Reader Question: How Can I Eat For $20-$25 A Week?

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Q:   I would like to know if your readers have any suggestions for a tight food budget of approximately $20-$25/week for one person? I am able to shop with coupons which should extend my budget a bit. Any tips or ideas, including meal suggestions would be helpful. Thank you so much in advance.

A: Wow–Things are really tight for you, but I think this is doable.

General Ideas

Buy cheaper foods: Keep your overall costs lower by purchasing cheaper foods such as beans, rice, eggs, peanut butter, tortillas, ground beef, tuna, etc.. You may want to shop at a discount grocer such as Aldi or Save A Lot. You can also check local produce stands for good prices on fruits and vegetables.

Buy what’s on sale: Base your meals around the items that are deeply discounted each week at your local store. These items are called “loss leaders” and are usually on the front page of the store ad. (Turkeys during November; hot dogs, corn and watermelon for the 4th of July, etc.)

Freeze some for later: Take a look at my Easy Meal Plans for Chicken (here and here) and Ground Beef (here and here) for some ideas of how to deal with larger portions of meat and still have a varied diet. You probably won’t purchase packages as large as I do, but these plans can help you as a single person.

Find Resources: When things have been really tight for us, I have found that there are many resources available to help with food. Check with local churches to find a food pantry. Connect with another single person to possibly share larger purchases with. Another idea is to cook a double recipe for something and trade a meal with another single person.

 

Sample Grocery List and One Week Meal Plan

Buy:
1 dozen eggs $2
1 package boneless chicken breasts $6
1 half gallon milk $2.50
1 canister of oatmeal $1.50
1 loaf bread (freeze half) $2.00
2 bananas $1.00
1 16 ounce bagged salad $2.00 (or buy romaine and wash and shred it yourself)
1 package flour tortillas $1.00
1 8 oz. block of cheese $2.50
1 jar salsa $2.00
1 bag frozen broccoli $1.00
1 small jar peanut butter $1.50

 

Breakfasts:

Scrambled eggs, toast  x2

Toast, banana

Oatmeal x2

Homemade waffles x2 (recipe here–assuming you have flour and oil on hand. If not, you may have to eat oatmeal more this week and purchase the flour and oil next week.)

 

Lunches:

Salad with Italian Chicken (recipe here)

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Sliced boiled eggs, salad

Smoothie made from milk, one banana and 2 tablespoons peanut butter (frozen bananas are best)

Egg Salad (assuming you have mayonnaise on hand)

Peanut Butter Sandwich x2

 

Dinners:

Cheese Quesadillas (directions here) with salsa

Chicken Enchiladas (recipe here), steamed broccoli x2

Fried Eggs

Salad with Italian Chicken

Scrambled eggs with salsa

Oatmeal Pancakes

 

It’s not glamorous, but in an emergency situation you would at least have food to eat. Several items will last longer than one week such as the oatmeal, bread, salsa and peanut butter, which will leave room in the budget for other items and a more varied diet in the weeks to come.

I would definitely suggest finding ways to get more vegetables in by buying what’s on sale or checking local produce stands. I have also found that eating more protein in the morning and saving the carbs for dinner helps me to feel better during the day.

Can you help this reader? What suggestions do you have? Leave a comment. :)

 

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More Reader Questions

  • http://www.appleorangelife.com Celena @ apple & orange

    Wow! Kimberlee what a great plan! My only other suggestion would be checking on a food co-op for produce maybe such I wrote about here http://www.appleorangelife.com/2012/07/bountiful-baskets.html

    We have a lot of university students here and I have been asked how they can eat healthier on their budgets and this is one of my suggestions. I often recommend maybe splitting the cost with a roommate or friend so then they still get a great amount at an even cheaper price! Then, can build their meal plan around what they receive by going to the discount store as you suggest. In our area we have WinCo foods.

    Best of Luck! With discipline I believe it can be done!

  • Melissa

    I second Aldi – really cheap fresh produce. I like their bread, dairy and canned goods too. They have a frozen boneless turkey breast for around $9.00 that you could make several meals out of. I would also add to your list of cheap food – raimen noodles and macaroni and cheese (the box).

    I would also explain your situation to small, local restaurants and ask what they do with their day-old stuff. We used to throw ours out because it wasn’t enough for someone to pick up and we just didn’t have the time to take it anywhere, but I would have loved to give it to someone that would come get it regularly. Bigger chains usually have solutions, but mom and pops often just don’t have the volume or the time to do anything but toss.

    Finally, maybe late for this year (but not for fall). I would recommend a garden. Even if it’s just in a container, for $10 you can get a bag of gardening soil and a couple packs of seeds. Fresh herbs, tomotoes and greens are easy, not time-consuming, and will add cheap variety. Reusing your soil and pots season after season makes it even more affordable.

    Good luck. That’s tight, but it can be done.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Love the suggestion to check with local restaurants. Thanks Melissa!

    • Elizabeth

      I agree – definitely check with the mom & pop shops, bakeries etc. I used to work for a bakery before I had my son & every Saturday at closing we had a lady come pick up our bread & donuts that we’d had from friday/saturday (we were closed sundays) and she’d take it to the local shelters.

      • Sarah

        I love the garden idea. Especially zucchini. If you grow one of those plants then you’re basically set for ages, because those spew vegetables like none other. They’re really versatile, too. We put them with other meals, fry them with butter, and stuff them with sausage and cheese. Not to mention they’re healthy. (:

      • Amanda

        Good point! My friend works at a women’s shelter, sometimes they have so much extra perishable food ( that cannot possibly be eaten before it goes bad) that the staff end up taking it home…perhaps this person could get on a calling list from a shelter for extra handouts. Most charities are more than happy to spread the wealth if there are extras. There are also angelfood ministries in certain areas. I shop later in the day when produce, baked goods and meats are all being marked down for quick sale… A baguette that we would eat for dinner (that night) is 1.50 at 11am but at 6 pm it is only .75cents. ps I LOVE your blog!!

        • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

          That is an excellent idea Amanda. I had not thought of contacting local shelters. Glad you like the blog. :)

  • Julie

    When things get tight for us I make a pot of beans. I buy the store brand mixed dry beans in bags. There are a variety of kinds. We make soup, chili and beans with cornbread. I usually cook it on a Sun but you have to soak them overnight. Than we have meals for 3 days.I put in onion, garlic , can diced tomatoes, cumin, salt, pepper and ham if I have it. The jiffy box cornbread is really inexpensive or you can make it from scratch. I hope it helps!

    • Anonymous

      Soups, chili, stews, etc. are a great way to go I think. I will be making a lot of these, thanks for sharing.

  • http://housewifehorrors.blogspot.com/ Nadine

    It’s not glamorous, but Ramen is always a good way to go. You can fancy it up by just baking it with Pork chops with a side of veggies. or as a cheap side dish to leftover meat. Also, pasta is a huge money saver- Buy a package of store brand wheat pasta, a can of Hunt’s pasta sauce ($1 at Dollar Tree), toss in leftover meat. The whole meal costs about 2.50 and your guaranteed leftovers. (You can totally fry up leftover spaghetti for a cheap dinner/ snack).

    Other than that, Shop the sale ad’s, check out discounted meat/deli/bread bins at the store. If you go home and cook/freeze these items your able to make them last!

  • Kimberly

    Add a bag of pinto beans onto the shopping list. Great source of protein that can eaten by themselves with a little cheese on top or on the flour tortillas. Great list and totally doable!!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Thanks Kimberly!

