5 Ways To Save Money On Real Food

Several years ago I watched the documentary “SuperSize Me” created by Morgan Spurlock. If you haven’t seen it here is the premise: he decides to document what will happen to him if he lives on a diet of McDonald’s fast food exclusively. The results and statistics shared will astound you. It is worth your watch. One point brought up in the film has stuck with me over the years:

It is cheaper for a family of 4 to 5 to eat at McDonald’s than to buy healthy food.

Don’t buy into the lie. 

Here is why:

6 cheeseburgers at $1.00: $6.00

4 orders of Small French Fries at $1.39: $5.56

4 drinks at $1.00: $4.00

(plus tax of course)

Meal Total: $15.56

If that family were to eat McDonald’ five times a week for the entire month (let’s call it 20 times) that is $311.20 for a month. In my house that is what we budget to feed our family for 10 DAYS of groceries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And we eat well with that budget.

According to the USDA, the average American household spends $150 to $300 on groceries per week. Our family is on the high end of that average and yet we still spend less than it would cost for our family to eat at McDonald’s that frequently.

Here is an example:

I made burgers, sweet potatoes, and broccoli for my family of four last week one night for dinner (2 adults, and a 7 and 5-year-old):

1.25 lbs of lean ground beef: $4.98

2.5 lbs of Sweet Potatoes: 3.19 (on sale)

2 crowns of Broccoli: 1.49

(plus tax of course)

Total Meal Cost: $9.66

You tell me…what would you rather feed your family?

I Needed To Contribute

When I left my teaching job to stay home with our kids, I was desperate to find ways to contribute financially. I began couponing and finding simple ways to pinch pennies here and there with digital coupons and the Ibotta app.

What I discovered was that the majority of the food we ate was fresh produce and meats and rarely allowed for couponing. Most coupons available were for process foods and toiletry items. I began to find other ways to save on those foods by being “real food” savvy.

I want to help you realize the same. Sparing no expense for quality foods is something I am not willing to compromise on. You shouldn’t either. There are ways to save — you just have to think out of the box, be willing to invest your time, and PLAN.

5 Ways to Save Money on Real Food

From that experience, I found 5 ways to save money on real food that we ate regularly. Not the stuff in boxes that lasted forever, but on food that we needed to eat quickly because it was actually going to go bad.

(Want to learn how to fill your body with real food to look and feel your best? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

Buy What Is In Season

Did you know eating the vegetables that are in season provides benefits to you?

It is something often overlooked because of the grocery store convenience. We have access to almost anything we want year round. Most of us can’t even tell you what produce is in season. But my Grandma, she knows, because she had no choice when she grew up. The benefits to eating produce when it is in season are plenty.

  • It just tastes better because the environment for its growth is ideal.
  • Less human interaction. If it grows when it is supposed to that means humans probably had to do less to help it grow.  That means less chemical exposure and lower price potential.
  • They tend to be cheaper because they are easier to come by. It is the good old supply and demand principle.
  • It is fresher. When things are fresh they tend to have more nutritional value and a richer taste.

This link is so cool!  You can select your region and time of year to see what produce is in season in your area.

Start approaching your grocery shopping a bit differently and think about buying foods that are in season to reap their cost (and nutritional) benefits.

Don’t Forget To Shop The Clearance Section

Clearance on whole and real foods?  Um, yes! Almost every grocery store puts fruits, veggies, and meats that are almost about to expire on sale. This is perfect for you and I because we have a FREEZER. Take those items and throw them in the freezer for later use. Like those brown bananas that are $39 cents per pound? Slice them up, store them in a freezer bag in your freezer and then throw them in a smoothie or into a blender for some nice banana ice cream. You will also have a freezer full of options to pick from for meal prep without having to visit the grocery store as frequently.

Peek At The Grocery Store Ads and Apps

I know you’re thinking “does this really even happen anymore”?  I promise it does, just not so much in the paper version. Almost every store offers a digital version of their weekly ad. Even cooler, many stores offer digital coupons that often include coupons for sales on produce, tubbed greens, and meats. They want you to use their app and retain your business so these coupons need fully taken advantage of.

It only takes one minute to scroll through their ad and coupons and that minute could be worth lots of money for you. I’ve used digital coupons on packages of mixed greens along with store’s weekly sale to get a large container for just about $1. That is several nights worth of salads to pair with a meal for less than $.33 for your ENTIRE family. Sprouts, my favorite local retailer, has even joined i, and offers an app to highlight their digital coupons and sales of the week. And to top it all off, Wednesday is double ad day which equals double savings when shopping.

Coupons are not abundant for real foods but surprise!  There are some great sites that do provide such an opportunity. All Natural Savings is one of those sites that offers coupons and rebates on organic and high quality options.

Another great one is Be Frugal. They show ads for almost all grocery stores, including Sprouts, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. They highlight the deals of the week and coupons at each of those major grocery store chains. Boom, one-stop savings right there!

Buy The Store Brands

I am not talking about the bottom of the line store brands. I am talking about nice quality frozen store brand fruits, veggies, and meats. Every store offers them now and that is to your benefit. Grocery chains are now recognizing that its consumers are demanding higher quality for ourselves and families.

A great example is my favorite mainstream store brand by Kroger called Simple Truth. It is a mostly organic brand that rivals its non-store brand almost always in price. Not to mention, stores want you to buy their brand so they put them on sale more often too. Cha-ching! Although frozen, these foods still offer you a major healthy go-to on a busy work night.

Meal Plan, Meal Plan, Meal Plan

The biggest tip to saving money on real food is PLANNING ahead.  I know it takes time, it takes energy, and it takes using your noggin. In my opinion, your health and the health of your family is worth every minute it takes. Use the ad to guide your menu planning. Decide what vegetables to use that week based on what is on sale.

My advice is five dinners a week. It is a really reasonable goal, with the other 2 nights being used as a great time to eat leftovers (boom, a little-hidden money saving tip right here too). And hello — we all love a night off from cooking! Just by planning for 5 dinners you are saving money on that temptation to hit the drive-thru.

The bonus of trying to save money on real food is that you are investing in your health as a byproduct. Therefore, completing the cycle of awesomeness I’ve talked about before…health, wealth and happiness.

Maybe the claim of healthy, nutritious food being expensive is less about cost and more about convenience. There is no way healthy living costs more than fast food. But it does take more work. Get started by using these 5 tips to invest in your pocketbook and in your health.

How do you save money on real food?

Work Hard Be Kind,


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