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Do you want tips for how to come up with a cheap grocery list?
Maybe you’re saving up for the next vacation trip or looking to pay off your credit card debt.
Or perhaps you are cutting your spending as a result of an unfortunate situation or other stressful circumstances.
When the budget is tight, your best move is to cut your expenses. One of the first to go is your grocery cost.
Coming up with a cheap grocery list
You can save up to hundreds of dollars a month when you trim your grocery expenses.
Cutting your spending will not mean you will skip a meal or two to accommodate your savings goals.
On the contrary, you can still enjoy your delicious meals, following your eating schedule and preferences.
How do you do that?
The trick lies in picking the right alternatives.
Are you looking to shave off 50 bucks off your grocery cost every week?
Wondering if you could live off a minimal amount to last you an entire week’s worth of grocery?
Whatever your savings goal is, here are some ideas you can try. See if you can buy what you need and survive a tight budget.
Your savings, however, may depend on a variety of factors.
Do you live in an area with a low cost of living?
Got access to stores that offer affordable prices?
Everyone’s circumstances may vary. So you may want to scale these suggestions down to what is applicable to you.
In this article, I will share ideas on how to get super cheap meals, swapping your old meal plan for something that’s more affordable and, more importantly, sustainable.
How to begin with your cheap grocery list?
How often do you check your grocery spending?
You will be surprised to learn how much you have spent.
Like most people, you probably don’t take notice of how much is your weekly and monthly grocery cost.
Based on the 2017 data released by the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, a typical family of four spends an average of about $730 a month.
That’s around $182.50 a week.
And a good chunk of that goes to food.
Take note that data is from 2017 and is the average spending for a low-cost meal.
Is it safe to assume you’re spending right about that range (or more) now?
So it’s obvious food is the first area to start cutting.
When slashing your grocery cost, say about 50 bucks per week, let’s begin by writing out a good meal plan for the week. Then you write your cheap grocery list.
Next, look for stores with the best prices.
Are you looking to maximize the benefits of budgeting?
If you want to keep up with your budget grocery list, you need to do your research. Some stores offer lower prices on some items. So you will have to do your grocery shopping in two or more places.
Yes, I am suggesting you do your grocery shopping in the stores that offer affordable prices.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting you shop in one first then immediately go to the next one immediately.
What I am saying is that you create a viable strategy that lets you get all the low-priced items you need from these stores without unnecessarily wasting your time and gas money.
So let’s say you do your shopping in one store at the weekends. And then you go to the second store during weekdays right after work and when you’re about to go home.
Plan your route and schedule accordingly so you won’t be wasting your time and effort going to these stores.
And only do so when it’s convenient and a prudent thing to do (and, cost-wise, an ideal recourse).
Of course, when going to two or more stores becomes a wasteful or uneconomical thing to do, you can drop it. Just go to one store that offers the most items at low prices.
You may need to cook your meals from scratch.
Forget instant cookies or frozen pizzas.
To keep your grocery cost low, you will have to ditch the store-bought, ready-made stuff.
So this means you will have to amp up your kitchen skills by a couple of notches.
Sticking to a food budget requires that you switch to a predominantly unprocessed diet.
Need help with a basic grocery list for the things you need?
Wondering what items to keep on hand?
Building your pantry while following a budget grocery list can be very challenging.
In the first month, expect to spend more than your budget. That’s because you’re still starting out with your supplies.
But once you already have your stocks up, it becomes easier to stick to your budget since you will just be replenishing your stuff. You no longer need to buy them all at once. Instead, you just look at what’s run out and restock them.
Take note that there are items that you can purchase only once every few months. Like baking products.
And then there are products that you can buy almost every week. A good example would be produce.
The cheapest grocery list possible?
What is healthy may not be cheap. And what may be cheap is not necessarily healthy. But if you’re lucky, you can hit two birds with one stone.
Eating healthy is good.
It offers benefits to your body, making you feel and look better for years to come.
But sometimes, you may have to spend more if you’re sticking to a healthy diet. And that’s all right. You can call it an investment for your long-term health.
On the other hand, cheap isn’t necessarily healthy.
Case in point: instant ramen noodle packs.
While it’s OK to eat them from time to time, too much instant ramen is no bueno.
The high levels of sodium lead to a reduced life expectancy. Not to mention, its lack of nutritional content.
So in coming up with a cheap grocery list, it’s important to discern what’s healthy in relation to what’s cheap.
Splurging on high-quality organic goods is OK. Better quality offers a good return on investment health-wise.
With that said, here are practical tips to help you shop with a grocery list on a budget.