  • http://www.crunchysavings.com Crunchy Savings

    I feed my family of 4 (plus a baby on the way) all natural/organic on $200.00 per month.
    My biggest tip is if a local store has the bulk bins! Buying rice and beans by the pound go a long way! Even if they do not have the scoop your own bulk bins buying beans and rice in one pound bags is also more cost efficient! Shop for produce in season because they will be cheaper and really try to meal plan ahead of time based off of local sales ads. Farmers markets also have great deals on produce in season.
    A roast might cost 1/2 of your budget for a week, but when cooked and froze in one person portions it can provide many meals. Also consider buying a whole chicken. That would also be several meals!
    Often you will see meat priced less per pound when you purchase the family pack. Just separate the meat out into individual portions and you will have several meals.
    You cheapest and healthiest foods will be the ones you make yourself verses buying connivance foods.
    Coupons will definitely help and you will probably have better luck with online printed coupons (where you can pick and choose what you want!) verses wasting money on a Sunday paper. You can always Google Sunday Paper Coupon Preview with the upcoming Sunday date to see what the coupons will be for the weekend. This will save you money on buying a paper, or not to!
    Make a list of your pantry staples (foods that are shelf stable that you personally like) and try to keep these items on hand. It will help in preparing meals and always having items on hand for side dishes!

    • Anonymous

      Up front a roast or whole chicken doesn’t always seem economical, but it is when you portion it out for other meals. I will definitely be using that tip, thank you.

      • Karen

        Don’t forget to make soup from the chicken carcass…be sure to include leftover vegetables from the fridge!

    • http://www.alifebeyondmoney.info Skelto

      I second the idea on a whole chicken. Look in the manager’s special section for discounts on whole chickens.

      I roast the entire thing, and have one meal of roast chicken (with mashed potatoes) for dinner. Then I cut off bite sized pieces and freeze. These will be pulled out later for stir fry, wraps, pizzas, casseroles, etc. I shred the little bits and pieces left and freeze that also. That is used either in omelets, chicken salad sandwiches/wraps or soups. I take all of the bones along with any carrot or potato peels or onion skins I have on hand and make chicken broth. After I have simmered it for a few hours, I strain it and freeze the broth. I pick through the bones and usually get a lot of little pieces of chicken. I use that for soup with the broth, carrots, celery and pasta.

      I get a lot of meals out of that $7 chicken.

  • Kristie

    I’ve found that on tight weeks buying a whole chicken can really go a long way and provides many inexpensive meals. You can start by boiling the chicken, reserving the stock, and then removing the meat. Use meat for chicken tacos, chicken & rice casserole, chicken quesadillas, enchiladas, chicken salad, etc. With the stock you can make chicken & dumplins (made with the super cheap canned biscuits) and soup with a little meat and either rice or pasta. I can stretch a whole chicken (that I buy for under $5 most of the time) into at least 4 meals for my family of 5. I’m sure you could get much more feeding just 1 person!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      We call that “super chicken” Kristie. :)

      • http://www.appleorangelife.com Celena @ apple & orange

        We love whole chickens! Last week at WinCo we were able to by a twin pack for under $7!

    • Kelli

      Better yet…make the dumplings using only water, self-rising flour and a little black pepper…roll it out and cut it into squares with a pizza cutter…you won’t even need to buy canned biscuits and to me it tastes better than the biscuits!

  • http://Www.peachesandcheese.com Christine

    To make quesedillas more filling we add some black beans. You can find a can very inexpensive at aldi. If you’re feeling fancy, it’s really good to add a little frozen corn and taco seasoning too. One of our favorite snacks! Great list!

  • Diane

    If you have a WalMart close by you can price match with all the other local store ads you get in the mail,paper or online. I took in several local ads and shopped for fresh produce and saved a ton of money that way. The cashier also gave me some sale prices I did not have that she knew about because she also does the price matching. I got pineapple for .99, watermelon for 2.99, strawberries for $1.19, cherries for $1.69, avacados 5 for $1.00 etc… They do not match when it is a percentage off like save 40% off all chicken. You can read their store price match policy on-line for all the details.

    • Heather Barthelme

      Avocados 5 for $1.00!! That’s great!!

  • http://kitchencourses.com Rachael

    The only thing I would add is what Crunch Savings mentioned and that is to shop the bulk bins! If you find a store that carries many options of grains or beans, you can buy only what you need for a week and cheap!! Brown rice, oats, and beans are great options to bulk up your dishes without breaking the bank.
    In time, I’d recommend getting a few condiments to keep on hand to change up the flavors of dishes that might seem boring. Things like vinegars (rice wine, red wine, balsamic) or soy sauce/tamari/shoyu can change up things like chicken and rice to be a lot more flavorful and allow you to feel like you’re having a different dish, even if the main ingredients are the same.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Great idea to add different condiments Rachael. Thanks!

    • Anonymous

      Condiments are very helpful to add flavor. Thankfully I have quite a few in my pantry bought on sale with a coupon of course. ;) Thank you for the tip.

  • Kat

    What part of the country does this reader live in? In California, $25 does not go far, especially if you live on either end of the state. Nothing on your list costs that little here. I wish!

    For West Coast people, try Trader Joe’s. They have surprisingly cheap dairy items, fruit that’s in season and staples. Pasta is also incredibly cheap and you don’t have to wait for sales.
    Sprouts (formerly Henry’s) is another great option for veggie and fruit, if you buy in season.

    Stay away from any pre-preped food. buying a head of leafy plant is cheaper than buying it bagged. Same goes for pre-cut veggies and fruit.

    I would also recommend looking into a local CSA.

    If you know someone who has a Costco membership, see if they might be willing to take you shopping there and you can get your meat cheaper. It is a lot upfront, but you can freeze it. Or see if your friend will split the pack with you.

    If you don’t know how to cook, see if your local community college offers adult night classes so you can learn some basics. The one near us offers it 3 times a year and it is $26 for 6-10 weeks. Plus you get a “free” meal after your class.

    • Anonymous

      I do have a warehouse membership that was purchased some months ago. My strategy will be to stock up on basics and meats when I can. I’ll utilize that membership as long as I have it. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Amanda

      Thanks for sharing those tips, Kat! I’m down near San Diego and have the same issues. (And forget trying to do the couponing thing in CA, am I right?) I’d always assumed Sprouts and TJ’s were more expensive, so I’m glad you mentioned them. Thank you also to Kimberlee for this post. Definitely some great ideas for living on a tight budget. Cheers!

      • Jennifer

        Actually, http://www.couponmom.com is from southern CA. I lived there a few years ago and I’m sure things have changed, but couponing used to be great there! If you buy a lot when it’s super cheap or even free and freeze, you can start building a stockpile and save a lot that way.

        • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

          Hi Jennifer- I think Coupon Mom is from Atlanta. Couponing can be a way to save money though. :)

  • Laura

    There is no shame in going to the local food pantry to help stock your pantry. I love to donate and would be so happy to know that I could help someone with such a tight food budget.

  • Tara

    Walgreens also has milk and cereal on sale frequently. You also get ‘register rewards’ when you purchase there for many different things, just check the ad. I had a shoestring grocery budget when I was in school and I ate better than I do now (funny how having the means to eat out justifies more lunch dates…), but I ate a lot of frozen chicken breast because that can be prepared with buffalo sauce; with italian seasoning, pasta, and sauce for chicken parm; with BBQ sauce for BBQ chicken or shredded for pulled chicken sandwiches…the list goes on. Hard boiled eggs are great for breakfast or for egg salad at lunch. Another great thing is to buy a pork or beef roast on sale, throw it in the crock pot with potatoes, carrots, and salt and pepper and you have meals for AT LEAST 5 days – I loved this because I froze the leftovers in meal sized portions. One last idea is to buy the bagged soup mixes on sale and add meat to them – my favorite is the cheddar potato with 1/2 – 1 lb of ground meat (turkey, pork, beef, whatever was on sale) and you end up with an awesome ‘cheeseburger chowder’! Freeze the leftovers in individual portions and it’s something easy to grab for lunch or supper if you’re too lazy to cook at the moment.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      I never heard of bagged soup mixes Tara. Are those in the freezer section?

