How To Create A Grocery List For 2 On A Budget

One of the biggest challenges people face when trying to create a grocery list for 2 on a budget is knowing what to include. It can be tough to figure out how to make your dollars stretch without compromising on the quality or variety of food you eat.

Another challenge is that people often don’t know how to shop smart. They may not know how to take advantage of sale items or use coupons effectively. As a result, they end up spending more money than they need to.

But don’t worry, we are here to help. In this article, we will provide you with the best tips on how to create a grocery list for 2 on a budget. We will also show you how to save money by shopping smart. So, let’s get started.

Creating A Cheap Grocery List: The Basics

When creating a grocery list for 2 on a tight budget, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Here are some things to consider when you’re making your budget grocery list:

1. Meal Planning Is Crucial

One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to meal plan. By planning your meals in advance, you can make sure you only buy the ingredients you need. This will help you avoid wasting food and money. Meal planning can also help you focus your cooking around the cheapest foods available so that you can make cheap meals and get your budget to stretch further.

To get started, sit down and figure out what you want to eat for the week. Make sure that you plan your meals before your shopping trip. Once you have a plan, make a list of the ingredients you will need to make your meals. This will be your grocery list.

When meal planning for the week, consider choosing meals that can be cooked in bulk as this will save you both time and money.

2. Plan Your Meals Around What’s On Sale And In Season

Another great way to save money on groceries is to plan your meals around what’s on sale and in season. For example, if you know that chicken is going to be on sale next week, you can plan to make chicken-based meals. Similarly, if you know that tomatoes are in season, you can plan to make tomato-based dishes.

By planning your meals around what’s on sale, you can save a lot of money on your groceries. Not to mention, you’ll also get to enjoy fresher and tastier food.

One important thing to remember if you’re on a really tight budget is that not all in-season and on-sale food is the best choice. Just because it’s on sale, doesn’t mean it’s cheap or good value. For example, filet mignon may be on sale at your local grocery store one week, but it’s still going to be a very expensive cut of meat to choose. In this case, it would be more cost-effective to purchase a cheaper cut of meat, even if it isn’t on sale.

3. Create A List Of Essentials

When creating your grocery list, be sure to include all of the essentials. This includes staples like milk, bread, eggs, and cheese. These items can be used to create a variety of meals, so it’s important to make sure you have them on hand.

Essentials can also include items that are important for making a tasty meal, such as olive oil, salt, pepper, and other seasonings. You won’t need to buy these every week as you’ll get multiple uses out of them once you have them on-hand, but it’s important to make sure that you have these items in the first place. Just because you’re cooking on the cheap it doesn’t mean your meals need to be bland.

Try to avoid buying all of these items in one shop, as it will make your grocery bill quite expensive. Rather, spread out the purchases over multiple trips and you’ll have a good set of staples and seasonings built up in no time.

4. Use What You Already Have

Before you even make your grocery list, take a look in your pantry, fridge, and freezer to see what food you already have. This way, you won’t accidentally buy something you don’t need.

For example, if you have a can of soup in your pantry that you know you won’t use, there’s no need to include it on your grocery list. The same goes for any other food items that you know you won’t use or that are close to their expiration date.

When considering what you already have, make sure that you plan to use the items closest to spoiling first. This way you’ll avoid needing to throw these items away each week. There’s not much worse than wasting food when you’re on a shoestring budget!

5. Create A Grocery Budget And Stick To It

One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to create a budget and stick to it. This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but it’s important to be realistic when setting your budget and make sure that you don’t go over.

You need to consider how much money you have to spend on groceries each week, as well as how much you need to spend on other essentials, such as transportation and rent. Once you have a good idea of your overall budget, you can start planning your grocery list.

If you find that you’re having trouble sticking to your budget, there are a few things you can do to help. First, try to avoid going to the grocery store when you’re hungry. This will help you to resist buying any unnecessary snacks or other items.

Another helpful tip is to make a list of the items you need before you go to the grocery store and stick to it. It can be tempting to buy things that you didn’t plan on getting when you’re at the store, but if you have a list, it will be much easier to resist these temptation.

6. Use Store Loyalty Programs

If you frequently shop at the same grocery store, it’s worth signing up for their loyalty program. This can help you to save money on groceries, as many stores offer discounts and coupons to loyalty members.

Some stores also offer gas discounts, which can save you money if you frequently fill up your tank. Just be sure to read the terms and conditions of the loyalty program so that you know how it works and what benefits you’re entitled to.

7. Compare Prices Before You Buy

Before you make a purchase, it’s important to take the time to compare prices. This way, you can be sure that you’re getting the best deal possible.

