How we ate on $25 a week

The last few weeks I've been thinking about trying to save more at the grocery store. I think back to when we were first married and spent only $25 each week on groceries. And I think, "How in the world did I manage that?" Little pieces have been coming back to me slowly, and I want to write them down for my own sake, before I forget again!
  • I worked from home, so it was easy to do time-intensive but not labor-intensive things, like make chicken broth, make bread, and cook dry beans.
  • I made all our own bread. It definitely wasn't gourmet quality at first, but I did improve!
  • We ate dry beans quite often.
  • I bought my spices at the dollar store.
  • We used whole chickens, which lasted many meals.
  • We ate economical breakfasts, such as oatmeal, cornbread, rice. Always with eggs.
  • I saved vegetable scraps to make broth.
  • I left out or substituted expensive ingredients.
  • I didn't let any food go to waste--it was sneaked into soup or frozen for future use. We had virtually no spoilage.
  • Lunch was leftovers or tuna or peanut butter sandwiches.
  • We ate fruit that was in season and on sale.
  • I planned my menus around sales.
  • I stocked up on basics when there was a great sale.
  • I used only cash at the grocery store, and brought only as much as our budget allowed, plus an "emergency" $5 bill.
How do you save money at the grocery store?


Read about a couple who ate on $1 each per day for a month as an awareness project. I wouldn't recommend it for health or variation, but it is really eye-opening to read their experiences. I recommend you start from the beginning of the blog.


  1. We were blessed enough to have a store that always had a loss leader, and even better would send out coupons for free, or next to free items. I remember the days of 1 cent hamburger buns, free half gallons of ice cream....

    I was a vegetarian most of that time, and that helped us save money too.

    Last, I worked at a deli, so I typically ate lunch there at a discount using my "tips" which amounted to 60 cents to 1 dollar.

  2. I should clarify, the 1 cent was for a package of hamburger buns. We'd make sandwiches on them, or I toasted them as a side with dinner.

  3. I remember those days when I was first married (1996-7) LOL Hamburger was .89/lb and turky ham was .69/lb so those are the only meats I bought. I bought all my bread items at the discount bakery place where I could buy three loaves for a dollar and stored them all in the freezer since they were close dated.

    We had hamburger everything and I never bought fresh fruits or veggies.

  4. One day will you do a post about making chicken broth? I tried once and I'm not sure it turned out so well. So I would love your tips!

    And I would also like that recipe of macaroni and cheese that you made us for dinner the other day. It was really good and I tried to make some the other day and it didn't turn out as well.

  5. I'm assuming that you are posting this because you got all kinds of comments asking how you did it? I actually think that $25 a week is about right for a household of only 2 people, and especially since your parents gave you a nice food stash as a wedding gift. I'm starting to think that we all eat too much, and too many processed foods. I'm not surprised at all that you were able to do that, especially as home-makey as you are.

  6. I'm very, very impressed.

  7. I usually plan my meals around what's on sale, although lately, I haven't had much time to actually sit down and plan out my grocery shopping trips, as a result, I've been spending way too much on groceries.
    I'm in the process of trying to compile some easy and inexpensive freezer and or slow cooker meals that I can put together one day each week to have ready for my family.
    If you have any suggestions, let me know. I'd love to hear them.

  8. Growing any kind of veggies. In pots on the patio, herbs in a kitchen window, community garden is a great money saver. There were some pretty lean times and I still had fresh veggies from the garden.

  9. Families without members that have food allergies and intolerances are very lucky. Imagine not being able to eat wheat or nuts. Even eggs.

    Food is very expensive these days and my budget + celiac disease is a nightmare. I can't eat gluten and it's basically in everything that is cheap and/or easy to make. Even if I make my own gluten free bread, the ingredients are expensive. Even Xanthan gum (for texture) is over $12 a bag!

    I cut meat out of my diet and that has saved a lot of money. I stick with organic fat free milk (it's only .10 cents more) and a local store is selling organic vegetables at awesome prices. So I eat a lot of brown rice, veggies, nuts (cheap at trader joe's) and fruit. I recently discovered a sweet potato curry dinner and it's cheaper and pretty darn tasty.

    I want to eat eggs, but for some reason they aren't appealing to me at the moment. When I told my doctor the sight of eggs gave me nausea, he made me take a pregnancy test! hah!

  10. When my husband and I cut down on meat, our grocery bill was much lower. We eat a lot of beans these days.

  11. I did this for a week a year or two ago. I had to measure portions very carefully to feed all 4 of us. I had some frozen veggies in the freezer from our garden that helped us get the right amount of fruit and veggies. I used very small portions of meat in our meals. I made half of the recipe for tortillas, etc. Back then, I did coupon some so that helped. I don't coupon now and we average $50 per week. The $25 dollar week was really hard at first until we got some leftovers towards the end of the week and we did much better. There was plenty of food, but it took time to figure out how much each cup of flour cost, each teaspoon of salt, etc.