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Cheapest Groceries List: 70 Best Foods to Buy on a Low Budget
When you’re preparing to go shopping and making the cheapest groceries list it can be a challenge to know which foods will save you the most money, yet allow you to still make snacks and meals for your family.
It is possible to stay on track with your budget and not overspend when you go grocery shopping if you take the time to plan before you go.
Another key factor is to stick to the grocery list you make when you get to the store if you want to keep your budget on track.
Knowing how much you have to spend on groceries over the course of a week or month is also important when making your cheapest groceries list.
How can I calculate how much I spend on groceries?
There are different formulas that you can use to calculate how much you spend on your groceries.
Some people think that a common way to do this is by taking the total amount spent on groceries and divide it by the number of times you shop for groceries.
Others may include things such as gas, paper products, cleaning supplies, and household cleaners and take these costs into account when calculating their grocery costs.
If you are really serious about calculating how much you spend on groceries, then you may want to take the time to keep track of what you buy for a few months so that you can see which items cost more than others.
This also allows time to comparison shop at different stores to make sure you are getting the best prices possible.
Once you know which items are taking the biggest cut out of your grocery budget, you can decide which items can be replaced with something different that costs less or you could cut back on, or possibly even taking that product off of your list permanently.
It is easy to overspend on groceries when you go grocery shopping.
The temptation is there since there are so many sales and coupons to take advantage of, and sometimes we see something that just looks really good at that moment!
How do you buy groceries on a low budget?
1. Plan ahead by meal planning
This is the main key many people don’t take the time to do, and it throws their grocery budget into a frenzy.
2. Make your list based on the meals
Before you go shopping, take some time and make a list of everything you need for an entire week’s worth of meals.
Decide what meals you want to make for the next 1-2 weeks, look up the recipes so you know exactly the ingredients and amount of each, then add to your list.
3. Add orphan items you are out of to the list
The staple items you keep in your refrigerator or pantry need to be replaced when it is time to go to the store.
It is easiest to save money on groceries if you have kept an ongoing list so you know exactly what these items are.
If not, it will take some time to figure it out so you don’t end up buying things you don’t need and then have more than one.
Following these key strategies will also help ensure that your meal plan is well balanced with all the necessary nutrients. This can be especially important if you are on a restrictive diet like gluten-free or vegan!
4. Set a spending limit
If the meals you chose have expensive ingredients or a lot of items you don’t keep on hand, go back to the meal planning step and choose a few different meals that will cost less to prepare.
5. Shop the sale items
You should also be mindful of what items are on sale at the grocery store. Stock up when there’s a good bargain, which can help save money over time.
6. Buy in bulk
Another way to make sure your grocery list is cheap is by buying in bulk but not large quantities.
A lot of people underestimate how quickly they go through food and end up wasting a lot of it (especially because of spoilage).
If you decide to buy in bulk be sure what you are buying is:
- Actually saving your money
- Product that won’t spoil if it isn’t used quickly
- Products you use regularly
Cheapest groceries list: Items to buy
Great for sandwiches, toast, or dishes like bread pudding, it is a staple to keep on hand.
Bread can be a cheap item or a more expensive item on your grocery list depending on the brand.
When my boys were little this was one of their favorite foods for breakfast. They love the chocolate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
3. Cream of Wheat
An inexpensive and healthy breakfast. We like it with brown sugar or cinnamon and some fresh fruit like bananas or strawberries.
Oatmeal can be eaten alone as a meal or used in recipes like meatloaf or to make oatmeal cookies.
You can do so much with eggs, and at about 10-15 cents each, it doesn’t get much cheaper than this!
Pasture-raised eggs are more expensive so if you want the cheapest option to bypass them.
Fried eggs are great for breakfast, or make deviled eggs to go with lunch or dinner meals. They can also be poached or scrambled if your family prefers.
Apples make a quick and super healthy snack plain.
They can also be steamed with some cinnamon and sugar for a quick snack, and topped with a dollop of cool whip and they are even better!
They can also be turned into apple pie.
I eat a lot of salads and chopped apples go in almost every one of them for a bit of sweet and crunchy treat.
Bananas can be eaten plain, chopped up in cereal or oatmeal, or used in banana pudding. They are a cheap grocery item that can be used for many things.
