The weather is chilling and we’ve traded garden veggies for stocks and soups.
While the summer months are great frugal months because of the readily available fresh garden produce, colder months can also be great when trying to save money in the kitchen because of the heavy use of casseroles and soups. Large pots of soup and casseroles go a long way to feed a family and lend itself to ample amounts of leftovers. They are a great way to stretch a small amount of food with liberal use of homemade stocks. Plus, they taste delicious. Comfort food at its finest.
I think the whole family will like this plan. All of these are dishes that my kids happily eat, especially the chicken and dumplings. Yum!
In case you are new to my frugal meal plans and would like to browse previous editions, here are the ones I have done throughout the year.
The Frugal Real Food Meal Plan
- stuffed breakfast muffins
- eggs: scrambled, fried, poached, hard boiled
- toast: Made with either whole wheat bread or white bread
- leftovers: These meals should yield quite a few leftovers, so this will be the main option this week. If you have a child that goes to school and needs to pack a lunch, I highly recommend investing in a thermos for leftover soups, and casseroles.
- grilled cheese sandwiches
- carrot and celery sticks
Notes: Cook the chicken the night before. De-bone and immediately put the carcass in a crockpot covered in water to make chicken stock for later in the week. Reserve part of the chicken for the enchiladas later in the week. Refrigerate the broth that the chicken cooked in. The fat that collects on top can be used in place of the expeller pressed coconut oil in the recipe.
Notes: Use a combination of cheddar and mozzarella cheese.
- kale and white bean soup
- cheesy ground beef and potatoes, peas:
3 cups thinly sliced potatoes, 1/2 lb ground beef, 1/2 large diced onion, 1/4 cup flour (or arrowroot powder), 1 cup milk, 1 tsp sea salt, 3/4 c chicken broth, 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup additional milk if needed.
Brown ground beef and onion in a large skillet. Drain almost all of grease. Add flour and cook for a minute. Add broth, milk, salt, and bring to a bubble until slightly thickened. Stir in cheddar cheese. Add more milk to thin a bit. Stir in potatoes. Pour into a 9×13 casserole and bake at 350 degrees for at least an hour or until potatoes are tender. Top with more cheese, uncover and melt cheese.
- pizza pockets, salad with a simple vinaigrette dressing
Use my sauce and pizza dough recipe. After rising, make eight balls. Gently press each out into a circle. Fill each with a bit of sauce, ground beef, and mozzarella cheese. Fold over into a half moon shape and pinch closed. Brush with olive oil and bake in a 500 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
- leftovers or breakfast
collard greens 1.00
frozen peas 1.00
garlic (2) 1.60
white beans 1.00
corn tortillas 2.00
ground beef (1 lb. divided) 3.50
whole chicken 10.00
mozz cheese 3.00
tomato puree 2.50
tomato paste 1.00
olive oil 5.99
eggs (2) 6.00
Spices not included in total price. Most people have these in their pantry: bay leaf, oregano, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper.
If you are new to my frugal meal plans and have questions, please read my FAQs.
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.