Summer is here folks! Gardens and farmer’s markets everywhere are bursting with fresh ripe produce. This is my absolute favorite time of year to eat, not only for the delicious garden goodies that summer brings, but also for budget reasons. Since the produce we consume in the summer comes almost exclusively from our garden, the only things we have to buy are weekly pantry staples, meat (if I don’t have any in bulk in the freezer), and dairy products. Vegetables, fruit, and herbs are found in my backyard, watered from the rain and picked by my two hands when it’s time for dinner. It’s a frugal mama’s dream.
The prices below are NOT reflective of if you have access to zucchini, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc growing in your backyard. It will be MUCH cheaper if you already have these items. Also if you have pantry staples like flour, rice, olive oil, tamari, oats, etc, your grocery bill will be even less expensive.
What if you don’t have a garden?
Well, I encourage you to grow something. Even if you live in an apartment with no balcony, you can probably still grow herbs in a window sill or some simple lettuces. Every little bit saves money.
If you just aren’t there yet, check out farmer’s markets, produce stands, small produce markets, or even direct farmers. You can usually find great deals on produce in the summer, especially if you buy in bulk and freeze, dehydrate, can, or ferment the bounty for later in the year.
You may also have friends, family, or neighbors with gardens. They probably have squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers coming out of their ears that they would be happy to give you. Is there anything you could exchange fresh produce for? Babysitting, homemade bread, homemade cleaners? What could you offer in exchange for some fresh goodies?
For the seasonal fruit, look for wild mulberry trees, fruit trees that neighbors or friends might have, or check out your farmer’s market. I can get fresh fruit WAY cheaper at the market or a roadside stand than I can in my grocery store this time of year. That’s not always the case, but in the summer it is. Melons, cantaloupe, peaches, etc all stretch a long way for a small price.
What’s in season?
In my area, yellow squash, zucchini, green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, beets, eggplant, dark greens, berries, and cherries are all producing heavily right now. Most of them will continue to produce all summer long. This meal plan relies heavily on many of these items, but feel free to use what is in season in your area, as it will be fresher and less expensive. Don’t be afraid to switch out any vegetables for others that better suit your taste, area, and budget for dishes like the stir fry and the side dish for the whole chicken.
If you are new to my frugal meal plans and would like to peruse previous months, click on the links below. These are meant to bless you! Pass along to anyone that may be able to use them.
June Frugal Meal Plan
- Bake bread: White bread or soaked whole wheat bread
- Make yogurt: Add a little gelatin to the yogurt and it will thicken right up without you having to strain it.
- Make mayo
- Eggs (scrambled, fried, poached, hard boiled)
- Toast (made with homemade bread)
- Egg and cheese sandwiches (add some garden veggies like tomatoes and spinach if you have them)
- Yogurt with fruit or smoothies
- Leftovers from dinner are the main option
- Grilled cheese sandwiches with fresh veggies like cucumber and broccoli and any fruit available
- Egg salad: Hard boil eggs and smash them with homemade mayo. Add salt and pepper. Serve on bread or in lettuce wraps.
- Salads: Use remaining lettuce from BLTs with a simple vinaigrette with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and spices.
- Smoothies: Use homemade yogurt blended with seasonal fruit. Freeze fruit ahead of time to make smoothie colder and thicker. Add a dash of honey or banana to sweeten if desired.
Gluten free option: Use gluten free pasta Grain free Option: Spiralize zucchini for zoodles
- Ground beef gyros served on flatbread, lemony cucumber salad (cut up cucumbers and onions and mix with with a simple olive oil and lemon vinairgrette)
Gluten free option: Skip the bread and pile it on a salad
- Roasted whole chicken or chicken in the crockpot, sauteed greens with onion and bacon, sauteed buttered squash. Reserve part of the chicken for the stir fry.
- Chicken stir fry: Use greens, onions, zucchini, squash, broccoli. Serve over rice.
Grain free option: Skip the rice
- Zucchini fritters Serve with simple salad with the simple lemon vinaigrette or cut up cucumbers and tomatoes.
Gluten free option: Use another gluten free flour
- BLTs, fruit (bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, with homemade mayo on homemade bread)
Gluten free option: Wrap in lettuce or use gluten free bread
- Breakfast for dinner or leftovers. Breakfast options: biscuits and gravy, smoothies, eggs, pancakes, etc.
|green pepper||.75||ground beef 2 lb||8.00|
|tomatoes (7)||2.00||eggs (2 dozen)||6.00|
|bunch of greens||2.00||bacon||4.00|
NOTE: Pantry staples needed, not included in price: oregano, salt, pepper, sugar or honey, baking powder, arrowroot/cornstarch, olive oil. Most people already have these in their kitchen. If you do not already have these items, the total cost will be higher.
Total Cost: $79.47
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. I did not use beans or legumes in this plan, however all of my others do have it.
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.