I have received questions from friends and readers more than once about our weekly grocery budget and where we shop, so I thought a formal post on this was in order. Meal planning can be a challenge when you’re on a tight budget AND when you are trying to eat healthy. I always learn from what other families are doing well, so I hope our experience can help some other readers out there too.
“What Is Your Weekly Grocery Budget?”
When I shop each week, I try to keep our weekly grocery budget under $250. That is my goal. Now, for last year, our average weekly grocery expense came out to about $239/week. This is for a family of five with kids under the age of 10. (I’m sure this number will go up once our kids become teenagers!)
This number does NOT include dining out expenses nor common household items (ie. napkins, saran wrap, etc). That number is strictly based on our food purchases at the grocery.
It can certainly be done for even less than this if you are incorporating coupons and hitting some strategic sales/specials on a regular basis. My time is limited each week, so I choose to focus on planning healthy meals utilizing in-season produce rather than pouring over coupons and sales. That’s just me.
“Where Do You Shop?”
I have tried out many grocery stores in our area, comparing prices and quality. I know some moms who frequent up to four different stores each week for their groceries; however, that would personally drive me crazy. For one, I simply don’t have the time to do that, and secondly, I really don’t want to spend an entire afternoon or morning doing shopping.
So, I choose to shop at Sprouts Farmers Market for most of my produce, spices and bin items (ie. oats, rice, etc). They also tend to have great prices on organic meats. Then, for the remainder of my groceries, I go over to Kroger. It is close by, and we also utilize their fuel points program to save on our gas.
Some folks may ask, “well, why not WalMart? Don’t they have the best prices and coupon matching?” While it’s true that they have super cheap food prices (and Aldi could be included in there), I have found the produce quality sorely lacking and their choice of organic food items is just too slim for our family. When our local WalMart stopped stocking Stonyfield Farm products on a regular basis and I had to make an extra trip to Kroger anyway, that’s when I decided it wasn’t worth going back.
Once a month, I will make an extra trip over to Whole Foods for some specific sweeteners and flour that we can’t find anywhere else. I stock up pretty heavily once I go, since it is a bit further from our house.
We also utilize a local organic food co-op every once in a while. Food co-ops are becoming more and more popular nationwide, so this can be a great way to get inexpensive fresh, organic produce as well.
For the supplemental protein and meal shakes we use each week, we shop online at Shaklee. The grocery budget number above already includes that usage.
Do You Have Your Own Grocery Plan?
There are so many meal planning tools out there now that can even make shopping easier. eMeals is one of those that can help you stick to your grocery budget without compromising your eating needs or convictions. I really like that. You can also choose which stores you like to shop at, and they will generate meal plans based on those stores’ specials and coupons.