Tips like these helped us pay off $127K in debt. You can read our story in Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After.
This post was sponsored by the Indiana’s Family of Farmers. You get to learn about affordable ways to prepare food. I get a few extra bucks in the Royal coffers. The post and opinions are 100% mine. No editing was done by anyone. I’m sure you could find some grammatical errors if you read it again. Read more on my disclosure policy.
I’m a strong believer in keeping essential staples on hand that help you quickly prepare meals, snacks, and side dishes. Smart shopping can keep you out of the drive through and prevent overspending in the grocery store. These are the 15 grocery items I think you need to purchase at the beginning of every single month. Each item is versatile and can be used in multiple dishes. And probably best of all, they’re all well priced. I bought every item but one on the list at ALDI and spent $35.26. Without further ado . . .
15 Grocery Items to Buy Every Month
Frozen Chicken Breasts $6.69
You can grill them. You can bake them. You can toss them in the slow cooker and shred them. Fajitas, salads, pasta, pizza, stir fry, sandwiches – there’s pretty much not a dish that doesn’t play nicely with chicken. Buying the boneless, skinless frozen variety allows you to toss them in the freezer and use them when you’re ready. We can get 2-3 meals out of the 3 lb. bag.
Peanut Butter $1.49
We all eat peanut butter on a daily basis. It goes in our oatmeal. We eat it on sandwiches. A tablespoon with apple slices is my favorite snack. When my kids decide they don’t want to eat the main dish (they need to at least try a bite), it’s always an option if they’d like to make their own dinner. We go through a jar every couple of weeks, so it’s always on my shopping list at the beginning of the month.
Black Beans $2.29
While we were paying off $127K in debt, we ate black beans and rice on a weekly basis. They’re packed with protein and easy to prepare. You can choose to buy them by the can ($0.59 at my ALDI) but the most economic approach is purchasing dried beans, soaking them, and then cooking them. I typically use my crockpot to soak overnight and then slow cook all day long. After they finish cooking, I drain them and then portion out 1 1/2 cup into ziploc bags and freeze them for quick and easy use. You can get 24 generous individual servings out of one bag of beans.
I actually purchase rice in a 25 lb. bag every 3-6 months. But if you don’t buy in bulk, don’t forget to pick up a bag each month. You may want to shop around to find your favorite variety. We fancy Jasmine, because it cooks quickly and is so fluffy and slightly sweet. I use rice with beans, salsa, and cheese as a frequent lunch. I also fry rice or prepare it with our favorite Thai dishes.
A Jar of Salsa $1.69
Beans, rice, and salsa can stand alone as a main course. But you can also use it as a side dish or dress up chicken in the crockpot with salsa. You can even add salsa to eggs for a southwest spin on a breakfast favorite. We like the Organic Mild Salsa at ALDI, but you can choose whatever level of spice and variety you enjoy the most.
A Bag of Frozen Vegetables $1.59
Every dinner I fix features a vegetable and a fruit. Having a bag of frozen veggies on hand helps me quickly prepare the side without much effort or thought. This month, I bought green beans. Choose your favorite but buy at least one bag at the beginning of every month. Typically, we’ll get two sides from one bag for two different meals during the month. The advantage of purchasing frozen over fresh means they’ll survive a bit longer if you don’t get around to using them immediately.
A Loaf of Bread $1.79
Like many of the items on this list, you’ll need more than one loaf of bread during the month. But be sure you have at least one loaf on hand before the month begins. From quick and easy sandwiches to french toast, from toast served with olive oil to a PBJ when you’re in a pinch. I typically purchase two and toss a loaf in the freezer until we’re ready to use it.
Large Eggs $1.39
Packed with protein and the building block for many dishes, eggs are an essential. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, eggs are always a quick and easy meal. Plus you can use them to prepare treats, muffins, or even use them in dishes like stir fry.
Unsweetened Applesauce $1.89
Again, I like to serve a fruit and veggie at every meal. Applesauce is one of my go-to “cheat” fruits. I buy the unsweetened/no sugar added variety and buy a bigger jar instead of individual serving sizes to save on cost per ounce. I love the long shelf life and the fact that my girls will always eat it.
Shredded Cheese $2.99
Everything tastes better with cheese! Each month I buy at least one bag of shredded cheese. Typically I choose a larger 4 cup bag of mozzarella or cheddar because these varieties are cheaper per ounce and can be use on multiple dishes. Italian and Mexican dishes, as well as eggs, sandwiches, and salads all taste fabulous with cheese. Don’t forget the cheese.
A Bag of Apples $2.99
Apples are great for breakfast, snacks, and even as a side dish for lunch or dinner. Whether you cook them (I highly recommend making your own applesauce in the crockpot) or eat them raw, this simple fruit is always delicious. Again, I eat them frequently dipped in peanut butter. They keep longer than most fruits (up to six months in the fridge) which makes them the perfect, frugal fruit.
One of the pricier items on the list, nuts are a satiating snack that can also be used to top other dishes, too. Add them to oatmeal and baked goods, or simply eat them with fruit. This month, I chose pecans because I like their sweet flavor. I make my own homemade granola which pairs perfect with nuts and some dark chocolate chips. YUM.
A Jar of Pasta Sauce $1.89
Pasta sauce can be used for more than just spaghetti. You can prepare chicken with pasta sauce or use it as a sandwich topping, too. Sometimes, we’ll even have pasta sauce on rice with some mozzarella. It’s a great staple again because of the long shelf life. Be sure you buy a jar each month.
Quick Oats $2.39
Oatmeal is served every month in our house. High in fiber and low in sugar, oats keep you full all day long which means you will snack less and spend less. Again, you can add the apples, nuts, and peanut butter to the frugal food to stretch it even further and enhance the flavor. The King of Free once calculated that you spend less than $0.25 on a serving of oatmeal each morning even if you add extras. Plus, it’s delicious.
A Box of Pasta $1.29
A little pasta goes a long way to feed a large family. I know it’s not always an option for everyone depending on food allergies but we typically buy a box of pasta each month. The Princess Youngest has a gluten sensitivity so we occasionally buy gluten free pasta, too.
I put together a FREE Printable of 15 Grocery Items to Buy at the Beginning of the Month with space for you to include 10 other items for your beginning of the month trip so you can stock up on the essentials along with your regular shopping.
What would you add to this list? What items do you buy at the beginning of every month to ensure your family eats well and doesn’t overspend?
My book is now available: Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After. You can also check out Inspiration to Pay Off Debt: 30 Days of Encouragement from the Queen of Free on Kindle.
This post contains an affiliate link. That means when you get a great deal or maybe even something for free, you also help our family pay off our mortgage early. And for that, we royally thank you!