Top Tips For Grocery Shopping On A Tight Budget
Food prices are continually increasing, and if you’re like me then I know you will be finding it harder and harder to stick to your grocery budget.
We enjoy a healthy, varied diet on a fairly tight grocery budget for 2.
There are plenty of food budgeting tips and tricks that you can use to stretch your money further.
No need to make rice and beans your daily dinner when there are plenty of other options. Not that rice and beans isn’t a nice dish!
Grocery shopping on a tight budget is all about planning and thinking. Planning what you will eat and buy and thinking about how you can stretch your grocery budget that little bit further.
If money is really tight I know I could cut our shopping bill still further with more economical recipes, using coupons strategically and timing my shopping to get better price reduced bargains.
A typical week’s meal plan for the 2 of us looks like this:
Breakfasts – Fruit, porridge, toast
Lunches – Mr2p has sandwiches with fillings including leftover meat, cheese or eggs along with crisps, nuts and fruit. It’s a simple salad for me x 6 days a week.
On Saturdays we always have a bacon sandwich for lunch – a real treat!
Dinners – spaghetti bolognese, sausage casserole, veg/meat lasagne, vegetable stir fry, omelette, vegetable pasta bake.
Snacks – apples, bananas and oranges are favourites along with nuts and a big bar of white chocolate with strawberry bits in (we make this last 4 days).
How to Thrive On A $35/£30 Grocery Budget For 2
Pre-Planning Your Grocery Budget For 2
To reduce your food waste and make best use of the food you buy there are a number of steps you can take before you go shopping each week:
- Know what meals you will be buying for
- Know your social calendar and activities for the week
- Plan for snacks
- Know your cooking capabilities
- Be aware of how much time you have available to cook
Why do you need to know these things before you set your grocery budget for 2 or go shopping? Well they all impact on how much you will end up spending each week.
What Meals Are Within Your Grocery Budget
If both of you are at work 5 days a week then the meals you will need to prepare and buy for may well be different than if you were both at home all day.
When at home Mr2p often enjoy lunches such as poached egg on toast or sardines on toast. These aren’t practical for lunch on a building site though so other foods must be planned and bought.
You might be an early riser who enjoys sitting down to breakfast before work every day. Or perhaps you are like me and can’t think about food before 10am, long after you have started work.
These lifestyle choices impact on your grocery budget due to the foods you might buy as a result of how and where you eat breakfast.
Tip – Note down how many meals you need to factor into your food budget each week and whether they include ‘on the go’ meals – ones you will eat en route to work or someplace else.
What Have You Got Planned For The Week
If you’ve got a couple of evenings out to look forward to you will want to factor these into or out of your grocery budget. You might not need a meal as you are eating elsewhere.
Alternatively you might need something really quick to eat due to the limited time you will have between getting home from work and going back out.
Tip – Note evenings out in your calendar and check before you plan your meals and grocery shop for the week.
Include Snacks In Your Food Budget Planning
Ahhhh snacks! I’ll be honest, we are a snacky couple. We cannot exist on 3 square meals a day.
Snacks can form a really healthy part of your grocery budget. Fruit or a handful of nuts are nutritious and tasty. But the cost of snacks can add up quickly if you don’t plan and choose carefully.
Especially if you end up running out to the local shop because you’ve run out of snacks. Not only do they cost more, they’re likely to be less healthy.
Tip – If you enjoy snacks as part of your regular diet then a top tip for grocery shopping on a tight budget is to choose low cost snacks every week. And don’t eat them all at once!
Come and follow me on Pinterest for more money saving hints and frugal tips!
Your Cooking Abilities
Why does your ability to cook affect your food budget? Because the better you are at cooking, the more likely you are to be able to produce cheap meals from only a few ingredients.
I speak as one who is not a great cook. Whereas Mr2p is a good cook and can rustle up delicious meals out of a seemingly empty fridge.
When you aren’t an adventurous cook like me, then the meals you prepare can end up costing more because you’re not confident enough to substitute cheaper options in a recipe.
I’ve also found that you are more likely to stick with meals where meat is the main ingredient.
Tip – Identify cheaper meal options that are within your capabilities.
Related reading: 10 Frugal Meals For When You Feel So Broke
Many’s the day when I used to get home from work too tired to start thinking about cooking.
