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Groceries on a budget. Can you get by on $150 a week?

The Grocery Challenge: Healthy Family Meals on a Tight Budget
The Grocery Challenge: Healthy Family Meals on a Tight Budget
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Love it or hate it, grocery shopping is part of most of our weekly routines! For 2020 the USDA is forecasting continued low inflation of prices at the supermarket with increases of half a percent to one and a half percent.

We shopped at four popular grocery stores in the metro area to see if we could feed a family of four on a $150 budget. That included a meal plan for breakfast, dinner and three lunches.

First UAB Nutritionist Tara Harman looked over the meal plan to be sure it was a balanced diet. "It's a good shopping list. What I love about this list, it's also cost friendly," remarked Harman.

But could we make budget using a combo of store brands and sale items? We shopped at grocery stores in the eastern side of Birmingham.

Stop number one Walmart on Parkway East. We came in under budget at $129.60. Harman was surprised considering all the vegetables and fruits we purchased.

Stop two was the Aldi in Roebuck. Its no frills shopping at the Aldi chain where you grab your own cart, bring your own bags, and shop with a smaller selection. The total: $125.37.

Next Publix on Springville Road. The chain is known for customer service, loading your groceries and a friendly atmosphere. We came in just under budget at $148.48.

Finally we shopped at Piggly Wiggly in Clay. We found a few steals like 99 cent milk and some economical store brands. The total: $131.68.

Comparing all four Aldi total came in lowest with Publix the highest. All fall within the USDA's thrifty meal budget plans for a family of four between $130-$150.

While we like to complain about how much we spend at the grocery store know they have extremely low profit margins at 1.5%. If you're paying more you're likely getting more in things like a larger selection and more staff.

We polled a few shoppers who said price is not everything. Some liked having someone else load up their groceries. Others said they shopped multiple stores depending on what they were buying.

Research company Dunnhumby reports customers rank price and quality as their two most important factors with the importance of the convenience factor rising. Several chains in the metro area ranked in the Dunnhumby's top ten overall with Aldi topping the price category.

If you're looking to keep your grocery bill down, experts advise to go with a list and meal plan and stick to it. Impulse buys will add up.

More savings tips: don't shop on an empty stomach! Use store apps to keep track of sales and earn rewards. Products placed eye level on shelves tend to have higher profit margins. Try to waste less food. It's estimated thirty percent is lost at the consumer and retail level.

Our $600 worth of grocery purchases did not go to waste. We donated them to a local church for families in need.

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Here is the grocery list we used:

  • Salt-Free Tomato Sauce, $0.99
  • Salt-Free Tomato Paste, $0.59
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette, $1.99
  • Dried Chick Peas, $1.99
  • Dried Lentils, $1.49
  • Brown Long-Grain Rice, $1.99
  • Catellis Extra Fibre Brown Pasta, $1.49
  • Quick Rolled Oatmeal, $1.99
  • Unsalted Almonds, $1.99
  • Extra Lean Ground Turkey, $5.00
  • Boneless Chicken Breasts, $9.31
  • Lean Ground Beef $8.13
  • Clementines, $1.97
  • Strawberries, $2.88
  • Blueberries (x2), $4
  • Baby Carrots, $2.97
  • White Mushrooms, $3
  • Peppers (4 pack), $2.97
  • Large Bunch Bananas, $1.51
  • Lemon (x3), $2
  • Green Leaf Lettuce, $1.99
  • Spinach Bunch, $1.99
  • Red Swiss Chard, $1.97
  • Seedless Cucumber, $0.99
  • Garlic (x 5), $0.88
  • Large Sweet Potatoes (x 3), $1.87
  • Grape Tomatoes, $2.50
  • Celery, $1.77
  • Bagged Red Onions, $2.97
  • Asparagus, $2.47
  • Zucchini, $1.67
  • Dozen Large Eggs, $2.68
  • Aged Cheddar Cheese Brick, $4.99
  • Orange Juice $3.00
  • Whole Wheat Tortillas, $2.50
  • 12 Ancient Grains Bread, $2.88
  • Lunch meat $10
  • Sliced Cheese $2.50
  • Tomato .50
  • Chips $2.50
  • Apples $2.50
  • Popcorn $3.00
  • Crackers $2.50
  • Peanut Butter $4.00

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