This is gonna be a long one, but hopefully helpful!
Not so long ago, my grocery budget was $150.00 per week and I was squandering it all at certain grocery stores and honestly not getting a lot for my money. I would make the occasional purchase at the 99 or Dollar Tree, mainly if I needed decorations or paper plates or a gift bag. I would browse and always think to myself that I needed to shop at those stores more often.
Then things sort of took a downturn financially and I remembered that I had bought broccoli or other food items here and there at the 99 so I decided to give it a try to see if it was a viable option for grocery shopping. It totally worked. For the most part I can find nearly everything I need for the week with the exception of meat. Overall, I keep a budget of $80 per week for groceries and incidentals.
My strategy is to find recipes that look fun and that are composed of ingredients that I know or am pretty sure I can find at the 99. I make my list based off of these recipes and then I add in other grocery items we need that are not related to the meals, such as breakfast items, fruit, water, etc. Based on my meal plan for the week, I can tell whether I can get extras at the 99 or not. Extras include decor items, extra snacks or goodies, or things I need around the house. This could be anything. Usually it’s candles or some sort of decor, makeup or nail polish.
I typically try to keep my budget for the 99 under $40, although sometimes I go a bit over if there are really good things on sale that week. The rest of the budget is spent on the meat items and anything on my list that I couldn’t find at the 99. I go to Northgate Gonzalez Market for them because they have very reasonable prices and very fresh meat. Because I go there regularly, I have an idea of how much the meat will be so I can do a quick tally and see how much I have for extras at the 99.
Throughout this process I’ve learned that you can eat great meals even on a budget! So here the steps (the TL;DR):
- Find recipes that look good and that have a majority of ingredients that can be found at the 99.
- Write your list and add a little “99” next to the items you know or are pretty sure you can get at the 99. This makes the shopping process easier
- Find a store that has good prices for meat. I typically shop at Northgate. There’s a cool app called Flipp that you can use to find the best prices in your area.
- Go shopping!
Try these tips and let me know how it works out! By the way of you like this, you’ll love my weekly grocery lists sign up for your weekly grocery lists here!
Below are some photos of different 99 Cents Only Grocery hauls: