I married my sweet husband James almost 2 years ago now. I had just turned 21 and was still in college. He graduated the day before we got married. It was the best decision I've ever made. But... getting married young comes with it's challenges as well. As you can imagine, money can get pretty tight for two young musicians trying to navigate the world of adulthood. We've had a lot of laughs and tears trying to be creative in the way we make things work. Last year, when I got diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, I had to go gluten free as well, throwing a wrench in to our spaghetti-heavy grocery plan. But now, I have figured it out. The way to feed two people, be gluten free, and eat somewhat healthy for a grand total of $40 a week.
1. Avoid the trendy grocery stores. Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are great, but it's really hard getting out of there without dropping $100 or more. Kroger and Aldi are good economical options. The Kroger Plus card saves a lot of money and gets you gas points.
2. Shop the perimeter of the store. Sticking mostly to the fresh foods and avoiding the processed foods will save you money and be healthier. I only venture in to the middle aisles for rice, beans and occasionally olive oil.
3. Plan meals that use the same ingredients more than once. I usually buy one meat for the week and use it sparingly in a bunch of different dishes.
4. Buy produce that is in season. Prices go way up if you're getting it from half way across the world.
5. Gotta love rice and beans. Beans are SO cheap and good for you... you can substitute them for a meat since they are pretty filling. I make chili ALL THE TIME. Pasta is good too if you're not avoiding gluten.
6. Coupons can be deceiving. Don't buy 5 boxes of a random granola bar because you have a coupon for it. If you wouldn't have bought it normally, don't buy it just because you have a coupon for it.
7. Save your left overs. Don't trash that extra cup of chili. Save it, mix it with rice, and eat it for lunch the next day.
8. Stock pile certain items. Freezing Christmas cookies and storing away Halloween candy can come in handy when you're in a bind but don't want to spend the money on sweet treats. Just ate some of my Christmas M&Ms today. Yummy.
9. Double check labels. It takes a little more time, but you can often pick a cheaper or generic version of whatever you picked on at first glance.
10. Be creative and have an open mind. Often by the end of the week, we're mixing together whatever we have left in the fridge. Sometimes it becomes a great new discovery... and sometimes it doesn't. Attitude is key. Right James? *wink*
Want specifics? Here ya go:
Orange juice- $2.59
Chili Beans- $0.60
Kidney Beans- $0.60
Canned corn- $0.79
Turkey sausage- $3.99
Big block of cheddar cheese- $3.99
Cage free eggs- $2.49
Baby carrot packs- $1.59
Mini tomatoes- $3.29
Mushrooms- $ 1.79
Bell pepper- $1.79
2 Oranges- $1.25
2 lemons- $0.84
2 potatoes- $1.31
Whole Pineapple- $2.50
3 bananas- $0.53
Fruit salad (Add peanut butter?)
Eggs with cheese
Sausage and bell pepper scramble (with or without eggs)
Oatmeal with fruit
Vegetarian Chili- 2 nights
Burrito bowls- rice, beans, corn, cheese
Asparagus broiled with salt, pepper and lemon
Baked potato casserole- potato, turkey sausage, cheddar, veggies
Stir Fry with sausage and rice
Nuts (again... from Christmas)
Yogurt (or whatever is leftover) from last week (hehe)