How I Spend Just $75 Per Month on (Healthy) Groceries

Using the ad match program at Walmart, I’m able to purchase all my groceries for about $75 per month. Each week, I review newspaper ads, take my findings to my nearest Walmart, and get what I need at a low, advertised price. Did I mention I only eat healthy, tasty foods?

A while back I mentioned that I only spend about $75 per month on groceries and I got a few questions asking how that’s possible. Since you wanted to know, I’m more than happy to share. I buy nearly all my groceries using Ad Match at Walmart, but a lot of other stores offer ad matching as well.

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This Week’s Grocery Ad Matches

  • Carrots: 88 cents for 2 pounds
  • Red Delicious Apples: 68 cents per pound
  • Grade A Large Eggs: 49 cents per dozen
  • Strawberries: $1.28 per pound
  • No Sodium Added Canned Vegetables: 29 cents per 15.5 oz can
  • Bananas: 28 cents per pound
  • Peanut Butter: 99 cents per pound
  • Kiwi fruit: 3 for $1
  • Dole Lettuce: 68 cents a bag
  • Navel Oranges: 2 for $1
  • Butter: $1.88
  • Cottage Cheese: $1.48 for 18oz

On Wednesdays over lunch, I spend about 10 minutes reviewing newspaper ads. Some old guys bring the papers to work. I’m the only person who likes looking through the ad section. So, while I eat, I thumb through ads, tearing out anything that meets the following criteria:

  1. Healthy
  2. Tasty
  3. Relatively low price

Here’s What I’ve Learned

  • The first few pages are full of killer deals. The cool thing about this is basically every store in town will use loss leaders to get people in their doors. So, I’m essentially getting groceries cheaper than the store can put them on the shelves.
  • Search for products that haven’t been heavily processed or made super convenient. The more fiddling around the manufacturer has done to a food item, the more the store charges. Tiny yogurt containers or Lunchables are never good deals.
  • Typically, buying bulk is cheaper.
  • Buy based on what’s in season. Right now fresh fruit and vegetables are super cheap. In the winter, Santa Claus lowers the cost of baking supplies.
  • Look for foods that are already cheap. Think carrots, oranges, potatoes, bananas. Price match those and you’re well on your way to lowering your grocery bills.
  • It doesn’t take very long. You’ll learn in a hurry which stores run the best ads, so sorting through ads really only takes a few seconds.
  • Forget coupons. Some people love coupons but they aren’t worth the hassle for me. Most of them are for products I don’t want or need. Plus, they typically only bring the prices down to that of generic goods. I’m not too proud to buy generic. Especially when generics are usually the exact same product but with a less flashy graphic design job.
  • Keep it simple. I throw the ads in a manila envelope and get on with my life. When I need groceries, I take my envelope to Walmart and do my shopping.

When to Shop

Okay, so at this point, you’re moaning about how scary it is to enter Walmart. I get it. Here’s how you avoid the crazy: Go early in the morning. This way, the store has been cleaned and freshly stocked and the crazies are probably still sleeping/hungover. Walmart is pretty swell early in the morning.

Checking Out

You actually don’t need the ads in hand; you can just tell the cashier the advertised price you saw. Normally, they don’t even double-check. But don’t lie; that’s bad.

Note: I try to pick a young cashier. Sometimes the old ladies will take forever typing in my prices. When finished, I see a small number on the readout (usually about $10 per trip), swipe my debit card, and then I’m on my way. Easy peasy.

