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Is it possible to survive on a $30 per week grocery budget?

Think it's impossible to live on a tiny grocery budget? This post will inspire you otherwise and give you the tips & tricks you need to make it happen!

I am single and have about $30 per week for groceries which I find hard to do and get a balanced diet. I do go to multiple stores to get the best prices and use coupons the best I can. The thing that bothers me, is when a staple item I use is on sale, I normally don’t have an extra $5 (let alone more) to spend to purchase it. How can I stock-up on sale items when I have such a little bit to get by with anyways? -Renee

Contrary to what many people may tell you, I think you can definitely eat well on $30 per week — and you can find a little wiggle room to buy ahead, too.

My husband and I both lived on a $30 per week grocery budget when we were first married. This included all the ingredients to make 21 meals for both of us each week, all household products.

A Can-Do Attitude Is a Must

Don’t let yourself think, “There’s no way I can eat on this small of a budget.” Instead, decide that you’re going to do the best you can with the resources you have.

Make it a game, of sorts, to see how well you can do on a little. By challenging yourself to exercise creativity and think outside the box, you’ll enjoy it a lot more. And when you’re enjoying something, it no longer seems so difficult.

Make Short-Term Sacrifices

In order to be able to scrape together enough money to start buying ahead and building up your stockpile, I’d encourage you to commit to eating really simply for a few weeks. Cut your grocery budget back to $25, and save the extra $5 to invest in those rock-bottom, can’t miss deals — or to purchase almost-free toiletries and household products.

If you’re thinking there’s no way you can eat on $25 per week, here’s a grocery list and menu plan I came up with:

Sample $25 Grocery List and Menu

Prices are approximate and will likely vary a little by area. You may be able to beat these prices with great sales and/or coupons.

Regular Grocery Store, Aldi, or Walmart

1 canister of oatmeal –$2
1 gallon milk — $2.50
1 bag of apples — $3
1 bag of carrots — $1.50
4 bags of frozen vegetables — $4
1 bag of frozen chicken breasts — $7

Dollar Store

1 loaf of bread — $1
1 jar of peanut butter — $1
1 jar of jelly or honey — $1
1 bag of dried beans — $1
1 bag of rice — $1

Breakfasts:

Oatmeal with milk (add in some chopped apples, honey, or peanut butter to change things up a little)

Lunches:

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, apples, carrots

Dinners:

Beans and rice with steamed veggies on the side
Chicken, rice, and carrot soup
Baked chicken breast on a bed of rice, steamed veggies
Rice, chopped chicken, and steamed veggies mixed together and sprinkled with salt
Homemade refried beans, baked chicken, steamed veggies
Chicken and veggie stirfry served over rice
Leftovers

Yes, this isn’t a very exciting menu. But if you’re willing to scrimp for a few weeks and eat very simply, it will free up that extra $5 or so each week to start buying a few extra things that are on a great sale (like a bag of flour, like that incredible deal on strawberries — some to eat now, some to freeze for later, or that fantastic special on beef).

As you invest some of your grocery money in the rock-bottom specials and deals, this helps you to build up more of a stockpile so that, over time, you’ll be able to have more and more variety without increasing your budget.

Do you want to take better control of your grocery budget? If so, you’ll want to read my newest eBook, 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget!

This eBook will give you all the tips, tricks, and practical advice you need to create a grocery budget tailored to your family’s needs that you can actually STICK to (because that’s the key!)

In this eBook, you’ll learn:

  1. How to create a grocery budget that fits your family’s needs and your finances!
  2. New systems to help you keep track of what you spend at the store!
  3. How to actually stick with your new budget and save money for years to come!
  4. Ways to save up to $50 off your grocery bill THIS WEEK by using the 10 simple strategies outlined in this eBook!

Read to get started? Just use the form below to sign up!

