How to Eat Real Food on a Budget

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When I first moved out, my food budget was $27 every two weeks.  This did not include money for milk and eggs purchased from a farmer, but included everything else.  My grocery budget has increased over the past two years, and what’s right for me may not be right for other situations.

I am often asked where I get my food.  When preparing this post, I realized I now do basically all of my shopping online with immediate needs purchased at Whole Foods or the local farmer’s market. Here are a few tips for a successful healthy and budget-friendly shopping trip.

When shopping at a store,  shop with cash.  When shopping online, have a budget.

Whether you choose to pre-load a Visa gift card as your “cash” or you deposit cash into your account when you purchase online, having a budget will help keep impulse spending under control.

Shop with a calculator

so you don’t go over budget.

Eat mostly produce.

I have found that the more produce I eat, the more energy I have and the better I feel, so I aim for 8 servings of vegetables a day and 1-3 servings of fruit (to help limit my sugar intake).  I then add in my proteins for the day, along with plenty of healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado, salmon, and the occasional handful of cashews).  Most of my produce is purchased organic online, but especially during the summer I like to visit the local farmer’s market.  I love supporting local businesses so occasionally I’ll order straight from a farmer.

Stock up on favorites.

This may go without saying, but buy things you know you love and will use.  Experiment occasionally, but do so in small quantities until you know you really love a certain product.  For instance, I got a great deal on a 5 gallon tub of coconut oil.  I know that I will use that 5 gallon tub of coconut oil, so that was a good purchase.  But if I had purchased a 5 gallon tub of pickles because it was a great deal…well, I hate pickles so it wouldn’t be great deal.

Limit processed purchases.

The ingredients I buy are basics that I use to make my food staples (coconut flour/oil, olive oil, raw honey, etc).  I drink water, coffee, tea, kombucha, bone broth, and the occasional mug of hot chocolate or tea.  I make most of my basics, including kombucha and bone broth.

Cycle purchases.

I don’t eat my fridge and pantry empty every week, so I don’t purchase all of these things every week.  This is one huge way I can make my budget work for me.  I generally use about a quart of coconut oil every other week or so.  I could spend $17 on a quart every other week, but that would cut into a lot of the purchases.  I made my big 5 gallon purchase when the price was $11 a quart on sale.  Now I don’t have to buy coconut oil for a long time, and have that savings freed up to spend on other things, like eggs (I eat about 2 dozen a week, on average).

Order online and order in bulk.

I signed up for a local organic produce delivery service (more on that in a later post). This significantly limits my personal impulse spending, and also saves on shipping costs.

I used to be quite the coupon queen, but because I now buy mostly online and make just about everything, I don’t use a lot of coupons anymore.  I do, however, take advantage of sales and specials.

Thrive Market is an online store best described as “Whole Foods with Aldi prices and Amazon convenience.” For every membership sold, Thrive Market donates a membership to a family in need. It’s a great program and it’s how I save hundreds of dollars every year, without sacrificing quality of food! Click here to get 20% off your first three orders! 

Ready for even more tips, including a sample grocery list, menu plan, and cooking guide? Download your free copy of my ebook, Dirt Cheap Nutrition!

How do you budget for real food?

Thanks for sharing!

2 thoughts on “How to Eat Real Food on a Budget

  1. Eating more produce makes such a difference in cost. I feel better when I eat more veggies and they are so reasonably priced. My biggest cost is that I fall victim to the pre-cut produce.

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