Some Final Thoughts

Here are a few other details about my situation:

  • I’m 6 feet tall. I walk/run/bike/work out daily. I burn a lot of calories. But the thing is, I eat a lot of whole foods. Those fill me up quickly and give me lasting energy. For instance, a Pop-Tart has 200 calories. Do you think 10 Pop-Tarts for a total of 2,000 calories will keep you energized all day? No way! It’s just over-processed, sodium-filled garbage. About 2,000 calories of chicken would be about 12 pieces. That’ll fill you up.
  • I also avoid organic if it’ll cost me extra. I have yet to read any conclusive evidence that proves organic is better anyway. Please leave me a link in the comments if I am just ignorant on this topic.
  • I try to stay away from straight carbs. They have the power to make me fat in a hurry. To help avoid the temptation, I bake all my own bread. That way, if I really want carbs, sometimes my laziness will save me because I won’t want to bake anything. Sometimes it pays to be a little lazy!
  • I’m not a fan of most beans, so getting cheap protein is a little tricky. I eat a lot of peanut butter (gotta watch the calories on that stuff!), turkey, and chicken.

So, that’s how I spend about $75 per month on groceries. I say about because I don’t use a budget. But when I was calculating how I save 85% of my income, I calculated an average of my grocery bills from the past year. And be sure to stay away from restaurants — which can have as high as a 900% markup.

Suggested Article: Why Being Poor Is Cool; How to Make Yourself “Poor” Automatically

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58 comments

  • Wow that is awesome! Thanks for the explanation. Will have to look into how we could further reduce our grocery bills by taking your suggestions into consideration.

  • So when you’re doing ad comparisons for produce, does it have to be Dole for Dole or Chiquita for Chiquita? What if the ad is on store brands like Kroger (which I’m guessing are not carried by Walmart)? Also, does Walmart want to know the date of the ad or the store it came from? I imagine if you tear off the ad, you don’t have that info any more. I guess they don’t seem to care at your Walmart so you could be using a 2 year old apple ad? Also again, if they don’t care to see the actual ad, do you keep a paper list of your ad deals then recite them to the cashier? Yep, lots of questions!

    • Brand names must be exact. If it’s a store brand like Kroger, you buy Walmart’s store brand instead. I’ve been doing this for about 2 years and no one has ever looked over my ads to make sure they are current/within the 150 mile-radius. Being honest is the only thing keeping me from reusing the same ads over and over. I’m not going to sacrifice my ethics to save $20/month.

      This whole process is ridic. easy. Especially with the new Savings Catcher app!

  • And now Walmart has a Savings Catcher app that when you scan your receipt it will check store ads within 150 mile range and if you paid a higher price at WM it will put the difference on an eGift card …it is like retroactive price matching…just in case you missed something the first time around. We have used it for 2 weeks now and it gained us an extra $5 so definitely worth the few minutes to install app, and few seconds to scan the receipt in!

    I think the biggest reason people have a problem keeping their food costs down is actually WASTE. We buy food then let it waste…this is what I am focusing on now.
    NO MORE WASTE! There are 3 of us at home now (2 others in college) so I am going to try to get our food budget down to $225 to match your rate. I think that is reasonable.

    But it will never happen if I don’t focus on it and, in your words, be INTENTIONAL!

    Love your blog & I am highly recommending it to my 2 in college!

    • Thanks for posting about the Savings Catcher app! Didn’t know it existed! Now it’s even easier to do all this.

      And thanks for the kind words about the blog! Hope to see your kids around here soon!

  • Thanks for the tips! I shop at Wal-mart early in the morning too. The shelves are stocked and there are no lines for the cashiers.

  • Damn son, that’s some cheap food right there!

    Thanks for the tips, Will! I’m going to implement some of them myself and see where I end up.

    I think most people’s grocery budget blows up because of unnecessary fillers rather than actual food. From past experience I know that I can cut my grocery spending by at least 33% by not buying any beer, especially the special dark and abbey beers.

    Thanks for sharing your grocery wizardry,
    NMW

    • Yeah, so many foods you can buy don’t amount to anything but added calories and a quick sugar high. I don’t typically buy anything to drink but milk.

      I wish I was a wizard. Harry’s life is so interesting.

  • Wow! I budget $200 a week for myself and I thought I was doing good! I do eat gluten free and while at first I was relying mostly on alternatives, I’ve cleaned up my diet a lot and have been eating clean. I’m scared of Walmart, I’m more of a Target gal.

