Healthy Grocery Shopping on a Budget

At long last I’m finally creating a post about grocery shopping for healthy food on a budget! Woohoo!

This is something Ryan and I do every single week, but I’ve never taken the time to snap pictures, save our receipt and make mental notes about what we do to save money while buying healthy food week after week.

When we arrived home from Sanibel and our fridge was all but empty, I figured this evening was a great time to finally put this post together.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

Coupons

First things first, I am a big fan of coupons. I have no shame handing over a small stack to the cashier upon checkout.

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This evening we saved more than $5.00 by utilizing coupons! I clip coupons from local papers and also print great deals off of various coupon websites. For example, through MyBlogSpark, I learned about more than $9 worth of savings available at Publix, my grocery store of choice in the southeast, available on the Great Meals Great Deals site.

Plan Ahead

Ryan and I also try to arrive at the grocery store with a general idea of items we need. I jot down items we run out of through the week and try to have a rough idea about the meals we’ll create through the upcoming week so we can buy the necessary ingredients.

The two of us also try to limit impulse buys and avoid purchasing household essentials like toilet paper and paper towels at the grocery store because they are often overpriced and can be found much cheaper at stores like Big Lots or Target.

Take Advantage of In-Store Deals

While at the grocery store, Ryan and I make sure to take advantage of buy one get one free deals that occur weekly at our local grocery store.

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I used to be really funny about freezing bread products, but now I don’t hesitate. We currently have four packages of Alternative Bagels, one back of bagel thins and two packs of sandwich thins in our freezer because we stocked up when the items were buy one get one free. I also came home with eight packs of whole wheat tortillas one time because I knew I’d use them and wanted to take advantage of the amazing savings.

Buy Generic

Ryan and I are definitely not label snobs. We often buy generic products and think they taste just as good! Buying generic can often save you a ton off your final bill.

Saving on Produce

Unfortunately fresh produce can often be quite expensive. Ryan and I try to head into the produce section with an open mind. We don’t walk in saying we need broccoli. We’ll buy it if it’s on sale, but won’t if it’s not.

This evening we purchased cauliflower, celery, broccoli and a red onion because these items were on sale. We didn’t buy kale or asparagus though we initially thought we would because they were not discounted.

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When it comes to fresh fruit, bananas are always a good buy! Berries are more of a “special treat” since the price of blueberries, strawberries and raspberries vary so much. Today I purchased a pint of blueberries because they were on sale, but when they’re not marked down, I will opt for frozen fruit instead.

Final Cost

In the end, Ryan and I spent $102.17, or roughly $51 per person, for this week’s groceries.

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I pack my breakfast, lunch and snacks daily and typically eat dinner in. This means I typically spend around $7.20 per day on food. Of course we’ll go out to eat on the weekends on occasion (typically no more than once or twice a week), so this is obviously a rough estimate.

Here’s a list of the groceries we purchased this week:

Fruits and Veggies

  • 1 package Eat Smart broccoli florets
  • 2 packages Eat Smart cauliflower florets
  • 1 bunch celery
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 jar Mott’s natural applesauce
  • 1 box Green Giant healthy vision frozen vegetables
  • 2 nectarines
  • 5 apples
  • 1/4 lb. red potatoes
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 6 bananas

Yogurt, Cheese and Dairy

  • 6 strawberry banana Chobani Greek yogurt
  • 3 plain Chobani Greek yogurt
  • 1 large container plain Chobani Greek yogurt
  • 3 large containers Publix blueberry yogurt
  • 3 large containers Publix fat-free cottage cheese
  • 1 package Publix muenster cheese slices
  • 1 package Publix Swiss cheese slices
  • 1 large package Publix mozzarella sting cheese
  • 1 can Carnation evaporated skim milk
  • 1/2 gallon Publix 2 percent milk
  • 1 package Yoplait Delights yogurt (I had a coupon for a free sample)

Meat and Eggs

  • 8 oz. lump crab claw meat
  • 1 lb. pork chops
  • 1 carton Eggland’s Best eggs
  • 1 lb. deli turkey meat

Additional Items

  • 1 package Tam-x-ico’s whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 package Monterey Pasta Company ravioli
  • 1 large jar Skippy Natural peanut butter
  • 1 Reese’s peanut butter big cup
  • 2 Sweet Riot dark chocolate squares
  • 1 can Arizona tea
  • 1 60-piece container Orbit bubblemint gum
  • 1 bag Publix all-purpose flour
  • 1 jar Publix yellow mustard

Coupon savings: $5.78

In-store savings: $13.11

Total savings: $18.89

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So there you have it! Our attempt at healthy grocery shopping on a budget in a nutshell.

