Here are my 3 strategies and how to apply them.
I truly believe that anyone can spend around $30 per week (maybe a little more) on groceries with the right tactics, especially in an area like Raleigh, North Carolina. Keep in mind that I'm talking about feeding one person for around $30 per week, not multiple people. The problem is, most people don’t have the tools and knowledge to do so.
I started buying my own groceries at about 19 years old after I headed off to college and moved off of my campus dining plan. I had never been in charge of my own grocery bills before this point.
The first few weeks were a huge wake-up call. I had been so accustomed to having food readily available in my refrigerator that I never realized what a huge privilege it was.
Until I had to buy my own food, I never worried about checking prices, looking at weekly ads, making a list, loading coupons, budgeting monthly expenses, and shopping for my groceries each week.
With a little research, practice, planning, and a few key strategies, I quickly became a pro at making my weekly grocery trip average out to about $30. If you’re looking to cut down costs or reign in your own food costs, give the following three strategies a try. Depending on grocery costs where you live, you might have to have a larger budget, but these tips might still help you save some cash.
1. Create your monthly food guide.
Your monthly food guide should be your ultimate list of pantry staples you need to purchase about once every month. That way, you can factor those costs into your weekly budget.
My monthly food guide looks like this (prices are approximate):
- Oats (1 container): $2.00
- Peanut Butter (3 jars): $6.00
- Pasta (2 boxes): $2.00
- Rice (1 bag): $1.00
- Lentils (1 bag): $1.00
- Beans (4 cans): $4.00
- Salsa (2 jars): $4.00
- Pasta sauce (2 jars): $3.00
- Bread (1 bag): $3.00
- Coffee (1 bag): $4.00
With just these items, I have enough food to make the base for my breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the entire month. On a typical day, I eat oatmeal for breakfast, a loaded salad or sandwich for lunch, and either a rice and bean or pasta dish for dinner.
I also rotate in fresh produce to create meals like loaded sweet potatoes, avocado toast, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, etc. Plus, I add veggies to all of my savory meals.
Adopt the strategy of creating a comprehensive pantry list, and you will be able to factor in all those costs to stay within your $30 weekly grocery budget.
2. Load up on these foods.
The second strategy that can help you stay within a tight grocery budget is to buy fresh produce that is in-season and load up on plant-based ingredients.
You’ll notice that many processed and packaged goods are insanely expensive, especially for the amount of food you get. You are likely paying for convenience, and if the food has few nutrients and a lot of added sugar, it probably won’t keep you satisfied for very long.
After taking into account pantry goods costs as well as the $2 I spend on a carton of almond milk each week, I am left with about $15 - $20 per week to spend on produce (and some other fun foods like hummus, tofu, chocolate chips, a container of protein powder, etc.).
So, in order to stay within my $30 per week overall grocery budget, I try to load up on fresh produce that is well-priced and in-season. That way, I can supplement all of my meals with fresh fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, bananas, and apples.
Plus, your fresh produce items can double as healthy snacks to eat between meals. A few of the snacks I enjoy often include:
- Sliced banana with peanut butter
- Apple with peanut butter
- Carrots with hummus
Focus on the perimeter of the store and avoid the packaged goods, and you will quickly see a drop in your weekly grocery bill.
3. Utilize the weekly ad and coupons in this way.
My final strategy for saving money on groceries each month is to utilize the weekly ad. At most grocery stores, including Kroger, Food Lion, and Aldi, the ad changes every Wednesday.
New produce items go on sale, and that is when you want to buy them. I check the ad every Wednesday morning so that when I go shopping for groceries on the weekend, I know which produce items to look out for and stock up on. This strategy will ultimately save you money.
Likewise, if you have a grocery list and an idea of which items you plan to buy, you can load digital coupons for groceries and save money that way. When I shopped primarily at Kroger, I loaded coupons every single week, because they constantly had new ones available.
I always check my grocery store apps before I head out to see which coupons I have available to use, and I factor those coupons in when I plan out my meals and make my list.
The takeaway here is to make your list, load any applicable coupons, and then go shop for what you need. Doing things in this order can save you money every single month and help you keep your weekly grocery costs within that $30 budget.
By following key strategies like the ones shared, you can make your money go a lot further than you think.
When I first started grocery shopping, I couldn’t see myself keeping my monthly food costs at around $100, but somehow I have managed to get pretty close.
As long as you have the tools and knowledge, you truly can eat healthy, tasty meals on a $30 or so weekly budget.