8. Saltine crackers
Saltine crackers are a staple to keep in your pantry.
They are good plain, with butter, and used to prepare recipes that need a crunchy topping or in dishes like meatloaf.
Peanuts are a healthy and filling snack that can be eaten as a snack or added to a variety of Chinese or other recipes.
The cheapest way to buy them is in the shell. However, they can also be bought ready to eat in either salted or unsalted varieties.
10. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a healthy snack, although some look at it as being too high in fat.
It tastes great on sliced apples, on toast, on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, in smoothies, on waffles, and so much more.
Peanut butter is an item to keep on hand that will stay edible for a long period of time.
Potatoes are a versatile food.
They can be turned into baked potatoes and eaten as a meal, which is especially good with toppings such as butter, sour cream, cheese sauce, and bacon bits. My family loves it when I put out a baked potato bar and let them load up with all their favorites.
They also make excellent casseroles or are used as a side dish when oven-roasted or fried.
12. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes make a delicious side dish plain or topped with brown sugar and butter.
They also work well in casseroles or made into sweet potato fries. When I turn them into fries using my air fryer, they disappear quickly as soon as I serve the meal.
Cereal is a food I don’t like to be without. Considering how many meals you get in a box, it is cheap and doesn’t break the budget.
The healthier cereals that aren’t loaded with sugar may cost a little more, but in the long run, you also eat less of them because they are more filling and keep you from getting hungry longer.
Unflavored pasta is another one of the cheapest foods you can buy that is versatile.
It makes delicious casseroles, homemade macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, chicken alfredo, and so many more pasta dishes that are perfect for dinner meals.
Add a tossed salad and bread and you have a cheap meal everyone is sure to love.
Beans may be one of the cheapest pantry staples you can buy, especially when you buy dry beans.
With a cost that is just a few cents per ounce, they are a great cheap food that is versatile and healthy.
It also saves money when they are bought in bulk, which is good because they will keep until they are cooked.
They do take time to prepare. However, using a slow cooker or instant pot is a great way to make a delicious meal.
Canned beans can also be purchased such as black beans, red beans, or chili beans. However, you pay for the convenience of them being ready to eat.
Onions can be used as a staple or a spice.
Add them to spaghetti or casseroles to create a delightful flavor, or turn them into onion rings or add them to a roast and have a quick side dish with a mixture of vegetables.
17. Canned tomatoes
If you are trying to save money and buy foods that keep in a pantry, canned tomatoes are better than fresh tomatoes.
They are also typically cheaper, depending on the time of year you are shopping.
Lentils are a cheap grocery item that will add a healthy serving of protein to your meal. Lentils can be substituted for meat in many recipes, making them food you may want to keep on hand.
Casseroles, soups, and stir fry recipes can easily be found to use this ingredient.
Carrots are a healthy side dish steamed or added to a pot roast.
They are also good to eat raw straight out of the refrigerator.
The cheapest way to buy carrots is full-sized with the tops still on, ready to clean and chop.
Rice can be used for so many things it is hard to remember all of them. It can be purchased in white rice or brown rice, and in a fast-cooking variety or traditional slower cooking.
My boys love cooked rice for breakfast with cinnamon, sugar, and milk.
It makes delicious full-meal casseroles, side dishes, and fried rice.
Spinach isn’t a favorite of everyone, and it isn’t one of the cheapest foods you can buy.
However, for the nutritional content you get, it is a good addition to omelets, casseroles, salads, and stir fry dishes.
Oranges make a great afternoon snack or a nice side for breakfast.
They can be purchased in a bag to get the cheapest price to keep your grocery spending low.
Depending on the time of the year, there are times when the oranges are really small in size. I would bypass them if you aren’t getting a nice portion with each individual orange. They also add a healthy dose of vitamin C to your diet.
When in season, this vegetable is cheap and versatile, making it a perfect item when you’re making your cheap grocery list.
It makes delicious casseroles, a simple side dish, moist zucchini bread, or added to salad.
These little fruits grow packed with vitamin C and are tasty for a snack or in salads.
They can be purchased in cans or fresh.
Similar to zucchini, squash is a cheap nutritious food to buy when they are in season.
Many people peel grapefruit to eat them.
I like to slice them in half, heat them for about half a minute in the microwave, and add Splenda and cinnamon for a healthy breakfast or snack.