1. Go for staple ingredients.
It’s a lot cheaper (and healthier) if you stick with the ingredients instead of the prepared, ready-made stuff.
So just buy fresh meats, fish, and produce, and you will be fine.
2. Plan your grocery shopping with what’s on sale that week.
Here’s a simple trick to help you stick to your cheap grocery list for a week: plan your shopping and meals based on what’s on sale during that time.
Not only will you be getting more savings, but you’ll also become more creative with your meal prep.
So make a note of what you need for the week. Then figure out the stores that offer the best prices. You can go online to check out their sales or many grocers will mail out their weekly ad.
Don’t forget their coupons on the usual grocery items.
3. It helps if you grow your own food.
Do you have extra time to spare?
Perhaps you can tend your own garden of produce.
If you grow your own, you cut your grocery costs. And it’s convenient too. You just go to your garden and pick what you need. It’s fresh and it’s free.
4. Support your local farmers.
If you’re looking for another good source of healthy produce, check with your local agriculture group.
Because they are locally produced, they are cheaper compared to the produce you find in most grocery stores.
Buying from your local farmers is a great way to support them. And you can also get a solid bargain with every purchase you make.
Is it possible to shop on a $50 budget?
Yes, you can.
Now, this can be a bit extreme since $50 is just $50.
But it can be possible with a qualification that it’s only good for two adults and three meals a day.
Are you ready?
Here is a very tight $50 weekly grocery list.
Coffee is about four bucks (if you drink it, I don’t so I skip this one), two dozens eggs are around three dollars, and a gallon of milk is also three.
If you’re looking to buy spread butter, sour cream, ranch dressing, and cheese, that’s about eight bucks.
Now, for the produce. A three-pound bag of apples and two pounds worth of bananas will set you back around four bucks.
Cucumbers, potatoes, frozen broccoli, baby carrots, and stir fry veggies are about $8.50.
Next, for your carbs. Rice, tortillas, wheat bread, and wheat mini bagels would cost you around six bucks.
Canned soup, refried beans, and peanut butter are about three bucks.
Taco seasoning and salsa is about $1.50.
Four pounds of meat like boneless chicken breast will cost you around $11 (or less if you plan it with a sale!).
More or less, that’s 50 bucks worth of groceries that will suit two adults for a week at three meals a day.
Meal Plan for your cheap grocery list
For breakfast, you can start with your morning coffee with milk. Then throw in your scrambled eggs, which is paired with the buttered wheat mini bagel.
You can swap the milk with your coffee cream. As for the butter on your wheat mini bagel, you can trade it for cream cheese.
(Or if you prefer oatmeal you can swap a big container of oatmeal instead of the mini bagels).
Next up is lunch.
For your source of protein, have your fill of the peanut butter sandwich. Add fiber to your diet with some fruit, which is why I’ve added inexpensive apples or bananas in your grocery list.
And then top it off with raw veggies and ranch. Take your pick between carrots and cucumbers. Or you can have both.
As an alternative, you can eat yesterday’s leftovers from dinner for your lunch.
Lastly, we go to dinner.
For starters, let’s do quesadillas. To make them, you will need tortillas, cheese, and refried beans. You can add chicken too if you want.
And to top it off, you can choose between salsa and sour cream.
Let’s go to the baked potatoes. You can pair them with ham slices and broccoli. For the potatoes, you can choose between cheese, sour cream, and ranch dressing.
Or pair it with a can of chili sour cream and cheese and you’ve got a baked potato bar!
Care for some chicken?
Stir fry chicken strips along with your frozen veggies. Pair them with rice.
As an alternative, you can have cheese sandwiches and grilled ham with canned soup.
Misc. items to add to your cheap grocery list.
Are you looking to add more items to your list?
Check out oatmeal. It’s a great way to start your day. It’s rich in fiber and contains minerals like zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron.
Quinoa is a wonderful substitute for rice and other grains. This gluten-free grain contains high protein and nine essential amino acids.
If you’re looking for a great substitute for ground beef or pork, get canned black beans. It’s also high in fiber and helps lower blood pressure and maintain healthy bones.
Don’t forget to buy tomatoes. They’re a great source of vitamin K, which helps lower the risk of cancer. And they make delicious soup too.
I suggest you also get berries. Packed with fiber, they are great at reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease.
They can be pricey so opt for frozen if your budget is tight and use them in a smoothie!
Following a cheap grocery list can be done.
Wondering if it’s possible to stick to a budget shopping list?
Yes, it is possible.
With proper planning and the discipline to stick to low-cost food items, it can be done. Even on a very tight shopping list on a budget.