Off to make dinner. It’s ravioli time! Smile

Comments

  1. says

    I am an avid coupon and generic product shopper as well! I’m using this month to get myself acclimated to shopping on a budget so that I can decrease my impulse buying. Unexpected trips to Whole Foods are seriously doing some damage on my wallet. I typically don’t eat out but maybe once or twice a month, so I try to keep my pantry and fridge well stocked for packed lunches, snacks, and healthy meals at home.

    What are your thoughts on organic produce? I try to purchase organic when it’s feasible, but sometimes the price difference is unbelievable!

    They are finally building a Publix here and I am so excited! I love their produce selection and BOGO Free sales!

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  2. Emma Lowe says

    Very smart outlook on shopping. I totally agree with the produce as I try not to go in with a set list and go with what’s on sale. I have also found that it makes me eat a variety of produce by going with what’s on sale, which is often what’s in season. LOVE publix BOGO, always stock up on the wheat thins/bagel thins when BOGO since they freeze well. I was just curious, do you buy organic produce?

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      • says

        Organic can be great, but you can save money buying the things that “need” to be organic to receive the greatest health benefits for your buck, and those you can “get away with”.

        My rule is, anything you’re going to peel or skin you can buy non-organic, and anything you eat the skin of buy organic (because the chemicals used on the plant are on the skin). That’s not a hard and fast rule, but it helps in a tight situation. For example, I make sure apples and berries are organic because you also get more Vit C out of these if they are organic, but potatoes, carrots, parsnip, those I buy non-organic.

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  3. says

    You guys are really good grocery shoppers! I’ve tried to use all those tips but still tend to get a little carried away – probably because I eat a TON of fresh produce! Nevertheless though, the situation is a little more under control than it used to be. I love that you use coupons too – I do, when I remember they’re in my wallet! 🙂

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  4. says

    I love how you use your own bags too.
    I always take my lunch to work. Buying lunch in the cafeteria in the hospital is costly and it adds up.
    Do you shop at a price club also, like Costco, BJ’s, or Sam’s Club?
    I find it kind of hard to shop at price clubs with only two of us in the house!

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  5. says

    I really need to get better about using coupons! My issue with them is that half the time, they’re for an item I don’t generally buy, and I end up wasting money by not eating it. I’ve heard you can also email favorite companies asking for coupons, and usually they’ll send you some no problem- something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile!

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  6. says

    Great tips Julie – I need to get better at clipping coupons. Also – I really wish we got Chobani in Canada… seems like the best of the best when it comes to greek yogurt

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  7. Picky Nicky says

    What a brilliant post 🙂 I love seeing things like this done by regular people and not magazine article writers who often don’t know what they’re talking about. Heheee, thanks!!

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  8. says

    Great post, Julie! My husband and I spend $100 every week at Trader Joe’s + $23/week on our CSA produce box. For the amount of fresh, local and organic fruits and vegetables we get for $23, it’s ridiculously cheap. You should definitely look into Florida CSA programs!

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  9. Lexie says

    Hey Julie! If you are into couponing, SoutherSavers.com is a great website. She has a specific tab for Publix and also for Target (which always has good deals). Today, we spend $46.00 and saved $65.00. Also, if you don’t get the Sunday newspaper, they always have a ton of coupons and it is cheaper if you just subscribe to the Sunday paper instead of buying it at the grocery store.

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  10. says

    I love Publix – when you clip coupons that coincide with the BOGO deals you can get stuff for SO cheap! My friend is a pro at this and it’s not unusual for her to save $45 per trip to the grocery!

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  11. says

    Your post has inspired me to get back into clipping coupons. When my husband and I first bought our house I was really good about it, but lately I haven’t taken the time to clip them. You reminded me just how much money I could be saving! Heading to the kitchen to get my scissors and the newspaper….

