Groceries on a Budget with Sabrie!
Updated: May 6, 2020
Written and Photographed by Sabrie
In our current society, social media has become so prevalent. You get life lessons, work out ideas, recipes to cook, and opinions from millions of people all over the world. You also get lots of judgment from people you’ll never interact with in person, especially about the way you look.
But that doesn’t have anything to do with this post….OR DOES IT?
I mean, people on Twitter, IG, Facebook, etc give opinions about something as simple as the food we all put in our bodies. Some say we shouldn’t eat dairy, some say we shouldn’t eat meat. Some people say we shouldn’t eat cooked food???????
My thing is, what you decide to put in your body is your business. I have no control over what you eat, how you eat, or what you choose to buy. However, I am passionate about Black people and poor people having access to food that tastes great AND is actually healthy for them. Because of this, I’m gonna focus this post towards the people I’m passionate about!
Food is honestly life. Yeah I know, that sounds like a cliche Tumblr post. But REALLY, food is LIFE. Think about it. Without food, we wouldn’t have fuel to nourish ourselves and would never be at 100%. But what’s the point of food if it’s no good to you? Imagine putting bad gas in your car. Your car wouldn’t work at its best, no matter how well you kept the car up. Think of your body as your most prized possession. With that being said, we must make a more conscious effort to eat right.
Unfortunately, there’s a myth floating around Twitter saying it’s impossible to eat healthy when you don’t have a lot of money. I’m here to tell you to STOP listening to social media for health or money advice. This is a bold faced lie and I will die on this hill. Not only can you eat healthy on a budget, but you can actually enjoy grocery shopping.
You heard me right, YOU CAN ENJOY GROCERY SHOPPING.
Did you know: Dollar Tree offers a frozen fruit and vegetable section?
How silly do you feel knowing you just bought a bag of mixed vegetables for $5 from Walmart when Dollar Tree has them for one small dollar?
There’s nothing wrong with that. I mean ignorance is truly bliss, but there’s no reason to be blissful right now. I’m gonna tell you the honest truth: capitalism runs RAMPANT through the food and agriculture industry. You could go to Giant Eagle for cream cheese and spend $6 for 2 of them, then go to Aldi and find a generic cream cheese for $1. According to Amazon, a case of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (12-ct case of 8oz packages) costs $70.82. That means, buying in bulk from Amazon makes each package of cream cheese $5.86 a piece.
You heard me right. FIVE DOLLARS AND EIGHTY-SIX CENTS. Why on Beyonce’s green Earth would you pay $5.86 on cream cheese when there’s cream cheese for $1 elsewhere? Well, to start, poor people typically live in food deserts. A food desert is an urban area where it’s difficult to buy affordable or good quality food (Google.com). When people live in food deserts, you have to go outside your community to find good food to eat. Unfortunately, poor people may not have the resources to travel outside their communities.
However, there is hope for people who live in food deserts. Within the last 5 years, various retail stores have been adding grocery items to give people more access to quality items, including CVS, Walgreens, Family Dollar, Dollar General, etc. It’s important to understand how these stores work. Every one of these stores sell cartons of eggs. At Walgreens, a carton of eggs runs around $2.09 per dozen, while Family Dollar sells the same carton of eggs for $1.29. The problem with these retailers is how they focus so much on convenience. Ultimately, you’re paying for the food being in close proximity to you rather than the actual quality of the food.
You might be asking how to possibly combat these issues with grocery shopping.You might be asking what the entire point is if there’s so many obstacles to a quality diet. I hate that I have to tell you this… but there’s no real answer. I do have suggestions, but this is what works for me and my diet. Firstly, I eat a pescatarian diet, or a diet that includes only fish as your source of meat. Because of this, my grocery shopping is slightly different than the average American’s. Secondly, I do have a reliable source of transportation which gives me access to food outside of the food desert I live in.
