Eat Well, Spend Less: Grocery Shopping When You Live in the Boonies

grocery shopping
source: Bruce Turner

This month I’m participating in the Eat Well, Spend Less series with eight other bloggers. Each week we’ll be sharing tips from our own experiences to help you eat well on a budget.

Our family shoots for a grocery budget of $100-125 a week, including household items, diapers and other personal care products.

Out of that, we spend between $30-40 a week on produce at the nicer grocery store. I’ll be interested to see how that amount changes when we begin shopping at the farmer’s market and as our garden starts to produce, but we still have a couple months before that happens.

We don’t eat a lot of red meat or seafood (mostly because I’m too intimidated to spend the money on them when I’m not confident in my ability not to ruin them!), so I’m sure that keeps our budget lower as well.

In the first week of the series, I shared that I purchase generic items from Walmart most of the time rather than dealing with sales cycles and coupons.

With that said, here are some of my other strategies for keeping the grocery budget low even as food prices rise:

Meal Planning

Because we live 25-30 minutes from the closest grocery store (on a good day, when you’re not stuck behind either a tractor trailer hauling logs or someone who slows down to 25 MPH for every curve on the mountain highway), we probably spend more time preparing for our grocery shopping than we do actually grocery shopping.

Forgetting a key ingredient throws the whole meal plan out of whack, so I try really hard not to let that happen!

Instead, I start by planning my weekly menu with Plan to Eat, which automatically creates a shopping list for me. I add any additional toiletries or household items to my list as well as extra fruits and veggies for snacks and sides, and we’re ready to go.

Although I don’t shop the weekly sales ads for our local grocery stores, I do watch for deals on for things like  healthier snacks, ingredients like coconut oil and household items such as diapers or toilet paper. With Subscribe & Save, you can save 15-30% off of Amazon’s already low list prices, which often makes for really great deals.

Buy Seasonally

Although I’m willing to spend a significant amount of our budget on fresh produce, I also try to buy seasonally, when items are priced at their lowest, rather than just buying whatever sounds good at the given moment. I buy and freeze various fruits when they’re on sale to be used in smoothies and desserts later, and I buy things like apples, potatoes and winter squash — which keep well in a cool, dark place — in bulk when they’re on sale to use in the following weeks.

Buy Locally

One thing I’m not currently doing that I want to start doing more is buying locally from farmers in our area. I’ve found one semi-local farm (which is actually about 30 minutes in the opposite direction from town) that I know sells eggs, honey, beef and chicken. I’m on the lookout for a closer one!

We also love to pick our own apples & strawberries, and I’d love to add a couple additional fruits this year as well!

That’s it for us. I definitely prioritize saving time over saving money, which I think is reflected in the way we shop.

Stay tuned for the roundup to discover how Jessica, Aimee, Shaina, Katie GAlyssa,CarrieKatie K, and Tammy shop as well!

How does where you live affect the way you grocery shop?