On days like these you are at risk of blowing that grocery budget of yours and either getting a take away or going out for a meal.
Tip – Meal plan before your shop and ensure the meals are either super easy or ones that can be cooked in advance and frozen for another day.
Related reading: Your Simple Guide To Meal Planning On A Budget
Build Economical Recipes Into your Meal Plan
Simple, wholesome recipes are usually far cheaper than those that require various exotic ingredients. Or those that have 10+ ingredients and require numerous pots and pans.
Simple meals aren’t boring, but they are simple and tasty.
Tip – Use Pinterest to research cheap recipes and use the free Recipe Cards in my FREE Resource Library to keep them to hand.
More Tips For Grocery Shopping On A Tight Budget
Using all of these budgeting tips will really help you keep your costs low every week.
Let me show you how you can live and eat well on a low grocery budget for 2.
Meal Planning Starts In Your Cupboard
The best food budget planning always starts with a comprehensive meal plan.
And when you are trying to stick to a tight grocery budget for 2 you will want to use the food in your cupboards first before spending more money.
Planning your meals using existing supplies can reduce your food budget quite considerably. It can also mean you might not need to go shopping as planned.
Extend the time between grocery shopping runs by creating a couple of day’s meals from your cupboard supplies.
Cook From Scratch
Cooking from scratch means you know exactly what is going into your meals and you are in control of the ingredients cost.
Combine scratch cooking with batch cooking to save both time and money.
Batch cooking is an absolute lifesaver when you are short of time in the evening.
Cook a big batch of your favourite meal at the weekend and freeze it in portions for a quick meal during the week.
Meals such as chilli con carne, casseroles, lasagne and vegetable bakes all freeze well and lend themselves to being cooked in a batch.
Increase Your 5 a Day
Increase the veg portions you have for dinner and lunch and decrease your protein amounts. Protein costs more than vegetables.
Especially if you are money savvy and buy in season, simple vegetables rather than those grown out of season and flown half way round the world.
I’m looking at you avocado!
You’ve probably heard of Meatless Mondays but a meatless day doesn’t have to be a Monday. In our house it’s never a Monday as we usually have meat left over from our Sunday dinner with the family.
Meat is expensive even if you buy the cheapest cuts, buy in bulk or only buy when it is deeply discounted and at a bargain price.
Tip – Investigate and incorporate meatless meals into your weekly meal plan
Bonus Tip – Sign up for my free Resource Library and use the free Weekly Meal Planner to plan your meals.
Drink More Water
Tap water is the cheapest thing you can drink, and it’s good for you.
Cut fruit juices, soda and the like right down or out of your grocery budget and watch the savings mount up.
Being British a cup of tea is my main drink in winter but I aim for water on summer days.
I never buy branded teabags, store own brand is good enough for me and makes a decent strong cuppa.
Spend Your Food Budget Across Stores
Shop at more than one store if it means you are saving more than £3 a week.
Less than that and it might not be worth the extra petrol and time travelling to a 2nd store, especially if you get tempted to blow your grocery budget by more offers!
Thriving On A $35/£30 Grocery Budget For 2
My typical frugal grocery list looks like this:
Some of the items above would last longer than a week including teabags, spaghetti and eggs.
The meat bought will also last longer than a week as we stretch our protein and made a double or triple batch of one meal with things like mince, sausages and chicken.
This is a typical weekly meal plan for the 2 of us which includes all snacks.
A typical week’s meal plan for the 2 of us can look like this:
Breakfasts – Fruit, porridge, toast or nothing (me sometimes)
Lunches – Sandwiches with fillings including leftover meat, cheese or eggs along with crisps, nuts and fruit for Mr2p. For myself I have a simple salad 6 days a week.
Saturday lunch = bacon sandwich (treat time!)
Dinners – spaghetti bolognese, sausage casserole, chicken stir fry, vegetable stir fry, omelette, vegetable pasta bake.
Snacks – fruit, nuts and a big bar of white chocolate with strawberry bits in (this lasts 4 days).
Remember – left overs are your friend (our stir fry’s often have them in) and will help you achieve whatever grocery budget for 2 you have set yourself.
Have you managed to reduce your grocery budget? What meals do you have to keep your grocery budget down low?