Monday, September 26, 2011

Grocery Budgeting: It's As Easy as $1, $2, $3

Managing a complicated grocery budget can be a pain in the neck, especially when you're busy and on the go. But what I call the $1, $2, $3 method is a really easy way to get a handle on your spending on food.

Ready? Here it is. Spend:

$1 for breakfast,
$2 for lunch, and 
$3 for dinner. 

Now, some of you expert frugalites out there might be thinking: "Six dollars a day?! I can do way better than that!" Yes, you most definitely can. BUT for those who are just starting to budget -- or too busy to cook things from scratch -- the $1, $2, $3 Method is a great starting place. There are several estimates out there that say that it costs $200 per month for food for a single person living alone; this puts you right under that and can help get you in the habit of watching what you spend.

Here are some $1, $2, $3 ideas to get you started:

My favorite cereal, Oatmeal Squares,
sells regular-price at Target for
$3.36 per box, and lasts me
seven days! 
A box of cereal, costing $3.50 per box, could last you a week, which comes out to $.50 per breakfast, plus the cost of milk. 

Oatmeal is even cheaper than cold cereal per bowl - and more nutritious! :) 

A package of saltine crackers can be gotten for around $1.00, and you can pick up a can of tuna for as little as $.65. 
Macaroni and cheese is often $1.00 or less per box, and if you spread it out over two days, you can include hot dogs! 

Who doesn't love a
dinner of chicken
Caesar salad? Especially
when it comes out to
A "bag salad" can be as cheap as $2.50 - and  your remaining $.50 can go towards a package of chicken you can cook and toss into this salad -- as well as eat in three or four other dinners (or salads) throughout the week. 

For the TV dinner fan, you could eat up to three $1.00 Michelina frozen pasta meals for one dinner and with tax, still be pretty close to the $3.00 range. 

Heck, even a 6-inch Veggie Delight sandwich at Subway is $3.00 plus tax! 

The $1, $2, $3 Method is particularly handy when it comes to being tempted to buy pre-made food at a grocery store's deli or visit a drive-thru. Often, these choices are more expensive than $1, $2, or $3. The good news, though, is that isn't hard to meet these limits at all if you're willing to throw something in the microwave yourself!

Want to start budgeting your groceries? Just remember - it's as easy as $1, $2, $3! :)

Here's to another money-saving week, friends!


  1. People are always AMAZED that I can make a meal for 6 for about $3-5, while being nutritious and delicious. Take THAT fast food!

  2. RealMommy, one of these days you're going to have to be a guest blogger here on Captain Cheap to share your wisdom with us! If you can make one meal for $3 that can feed six, that means that you could help a single person (me!) eat for about $15 a week!!!!