15 Real Food Budget Tips

Photo Credit: Christina Maldonado Photography

I’ve been on a mission.

A mission to get my out-of-control real food budget back to a reasonable amount. You can read more about my mission here.

The mission may seem impossible at the moment, but I’m determined with practical strategies and accountability, I will be successful at nourishing my family without compromising quality or budget.

As a blogger, I’m privileged to know many wonderful fellow food bloggers. Experts in the world of real food and eating well. These bloggers are women with families, on the same mission, to nourish their family and keep within a budget. Last month, I asked these expert bloggers to share their best real food budget tips. I’ve been blessed by their wisdom, so I’d like to share their wise words with you, my friends. I hope their practical words of advice encourage you, as they did me.

15 Real Food Budget Tips

Photo Credit: Christina Maldonado Photography

“With a family of five and one income, budget is always on my mind. To keep costs under control, we have ditched all processed and packaged food. I’ve found that cooking from scratch has made our dollar stretch further. Additionally, buying in bulk, shopping sales and not being afraid to visit multiple stores in a week to find the best deal have all been techniques that have beneficial to our family’s financial success.” Colleen at Five Little Homesteaders
“By cutting out many pre-prepared and packaged foods, I have kept the grocery budget flat even though we buy higher quality meat and dairy. Convenience foods like pre-shredded cheese and salad dressing are more expensive per pound so that is the biggest way we make room in our budget. Also I started “real food” lunch sharing with my coworker to save money and use leftovers more efficiently, which has brought down my overall expenses. Any reduction in eating out spending can go a long way in quality ingredients at the grocery store!” Laura at Good Not Perfect

My best tip however is to establish a relationship with your butcher. You can read more about doing paleo on a budget here. Laura at Authentic Parenting
“Meal planning is the biggest help for me when it comes to eating real food on a budget. I plan my meals each week making sure that I can use ingredients for several different dinners. Writing out the plan and sticking to the list saves money.” Courtney at Family Gone Healthy
15 Real Food Budget Tips

Photo Credit: Christina Maldonado Photography

“With a family of four and one income we have to make our money last. We buy groceries with cash only. I have a set amount I can spend and that is it. We buy our meat locally, to buy organically pasture-raised meat in our area costs about the same as supermarket prices, yet the quality far exceeds the store bought variety. We heavily garden in the warm months canning and preserving all we can. But, due to mother nature we do not, at this time, rely wholly on this getting us through the winter. I think the best thing you can do with your grocery spending is buy what you will eat. No fancy ingredients to make one dish, just stick to the basics and try to buy the best quality, most nutritious variety of those staples. Use your imagination, if time is tight and you don’t see yourself making everything from scratch figure out a way to stretch that dollar. Snack packs and juice boxes are huge budget killers and can easily made at home. Just take it one step at a time.” Jennah at House Barn Farm
“I have cut out buying processed convenience foods which leaves so much more money in my budget to buy whole foods. I make my own condiments, organic bone broths, and vegetable stocks on the weekends when I have extra time which saves so much money and is much healthier than commercial versions. I like to purchase almost all of my fresh produce, pastured eggs, and dairy from the local farmer’s markets. The taste, freshness and pricing is much better than the grocery stores plus it helps support my local farmers. I buy the more expensive pastured meats in bulk when they go on sale and freeze to use later. I like to make recipes that I can cook once and eat twice to also save money. Making soups, stews, and chili are all wonderful ways to do this.” Shelley Alexander at A Harmony Healing

“Buying in bulk and in season is key to eating well year-round on a budget. With a little planning and preserving, the possibilities are endless!” Melissa at Ever Growing Farm
“Learn how to cut up a whole chicken–it will save you a lot over buying parts!” Shannon at All Things Health
15 Real Food Budget Tips

Photo Credit: Christina Maldonado Photography

“I bulk buy staples to get the best possible prices. I can routinely save 30-70% off off my normal prices by purchasing one year’s worth of an item that stores well, at one time. I then shop what’s in-season and on sale for fresh produce, then I plan my menu around that. When I see prices bottom out on a fruit or vegetable that can be preserved, I purchase one year’s worth and get it preserved. Those three methods alone dropped my grocery bill 50% before I got creative in any other way.” KerryAnn at Intentionally Domestic
“We have a family of six and we are on a gluten-free diet. Staying within our budget limitations means making our bread every week, making muffins, and making sure that I plan ahead for every meal so that I am not caught in a bind and ordering an overpriced pizza with fake ingredients from our local gluten-free pizza place. It takes time, but it is so worth the reward of realizing that I am staying within my budget and providing my family with healthy choices.” Tara at Organized SAHM

