Walk with me as I buy groceries at our local natural food store, and I’ll show you what to look out for and how I shop our groceries and stay in budget. This method helps us save money on groceries and continue to save our money for what counts!
Organic groceries in a budget
We buy our groceries each week from a real food “organic” grocery store.
Now before you click away, wait! You can buy real food and budget and buy real food (organic food).
Let me know share with you how we grocery shop organically on a low budget and still get everything that we need.
A word about organic
First, let’s touch on the importance of buying real food, i.e. organic.
There are many interpretations of the word “organic”. To name a few simple interpretations:
- The dictionary defines organic as: relating to or derived from living matter
- In the USA, organic is defined as: “having grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides”. Read more on the USDA website here.
- In Canada, organic is reserved for products with organic content that is greater than or equal to 95% derived from organic production, which has significant list of vague requirements. Read more about the regulations of CAN/CGSB-32.310-2020 here.
What really matters
When you get to searching for the real definition of organic, you will cross paths with laws, regulations, and interpretations. Laws are set federally, regulations are put in place provincially, and then there are interpretations of these laws and regulations. This can get very overwhelming.
What really matters is finding a local group of people who care about real food.
For us, it is this natural foods store that supplies fresh produce each week.
How to determine if a store sells truly organic food?
A good indication of a “real food” grocery store is one that runout of produce some weeks.
For example, there may be weeks where you do not find what you are looking for. This can be simply because the farmer has run out of supply or doesn’t have a crop ready that week. Or you can gather from that that there wasn’t a mass amount of produce shipped from a refrigerator warehouse, waiting in the back of the store to be unpacked.
Another good way to tell the genuineness of an organic grocery store, is to talk to the staff.
Most likely, the owners will be around some days and you can watch them interact with staff.
I also like to talk to the staff. A store owner that cares about food quality also cares about staff quality.
This has been true of our little natural foods store. The staff are all passionate about real food and speak openly about their lifestyles when asked. This helps you gauge their enthusiasm for good food and overall healthy practices in their day to day lives.
Finally, read the labels and simply ask to speak with someone about their products. A store that is passionate about real food will have no trouble speaking about how they source raw food and organic products.
How much do we spend on groceries each month?
Budget groceries per month and divide into weeks
To save money on groceries, you must plan.
Before we get to our shopping list and the total cost, let’s go over how I budget our groceries per week and per month.
If you watched my former budgeting video called “Budget to Save Money and Get Debt Free” you’ll know that we have a monthly budget, but I treat it as a weekly budget. If you aren’t familiar with budgeting this way, I highly recommend that you watch that video first and then come back to learn how to budget for groceries afterwards. You can print a copy of our budget sheet here.
What you need to know is that:
- We are a family of 2 (at the time of this post – but soon to be 3 🙂
- My grocery budget a week is $150
- Which is roughly $600 a month if the month has 4 weeks
We usually go grocery shopping each week for fresh items. This is partly for the fresh food and partly because my planning isn’t always as on point as I’d like. Sometimes I miss getting something we need the former week.
How I stay in budget is with the weekly target of $150. Instead of allowing myself to spend with the idea that I have “$600 to stretch over a month”, I divided it up weekly so that I don’t spend it all at once.
By the time I go to the store, I know I only have $150 to spend (tax included).
How to save money at the grocery store?
Now, if you are wondering how do we grocery shop on a low budget AND at a organic grocery store, let me fill you in on how we accomplish this:
- Shop the outsides of the grocery store.
- Cook from scratch, not premade foods
Howe we s money on groceries is to buy very little packaged items. An easy way to distinguish this is to steer clear from the centre isles. Each packaged item increases your cost because it has been packaged, branded, and sometimes shipped for abroad.
Instead of trading time for the food already made, I trade my dollars for real food and make the food myself.
How to grocery shop on a low budget?
Which brings me to my next question, how to save money at the grocery store and groceries in general?
The answer is: buy the bare minimum and make the food yourself.
When you walk with me through the grocery store now, you will see the items I’m going to buy is not all that expensive.
Where the grocery bill gets out of hand is buying something that has been processed and packaged (i.e. work done for you).
What are the cheapest foods to buy right now?
So then, what are the cheapest foods to buy right now? Let’s grocery shop and find out!
For this week’s grocery trip, we bought:
- Onions $5.29 / bag
- Ginger $2.99/100g
- Mustard $5.99
- Bananas $6.69/lb
- Mushrooms $5.79/100g
- Apples $2.49/lb
- Pears $3.79/lb
- Tangerines $4.99/lb
- Oranges $2.99/lb
- Ground Cumin $6.99
- Cereal $10.99
- Cereal $10.99
- Yogurt $8.99
- Cheese $11.29
- Butter $9.99
- Ice-Cream $9.49
- Sugar $10.49
- Raspberry Leaf Tea $6.99
- Chips $5.49
- TOTAL: $140.59
The way to stay save money on groceries is to stop trading your money for convenience.
Instead, trade your time to rather make items yourself, which will allow you to buy “real food” that nourishes your body at the same time.