How To Eat Well On $175 A Month

Frozen Food Aisle

Turns out, spending $175 a month on groceries is weird.

Most couples spend between $300 and $400 a month on groceries. Many spend much more. My wife and I eat well on $175 a month without using coupons, price matching, or rain checks.

How do we do it? First a few caveats:

  • This works because we don’t have kids. However, this advice will save you money; you’ll just spend more than us.
  • Do every­thing. Skipping steps will cost you money.

Eat Well On $175 A Month

Make A ListAlways have a grocery list before leaving home. Impulse buys are a grocer’s bread and butter. Beat them by making a list and sticking to it.

Have A Weekly Budget – My wife and I budget $30 a week on groceries. Having a limit forces us to be specific about what we buy and forces us to think through our list.

Use Cash – I take $30 in cash with me to the store. I never go over budget because I only have $30 dollars. If I get $31 in food, I put something back. This part is difficult, but will save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Use a Calcu­lator – My wife and I use a calcu­lator to make sure we’re staying on budget with every item we buy.

Buy Versatile Food – Cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, sliced meat, eggs and pasta are versatile – you can use them for a variety of dishes. Buy foods that can be mixed and matched to make different dishes and you’ll save money on groceries.

Get Creative – Take what you have and play around with new dishes. My McMuffins don’t come from McDonalds; I toast an english muffin, fry an egg, cook ham, and add a bit of cheese. My grilled cheese sand­wiches have red bell peppers, tomatoes, or ham to add flavors. Pasta is mixed with cheese, vegeta­bles, and spices to make new dishes. Ho-hum meals are fantastic at my house because we get creative and try new things.

Prior­i­tize Essen­tials – Buy the things you need first. My wife and I eat grapes every day, so we always buy grapes. We also like salads and sand­wiches so bread and vegeta­bles are at the top of the list. Sometimes we don’t buy every­thing we want but we always have every­thing we need.

Bulk Up On Essen­tials – A $5 pack of thick sliced ham will last over a month and work in several dishes. The big, $5 dollar, jar of peanut butter will last 3 to 4 four months. A 4-pack of stick butter will last over a month. Purchasing essen­tials in bulk costs more now and saves money over time.

Buy Non-Food Groceries Sepa­rately –We budget $25 a month for things like toilet paper, deodorant, and trash bags. Like essen­tials, we buy in bulk which costs more now, but keeps us stocked for months.

Learn To Cook – The lost art of cooking will save you hundreds. Americans eat out 4.7 times a week. I don’t have to tell you the eating out costs way more than eating in. Plus, cooking has brought my wife and I closer together while allowing us to be more creative.

Shop At Wal-Mart – It doesn’t have to be Wal-Mart, but don’t shop at Albertson’s, Tom Thumb, or Whole Foods. They cost more for the same food. My wife and I cut out food bill in half by switching to Wal-Mart from Whole Foods.

How do you save money on groceries?

15 Responses to “How To Eat Well On $175 A Month”

  1. Brandon November 15, 2011 at 9:26 AM #

    That ham would be gone in 2 days at my house! haha…

    • Alex November 15, 2011 at 5:16 PM #

      Lol! Well, we try to stick to a less-meat diet over here.

  2. Loren Pinilis November 15, 2011 at 1:51 PM #

    My wife has recently really gotten into couponing. She’s hardcore about it and saves a ton. It’s an art and science all to itself.

    • Alex November 15, 2011 at 5:18 PM #

      You’ll have to let me know how that goes!

      Rachel and I don’t like the time it takes to coupon well, so we opted for this way of saving money.

      • Loren Pinilis November 16, 2011 at 10:21 AM #

        Yes, it’s certainly an invest­ment of time. But my wife is one of those people who enjoys it (I’m certainly not!).

  3. Grace November 15, 2011 at 10:23 PM #

    I save money by menu-planning (prefer­ably a month at a time) and take my detailed list with me to the store. It keeps me from making those last minute trips for the item(s) I forgot and buying more than I need to on those trips.
    The menu plan also helps me remember every­thing I purchased so nothing sits hiding in my fridge until it goes bad.

    • Alex November 16, 2011 at 9:22 AM #

      The hardest part is over­coming those “just-one-thing” trips and the impulse buys!

      It sounds like you have a great plan to keep yourself from overspending.

  4. JeniferR November 16, 2011 at 11:00 AM #

    Great post! So often people do not realize how much they are spending at the store. We normally spend $400 per month(a “big” month would be $500) on our family of 5. Now, we very rarely eat meat and we eat lots of rice and beans! I think that if I imple­mented a few steps above we could save even more. I am not super strict with grocery shopping and many times I do deviate from the list.

    • Alex November 17, 2011 at 9:12 AM #

      Yeah, deviating from the list is a budget killer! Still sounds like you’re doing well feeding 5!

      • JeniferR November 17, 2011 at 10:35 AM #

        Not to shabby. lol. Many people in my situation are spending much more. I have a good friend who spends 1000 per month! I was like…aggghhhh!!! lol.

  5. Nick Butcher November 16, 2011 at 1:11 PM #

    Eating at home saves sooo much money. I recently started to use e-mealz.com to manage my food budget and to try new recipes. It is working well for us so far.

    • Alex November 17, 2011 at 9:13 AM #

      I have never used e-mealz, but I have looked into them and LOVE their concept. Is it saving you as much money as they advertise?

  6. Nick Butcher November 17, 2011 at 9:43 AM #

    I would say its not saving as much as adver­tised but it has made my budgeting and grocery shopping much simpler.

    • Alex November 17, 2011 at 2:29 PM #

      That’s awesome. It’s something I’d love to try out. I’m going have to start researching it again.

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  1. Looking Back on 2011 | Entreprelife - January 3, 2012

    […] Eat Well On $175 a Month. My wife and I eat surpris­ingly well on $175 a month without extreme couponing or lots of research. Lots of others were curious how we did it. […]

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