How I (mostly) healthy grocery shop on a budget.
It’s really unfortunate that eating healthy in this country is wildly expensive. I wish I had a secret for super budget friendly healthy eating but I have yet to discover this. I do have a few guidelines I use for myself to share.
First of all, I’m a little nutty about our monthly budget. If you asked my husband he’d say I’m straight up ridiculous. But I love vacation, the oil industry can be spotty and raising a family of 4 on one income simply requires a budget. I allocate $650/month for groceries which can go really fast for us. Craig loves grilling and having people over so the months he’s home we usually exceed the grocery amount. If he’s traveling for work the kids and I can easily stay under. We very rarely eat dinner out so keep in mind this budget is for 3-4 people eating 2-3 meals a day at home. I spend a lot of time in our kitchen.
In order to stay under our budget I have to focus on two things:
- Keeping meals simple. Protein + veggie + complex carb
- Watching weekly sales.
Before heading to the grocery store I scroll the weekly ads. We’re lucky enough to have a really awesome Kroger and H-E-B close to us so I usually make my decision where to go based on the weekly ad. There’s a 50/50 chance of me making a grocery list. It is 100% more effective to do so. Making a list helps you meal plan and reduces compulsive buys in the store. I wish I made a list every week but kids are cray. A lot of times I give up and just decide to wing it in the store.
I also have to pack enough snacks for a small Army and then some:
When I first started focusing on my diet I had a tendency to over buy produce. By the end of the week half of it would be rotting at the bottom of my fridge. So I’ve started skipping produce and heading to the meat section first. This gives me a better idea of what I’ll be cooking all week (assuming I didn’t make a list) and exactly how much produce I’ll need.
On this particular trip to Kroger I grabbed 6-7 dinners:
- meat loaf (on sale) + veggie/potato for an easy crockpot meal
- pork chops (on sale) + mashed potato + fresh zuchinni
- 1/2 family pack of chicken breasts (on sale) + zuchinni for creamy zoodle “pasta”
- 1/2 family pack of chicken breasts (on sale) + red pepper and onion for fajita night
- pork tenderloin (on sale) + veggie/potato for a second easy crockpot meal
I also snuck in a few more value chicken packs for Craig to smoke on the grill over the weekend, a cheap package of italian sausage for an easy pasta bake I keep on backup and of course my favorite lean ground turkey for breakfast.
When I’m done with protein and produce I make my way into only the inner aisles I need things from. I’ve mentioned before that doing most of your shopping along the perimeter of the grocery store is one of the easiest steps to a more “clean” diet. Applesauce, granola bars, a few pasta items, coffee–you know, toddlerhood survival crap is necessary. For lunch the kids and I will usually eat some form of leftovers, salad, sandwiches or pizza–nothing complicated–but I will grab a few things here and there for that as well.
I swing by dairy for cheese, Greek yogurt, milk and a monster pack of eggs on my way out and call it a done deal. Like I said, I don’t have some exciting method of clean eating under $50 a week or anything but learning to keep my meals simple has done wonders for our budget (and waistline)! Today’s trip was right at $115 which is pretty good but my kids were completely losing their sh*t the entire time (see Figure 4) and I’m sure over the next few hours I’ll think of 13 things I forgot to grab.
What do ya’ll do in order to keep costs down for meal planning and grocery shopping? Please share! I’d love to hear either in the comments section or you can always email me firstname.lastname@example.org. With your permission I’ll share advice on a follow up blog or on my Instagram account @mostlyhealthymommy .