I’m trying to make good on my promise to provide you all with a monthly real food frugal meal plan. I continue to get the sweetest emails from people doing their best to feed their families well on a tight budget, and are successfully implementing these frugal meal plans in their own homes. These stories are humbling, heart-warming, and certainly keep me going. Each month it gets increasingly more difficult to come up with fresh combinations of frugal recipes that will be tasty and still stay in budget. It’s not easy, folks, and I have gained a new found respect and compassion for those that have to stick to this kind of budget on a weekly basis. It certainly can be stressful! The best thing I have learned is to give yourself some grace. Not everything will be able to be organic, and that’s ok. I’m finding buying the best quality food you can afford to be the most sustainable way to shop. If you can’t afford that pasture raised chicken this week, buy the next best quality you can afford and don’t beat yourself up.
Please see my FAQ section at the bottom of this post for answers to questions you may possibly have. I am more than happy to answer your questions, but please read that section first because there is a good chance someone has already asked the same question as you.
I pray these meal plans are a blessing to you and your family. Here are past editions of these frugal meal plans.
Also check out my Frugal Meal Plans and Recipes Pinterest board. I am pinning all of my meal plans to it as well as the recipes used. It’s a quick and easy reference for you to return to over and over again.
[Tweet “Healthy food doesn’t have to break the bank!”]
Many of you have asked for a printable shopping list and plan. Click on the link below for a PDF of the dinner options and shopping list.
oatmeal (make a big batch and reheat leftovers for quick breakfasts)
Lunch and Snack Options
Leftovers from dinner will be your main lunch option
any fruit available
muffins from breakfast options
Monday: Round steak with mushroom gravy over mashed potatoes, buttered peas
Tuesday: Red beans and rice, 1/2 cabbage sauteed, or roasted broccoli
Wednesday: Spaghetti, sauteed chard with onions and garlic
Thursday: Bacon, chard, and feta quiche, roasted Brussels sprouts Note: if gluten free, omit crust
Friday: Chicken, rice, and lentils, 1/2 cabbage roasted
Saturday: Split pea soup
Sunday: Clean out the fridge. There should be some soup or chicken and rice left. If not shred up some potatoes and make hashbrowns to go with other breakfast food.
The Shopping List
whole chicken or chicken thighs 10.00
round steak 4.00
ground beef 4.00
eggs (2) 6.00
dry split peas 2.00
dry red beans 1.79
28 oz organic whole tomatoes 3.00
tomato paste 1.00
seasonal fruit 4.00
green pepper 1.00
frozen peas 1.00
Brussels sprouts 1.99/lb
swiss chard 1.99
Pantry staples on hand (not included in total)
other herbs for chicken and rice and quiche
Note: If you don’t already have some of these ingredients, it will inflate your grocery bill a bit. I find most people have these ingredients already. Also herbs are an easy and super inexpensive item to grow at home. They keep growing back as you cut them and can grow indoors even if you don’t have room for them outside. I grow tons of herbs and they add such freshness to the dishes.
[Tweet “Feed your family real food on a tight budget.”]
Q: Where do you shop? These aren’t the prices in my area.
A: I live in the midwest and prices may be cheaper or more expensive than your area. These are average prices of stores in my area: Aldi, Trader Joe’s, Schnucks, Walmart, Costco, as well as online retailers like Vitacost and Amazon. Please do not get discouraged if you don’t have an Aldi or Trader Joe’s in your area. As far as the beef price, I can only get that price when I buy in bulk from a local farmer. Grass fed beef in stores will run $6-10/lb. If the prices are more expensive in your area, take into consideration that the entire cost of living may be higher as well, meaning wages may be higher in your area also. See next question if you have more concerns over the prices listed.
Q: Can you price shop my local store?
A: No. I only have access to my local stores. If you would like to send me a master list of prices in your area, I can take those into consideration for future posts.
Q: Is that enough food for lunch and snacks?
A: Most of these dinner options will yield enough for leftovers. I have included sandwich options and fruit and vegetable options only if leftovers are not enough. They can supplement leftovers or stand alone. I am not implying a growing child eat only an apple and carrot sticks for lunch, but those alongside some soup for example, would be plenty. These meals are filling enough that snacks should not be needed, but for those that get a little hungry, I have provided small snack options as well. Children will eat better for actual meal times if they haven’t grazed all day long on snacks. This lunch and snack plan is very typical of what my family of four eats on a weekly basis, and it is plenty for us.
Q: I’m allergic to eggs, wheat, dairy, nuts, tomatoes, peanuts, yeast, and peas. Can I use your plan?
A: I understand that many people have allergies in today’s world. That’s unfortunately reality. I have tried to include as many gluten free options as possible to accommodate the masses, however, it is impossible for me to tailor these plans to fit everyone’s individual needs. Please feel free to take what you can use from this meal plan and leave the rest. Not everything will suit everyone’s dietary needs and taste.
Q: I hate beans. Can you do more plans without using beans/legumes?
A: I am an advocate for healthy pasture raised animal products, which can be more expensive than conventional. I find it nearly impossible to eat well on this limited of a budget without including some type of beans or lentils. Again, not everything will suit everyone’s dietary needs and tastes. Take what you can use, and leave the rest.
Q: I have more than/less than four people in my family. Can I still use your plans?
A: Yes, many people have used these with double the amount of people and many have used these plans for a family of one or two. Simply double the recipes if you need more. If you are cooking for only one or two people, this may be enough food for two weeks. One possible option is freezing half of the portions for later meals.
Q: I don’t even have $80 a week to spend for groceries. What advice do you have?
A: I firmly believe in grace when it comes to nourishing ourselves. We can only do what we can do. Buy the best quality of food you can afford. If you can’t afford the highest quality of everything, you just can’t. Bellies still need to be fed regardless. Consider frozen vegetables if they are less expensive than fresh. Once you have trimmed down all of those options and if you still can’t afford that amount, try checking out local food pantries and food banks. Churches/religious organizations and through your city are good places to look for those options. Dry goods like oats, beans, flour, pasta, canned tomatoes, and peanut butter are items they might typically carry. Some even offer meat and produce. Also check out discount grocers, local food co-ops, CSAs, or food ministry programs for possible cheaper options than your local grocery store. I would also encourage everyone to grow something of your own. Whether it’s in pots, a windowsill, or a backyard, anything you can grow yourself will be money saved off of your grocery bill, even if you’re just growing salad greens and herbs.