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462 Comments

  • Gran says:

    I can’t even feed myself and my boyfriend for less than $150 a week (that includes household: toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex, dental, menstrual, cleaners, storage supplies, napkins, supplements etc…) We don’t eat extravagantly at all. I shop the flyers. I’ve tried so hard to cut down but it seems impossible when you have to pay $7 for a gallon of milk, $4.59 for a loaf of POM bread (yeah, I need to start baking) and minimum $7.99 a pound for chicken…can’t afford fish or beef anymore. Pork when it’s on sale. We have so many food allergies…this $30 a week thing is a pipe dream. But I guess you got a “hit” from me so you’ll make your commission off it.

    • Pat says:

      My husband I actually had a grocery budget of $120 a month at one point. Now we are like $300 monthly for our family of four. I honestly think that prices are very dependent on where you live. I’m sure that having so many food allergies really play a roll in spending. While it isn’t the most convenient I’m sure it can be doable as long as you don’t live in a super expensive area.

    • Megan Bockbrader says:

      I have found that buying whole chickens helps with the cost. When you get them on sale you can get a whole chicken for about .98cents/lb! I bake them and that will be good for a couple of dinners for my boyfriend and I. Although you say you don’t buy “extravagantly”, I think it is interesting that your milk is $7 a gallon – even at our speciality stores our milk doesn’t go about 4.50 (organic Sprouts farmers market).

      I am probably doing about $70/week for the two of us and I would love to cut that down! We buy our toiletries in bulk at Costco so that is only an investment every few months or so.

      • Ellen says:

        I like to buy at Wholefoods…expensive but did you know you can have them cut a cabbage in half or buy just a half or a third of even smaller parts of salmon. I started buying by servings and pre

        think ahead and found I have no waste and I have dropped my groceries way down…The other day I bought 2 meatballs and flatten them down and it was more than enough meat. Steamed carrots and a nice organic salad was enough. as Americans we really eat too much. I buy organic Valley milk because of the high rating on milk and also buy from farmers market …It also helps with losing weight by buying by servings
        Just the two of us

      • Michele says:

        I suspect she lives either in Alaska or Hawaii. Prices are gougingly expensive there.

        • Carissa says:

          You are very right. Hawaii is awful as far as their cost of living goes. I didn’t know Alaska fell victim to the same issue. Interesting. Hopefully this doesn’t sound stupid, and I know I can just research, but I don’t feel like it. lol. I have to make dinner, and I will get distracted by the ads or something on Google – so, let me ask; is it so expensive living in these places because of the fact that they are not physically connected to the US?

          • Anne Salter says:

            Alaska doesn’t have as much local fresh food, due to the very short growing season. So if you add the cost of transportation to the cost of the food, it’s very expensive. Just like most of northern Canada.

    • S says:

      That quite high for bread and milk.

      My family of 3 hasn’t shopped in roughly a month. My income dropped. And my husband changed jobs. So our income is low. That seems a bit extravagant to me. We by 99¢ bread and our milk doesn’t go over 2.50.280-ish I love the expensive bread but knowing I’m in a budget I choose not to spend on the pricy items just to feed myself or my family. If you want a lesser grocery bill it may be time to reevaluate what it is you’re purchasing. Even before the income changes in my household my family of 3 has been able to spend way less than 100$ 8 outta 10 times when we grocery shop. But we also just get what we need and not what we want.

    • Jen says:

      I think that key here is that there is variance between different areas in the country. Where i’m at, I usually get milk for $1/ gal, eggs $0.50 doz, chicken breasts $2/lb, pork is rarely more than $2/lb., wheat bread $1.39… white is cheaper. I can’t imagine paying $8/lb for chicken, or that much even for beef. If it was that price, we’d be eating variations of beans pretty often!! 🙂

      It’s always the prepackaged/convenience foods that make my grocery bill add up quickly.

      • says:

        Gosh I wish I knew where you lived I need to move there! Those prices are insanely low The lowest milk goes here is $1.99 the highest it’s ever been here is about $4.50 a gallon when fuel prices are highest. We mostly use tap water in bottles but I do like to have a case of bottled water in case we’re in a hurry to go somewhere – the lowest a case ever is $1.99 the highest is about $4 you E can get a small pack of 6 at the dollar store. Eggs are about $1.00 for 6 or $2 for a dozen, I have seen a dozen eggs at $4 before, though.

