Food is already one of those sneaky budget breakers for a family on a budget… add in a quarantine and let's just say our once cheap grocery shopping list shot through the roof! Which is a red flag for us financially; when my husband and I started dating he was literally $10,000 in debt, swiping his credit card, buying coffees, newspapers, and fancy breads… In other words: the items people (re: us) are mindlessly stress purchasing right now are exactly the items that previously landed him in thousands of dollars of debt. I knew we had to reign it in and make some big financial adjustments to help us navigate this time like going back to our cheap grocery list and coming up with a meal plan that allows us to grocery shop once a month (okay a little more frequently than that, more on that below) so we can do our part to flatten the curve.
Which is why I'm thrilled to work with Lexington Law Firm on this post. Lexington Law is a trusted leader in credit repair. They know just how stressful this time is on everyone and are here to help. They are generously offering FREE credit report consultations by clicking here! They specialize in helping their clients with unfair, inaccurate, and unsubstantiated items on their credit profile. Even better? Everything is digital. No need to go anywhere to meet with a lawyer.
A quick suggestion on your current financial strategy:
Before things continue to get worse, I urge ALL of you to take your finances seriously. As we move into more and more of these stressful financial times more people will need to use their credit cards knowing they can't pay them off, and I think we'll see an even bigger rise in identity theft and credit scams; and that's where Lexington Law can come in and help. Bad credit can end up costing you even more money.
So schedule a call with them, see if there's anything you can do to improve your score now. Getting your score up now, can open the door to lowered interest rates, which you'll be grateful for if you need to start using your credit more down the road.
This is not a situation to put off or ignore — it's not one of those, “oh well it's only going to keep getting worse, so I'll wait to deal with it” in fact, in my experience, preparation is key during hard times. Just like I needed to do with our grocery shopping. I nipped the overspending in the bud, cut back and came up with a WEEKLY grocery shopping strategy for our family of three during this time, and am sharing it all with you in this post today!
Cheap Grocery List + Meal Plan for Family On A Budget Trying To Grocery Shop Once A Month
What our grocery shopping looked like before attempting to do monthly grocery shopping:
Before trying to grocery shop once a month we basically were at a grocery store every day.
We did a wholesale warehouse shopping run once a month (still doing), a TJ's run 2-3 times a week, a high end healthy grocery store once a week, and a local grocery store we can walk to 1-2 times a week. So before all of this, we were going to the grocery store basically every single day and sometimes multiple stores in a day!
This has been a BIG adjustment to cut it down to every 1-4 weeks. Let me tell you, until I started writing out monthly grocery lists I didn't fully comprehend just how much food we bought each week. Good news though, with my meal plan at the end, you'll see just how it all gets eaten!!
Here's the deal about our diets and how we shop:
My husband is grain free, my daughter is egg free, and they both are refined/excess sugar free because of health issues. We also eat mostly organic because of their health problems. Meaning it's literally impossible for us to grocery shop at just one store… especially during this time where the stores are mostly cleaned out. Fortunately, most of our grocery shopping is fresh food and produce which the stores have remained well stocked up on.
Do fresh food and produce allow you to grocery shop once a month? Not totally, but more than you'd think!
A large part of why we still need to go weekly is due to the fact we drink celery juice and need to get that every 7-10 days, a smoothie that requires fresh cilantro (which we get every 2+ weeks). If you cut those out, you could follow this budget friendly grocery list for a family and get all frozen veggies and only grocery shop once a month.
I'll share my meal plans so that you can see how we make our fresh foods last us an entire week and some storage tips towards the end of this post!
A note on organic vs. non-organic:
If we buy processed food we typically opt for organic. Though this is rare because of their dietary constraints.
If you have to choose organic vs. non organic, my suggestion is to purchase organic processed food over produce (excluding the dirty dozen). So organic packaged cookies, crackers, freezer meals, etc. and non-organic bananas, melons, etc.
I won't get into the nitty gritty details but the short version (you can research for yourself) is that in the late 90s a lot of food regulations were passed allowing more chemicals into our foods and more herbicides and pesticides to be sprayed on the rest of the ingredients in processed foods to extend shelf life.
So even if it just says “whole grain oats” on the cereal box, those oats could have who knows what sprayed on them. Save your money by buying non-organic produce or single ingredient items you've researched instead. Be sure to rinse produce well with a vegetable wash. I also recommend opting for organic when it comes to the annual “dirty dozen” in produce.
