For nearly two months, I’ve been feeding my family of six for just $200 a month. I use ingredients from our weekly CSA basket as the backbone of my weekly $50 menus.
Before we begin, let’s review the “rules” of my challenge. Right now, I’m feeding my family of six on no more than $200 a month – in addition to the items we receive each week in our CSA share.
What is a CSA?
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Local, small family farmers sell a specified number of “shares” early in the year to help raise funds for seeds and supplies. In return, members pick up our share of the harvest each week for the length of the growing season.
I cover CSAs in depth in this post, giving you insights on what to expect, how to find the perfect CSA for your family, and what questions you need to ask before signing on the dotted line.
This week’s menu
The flavors from this week’s $50 menu hail primarily from Mediterranean countries. If you want to flex your culinary muscles, introduce new flavors, and save loads of money, then look no further than the traditional foods of other nations.
The best cooking comes from people who have lived off the land, harvesting and eating fresh-from-the-field ingredients and combining them, using a simple array of native herbs and spices.
This week we invested in some bulk breakfast items, including 50 pound bags of old fashioned rolled oats and steel cut oats. Buying in bulk can plummet your overall grocery costs.
We dropped our average cost per pound of rolled oats from $.90 to $.45 per pound. In the case of steel cut oats, the drop was even more dramatic. I have been unable to find steel cut oats for much less than $1.50 per pound. In a lucky break, I was able to order them on-line this week for just $.50 a pound! That’s 66% less! The entire family loves steel cut oats. Not only are we happy campers, we are also fully stocked for several months!
- $1.50 – Steel cut oats, milk, blueberries, sugar
- $3.00 – Rolled oats, milk, blueberries, sugar
- $3.00 -Cream of wheat, milk, sugar
Total cost of breakfasts = $7.50
This week’s lunchtime fare began with a lovely sweet potato pesto soup, followed by Italian chickpea soup, and concluding with two days of leftovers from supper. I ran out of bread by Wednesday and really didn’t have extra time (or energy) to bake new loaves. Instead, I whipped up a batch of homemade tortillas for one lunch. The rest of the week we made do with adding saltine crackers to our soup.
On Saturday, we lunched on carrot dogs on buns that I got on sale for just $.69 at HyVee during their three day weekend sale. My friend, Faith’s carrot dogs are the best that I have ever eaten. You would have no idea that you were not eating Oscar Meyer – well, except for the fact that there is no additives, cholesterol, or added salt in this version. Amazing!
- $4.00 – Sweet potato pesto soup and salad
- $4.00 – Chickpea Soup
- $0.00 – Leftovers (cost computed in the supper section of this menu plan)
- $.50 – Homemade tortillas
- $3.00 – Chickpea “tuno” salad sandwiches
- $2.00 – Carrot dogs in buns
Total cost of lunches = $13.50
Greek, Italian, and Polish regional foods all had their special place in this week’s supper menu. Beginning with a super quick bolognese sauce in the pressure cooker, continuing with a flavorful Greek salad, and finishing with a delicious Polish cabbage mixture.
The 2 1/2 pound bag of spinach that I found on markdown at GFS lasted us all week long. Finding salad greens on markdown means that my twice a day big salad habit is very affordable. We reserve the weekend for anything with sugar. This week, the 15 year old sous chef and I made brownies at his request. Amazing yumminess to finish out a great week!
- $6.00 – Instant Pot Lentil Bolognese Sauce over bowtie pasta
- $2.00 – Zoodles with pesto
- $2.50 – Zoodle Greek Salad
- $4.00 – Polish Cabbage and Potatoes
- $3.00 – Coconut Chickpeas, New Potatoes, and Zucchini over Rice
- $1.50 – Whole wheat molasses quick bread
- $5.00 – Spinach salad
- $2.00 – Chocolate coffee brownies