      • Shelly says:

        I live in the east bay near San Francisco, I think we’re considered the most expensive area in the US.
        But I can buy .99 bread and milk is under 4.50 at Sprouts/Whole foods/Trader Joe’s. I can find meat for wayyyy under the prices you stated.
        So I’m really not buying that milk costs 7$ for you, because the most precious organic ultra awesome milk at the speciality stores here are under 5$
        And like I said my area is the most expensive in the country. I live in Walnut Creek specifically.
        I have a family of 4 with two teenage boys and it is possible to shop for under 100$ a week and that’s for dinners, lunches, breakfast and snacks, toilet paper, ect . It’s not easy and not always the most exciting but it is totally possible.

        • Debramarie says:

          Thank you for this positive comment. I have found over the years that the best way I can save money is to take the time to make the meal plan, source best prices (some online ordering is way cheaper) and to make as many items as I can from scratch. The prudent homemaker and money saving mom have assisted me many times over the years. It may seem daunting but it truly does help reduce bills when you diligently plan your meals. There are many simple meals which are easy to prepare in advance and are healthy and less expensive. It definitely takes time but it can be fun and the end result is rewarding.

        • daw says:

          It is possible that the poster with the 7 dollar milk is in a place like Hawaii or Alaska. I know in Alaska the prices are insane. Our company gives a huge tax paid bonus for people to move there.

          • Courtney says:

            I was looking for a comment that mentions this! I live in Alaska and western family milk is $5.30, tillamook cheese (western family cheese is gross) is $13, and meat varies but I just bought ground beef for $2.99/lb. In bigger cities the prices are much better of course, and if you live farther north or on the chain, you end up paying $18 for regular old orange juice. I love these meal plans though, because even if they aren’t as cheap as the author’s prices, they are still inexpensive compared to other meals.

    • Carina says:

      I have a wheat allergy and several other food allergies. I feed two adults on $35 a week. I eat beef, fish, chicken, or pork, with fresh fruits and veggies almost every day(I eat vegetarian One day a week). I have to cook from scratch and menu plan in order to do it. I live in eastern Washington.

    • says:

      Where do you live? At our Aldi s they have bread for $.83.You must live in New York or somewhere? The cost of living are really high!

      • Kathy says:

        I live in upstate NY and I have never had to pay prices like that. Even the little mom and pop stores in the country are not that high. Wow! I pay $1.25 for bread, $3.79 for milk, we have our own chickens for eggs, but we can buy a fully cook chicken for less than $6 and get at least three meals from it. We buy and split a beef with other family members and this last one cost us about $1 a pound when the smoke cleared. It was not an angus, just a cow. We garden and can all of our veg. and a lot of fruit. My DH,S&DIL picked 536# of apples two years ago for .25 a pound. I canned apple things for two weeks, but we will eat from them for at least three years. We go to Shoprite once a month, early in the AM and get marked down meats very cheap, take it home and divide into meal size pkgs and freeze. We got three meals of preseasoned chicken for about $4 last time.

    • Barb M. says:

      Please tell us all where you live! We live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula bordering on Canada & are off the normal trucking routes. Still, our skim milk is $1.58, eggs are .48, ground beef with 20% fat is $2.99 on sale though I buy leaner than that, and chicken breasts are $2.99 lb. My husband and I (both retired on small fixed incomes) spend about $120-150 once a month for the month’s staples (including all non-food household stuff except meds) and sale item stockpiling–then about $20 a week for fresh foods/needed items. I garden and preserve food, buy almost all store label foods, shop the dollar store first with my list, stock up on great cheap finds, buy bulk at our local co-op store, and don’t purchase luxury type foods or many convenience foods. We don’t eat out much anymore either–but we eat delicious, well varied meals.

      If the cost of living is so high where you live, then there must be some other benefit to living there such as the beauty and climate of Hawaii. If not, relocating would be my advice.

