Each of my $50 Menu posts features an entire week’s worth of recipes, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner for six people for about $50.
This was a weird week for our menus. I found myself with bits and pieces of produce, which would make recipes, but they didn’t seem large enough portions for six people. So, I wound up making multiple entrees and then serving more than one at several of the meals. The kids liked it, because it was like a buffet.
The strange consequence, which I wasn’t expecting, was that I created my least expensive weekly menu plan to date! It was well under $50 for the entire week to feed my family – breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
When I began my food budget challenge it was because I had to figure out how to negate the effects of COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the numbers. After stocking up for three months (and trying to find peanut butter and applesauce on nearly empty shelves), I was left with just $200 a month for food.
After I announced to the world that I was dedicated to staying within our budget, which meant trying to strategize menus for a family of six, using just two, crisp $100 bills each month, people began to ask what in the world I was feeding my family.
Remember, the amount for each recipe is an estimate, based on what I paid for the ingredients. If I got a great deal on cabbage, then that is reflected in the estimated cost of the coleslaw.
By using my cost figures as a model, you can begin creating your own weekly menus, based on what you find on sale at the grocery store and farmers markets. You will begin to lower your grocery bills dramatically.
I wish I could tell you that we are terribly adventurous when it comes to the first meal of the day, but, we are not. Nope! We stick with good old cream of wheat or oatmeal pretty much seven days a week.
The boys add a little cocoa to their cream of wheat to make it into cocoa wheats and Larry and I add fruit and a splash of plant-based milk to our oatmeal every morning. Oatmeal contains a boatload of fiber and protein. It truly is a great way to fill up and take care of your health at the same time.
We top oatmeal with fruit, a splash of plant-based milk, and a little sugar.
- $2.00 – 1.5 pounds cream of wheat
- $1.80 – 2 pounds of oatmeal
- $2.00 – Fruit
- $1.00 – Milk
Breakfast Total $6.80
Although our breakfast stayed the same, lunch did take a different direction this week. While I generally serve homemade soup for lunch, I decided to branch out.
I did begin the week with my smoky white bean soup. Then, for two days we ate what I am calling an elbow macaroni trio. I created a three different hot pasta dishes, beginning with a base of elbow macaroni and then adding leftover sauces and pesto that I had in the fridge. They were amazing!
Finally, we tried a brand new Israeli speciality, sharshuka. It was really good (and helped use up some of my beet greens!)
- $3.50 – Smoky White Bean Soup, peanut butter sandwich, fruit (x2)
- $3.25 – Pasta Trio (Alfredo, Marinara, Radish Leaf Pesto), fruit (x2)
- $3.00 – Beet Green Sharshuka, slice of bread, fruit (x2)
- $0.00 – Leftovers (x1)
Lunch Total = $9.75
Larry and I were busy Monday night filming this week’s YouTube video. So, the 15 year old sous chef made aloo sabzi for supper. This Indian version of fried potatoes is both delicious and easy! I also made good use of some leftover oatmeal and cooked brown rice, combining them into some easy grain-based burgers. I made a double batch and the extras went into the freezer.
Happily, the food went further than I thought it would and I wound up with plenty of leftovers to package up for my husband and sons to take to work for lunch the next day. Overall, it was a win-win situation.
- $3.50 – One Pan Mexican Quinoa (x1)
- $3.50 – Stir fry Vegetables over Quinoa (x1)
- $3.50 – Crockpot cabbage and rice casserole (x2)
- $1.00 – 1-pan Potato (Aloo) Sabzi (x1)
- $1.50 – Oatmeal Rice Burgers (x2)
Main Dish Total = $13.00
Tips for Dealing with Leftovers
Not making the best use of leftover food is undoubtedly the primary way that food rots in the fridge and winds up being thrown out. Here is a list of strategies to get you well on your way to saving money on feeding your family and not pitching food into the garbage can.
- Be sure to label and date leftovers before placing them in the fridge.
- Have a designated shelf and space in the fridge for leftovers which are “up for grabs”.
- Pre-pack leftovers for lunches the next day. If we have leftover soup, I go ahead and put a servings in containers and label them for my husband and sons. This makes it easy for them to look in the fridge and grab them easily on their way out the door the next day.
This week, we indulged in some beloved seasonal produce for our side dishes, including roasted beets and oil-free cabbage slaw. I had a handful of potatoes left over from my last 50# organic potato haul and wound up mashing them and serving them topped with homemade pesto. Divine! Finally, homemade baked beans are not only easy, they are always a great idea. You can make them in the crockpot in a snap and they are incredibly inexpensive.
Side Dish Menu:
- $2.00 – Baked Beans (x3)
- $2.00 – Mashed Potatoes topped with Radish Leaf Pesto (x1)
- $3.00 -Seriously simple Oil-free Cabbage Slaw (x3)
- $2.00 – Roasted Beets (x2)
Side Dish Total = $9.00
Here’s a reminder that herbal teas cost you literally nothing when you grow your own herbs. Mint is incredibly easy to propagate and spreads like wildfire.
If you’d like to freeze fresh mint for later use, check out this step-by-step tutorial.
I also have a step-by-step tutorial to learn to dehydrate mint quickly and easily in your microwave.