Last tip on once a week grocery shopping strategy: Use a credit card with cash back rewards at grocery stores
It's no secret I love a good rewards credit card. And with restaurants shutting down, grocery shopping bills are definitely going up. If you don't already have one, it may be a good time to consider a rewards credit card that gives you some nice grocery store bonuses.
Typically the best rewards cards require a good/excellent credit score. ALWAYS read the fine print before applying for a new credit card (it acts as a hard inquiry and can drop you a few points).
If your credit isn’t where you want it to be and you feel there are wrongful negative items on your credit report, give Lexington Law a call today to receive your free credit repair consultation! They have an established credit repair process that’s helped hundreds of thousands of people repair their credit each year.
Cheap grocery list for a month for a family of 3:
NOTE on how we are defining a “cheap grocery list”: The monthly grocery list below is a lot of items. Honestly, until we cut back on our grocery trips to once a week / once a month, I didn't realize just HOW much we bought. Stressing at one point, “are we buying too much?!” But the reality is when you see your monthly grocery shopping all at once, it will feel like a lot; and we use it all. I find the most expensive items are often the packaged items in the middle of the store too.
The USDA publishes a monthly food plan suggesting how much your groceries should be. The average cost of food per month for one person ranges from $165 to $345, depending on your age, gender, and how thrifty or liberal you want to be with your spending. Looking at it for February 2020, for a one year old, two adults on the “low cost” meal plan, we are defining “cheap” as $630 a month. Fortunately we spend about $550-600 a month on groceries so we are doing great!
Wholesale warehouse (once a month):
- 3 containers of dates
- Bag of hemp seeds
- Giant bag of organic carrots
- 2-3 bags frozen wild blueberries
- 1-2 bags frozen berry blend
- 2-3 bags frozen broccoli
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Sliced almonds
- 1-2 boxes chickpea pasta (comes with 4 boxes in each)
- 1 box organic spring mix
- 1 package of OJ
- 1 box organic spinach
- 1 bag clementines
- 1 bag organic string cheese
- 1 greek yogurt
- 1 case organic black beans
- 1 bag Frozen cauliflower rice
TJ's (7-10 days)
- 2 Jars tomato basil pasta sauce
- Bag of pink lady apples
- Bag of avocados
- Bag of potatoes
- Bag of sweet potatoes
- 14-24 bananas
- 4 things goat cheese
- 2 packages frozen riced cauliflower
- 4 bags russet potato chips
- 1 jar peanut butter
- 1 jar almond butter
- 10 bags organic celery
- 1 bag organic kale
- 2 bags organic spring mix
- 2 packages sliced organic mushrooms
- 2 bags organic spinach
- Refried salsa style pinto beans
- Baked beans
- 4 cans garbanzo beans
- 1-2 melons
- Almond milk
- Package organic mini cucumbers
- Unrefined coconut oil
Whole Foods (every other week)
- 6 bushels organic cilantro
- Grain free tortilla wraps
- 2-3 lb bag golden potatoes
- Hu gems (sugar free baking chocolate chips)
- Grain free baking flour
- 2 packs orange tomatoes
- 1 bag flaxseed
Local grocery store we walk to (every other week):
- Store brand salsa
- Store brand hummus
- Almond milk (if on sale)
- Organic cheeses when on sale
- Oj (if on sale)
- Prune Juice (daughter needs it)
Be safe while out shopping and aware of credit card scams!!
I can't stress this enough you guys: now is the time to bring a little more awareness to your financial situation. Personally, I think we are going to see more scams come up as people get desperate and attempt to steal others identities.
Make sure that you are taking steps to ensure you are financially safe:
- Use an RFID blocking wallet (so skimmers can't swipe your info as easily when in range)
- Don't click on links from spammy email addresses (you can check this by hovering over the sender name)
- Ask questions: obviously don't give your information out to strangers, but also ask questions even with those you trust. For instance, my daughter's doctor is private pay but on the paperwork it asked for her social. I asked if they needed it and they were like, “oh no you can skip that.” Do I think they would've stolen her identity? No; but again, it's better to be safe than sorry.
Identity theft has been increasing over the years, with children, seniors, social media users, members of the military, divorcees, and those with medical or student loan debt being the most at risk. If you think your identity has been compromised Lexington Law is here to help, just click here to learn more.
Grocery shopping once a week or once a month produce food storage tips and tricks:
If you are trying to shop as cheaply as possible and only go to the grocery store once a month, then you can opt for mostly frozen and skip some items from the grocery list above. Regardless, I do recommend having some fresh produce and here are my tips and tricks to keep food fresh:
Leafy greens: Always keep these in an open container with a paper towel or even a cloth to absorb excess moisture.
