Got a Budget?
Budgeting for groceries can be tough. Especially when you are trying to feed yourself and/or your family in a healthy manner. While healthier foods tend to be more expensive than fast food or pre-packaged foods, it is possible to eat healthy on a budget. It takes planning and prepping. Both of which are something I talk a lot about and am always teaching in workshops.
This weekend, though, while prepping for a class, I decided to see if it was possible to feed a family of 4 for with a budget of $100.00 per week. It felt daunting just to think about, but felt even more daunting once I broke it down to how much could be spent per day, per meal, per person. Let's just say that the price per meal is less than you could feed one person on at a fast food restaurant ($2.85/meal). No, that's not $2.85 per person per meal. That's $2.85 for the entire meal.
The results? It is possible, but some adjustments had to be made to my original meal plan. And, I needed to shop at 3 different stores.
Here’s a look at the original, rough meal plan and the grocery list.
Egg Muffins (packed with any veggies or bacon, sausage on hand) w/ toast
Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday
Hot cereal (use whole fat milk or coconut milk & add protein powder)
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
2 dozen eggs $2.99 (2) =$5.98 Whole Foods
Milk $3.49 Trader Joe's
Cheese ~$3.00 Trader Joe's
Hot Cereal ~$3.00 Trader Joe's
Snacks (choose 2/day M-F am & pm)
1/2 apple, handful of nuts (almonds), beef jerky
Smoothie (frozen fruit & protein powder on hand) NA
Quesadilla with chicken or steak (leftover)
10 apples $0.69 (10) = $6.90 Trader Joe's
Almonds (1 bag) $3.99 Safeway
Beef Jerky (2 bags) $5.99 (2) = $11.98 Trader Joe's
Tortillas (20/pack) $4.19 Safeway
Salads using leftover protein
Monday, Wednesday Friday
Sandwiches or leftovers
Lettuce (2 bags/cartons) $2.99 (2) = 5.98 Trader Joe's
Salmon w/rice, broccoli, salad
Roasted Chicken w/sweet potato, broccoli, carrots
Chicken soup (use bones to make a broth w/leftover meat)
Steak fried rice (grill some of the steak to be used in salads and/or quesadillas)
Quiche w/ salad
Salmon (2 lbs) $9.99 (2) = $19.98 Whole Foods
Whole Chicken (~4 lbs) $1.49 (4) = $5.96 Trader Joe's
Steak (1.5 lbs) $9.99 (1.5) = $14.98 Trader Joe's
Broccoli (2 heads) $1.59 (2) = $3.18 Trader Joe's
Carrots (2 lb bag) $1.79 Trader Joe's
Sweet Potatoes (4 large) $0.89 (4) = $3.56 Trader Joe's
Celery (2 heads) $1.79 (2) = $3.58 Trader Joe's
Rice (16 oz) $2.69 (bulk) Whole Foods
Miscellaneous: (can be used to fill out lunches or snacks)
Ground Beef (1.5 lbs) $4.99 (1.5) = $7.48 Trader Joe's
Spinach $2.29 Trader Joe's
Bananas (~4) $0.49/lb (1.5) = $0.73 Whole Foods
Avocado (2) $1.19 (2) = $2.38 Trader Joe's
Yogurt (1 large tub) $2.99 Trader Joe's
Blueberries $3.99 Trader Joe's
Bread $3.49 (2) = $6.98 Trader Joe's
Trader Joe's was by far the least expensive, (which I was expecting). Whole Foods actually came in 2nd place (and don't forget that they have sales quite often and if you have an Amazon Prime membership you get an extra 10% off of the sale price). Safeway was by far the most expensive. But, then I did not write down the prices for Club Members. If I had done that it could have been more competitive with Whole Foods.
As you can see, by buying the bare bones products at the stores where you find the best deals you can just about get everything you need for $100.00. But those Miscellaneous items would be nice to help switch things up a bit. To help add in one or two miscellaneous items you may need to take out salmon or steak and add in canned or dried beans (that you soak and prepare yourself - they are even cheaper that way). You Canada the beans to salads for protein or make burritos/burrito bowls. From a nutritional standpoint, as long as the beans are combined with a grain you will be able to get a complete amino acid profile (protein). However, salmon gives you both protein and Omega-3 fatty acids (aids in reducing inflammation...). Plus, salmon leftovers can be used in salads, as is or turned into salmon patties. You could swap salmon out for tuna. That is much less expensive, too. The point is... it may be a meager meal plan, but it is a meal plan that inherently provides health benefits over fast food and frozen dinners.
Ultimately, where you feel the best about shopping is up to you. I just found it fascinating to see that Safeway was at least $20.00 more than Whole Foods. Their 365 Brand can really save you money, even in buying organic as they have both conventional and organic within that brand. Not trying to sell you on Whole Foods. And I have no affiliation with them. I just know that they get a bad wrap regarding their prices. So...