Before we had a budget, we were unknowingly spending three to four hundred dollars a month on food for two. That’s between seventy-five to a hundred dollars on meals every week. After we came up with a budget we learned that we could stick to a budget of fifty dollars a week or less. Please note that our child is only two months old currently, so she doesn’t eat solid foods yet.
First off, I am no cook. I credit my husband with the majority of the actually good meals that we eat from home, because I am a total failure when it comes to anything with a stove or an oven that doesn’t involve flour and sugar. Baking comes easily, but for some reason I have a mental block when it comes to making a full meal. More often than not, I turn to Hamburger Helper, Top Ramen, Mac n’ Cheese, or grilled sandwiches. It’s definitely not the most healthy, so I’m working on diversifying my capabilities in the kitchen. Still, the meals you can create with a cheap budget like $50 are many, and it would seem that simple meals are nearly synonymous with cheap meals. They go together more often than you would think.
I decided to spend a portion of every weekly budget on a grocery item that I need on a semi-regular basis. The things that we don’t use very frequently, like rice, condiments, etc. And then the rest would be spent on the things I realized we were buying very regularly. On a weekly basis we were going through milk, eggs, bread, etc. So every week those items needed replaced.
Since I don’t cook well, I also don’t plan meals well. I find it is much easier to simply have things on hand just incase I decide that it sounds good. For this reason, I have come up with the following grocery list, which we stick to pretty much every week, with only a few variations when necessary. I decided to spend a portion of every weekly budget on a grocery item that I need on a semi-regular basis. The things that we don’t use very frequently, like rice, condiments, etc. And then the rest would be spent on the things I realized we were buying very regularly. On a weekly basis we were going through milk, eggs, bread, etc. So every week those items needed replaced. And so this is the basic grocery list I go by:
These are the more bulk items we try to have on hand at all times. We don’t buy them weekly, so I’m guessing about $10 of our weekly budget is used to keep these stocked full, since we don’t always need to buy them every week. I would say it’s a month or more before we have to buy the same item again.
- dry beans
- peanut butter
- pantry baking supplies(flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, spices, vanilla, etc.)
- pancake mix
- pasta noodles
If we subtract a weekly $10 for these items, that will leave us with $40 for the rest of our groceries.
What we bought this week:
- Fruits and vegetables-($10)
- Cheese-($8) or butter
- Meat-($9) or canned goods like soup, olives, tuna, fruit and vegetables
Of course, these prices reflect our cost in the midwest. I realize that not everyone has these kinds of prices. It’s good to shop around. Check out discount stores but don’t try to be a hero and buy these particular items in bulk, because then you’ll end up with ten dozen eggs, and only three other items in your cart. Do modify this list to fit your needs. For instance, we buy almond milk, which costs us extra compared to regular cow’s milk. You may not need or like eggs, and you want more fruits and veggies in your diet, so by all means, add the two dollars from the eggs into your produce category.
Now, to go over just some of the meals we can make in one week with these few items, plus what we already have stocked up on in the freezer and the pantry:
- eggs (fried, scrambled with veggies and cheese, or in a tortilla wrap)
- french toast
- oatmeal with honey, cinnamon and diced apples
Lunch and dinner:
- soups and sandwich
- peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
- mac n’cheese
- macaroni salad
- homemade pizza
Our biggest secret when it comes to saving on the grocery bills though, is to eat out. No, I’m not talking about restaurants. You won’t save any money there, trust me. I’m talking about eating with family and friends. Have at least one night a week where you go to someone’s house and bring a simple, cheap side-dish such as potato wedges, a salad, or some home-baked bread. They get your friendship for the evening, and you get free food without looking like you’re mooching, because you brought a dish to share!
What is your weekly budget? Could you live off of less? Let me know in the comments!