      • Tara

        No, I buy Shore Lunch http://www.shorelunch.com/Premium-Soup-Mixes.aspx
        but another brand is Bear Creek – they’re dry and all you have to do is add milk or water depending on the directions. You can make the whole bag or prepare smaller portions depending on your preference. I buy them when they’re on sale and they’re great to keep in the cabinet for those difficult evenings when nothing is coming to mind…

        • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

          Thanks Tara!

        • Elizabeth

          Dry soup mixes are great! We stock up on the Bear Creek ones, and one bag of soup will feed my husband & myself for 3 days! :)

  • http://leginge28.blogspot.com/ JC

    This was exactly what my budget was in college.

    I survived by buying large amount of dried goods and sale meat. I used cornmeal to make corn bread, and polenta, ate a lot of oatmeal, rice, pasta and made a lot of pizza’s (Flour, salt, egg, water and w/e toppings). Stir fry’s were also a big thing, because i could take whatever veggies i had around and throw them together with some meat, and rice or pasta. Perfect for leftovers.

    I always bought the largest packages of sale meats and put them into smaller portions to freeze. I also cooked meals enough for a family of 4 and stored individual portions (Leaving dried goods out to save freezer space)

    It got to the point where if there werent any good sales I could spend the week eating out of my freezer and just buy produce, until the next sale, and then I could put the money I saved into the following weeks groceries.

    • Anonymous

      Great idea on cooking for more than one as putting aside the extra is helpful when you need a meal later on. It takes just as much time almost and energy, so why not make it all stretch? Thanks for your ideas.

  • Angie

    Spaghetti noodles with sauce from a jar (no added meat) will provide a few inexpensive meals. I lived off ramen noodles and spaghetti one Summer in college!

  • bella01

    Classic spaghetti carbonara is a good cheap recipe. If we don’t have Bacon, we sometimes use left over sandwich ham. I also don’t add the cheese if we don’t have it.
    Ingredients
    1/2 pound bacon, chopped
    1 tablespoon chopped garlic (Doesn’t have to be used)
    Freshly ground black pepper
    1 pound fresh spaghetti, cooked al dente
    4 large eggs, beaten (you can get away with using 3 eggs)
    Salt
    1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
    Directions
    In a large saute pan, over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy, about 6 minutes. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all of the oil except for 3 tablespoons. Add the garlic. Season with black pepper. Saute for 30 seconds. Add the crispy bacon and the pasta. Saute for 1 minute. Season the eggs with salt. Remove the pan from the heat and add the eggs, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble. Add the cheese and re-season with salt and pepper. Mound into serving bowls and garnish with parsley.

    I also make Paella, with boxed Spanish rice and I use left over chicken and add one or two sausages to it.. If I find cheap peppers I will dice and add them too.

    Also another good cheap recipe is Toad in the hole

    2 tbsp olive oil
    Mini sausages (party sausages), I use half a packet and freeze the rest for another day.
    2 eggs
    85g/3oz plain flour
    100ml/3½fl oz milk

    Preparation method
    Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
    Heat the oil in an ovenproof frying pan and gently fry the onion, sausage and rosemary for 3-4 minutes.
    In a bowl, whisk the eggs, flour, half of the milk and mustard together to make a smooth batter. gradually add the rest of the milk until you have a smooth batter (you may not need to use all of the milk). Pour the batter over the sausages in the pan, then transfer to the oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown and cooked through. Anyway there are lots of recipes for this on the web.
    We have it with chicken or pork gravy and Mashed potatoes. Plus big bonus! if you have any left over batter keep it in the fridge and you can use it the next day to make pancakes or as you Americans call them crepes!

    Anyway I hope these recipes help a little.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for taking the time to share your recipes. I will definitely try them! :)

  • Jordan

    My favorite go to *cheap* meal…..

    Plain rice, cooked with some salt, I cook a big batch, and freeze into ‘meal/bowl’ sized microwavable containers filled half way. Toss some frozen bulk purchased veggies and freeze. Make sure to leave empty space in the container. When I’m ready to eat, I freshly fry 1 to 2 eggs in a nonstick pan with no grease. While that’s frying I microwave the frozen rice & veggies (with a little splash of water). I add the eggs to the rice/veggies, top it with spices, maybe salt and peper, soy sauce, garlic powder, chili powder, seasoned salt, or anything really. It’s very conveniant, and the varieties are endless! You can buy whichever sort of veggie is on mega sale at the time, or subsitute other meat as available. You can add this to a weekly rotation for those nights when you need something quick and easy.

    • Anonymous

      This sounds very interesting and delicious, thanks!

  • Anna

    Excellent list particularly since you do not know what the person has on hand in the pantry or does not have on hand. First, I would suggest the person look at their pantry to see what is in it if anything. Make an inventory of items and try to build around that first. I personally would avoid getting into the trap of buying M&C and Romain noodles. M&C is great for 2 or more people but that is a lot of M&C for one and buying a bag of pasta would be better so a little variety in cooking can be managed and/or for freezer cooking. (At Target you can get pasta and sauce for a dollar right now). I feed a family of 5 for $50/week but I do have a good stock pile. In the beginning I started with $75-$100/week and gradually decreased my weekly budget. Some weeks I don’t even buy much and live off my stock pile (another story). I would suggest sticking to fruit and veggies in season and buy small quantities so food doesn’t go to waste. I think buying pre-cut is OK depending up the person’s need. I make carrot baggings for lunches, snacks and I always buy the baby carrots. It would be cheaper to cut carrots up from larger ones but takes too much time. I get bagged lettuce when it is on sale or I want a certain kind but again depends on the food budget and my time factor.

    Every family whether 1 person or 10 needs to have a goal and plan in mind before spending money. The goal is to eat for $20-$25 a week and possible start a small stock pile???? Also, need a menu plan so the person knows how to spend their funds. Then the person can shop without overspending or spending without thought. I would suggest the person put $1-2 a week towards a stock pile (even an extra bag of a food item would be a start). A single person does not need a large stock pile.

    Another question I might wonder about this person is–“will the money for grocery shopping be available for the month or the week?”. I get paid once a month so I have all my grocery money available for the month at the start. I usually buy my meat and staples at the start of the month so I have my basics. Sometimes it is easier to buy more in bulk when more money is available but each family is different.

    Keep an inventory of prices at different stores and buy according to sales but don’t chase sales. Easier to stay at 1-2 stores close by vs. using gasoline. Freezer cook some meals.

    If the person has access to a computer, you can look on U-tube for about how to cook anything. Also, go to the library for cooking books. Cooking is the key to keeping the budget low in my opinion.

    I would also suggest shopping for small quantities of items unless the food item can be stored (rice, grains) or frozen (bread). A single person can easily waste food when buying in bulk. Better to buy less until the person figures out how much they will use and/or need.

    Also watch the sales at Wags, CVS, Rite-Aid, Dollar General, Dollar Tree. I actually get some of my best deals at drugstores but that is me. I transferred several prescriptions to Wags and got over $100 in GCs which I will use for food and back to school items. I buy my bread at Dollar Tree pretty regularly but I also learned to make my own bread too for a little cheaper plus the bread is thicker so goes farther.

    Finally sign up for all the freebies you can. Once the freebies start coming in then the person may save a little in other areas of a household. I get enough freebies for my family that we have enough shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, and other basic items that we could survive on. I can imagine a single person would even do better than a family of 5!

    Lastly, living on a grocery budget is hard work–no way around it. BUT you can do it and even eat well! Just need to put the effort in to making a budget work.

    Good luck!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Excellent point about shopping at the beginning of the month. You can often find better prices by purchasing sale and other items in bulk, so having the money upfront would save you money later in the month.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for your ideas and about the reminder of drugstore gift cards for changing prescriptions. I’ve not done that lately and it would be a help for sure.

