If you are looking to make better use of your money, your grocery budget is a good place to start trimming. If you approach it with the right attitude, it can even feel like a game or a wonderful challenge to see how you can spend less.
But I want to balance my advice with this: consider not skimping too much on your grocery budget. If you are eating high-quality healthy foods, you can count them as preventative medicine. It is an investment in your future.
Here are my tips for keeping a low grocery budget, yet also eating nutrient-dense health foods… and no couponing needed!
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Have a list and stick to it– Keep a list and remember to take it shopping with you! (I often forget that step) Try to stick to it as closely as you can. Of course it always makes sense to stray from your list if you find a really great deal on something that’s on sale that you can use.
Rely on the filling-but-cheap staples– this includes foods like beans, oats, peanut butter, rice, and potatoes. Some great meals you can make with these ingredients include baked potatoes, peanut butter oatmeal, chili, and beans and rice.
Buy bulk grass-fed meat– I have successfully found and bought grass-fed beef on Craigslist from a local farmer. The price usually ranges from $4-$6/pound in my area. That’s a great price compared to the store. Downside: you are expected to buy at least a quarter of a cow, which means you need a chest freezer and a large chunk of money at one time. Upside: You can get great parts of the cow like soup bones (for making broth) and fat (for making tallow or lard!).
Find the sale section of your grocery store– It’s usually in the back somewhere. Check it each time you go. I’ve found some awesome deals!
Find in-season foods at farms and preserve it– This might include pumpkins or squash in October (either store whole or cook and freeze) and u-pick fruits in the summer time (freeze or can).
Forage or grow as much food as you can– We figured our garden saved us $600-$800 this summer. Pretty awesome. We have also foraged blackberries, apples, and elderberries this summer and saved hundreds of dollars.
Embrace tomato paste– It’s usually around $1/can and since it’s concentrated, it stretches well in soups and sauces. Adds richness and flavor for little money.
Focus on the cheap-but-nutritious produce– This includes carrots, kale, lettuce, cabbage, onions, and bananas.
Make your own sauces: This will save you money, but it will also help your diet stay healthy since most store-bought sauces have sugars and unhealthy fats in them. Some sauces you might consider making might be peanut sauce, salad dressing, and spaghetti sauce.
Make your own staple foods: These practices will keep your costs down and your nutrition high: broth, apple cider vinegar, mayo, bread. Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon has a lot of really good recipes for the basics.
Make your own fermented foods: The ones that I make are sauerkraut, kombucha, and sourdough bread. You could also make fermented dairy products like yogurt, kefir, and sour cream.
I hope this helps you in your journey to stick to your grocery budget!
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