Mushrooms: Remove any plastic, let them breathe!
Potatoes: Store in a dark cool place (pantry). The little white buds that grow are okay (scrub them off), sprouting is not but that takes time.
Carrots: You may have noticed we get a giant bag once a month, I chop a bunch up into sticks for easy snacking and place those in a large mason jar, and cover the carrots fully with water. The rest of the carrots get rolled in a thin dish towel (t shirt works or paper towels) to absorb moisture and placed back in giant bag (untied)
Cilantro/herbs: In a small glass, stems in water, top covered with the plastic bag I purchased them in
* You'll notice in my meal plan section, a lot of my dinner recipes leave space for a “dump” of veggies meaning if something is going bad you can kind of just add it as an ingredient real fast.
Family meal plan: what we eat in a week as a family of 3
NOTE: all the recipes can be found on my Instagram account in the “EATS” highlight!
Husband and I drink celery juice first then a heavy metal detox smoothie (ingredients above and also from Amazon) every morning (if we skipped these, it would make our grocery budget go way down and we could extend grocery shopping to ever 3-4 weeks without a problem).
My daughter still nurses, then eats a giant bowl of one type of fruit (either melon, grapes, or apple). If she seems hungry again before her first nap, we give her another giant bowl of a different fruit (usually dates).
I usually eat a giant bowl of fruit a couple hours after my smoothie. Either grapes, melon, clementines, or apple and banana or dates.
Option 1: Salad. Mixed greens, shredded carrots, mini cucumbers, goat cheese, craisins, sliced almonds, hemp seeds, and chickpeas
Option 2: Smoothie. Either berries and protein powder and 2 massive handfuls of spinach or spinach, banana, peanut butter, protein powder.
Baby: Nurses and then eats a variation of what we had or leftovers from dinner. Either a cucumber, smoothie, more fruit with hemp seeds or chia seeds.
We eat some variation of the following options: Veggies sticks and hummus, chips and salsa, dates and almond butter, homemade grain free, egg free banana bread (working on refining the recipe and bake time for you guys!!), blender muffins (recipe in my IG “eats” story), or if there was a little left over food from dinner, I eat that.
I tend to go through phases with dinners where I cook a handful of meals non stop. Currently this is what we are doing (again all recipes for homemade stuff are in my IG story “EATS” highlight!):
Option 1: Pasta (either chickpea or lentil), tomato sauce, broccoli
Option 2: Cauliflower rice, mushrooms, avocado, potatoes, homemade honey mustard
Option 3: Potatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, Mexican cheese
Option 4: Deconstructed nachos with kale (I'll add shredded carrot and cucumbers here if we need to use them up), can of refried pinto beans with 2 tablespoon baked beans, and homemade vegan cheese, with chips
Option 5: Chickpea pasta, veggies, and homemade green dressing
Option 6: Stir fry of cauliflower rice, veggies, and homemade asian inspired sauce
Grain free, egg free, chocolate chip cookies (I also snack on these when I have a sweet tooth as they are packed with protein and a guilt free source of sugar!)
Recipe takes like 5 minutes! 1 can chickpeas, 1/3 cup maple syrup, 1-2 dates soaked in warm water, 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and baking powder, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (it's okay to skip if you don't have, just use the second date). Blend it up in a high speed blender, transfer to a bowl, hand mix in a big handful of chocolate chips, and chill the batter for a while. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
I do believe food was the original prescription…
Obviously I can't go back in time to be sure, but based off what we see in Chinese medicine and my work with shamans, I think it's a safe guess. So choosing plants over processed during this time is even more important in my opinion. With that said, give yourself grace. Go slow. Do your best.
If you need to order take out, do it. If you need to buy processed food, do it. If you need to charge more on your credit card, it's okay.
Even with all of this grocery shopping strategy and meal planning, I hope you see how far we are from perfect. We still need to go to 4 grocery stores, but we went from daily trips to once a week for our main one, and every other week for the other two, and still once a month for our warehouse. Is it perfect? No.
It's doing our small part in flattening the curve (and again, health reasons I cook as much as I do haha, because trust me, I would be ordering take out more if it wasn't for the fam!). I'm giving myself grace, being safe, and doing what works for us; I hope you do the same!
Lastly, remember the professionals at Lexington Law Firm are here to help with your credit repair journey. Schedule a call with them today by clicking here!