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  12. Shelby says

    Wow. I spend well over $100 a week on groceries and It is only me. I am a grocery snob though. Especially when it comes to produce. I probably buy over a dozen apples a week. I should probably start trying to save because I probably wont always be able to buy groceries like I can now. ( I am a college student and my parents help me with expenses)

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  13. says

    Hey Julie! I’ve been lurking on your blog for some time now and was inspired to start up my own! I used one of your 20 minute cardio workouts today and gave you an honorable mention. 😉

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  14. says

    I love that ryan goes shopping with you! I brought my boyfriend once and thought I was going to rip out my hair because he wanted to buy a million things we didnt need – apparently we don’t have the same thoughts on what to buy 😉

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  15. says

    The big problem with coupons is that they tend to but heads with generics. Coupons tend to be for the very foods that are available cheaper as a generic brand. My wife and I buy store brand for about 75% of our groceries because they are usually cheaper than brand names even with a coupon.

    I also don’t go into the grocery store without a list. The process for me starts with looking at the sale circular and putting together a menu based on what’s on sale (I only buy chicken when it’s on sale, but get 2 value-packs when it does). Then I make the list based on what I need for those meals but don’t have, plus everyday consumables that are low or out.

    My wife and I spend $70-$100 every other week.

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  16. says

    When I quit my job, I became a coupon clipping fiend – I have been absolutely amazed at how much money I save every week! It took awhile when I started, but it gets a lot quicker and you learn what to look for. Kinda makes me mad at myself for all of the $$$ I know I’ve wasted over the years, but at least I’ve learned!!!

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  17. says

    we use pretty much the same techniques, but one big way i save $ is by purchasing meat in bulk & freezing it in 1 lb quantities. i know some people are funny about freezing meat, but if you put it in freezer ziplocs and date them, it’s a great moneysaver.

    i also look at target’s grocery ads. we don’t have a super target but ours has a pretty sizable dry goods section & target often has good deals on cereal, crackers, etc. that you can use their coupons + manufacturer’s. often they have $5 gift cards attached to the purchases too. it’s great!

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  18. says

    I’ve done a big post on saving money at the groc store and like you, i buy what’s on sale in the produce area, i am not “married” to a certain item, i.e. kale vs lettuces vs. cauli vs. brock. I pick and choose based on price.

    I am a huge fan of instore specials too!

    And coupons, club cards, buy one get one, i am all about it!

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  19. says

    I loved this post! My friends are always making fun of me for clipping coupons…but it really does save a lot of money over time! I usually spend around $50 or less a week and it is just me. 🙂

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  20. says

    I’ve got our grocery bill (my boyfriend and I) down to $60 or less a week by scouring coupons from all over online, using Safeway’s online coupon center, going to Grocery Outlet (the Ross of grocery stores, which people sadly call “Groc Out — aka Gross Out).

    We also make almost everything at home. We make bread instead of buying it, we make pizza dough, we make pasta, we make soda with a SodaStream, we make nut butter with a food processor, we make beans instead of buying them canned, make our own sauces, etc etc.

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  21. Sarah says

    Hi Julie! I’m a relatively new reader and want to first off say that I absolutely love your blog!!

    Great tips on saving money! Random question: does Greek yogurt taste any different from regular (Yoplait style) yogurt? I’ve never tried it before but it sure does look tasty with fruit and other toppings!

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    • says

      yes! it’s much thicker! if you’re new to greek yogurt, i’d definitely opt for one of the fruity flavored varieties, not the plain. the plain is more tart and can take some getting used to. i always sweeten it a bit (with honey or stevia).

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  22. Kelcie says

    I pay about $60-80/week for two. My secret (well, not really a secret) is shopping at the local farmers market ($2 for a big bag of organic kale! A steal considering how expensive produce is here in Hawaii). Also, lots of frozen produce as well (I love frozen brussels sprouts).

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  23. says

    This post just came in the right time! I’m trying to save up on my grocery bill, but I have no idea how. We don’t really have coupons over here, but I’m sure I could find some discounts and stuff like that.
    Thanks 🙂

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  24. says

    I just noticed that organic fennel is on sale at all of my local whole foods! I’m not sure if they are on sale as well in your area (you can check online). just thought i’d let you know since it reminded me of your $8 fennel debacle.

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  25. Bronte says

    Great post! I work in a gourmet food distribution company in western australia as a sales rep – means all day spent in grocery stores! Great insight to alot of stuff. We have just taken on Vita Coco coconut water which madonna and matthew mcConaughey have shares in – always makes me think of you! Pure coconut water straight from brazil. 3 times more effective than any powerade, gatorade etc. Bit random but wanted to share! Always good getting to buy great food at a good discounted price from work, salads, salmon, drinks yoghurt etc.

