When my husband and I started out we kept a very tight food budget. We went shopping every two weeks and gave ourselves $80 to spend.
And you know what? We enjoyed it. Yep, that’s right! It was super fun shopping together, adding up the stuff in our cart and making sure we were on budget. We realized this is a lot less then the average American spends on food, but we didn’t care, we enjoyed it! How did we do it?
The number one reason we could do it was shopping at Aldi instead of a mainstream grocery store like Walmart or Kroger. You would be amazed at how much you can save! A cart that would be about $200 regularly cost us just under $80. That’s a lot of savings! And that is without spending hours cutting out coupons and reading the fine print.
We also cut out budget-waisters. Things like soda, chips, pre-packaged snacks, and candy are very expensive and not very filling. Instead we chose filling foods like pasta for dinner or peanut butter toast for breakfast. Peanut butter is a lifesaver on a tight budget. It’s a very cheap source of protein and it’s delicious! It’s great for toast, PB and J sandwhiches, or served with some cut up apples as a snack. Besides, who doesn’t love peanut butter?
The bread at Aldi is also $0.89 for a big loaf! These made great grilled dinner sandwhiches and was great for packing lunches for work. We would buy several loaves at a time and freeze them so we didn’t have to worry about it going stale.
We also never EVER bought meat unless it was a sale price. That’s right, if you are on a tight budget put back the meat! Meat prices have been so ridiculous lately, even ground beef! So unless it’s a sale price leave it at the store. Instead when it is on sale, get as much as you can afford and freeze it. I’d often wait until ground beef was severely discounted because it was on its last day, but if you take it home and freeze it or cook it it’s perfectly good! Also, be sparing with your meat. Instead of eating a lot of chicken breasts for dinner, cut it up and mix it in with something else. Or serve it with rice which is very cheap and very filling!
Just because you have a small budget doesn’t mean you can’t eat well. Here is an example of the meals we would have:
Spaghetti with cooked Italian zucchini
Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese sandwhiches
PB and J’s (cold and grilled)
Clam Chowder with bagels
Barbecue Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes
Another great way to save on produce is to pick it up at a local farmers market. They often have GREAT prices and everything is so fresh and delicious! Peach season was the BEST last summer! We even made some fresh peach pies. 🙂 We also love Zucchini and if you live in Ohio, you know how cheap you can get that stuff in the summer. It’s so delicious, too!
Make sure as you go through the store you are paying attention to prices and mentally adding everything up. If you have a couple dollars left at the end, use it wisely! Even if you only have a dollar or two left, you could use it to build up your spice collection or something like that. It’s also useful for grabbing a bag of sugar or some other baking supply you don’t have yet. That way when you want to make something, you can afford to make it because you don’t have to go out and buy all the ingredients at once.
In some future blog posts I’ll delve deeper into some of the individual recipes I used to make super cheap and super delicious meals so be sure and stay tuned.
And remember! A tight budget is what you make it. We loved it! If you turn it into a challenge it doesn’t have to be stressful, it can be fun! It’s also a great bonding opportunity for a new husband and wife.
Until next time,