I originally wrote this post in April 2012 when I was a single college student with no income, living off my meager savings, and determined to spend no more than $20 a week on groceries. I wanted to eat as healthy as possible and so refused to buy Ramen and Mac & Cheese as well as frozen dinners. I also rarely ate out with friends — we’d often plan potlucks to share food — and a few times a month my church would feed the college students.
Since then, I have married but still make it my goal to feed my husband and I on the lowest budget possible. We’ve gone months where I’ve literally spent $100 total on a whole month of food!
So how do we do it?
1. We signed up for a local CSA
I’ve been volunteering at a local farm for a while but this year we decided to sign up for their CSA (i.e. weekly veggie box), which I earn by working versus paying. Each week we save at least $30 not having to buy vegetables! Plus, we’re receiving high-quality, no pesticide, JUST picked, super ripe produce! We often have enough to share with family, too.
2. We strive to eat out for only $30 a month
That includes restaurants, dates, coffee, etc! Inviting people over to eat the food we already have saves a lot of money, also.
3. We shop at cheaper grocery stores.
I refuse to shop at Whole Foods, no matter how healthy the food. It’s overpriced, I can’t afford it, that’s the truth. I can stick with Kroger and Aldi and be just as healthy! Often local stores have organic and health food sections that are the same products but cheaper, anyway.
4. We avoid marketing gimmicks
Coupons, sales and large supermarkets like Walmart that have flashy advertising means spending more money!
5. As often as we can, we skip the snacks.
Packaged food adds up in the cart and isn’t as nutritionally valuable as fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.
6. We buy the store brand.
Many store brands are made by the name brand anyhow, so unless you’re talking about Lucky Charms or Goldfish (but we don’t buy snacks that often anyway, right?) then it’s not a big deal.
7. I go shopping with an envelope that has a specific amount of money in it.
If I only have $75 to spend, I can’t spend more than that. Oh yeah, and that means leaving my credit/debit card at home.
8. We don’t buy meat very often.
Vegetable proteins beans, quinoa, legumes, etc. not only LAST longer but they are SO much more affordable! It’s fun to get creative with vegetarian recipes and we’re always surprised how much we actually like them ;)
I hope you also find this list helpful! If you have anything to add, feel free to comment below. I’d LOVE to learn how you save money on your food costs!