  • Mida

    Thank you for the reminder on Trader Joe’s just had one up in our area will definetly be going there to shop! When I make a meal plan, I include recipes that have a lot of the same ingredents. That way I am not wasting any leftovers and simply using them in the next reciepe.

  • http://Casapetrie.com/blog/ Mrs. Petrie

    When money is tight, I find cooking with a crockpot helps to stretch my food (plus it’s harder to burn food, which is costly). Cheap cuts of meat become very tender in the slow cooker.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you to all your terrific readers, Kimberlee. I really appreciate all the great ideas everyone posted and their kindness in taking time to do so.

    I live in the northeast, so groceries are expensive. I’m not very good at meal-planning, however, I do have better skills when it comes to couponing and budgeting.

    No, I am not opposed to getting help when needed and have done so and will do so again if needed. I’m a little prideful, but not that prideful that I would starve. Presently I’m in a challenging and unexpected position in my life so like many folks in this economy I have to cut the food budget to make other things work. It’s a matter of me being able to survive and not lose my living situation, etc.

    Thank you all, again, and thank you, Kimberlee, for posting this and for your great ideas towards planning a tight grocery budget and menu.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      So glad we could help. :)

  • Anonymous

    P.S. I do have a stockpile presently and that will be a big help. So I am not starting out with nothing. I’m not an extreme couponer – more of a light-to-medium coupon user. But every little bit I can save on something I need or will use is a good thing. If I can spend less or get something for almost nothing, it really is a great thing.

    Thanks again to everyone.

  • Sheila

    There was a similar question on Money Saving Mom a while back. Both the post and the comments have a lot of great ideas. http://moneysavingmom.com/2012/04/is-it-possible-to-survive-on-a-30-per-week-grocery-budget.html. I admire both Kimberlee and Crystal for having such good ideas for starting from basically nothing and creating balanced and varied meals.

  • Cyndi
    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Thanks Cyndi!

  • Faith

    I would suggest checking with your local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group. I know Grow Alabama engages in bartering in exchange for fresh produce. They use college students and other community members to help with office duties, marketing, and computer issues, and pay them with vegetables. Also, chicken leg quarters are a staple in our house hold. Currently, they are $0.49/lb in our area, sold in 10# bags. $4.90 for ten pounds of chicken is a great deal. Rice can often be found for free with coupons. Potatoes are another cheap option and can be found for around $1.49 for an 8# bag. Good luck!

  • Allison

    Just wanted to share…another one of my favorite blogs (other than this one of course) is budget bytes. She outlines budget recipes by breaking down the cost per serving. It is a great way to learn new recipes and to analyze how much they cost, and to plan something that fits in your weekly budget!
    Ill add the link here, hope you enjoy!

    http://budgetbytes.blogspot.com/

  • http://fistfullofflowers.blogspot.com/ Meghan

    This is what I do:

    I shop at Albertson’s for meat. They frequently put pork on a buy one get 2 free sale. When that comes around, I buy the biggest packages I can and separate the packages into freezer bags of 2-3 chops each.

    Also, bigger grocery stores will deeply discount their meat that is about to reach its sell by date. You can save a lot of money on meat by buying those packages and freezing them to use later.

    I also shop at Sprouts for my produce and bulk goods (and sometimes my dairy too, when it’s on sale). I get the weekly circular emailed to me and base my meals off that. In fact, I just paid $1/lb for peaches and $1 for a dozen eggs. They also have 1 lb blocks of tofu for $1.

    Oh, and you can buy bulk produce in season and freeze it for later. Just spread the veggies/fruit out on a baking sheet and stick it in your freezer for about 30 minutes, then transfer to freezer bags. This keeps them from sticking together. I have tried this with great success with blueberries this summer, but haven’t tried it with anything else yet.

    One more thing: It’s completely unrelated to food, but I also use Spotify to stream music. It’s free and ad-based like Pandora, but you get to choose what you listen to next and make your own playlists. I’m a musicaholic, so this has been a boon to my bank account. :)

  • http://www.liveafabulesslife.blogspot.com Amanda Faulkner

    Pancakes are a great item too – even for dinner! If we are having a rough week I make dinner for breakfast. You can make your own mix or buy a box from the store for around $3. But you just add water. Even if you didn’t have syrup top with PB or some jam. Makes for a really cheap and filling meal. Also, we do the whole chicken A LOT. Throw it in the crock pot shred it — make stock — makes a few casseroles plus chicken salad at our house.

  • Amy

    Meat free meals save $$. Also – making items from scratch is a big money saver. Compare buying bread to baking (so easy to do)… or making tortillas (ask easier than I thought). Bake some muffins from scratch with the oatmeal to mix things up. Oatmeal is great for breakfast – or even dinner when funds are low. Our diet is vegan – so, there is that. Make a batch of sun tea to drink – WAY cheaper than buying… as for meat – I see the rotisserie chickens marked down – buy one, strip it and freeze in smaller portions for several meals. Ramen noodles, handful of frozen mixed veggies and a lil chicken and you have a meal. Also, think ‘Chinese’ if you want to eat meat – small amounts just to add flavor… and take the advise here and make a menu – even if it is just you. Plan meals so you use what you buy – and buy what you need. It has really helped me a lot. I am cooking for 6 here. Breakfast is an area i think I really benefit from the menu. Its a lil more work – but worth it to have a decent breakfast. A batch of muffins would last you a week. Freeze them for use later. English muffins are also a cheap ‘to make’ item. I hope all the advise here helps you. I’ve been there. Hope things improve for you

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for the good thoughts. I actually love Chinese food so I would like to learn how to cook more of it – as all I know to do is a stir-fry.

      I feel positive that I will be able to do this. The most important thing is to put forth the effort in using basic ingredients and I do know how to do that, so that will be a real help. Thanks again.

  • http://midwesternwife.blogspot.com/ Kara

    I know it’s really tricky to live on a small food budget, but I lived on a food budget of $12-15 right after I finished graduate school because I couldn’t find a well paying job and had loans to pay back. You can read about what I did here: http://midwesternwife.blogspot.com/2012/07/how-i-saved-money-working-at-pet-store.html
    I shopped at the cheapest food store in the area (Aldi) didn’t eat meat, made healthy, but small portion sizes, and bought mostly sale items and made what I could with them :) It is possible! You will definitely be able to do it, and if you can cut back costs in other areas, then you might be able to give yourself more grocery money if you are worried! Best!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for sharing your link, much appreciated.

  • http://thecreativelion.blogspot.com Emma

    I actually eat on 20-30 Euros most weeks (about 25-35 dollars a week) so I figured I’d share a tip or two. I’ve learned a lot from this experience, but the two big things are that 1) I just have to eat less and 2) I get used to a level of monotony. My top money-saving foods are rice/lentils/polenta/other cheap grains, BEANS, frozen veggies, eggs, and PB and J sandwiches. I drink only water; no juices or sodas. I eat Polenta every morning (1 week’s worth of breakfasts for 1 Euro!!!). I make most of my own foods from soups to breads and etc. Save a lot of money that way. Spices are your friend. Nothing perks a bland dinner up more than some spices or an onion. Both are cheap and at least the spices last forever! Thanks for this great website, Kimberlee. I’m in my last year of college and can take all the frugal tips I can get!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Thanks for your suggestions Emma. Drinking water is a big money saver and it’s healthier too. :)

    • Anonymous

      I appreciate hearing from others who are doing the same or have done it. It boosts my confidence that it can be done. Thanks for sharing.

