Shop smart; eat on $20 a week

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Nutrition and variety are possible on the cheap at a grocery store.

By Paula Christine Schuler

Eating decently for $20 a week sounds impossible when a burger combo at McDonald’s is $5. A little research shows H-E-B and budget bloggers have some suggestions. While prices continue to rise, it is still possible. Cheese may not be on the list, but $20 is sustainable.

No time to cook is the excuse for not grocery shopping with a $20 bill. But it takes time to drive through a fast food restaurant. It takes time to stop at a gas station and pick up a banana or bag of chips and soda. It takes extra gas while idling in the drive-thru line.

For $20 at Kentucky Fried Chicken, a week’s budget can be spent on an eight-piece dinner with two sides and four biscuits. KFC prices ranges from $16.99 to $20.99 nationally.

For $20 at H-E-B, shoppers can purchase the list at right. It does not include typical cheap options of bread, peanut butter and jelly. If a shopper replaces some of the meat with peanut butter, the cost would drop further below $20. Alternatively, the meat could be replaced with a variety of beans and rice at about $1 a pound average. Chicken on sale can run as low as $1 a pound if purchased periodically in a bulk package.

For that occasional must-have-moment, keep chocolate chips in the pantry. Price per ounce is significantly less than a candy bar. Almonds can run $4 a pound on sale, but a pound goes a long way. They do not require refrigeration and last weeks. Keep a small bag on hand to avoid spending money on chips and soda.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, a well-known cardiothoracic physician and author, suggests three shopping lists: buy foods needed immediately; buy foods needed soon on sale; remove foods needed later.

Oz has a website where he provides diet and health advice to readers. “It is diet and wallet sabotage to shop hungry,” he says.

For more information and tips, visit, and

$20 at H-E-B

1 lb. bone- & skinless chicken breasts

5 lbs. potatoes

4-piece corn-on-the-cob

1 lb. oranges

1 gal. skim milk

1 lb. 96% lean, ground beef

32-oz. tub of light yogurt

18-oz. oatmeal

1 lb. frozen green peas

1 lbs. dried kidney beans



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