Since I don’t eat meat, my expenses for groceries dwindles down significantly. I buy more vegetables and fruits than anything else and I’ve learned a trick to buying them. Write this down and paste it on your fridge: unless you’re buying groceries frequently, buying fresh items is a huge waste of money. You have to pay attention to the shelf life of perishable items especially if you like to plan your meals ahead. Don’t worry, I found a good list for you of common items to help. :)
Personally, I am extremely calculated with the meals I make. Buying frozen is more beneficial to me because frozen food typically comes out to be cheaper than fresh food. However, if you’re a person who just has to have everything at its most fresh point, I encourage you to purchase foods at peak freshness and freezing what you don’t need immediately yourself.
You know how I said I’m calculated with the meals I eat? I plan my meals out weekly to make it easier to grocery shop. Most of the time, I grocery shop twice a month on Tuesdays and make my weekly shopping plans on Mondays. Since I’ve been trying this method, I know exactly what to look for at every store. Now if you’re a brand name junkie, please stop here. I don’t pay attention to brands because I’m gonna eat regardless.
When I go grocery shopping, I always follow a path. I stop at Dollar Tree first for any and all non-perishable food items I can find. Dollar Tree sells noodles, frozen fruit, frozen meals, and many other items that are marked up for almost double elsewhere. Dollar Tree also has a good range of seasonings just in case I want to spice up my life (you’re supposed to laugh here). After Dollar Tree, I go to Family Dollar which is usually just a few blocks away from there. Family Dollar is also great for non-perishable items, such as oatmeal, coffee, and canned goods. However, Family Dollar lacks a range of items. I could never go to Family Dollar and find a full healthy meal for me to eat or make in bulk.
After Family Dollar, I make it a point to go to Aldi. Aldi is the best store to grace my adult life thus far. Aldi has organic and affordable goods that are great quality. I go to Aldi for basically everything I can’t get at Dollar Tree or Family Dollar. However, Aldi has its downsides for sure. Firstly, the collection of goods at Aldi is dependable upon the location of that store. For example, Aldi located on W. 117th has more items than Aldi located on Kinsman Road. Also, when I am consuming meat, I don’t buy meat from Aldi. Sometimes, Aldi has meat that has been clearly genetically modified. Basically, if your chicken breasts look big enough to need a bra, they’re genetically modified.
Since I don’t buy meat from Aldi, I do make final stops at Dave’s Supermarket or Marc’s. Dave’s typically has more expensive products just from being a local grocery store chain. For example, cheese at Dave’s is actually ridiculous in price. They are notorious for selling 8 ounce bags of cheese for $4 a piece. That’s actually a mental illness to even sell cheese at that price. I mean that’s $0.50 per ounce of cheese… Sorry, I get upset when food is ridiculously priced. However, Dave’s has some fairly priced meat that shows little to no signs of GMOs. You can purchase a 5 lb bag of chicken thighs for $4.95 from there! Dave’s also has a hot food bar that’s inexpensive if you ever are having a lazy night and don’t want to cook.
Marc’s is another great contender for groceries. However, Marc’s is similar in price to Dave’s, making it less desirable for a full shopping trip. Now if you’re a bulk shopper, that’s on you. Personally, I don’t like bulk shopping because you tend to buy way too much and overeat. Now I’m not getting into couponing and stuff because I don’t coupon at all just yet.
Overall, utilizing these shopping tips have cut my grocery spending down by over $200 per month! I actually get excited about my shopping trips now. So let’s recap:
Plan out when you’re available for a shopping trip.
Have a grocery list written out well before you go.
Make a plan of your meals for a week at a time.
Start at a dollar store and work your way up to the more expensive stores.
Don’t be afraid of generic brands; honestly, it saves way too much money.
Buy fresh only when necessary and FREEZE your fresh foods.
Buy in bulk only when necessary.
Buy some ziploc bags :)
Hopefully, these tips help you out with budget grocery shopping. If you didn’t find any of this information useful, I’m sorry you wasted 15 minutes reading this.
Show Sabrie some love! Comment below with what information surprised you the most! Like and share with someone could use some tips on grocery shopping on a budget :)