With food costs ever rising, you may be wondering how to eat on 30 a week in 2022. This figure is about how much one individual receives when relying on government aid, so it’s a good figure for all households to start with.
Of course, $30 per week is per person, so if you have several family members in your home, you’ll need to multiple that figure by the number of people in the home.
This guide will provide you with all the tips and tricks you need to learn how to eat on a budget.
The budget-friendly meal plans and shopping list are also designed to support balanced meals, not just a bunch of cheap junk that is bad for your gut health.
How Much Should it Cost to Eat a Week?
It can be helpful to take a closer look at how much it costs to eat at home each week in 2022.
It really puts into perspective how much food costs have risen and how households really need to take a step back and create an affordable meal plan in order to keep their budgets in-tact.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has four charts for food plans and their cost. We’ll take a look at their “Thrifty Food Plan,” as well as their “Low, Moderate, and Liberal-Cost Food Plans” below.
USDA Thrifty Food Plan (March 2022)
A quick look at this chart and we can see that only an infant has a weekly food budget that is under $30, and this is the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan.
That means we can expect it to be a challenge to uncover how to eat on 30 a week. The good news is that it isn’t impossible, and in fact, we will show you how.
USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food at Home at Three Levels (March 2022)
The above chart reveals that all individuals following a low-cost food plan spend more than $30 a week on groceries.
Male teenagers actually eat twice that amount (I have nephews and that sounds about right – they’re growing boys afterall)!
What is a Good Grocery Budget for One Person?
A good grocery budget for one person also varies based on where you live and your overall income verses expenses (and not just age and gender as seen in the USDA charts).
For example, World Population Review reports on the cost of living index for each state. When we review it, we see that:
The state with the highest grocery index is Hawaii at 152.9.
The state of Kansas has the lowest grocery index of 91.7
If the individuals living in these states had similar incomes and expenses, they would find their grocery budget would go much farther in Kansas than Hawaii.
That means a good grocery budget for Kansas may be $40 a person, while $60 per week per person is more realistic for Hawaii.
No matter where you live, however, you can get creative and keep your grocery budget to $30 a week. Let us show you how!
What is the Cheapest Meal You Can Make?
When it comes to the cheapest meal you can make, you’ll want to start your grocery shopping with rice. Brown rice is best, as it offers more nutrients and protein than white rice.
Here at my local ShopRite, you can get brown rice for $.70 per pound. Since two individuals can consume a pound of rice in one meal, that means it’s only $.35 per person.
If you follow a certain diet, you’ll find brown rice is typically okay.
Note: I am not an affiliate for ShopRite. Just grabbed these images off of my order page to prove the cost.
Of course, you’ll want to add plant based foods to the brown rice to create a full meal.
Beans are the next best choice, as they add iron and more protein. I prefer pinto beans, but you can use kidney, red or black bean option as well.
The cans at my local ShopRite are actually the cheapest at $.07 an ounce. The entire can costs $.99 and provides 3 servings. That makes the cost for one person is just $.33.
To finish off this meal, you’ll want to toss in a vegetable. Carrots are one of the most affordable vegetables, and they provide a variety of nutrients, including vitamin C.
My ShopRite has carrots for $.76 per pound. Half a pound equals 1 serving. That means you’ll spend just $.38 per person. I eat my carrots raw, but you can cook them up and add a little honey for flavor.
Look down the frozen veggies aisle of your grocery store when the carrots aren’t in season, as they may be cheaper there.
Lettuce is another option if you want to add greens instead of the carrots, as it is also super cheap when you purchase a full head.
So, to recap, the cheapest meal you can make is rice and beans with a side of carrots. For one person, this meal would add $1.06 to your total weekly food budget.
How Can I Survive $30 a Week?
We’ve uncovered that $30 per week is less than the thrifty cost per person on the USDA food plan, so how can you survive on just $30 per week?
I highly suggest finding several gurus to follow, who are already living on $30 a week.
If you think about it, when you want to learn more about fixing a car, you aren’t going to go to a baker or nurse for advice. You’re going to go to an auto mechanic who has been fixing cars for years.
I search out experts who have experience on the subject, and who actively live out their advice. You may be surprised to see what’s on their grocery list.
Prepper Princess is one of my daughter’s favorites and she has YouTube videos on this very subject. Check out her video “How to Live on $30 a Week” below:
I personally follow Nate O’Brien, a young man living frugally, even though he has enough money not to. Watch his video “How to Live on $30 a Week” below:
How Can I Keep My Grocery Bill Under $30 a Week?
Here is where we really get into the tips and tricks you can implement to keep your grocery budget under $30 per person each week.
Tip #1: Follow Recommended Serving Sizes
Americans eat way too much. According to HealthDay, Americans consumed on average 1,850 calories per day 25 years ago. Today, Americans eat 2,154 calories each day.
I just got done watching the latest season of “7 Little Johnstons.” The family welcomed a student from Finland for three months named Joose.
One of the first differences Joose pointed out between the countries was that those in Finland didn’t eat as much as those in America.
The more you eat, the more money you spend. To keep your grocery bill under $30 a week, you’ll need to cut back your food consumption to the recommended serving sizes.
Almost all packaging in America comes with a label that will tell you the serving size, even a bag of produce. So, if a 15-ounce can of beans says there are 3 servings in the container, you’ll know to only eat 5 ounces with your meal.
