Feeding your family healthy food does not mean breaking the bank.
This post is all about stretching your budget, using supermarket markdowns as the basis for your menu plan. I’ll show you how my sixteen year old son and I prepared breakfast, lunch, and dinner for our family of four for an entire week for about $50.00. I’ll use my $16 Kroger markdown haul as the basis of our meal plan.
Before we get started
Here are a couple of things you need to know.
First, for over a decade, we have eaten a whole food, plant based diet. That’s right. We’re vegan. It is, in fact, both healthy and inexpensive.
However, even if you eat meat and dairy, I want you to stick with me. The tips that I give, work to lower your food bills (no matter what your diet preference.)
You also need to know that the recipe cost analysis is reflective of what I paid for ingredients.
In this post, I will break each recipe down to its approximate cost and tell you if I used it for one or multiple meals. What you pay will vary. However, by using the strategies that I share, you will be able to lower your grocery costs.
In this video, I show each markdown and give seven strategies for including markdowns in your weekly menu plan.
Here’s a look at this week’s Kroger markdown deals:
When looking to pay less for food, begin by perusing the markdown shelves at your local grocer. Kroger discounts items which are within forty-eight hours of their “sell by” date. You’ll find them offered between 50 and 75% off of the regular shelf price.
I recently purchased everything in this photo for just $16.06 (including tax.) Whenever you buy markdowns, the first thing you need to do is prioritize your use of them. Produce is perishable. By extension, some of it rots quickly, while other items will last for several days or even weeks. When you use the most perishable items first, you avoid wasting food and throwing out rotted food.
Let’s delve into how we used every single item in the photo before it rotted.
You’ll see that I prioritized these items, adding just a few ingredients that I already had on hand. The result of my efforts was that I didn’t need to go to the store for ten days. Statistically, the more times you are in a store, the more money you spend. So, by using what you have at home, you will save money.
When it comes to breakfast, we choose a bowl of hot cereal, topped with fruit. Buying large fifty pound bags of oats and farina allow us to drop the price per pound dramatically. In fact, we save an average of 65-75% off of the price of the very same product which is sold in small boxes and bags at local grocery stores.
I paid 45¢ per pound for thick cut oats and cream of wheat in fifty pound bags.
Homemade pancakes can be made ahead and frozen, giving you another quick and easy choice for weekday breakfasts. Our pancake cost is driven up a little bit by the fact that we use only real maple syrup. To lower this cost, top your flapjacks with unsweetened applesauce or just sugar and cinnamon.
- Oatmeal, Milk, Blueberries, Sugar – $3.00
- Cream of Wheat, Milk, Cinnamon, Sugar – $2.00
- Pancakes, blueberries, syrup – $3.50
Total cost of breakfasts = $8.50
Lunch and Dinner
I like to list lunches and dinners together in my $50 menu plans. The reason for this is simple. Leftovers from suppers are often packed for lunches the following day. Additionally, side dishes are interchangeable between the two meals.
These recipes listed here fed our family for an entire week. Remember, my cost analysis is based on what I paid for ingredients. Your costs may differ. However, by using my strategies, you will save money on groceries and your food costs will drop.
We eat salads twice a day. Most of the time we grab whatever greens are on hand, throw on leftovers from the night before, and drizzle on some dressing. Here’s a look at this week’s array of salads.
Greek Salad and Lemon Tahini Dressing (COST: $2.50 – Romaine lettuce, olives, tomato, tahini, lemon juice, spices)
Spicy Vegan Lettuce Wraps (COST: $2.25 – Romaine lettuce, mushroom, soy sauce, onion, peanut butter, molasses, spices.)
Vegetable Rice Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing (COST: $1.00 – Rice, radishes, celery, onion, carrots, honey, vinegar, Dijon mustard, spices)
Spinach and Romaine Lettuce Salads with Homemade Dressing (COST: $8.00 – Romaine Lettuce, spinach, spring mix, white mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, mustard, sugar)
Total cost of salads: $13.75
Despite the fact that I love eating portobellos raw, I did not allow myself to be led astray from my intentions for these big, beautiful mushrooms. Portobellos are fantastic as a meat substitute, whether you are vegan or not.