  • Sarah

    Be careful not to get stuck in a rut of eating unhealthy foods because they’re cheap. Foods like mac and cheese are processed and made with white flour – not a lot of nutrients. Things like carrots, dried black beans, dried garbanzo beans and eggs can be cheap but are high-nutrient foods. Making a big pitcher of iced green tea (high levels of antioxidants) with only a couple of tea bags to have in the fridge is way cheaper than drinking soda. Saving on food in the short term only means more heath problems and larger medical bills later on, so consider health as well as price.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Great point Sarah–thanks!

    • Sarah

      I also forgot to mention dry rolled oats (not instant oatmeal) – very cheap – and oatmeal is, I believe, one of the healthiest 14 foods you can eat. Try to get the most health-bang for your buck! (And, typo above. I meant: Saving money by buying unhealthy food in the short term only means more health problems and larger medical bills later on…)

      • Anonymous

        Sarah, thank you for the great tips. Everyone’s kindness in sharing/helping has inspired me and touched my heart. Thanks again.

  • Alisha

    Other great ways to save are the 2nd day bread rack at most any bakery, even at super walmart. And also the rack of not so pretty fruit and vegetables. All still perfectly good to eat, just sold at a discount because they don’t sell as well with a few bruises.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, people buy ripe bananas – same philosophy, really. Ripe fruit can be used in smoothies and baked fruit items. A little older veggies can be put into soups and stews, etc. The key is to use it up pretty quickly I have found, or process the items before they have a chance to spoil. Thank you for your idea.

  • Jen

    If possible, raising backyard chickens can cut your grocery bill.

    I have 6 hens and get between 4-6 eggs per day. They roam the backyard, and I spend around $20 every 2 months on supplemental feed. (Some spend more, but I forgo corn scratch which isn’t good for them anyway, and give them kitchen scraps, all the bugs they can eat, and just a little bit of feed a day.)

    I sell about half the eggs we get for $2/doz (which is a steal for free range, abx free eggs…). So I get around 10 dozen eggs a month total, sell half and break even.

    In other words, free eggs for my family for about 15 minutes a day of chicken care.

    Also…CSA is another great thing, as are home gardens. This time of year, I spend $27/week on Co-OP shares. Plenty of veggies, meat and bread in there for my family. Add in eggs from our hens, more produce from the garden and the only things I am buying at the store are milk, eggs, and staples like beans/rice/quinoa/oats/pasta/oil/sugar/wheat.

    As a result, In the Summertime, my total food budget for my family of five is about $10/person/week.

    I do not use coupons or track sales.

    • Anonymous

      Jen, where I live I cannot have chickens, but I bet you are saving a lot of money. I’m sure it’s too late for a CSA this year, but I will look into that next year as I cannot garden due to my health. Thank you.

  • Michelle

    Our budgets are pretty similar so I know it can be done! Meal planning and comparing store ads are definitely important. Since it’s just me, I usually cook 2 to 3 times per week and have left overs on the days I don’t cook. I have a couple of casserole recopies that I have changed up to substitute beans for meat when I can’t find it on sale.

    Here’s one of my favorites: (all prices based on store brand products)

    Bean & Vegetable Casserole

    1 box stuffing (chicken flavor) – $1.25
    1 can condensed cream of chicken soup – $1.50
    1/2 small container sour cream – $1.50
    1 can great northern beans – $.75
    frozen or canned vegetables (I use whatever I have on hand like peas, a stir fry frozen mix, green beans..also great for using up the last little bits of several types of frozen veggies!)

    – preheat oven to 400 degrees
    -sprinkle bottom of casserole dish with 1/2 unprepared stuffing mix
    (moisten the remaining mix with hot water and set aside)
    -combine cream of chicken with sour cream and stir in beans and vegetables (i usually do not thaw frozen vegetables before adding)
    -spread mixture over the dry stuffing mix and top with prepared stuffing
    – bake 30 minutes

    Only costs about $5 and makes enough for 3 dinners plus a little extra to freeze.

  • Mama

    Thanks everyone for the fabulous tips and meal ideas. It’s amazing what we can put together when our children are involved! I feed my family of 6 on an average of about $40-$50 per week. I don’t really use coupons, I usually find that I spend more on buying the newpaper and/or computer paper and ink that I actually save. I’ll use them when they come in the mail, and the item is still actually in stock once I get there. My biggest tip is shopping in unexpected locations. For example, one of my favorite places to pick up some of the basics is Menards. You can find Malt-O-Meal cereal in large boxes on sale for $1.88, those dry soup mixes that were mentioned, boxed macaroni and cheese, pastas, as well as the Hunt’s pasta sauce, which is only .88 there! We also get most of our baking goods, large containers of peanuts or pretzels, salsa, fruit snacks and general household items like toiletries and cleaning products at Menards. They also carry eggs, milk, soda, juice and frozen pizzas (not among the least expensive items, but unexpected). Last week we saved a ton on school supplies. It can be hit or miss and sale items aren’t always in the ads, but you can check the ad online. Occasionally, I find great deals in the grocery section at Target also.

  • Michelle

    Something I read about the other day is that you can often take the leftover part of a vegetable, such as celery (the bottom portion) put it in water, sprout new roots, and it will grow again. I have never tried this, but have had many friends tell me it will work! There are numerous web sites on how to do this, and it seems like nothing is really required other than that little bit of celery, potato, garlic, pineapple, or ginger root, and the patience to let them grow. I know there were other things to grow, but I can’t remember off the top of my head.

    I know I can go into my farmers market with around $20 and come out with enough vegetables to make food for over a week, and I even have some to freeze when I’m done.

    If you don’t have the space at your own house, there are “community gardens” even in the small town I live in where people can go and grow their own food. Often the farmers there will share crops and seeds with each other.

    Lately I’ve found that making my own butter from locally produced cream costs around the same price as buying butter at the store, but the bonus is that I get buttermilk at the end for pancakes or biscuits, and the butter is so much better! All that is required for this is a sealed jar to shake the cream up, and some patience. If you have a food processor, it’s easier, but not required.

    Not sure if any of these ideas were already posted, or if they will even help, but thought I would put my 2 cents in :).

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Great ideas Michelle. I miss being able to get fresh milk. It costs $12.50 a gallon here. :(

  • Bethany

    I have found that in addition to the markdowns at grocery stores that farmer’s markets are great sources of inexpensive food. Say your local market is only open on the weekends. Go on Sunday near closing time. They will deeply discount the produce because they can’t sell it next week. Also I try to make friends with the farmers. If they have a veggie I’m not familiar with or I’m tired of making the same old thing. I ask them for new ideas. They love sharing it, because they like it when their customers enjoy the food. Through building a relationship with them, I’ve found that they often times will offer me an even better deal or sometimes the food for free. I don’t ask and I don’t disclose my situation. They just know I love veggies and they’d rather me have them than to throw them away or even compost them :)

  • Angela

    Man, I need to know how to shop on $20-$25/wk for TWO people… having no job for 5 months can really take a toll on ya.. I buy lots of potatoes, ramen noodles, microwave dinners, etc. the really cheap stuff thats not so good for you.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      I am so sorry that you are in this position Angela. If I were you, I would check into local food banks to get some help. That seems a little too tight to be healthy.

    • Brittany

      Hey Angela, $25 per week for two adults was my grocery budget for six months until I went back to work after an extended maternity leave. Whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and oatmeal are cheap grains that fill you up. I usually bought canned vegetables unless frozen veggies were on sale. Dried beans and eggs were my go-to sources for protein. I ate a peanut butter sandwich and applesauce for lunch everyday. Breakfast for dinner was one of our favorite meals– you can make pancakes really cheap. I was lucky that my mom would “accidentally” buy extra things like cheese and cereal to send home to us. The things we ate weren’t the best but at least ramen and boxed mac and cheese were not a regular part of our diet. Best of luck to you!

