I want to talk about eating really healthy on a severe budget. And I’m not talking about dropping $100/week at the store (that would be really fantastic, though). I’m talking about spending $150/month at the store to feed a family of 2.5 (we’re expecting).
I’ll be honest; this isn’t a lot of money to spend on groceries, so we have to be very mindful about what we get. We also cook most of our food from scratch to get the budget as low as we do. We also don’t eat a lot of meat. With that being said, this is totally doable with extra money left over for the future. I’m going to list out exactly what I buy in a month (I generally do one big shop and just get fresh food in between) because categories aren’t really going to be that helpful.
Things I buy per month:
-a huge bag of rice ($10)
-a huge bag of beans ($10)
-5 lbs frozen blueberries ($12)
-3ish heads of red cabbage ($9)
-4ish heads of lettuce ($6)
-4ish bunches of beets ($8)
-2lbs carrots ($5)
-3ish onions ($5)
-15 lbs of bananas ($10)
-however many I can get apples ($5)
-a bag of stevia ($9)
-4 lbs pasta ($4)
-5 lbs flour ($3)
-some kind of frozen snacks ($14 or less)
-however much I can get meat ($21.33)
-40ish oz tomato sauce ($5)
-1 gallon of soymilk ($5)
-however much I can get cocoa/other spices ($8)
total: $138 per month + $12 leftover
We do have a budget for condiments, which is $136 for the entire year, and we have a “just in case” slush fund” of $12.16 per month. I also buy a few things online in a month (sunflower seeds, dry dog food, GF oats) because they’re either not available or exorbitantly expensive in my area. Those do come out of my food budget, but not my monthly grocery budget. That sounds like a lot of categories, but I don’t break it down so much for myself. It’s really just a $325/month grocery budget with $150 that I generally spend online. That leaves $175 for me to spend in stores, and I’m just very mindful with it. The extra lets me stock up on sales or gives me some leeway if I feel burnt out for a while (that’s when we buy more pre-made food).
When I go shopping without a plan, I tend to spend a lot more on food. We don’t waste any food in our house, but there are a lot of times that food items sit in the freezer/pantry for quite a while before we use them. With a plan in place, it’s not that difficult to buy a lot of healthy food. As you can see, nearly half of my monthly grocery shop was produce, and the vast majority of the rest was for clean, wholesome food.
Would it be interesting to y’all to see the types of food I make? My meal plans are on the Whisk app in the FrugalTreeHugger collection.
I will say, the best way I’ve found to save money when cooking food at home is to buy what I buy, and then I cook all our food from what we have in the pantry. When we run out of milk for instance, there are no runs to the store; we just don’t have cereal, and we cook with water or homemade broth. Or if we run out of cocoa powder, there are just no chocolate foods. But we really want something specific? Tough. We’re recovering from a broken, bleeding “budget,” so this is a combo of budget-therapy and war. Running to the store because you’re out of something is a modern luxury that just didn’t happen for most of human history.
If you’re trying to eat healthy on a budget, always have a good plan. If you somehow forget to make a plan, begin your grocery shop in the produce section so you at least have fruits and veggies.