“When we first started our real food journey, the first thing to cut out was cold cereal. I was totally shocked after keeping track for a month. We saved $80 a month by cooking breakfast instead of buying the cold cereal! It meant I had to get up a bit earlier to cook a breakfast for everyone, but saving money by serving real food was exciting.” Rachel at Nourishing Minimalism
“Monday night is soup night. I make a huge pot and the leftovers are used for lunches throughout the week. This eliminates the need to purchase expensive lunch foods, such as lunch meat. Additionally we buy whatever we can in bulk and make as much from scratch as possible.” Jenny Cazzola at Black Fox Homestead
15 Real Food Budget Tips

Photo Credit: Christina Maldonado Photography

“Six years ago we had to reduce our spending by 50%. I learned to coupon to make ends meet, but realized that eating out of a box wasn’t really eating “food.” So I purged the kitchen, throwing away everything with high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils and committed to never buying anything with those ingredients ever again. Then slowly, one meal plan and one shopping trip at a time, we took baby steps to eating healthier and we’ve never looked back. I actually stopped couponing because the foods I bought (fruits, vegetables, natural sweeteners, pastured meat, etc.) aren’t even brands! In the end, our family has grown by two and we’re spending less on our food now than we were with coupons! Real food has completely changed our lives, and we’re living proof that it’s possible to do on a real budget.” Tiffany at Don’t Waste the Crumbs
“When I first started eating better, a heart attack proved I wasn’t doing good enough. I was pretty shocked at the prices of pastured meat and dairy and buying organic vegetables. I’d ALWAYS cooked from scratch and bought in bulk, so I wasn’t saving by not buying processed stuff, just saw the prices of my staples increase dramatically! After 6 months, I sat down and added up my receipts and realized, it cost about the same to eat high quality food. My hypothesis about why it worked out this way, is because real food has a much higher nutrient content, so your hunger is satisfied earlier and you don’t need as much. Years into this, we remain on the borderline of the USDA’s “thrifty” and “average” food budgets, but eat better than the vast majority of people.” Jackie Patti at Deductive Seasoning

 Do you have real food budget tips? I’d love to hear your advice. Please share below.


  1. Nice informative article. As I’m on a tight budget, having a family meal planner is an advantage. You are right. Keeping simple meals while on a budget saves you a lot of money.

  2. I read an article about food prices in the Wall Street Journal a few months ago. Google WSJ and grocery budget and you can find it. It’s all about rising food prices putting pinches on families at all income levels.

  3. Love all these tips and would definitely agree that by far meal planning has helped me to save so much on our food budget, which is why I am so passionate about it. I’ll definitely be sharing this post via social media – so many great ideas here for saving money. Thank you for sharing this! Blessings, sweet friend! 🙂

  4. These are all great tips. I enjoyed reading tips of other people on what worked for them. I buy my meat direct from the farm and it is cheaper than buying it the stores.

  5. Love these tips! I think the main thing is to switch your perspective. It’s a priority to me to eat organic and local meats, so I make room in my budget for those foods.

  6. These are some great tips Kristin! Especially the one about learning to cut up a whole chicken. That intimidated me for a long time, but now that I know how to do it, I cringe at the thought of buying parts! You get so much more bang for your buck when you buy the whole bird!

  7. Your pictures make me wish it was market season in Nebraska! We have found that the most common items like apples and lettuce are not that much more when buying organic if you shop carefully.

  8. Great tips! We are a family of six on one modest income, and are gluten free with two grain free. It is really tough sometimes. Making things from scratch definitely helps a lot, you save a lot of money when you’re not shelling out for processed foods. I plan our meals around the flyers and shop with a list so I don’t buy lots of things we don’t need. I also find that since I switched to a higher fat diet I simply don’t eat as much!

  9. Wonderful post. I love reading tips from ‘real’ people and hearing different perspectives.

    I agree with Kimberly…I want a trip to the market now, too! If only it would warm up where I live. Soon.

    Thanks for the great post and sharing the fab pics, too.

    1. So true, Andrea. We used to get sick monthly on processed food. Now, we rarely get sick, maybe a common cold once a year, but for a very short time period. Real food heals and nourishes the body and brings the medical expenses way down (even to nothing at all).

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