  • LaDonna

    I love all of the tips I have been getting so far- you are a God send for sure!! One tip that I have for shopping is I use couponmom.com. This website will match the coupons that come out in the papers AND the printable ones to what is one sale at your local store. There is even a search tool that you can use to search if there is a particular item on sale that you may need. This includes sales in drug stores like CVS and Walgreens also. Oh yeah it also gives tips on how to do the “extreme couponing” as well. Hope this helps!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      LOVE CouponMom!

  • Erin Garner

    My boyfriend and I shop at Kroger and generally speaking spend between $40 and $50 per week (that’s $20-$25 per person). We do this by planning our meals. We plan three dinners and make each dinner last at least two nights, and usually one lunch. If we need a “seventh” dinner, we have an “every man for himself” night and we have a can of soup, a grilled cheese, make some tuna salad, a box of mac and cheese, or Ramen noodles. We do lots of canned soups for lunches, or take a small portion of left over dinner for lunch. Neither of us are big breakfast eaters (usually just coffee or a glass of juice or milk), but when we do breakfast we eat a lot of oatmeal or pancakes. About every five or six weeks we have to restock a little and may spend $100 that week, but rarely spend over $50 for the next four to five weeks. We have only recently really started paying attention to our food budget; and making our meal plan has drastically reduced our grocery bill.
    I have also recently started couponing and actually got $120 of goodies at CVS tonight for under five dollars. I go late in the evenings to shop and have made friends with one of the cashiers who has helped lead me down the couponing path.
    I have a long way to go, and make a good salary, more than $60,000 per year in addition to the salary my boyfriend makes, but we find a lot of happiness in being frugal. I love putting dollars in my pocket and not in the pockets of corporations!! when our current stock of laundry soap runs out, I plan to make my own, start cleaning with vinegar (and not buy expensive cleaning products), and am working on cutting out all drinks except water and milk.

  • Muffet

    This time of year is personally my fav! Lots of fresh farmers markets selling produce and such :) This also means that peoples personal fruit trees are in season, and so much fruit goes to waste! My suggestion is that if you see a tree in your area and the fruit is falling and just sitting on the ground go knock on the door and ask if you can pick it, and clean up the stuff that has already hit the ground for the owner/tenant. (I normally get some pears of the people who live behind me and drop them off some jam :)
    Cut it up and freeze and you will have fresh fruit all winter long. If you have the money you can also can fruit.

  • Deana

    Go vegan. The amount of money I save by not purchasing meat and dairy products (as well as processed and pre-packaged products) is astounding. My grocery trips used to easily near $200. Now, they are more like $75.

  • Christy

    We have big name bakeries in our area (Aunt Millie’s etc.), all of them have a little “store” area where you can purchase direct from them. They have bread, biscuits, dinner rolls etc. for a huge discount. Usually I can find loaves of bread 3 for $1! These loaves are usually $3 each or more in the store.

  • Ana

    sorry ahead of time if I am repeating any ideas already offered. there were too many comments to read every single one!

    hit the grocery stores first thing in the morning when dairy and meats are marked down because they are close to the expiration date. There is still plenty of time to use them or freeze them. Ask your store’s clerk when they do markdowns and be there.

    center your meals around the cheapest foods to eat – others have mentioned a few of them: eggs (great cheap protein), rice, oatmeal, dried beans… did anyone mention potatoes? A bag of potatoes is super cheap and you can eat a baked potato for lunch or dinner (as well as use the potatoes in many other ways). Top baked potato with your favorite toppings – chili, salsa, etc.

    It has been mentioned that dried beans are much cheaper than canned. But that takes time and planning. Here is how to get around that. Make a BIG pot. soak the beans overnight, cook, and then drain and divide up into baggies and throw them in the freezer. It is the ultimate cheap “fast food”, and protein too.

    Have you thought of making your own bread? Learn how to make dough for sandwich bread and toast, dinner rolls, pizza crust, etc. For about .25 cents per batch, you can’t beat the price! Learn how to keep a “wet dough” in your fridge to be ready whenever you need it. For the price of flour, water, salt, yeast, etc. you can have delicious breads any time and have more money for other food at the grocery store.

    Your freezer should be your best friend. Freeze food so it doesn’t go bad and is not wasted. Freeze bread, cheese (works best for grated), nuts, meat, butter, yeast for your bread, many fruits and veggies, chopped onion, etc.

    Gather a recipe collection of easy dishes that use your cheap staples. That way you will have a nice variety of meals and not get sick of the same foods. Here is one for your recipe box:
    Meatless Chili Bake
    Drain 1 can of diced tomatoes, reserving the liquid. Cook 1 cup rice with the tomato juice and enough water to make 2 cups of liquid. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until rice is done and liquid is absorbed (about 15-20 minutes). While the rice cooks, saute 1/2 chopped onion. Add 1 clove of garlic, the canned tomatoes, and 1 can of kidney beans (or 1 1/2 to 2 cups of kidney beans out of your freezer!). Add 1-2 tsp. (or to taste) of a chili seasoning packet. Cook a few more minutes and then mix with the cooked rice. Serve. You can top with some shredded cheddar cheese if you like and serve with one of those cheap jiffy cornmuffin mixes. If you want a consistency that would be more like chili (more liquid), then you can just use water to cook the rice and add the tomato juice with the canned tomatoes. Also you could add a 2nd can of tomatoes with its juice for even more liquid.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Thanks Ana–great ideas!

  • Andria

    College taught me these tricks (and you’ll note most of them center around sharing!):

    1. Have food parties for 3-6 people. Ahead of time, choose which part of the meal everyone will cover. (Drinks, entree, side dishes, dessert, etc.) Everyone brings double the amount of necessary servings with half of the food already packaged in to-go containers. Get together, have your party, and then take home a full bag of to-go containers. Even though you’re cooking for many instead of just yourself, it’s cheap to scale-up recipes as opposed to making an entree and two side dishes for yourself.

    2. Get a Sam’s Club or Costco membership. Go with a friend or many friends and split up packages. Use coupons, and double check that what you’re buying is actually a fabulous price.

    3. Find a store with a well-stocked bulk section. I can’t tell you how much you’ll save only buying a pinch of an exotic spice as opposed to a whole shaker of it from the grocery store. You can afford to make your own curry when the spices only cost about $2.50 total.

    4. Find awesome blogs (like this!) for tips on how to keep your food good for longer.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      I love your food party idea Andria!

    • Mandy

      We grew up on macaroni with tomato juice and fried egg sandwiches. Thanks for your post, something inspiring to me!

  • Libby

    Buy:
    1 dozen eggs $2
    1 package boneless chicken breasts $6
    1 half gallon milk $2.50
    1 canister of oatmeal $1.50
    1 loaf bread (freeze half) $2.00
    2 bananas $1.00
    1 16 ounce bagged salad $2.00 (or buy romaine and wash and shred it yourself)
    1 package flour tortillas $1.00
    1 8 oz. block of cheese $2.50
    1 jar salsa $2.00
    1 bag frozen broccoli $1.00
    1 small jar peanut butter $1.50
    I live about $22.00 per week, I am allergic to fish, shellfish,poultry,eggs, dairy, nuts. I do not eat meat at all. I do get 2 bags of groceries a month donated too me, but about one half I am unable to eat, and they give you what you get and i’m grateful for it, I give what I can;t eat to a poor neighbor.
    My Menu, revolves around, chick peas, black beans, rice, tortillas, kidney beans, tvp, vegetable base, oatmeal, cream of rice, rice dream, non sot margarine by earth balance, canned fruit, canned tomatoes.
    I buy dehydrated or freeze dried vegatables, and drink mixes, every three months. I make my own bread from spelt, and my pasta is rice, or spelt. I use Almond butter. It is all in how i rotate my shopping. I have two very tall metal restaurant shelves one for canned, one for dry foods. I found by taking my foods out of the cabinets i’m not purchasing what I already have on hand, because I need to know exactly what I need to buy because $88.00 is all I have, the more organised I am the less money I spend. I’m 65 on Social Security.

