you have to remember that a fruit is a fruit is a fruit. so if your list calls for blackberries, but a pint is $7, then that's the time to buy the apples that are $1 per pound instead. and the same goes for proteins. you can buy the leanest beef possible, but if you need to buy the cheap stuff you can cook and rinse it to end up with almost the same fat as the expensive stuff. so if your list calls for shrimp and shrimp are $10 a pound, buy the chicken that's $2 a pound instead. you may have to alter some cooking times and preps, but healthy food is healthy food.
if you're using the spark menus [or most other menus], you do need to do some editing as well. the program doesn't plan for using up a package of something. my bread carb list for the week includes: one cup of cheerios, a cup of oats, 2 slices italian bread, 2 slices whole wheat bread, one dinner roll, 8 saltines, 3 eggo waffles, 2 cups cream of wheat, a sweet potato, 2 slices reduced calorie bread, a wheat bran muffin, 2 flour tortillas, and 2 cups of long grain rice. so if i were to buy that all of those things my grocery bill would be huge and i would have a ton of open bread/carbs to use up somehow. but i know that a carb is a carb is a carb. so i'm not going to buy three different kinds of bread plus rolls and tortillas for the week. i would buy a bag of one of them and use whatever i bought when the menu called for any of them. so instead of spending $6 on three different kinds of bread, $2 on dinner rolls and $2 on tortillas [$10 total] i'd spend $2 on one of those things. i'd actually probably include the wheat bran muffin in there too. i tend not to buy cheerios, waffles or saltines, so i'd probably buy an extra three sweet potatoes to have instead. streamlining your list is going to reduce waste and the total cost of your bill.
once you have a few menus you really like, shop the sales. most grocery stores rotate the same sales in every month. which means that it can be worth it to stock up that week. my almond milk costs 3.33 regularly. but the second week of the month publix puts it on sale for $2.50. so i try to make sure i have a coupon for it that week and i try to make sure that i have enough milk to get me through til the second week of next month. watch the sales and you'll see the pattern. so if you want to have scallops, don't have them the full price week, save that dinner for when they go on sale for $5 a pound. and back to the vegetable is a vegetable is a vegetable lesson. if your recipe calls for $5 a pound asparagus and zucchini is $1 per pound, make the recipe with zucchini.
-google first. ask questions later.