That’s All, Folks!
Well, I have finished the SNAP challenge and can truthfully say I learned a lot about grocery shopping on a tight budget. It was tough adjusting to a week without ice cream, but substituting fruit for a sweet treat was equally as satisfying. My meals and snacks were both nutritious and filling (and under budget), so I feel like this week was a success.
Here are some things I learned that helped me stay within budget:
- Plan ahead: I would not have stayed within budget without meal planning first!
- Use coupons and savings cards: free grocery membership programs can really help you save.
- Take a look at the tag: price tags help you compare unit prices to find the cheapest option.
- Unit prices tell you how much the item costs per pound or ounce. This podcast describes how to find and use them for the best deal. Added bonus: I’m in the video!
- Try something new: lentils and beans are inexpensive and very nutritious, don’t be afraid to try them if you haven’t already.
- Keep your eye on the prize: I tried to be very aware of how much we were eating each day so that we didn’t run out of food before the end of the week.
I have often heard that eating healthy foods is very expensive — it seems like people are always arguing whether or not this is true. From my perspective, I think that it is doable if you are willing to sacrifice some guilty pleasures (like ice cream, cookies, soda, chips, and other junk food). Comparing the unit prices of fresh, frozen, and canned produce to find the best buy will also be kind to your wallet. I really did miss my usual sweets, but I was happy to leave them behind for other options that would keep me healthy and feeling good.
The greatest thing I learned from this experience is that grocery shopping with a restricted budget is definitely not easy. The time it takes to plan out every meal and snack, compare prices, and prepare each meal is a really big time commitment.
TIME = MONEY…the less money you have to spare, the more time it takes to plan and cook from scratch so that you stay within budget. The less time you have, the more you might have to pay for convenience and fast-foods on the go.
I will certainly take this experience with me, and I hope that my story has taught you something, too. Thanks for reading along!