There are a few different ways to compare prices. One option is to use a price-comparison app, such as ShopSavvy, which allows you to scan the barcode of an item and compare prices at different stores.

Another option is to look online to see if there are any coupons or promo codes available for the items you want to buy. Sometimes, you can find a better deal by ordering items online and having them shipped to your local store.

8. Use Coupons When You Can

Another great way to save money on groceries is to use coupons when you can. Coupons can be found in a variety of places, such as the Sunday paper, grocery store flyers, and online.

Before you use a coupon, make sure to read the fine print so that you know what restrictions apply. For example, some coupons may only be valid for certain items or brands.

It’s also important to compare the price of an item with and without the coupon to make sure that you’re actually getting a good deal. Sometimes, it’s cheaper to buy an item on sale without a coupon than it is to use a coupon for a different item.

9. Buy In Bulk When It Makes Sense

Buying in bulk can be a great way to save money, but it’s important to only do this when it makes sense. For example, if you know that you’ll use an item frequently, such as salt or flour, it’s worth buying a larger quantity.

However, there’s no point in buying more than you need of an item that will go bad before you have a chance to use it. It’s also important to compare the per-unit price of an item when you’re considering buying in bulk as some items aren’t always cheaper when buying in bulk.

If you’re only shopping for 2, it can be difficult to buy in bulk without wasting items. A good idea to solve this problem is to consider buying in bulk and splitting the cost and the items with a family member or multiple family members. For example, you could buy a large 20 lb bag of rice and split it with several family members. This will help you save money and avoid food waste.

10. Avoid Processed Foods As Much As Possible

Processed foods are generally more expensive than unprocessed foods and they’re often not as healthy. For this reason, it’s best to avoid processed foods as much as possible. Stick with fresh produce, including fresh fruits and fresh vegetables as much as possible and your body (and bank account) will thank you.

While many people tend to gravitate towards more processed, ready-to-go foods when they’re on a tight budget, this is not the best way to save money. With a little bit of planning, you can cook healthy food at home using unprocessed ingredients that will cost you less in the long run.

If you do buy processed foods, there are a few things you can do to save money. First, look for sales and coupons. Second, buy generic brands instead of name brands. And third, buy in bulk when it makes sense.

11. Reduce The Amount Of Meat You Eat

Meat can be one of the most expensive items in your grocery budget, so reducing the amount of meat you eat can help you to save money. There are a few different ways to do this.

One option is to cut back on the amount of meat you use in meals. For example, if you typically make a recipe that calls for 1 pound of ground beef, try using only 1/2 pound instead.

Another option is to eat meatless meals a few times a week. There are plenty of delicious recipes available that don’t contain any meat at all. You can replace meat with cheaper meat-free alternatives such as tofu, beans, or lentils.

Finally, you can also save money by buying cheaper cuts of meat. For example, chicken thighs are usually less expensive than chicken breast.

Cheap Meal Ideas That You Can Make On A Shoestring Budget

Below are some simple, cheap, and easy meal ideas that you can make for 2 when you’re on a budget. Feel free to use these ideas to get started when putting together your grocery list.


  • Oatmeal with banana
  • Scrambled eggs on toast
  • Fruit smoothie
  • Cereal and milk
  • Pancakes


  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Grilled cheese sandwich
  • Tomato soup
  • Vegetarian chili
  • Macaroni and cheese


  • Tofu and ramen stir fry
  • Spaghetti with marinara pasta sauce
  • Bean and cheese burritos
  • Chicken thighs with rice and vegetables
  • Baked potato (or sweet potatoes) with chili


  • Fruit salad
  • Yogurt
  • Banana crepes


  • Popcorn
  • String cheese
  • Veggies and hummus

Sample Grocery Shopping List For Two On A Budget

Based on the meal ideas above, we’ve put together a sample grocery list for 2. This list is a great place to start if you’re ready to go shopping on a tight food budget. Don’t forget to go through and plan your own meals and adjust the list of grocery items as needed to suit you and your family members.

