I take my job as a frugal human being very seriously.
My way of planning for a grocery trip is probably a little bit excessive to some folks. But, when it comes to spending money, I prefer to do it wisely. It doesn’t matter how much money I am bringing back to the den.
I take into account what I will personally be eating during the week, what I would like to cook for my blog (and still eat too), the kind of macro and micronutrients I want to hit, what’s currently in season, and how I can get the most bang for my buck. Additionally, I also make sure I eat everything I have.
If I had to be honest with everyone here – I don’t eat perfectly every day. And by perfect, I mean I don’t hit my micro and macronutrient goals every single day. However, I try my best to do what I can, with the money I set aside for food.
Thinking About Food For Blog
Sometimes I just wing it. I do some planning for my blog, but I also want to be honest with how I eat on the day-to-day. If you look closely, although my blog seemingly has drastically different recipes, I use the same ingredients in different ways: potatoes, lentils, beans, oats, and bananas.
For example, one of my favorite vegetables is the potato. I use them as part of my daily diet or a blog recipe at least five times a week. See what I mean:
Potatoes are extremely versatile, cheap, and last a long time in a cool, dark place. I can easily go through a 10-pound bag of potatoes in a week. Potatoes and I are pretty close.
However, if they call for too many expensive ingredients, or it’ll be hard to find them, I either opt-out of trying them, or try my best to make them with what I have. Meaning, I don’t quite follow a recipe to the T.
Planning For Personal Meals
When I visit Trader Joe’s, my go-to grocery store, I always carry a list. I’ll usually jot down a budget for the trip and try to stick with it. I have a rough idea of how much food costs there, so my list is pretty aligned with the budget. My usual budget for Trader Joe’s for the week is about $20-25 bucks a week.
Note, I do go to the farmers’ market on the weekends to pick up a couple of additional things. Usually just strawberries or anything that piques my interest. My grocery list usually includes these items:
I think it’s good to note that I do buy dry seasonings in bulk every so often. This really helps bring my dishes alive. Although it’s great to have fresh seasonings, sometimes I just can’t include it to my budget.
On rare occasions, I will by fresh seasonings if I am cooking for date night, or cooking for others. But for me? I am fine with the dried stuff.
The Actual Planning + Purchasing
First, I write out my budget for the week. Usually $20-$25.
Second, write a list of foods I would like to buy.
Third, go through the list again and think about my food plan for the week.
Fourth, go to the grocery store with the list.
Fifth, if I am over the budget, scratch-off what I don’t really need.
Sixth, come home proud that I stuck to the budget.
A few days ago I went to the grocery store and I did actually go over my budget by a couple of dollars. So, I put a few things back. Instead of purchasing strawberry jam, I decided that maybe I can just use the frozen raspberries at home instead.
Instead of buying red potatoes, I got russet (they’re cheaper). Also, I want to buy creamy peanut butter because I learned I am not totally into crunchy peanut butter. But I decided I should probably just stop being picky and just eat the crunchy nut butter I have at home.
Also to note, when I am grocery shopping, I am also using my calculator on my phone and enter the cost of everything I add to my basket to see what comes up.
Additionally, on rare occasions, maybe 3 times a year, I buy food in bulk from time-to-time with my partner’s Costco membership or at other grocery stores. So things like dry legumes and chia seeds can really stretch out for months.
My Final Thoughts
Make a plan and stick to it. Don’t grab those last-minute chips or unnecessary frozen dinners. Those little last-minute items will add a dent to your budget if you’re not mindful. It also helps to really think about what you want to eat for the week and to try out new vegetables.
My tip for getting creative: if you have no idea what to do with those potatoes, get some inspiration online. Look through 1-ingredient recipes or “easy recipes.”
Lastly, you don’t need to be strict about the kind of meals you can have throughout the day. If you want mashed potatoes for breakfast – go for it. Want a heaping bowl of yogurt for dinner? Do it you rebel. Do you wish you could have pancakes for lunch? Nobody’s stopping you.
Go outside of the rules. Figure out what you like. Start experimenting in the kitchen.