  • Libby

    Here is another tip, When I bring Fruit and veggies home. Things like Celery and onions, get chopped right away and put in ziplock style freezer bags, Simple freeze the veggies on a tray separated, when frozen put in bags and seal and freeze, I use a quarter cup measure, never do I judge by tossing veggies into what i’m making, and there is no waste.

  • http://amandasapron.com Amanda

    I always buy pantry staples like pasta, sauces, and olive oil when they are buy one, get one. Also, there’s a smart phone app called Snip Snap. It helps you digitally organize your coupons – & use the coupons of those who aren’t using them – right on your phone. Be sure to know which stores accept digital coupons & which don’t. This app has helped me save $30 at times from restaurants to grocery stores to craft/fabric stores.

  • http://project-kathryn.blogspot.com kathryn

    I lived on about that much for groceries when I was saving to go overseas but it must be tough when you are doing it from necessity and not choice.

    We have a nearby market and, at closing time on Saturdays they have $1 boxes of the leftover vegies. If you have market nearby it’s worth checking out when they are selling out stuff. I cook a lot of stuff with mince meat (is that ground beef in the US?) and use half meat/half lentils. You don’t know the difference in things like pasta sauce and it really stretches it plus is much lower in calories and fat.

    I made kimchee hotpot a lot – it’d do for a heap of meals over the week! Just a tub of kimchee from the Asian shop, veges and a small amount of meat or tofu over rice. If you make hotpots or soups, use up bits of veges you normally throw out – the core of cauliflowers etc are fine to eat and cook up nicely.

  • Jeri

    Just a note to consider for those of you with college age kids: Our 3 kids and our daughter-in-law and son-in-law are in college in Oklahoma. Since money is so tight, they applied for food stamps and actually got them. I never thought this would be possible, but as long as they have a work-study position or are employed 20hrs a week, they are eligible-even if they live in the dorms and opt for a meal card! All of ours rent off campus because it is cheaper than the dorms, but this really has helped us out. My husband makes way more than the average salary, but when you are helping out kids and both sets of grandparents that money goes out the window quickly.

  • MacG

    With left over cold chicken shread it or chunk it (bite size), mix with one can of mixed veggies drained (the ones with potatoes $.50 on sale), a few dashes of pepper and a couple table spoons of mayo. Serve on a crispy corn tortilla like a tostada.

    If you have a crockpot use that to cook dried beans for 8 hours, (beans, water, salt and garlic powder. A couple cups of dried beans will go a long way for one person. Eat a bowl of beans, then mash rest to make bean burritos or tostadas for another day. You can add cheese and salsa for a variety.

    • Kathy

      Don’t add salt to those beans in the crockpot til after they are done. It makes them harder to get soft.

      • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

        Thanks Kathy. :)

  • Nicole

    I too try to spend about $25 a week on groceries. I buy almost all my fruits and veggies at farmer’s markets. I buy meat only when on sale, in larger portions, and portion it before I freeze it. I tried buying a whole chicken for the first time because it was only $5 and found a youtube video to help me butcher it. It was actually very easy and I had multiple chicken cuts to use in different meals. Plus, if you save the leftover rib cages in the freezer, you can make your own chicken stock or chicken soup later. I also buy a lot of pasta and sauce because my local grocer has them buy one, get one free a lot. I like to cook, so that helps me out. I prepare most of my meals on my own rather than buying more expensive, convenient pre-prepared ones. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I have all the time in the world to make everything from scratch. I work 7 days a week. I just pick certain days to go to the store and then prep and portion before sticking the items in the fridge or freezer. When I make a meal, I’ll make a large one so I can save the leftovers and not cook on my busier days. So that is my advice for a $25 a week grocery budget. Happy Shopping!

  • Virginia K

    Our grocery budget is $300/month for 4 people. As for your buy list…we buy our bread a the discount bread store. That $2 bread at the retail store is $.50 at the discount store. We freeze it and use a loaf a week or as needed. But we keep in the fridge so it stays fresh. Works great. We make our own salsa…the equivalent of a blender/pitcher full for about $2. Easy recipe….cilantro, crushed tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, garlic, little salt, pepper. Never use jar again. Lately bananas have been $.49 a pound at target…so we get them there. Otherwise we buy produce at farmers market….much better prices. We usually get eggs on sale for $.99…just have to watch your sale papers. We get 3-4 dozen. They will last us all month. We wait and get fresh chicken for 1.49-$1.69/lb. We never buy the prepacked frozen chicken…way over priced. The rest of your list is spot on. We are a family of 4 living on$2500 a month. We barely get by, but are very careful with our money. I know we can make some more cuts, but as Dave Ramsey says…baby steps to get there. I think you are great and it helps me to keep focused when I read what you are doing with your family to save. Thanks.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Thanks for those tips Virginia. I need to try making my own salsa. :)

  • Thriftygal

    I’m single and I am using the list below for the month. ( I do want to let you know I have a good foundation of good in my pantry. I have bread (frozen in freezer, rice, quinoa, couscous, coconut milk, almond milk, Cheese slices for sandwiches & quesadillas.

    Hope this helps!

    Love your blog! :-)

    Aldi’s Monthly Grocery List(For One Person)
    ======================================
    Items Qty Price Total
    Asparagus (Pkg) 1 $1.59 $1.59
    Green Peppers (Pkg) 1 $0.99 $0.99
    Plums 2 $0.35 $0.70
    Nectarines 2 $0.35 $0.70
    Cucumbers 2 $0.59 $1.18
    Grapefruits 2 $0.49 $0.98
    Mangoes 2 $0.55 $1.10
    Grapes 1 $1.98 $1.98
    Pears (Bag) 1 $1.69 $1.69
    Bananas (2.5 lb) 1 $1.00 $1.00
    Navel Oranges (Bag) 1 $1.69 $1.69
    Mushrooms (Pkg) 1 $1.29 $1.29
    Celery (Pkg) 1 $1.39 $1.39
    Potatoes (5 lb bag) 1 $1.99 $1.99
    Onions (Bag) 1 $1.69 $1.69
    Carrots (Bag) 1 $1.29 $1.59
    Eggs (Dozen) 1 $1.59 $1.59
    O.J. (1/2 Gal) 1 $1.89 $1.89
    Juice (1/2 Gal) 2 $0.99 $1.98
    Deli Turkey (Pkg) 1 $2.49 $2.49
    Frozen-Tilapia (Bag) 1 $3.99 $3.99
    Cornish Hen 1 $2.89 $2.89
    Turkey Sausage 1 $3.69 $3.69
    Bag salad Mix (bag) 1 $1.99 $1.99
    Flour Soft Tortillas 1 $0.99 $0.99
    Frozen Veggies 1 $1.09 $1.09
    Frozen Mixed Fruit 1 $1.99 $1.99
    Frozen Meal 2 $1.29 $2.58
    Frozen Bean Burritos 3 $0.33 $0.99

    Subtotal: $47.12
    Sales Tax Rate: 6.00%
    Tax: $2.83
    Total: $50.01

    • Thriftygal

      I have a good foundation of FOOD in my pantry is what I meant! :-)

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Thanks so much! It’s great to see ideas from others. :)

  • Amanda

    Chicken breasts!? Those are the most expensive and tasteless cut of the chicken! I suggest buying a pack of legs or a whole chicken instead, I can usually find a broiler for $6 or $7. Roast it the first night, eat the legs and thighs the second night, use “scraps” for quesadillas the third, make chicken salad or a sandwich the fourth, and use the giblets for stock or gravy in a fifth night meal.