If you’re looking for some more ideas of cheap foods to buy, check out our post on 45 Best Frugal And Healthy Foods To Buy On A Budget

  • Bananas
  • Choice of seasonal fresh fruits
  • Red bell pepper
  • Broccoli
  • Potato (or sweet potato)
  • Onions
  • Corn kernels
  • Canned beans or dry beans (black beans, red beans, pinto beans)
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Marinara sauce
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Chicken thighs
  • Tofu
  • Macaroni
  • Spaghetti
  • Ramen
  • Rice
  • Popcorn
  • Oatmeal
  • Cereal
  • Bread
  • Tortillas
  • All-purpose flour
  • Sugar
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Soy sauce
  • Broth (or bouillon)
  • Hummus

Things To Consider When Shopping For Two

Adjusting Your Plan For Two

Cooking for two comes with its own set of challenges when compared to cooking for a larger family. When you’re planning your meals and making your grocery list, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

First, you’ll need to adjust the quantities of ingredients you’re used to using to make only two servings instead of the standard 4, 6, or even 8 servings in most recipes. For example, if a recipe with four servings calls for 1 pound of ground beef, you’ll only need 1/2 pound when cooking for two.

Second, you’ll need to account for leftovers. This can be a benefit or a drawback. It can be a good idea to make larger quantities of a meal and then eat the same thing for multiple meals. This will save you time as you will only need to cook once and you’ll have meals for a few days. One downside is that you’ll have less variety if you choose this approach.

Finally, you’ll need to decide how you want to approach food storage. When cooking for two, it can be difficult to finish an entire container of something before it goes bad. You may want to consider investing in smaller containers or freezing individual portions for later.

Skipping The Additions

When cooking for two you tend to need less ingredients. This can cause problems when your recipe calls for specialty ingredients or seasonings because you’ll need to spend extra money on something that you may not end up using much.

To avoid this, you can either find a similar recipe that doesn’t require the specialty ingredient, or leave that ingredient out completely if it isn’t essential.

If It’s Not On The Plan, Don’t Buy It

When you’re on a budget and shopping for two, it’s important to be strategic about your grocery shopping. This means that you shouldn’t buy anything that isn’t on your list. It can be tempting to add things to your cart as you go, but this will only end up costing you more money in the long run.

If you buy extra food, you’re more likely to waste it when cooking for two as you don’t have extra people around to eat it.

If you see something that you really want but it isn’t on your list, make a note of it and see if you can work it into your meal plan for the following week. This will help you stick to your budget and avoid overspending.

Quality vs Cost

It’s important to find a balance between quality and cost when you’re shopping for two. You don’t want to skimp too much on quality and end up with food that’s unhealthy or that doesn’t taste good. But you also don’t want to spend too much money on food that’s not necessary.

When you’re first starting out, it can be helpful to make a list of the things that are most important to you. For example, if you’re a coffee lover, you might be willing to spend a little extra money on high-quality coffee beans. Or if you have dietary restrictions, you might be willing to spend a bit more on specialty items that meet your needs.

Once you know what’s most important to you, you can start to look for ways to save money on the things that are less important. For example, if you’re not picky about the brand of canned tomatoes you use, you can buy the generic brand to save a few dollars.

Final Thoughts

Creating a grocery list for 2 on a budget can be a challenge, but it’s definitely doable with a little bit of planning. By adjusting the quantities of ingredients you use, considering leftovers, and being strategic about your food choices, you can save money without sacrificing the quality of your food.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What are some tips for reducing the cost of groceries?

A: Some tips for reducing the cost of groceries include buying in bulk, using coupons, and choosing store brands over name brands. You can also save money by cooking at home instead of eating out, and by meal planning so that you only buy the ingredients you need.

Q: What are some tips for eating healthy on a budget?

A: Some tips for eating healthy on a budget include buying fresh fruits and vegetables, cooking at home, and avoiding processed foods. You can also save money by looking for sales and using coupons.

Q: What are some tips for cooking for two on a budget?

A: Some tips for cooking for two on a budget include using leftovers, being strategic about your food choices, and avoiding waste. You can also save money by cooking simple meals at home instead of eating out.

Q: How can I adjust the grocery list if I want to shop monthly?

A: If you want to shop monthly instead of weekly you will need to ensure that you plan all of your meals for the whole month instead of just one week. You should also try to buy non-perishable items in bulk so that you don’t have to purchase them as often. It will likely be challenging to buy all of your fresh produce and dairy products at once if you want to shop monthly rather than weekly. You can try buying fruit and vegetables frozen rather than fresh, but you may also need to do a top-up shop at some point during the month to get more fresh produce and dairy products.

Q: What if I can’t find an ingredient on the list at my grocery store?

A: If you can’t find an ingredient on the list at your grocery store, try looking for a substitution. For example, if you can’t find fresh parsley, you could use dried parsley. Or if you can’t find a certain type of cheese, you could try a different type of cheese. If all else fails, you can always order the ingredient online.

Q: What are some good seasonings that I should add to my grocery list when shopping for two?

A: Some good seasonings to add to your grocery list when shopping for two include salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. You can also add other seasonings to your list depending on your personal preferences.

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