I wanted really badly to have some clever snappy title for this blog post… but maybe it will come to me over the course of writing this post. And then I can come back and edit this paragraph? Writing is such a process 🙂
So last night, I did something totally awesome… I purchased one week’s worth of groceries for $50 (cue the fireworks!!!) After taking a pretty fantastic run around the mall (which, if your not from DC, is the stretch of lawn from the U.S. Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial – yeah it’s pretty sweet here, I won’t lie to you) I met up with two friends who have been staying with me this week while they take in the sights of the city. After a quick drink, I was able to convince the girls to join me on a quick grocery trip to Harris Teeter.
I had very little food (certainly nothing fresh) in my house after my weekend trip to Charlottesville, and I’ve really been trying to keep up with my “no more than 3 meals out per week” rule (I only have one left… yikes). I had to grocery shop. In the car on the way back from Cville on Monday, I made a painfully extensive meal plan and grocery list. Normally, I only plan dinners and then wing the rest of it, but I knew that if I was going to get to that magical $50 mark, I needed to be much more thorough. Armed with my list, I went to Harris Teeter, and for the first time ever, was able to purchase an entire week of groceries (that is planning for every meal mind you!) for $50. What what…. Operation Spend Less Money, I’m going to own you!
I thought I would put together a list of things that I kept in mind last night while shopping that I found helpful / made me successful. Tips for grocery shopping for (much) less:
- Rethink the produce section. This kind of makes me a little bit sad because, if I had my druthers, I would eat nothing but fresh fruits and vegetables all day. However, if I truly let loose, I could easily spend over $50 just in the produce section. I tried to approach the produce section differently so I could still eat healthy, nutritious foods, but keep it under budget. For fruit, I stuck to just a big bunch of bananas (at 69 cents per pound) and a bag of golden delicious apples ($3.99 for approximately 12 small apples). I try to eat two servings of fruit per day, so this should be fine to get me through the week. For fresh veggies, I stuck to only things I was going to eat raw. Anything I planned on cooking, I figured I could get frozen (read more below). I ended up buying two small bags of HT brand baby carrots and a bunch of celery.
- Keep proteins simple. I’m not a vegetarian and I think the term “flexetarian” is dumb (sorry I’m not sorry for that). However, non-meat protein sources can be much cheaper options so I do try to make those the majority of my meals. Some inexpensive protein options I always keep on hand include canned beans (HT has generic cans of black beans, garbanzo beans, navy beans, all kinds of beans for 77 cents each), fat free refried beans (89 centers per can, I love these spread on toast in the morning or mixed in with a salad), canned tuna fish, and eggs. I do eat tofu but not every week (I try not to overdo it on soy products)
- Embrace generics. Almost everything I bought last night was generic, and that’s pretty much always true. They’re EXACTLY the same at a fraction of the price, I don’t really get not buying them. Some of my favorites include HT brand unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I ❤ unsweetened vanilla almond breeze from Blue Diamond, but the HT version is like $1.50 cheaper), lowfat chocolate milk (for post-run but also because it is delicious), packaged cheese, and spicy brown mustard.
- Shop the sales. I love greek yogurt and eat it pretty much every day (either as a snack, breakfast, or mixed up in overnight oats) but it can really add up on your grocery bill. My favorite favorite FAVORITE brand is Dannon Oikos(it is heaven in a cup), but I try to remain slightly flexible on brands and buy what is on sale. Luckily, Dannon is on sale a lot at HT (last night VIC card special was 10 for $10… you best believe I totally stocked up).Source
- Don’t forget frozen veggies. Like I mentioned above, I wish I could go nuts and buy tons and tons and tons of fresh produce, but right now that’s just not a reality. Instead of making excuses and just eating macaroni and cheese, I’m trying to make it work. I stock up weekly on HT brand frozen veggies including broccoli florets, spinach, collard greens, chopped onions, snow peas, and many others. They’re usually about $1.50 for a bag. If I have slightly more to spend (more like $2 – $4 per bag) I love Pictsweet brand. They’re SUPER fresh for frozen vegetables (the yellow / green beans are my favorite), and I love the company. Hoping to put a post together about ways to cook / prepare frozen veggies soon 🙂