Local fruit stands are the best place to buy a watermelon at the cheapest price.
Also, they are usually bigger and you know they are fresh from the field.
28. Frozen vegetables
I often purchase frozen vegetables with no additives instead of buying fresh vegetables because they can be used anytime without a timeline before they get rotten.
This is a great way to cut costs and still get healthy vegetables in your diet.
This makes them economical and one of the cheapest food items you can buy.
Grapes are delicious in salads or eaten right off the vine.
They are the cheapest and taste the best during the summer months when they are in season.
Quinoa is not as cheap as some other grains.
However, it still qualifies as a product for the cheapest groceries list and can be used for several different kinds of dishes.
Green peppers are an option to put on your list to stay within your food budget while having many things you can do with them.
They are delicious in salads, to eat plain with other vegetables, on sandwiches, or making recipes such as stuffed peppers.
If your goal is to save money on groceries and popcorn is on your list, you will want to buy the kind you pop yourself rather than microwave popcorn.
You can still cook it in the microwave.
- Add it to a paper bag
- Seal the bag by folding the top over two times
- Microwave for 2 minutes
You can also use a popcorn air popper, cook it on the stove in a small amount of vegetable oil, or in the microwave using a microwave-safe glass bowl with a glass plate on top.
Corn is the perfect side dish with a dab of butter and salt, or a great addition to soup, stews, and many casseroles.
34. Canned pumpkin
Many people only think of using pumpkins for cooking around the holidays in November and December.
However, canned pumpkin is a perfect item for your cheap grocery list and it is available year-round for around $1 a can.
It can be used in muffins, soups, cakes, smoothies, and so many other recipes.
The nutritional benefits of pumpkin also speak for themself as a healthy source of beta carotene, potassium, and vitamins B, C, and E.
The cheapest place to buy cantaloupe is at a farmer’s market if any are located in your area.
Cantaloupe is typically chopped up and eaten as a side dish like a salad. It is also popular to mix it with yogurt or cottage cheese.
When you’re following a grocery budget yogurt is a good product to have on your list.
If you get a brand that doesn’t have loads of added sugar and a good amount of protein, it is a healthy snack that is tasty mixed with fruit or granola as an afternoon or before bedtime snack.
You can buy yogurt in a variety of flavors, or buy plain yogurt and flavor it yourself with extracts or fruit.
If you want to increase your savings, many of the yogurt varieties can be purchased in larger containers rather than single servings.
37. Tuna fish
Many people don’t think of canned fish as an item they would add to a cheap grocery list.
Tuna isn’t the cheapest item on the list, but it is affordable and worth buying for the health benefits.
It makes a good sandwich with tuna salad, and there are many different tuna casseroles that taste delicious.
Cabbage is one of the cheap foods often forgotten when doing a grocery shopping trip.
It is super cheap to buy considering the size of most cabbage heads.
There are a variety of dishes it can be used in, such as soups, stews, casseroles, skillet meals, or chopped up and added to salad.
I personally love steamed cabbage with nothing but salt and pepper added to it.
39. Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese isn’t super cheap, but it is cheap enough to qualify for the cheapest groceries list.
Similar to yogurt, it makes a good snack to mix with fruit or vegetables. It also comes in larger containers for even more savings.
Broccoli is a good item to buy as frozen food when you’re grocery shopping.
If you purchase it frozen, it typically comes in crowns or crowns and pieces, with the latter being the cheapest.
If you choose to buy it fresh do the cleaning, cutting, and chopping yourself to save the most. Precut vegetables of any kind are not the cheapest foods to buy since you pay for the convenience of someone doing it for you.
41. Frozen fruit and berries
Frozen fruit, frozen berries, or canned fruits, are the options you have when your favorites are not in season.
When there are no additives, frozen food is the best way to go because it tastes almost as good as fresh once it is thawed out.
Frozen fruit is also great for smoothies or to make homemade ice cream.
Salsa is one of the cheap groceries that can be used as a side filler for many dishes, especially Mexican-style recipes.
It doesn’t take the place of fresh vegetables. However, it often is full of a variety of vegetables in the ingredients if you select the chunky option, so it can be used to fill up the vegetable void if you run out.
