How I Feed Myself for Under $100 a Month (without Surviving off of Top Ramen!)

grocery shopping budget | living on a budget | couponing | living on your own | grocery store hacks | cheap groceries
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Living on your own allows you to figure out what you can splurge on and what you cannot. Food is one of the things that you cannot cut corners on. Simply put: you need to eat.

I'm not the biggest fan of chain supermarkets, such as Albertson’s or Smith’s. Don’t get me wrong, I'll go there if I need something quickly, but I really try to make Sprouts, Trader Joe's, and even Whole Foods, my exclusive grocery stores.

I've been restricting my diet recently; cutting back on hydrogenated oils, eliminating sunflower oils, avoiding tree nuts and pine nuts (because I’m so allergic), watching my carb intake, and adding more fruits and veggies into my diet.

grocery shopping budget | living on a budget | couponing | living on your own | grocery store hacks | cheap groceries


It took a while, but I think I finally figured out where to go, when to purchase, and what to buy in order to get the biggest bang for my buck.

Principal rule: buy a little at a time. Do not go into a grocery store and spend your $100 budget on one shopping trip and think you're done for the month. Spending $20-$30 a week is a more practical goal. 

grocery shopping budget | living on a budget | couponing | living on your own | grocery store hacks | cheap groceries
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What to buy

Always go with a list. My list may not be complete, but I know what I need to get. I'll keep track of the prices on my necessities and whatever cash I have left over from my weekly budget I'll use to splurge. Usually a bottle of wine or pint of ice cream!

I break my list down into categories, figure out what I need from each department, and if I can get them this week or skip them. This step isn't necessary, but it saves me time so I'm not wandering all over the store for hours on end!


Disclaimer: this is an example of a shopping list because I tend to reuse the same ingredients and make similar meals daily for breakfast and lunch, and then my dinners will vary. I do not buy all of these items every week.


Produce

Avocados – I usually get three per week only if they're less than $1 for one of the regular size or 3 for $5 of the larger size. Keep them in the fridge until you are ready to use them so they will last longer.
Tomato – I hate dicing tomatoes, so I'll splurge for the cherry tomatoes. However, you can pinch pennies if you prefer to chop up your own. One tomato a week is usually good.
Red Onion – every other week
Spinach – every week (the $5 sale boxes are tempting, but in some cases you won’t get to finish it before it wilts)
Carrots – every other week. Once again, I pay for convenience here and get the pre-sliced carrots, but you can save money by cutting your own.
Red Fruit – strawberries, raspberries, or grapes (depending on what is on sale)
Bananas – about 3-4 per week


Dairy/Meats/Fish

Eggs – organic and cage-free
Frozen Fish or Ground Beef – under $15 (as needed)
Rice or Coconut Milk – this lasts longer than dairy milk, so purchase every other week
Sour Cream – a small tub (as needed)
Hummus – $3 or less

Frozen


Vegetable Fried Rice
Easy to Make Mac n’ Cheese because we all have those days...
Chobani Yogurt Cups – only if they're $1 or less. 
Extras  what I find yummy and fits into my budget; i.e. pizza, ice cream, French fries, microwave meals, etc.

Condiments

Primal Kitchen Salad Dressing (as needed)
Peanut Butter (as needed)
Olive Oil (as needed)
Lemon Juice (as needed)

Canned/Boxed/Bagged Goods

Beans – refried, black, or garbanzo beans are my go-tos
Olives – stock up when you see them for $1
Cereal – 1-2 boxes (as needed)
Pasta Mixes – cheat; get the mixes because then you don't have to buy as many separate ingredients!
Plantain Chips – better than potato chips in so many ways. Pair with the hummus for a yummy treat!
Ezekiel Bread – keep this in the freezer so it doesn't go bad. Defrost as needed. I typically buy a loaf every other week, but purchase as needed.


grocery shopping budget | living on a budget | couponing | living on your own | grocery store hacks | cheap groceries
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Where to shop

I have a method of where to shop to get what I need for the best price.

Sprouts

All Fruits and Most Produce
Sprouts has the best prices when it comes to produce. I strive to get there on Wednesday for ‘Double Ad Wednesday’, which means more items are on sale and you can get a bulk of your shopping at a bargain. 


Most Condiments

Eggs.
There’s not too much of a price difference here, but they do have more organic cage-free varieties.

Canned Beans
The Sprouts’ brand is yummy and inexpensive. Stock up if they're under $1.  

Trader Joe's


All Frozen Items
They have a better and healthier selection at a lower price, always

All Bagged Vegetables
Anything like carrots, lettuce, or spinach. They come in an appropriately sized bag at a fraction of the price that the regular supermarkets offer.

Hummus
The cheapest and tastiest that I have found by far.

Most Condiments
They are mostly Trader Joe's brand, but they haven’t failed me in the flavor department yet!

Chips and Snacks
Peruse the aisle and pick what you like. There are fewer decisions to make because the selection is smaller, but the assortments are ten times more beneficial (for your body and your budget!).

Bread
It's generally around the same price as all the other locations but is on sale more often here.

Smith's/Albertsons

Pasta Boxes
These are always on sale and have many flavor options.

Frozen Fish/Meat.
A better price for a bigger portion.

Sour Cream
It's a simple item. Don't over think this one.


I'm a Pinterest recipe gal, so I enjoy looking up simple recipes or ones that have fewer ingredients. I can make something fun, but don't have to break the bank in the process. If you can't repeat meals, find other things that you can make with the ingredients that you do have.

Shopping for one can be vexing because you may have to repeat dishes a lot, but try to spice up your list and save a buck in the process. Treat yourself every once in a while too. A bottle of wine here or a fun dessert there can really make the difference in a meal. I hope this was helpful!


What are your grocery hacks? Feel free to share in the comments below!



grocery shopping budget | living on a budget | couponing | living on your own | grocery store hacks | cheap groceries

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