In keeping with our family’s zero waste food policy, I finely chopped the stems and gills for use this is very tasty black bean mushroom burger. A double batch made sixteen burgers, giving me enough to put some in the freezer for next week. Now, that’s a win/win!
This was our first time to make the carrot corndog recipe and it won’t be the last! They were easy to make and were met with rave reviews from the whole family.
Chunky Portobello Mushroom Burgers (COST for 16 burgers: $3.00 – Mushrooms, black beans, broccoli, onions, bread crumbs, seasoning)
Mini Carrot Corn Dogs (COST: $1.50 – Mini carrots, seasoning, cornmeal, flour, milk, maple syrup)
Total cost of burgers: $4.50
Cream of Curry Mushroom Soup (COST: $2.75 – Mushrooms, celery, onion, broth, milk, spices)
Creamy Potato Broccoli Soup (COST: $2.25. – Potatoes, carrot, celery, onion, stock, broccoli, spices)
Black Bean Sweet Potato Soup (COST: $4.00. – Black beans, onions, sweet potatoes, tomato puree, spices)
Total cost of soups: $9.00
I have to admit, we sometimes throw two or three “side dishes” on the table and make it into a meal. We’ve never been big on needing to have an “official” main dish. We rather like the idea of a potluck experience and it works for our family. So, whenever I list items as a side dish, it’s often listed on my actual menu plan as though it were a main dish.
This version of buffalo broccoli bites was another first for us. And it won’t be the last. This recipe was SOOOO much easier than the one I usually make and it was super tasty. On my menu plan, I paired the buffalo broccoli with the carrot corndogs for a “snacky supper”. If you want a surefire winner for your next family movie or game night, this is a winning (and healthy) combination.
I created the baked beans by saving the marinade liquid that I used for the carrot corndogs. The liquid smoke and spices are identical to those which I regularly use for baked beans. So, rather than pitch the liquid, I saved it and used it to flavor the baked beans. I found large, twelve pound bags of dried pinto beans on clearance at SAMS a few months ago. The cost per pound was just 38¢.
Buffalo Broccoli Bites (COST: $1.50 – Broccoli, bread crumbs, hot wing sauce, spices)
The Best Vegan Baked Beans on the Planet (COST: $1.00- Pinto beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, soy sauce, liquid smoke, spices)
Total cost of sides: $2.50
The recipe for potato curry called for green peas. I subbed a pound of the sugar snap peas, cut into pieces. I also didn’t have coconut milk on hand. I used soy milk and sprinkled some unsweetened coconut flakes on top. Both substitutions worked great.
The lemony sugar snap peas are a recipe created by my son, Daniel, when he was fifteen years old. Whenever I find sugar snap peas on sale, this recipe is still a quick and easy meal favorite in our home. I generally serve it atop brown rice. But, I recently found a fifty pound bag of rice marked down to $7.41 at SAMS. So, right now, we are using the white variety, rather than the more nutritious brown rice.
I cooked one pound of rice in the rice cooker, using half of it for the lemony sugar snap peas and the rest for the rice salad (Listed in the salad section of this menu plan).
If you ever have leftover rice, remember that it freezes well, allowing you to thaw it and get dinner on the table in a hurry on work nights.
This week, we used the black bean mushroom burgers in multiple ways. We ate some of them on bread. Then, a few days later, I thawed five patties and served them crumbled on a bed of romaine lettuce with taco toppings and salsa to create an impromptu main dish taco salad. Boom! Supper was on the table in ten minutes.
Lemony Sugar Snap Peas (COST: $1.50 – Sugar snap peas, onion, lemon, rice, seasoning)
Creamy Peas Potato Curry (COST: $3.00 -Potatoes, sugar snap peas, tomato puree, milk, spices)
Taco salad with homemade corn chips (COST: $2.00 – Romaine lettuce, olives, salsa, dressing, onion, white corn tortillas)
Pizza Potatoes: Baked potatoes topped with marinara sauce, pineapple chunks, olives, onions and peppers, nutritional yeast – (COST: $3.00)
Marinara Sauce – (COST: $1.75 – Tomato sauce, tomatoes, tomato paste, seasoning)
Mexican Potatoes: Leftover baked potatoes topped with smoky Mexican pinto beans. (COST: $1.00 – Potatoes, Pinto beans, tomato sauce, liquid smoke, seasoning).