    • Laurie

      Actually the chicken breasts healthwise are the best for you :o)

  • Cory

    I’ve been trying to be more frugal & more healthy in terms of food cooking, buying and storage. We buy in bulk meats & divide in well marked heavy duty freezers bags. I also marinade the meats in the freezers bags to save time in the kitchen & prevent freezers burn. I’ve recently started making my own chicken/turkey stock (very easy) &much more healthy plus it’s a good way to use up wilted or veggies that are near the end of being fresh.. We’ve also cut down on meat. I still make a delicious spaghetti but, instead of using a lb. Of ground meat I use half & add minced green peppers, onions, mushrooms, carrots, celery etc.. Chop everything in a food processer or mini chopper it’s good to go! I use this method with meatloaf, sloppy Joe’s (homemade sauce) etc.. I find I throw away much less. I also freeze bananas for banana bread /smoothies. I make homemade soups in the fall to freeze for winter I make about 20 different kinds of healthy & delicious soups & stews.. I buy bone in chicken thighs cheaper & taste better the healthy benefits of white meat only is minimal.. I’ve recently started making hummus roasted red pepper & garlic/marinated artichoke delish & easy from dried beans! I also freeze entrees like homemade stuffed shells, homemade pizza dough, & we buy bread from the thrift store sometimes a trunkload for under $10 if we use a coupon!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Thanks Cory–all really great ideas!

  • Charmaine Mankey

    This is very late in the conversation, and may be repeating something someone else offered, but this is what I did when my rent was just $100 per month less than my monthly take home pay and I had a car payment plus auto insurance to pay. I bought one of those huge frozen mixed veggie bags (which at the time was about $1.49), a pound of rice, pasta, and potatoes, and if I ever got any extra cash, a chunk of cheese, and sometimes some beans of some sort. I made either the rice or pasta, cooked the veggies, piled the veggies on top of the rice or pasta, and ate to my tummy’s content. Adding cheese was a special treat. Other times, I baked a potato, added the veggies and topped it all with a little bit of cheese. That was delicious! I was lucky…I got to go home to Mom & Dad’s for dinner once a week and have a real meal. However with all that in my pantry, I had decent food and always had a great mostly quick and very cheap dinner. I even crave that once in awhile.

    Thanks for all your tips, Kimberlee, you have a great and wondrous mind!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Good ideas Charmaine, and thanks for the compliment, although I’m not sure how accurate it is. :)

  • taylor

    My husband and I both eat on $25/wk, though i shop once a month…another mone saving tip. My husband is a competition powerlifter, consumes probably 4000 calories a day, including one pound of meat. So let me encourage you, it is entirely possible! We follow basically the same tips listed here, live in nc, and i shop at local butcher shops and fruit stands. You can do it!

  • taylor

    * i meant to say we each eat on $25/wk, for a total of $50/wk, or $200/mth. Also includes all household and personal care items

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Awesome Taylor–great job!

  • Brittany

    I shop for 4 people when it comes to groceries. I keep it all under 300 dollars a month, with meat and soda included in that. I mainly do things like mac and cheese, hot dogs, red beans and rice, tuna helper, pancakes for dinner, eggs, sandwiches, grilled cheese, pasta, etc. But at least once a week I add the “kings meal” to the menu which is meat and other things. It gives us something to look forward to with 3 out of the 4 of us working part time and full time jobs and 2 of them are men who are always hungry. I average 300 a month, 150 every two weeks, 10 dollars a day, 2.68 a person a day for food, including breakfast, lunch and snack items. Its possible if you shop right. I dont even use coupons. Just buy off brands and plan out your meals and stick to them!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      I like the idea of having a special meal once a week Brittany. Good for you for sticking to such a tight grocery budget!

  • Jennifer

    I really wish I could find deals like this in Hawaii… You are really lucky to have such cheap food in stores. My weekly food bill is about 60-100+ a week. Even though I buy “cheap” food. I still feel like I come home with not very much.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      You are so right Jennifer. I have a friend who moved there a couple of years ago and she could not believe the prices. At least you have a beautiful view!

    • Amy

      i live in alaska..so i feel your pain lol

  • http://www.wifemummynurse.com Sarah Jane

    We do most of our shopping at Aldi, and are SO thankful one has opened up five minutes from our house. Now when I go to another grocery store, I get sticker shock.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      The same thing happened to me when we moved in August. I buy everything I can at Aldi’s.

  • Corinne

    You can always find skin-on split chicken breast at one grocery or another for $0.99/lb! About every other week I can find this deal at Kroger. You can roast it in the oven, or poach it then shred to make a delicious chicken soup. Also remember that 1 whole chicken breast is not a serving size! If you pay attention your serving of meat you can save a lot of money!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee Stokes

      Thank you for the tip Corinne!

  • candas

    I love aldi to0. With 5 I have a hard time only getting by with a 100 a week. I have been spending about 160. Any suggests on how to cut 60 dollars off my budget?

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee Stokes

      Hi Candas – You probably won’t be able to do it all at once but by making small changes every week you can reduce your bill by that much in a couple of months. I would start with making a detailed menu plan each week and I would make cheaper meatless meals once or twice a week such as quesadillas with fresh fruit, beans and rice, breakfast for dinner (pancakes for example). Cut out all drinks except water and watch your snack food purchases. The produce tends to be cheaper and aldi and makes a healthy snack that will actually fill up your kids. Hope that helps!

    • Jessica

      Our budget for a family of 5 is $79/week. Sometimes it’s hard, especially since that also covers any household items (ie. toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc). I make my own laundry detergent, quit buying liquid bath soap & use the cheaper bar soap. For groceries, I stock up on 10 lb bags of leg quarters when they go on sale for .49 cents/lb. I buy extra beef (ground or roasts) when they go on sale. That way, I’m not buying meat every week & I plan my menu by what’s in the freezer. I also stock up on canned items we use when they are on sale. We have breakfast one night a week, which is easier & cheaper than a full meal. We can veggies from my father in law’s garden to use throughout the year. My husband deer hunts & fishes & we process the meat ourselves & use that throughout the year. I have stopped buying packaged snacks every week. I make our desserts/sweets from scratch (always keep flour & sugar on hand). I quit deep frying foods, so I buy less oil. I use vinegar & baking soda to clean with, so I don’t buy lots of cleaning products. I’ve quit buying paper plates. We get soda & ice cream about once a month. We drink tea, milk & water for the most part. My youngest child does get WIC & this goes a long way, since we get 3 gallons & 1 qt of milk per month, 2 grains, 1 pkg cheese, 1 doz eggs, 36 oz cereal (I stock up on oatmeal), and fruit juice, plus $8 worth of fruits/veggies. One tip that came from Budget101 is to take like $30 from your grocery budget each month & save it. Then at the end of the year or the beginning of the next year, use that money to stock up on chicken or beef to freeze for the year.

      • Jessica

        Kimberlee Stokes – I just read your response & saw that several of our suggestions are the same…lol. Unfortunately, we only have Walmart, Market Basket, Walgreens, CVS, Family Dollar & Dollar General in our small town, so not a lot of savings there. I get all my meat from Market Basket (better quality & good sales). They also have better produce. Since it’s just groceries, I don’t get sucked in by all the other options like at Walmart. Sometimes I can catch bread at Dollar Tree. I love it when I find Nature’s Own wheat bread for $1 there. If I do decide to buy snacks, I do it there also. 1 bag of pretzel sticks, 1 box of Whales crackers, 1 bag of mini marshmallows & we have enough snacks for lunches for the week & all for $3.

        • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee Stokes

          It’s tough when your store options are limited but it sounds like you are doing a great job Jessica!

      • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee Stokes

        Great tips – thanks Jessica!

  • Holly

    In college I lived on stir-fried cabbage and shredded carrots prepared with ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Eat it with rice. It is so flavorful and satisfying, you don’t even need meat. You can add a dash of sugar if you like a more teriyaki flavor.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee Stokes

      Thanks for the tip Holly!