Chicken is generally less expensive than pork, beef, and other kinds of meat.
If you have to pull in a tight budget, chicken is the way to go to keep your list loaded with cheap foods.
It comes in a variety of cuts, such as boneless breasts, tenderloins, wings, chicken legs or drumsticks, skinless, and more.
It can be purchased ground as well and used the same as ground turkey or ground beef.
Chicken thighs are one of the cheap foods that are typically easy to find because they are not a favorite for many people. They have a multitude of uses and create flavorful dishes with the moist and tender meat that comes off this chicken part.
Chicken is also great for leftovers. Chicken legs make a great picnic or patio food because they are easy to eat and tasty even cold.
Chicken salad sandwiches are another favorite way to use up leftover chicken.
If you want to keep your list full of cheap groceries in all areas, consider buying a whole chicken and cutting it up yourself or roasting it whole.
44. Lettuce head
Lettuce can be purchased and ready-to-eat in bags with a few vegetables added like carrots and purple cabbage.
It is much cheaper and lasts longer to buy a head of lettuce and chop it up yourself.
You can also add the veggies you want and make a tasty salad that is much better than the packaged.
45. Ground turkey
Ground turkey is a good item on your cheapest groceries list when it is on sale.
It can be cheaper than ground beef and used in its place, such for taco meat, casseroles, or skillet meals.
Cucumbers can be bought at a great price, and used for a variety of side dishes.
They are great plain, in salads, in a dressing mixed with onions, and so many other recipes.
47. Canned soups
Most of the groceries on the cheapest groceries list are whole foods because it is cheaper to make your own than to buy ready-to-eat dishes.
However, canned soup like Chicken Noodle is a great price so I recommend keeping it in your pantry.
It can make a quick meal if you are on the go by adding some crackers and even a small sandwich or some bread.
48. Green beans
Green beans can be fresh, canned, or frozen.
You have to develop a taste for kale. It can be added to soups or a tossed salad for a lot of nutritional value in your diet.
Kiwi may be difficult to find at a local grocery store, depending on how big the store is.
It is a sweet fruit that is budget-friendly during the summer months when it is in season.
Milk is one of the cheapest dairy products you can buy if it is cow’s milk you purchase. Almond milk and other kinds of milk are not considered cheap food items.
If you have cereal on your cheapest groceries list, milk should be added as well.
You can also drink it plain, with chocolate added for a special treat, and use it to make dishes like macaroni and cheese.
Other dishes also need milk, like French toast, mashed potatoes, gravy, and more.
52. Canned vegetables
Canned vegetables are cheap and worth buying when they are on sale or in the generic brand.
Vegetables like green beans, corn, peas, and others are good to have on hand for casseroles or side dishes.
Cheese comes in a variety of brands, flavors, and of course, prices.
You can buy it grated so it is ready to use, or in a chunk and grate your own.
If you stick with the normal types such as cheddar, Monterey Jack, or mozzarella, it comes in at a great price compared to the fancy types.
Grating or slicing your own will save you money over the convenience of having it already done.
Cheese is a great snack with crackers cut in chunks or used in many dishes as part of the recipe.
54. Ground beef
Ground beef is not a cheap food per se; however, for meaty dishes, it is typically less expensive than other types of ground meat.
The leaner the processing of the ground beef, the more expensive the package will be.
However, remember if it is less lean, that means there is more fat in it that will cook out when you brown it, leaving you with a much smaller amount than you may have anticipated.
Pork is a cheap grocery item that can usually be found fresh at your local grocery store.
There are numerous cuts so you can plan your meals and get the cut that fits your recipe.
56. Macaroni and cheese
Boxed macaroni and cheese doesn’t taste nearly as good homemade. However, this is one of the few instances where it is cheaper to buy it than make it yourself.
You can make it healthier by adding fresh or frozen vegetables like green beans, carrots, onion, or broccoli and meat like chicken or beef.
Celery is a good snack filled with peanut butter or cream cheese.
It can also be added to numerous dishes like stews, soups, and baked dressings.
Cauliflower can be used for so many things. The way to get it cheap is to buy it in heads and cut it yourself or buy it frozen. Purchasing it precut will cost much more.
59. Hot dogs
Hot dogs can be purchased in all beef or a mix of beef, turkey, and other ingredients.
