0.50

  • 1 Bell Pepper: $0.50

  • 1 Small Yellow Onion: $0.27

  • 1 Can of Sweet Corn: $0.69

  • 1 Can of Black Beans: $0.69

  • 1 lb of Lettuce: $1.49

  • 4 Avocados: $2.99

    That totals to $13.77, which is $3.44 per meal.

Yes! I’m below budget and still got avocados #winning

What’s your go-to low budget meal to stay within your grocery store budget? Comment below.

This post contains content this is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Please read my Disclaimer for more information.

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