As the clock struck midnight on December 31st and we all turned our calendars to a new year, we were met with record high inflation and soaring food prices. Most families also quickly realized that the official rate of 7% overall inflation on food was substantially higher in reality. A more accurate view would set the price hikes at closer to 25%.
My YouTube viewers have been expressing concerns over rapidly rising food prices. So, I decided to do a four week February Grocery Savings Challenge every Thursday on YouTube.
Both the YouTube series and the series here on the website will chronicle my journey to feed my family for no more than $50 a week for the next four weeks.
To watch the first video in the series, click below. I show each item in the haul and give frugal strategies for stretching ingredients and making the most of every dollar.
So, how does the average person continue to feed their family each week without breaking the bank?
In 2021, during the midst of record-breaking inflation, I averaged just under $225 each month to feed our family of four.
I am helped through the fact that I barter some of my time each summer in exchange for some fresh produce each week. However, even if I added the value of that food into my budget, my total expenses for food would still be just $250 each month.
Using my recent grocery haul as the basis of this $50 weekly menu, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I add in additional ingredients I used from our pantry and freezer to create the recipes for this week’s menu.
I began by heading to my favorite ethnic food market, The Mediterranean Mart. Owner, Saeed Yousseff, receives a truckload of fresh breads, products, and produce from Chicago every Thursday. That means, on Friday, he is emptying shelves of last week’s produce at bargain prices.
Here’s what I got:
- $2.00 for six bunches of organic green onions
- $1.50 for two bunches of collard greens
- $2.50 for 5 bunches of organic rainbow carrots (with the tops included)
- $2.25 per large bag of organic spinach
- $5.24 for a pound of walnut halves
- a very large bulb of garlic
My second stop was Aldi, where I bought
- $1.49 for celery
- $.75 each for 2 cucumbers
- 12 oz. bag of kale
- 8 pounds of oranges – on sale for $2.69 for each 4-pound bag
- $.85 each for 2 boxes of saltine crackers
This Week’s Menu
Let’s take a look at the topical menu that I created, using all of the perishable ingredients from my $30.60 grocery haul and ingredients that I already had on hand in the house.
What exactly did we eat?
We eat nearly the same things every week for breakfast, alternating between old fashioned oatmeal, cream of wheat, corn grits, and steel cut oats. If we have fruit available, we top the cereal with it. Otherwise, we use cinnamon and sugar and a splash of plant-based milk.
Breakfast costs us an average of $1.25 a day for all four of us, depending on whether we add fruit to our hot cereal.
I began maximizing the use of fresh ingredients, by creating Mediterranean inspired collard greens stuffed with rice, raisins, nuts, and small cubes of butternut squash. The dish was flavored with dried mint, cinnamon, curry, and garam masala. Each collard green roll was topped by a homemade marinara sauce.
The carrot tops did not go to waste, either. The larger stems were removed and the tops washed. I then created a quick carrot top pesto sauce. It made one cup of pesto, which was enough to nicely cover 24 ounces of pasta.
The thick stems from both the carrot tops and collard greens were washed and frozen for later use making homemade vegetable broth.
- Black Bean Tostadas
- Carrot Top Pesto
- Quarter Pound Beet Burgers
- Barbecue Lentil Sandwiches
- Mediterranean Stuffed Collard Greens
- Carrot Dogs
- Stir Fry over Rice
Fresh, hot soup is not only really easy to make it’s also incredibly inexpensive. We eat soup nearly every day for lunch and this week it was butternut squash soup and black bean chili on the menu.
Focusing on staying out of the grocery store, sometimes means making more items from scratch. A double batch of cornbread made 32 muffins, while just eight corn tortillas were cut into eighths to create a homemade (and much healthier) version of Doritos.
Homemade wheat tortillas are incredibly easy to make and cost about $.04 per tortilla. I’ve used the same homemade tortilla recipe for many years and the tortillas consistently turn our soft and perfectly spotted with light brown on both sides.
Don’t be afraid to serve your family several side dishes for supper one night. You don’t need a main dish as a focal point for every meal. When there is more variety, everyone gets to try a little bit of each item, making meals more interesting (and often less expensive, in the long run).
Salads can either be served with other items or as a stand-alone main dish, making them very versatile. I often combine several salads on my plate, add a piece of fresh fruit, and that is my dinner for the evening.
Cost of the Ingredients Added from My Pantry
Total Cost of This Week’s Menu
Remember, the goal was no more than $50, including the cost of any groceries that I purchased and the cost of ingredients that I added from home to create the recipes in the menu.
What’s on your menu this week?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Tell me what you’re eating this week and how you’re saving money at the grocery store.