The price of groceries seems to be going up, up, up. I went to the store just last night, bought mainly food items for three of us (granted we’re all adults in the house now) and had a bill of $178. It made me realize I need to make some changes again to the way I shop. You can get enough groceries for two people for the week for about $50, you just have to make an effort to eat inexpensive meals and shop at the places with the best prices. If you have a larger family, you’re going to have to spend more.
There are many reasons you might want to spend only $50 on groceries. Perhaps you want to try to eat on less money this week and donate what is left to a hunger prevention program. Perhaps you truly only have $50 to spend. Maybe you just want to save money.
Early in our marriage, there were some weeks that there was very little money left after paying all the bills. Even today, 25 years later, there are some months where there are a LOT of expenses and spending less at the grocery can really help. Here is a plan that feeds two for $50 for the week.
Where You Shop Matters
My $178 shopping trip was partly because of the store I chose last night. I had filled in at a local office, I was in a rush and I ran to Meijer. Unless you shop sales, loss leaders and other specials, Meijer is one of the most expensive places you can shop. This was not a good choice for a week where I didn’t have time to match up coupons.
- Aldi’s – When you don’t have many coupons, Aldi’s is a good choice. The choices are limited, which will keep you from impulse purchases. Products are like buying generic, but costs are much lower. This is no frills shopping.
- Ads – Each week stores have different items on sale. Watch for $10/10 sales or buy so many get one free.
- Dollar Tree – If your budget is EXTREMELY tight one week, you can pick up some foods at the dollar store. You can get 50 items for $50. The health factor may not be great, but it can get you through the week.
Ideally, you are shopping loss leaders, using coupons and getting the best deal possible each week. If you want a plan for saving money this way and coming up with a regular two-week menu, you can sign up for the newsletter on the right and you’ll get a free copy of my ebook that will help you plan this out, saving you time and money.
Below is the meal plan, then the shopping list. You’ll find recipes for some of the less common dishes at the end of this article.
- Breakfast – Oatmeal and fresh strawberries
- Lunch – Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
- Dinner – Whole chicken (I like to cook mine in the crock pot with just salt, pepper and a little butter) & fried green beans
- Breakfast – Toast with peanut butter and bananas
- Lunch – Leftover chicken on salad
- Dinner – Chicken bake (you’ll use shredded leftover chicken – about a cup from last night’s chicken)
- Breakfast – Hard boiled eggs and bananas
- Lunch – Baked potatoes with cheese slices melted on top and broccoli (1 cup nuked)
- Dinner – Macaroni & cheese and hot dogs
- Breakfast – Pancakes (if you’re on limited time in the mornings, you can cook ahead and freeze)
- Lunch – Leftover macaroni with shredded carrots (the rest of the bunch of carrots are reserved for dinner)
- Dinner – Pot Roast with carrots and potatoes
- Breakfast – Toast and scrambled eggs
- Lunch – Beef fajitas (take a little of the leftover pot roast and shred – add frozen green peppers and onion and cook in a skillet until warm)
- Dinner – Hobo stew (throw whatever is left from pot roast dinner, bullion cube, bag of stew veggies and a can of tomatoes into a crock pot and cover with water and cook on low all day)
- Breakfast – Pancakes (use up more of the batter, you should have a ton)
- Lunch – Tuna or chicken salad sandwiches
- Dinner – Leftover stew (this is a huge batch of stew. We usually eat on it several days, but you can also freeze some for later) + butter slices of bread, add fresh garlic or garlic powder and bake on 350-degrees for about 7 minutes.
- Breakfast – Omelettes (you are at the end of the week, start using up leftover meat and veggies and omelettes are the perfect place to use these)
- Lunch – More stew (freeze whatever is left from this because you’re probably tired of it)
- Dinner – Frozen pizza (everyone deserves a break from cooking and you can still fit this in your $50 budget)
Below are the items you’ll need and the approximate price. Your prices may vary, so remember to watch for sales and if all else fails go to Aldi or the dollar store. This list assumes you already have a few items, such as spices, seasonings, cooking oils and butter.
