If you follow me on Instagram, you may have gathered a few things- I love to budget, and I love to cook. I’ve been wanting to share how we achieve those two items while following a fairly “traditional” diet since the origin of this blog! If you are on Instagram you may have seen this post or caught my story yesterday in which I shared what we bought and the price breakdown for our weekly grocery shop. With this post I’m attempting to put those items together to give you a more comprehensive idea.
First of all, there is no perfect grocery budget that everyone must adhere to (I love this blog post that explains why). The way I grocery shop reflects my values – eating nourishing, traditional foods, my love of cooking and preparing simple meals, and my commitment to eating the majority of our meals at home to save money. If this does not describe you, this system may not work for you. That’s okay!
Please also note that what I’m describing below is my system at its ideal. When I put the time/energy into it, it functions like a well-oiled machine. There are plenty of weeks in which I end up minimizing this – for example, buying grocery store meat (gag) and basically serving it with rice and whatever salvageable vegetable I can find from the fridge. I am not perfect, but nevertheless, you will always find us cooking the majority of our meals at home with minimally processed ingredients. It’s habit.
So, here’s how I buy real foods on a budget.
- I sit down and make a list of meals that we might like to have for the week to week & a half, depending how lazy I’m feeling. This week I wrote down pot roast, hamburgers, pork chops, crock pot chicken & rice soup, sweet potato shepherd’s pie. My husband decides he wants to make a cabbage cole slaw. Out of this list, I’ll really only need to use a recipe for the soup and shepherd’s pie.
- I know I will grocery shop at multiple stores to get the freshest ingredients and maximize my budget. So, when making my grocery list, I separate ingredients accordingly. I make a list of produce and a list of meat, and then another list for any items I’ll need at a normal grocery store (like coffee, butter, canned goods).
- I either start my grocery trip at the local butcher or the produce market, both of which are in a 5-10 mi radius from my house and each other. This week I started at the butcher. I bought:
- 5 lb. pot roast, gr. sausage, gr. chuck, 2 whole chickens, 2 pork chops, 2-3 lb. English roast, & pork lard. TOTAL: $43.02
- you might be able to match ingredients with the meals above. Notice I bought some extra roast & extra chicken which we can use later, making the meat stretch to maybe 1.5 wks.
- I then head straight to my favorite produce market, a tiny little local market that aims to buy the freshest of produce from local farmers & the majority of produce is un-sprayed by pesticides (read: better than shipped organic). They have a small selection, so there I only buy:
- potatoes, onions, tomatoes, a bell pepper, mushooms, & an apple. TOTAL:$ 7.20
- I head to another local produce market down the street (I live in just the best area!) & buy the rest of the produce I need. this includes:
- carrots, celery, garlic, sweet potatoes, kale, cabbage, radishes, cabbage. TOTAL: $16.27
GRAND TOTAL: $66.49
My weekly grocery budget is $80-100 depending on how generous I’m feeling with myself. This week I designated $80, making my grocery trips under budget by $13.51.
I will leave this in my spending checking account for next week’s groceries or if we need something mid-week. If this happens to you you could also buy beer with it, not speaking from experience or anything.
My pantry is already stocked from previous weeks, so I don’t need to stop at the grocery store or Aldi for basics like bread, butter, coffee, canned goods and so forth. We don’t buy snacks aside from the occasional chips & salsa or nuts. (If you watched my IG stories I did math wrong and it came out higher than it actually was. #facepalm)
I recognize that whether you’ll be able to do this depends on what your produce availability is in your area, unfortunately. You might live in a “food desert” and have to make do at the normal grocery store where non-local produce will cost you quite a bit more. Otherwise, though, let me reassure you that my husband and I work full time and it takes far less time to prepare these meals than you might think, once you learn how to cook with real ingredients and develop the habit of cooking dinner. I pack a lunch for work with leftovers every day because there are only two of us, but we make meals that feed 4-6+ always for convenience. In future posts I will share tips for pulling this all together during the week, until then, catch my Instagram stories where I intend to share some of our nightly dinners.