If you want to learn how to spend $50 a week on groceries, you should first know that if I can do it, you can do it!
If you look at any of my previous budgets, you’ll notice the hubs and I spent a ridiculous amount of money on food last year. $700… $600….plus eating out sometimes. Whaaa?
Last time I checked, this was a blog about spending less and living more! It’s time to get back to those roots. Y’all have been generous on letting me slide on this given how insane 2014 was, but now it’s time to reevaluate and set an example on how to drastically reduce your grocery budget.
So far, I’ve done all the steps below, and it’s working. Week 1, we spent $48 (picture included in this post!) and week 2, we spent $50. All of our meals have been great and relatively simple. So, here we go…
Step 1: What’s Already In Your Fridge?
Why buy all new groceries when you can use some of your old ones? Chances are you have some things frozen or in your pantry. So, let that help you ease into the transition of spending less. We had some frozen turkey stock, some chicken, and some ground turkey in the fridge. We also had pasta, cous cous, rice, and beans in the cabinet. So, I set off to make a plan that could utilize these things. When you shop this way, your fridge will not look nice and full and stocked. That’s something you’ll have to get used to.
Step 2: Plan Your Meals
Planning your meals is the #1 thing you can do to save money on groceries. Planning your meals leads to less eating out, less quick trips through the drive through because you’re starving, and less moments of being annoyed because the one thing you wanted to cook is still frozen at 5 PM. It does take time, about an hour and a half actually, to plan meals for the entire week, but once you do, you will feel so accomplished and organized.
You can even use a handy dandy app like Ibotta to help plan your meals. Sign up and then scroll through to see what deals they have that week. You can plan your menu around what items will give you cash back. Trust me, it’s awesome. (You can get an ibotta referral code here.)
Step 3: Make Soup and Vegetarian Meals
Rice and beans are the classic, cheap meal. My friends, the Frugalwoods, inspired us to make this for our lunches, and we’re two weeks going strong. It’s cheap and delicious. Once you start going vegetarian for your dinners, you get used to it. I am the biggest lover of steak and potatoes out there. Seriously, just ask my family; however, cutting back on the meat does help the budget. Just make sure to replace the nutrients with another protein.
Here are examples of two really good vegetarian meals I made this week:
Skinny Baked Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese (made tons and had leftovers)
Mango and Black Bean Salad (made enough for lunch the next day too)
On the non-vegetarian but still cheap front, we’ve also made taco soup, split pea soup, and several variations of bean soup, all which taste better with a little bit of meat in them. We sprinkled some bacon in most of those dishes because it was on sale. This Kale and Potato soup is a good example of an amazing but inexpensive soup if you replace the sausage they call for with a little bacon or a ham hock.
Step 4: Discipline, Discipline, Discipline
I’m not going to lie. The $50 a week thing has not been easy. I know it will get better once it becomes a habit but I find myself wanting other things not on the list or wanting take out. It’s tough to stay regimented. We pooled some of our personal allowances this month to get a pizza one night when we were exhausted. It was $20. That’s fine because we budgeted personal expenses to use however we want but all that said, the month is halfway over and we technically have no more to spend on take out, so we have to stay strong. The fact that we’re in this together and trying to stick to this goal is really what makes it worth it.
I should note that we live in one of the most expensive areas in the entire country. My in laws were amazed at the grocery prices. They are double and sometimes triple the prices of items in Louisiana. So, all that to say, no excuses! All of this is possible for anyone, and I know that because I am so not the cooking type. It’s my least favorite thing to do every day; however, I notice I do have a sense of pride when I make something good and healthy for my family, especially because we’re now sharing our food with the babies, who love trying new things.
So, that’s how I’m saving so much money on groceries this year. It’s a personal goal of mine to keep our groceries under $240 each month. However, if you want to start saving in general in all aspects of your life this year, you can begin by entering the free giveaway below!
25 responses to “How to Spend $50 a Week on Groceries”
I want to eat the mango and black bean salad as soon as possible. Sounds delicious! Great tips.
