A few weeks ago I was visiting Shelby and Mike’s home and saw a list of Shelby’s budget (she writes it down on a chalkboard displayed on a wall in her kitchen so no I wasn’t being nosy…it was kind of obvious). I saw where she allocates $100 every two weeks to be spent at the grocery store. When I broke the numbers down, I realized it meant she was spending $25 per person, per week. I was shocked. How can anyone afford anything beyond Top Ramen on a budget like that?
“Honestly couso, it’s easier than it looks. It takes some planning, don’t get me wrong, but we’re not existing off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the end of the two week period either.”
“Where in New York can you shop for groceries that cheap though? This isn’t Ohio Shelby.”
“Trader Joe’s. Seriously. I’m able to buy organic, healthy options for a low price. It’s unbelievable. But something had to be done. I hate wasting money. This way, we only buy what we know we are going to eat. We aren’t as wasteful, we save more money and our meals are healthier.”
I just sat there staring. It sounded too good to be true. Because I know Shelby, I knew she was telling the truth so I decided I’d try my own hand at it.
I started by being realistic about my meals. For starters, my day job takes care of roughly half of the meals I eat in a week. Immediately I knew that I would only be grocery shopping for breakfast, snacks and enough food to cook 2 full meals-the leftovers could be used to fill in the gaps of random lunches or dinners as needed. I managed to stock up on fresh grapes, oranges and bananas for breakfast, and bought chicken breast on sale. After hunting down a few fresh veggies, pasta and sauces, it wasn’t long before I’d hit my $25 budget. And sure enough by the time the end of the week had come, I still had more than enough food to last.
The biggest tip I can give is to be extremely deliberate in your menu planning and consquent shopping. Be realistic about what you’re going to feel like eating and make a list. Scope out the weekly sales to find ways to skim pennies off of your bill. Lastly, do NOT go to the grocery store on an empty stomach-it is always a recipe for disaster. You wind up spending extra money on foods you normally wouldn’t buy.