The latter is the cheapest and can be a quick meal when you are low on time.
60. Canned refried beans
Another prepared item, refried beans work as a quick side filler for many meals without spending too much on a can.
They are a good source of protein.
If you want to save money on a tight budget, you can make your own cheaper than buying them in a can.
61. Ramen noodles
There isn’t much nutritional value in ramen noodles.
However, they are cheap and can also be used in salads.
62. Spices or seasonings
Even if you are on a tight budget, spices are a necessity when you cook at home.
Some spices may seem expensive, especially because you may not use them more than once or twice every couple of months.
The good thing to remember is they last a long time if you aren’t using them often.
It is cheapest to buy generic spices, or go to a store like Dollar Tree and get a large container for $1.
Garlic can be purchased in salt, powder, fresh, in jars, and more.
It serves as a flavor enhancer in many recipes and is also filled with super healthy vitamins and minerals.
Fresh garlic needs a garlic press. Garlic packaged in a jar comes in whole cloves and pressed cloves. It is cheap when purchased either way, and a spice to keep on hand for flavoring.
64. Mushroom soup
Mushroom soup is an excellent cooking ingredient for slow cooker meals, casseroles, and skillet dishes. It is a great addition to your cheap foods list because it can be used in so many ways.
65. Cream of Celery soup
Cream of Celery soup is similar to mushroom soup in that it is an excellent filler to make tasty one-skillet dishes.
66. Taco seasoning
Taco seasoning should be kept in your pantry for quick Mexican dishes or for tacos or burritos.
It can be purchased in individual packets or in a larger dispenser and measured.
If you use this flavor of seasoning frequently, you may want to consider making your own and saving a few pennies. I make my own and it is simple, cheap, and tastes great.
One of the cheapest grocery items you will put on your cheapest groceries list is flour.
It can be purchased as whole wheat flour, bleached all-purpose, and several other varieties such as almond flour. The bleached all-purpose generic brand is the cheapest.
It is also an option to buy a wheat grinder and make your own flour if you’re on a tight budget and want extra savings.
68. Pasta sauce
Pasta sauce can be disguised in several different names, such as marinara sauce, pizza sauce, or spaghetti sauce.
Plain marinara or pasta sauce is much cheaper than pre-seasoned varieties, and you can season it yourself to make it taste delicious.
Sugar belongs on the cheap groceries list.
It is used in many recipes. When you cook from scratch instead of using a boxed mix, sugar is necessary to keep in your pantry.
Lemons made the cheapest groceries list because they can be used to flavor fish and some other dishes, and make water more exciting to drink (which saves a lot of cash.)
They can also make a healthy fresh lemonade to serve with your meals.
What is the best way to stick to a budget when making your cheapest groceries list?
One of the best ways to stick to a budget when making your grocery list is by coming up with a set amount that you are willing to spend.
Recording your food purchases for the week and seeing how you are doing against that limit will help you take notice of where you’re overspending.
You should also consider what items are on sale at the store so that you can afford to buy a few extras when they go on sale to save over the long run.
Finally, it’s important to not buy in bulk if the product is something you don’t eat regularly. Too much food inevitably means wasted food.
Is it possible to eat healthy on a budget?
It is possible to eat healthy foods on a budget!
Some of the best ways to do this are by making a list and sticking to it, buying fresh produce that’s on sale, and trying new recipes.
You can also save money by eating vegetable dishes instead of meat-based ones.
Vegetarian ingredients are usually cheaper than meat, and most vegetarian recipes use beans as their main protein source.
When you don’t have many items on your grocery list that come from animals, so you can cut down on how much you’re spending overall.
What store has the cheapest groceries?
If comparing the exact products at different stores, the prices will likely be all over the place.
The marketing strategy of stores is to deeply cut the price of a small number of items, then once you are in the store they know you will buy the high-priced items that are not on sale out of convenience.
Here are some of the best places to get the cheapest groceries.
Always price compare in your location because groceries that are cheap at one store in one location may not be the cheapest in another location.
Stores to check out that typically have cheaper prices:
- This store sells most of its products in bulk, which saves money if you’re buying a lot of things at once. Plus, it has weekly sales on certain items that help bring the price down even further!
- Also, the Target Red Card is available which gives you 5% off of your entire purchase. The Target Red Card connects to your checking account and is just like using your bank debit card.