      Also, I believe bloggers only make commissions when you click on ads on their sites or buy through their links–but regardless, manners & kindness still count online. You may not have comparable prices or care for the menu–but the blogger, Crystal, delivered on what the title stated and then some as I could buy that list cheaper. This is not a blog/blogger that misleads anyone and you should be ashamed about that last comment! Your mama must have, or should have, taught you better!

    • lex says:

      now u eat paleo and lots of refined carbs make my joints hurt and I feel bad so cheap options like rice, beans and pasta dont work well for me but i still find this helpful….where on earth do you live. eggs and milk are now sometimes 0.89 or 0.99 per 30 count of eggs and by the gallon ((aldi and target) and 7.99 a pound for chicken??? yikes. maybe 2.99 but 7.99 is it golden chicken?

  • says:

    Rice and beans are so easy to store, and you can make them so many different ways so you’ll never get tired of them. Lentils are a great cheap, nutritious diet staple too for soups, and I’ve even made vegetarian meatloaf, sloppy joes and meatballs with them. I think it’d also be great for stretching beef for tacos.

    • Julie says:

      Thank you for the idea about the veg. meatloaf, I never thought of that! I will be trying out a recipe for it soon.

    • louise says:

      I use rice,beans and lentils. strong vinegar,and vanilla can e watered down. Sharp cheddar has a strong flavor and can be grated with bread crumbs to add tasted to casseroles and so on. whole milk can be diluted 1/3 to 1/2 to save on milk. left ovrs can be kept in a container in the freezer and mixed with water,milk,canned beans and so forth to make soup

    • Carissa says:

      mmmm!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE lentils! You can do soooo many things with them. Very versatile. They are a great bean-like substitute. Not only that, they are so damn healthy. I just discovered them a couple of years ago, but really put them into action with meals, recently. I actually usually just make them as a side dish; boil them in chicken stock, throw them in the rice cooker with rice + diced tomatoes and some kind of stock/broth, boil them in water and then add some seasoning. Love them. I’m actually going to try them with my chicken burrito/wraps when I make them right now. Oh, and ummm – THANK YOU for these other ideas!! <3

  • Carol says:

    Our bread is $4 a loaf spring onions $7 a bunch. I would like to see $1 bread. I live 2 hours from a big city. Imposable to do.

    • Jo says:

      If you have a bread store in the big city, you might find day old bread there for $1 or less. You can buy a bunch of it and freeze it!

    • Sandy says:

      You have never seen 1dollar bread? Its not the best…and usually at a bread store or even Wal-Mart or ….a dollar store hun..I have traveled the hour the US….and I see those store all over the US

    • Leanne says:

      I live in the uk and spring onions or scallions are never normally over a £1 a bunch. They are realy easy to grow as well

  • cindy says:

    If anyone has a Dollar Tree store you are lucky. I can buy a jar of pasta sauce and a pack of pasta for a dollar each.everything there is $1.00. also soups are very cheap to make and you can eat off of it for a few days. add different things to it each day to make it taste different. as much as people think it is difficult it really is easy to make bread,cinnamon rolls and yeast items.I am single as well and disabled and live on a fixed income.Tonight i had a salad with bagged salad $1.00 at aldi’s,leftover cheese,tomatoes Aldi’s $ 1.40,salad shrimp $1.00 dollar general,leftover onion,croutons $1.00 Dollar tree. dressing i already had in fridge. also every community usually has a food pantry,always feel free to use them that is what they are there for.

  • Audrey Jortdan says:

    I have always lived simply and run my household on a minimum budget. It is possible of you put your mind to it

  • Cathie says:

    I would quit eating bread before I paid that much for it. Anyway, home made bread is so much better and costs a fraction of store bought. And we also don’t pay that much for even organic milk. I thought our food prices were high; I guess not. If cleaners are taking a bite out of your grocery budget you can cut back and use vinegar and baking soda – both incredibly inexpensive and useful items. Really, it can be done. You just have to find the best sources.
    I don’t understand people who make rude comments on blogs. You are free to read or not; to take advice or not.