    • LOL I’m lucky because my Walmart is in a really nice neighborhood. People signed petitions for it not to be built. It was built anyway. I’m about the only person who goes inside. It’s like a well-stocked ghost town. Hopefully my neighbors don’t find out I support the place! LOL I don’t care.

  • I must say you win the cheapest groceries award. Does this include paper products (toilet paper, tissues, paper towels), pet food, laundry soap/sheets and hand / dish soaps? I know those items are in our grocery but some people account for them separately. Basically anything we buy at Costco or any of the other grocery stores goes into grocery because I can’t be bothered separating it out.

    • Oh, I wish there was an award! Something shiny to go on my fridge would be nice LOL.

      Nope, it doesn’t include cleaning products.

  • This is a great post, Will. I like your point about baking your own bread. I do something similar but with chickpea flour. If you have access to a bulk foods market (where they sell flour and rice, etc.), check it out! Even though it is more expensive than wheat flour (and I have a gluten sensitivity), it has 6 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber PER SERVING, so it fills you up fast and you eat less of it per sitting. It also makes you feel less guilty if you use it when you want chocolate chip pancakes every once in awhile. 🙂

    • Thank you, Christina! Chickpea flour sounds amazing! And I def. would save even more if I would buy groceries in bulk.

      My 2 excuses: 1) I only cook for myself 2) I don’t have much kitchen storage space

      Please mail me a stack of pancakes. DM me for address. ;D

  • Wow! Those are some amazing deals you’re getting. Walmart is Canada is much more difficult about the ad matching so it’s more time consuming. You have to show all the ads and all the coupons and they really scrutinize it here. I also find that much of their produce is pretty crappy and goes bad after a day or two. It’s only during some of the summer months when they get Ontario produce that it gets better.
    Kudos on getting those deal!

    • Thanks, Michelle! Bummer about Canadian Walmarts. Are there any other stores that do ad matching?

  • You’re getting some kick butt deal on those veggies, Will. Way to go!!! Our garden is finally starting to produce big time. Huge grocery savings there!

  • $75 a month on groceries is killer! My wife and I budget about $200, and are usually within a few dollars of that, but there are some weird dietary issues we deal with and have a preference for organics. We’re usually able to save a good deal in the summer because of all of the veggies we grow at home. I’d love to one day get the spending down to $150/ month ($75 per person). Thanks for sharing the tips!

  • I’m vegetarian which makes protein cheap, but my bill isn’t this low- probably because I’m not willing to shop at Walmart, especially for produce.

    • I just edited the post. I snooped around and turns out other stores do ad matching as well!

  • Wow, that’s seriously impressive. Since I’ve just quit my job, I may need to try some of these tricks! Thanks for sharing.

    • It’s simple and doesn’t take much time. If it did, I wouldn’t be doing it.

      You quit your job?? Congrats!!! I need to catch up on your blog.

  • Okay, I feel like this is a challenge and you’re winning! 🙂 How do I spend $300 / month on just myself at the grocery store and you spend $75. I am 5’5″ and 120lbs. This is just wrong! haha. I am going to check out coupons before I go to the grocery store this weekend and see what sort of savings I can get… I’ve never been much of a couponer but this seems like a good enough reason to start. Thanks for sharing!

    • You’re not alone Natalie! 🙂 I spend about $250 – $300 a month just on myself. I eat healthy and am very active and no matter what I do, I can’t get below $50 a week on groceries. It’s difficult.

  • $75/month is *awesome*!

    I recently made the connection that Walmart is much cheaper for canned/bagged goods (my Walmart doesn’t have fresh produce). Silly, since I know they’re cheaper for pretty much everything in my area.

    My husband and I prepaid a CSA, so we get more veggies than we can eat for $15/week right now. We’re still spending around $75 per week on other groceries, though — and that doesn’t count dog food. I can’t wait to try your tips and see if my Walmart will price match.

    • All locations price matches from what I’ve read. Also, I just updated the post – I looked further and there are other stores joining the price match game. Even a few of my local stores! Check your other stores!

