The only real way to drastically reduce the grocery budget and get on the road to eating healthier within a limited budget is to cut out the prepackaged so-called “convenience” foods that plague the shelves of the grocery store and get back to basics. Currently the United States Government estimates that approximately 42 MILLION people receive food stamp subsidies through SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), which provides UP to $4 per day to eligible low income families; Yes, Four Dollars PER day.
What are the Basics?
The basics are items that you should always keep on hand in order to create filling, healthy meals. These include butter (yes, my friends, real butter IS actually good for you), frozen vegetables (which contain far less sodium than canned veggies), olive oil, potatoes, dried beans (and/or legumes)- depending on your families taste preferences, as well as salt & pepper and a variety of seasonings.
Step 1: What to Keep on Hand
Since most people don’t have a lot of money to sink into the grocery budget, building up the pantry takes a little bit of time. Some items are considerably less expensive if purchased in bulk, these include Grains (rice, Quinoa, Oats), flour(s) (All Purpose flour, self rising flour [myo], whole wheat or graham flour, pastry flour, and semolina flour), Dried beans/legumes, Potatoes, a wide variety of seasonings (including garlic!).
While some items may initially be a bit pricey (such as soy sauce, olive oil, coconut oil, etc) these are used in very small amounts each time and worth the initial expense. Of course, they don’t have to be purchased all at once, add 1 or 2 items from your Pantry list to build up your pantry slowly.
Step 2: What to Purchase Weekly
If you’ve followed our weekly menu plans you’ll see that the majority of our weekly grocery budget is spent purchasing fresh produce (in season), restocking grains, loss leaders, greek yogurt, eggs and meats that are on sale based on the current sales cycle.
Step 3: What NOT to Buy
Now that we’ve touched on what to keep in the pantry and what to purchase on a weekly basis, here are a few things that will definitely Destroy your grocery budget:
- Fast Food– High in fat, calories and expense, low in nutrition and value.
- Convenience Foods– Items that are prepackaged to “save you time” and are marketed “for your convenience” such as canned soups, prepackaged meals, snack mixes, cake, cookie, dessert mixes or kits, frozen meal kits, etc. You can make your own convenience foods at home, including meal kits, dessert kits (such as this apple crisp kit) and much more.
- Highly Processed Foods– Chips, Crackers, Soda, thinks normally considered to be “Junk” food, which is actually a misnomer as most of these diet fillers are from actual “Food”.
Tips for Saving at the Grocery Store:
- Always Meal Plan- this helps to reduce unnecessary spending
- Never Grocery Shop without a List
- Reduce the cost of Midday meals/lunches by intentional Leftover Layering
- Use Quinoa or Beans to add a kick of protein to meals as well as extend casseroles & soups to feed larger families
- Learn the Grocery Marketers Tricksfor enticing you into spending money you didn’t intend on spending