If it is one thing I got a really good education in while at college it was how to prepare a cheap grocery shopping list. Most of us never really learned how to eat on a rock bottom budget until we moved out of our parents houses and were forced to. I had a really tight budget in school and became aware that I could eat peanut butter and jelly, dollar menu fast food and ramen noodles for the next four years or learn quickly. When faced with that dismal diet, I chose to learn rather than wreck my health, eat substandard fare or go hungry.
What Should You Buy to Eat Super Cheap and Still Eat Healthy?
That is a question for the ages isn't it? I must tell you that it really does boil down to what you like to eat, but at the cheapest prices you can find. If you like wine, buy wine, just look for good cheap wine and then always buy it on sale. If you like pastries, learn how to make them yourself or find easy recipes for sweet breads rather than the pricier bakery versions. If fresh produce is important to you, don't make an effort to give it up, just find a way to buy what you love at a more reasonable price. Buy only what is on sale for the week and in season and you can enjoy as much produce as you would like without breaking the bank.
After reading the first paragraph of this section, you should have realized two things. The first is that shopping with a cheap grocery list does not mean you have to be cheap in your philosophy. Cheap refers to the price of what you buy, rather than the quality of the food or the pleasure which your purchases bring to your meals. Frugality in essence means that you want a good value for your dollar and quality products for your purchases. The second main point is that the frugal shopping list does not necessarily mean depravation. You may want steak for dinner and naturally avoid the costly filet by purchasing sirloin. Or, you may wait until the filet has been on sale and then find a package marked down to less than the price of the sirloin the day after the sale ends. You do not need to go without anything you choose to eat. You simply need to become a better shopper. You can still get all of the benefits of quality food items without the price if you know how to shop correctly.
What Kinds of Foods are on the Healthy Frugal Grocery List?
The answer to that question is pretty simple, everything you normally would buy, only scaled down and at about half the price you are used to paying.
Dairy- Use double grocery coupons and always buy on sale. Walmart has the best price in town everyday on milk and eggs near me. Loss leader sales can make Walmart the more expensive option, so know you prices and know a good deal when you see them. Pass on any price that is not the lowest price you can find at the time you are ready to purchase you groceries.
Meat- Buy marked down meats, sale meats and stock up around holiday sales when prices are the lowest.
Bakery- Buy marked down or day old bakery items and toast to freshen, sale items or bake your own from scratch. Check the dollar stores too, for great deals.
Produce- Buy seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables in smaller quantities and try to avoid waste. Potatoes, yams and other root vegetables will hold for over a week without spoilage. Fill in with frozen vegetables to avoid waste all together. Frozen vegetables can be a huge bargain. I bought a 5 pound bag of organic mixed vegetables yesterday at the Costco near me for $6 yesterday. It will easily last my family for the better part of the month in soups, stews and as a side dish for dinners or main meals. I fill in with fresh sale produce for variety.
Canned goods- Buy when canned goods are on sale at double coupon stores and with a coupon. The key is to look at the unit price after the sale and coupon and compare that price with the price per ounce of canned goods in warehouse stores. I find that the price at double coupon stores is not always the cheapest, but usually is depending on how good the sale prices are. You need to do the math to be certain.
Cereal and dry goods- Cereal and dry goods are often a good deal at double coupon stores when on sale, discount stores like Walmart and Target or in your local Sam's or Costco. You really need to do the math to be certain of a good buy. I also shop in my local dollar store for cereal, produce and bread. Items come and go, but can be a great buy on name brands when you can find them. Check the dates when shopping in dollar stores for groceries. Dollar store grocery can be short dated on occasion.
Paper goods and cleaners- I shop selectively for cleaners in my dollar store. This is one area where you really need to do the math and understand that both prices and quality will vary greatly. Be willing to try the dollar version to see if you can go with the cheaper product, but move on if the quality of the product is not acceptable to you.
How Else Can You Save at the Grocery Store?
In two ways actually, never waste what you have on hand. Waste will kill a budget faster than anything else you can do. Not only to you not use what you have already purchased, but you need to buy something else to replace what you failed to use. The second is to always shop with a grocery list. Grocery lists avoid over spending and impulsive purchases which are the other big budget killer.
Remembering to use a cheap grocery shopping list will help you to keep your grocery budget frugal as can be. You need not give up what you enjoy eating, you only need to remember to cut back on how much you are spending as you buy the items on you list. You can easily accomplish a major reduction in your food bills buy eating well while shopping from a frugal grocery list, buying on sale and using coupons whenever possible.