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  26. Sammie says

    Hi Julie,

    I love this post! Your groceries definitely look a lot healthier than the average customer that comes through my lane. Oh! And one tip – your cashier will always appreciate if the coupons are orderly and have clean edges. Im not sure about Publix, but where I work we have to keep the coupons stacked neatly inside a folder for the duration of our shift. The manager takes them at the end of the day and is upset if they are messy. When the customer has the coupons orderly, we love it! (PS, im so jealous that Ryan is wearing shorts in February…;)

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  27. says

    This post = Just what I needed. I can never figure out how to eat healthy for cheap, everything is 10x more expensive. Plus, I’m a poor college student 🙂 Thanks for the post!

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  28. says

    I read your blog every day, but HAD to comment on this post. 🙂

    It was great! I love seeing how other people shop (for healthy foods, too) to get more ideas for my own shopping trips.

    I like that you buy your fresh produce based on what’s on sale. I buy what I’m in the mood for. I’m gonna try your way… it will definitely lead to new recipes and veggie meals! 🙂

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  29. says

    What a fantastic post! You are so organized and balanced in everything you do. I really enjoy reading your blog. I actually wrote about it today in my post on healthy eating.

    Keep doing what you’re doing, because you seem awfully happy!

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  30. says

    Ugh, grocery shopping is always so expensive! Gluten-free food can be ridiculous. I can’t buy some generic products because they like to sneak that darn gluten in there. I basically know the brands I can have and which ones I can’t.

    Plus the stores near me don’t take coupons you’ve printed from the computer (too much fraud) so I can only use the ones that come in the paper and they are usually things like “save 25 cents if you buy three boxes.” Umm..whoo hoo? lol

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  31. Callie says

    I’ve always been leery of freezing bread because it’s something my mom never did and I guess I don’t know if there’s a “right way”.
    I’ve stopped buying sandwich thins because my husband doesn’t like them and I can’t eat a package before it goes stale.
    Is there any trick to freezing bread products? Do you leave them in their original packaging or do you double up with freezer bags? I hate that freezer burn taste, but I’d love to start buying my thins again!

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  32. Jena says

    BOGO Bagels are awesome! We usually have some frozen bagels or bread thins as well! I’m so nerdy I have a publix app on my phone so I can check out the ad from anywhere.. Why I need this? I don’t know, but I love it!

    I menu plan, and when I’m planning meals I surf the publix ads to see what I can make that will have on sale ingredients. Publix produce is insanely expensive. Thankfully in our area we have a produce market and I buy most of my fruits/veggies & meat from there. They have been a real $$ saver for me! Their ground beef is almost 1$ cheaper/lb, and their chicken is a few dollars cheaper per lb. We also have a lot of roadside produce so that is also very helpful1

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  33. Nikki says

    Just read this awesome post on budget-friendly grocery shopping! Thanks!

    An interesting note on “store-brand” items. They are actually usually identical to “brand-name” items, because the grocery store purchases the overstock items from the brand-name company. It’s literally the same butter, milk, etc., from the same farm/cow/etc., but without a marketing mark-up.

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  34. says

    So obviously I’m a little late in finding this post and commenting, but I just discovered your blog earlier this week! I am already a huge fan and look forward to reading all your new posts. I have to say that your blog has actually provided me with the motivation I needed to get off my butt and finally rejoin the gym! So, thanks!

    I moved to Florida from the northeast about eight months ago. I love shopping at Publix and am a big fan of their BOGO deals! Although I never used to put a lot of thought in to saving money at the grocery store, ever since I moved to Florida saving money has been a much higher priority. I’ve learned a lot about saving money at the grocery store, while still buying healthy items for my boyfriend and I to eat (including a lot of fresh produce)! In fact, that was the inspiration for my blog. I love this post, and I think it is important for people to realize that you can definitely eat healthy on a budget! Anyways, sorry for the very long winded comment (no matter how hard I try to keep things short I never seem to be good at that!)

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  35. Kenda says

    Great post, I love saving money at the grocery store! I know this is an old post but I am just now reading it 🙂 I have another tip that I have discovered and would like to share. I buy a lot of generic or get what brand is on sale, but there are a few things that my husband and I just like a certain brand of. I have found that if you go to the products website they will frequently have printable coupons. I do this with new products I see and would like to try out too.

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  36. Aracelis Marquis says

    This is great information for people that have extra rooms. They come a go all the time and are usually good tenants.

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  37. Anne says

    This comment is a couple years late but…I’m happy to see that you and Ryan spend about the same as me and my husband on groceries per week. I was always wondering if what I spend is too much, but now I see it’s comparable. Thanks!

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