When Money Is Tight, How to Enjoy A $35 Grocery Budget For 2

 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 save more money by focusing on buying the best frugal foods for when you’re broke.

Using super frugal foods with more economical recipes, using coupons strategically and timing my shopping to get better price reduced bargains would all help me save even more money.

How to Thrive On A $35/£30 Grocery Budget For 2

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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).

Top Tip – Subscribe to the 7 day Grocery Budget Bootcamp and learn how to take back control of your spending on groceries in just a week!

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.

For added inspiration why not have a read of one or two of these frugal living books to see how other frugal folk manage their food bills?

I love getting an insight into how others penny pinch!

couple looking at their grocery receipt

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.

Now Meal Plan

Meal planning done right is one of the best tools in your quest to learn how to reduce your grocery bill.

Using a meal plan saves both time and money.

Time –  because you no longer waste time trying to work out what to make for tonight’s dinner, you get home and get started.

Money – no longer will you need to resort to takeout or drive thru because you cannot decide what to cook.

But meal planning done wrong can end up with both wasted time and wasted money.

This is where the $5 meals plan saves the day. 

No need to struggle to fill out that cute meal plan printable you downloaded.

$5 meals plan have you covered. Not only do you get a weekly meal plan each week, you also get the shopping list of ingredients.

No wasted money buying groceries you don’t use. No wasted money getting takeout.

Spend just $5 a month to get a different meal plan sent to you every week. There is also a gluten-free option if you need it.

Try it for free with a 14 day FREE trial to see how it can reduce your food bill.

Oh, and if you are in the UK you can definitely use this!

Start my free trial

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!

Related post: 40+ Cheap And Easy Savory Snacks To Make At Home

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

Available Time

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

Make your freezer work for you

Fill your freezer with ready meals and you will never go hungry or not have a delicious meal to eat when you get home late.

Of course I’m not talking shop bought ready meals, I’m talking meals you have prepared yourself for busy nights.

But what to make, and how to save time both during the week and on your precious days off?

This is where Myfreezeasy can help, it is a personalized freezer meal plan to suit your time, tastes and budget.

Make 10 meals in just an hour! With recipes that require little to no pre-cooking, you can quickly and efficiently get them ready to freeze.

Myfreezeasy meal plans come with videos, shopping lists and simple to follow directions to get your bulk meal prep done in no time at all.

Myfreezeasy is not a done for your meal plan, it’s a program where you are always in control.

Choose the freezer meals you want to prep on the mobile app with their simple drag and drop tool.

All the freezer meals are budget friendly recipes.

But not only are they budget friendly, having a stash of freezer meals means you need never resort to takeout and you cut right back on food waste.

You can try Myfreezeasy for free when you join the Freezer Cooking 101 Workshop

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.

Both the $5 meal plans and the myfreezeasy recipes are simple and economical so help you to come in on budget.

55 Cheap And Easy Meals You Are Going To Love

For more help, advice and tactics to completely overhaul your food bill click here:

promotional image for grocery budget course

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.

Quick Money Making Tip

Scan Your Receipt Through Fetch

Fetch Rewards is a free grocery savings app that rewards you just for snapping pictures of your receipts. That’s really it.

It won’t reduce your grocery bill but you get free rewards on groceries on thousands of products every day, no matter where you get your groceries. Just scan your receipts to receive rewards.

Use code “APREWARDS” to redeem 3K points!

advert for fetch rewards app

In The UK? Scan Your Receipts Through Storewards

Storewards works in the same way as Fetch, all you need to do is snap pictures of your receipts.

Even better though, it allows receipts from all purchases made (in-store and online), up to 20 receipts a week, not just groceries. Plus you get a daily bonus just for logging in.

Use referral code l8iph (l = L) to get 250 bonus coins when you sign up today.

Download the Storewards app and use this referral code to claim bonus coins

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.

Now I know how I can cut my grocery budget for 2 right down. FREE PRINTABLE! Eat healthily and save money with these tips. #grocerybudget #foodlist #savemoneytips #moneysavingtips

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

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!

Meatless Days

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.

Related post: 20 Easy Cheap Vegan Recipes Everyone Will Devour

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!

For more help, advice and tactics to completely overhaul your food bill click here:

promotion of grocery bill cutting course

Thriving On A $35/£30 Grocery Budget For 2

My typical frugal grocery list looks like this:

Lettuce, cucumber, rocket. Onions, broccolli, cabbage, carrots, courgettes, swede, potatoes, parsnips (different in summer). Wholemeal bread, milk, wholewheat spaghetti, tinned tomatoes, cheese, eggs, bacon, sausages, whole chicken, chocolate, crisps, nuts, teabags, apples, bananas, oranges.

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?

Top Tip – Subscribe to the 7 day Grocery Budget Bootcamp and learn how to take back control of your spending on groceries in just a week!

Come and follow me on Pinterest for more money saving hints and frugal tips!

Now I know how I can cut my grocery budget for 2 right down. FREE PRINTABLE! Eat healthily and save money with these tips. #grocerybudget #foodlist #savemoneytips #moneysavingtips

Last Updated on 5th April 2023 by Emma

About Emma

I'm here to help you become confident in making the best money decisions for you and your family. Frugal living has changed my life, let me help you change yours.

6 thoughts on “When Money Is Tight, How to Enjoy A $35 Grocery Budget For 2”

  1. Happy New Year, Tuppenny.

    Very interesting as my own food budget (for one person) varies between £25 – £30 so perhaps I’ve left things slip a little (I know I’ve started buying alcohol again).

    It’s been a while since I did batched cooking so I think I’ll start that up again.

    How are things going on the house hunting in the Lake District?

    • Hi Weenie, so sorry I did reply but somehow it didn’t save! Alcohol isn’t contained in my food budget as its something I deem to be entertainment – home drinking instead of going to the pub! House hunting continues, we are back up north later this month – wish me luck!

  2. Thank you. I follow some of what you suggested at present.

    I did pick some new suggestions that I will incorporate to my frugal budget.

    • Hi Kareena, so glad you have picked up some new ideas to help. And even better that you already knew some of this, I am sure your grocery budget is going down as I type! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Very excited to put this into practice for me and my husband!!! Were trying to save as much money as we can, and groceries has definitely been our splurge as I love to try and cook new exciting crazy dishes lol. Were both so tired of wasting food that we forget about. I’ll be doing some research to see what fruits and veggies are in season and cutting down the protein amount. We only eat about 1 full meal a day and then more have a snack(granola bar/yogurt) for breakfast and then maybe some cheese and lunch meat for our lunch so ill be very interested to see if I plan this out more week to week how much we can save!!! Thank you so much for your tips!!! So excited!

    • Hi Abigail! I’m rooting for you. You can definitely still cook exciting dishes, just focus on those that don’t involve crazy, expensive ingredients. You could maybe cost out how much your main meals tend to cost and the same for lunches and breakfasts. You might find you can save money on those smaller meals so you can still splurge a bit on those exotic ingredients. Thanks for stopping by!


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