These frugal meal plans have gone over very well the past couple of months. Actually that’s an understatement! I have been blown away and completely humbled by your response. Lots of feedback through comments, emails, and private messages on facebook from families who are using these meal plans in their own homes successfully and making this real food challenge work even on a tight budget. Many times I have been brought to tears by your stories, your struggles, and your triumphs. Thank you for opening your heart to me and inviting me to walk with you on your life journey. Even if I was unable to respond to all of you, know that you were heard. Know that you encouraged me, broke my heart, and taught me many lessons. I have learned way more in the past few months about life than what I ever expected when I wrote my first frugal meal plan. Because of your response, I have decided to make this a regular monthly series. How could I not? If even one family benefits from these, it’s all worth it. This is the reason I blog. To help people. To give mamas and daddies the tools to help feed their families well. All glory to God!
Because I get many of the same questions over and over, this time I have included a FAQ at the bottom of this post. Please read. Your questions or concerns may be addressed in that section.
I also love hearing ideas from you! If you have a frugal meal idea, tip, technique, or anything that you think would be helpful for others, please leave a comment or email me. I’d love to implement your ideas in future posts. If you are a blogger, I would love to link to any frugal real food recipes or meal plans that you have. We go further and help more people if we work together. In case you missed the others:
Now, on to what you came for!
- Banana Pancakes (sub butter for vegetable oil) topped with peanut butter
- Leftover oatmeal pancakes (Don’t let the name fool you. It’s good.)
- Breakfast burritos- scrambled eggs, cheese, and leftover beans and tortillas
- Toast from this homemade bread
- Egg sandwiches
- Leftovers when available
- Peanut butter and banana sandwiches
- any fruit available
- any vegetable sticks available
Reserve bones from legs or thighs to make chicken stock for tomato soup and cabbage soup. You will need 9 cups total.
- Tomato soup (omit basil if you don’t have it), grilled cheese
- Bean burritos, carrot sticks, apple slices
Instructions: Prepare pinto beans in slow cooker. Drain off a little liquid. Mash and mix with desired amount of cheese, adding back more bean liquid if needed. Fill homemade tortilla shells. Use butter or olive oil instead of shortening.
- Spaghetti carbonara topped with peas, steamed broccoli
- Cheese Pizza, raw veggie sticks
- Shepherd’s pie, steamed green beans
- apple slices
- carrot sticks
Gluten free options:
Corn tortillas for the bean burritos. Roll and bake in oven.
Omit sandwiches or use gluten free bread.
Use gluten free oats.
Use rice pasta or spaghetti squash for the carbonara.
For pizza crust, try a cauliflower crust.
*Note: These options will make your total higher than the reflected amount, but will still be frugal.
The Shopping List
mozz cheese block 3.00
parm cheese wedge 3.00
cheddar cheese block 4.00
tomato puree 2.50
diced tomatoes 1.50
frozen peas 1.00
green beans 1.00
butternut squash 1.00
chicken legs/thighs 5.00
ground beef 3.50
pinto beans 1.00
white beans 1.00
eggs (2) 6.00
milk 1 gallon 4.00
natural peanut butter 4.00
olive oil 5.99
The Cost: $83.29
*Note: You likely have some of these items in your pantry already, since they are multiple use items, like olive oil, yeast, flour, dry beans, and oats. If you already have these items, it will lower your cost to under $80. This total does not include salt, pepper, and baking powder. Most people already have those items in their pantry.
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.
I’d love to teach you how to make your own frugal meal plans so that you can start chopping away at your food budget while still feeding your family healthy food. I wrote a resource for you, Eat Well Spend Less to do just that. Filled with tons of strategies to lower your grocery bill, as well as how to evaluate your current spending and creating a workable budget, I will walk you through how to put it all together and create frugal meal plans on your own every single week. Learn more or purchase by clicking on the image below.