Creating a healthy grocery list on a budget can be a tricky task but it can be done! I recommend including foods from the main food groups, buying in bulk when you can, and planning ahead to use recipes that utilize overlapping ingredients.
Basic Shopping List
I always start with a basic shopping list when developing my healthy grocery list on a budget. My basic shopping list includes:
- Produce - I aim for at least 2 veggies per week and at least 1 fruit. I like to include enough for at least one veggie at lunch and one at dinner (and maybe even breakfast!), plus a fruit or two as a snack. Since produce tends to spoil quickly, I always have fruits and veggies on my list! Frozen fruits and veggies are a great option as well.
- Grains - after checking the pantry, I'll add rice, pasta, oats, cereals, etc. The nut butters are usually found in this aisle as well!
- Dairy and eggs - milk and Greek yogurt are always a staple! Ever wonder which is the best type of milk to buy? Check out more info on this here!
- Meat and seafood - these will depend on what recipes we're making for the week, but our taples are chicken, shrimp, or fish like salmon. Rotisserie chicken is a good option if you're short on time!
- Canned foods - things like beans and chickpeas, as well as broth are great and affordable foods to have on-hand.
- Frozen foods - frozen fruits and veggies make a great choice. They're picked when ripe and immediately frozen, which retains most of their nutrients. They can be more cost effective as well, depending on the season!
Organizing A Grocery List
The main way I like to organize my basic shopping list is by location in the store. Generally, all grocery stores are laid out in a similar way: produce grouped together, meats/seafood/dairy/yogurt/eggs around the perimeter, and grains/nuts/nut butters/snack-type foods/frozen items in the center of the store.
Since most grocery stores have a similar layout, I group my healthy grocery list by the following:
- Produce (this may also include more "exotic" nuts and seeds, kombucha, tofu, etc. as these are usually found in the produce sections)
- Grains, nut butters, coffee/tea, cereals, oats
- Oils and canned products (beans, tomatoes, broth, olive oil, avocado oil)
- Meat and seafood
- Dairy and eggs
- Frozen items
Organizing your grocery list by location in the store makes it easier and more time efficient when shopping to help you get in and out quickly!
Grocery List on a Budget
Grocery bills can add up quickly so finding ways to save money can go a long way. My go-to money saving tips at the grocery store are:
- Check coupons and deals ahead of time - sign up for your favorite store's newsletter! Most stores will send out weekly, if not more frequently, emails sharing what is or will be on sale. You can also use these for form your meals/snacks for the week!
- Sign up for a rewards program - a lot of grocery stores offer rewards programs to build up points the more you purchase. Once you build up enough points, you may get discounts elsewhere!
- Look for non-name brand items - one example I like to give here is with oats. Name-brand oats can be significantly more expensive than store-brand oats (and they're the same product!).
- Pay attention to the price per unit - this is the little number under the total price and essentially tells you how much the item costs per unit, often in ounces or pounds. The significance of this is that it makes it easier to compare different brands in different sizes. Fun fact: sometimes it's more cost efficient to purchase items in bulk!
- Buy staple items in bulk - this can help save money in the long run (still pay attention to the price per unit!). For example, we use olive oil as our primary cooking fat. Since we go through quite a bit, we buy a large container every once in a while as opposed to smaller bottles more frequently. This is more cost effective but also cuts down on the number of times we're adding olive oil to our list!
How to Write a Healthy Grocery List on a Budget
The biggest piece of advice here is to plan ahead. It will save so much time and money in the long run!
- Plan out what recipes you'll be making so you can create a list of the items you need and in the quantities you need them.
- Check your pantry first to see what you already have! Don't forget to move items around and check the way back of the fridge, freezer, and pantry 🙂
- Find recipes that use overlapping ingredients. This way, you can buy in bulk and save money!
To simplify this process for you, I've created a FREE meal prep workbook, 5 Steps to Efficiently Meal Prep Without Spending Hours in the Kitchen! It's a 16-page fillable workbook to help guide you through the meal prep process from start to finish. And a couple of steps involve developing and writing out a grocery list! Click this link to get your hands on a copy!
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