2. Grocery Outlet
- This is another store that offers lots of savings for customers who buy in large quantities and those who don’t mind stocking their pantry with “generic” brand products.
3. Trader Joe’s
- This chain saves customers money by getting rid of unnecessary overhead costs such as expensive storefronts and advertising campaigns, thus passing those savings onto shoppers.
4. Whole Foods
- Customers will find that Whole Foods products are quite expensive, but specialty items and “organic” and/or “all-natural” products can help keep the grocery bill lower than average.
- Also, many of their stores have bulk bins near the entrance where customers can scoop out small amounts of ingredients like nuts or seeds instead of buying a whole container.
- This warehouse store provides lots of savings for families who buy in bulk because the purchase prices per pound or per ounce are cheaper than regular retail delivery services.
- Plus, they frequently offer coupons online and in mailings to members (who must be paid up on their membership dues) to use in-store.
6. Sam’s Club
- This is a membership warehouse so there are annual dues that must be paid to shop here.
- Most of the food is in bulk so the savings can be great if it is items you would purchase anyways.
When do stores cut prices?
Every store has its own schedule for when they cut prices, but most of them are between 4 and 6 pm.
When items are close to the expiration date the prices are cut to liquidate them quickly before that date passes.
Ask the manager of the meat department, bakery, etc., and they will tell you how their system works so you can get the best prices.
If you have room in the freezer, most of these items can be kept until you need them, like pork, beef, chicken, bread, etc.
What is the least expensive grocery store?
A cheap grocery store is one that offers items for sale at affordable prices.
The least expensive grocery store offers the best value for your money, which means getting the most food for less money.
There are lots of ways to determine if a particular grocery store is cheap or not, such as comparing unit price labels, sales ads, coupons, and even special collections like organic groceries.
Is Walmart the cheapest place to buy groceries?
This is not an easy question to answer.
You need to consider a number of factors such as what types of food you buy, how much you buy, and what grocery stores you have in your area to compare it to.
The best way to determine if Walmart is the cheapest grocery store in your area would be to compare prices with several other stores and do some shopping around. You don’t have to go to the store, but scouring online ads and websites will give you the information you need.
This might take time, but it’s well worth it because saving money on groceries can result in hundreds of dollars saved each year.
Looking at their unit price labels will give you a good idea about whether or not Walmart offers the lowest grocery prices overall. Prices at one Walmart can be different at the Walmart down the road, or in the next town.
How can I find the cheapest grocery store near me?
Here are some tips for finding the least expensive grocery store in your location:
1) Shop at different stores each week until you find a store that has the lowest prices on the items you buy regularly. Then shop there exclusively for a month or two to see if their prices change.
2) Use coupons and only buy items that are on sale. This is much easier to do today with coupons being on a website than it was years ago when coupons had to be cut out. This way I know exactly how much money I am spending on each item and can easily compare unit prices between different stores without wasting time calculating costs in my head.
3) Buy products from a special collection such as organic groceries, gluten-free foods, or local produce. Often these collections will have lower price points than an ordinary grocery department.
4) Look at the sales ads for all of your favorite stores before going shopping so you can have a budget to stay within before walking into the store. No more going shopping without a game plan!
5) Use comparison websites online to look up prices on specific brands or products. Sites such as consumer affairs have user reviews that you can read to get an idea about trendy or popular brands and what they cost at different least expensive grocery stores throughout the country.
How can I spend $30 a week on groceries?
Some of the best ways to do this are by making a list and sticking to it, buying fresh produce that’s on sale, and trying new recipes that use cheap ingredients.
Staying out of the grocery store so you get exactly what is on your list goes a long way in helping you meet your weekly budget spend.
Opt for pickup or delivery, which will also save you time.
You can also save money by eating vegetarian or vegan dishes instead of meat-based ones.
Vegetarian ingredients are usually cheaper than meat, and most vegetarian recipes use beans as their main protein source.
We’ve covered a lot of ground here, from how to build your personal grocery list to get the cheapest foods and sticking to it when you’re in the store so you don’t buy things not on your list or that you don’t need.
It all boils down to one word: planning.
Plan out what you’re going to eat for the week, make your grocery list from the meal plan, and stick with it!
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