  • Cathie says:

    Also- paper towels and napkins are luxury items in my house. I only buy them at deep discount, if at all.

  • says:

    I probably could buy a few items for $30 a week but not a complete grocery list for me, not even at Family Dollar or Walmart. I shop at my local grocery supermarket.

  • says:

    We are a family of 3 and live in a fairly high cost of living area. The benefit to this is there are a lot of grocery stores competing with each other. We used to spend about $500 a month for 2 adults and now we spend about $260 per month for 2 adults and a child. We stopped buying drinks, snacky foods (crackers, chips, cookies, icecream) and started making everything from scratch. We could get this down lower if we want but in general we eat the same foods that we did when we were spending much more, only now I’ve learned how to shop, freeze, and never waste food.

  • says:

    Great tips. Aldi also has a lot of organic options now, which I love!

  • Janice Nichols says:

    I’m anxious to read about freezer tips. Thanks

  • says:

    I like your post. Great ideas on how to save money. I can relate to when money is so tight and gave to eat frugally.

    Some of the things I do when money is tight:
    1) Powdered milk. Rarely had it as a kid & remember it being yucky. Its much
    better nowadays. The trick is to mix it up & refrigerate over night.
    2) Eggs any way with buttered toast. Good anytime of the day.
    3) Love peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, but sometimes want a change.
    Some of my cheaper sandwiches are grilled cheese sandwiches, egg salad
    sandwiches & flour tortillas spread with refried beans & sprinkled with
    cheese & rolled up & microwaved x30-45 sections. These tortilla wraps are
    good for breakfast or lunch. If transporting then pack separately &
    assemble when ready to eat. Sometimes just like chicken bouillon in a cup
    of hot water along with crackers & cheese.
    4) Meal planning. When I do it I always save money. If I don’t I spend too much
    5) Freezer meals & crock pot meals. Some of these are too expensive to make
    so I am selective. I try to do the 2-3 ingredient recipes. Always good to have
    a few freezer meals ready to go. My favorite crock pot meal is to dump 2-3
    boneless skinless chicken breasts & a jar of salsa in crock & cook on low for
    5-6 hours. Once done then shred the chicken while in the crock & mix with
    the salsa. Can eat multiple ways: on a tortilla with cheese, lettuce &
    tomatoes; over rice or in a bowl with cheese on top.
    6) I love stores like Sams & Costco but found I was spending way too much
    money & buying too much bulk that was taking up too much space & often
    going to waste. I still go, but not as much & am very mindful to keep dollar
    amount down when loading up the cart.
    7) Frozen foods. I used to buy them a lot more but have cut way back…too
    processed, too much GMO & too much sodium. But I do buy a few frozen
    items when really broke such a Banquet’s frozen chicken pies…about a
    $1.25 or less. Yes, probably too much sodium & too processed but when
    broke they are quite good with a roll & a side of fruit.
    8) Sphaghetti. When I was younger I’d make sauce from scratch, but after
    raising two kids I found that Hunts Garlic & Herb sauce is just as good.
    Costs $1.09 -$1.30. Much cheaper than the jarred stuff. Comes in several
    flavors but garlic & herb is our favorite. They usually hide it on the shelves
    at the top or bottom away from the jarred stuff. When I make spaghetti I
    actually use vermicelli which is thinner & buy the store brand which is about
    $1. When money isn’t tight I mix the sauce with sautéed 1/2 pound of
    ground beef. But if tight then I omit the beef & it’s still very yummy with just
    sauce & pasta.
    9) Store brands. I have found that store brands are cheaper than couponing.
    You have to experiment which store brands you like at which stores. I like
    most but not all.
    10) Bags of frozen boneless skinless chicken. My mom never used frozen
    chicken so when I first thought about doing it I was hesitant thinking they’d
    be too dry & tough. But when the prices for fresh chicken went sky high I
    decided to give them a try. I found that if you thoroughly defrost them &
    pounded them with a meat mallet then they are quite tender & delicious.
    The best prices for them are at Aldi. You will save so much money instead
    of buying fresh. It’s the only way I buy chicken now.