Tip #2: Follow a Few Key Shopping Tips
Utilizing key shopping tips when living on $30 a week is essential to making your dollars stretch as far as they can go.
- When an item is on sale or deeply discounted, stock up. For example, if a pound of ground beef is discounted because it must be sold and used that day, buy several pounds, cook them, and then freeze the excess for use later.
- Consider the cut of meat. Here at my local grocery store, chicken thighs cost much less than a pack of boneless chicken breast or grilled chicken. Wings are also a more affordable part of the chicken.
- Pay attention to your store’s sales cycles. A great number of stores follow a sales cycle. Keep track of when the items you use go on sale. Consider everything from olive oil to garlic powder to necessary cookies that keep the kids happy. Do this for one year and you’ll better be able to plan when to purchase your favorite items at their lowest price.
- Don’t be brand loyal. Always check how much you are paying per ounce among all brands and then choose the cheapest one. You may find the store brand of peanut butter or almond nut butter isn’t actually cheaper than a brand like Jif.
- Choose items that extend for multiple meals. For example, you can still get a dozen eggs for under $3. Using two eggs as one serving, you get six servings per dozen, which equals just $.50 per serving. That covers breakfast for all but one day of the week. Plus, eggs are one of those healthy meals that you can also eat at lunch or dinner.
- Create a soup. The most expensive foods in the store are meats. I make mine go farther by creating a soup. I use less chicken than I would for a traditional meal, but create four dinners in one go. The vegetables I add are dependent upon which veggie options I have left in my fridge to use up. One time I may add a bell pepper and another a sweet potato. Plus, you can meal prep soups in a slow cooker or instant pot.
- Make pancakes. Personally, I love pancakes for any meal of the day. My kids always loved having them for dinner, as if it was a special treat. You can get a large box of pancake mix for under $4 that has 39 servings in it! That’s just $.10 per serving! You can always add some fresh fruit, like strawberries or blueberries, on top for added nutrition.
- Combine coupons and sales. There have been several times when I got items for free because I had a coupon and the item was on sale. Many stores also double coupons, allowing you to save more on each item. You may even end up with something like a bottle of lemon juice for free.
- Shop seasonally. When it comes to produce, you’ll find fruits and vegetables cost the least when they are in season. For example, strawberries go on sale here for $1.99 when in season, but cost $3.99 when not in season. That means when they aren’t in season, I’ll look for a cheaper fruit to replace them, rather than pay the increased price. The same is tree for seeds if your looking to create your own plant food in the back yard.
- Choose Your Store Wisely. Walmart and Aldi both have similar, if not the same, items as other grocery stores, but for a much cheaper price. Your money will go much farther. For example, our Walmart at the time of writing this has Rao’s 24-ounce homemade pasta sauce for $6.24. Our Acme has the exact same product for $9.99. That’s a whole $3.75 more! Dried fruit, ice cream and chia seeds were also much cheaper at Walmart.
Tip #3: Use a Weekly Grocery Meal Plan
Be the Budget recommends planning your meals to the cent when sticking to a tight budget.
This is much easier to do then ever before, as most grocery stores allow for online shopping, You can quickly log in and check prices without making a purchase.
There are plenty of meal planners you can buy and reuse that will help you stick with your $30 per week per person budget.
If you’re looking for a planner that is on the simpler side, I recommend this one by ruffhouseart:
If you’d like a budget grocery meal planner that’s a bit more detailed, then I suggest the printables designed by CreativeJamCo:
Tip #4: Use Cash Back Apps
If you’re not using a free cash back app, you’re leaving money on the table.
Here at Five Bags of Gold, we recommend Ibotta. You can check out our full review here:
Does Ibotta Work? Use Ibotta for Free to Get Cash Back
This app allows you to upload your grocery receipts and earn money back on some of your favorite food items. It costs nothing to join and only takes a few minutes to use.
My cousin feeds a family of 7 (one more on the way) and she started using Ibotta to help counteract the inflation costs. That and her Walmart rewards card allowed her to keep her grocery budget the same without having to increase it.
I also highly recommend using MyPoints. I use them all the time. I personally convert my points into Amazon gift cards, but there are plenty of other redemption options as well.
You can purchase groceries on Amazon, so that’s another way to use your points to bring down your grocery bill.
In fact, I have a Chase rewards card that I earn Amazon points through. I combine that with MyPoints to get twice the amount of free items from Amazon.
Tip #5: Participate in an Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge
Participating in an Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge turns buying a weeks worth of groceries for $30 into a fun game, instead of a stressful chore.
We actually have a savings challenge book in the works that can be used for this. As soon as it’s published, I’ll come back and add the link.
Until then, Meals With Maria has an excellent video on her extreme grocery budget challenge, where she spent $30 and fed four family members for seven days!
Note that Maria used Ibotta to bring down the cost of her groceries!
In Conclusion: How to Eat on 30 a Week in 2022
While it takes a bit of work and preparation, you can eat on $30 a week per person.
You’ll want to become disciplined in checking prices and faithful in determining how much you’re paying per serving.
You’ll want to take advantage of seasonal fruit, seeds and cheaper vegetables, such as cucumbers which are often sold 3 for $1. I love to make cucumber salad in the summer!
You’ll also need to follow the recommended serving sizes, so you’re not overeating and buying too much food. Meal prep helps too!
Once you get into the habit of shopping on a budget, you’ll find it becomes second nature.
Do you have a favorite low-cost meal? If so, share it with us below!