As some of you might know, Joshua and I recently were BOTH unemployed, and just last week I was made an official job offer which I accepted. So how did we have food for the last few months. Well when I was first unemployed back in Early February we had a grocery budget of $50 a week and sometimes that had to last two weeks.
First real thing to do was to meal plan, meal plan, meal plan! If you're impulse grabbing food because nothing is prepared you'll easily spend half of your grocery budget just on ONE meal!
Here are some meal planners to help:
Weekly Menu and Grocery List
Monthly Menu and Grocery List
Freezer Cooking Planner
My most common way of planning was the Weekly Menu, and that was because we got paid each week and that's when we went grocery shopping. For others having a month menu is better and they go to the store for perishables. It's really about what your family needs.
So these are some simple tips that went into my menu planning
- Combine ingredients ex. buying potatoes? don't just fix one meal with potatoes fix two, you've made the ingredient work for you ex. 2 chicken breasts, don't just let them sit in the freezer PLAN with them!
- Have nights with no meat! Meat is so expensive even if it's bulk etc it's silly how expensive so have meals like grilled cheese and soup, pasta with veggies, eggs
- Make large meals (still can do portion control) to have leftovers
- Make as much scratch as possible, those box meals add up quickly. It can be a LOT of work to cook from scratch but it's worth it, and it's healthier
- If you're into freezer cooking check out pinterest for AMAZING freezer meals for pennies on the dollar
- Have an aldi in town? Shop there!
- Hello! Okay so you have 4 people to feed not 2 so you use 2 lbs of hamburger in a dish, okay. Why not use 1 1/2 lbs. If you have 2 meals with hamburger that's an extra pound you can use in something else if you just take out 1/2 lb!
- If you can't get to an aldi, shop from the stores ad. You see hamburger on sale (change your menu a bit, look at their ad on their website before you go and plan around it! Take advantage of things already on SALE!
- Picky eaters? Blenderize! If you have a kid that hates carrots blend them into the dish, you'll taste them, but they probably won't!
- *Addition by Josh* - COUPON, COUPON, COUPON! You can extend the amount your dollar can go by using coupons! They are like cash that can only be used on certain items! Look for coupons on things that are on the list. DON'T add something onto your list just because you have a coupon for it (Unless the item is free).
Now for some actual menus and break downs (i'm going to guess at a lot of the prices)! Aldi which i mentioned above is an amazing grocery store that has NO name brands instead all their brands and though they don't have as much of a selection as your walmart they have a lot, and things can be sometimes half price what they are in a large store like Walmart and Target. The food tastes just as good!
So I'm going to give you my menu plan, link the recipe but below it give you the why and how it works for me!
Week # 1
Chicken & Dumplings
I choose this because it goes so far, it'll lost easily 8 servings plus! I'll also use the chicken in another dish!
So I buy hamburger or ground turkey (because it's cheaper) in those 3 pounds rolls because it's about 20% cheaper than 3 1-pound rolls. You'll have to guesstimate at the measurments when you're dividing it but it'll be worth it!
Sour Cream Noodle Bake
Again using up the hamburger (or turkey)! But also the ingredients for this are SOOOOO cheap plus again using the sour cream for something else!
Au Gratin Potatoes
You're using the potatoes from chicken and dumplings and the cheese for the quesadillas and tacos (below). Sausage costs about $2.99
Using the sour cream, I only pay $.99 for my tortillas and a big bag of cheese can be expensive but I'll use it for other things, or freeze the rest!
In this recipe you're going to use the rest of the hamburger, the sour cream, cheese, and tortillas. Now just throw in ONE can of refried beans, some lettuce that you already have for salads and it's not fancy but it's tacos!
Grilled cheese and soup
I spend the $2.99 on pepperjack cheese, but I use it for this and egg sandwiches! Soup is cheap as long as you're not buying chunky, plus Josh loves to have his leftover Chicken and Dumplings with this!
So I love my eggs hard if they're not scrambled so then we throw some toast in the toast mix up about 4-6 eggs throw some cheese on it and GO!
I don't have a recipe but let me tell what I mean. Put your chicken breasts in the crockpot and buy your standard liquid marinade from the grocery, pour the WHOLE bottle on the chicken. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours. Mix a bag of pasta sides (most stores they cost $1) and you're done! Throw some frozen veggies in the microwave to steam or whatever and you have a healthy meal and you've used the leftover chicken breasts
I've created 10 meals for you, three are no meat so super cheap! The meatless you could do for lunches or have leftovers whatever!
I know it's not easy, but over the next few weeks I'll sit down with MORE menu plans. It's possible to do groceries on a huge budget and you don't *need* coupons. Trust me I love couponing but sometimes it doesn't help your bottom line.