Budget TrimHealthyMama: how to save money on groceries

Since my family is currently saving money for a down payment on our first home, we’ve been looking at ways to slash our spending. One of the goals I’ve had for this season is to trim down my grocery budget. So I’m going to share a few ways we eat TrimHealthyMama on a budget.

Commonly, someone posts to the TrimHealthyMama Facebook page sounding like this:

“I just started TrimHealthyMama and I’m losing weight, but my grocery budget has gone through the roof! I can’t afford this!”

If you haven’t figured it out yet, one of my goals here at La Slim Femme is to help people do THM their way. TrimHealthyMama for the EveryWoman, if you will.

That means you can do TrimHealthyMama even if you hate cooking or don’t have time.

Budget Trim Healthy Mama

It also means you can do TrimHealthyMama without blowing your food budget. [Tweet “you can do #TrimHealthyMama without blowing your food budget”] If you’re like me and have a lot of mouths to feed, please read on. Even if your family is smaller (or it’s just you!) but you wish to economize at the grocery store, read on. Here are a few principles that will help.

budget trimhealthymama

Meal plan

Never go to the grocery store without a list, and take a few moments to plan your next several meals (or a week or month’s worth if you prefer) before stepping foot in the store. It’s much easier to avoid impulse buying if you shop from a list based on a solid meal plan. According to some experts, impulse buys make up more than half of our total spending. Yikes! Put blinders on in the store.

The exception would be if you happen to see some really amazing deals you just can’t pass up. But only buy as much as you need until the next sale, or freeze it to preserve it, otherwise the food might go to waste.

Before you make a menu, take a look at the store flyers in your area before shopping (you can find these online) and base your menu on things that are on sale. Stock up on chicken when it’s .69 a pound, eggs when they’re .69 a dozen, meat when it’s 1.99 a pound. If you need help knowing when something is a deal, download this free “stock-up price” guide from PassionatePennyPincher.com.

Build your menu around inexpensive foods

After checking store sales and making your meal plan/shopping list, don’t overlook those E fuels! Oatmeal with cottage cheese or 0% Greek yogurt is a wonderfully frugal E breakfast that will typically cost less than eggs and bacon. Non-starchy vegetables almost always cost less than meats and veggies, so the advice from the authors of the THM plan book to fill up your plate with those is fiscally sound as well as nutritionally wise.

S meals tend to cost more due to their fattier ingredients. We THM types love our S meals and snacks, especially those that come from a low-carb or paleo diet background. But remember that THM is NOT a low-carb diet. E fuels are essential to metabolic health and good mood. Eating at least one E meal or snack each day can help keep grocery spending down.

Eliminate convenience foods

If you don’t have time or hate to cook, then feel free to ignore this tip. But if saving money is a bigger priority to you, eliminate convenience foods. While I love frozen seasoning blend for its ease of use, it costs more than simply chopping my own celery/onion/bell pepper trinity. Buying salad mixes is super easy, but washing and tearing my own romaine lettuce saves money. Making homemade chicken broth from bones you’ve saved is essentially free nutrition.

Other examples:

  • Dried beans are cheaper than canned. To save time, cook a lot of beans at once in the slow cooker, divide into meal-size portions and freeze. You can also soak your beans and freeze them before cooking to cut down on the cooking time.
  • Blocks of cheese are typically cheaper than pre-shredded. Shredded cheeses also have additives you might want to avoid. To save time, shred your cheese using your food processor instead of by hand.
  • Buy large hunks of meat (if it’s a better deal per pound) and cut it yourself, or ask the butcher to do so at the store, they’ll do so for free, instead of buying stew beef or sliced beef.
  • Cook chicken and beef and slice it thinly to make your own lunch meats instead of buying deli meat. You’ll avoid unhealthy ingredients too.
  • Make your own Greek yogurt! You can even make it in the slow cooker.

Go Team NSI

NSI is THM-speak for No Special Ingredients. Some TrimHealthyMamas, for budget reasons or personal preference, prefer not to use any ingredients not ordinarily found in a grocery store. So out go the glucomannan, whey protein powder, collagen, and some even eschew stevia.

None of these items are required on THM for weight loss. They’re nice to have, but if your budget is tight, you can skip them. Cottage cheese is an excellent substitute for whey protein powder in shakes, and it’s a Fuel Pull if it’s the low-fat variety.

Find the cheapest acceptable version

For example, the Pure Stevia Powder is a better value than the other stevia-based sweeteners offered by THM. (They offer the other sweeteners as an alternative for those who are transitioning to stevia and want a taste more similar to sugar.)

As a general rule, I’ve found that the THM products are priced lower than others of similar quality. Even with the added shipping costs, THM baking blend, sweeteners, whey protein powder and other items are a better deal than comparable items on Amazon Prime.

Use cash-back apps

One of the easiest ways to find coupons for groceries (as well as personal care items and other products) is by using cash back apps such as ibotta, Mobisave, SavingStar, ShopKick and Checkout51. They’re simple to use. I click on each app before I shop to see what coupons are being offered. Sometimes you can combine cash back rebates with store sales to get products for free (I’ve done this recently with shampoo and toothpaste). eBates can be useful if you shop online. It offers a percentage off certain retailers as well, and the savings are added to your account and cashed out via Paypal. SwagBucks gives you points redeemable for gift cards. If you use the browser toolbar for searching and shopping online, you can earn passively. (I usually let my SwagBucks accrue through the year and redeem my points for Amazon gift cards for back-to-homeschool shopping.)

Eating seasonally is (usually) cheaper

It’s the middle of summer, and right now berries are dirt cheap. Fresh berries are even cheaper than frozen right now. As a result, I’ve been eating tons of them. Mangoes too. I refuse to buy watermelon except in summer because it’s overpriced. We’re also eating a lot of salad since romaine is so inexpensive at the moment. (Boy choy? Not so much. It was over $5 last time I bought it. Ouch!)

Most of the time, eating seasonal produce saves you money. In the fall and winter, enjoy those pumpkins, squashes, turnips and collard greens.

Choose inexpensive recipes from the THM cookbook

A few of our favorite budget meals:

  • Egg Roll in a Bowl – cabbage is the main ingredient here, and it’s often .49 a pound. I eat my EGiaB with brown rice, making it an inexpensive, tasty one-pot meal
  • Sweet Potato Oat Soup – I never would have dreamed that a soup calling for oats and sweet potatoes would become a family favorite, but it has! If you use homemade broth in this recipe, you could make a meal for a large family for just a dollar or two.
  • Sweeties on Steroids – I make mine with cottage cheese, stirring it in so it melts and becomes creamy. This has become a favorite recipe of mine as it’s so adaptable and inexpensive.
  • Dirt-E Rice – easy, delicious and a filling meal for a family for less than $5
  • Chana Dal soup –  ALDI occasionally stocks red lentils. When they do, I buy a bag and make this recipe. Yum!
  • Waldorf salad – wonderful for lunch on a hot summer day
  • Cottage Berry Whip – right now with berries on sale so cheap, this costs pennies per serving
  • Bean Boss Soup – a black bean soup (and really, most of the soup recipes are quite inexpensive)

How do you spend less on groceries while doing THM?