Oh I love it Cat! You are rocking the grocery budget! My hubs is a meat freak. Like in he totally freaks out when he realizes dinner has NO meat in it….seriously, it’s a problem. During Lent every year, he complains that there is no meat on Fridays and sometimes even makes his own meal. I love your meatless ideas and will definitely have to try them on my hubs. I could go forever without eating meat; I’m a pasta girl. So healthy, I know. 🙂
My husband is the same. A meal isn’t a meal without meat for him. I’m going to try to incorporate 1 vegetarian dinner each week (which we’ll likely eat twice because we always have leftovers). I made this when a kosher friend was over, and it was really good. Also looked very pretty. http://www.skinnytaste.com/2010/09/low-fat-baked-ziti-with-spinach.html I subbed the ricotta for cottage cheese to save money.
Yay rice and beans :)! I’m so glad to hear you liked it! I find it to be such a filling and satisfying meal (not to mention dirt cheap). Sounds like you have a great system going and I am sure you’re going to do great with this challenge. I’m excited to hear how it goes and what other tips you uncover–I feel like every month we find a new way to slightly tweak our system.
Being vegetarian helps so much! We eat a ton of cheap and easy vegetarian meals and all of those savings add up.
This post is right up my alley! Being vegetarian-adjacent is so critical for this — I use the bacon trick all the time (also sausage, which is nearly as cheap) but basing meals on beans and grains and vegetables is infinitely cheaper than basing them on good meat. Congrats on making so much progress. You might think about making and freezing pizza dough, sauce, and even pre-grated cheese and toppings in small portions so you can pull them out and make a pizza in less time than it would take to have one delivered….
Great tips, thanks!! My budget is definitely not that low, but I’m inspired to try to spend less! We have a budget of $250/week for all variable expenses – food, gas, diapers, etc. We usually stick to that which is good…but reading this definitely makes me think we could be doing better!! For the week, I’m at $170 in groceries alone – yikes!!!
We made a lot of money choices last year; however, I think our focus on lowering our grocery bill gave us the most bang for our buck as far as savings dollars were concerned. We currently spend about $70 a week on groceries (we used to spend $200 a week), but I would like to push and get that lower in 2015.
Yeah Veg meals! People really underrate beans. So cheap, so versatile, so delicious!
Love this! I’m in the same boat. Used to spend a lot on groceries and going out, but we are batch cooking and eat at home more (finally!). It’s been great. We can be on this journey together 🙂
This is great Cat! I’m working on meal planning/prep myself, it’s such a struggle! I think the key for me is going to be the prep part…hoping to eventually be able to tackle it all on Sundays. I’m allowing myself to take baby step towards that goal though. That Skinny Baked Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese is looking mighty, mighty fine…
Great job guys! You are doing amazing so far. I broke down and got a pizza one night too, oops! But for the most part I’ve been going strong on $120/month for groceries for a year now. 🙂
Like so many others, the grocery bill is in my cross-hairs for improvement too. I bought produce yesterday based solely on what was for sale – I only bought things that were dirt cheap prices. Now, I have the task of making meals around those ingredients. As I told Mr. Maroon about my shopping trip, he offered some pretty solid advice:
“We’ll save money if you plan meals around ads instead of shopping around meals.”
New challenge accepted!
Oh .. we sometimes spend 50 bucks in one ‘go’. We can find excuses (baby, quality ingredients etc.), truth is we should be curbing our expenses a bit more. Good tips and information, might be useful to us, too 🙂
Groceries are our number one expense after the mortgage and student loan payments, so it would be great to cut that expense down. Thanks for the great tips.
We have just started budgeting this year. In that process I have started meal planning and stopped eating out. I am amazed at how much we are saving by just these two. I try to make sure anything I buy gives us least two meals. We also have chickens and I plan one night on having breakfast for supper.
We have not given up meat and still keep our grocery bill at $75/week. I know when our local store marks down meat and I only buy 50% off, all that I can afford, and then vacuum seal and freeze. We are paid monthly so I can portion out the grocery money as needed for the meat purchases.
Mango salad sounds so delicious. I think I am going to try and make that. The biggest help for me was planning my meals to stay within budget.