      Thanks for your comment!

  • You bake your own bread? That’s awesome! (You don’t meet too many young guys who bake their own bread these days, haha) Those are some great food prices- may I ask what area of the country you live in? I’m in the Northeast, and the prices just keep going up and up. I really have to stay on my toes to find the best deals around here, without making trips to a bunch of different stores. We spend about $300/month for 2 adults and a toddler, and I don’t think it’s too bad.

    • I don’t even have a bread machine! But I’m really a sissy so I’m a fan of no-knead recipes.

      I live in Nebraska.

  • Oh man, I avoid Walmart like the plague. But I can probably get all these things at Aldi. I discovered one near my house and next to the Dollar Tree no less. I think it will become my favorite spot. Shopping Friday nights also works great for me. Everyone is eating out spending money and the supermarket is empty.

    • Meanwhile, for the same price, you get 10x the amount of food they do! Restaurants are fine for certain accessions but man are they expensive!

  • $75 is pretty good. We spend about $300 a month for two people or $150 a person. I don’t think I eat double the amount that you eat… at least I hope not. I guess I have to do a better job at looking for coupons.

  • In lieu of peanut butter, I use PB2, a peanut powder sold on Amazon. The powder is all that’s left after peanuts get the oil squeezed out of them. PB2 contains no artificial additives or preservatives. Simply add water. Savings: 145 calories and 11.5 grams of fat per serving.

    • Man, I love peanut butter. But as I mentioned, at 100 calories per tablespoon… it is pretty ridiculous. What’s the taste difference between regular PB and PB2?

      • I think PB2 tastes very close to PB1 (the oily original). It’s even harder to tell the difference once you add in your favorite jams, jellies, or preserves.

  • Wow, those are great sale prices! I was pretty upset when I realized a “sale” for Dole lettuce is $2.50 here, but where I used to live it was still only $2. I might have to try this technique, as it would be easier just shopping at Walmart than going to three different stores.

  • Nice, Will! I wish we had a Walmart, but alas, they do not exist in our region. Totally with you on off-peak shopping hours–we go to Costco on Friday evenings (there are usually about 7 people in the store). Do you have an Aldi’s? We discovered ours last month and WOW is it cheap!

    • No, we don’t have an Aldi but I’ve heard great things!

      And lol about shopping during off hours. I used to think I hated shopping but turns out I just hated the crowds! You get great service, too when the customer to employee ratio is about 5:1!

  • It helps that you have the ad match ability! My local store does not match ad prices, but they have seemed to increase prices lately. So I have ventured out a little to see if I can save money shopping elsewhere, but the added travel costs seem to negate any savings. Buying mostly fresh foods means you can’t stock up on too much. Items like flour, sugar, peanut butter, etc you can.

    • Car travel is about $.56/mile for a newish car. So you’re smart for keeping that in check.

      Have you considered frozen or canned food instead? I’ve read its more nutritious that way because the food can be picked at its peak of freshness. Buying fresh means it must be picked days early so it doesn’t spoil on the way to the store… Picking early means less nutrients… Food for thought. Get it? LOL I’m so funny. JK.

      • I see what you did there! 😉
        I do get some stuff canned (not sure if that is actually better when you consider the sodium…), and usually only get broccoli or mixed veggies as frozen. I guess there is less variety in the frozen as well, but it could help for some stuff.

        • Get the no sodium added stuff. I used to hate canned vegetables until I realized it was really just the sodium I hated.

  • Hmmmm… This is still amazing. Food is cheaper here in Asia but we are eating out a lot, so still not your level of cheap. Sometimes I am jealous I am not American!

  • Wow $75 a month is awesome! We spend about $500 a month altogether I think. That includes dog food and household items (toilet paper, etc.) too.

      • I think its great all that you mentioned in your OP. I am coniferous with an allergy to dairy products. I get $77 food stamps per month. Can you make some suggestions on what to buy?