How we meet the $25 weekly grocery budget and eat healthy food
This is post # 2 of an eating fairly healthy food on a $25 weekly grocery budget series. Click here for the beginning article.
An important key to us being able save money and eat healthy food while on a tight grocery budget is having a garden and growing most of our vegetables. For those who do not have a garden, the follow thoughts may still help. I do encourage you to consider starting at least a small garden though!
I rarely use coupons. I don’t think I have used more than four coupons this past year and three of them were in-store Kroger coupons. Most of our groceries are purchased at Aldi where coupons cannot be used. For those of you who do not live near an Aldi, I feel sorry for what your grocery bill must be. Some people have told me the Aldi store near them is terrible. Probably any store can vary due to different managers. We have always been blessed to live near good ones.
For over a year, my husband picked up the groceries after work. At the time it was a thirty minute drive for me to get to the stores, so it saved gas for him to get the groceries since he could go by Aldi on his way home from work. I would look up the sale ads online and made up my grocery list for him based on those ads. I tried to keep most of our purchases at Aldi so that he only had to make one stop on the way home.
We have moved closer to the stores now, so I get the groceries myself. If stores in your area are far apart, it may not be worth it to shop several stores. Driving all the way across town to save fifty cents on rice does not pay if you are spending a dollar’s worth of gas. However, if you live where the stores are very close, it will pay to shop the sales.
Each week I look up the sale adds for Aldi, Kroger, and Meijer online. I usually do not go to Kroger or Meijer unless there is something in the sale paper we need. Occasionally, I go to Walmart when we are out of the few things I purchase there. We buy taco sauce there because Aldi doesn’t sell taco sauce. We also buy yeast and backing powder at Walmart or Meijer. Aldi does sell backing powder, but not aluminum free. My mother taught me eating aluminum was not good for you, so I spend the extra money to purchase aluminum free backing powder.
Besides aluminum free baking powder, there are also some “more expensive” choices we make for the sake of healthy food. My mother also taught me margarine was bad, so I buy real butter. As set as I am on butter, Paul is equally set on real peanut better. We buy peanut butter that contains nothing but peanuts. It is more expensive than corn syrup, soy bean oil, sugar-filled peanut butter, but also healthier and still fits in our $25 weekly budget. We cannot afford all the most healthy food in everything, but as long as I can fit it in our budget, healthier is chosen over cheapest. While I’m all for saving money, saving our health is also saving money. (Which is why we purchase Plexus products! If someone is interested in learning more about Plexus products, please comment or e-mail us.)
Learning and keeping track of the sale cycle is helpful. For instance, once a year around Saint Patrick’s Day, corn beef comes on sale. Aldi usually has it for $1.99 a pound and I get four or five roasts, stick them in the freezer and spread them throughout the year. Since we grow our own onions, cabbage, carrots, and potatoes, we get one of our favorite meals at a very good price. Of course around Thanksgiving is when turkeys are on sale. Even though we were not eating a Thanksgiving dinner at our place this past year, I purchased a turkey at a good price, stuck it in the freezer and we ate it in April! If you have never paid attention the sale cycles, now is a good time to start.
There are certain things I just do not purchase at regular price. I know meat, butter, peanut butter and cheese is going to come on sale, so I wait for it. There may be occasional exceptions, but as a general rule, I won’t purchase these items unless they are on sale. If we are out of cheese and it has not come on sale, I avoid meals that require cheese until it does. Regular price of natural peanut butter at Meijer is somewhere around $2.35. Fairly often they have it on sale for $1.99. I stock up on it. If we are almost out of peanut butter and it is not on sale, Paul just won’t be taking peanut butter sandwiches in his lunch for a while.
This is the first year I have bought a turkey in a couple of years. The past couple of years Meijer had the best price on turkeys, .45 cents a pound, but it required a $30 additional purchase and we never purchase that much at Meijer. So, I didn’t buy a turkey. This year Kroger had turkeys for .45 cents as well, with no additional purchase. I bought us a turkey. Our meals are seldom planned just around what we want to eat. In the summer they are planned around whatever is most abundant in the garden, and in the winter, they are planned around whatever is on sale and whatever garden food we have stored.
Besides sales, I fix a maximum price on certain items. Right now, with our current budget, $3 a pound is our maximum for meat. That means we haven’t bought shrimp in quite a while. We both love shrimp, but sometimes you have to prioritize your money, and at this point in our lives, there are more important areas for our money than to eat shrimp or T-bone steaks.
Though it is only Paul and me, we purchase the 36-roll pack of bathroom paper. It makes a large knock in our grocery bill for the week, but it lasts us a few months and is cheaper than purchasing smaller packs. When Meijer as their “mix and match 10 for $10 get the 11th item free” sale, we can get ten cans of olives for cheaper than Aldi, plus get an additional can free.
There is one item we cannot get at local chain stores. We grind our own wheat and have not purchased flour from the store since we were married. We buy 50 pound bags of wheat grain and mill our own flour. I do not know if this is cheaper than purchasing flour from the store, but this is one of those healthy food choices we make even if it is not cheaper.
At the beginning of this post, I noted this was about eating “fairly healthy food.” We do not purchase organic foods most of the time. (Though when we grow our vegetables, we do try to grow them that way.) If you want to eat all organic, this family does that on $188 a month.