  • Chrystal Gilley says:

    I try to purchase reduced Everything. Reduced produce, including tomatoes, bananas, and salad mix. I purchase reduced meats, and packs of lunch meat when I find them and freeze. This saves a lot of money and they are fine if you freeze them. I have learned to grow some foods also. Currently I am growing yellow squash and zucchini in containers, herbs, Swiss chard and tomatoes. I purchased all my seeds from the dollar tree. This helps to reduce your over all grocery bill. I Brew my own tea and coffee to drink, or drink water. I have found that I can make crustless quiches in so many different varieties, using whatever cheese, meats, or veggies I have on hand or find at reduced price and these make great meals for anytime of the day. I always take my lunch. This alone has saved me so much. Sometimes I cook extra for supper and take for my lunch. Overnight crock pot oatmeal is awesome and cheap. Many recipes to choose from.

  • Candace says:

    I appreciate any ideas that can save me on groceries. We are a family of 5 and we have a budget of $150. I don’t feel as though we want for much. We buy our groceries, toiletries and anything else that falls under “grocery store shopping.” Some of your meals I am going to implement so that I can push money into those good deals.

  • Esther Ball says:

    We eat a lot of beans and rice (black beans and rice is SO yummy!) You can also make Uganda beans and rice with red beans, carrots, onions, tomato sauce/canned tomatoes, and curry powder. We also eat a lot of eggs. Dollar Tree sells eggs and cartons of oatmeal for $1. I often make healthy oatmeal cookies for my kids to eat instead of granola bars.

  • Esther says:

    Also check with some local food bank ministries in your area. My mom works with several ministries that receive day-old bread from Publix and Whole Foods. Some of these are even the healthy, whole grain breads. Maybe you can locate a ministry that gets day-olds and get bread for free.

  • Robin says:

    I love these budget posts. Sometimes I can get new meal ideas from them. I spend maybe $100 a month on groceries for 2 of us. Not only am I able to make 3 meals a day when I need to, I also turn some of those groceries into freezer meals. It saves a lot of money by doing that. I buy 95% of my groceries at Aldi and the rest I get at cub or Sam’s club. Once every other month I go to my favorite Asian market and buy a few whole tilapia or other fish for like $1.29 lb and a slab of pork belly for about $4. The pork belly alone contributes to at least 3 meals. I also buy a lot of rice(both white and wild rice), pasta and beans because they are cheap and can go a long way.

    • Gretchen Marsh says:

      I find that I can eat pretty well if I plan my menu based on what’s on sale. I also shop at certain stores for certain things as I know where to get the best deals. I live in Chicago and take public trans so I don’t make a separate trip just to grocery shopping, but at some point, I visit Aldi’s, Trader Joe’s, Jewel and a great produce place if I get a ride. I plan my meals according to what’s on sale, and only make a grocery list for things that never go on sale, buy several different frozen entrees from Trader Joe’s that will yield at least three servings each, grind my own coffee beans, even found chai tea and cold press coffee concentrates I prepare and bring with me. I went by jewel a few weeks ago and got $75. of groceries for just over $50. I really don’t feel I’m skimping, I’m just not eating out and overspending for things that I can get for less.

  • Lillian says:

    As a college students living off of minimum wage, my roommate and I still only pay about $80.00 on groceries every two weeks. It really comes down to getting the cheapest stuff, and planning ahead.
    Usually for breakfast, we choose from: eggs, eggos, toast, bananas, apples, coffee/creamer. For Lunch, there are always leftovers from last nights dinner! Finally, for dinners last week we made spaghetti, taco salads, pizza, hamburgers, and lastly, baked chicken w/ potatoes, carrots, onions.
    All it takes is planning, commitment, and sacrificing. Do I want that bag of Cheetos? Yes. Do I NEED that bag of Cheetos? No.

    I wish all of you the best of luck in your shopping endeavors!

  • says:

    Thanks for sharing! Eating more plant proteins help the budget too!

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