Trying to lower your grocery budget and stick to it each month can be difficult. But from my experience, I’ve found that when you purchase the right foods at the store, this process becomes much easier. When I say the right foods I’m talking about tasty, healthy and affordable food. Yes, it does exist 🙂
When I posted about how I’m able to keep my monthly grocery budget at $300 for my family of three, I realized I only shared half of the equation. Anyone can go on Google right now and search for tips to lower their grocery bill and find a ton of articles and blog posts about it, but if you want to find out which foods to purchase with those money saving shopping techniques, you’re going to have to search a little harder.
So here’s my personal list of foods that will help you keep a low grocery budget. You’ll notice that no processed foods are included because anything you buy in a box or as a ready-made meal is going to cost you more. Plus, boxed foods are not nearly as healthy as fresh and natural foods are (obvi). So if you’d like to lower your grocery spending overall, just keep reading.
Rice and Beans
Rice and beans are literally some of the cheapest foods out there, so hopefully, you like them if you’re looking to cut your food costs. But if you don’t initially, there are plenty of unique recipes out there to change your mind. Rice is filling and super easy to prepare and season. You can add meat or vegetables to it to make it a main dish, mix it with beans, or serve it as a side dish. Beans are a great source of protein, super tasty when cooked right and amazingly cheap. I personally love pinto and black beans but there are many different categories of beans.
My favorite recipe with black beans is chicken tortilla soup (see it here) and my favorite way to prepare pinto beans is in a crock pot with smoked turkey then I serve it over rice with cornbread on the side. It’s a great family recipe under $6 that my family can enjoy for 3 nights in a row or over a week of lunches.
If you’re trying to eat low carb, you can always make cauliflower rice instead or try quinoa.
Chicken is no doubt the most inexpensive type of meat ranging anywhere from $1.30 to $5 or per pound at most stores. With chicken you get to enjoy a low price and you have the option of choosing your favorite cut whether it’s boneless skinless chicken breasts, legs, wings, thighs or even a whole chicken. Regardless of what kind you like, you’ll be saving money on meat when you choose chicken. I usually go with thin chicken breasts or wings. I love making Asian-inspired lettuce wraps with ground chicken.
To swtich things up, try turkey as well. My family loves it when I make ground turkey tacos.
Certain Fruits and Vegetables
Certain fruits and vegetables are going to save you money and allow you to stick to your budget while others are not. Apples, bananas, and pears are usually more affordable than grapes, cherries, and raspberries.
With fruit, it’s important to take advantage of seasonal sales when you want to switch things up so you’re not stuck eating red apples all year round. In the summer I like to buy watermelon and other types of melon.
When it comes to vegetables, a head of lettuce is always my go-to along with fresh kale, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, and edamame. Generally any type of whole and fresh vegetable is going to be cheaper than purchasing frozen, canned or pre-cut veggies.
Shrimp and Tilapia
I know you might be wondering, how the heck shrimp got on this list when it ranges anywhere from $8 to $17 per pound at most major grocery stores? I absolutely love seafood and I’m not going to give it up for anything so when I began to cut my grocery budget I started looking for affordable, quality seafood right away.
And long and behold, I found frozen raw shrimp for $6/lb at Aldi. This is certainly on the cheap end for shrimp and in case you were wondering the shrimp tastes great each time I purchase it at Aldi. Sometimes frozen seafood doesn’t taste that great no matter what you do with it, like salmon for example. But with shrimp, it’s surprisingly different. I just thaw it, peel it and cook it like I would if I bought it fresh.
Tilapia is another popular and very affordable type of fish. You can fry it, bake it, broil it, and season it however you like and it will always make a great lunch or dinner entrée. I’ve prepared tilapia so many different ways that I could create a series on this blog just featuring various tilapia recipes.
Whole grain pasta, rice, and quinoa are full of fiber and super affordable. By buying whole wheat flour, I’m able to make bread, pancake mix and many other cost-effective dishes. Buckwheat groats, rolled oats and fruit also make a delicious lean breakfast. Sticking to whole grains is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy diet along with your monthly grocery budget.
If you’re on a low-carb diet, substitute past for spiralized zucchini which is an affordable alternative. You can usually by zucchini for $0.50 – $1 each.
Extra Shopping Tip: Ibotta
To make your grocery purchases even more affordable so everything fits within your budget, I’d highly recommend trying Ibotta. This free app is great if you want to save money in the store but don’t like/have time for clipping coupons. Ibotta lets you save money on groceries, toiletries, clothing, and tons more. You also get $10 when you sign up with through my account as long as use Ibotta within the first 7 days.
Ok, So Now You’ve Got the Food Ideas, But How Do You Know What To Cook?
Affordable and healthy foods are often fresh and/or uncooked so you’ll need to prepare them. One of the best things I started doing to keep my grocery spending low was planning out my meals each day.
My family likes variety and won’t really eat leftovers for more than 2 days and if your household is the same, I’d highly recommend trying out the $5 meal plan.
For $5, you can get weekly meal plans delivered straight to your inbox so all you have to do is print the recipes and shopping lists or save it to your phone and grab the foods you need to enjoy delicious cheap and healthy meals.
Try the $5 meal plan out today for free for two weeks. Your family and grocery bill will thank you!
STOP Living Paycheck to Paycheck
You can't break free from the status quo when you're living like everyone else. Get one of the free spreadsheet tools I used to pay off $35,000 of debt quickly, build an emergency fund, and break the paycheck to paycheck cycle.