- 1 dozen eggs (about $1 on sale; you may need to get small, etc.)
- Cheese slices (whatever is on sale or store brand; about $2)
- 1 can crescent rolls (generic about $1)
- 1/2 gallon milk ($2)
- 1 can tomato soup (about $1)
- Peanut butter (about $2, but sometimes a bit more)
- 1 can cream of chicken soup (generic about $1)
- 2 packages of mac ‘n’ cheese (about $1 each)
- Pancake mix ($2)
- Maple syrup ($2)
- 1 small can of oats for oatmeal ($2)
- 1 bag frozen green beans (get generic, around $1)
- 1 bag frozen stew vegetables ($1)
- 1 bag frozen broccoli pieces (generic, about $1)
- 1 bag frozen diced green peppers and onions ($1)
- 1 frozen pizza (about $3; my favorite brand is Tombstone, but when on a tight budget, I’ll go with whatever is on sale. If you have some veggies left over for the week, you can throw them on here for some extra toppings)
- 1 whole chicken (about $4)
- Package of hot dogs (about $3 – I do spend a little more here and buy nitrate free)
- 1 pot roast (keep around $9 – you may need to buy whatever cut is on sale or shop around to find a decent sized roast for this price these days)
- 1 loaf bread (on a tight budget like this, you’ll need to buy the store brand or whatever is cheapest; around $1)
- Package of hot dog buns (buy store brand, around $1 or go without buns for a lower carb meal)
- Flour tortillas ($2)
- 1 container strawberries ($2)
- Bunch of carrots ($1)
- 3 lb. bag of potatoes ($2)
These items should total around $50. If you have a little left over or you want to spend a few dollars more, I recommend you buy some extra fruits and veggies or a container of ice cream to add a few snacks.
Recipes and Cooking Tips for the Week
I’m not going to tell you how to cook oatmeal and things where the instructions are on the container or it is a very self-explanatory heat and eat type food. Below are some tips for some of the meals you may be unsure how to cook or tips to make things taste better.
- Grilled cheese sandwiches: The key to getting a delicious grilled cheese sandwich is to make sure you evenly spread the butter from edge to edge of the bread and that you let the sandwich cook and not flip it too many times. The easiest way to do this is to wait for the butter on top to melt completely while cooking on medium-low heat.
- Fried green beans: There are many ways to make these. Some people like to make up a egg white bath and dip in a flour and cornmeal batter. However, I prefer to just toss the entire bag of green beans into a family size skillet, drizzle with cooking oil and add salt and pepper and fresh garlic, which is super cheap to buy (just get one clove). I cook until some of the beans start to brown. They are still crispy and yummy. My family loves them this way.
- Chicken bake: This is a recipe I got from my friend Kristy and later adapted to my family’s taste. It is so easy to make and we usually have leftovers for lunch or a snack (just heat in the oven or the crust is gooey and not as good). To make “chicken bake”, shred up your leftover chicken. Measure out about 1 cup of the frozen stew veggies and nuke for 1 minute in microwave. Keep the rest of the veggies in that bag frozen for stew later in the week. Now, you’re going to mix together the chicken, can of cream of chicken soup, veggies, a splash of milk, salt and pepper and just stir it all together. Unroll your crescent roll onto a piece of parchment paper (if you don’t have parchment, you can great a rectangular pan). Use your fingers to press out the sheet of crescent rolls so they are a bit flatter. Add mixture to the center and then fold crescent roll sheet up and around the sides, pinching together at the top. Note that if you are cooking this for family, just double everything and use one can for the bottom and another can on top, pinch sides together. Cut three holes in the top. Bake using crescent roll instructions.
The rest of the recipes are self-explanatory or common knowledge, but if anything is confusing, please feel free to drop me a note. I’ll be happy to help you.
I hope this plan helps you out for the week. You can repeat as many times as needed. If you are in a severe financial crunch, know that you don’t have to go hungry. Many churches offer food pantries and will help you out when you need it. In fact, church members donate food throughout the month because they want to help others in the community. Don’t be ashamed to ask for the help to get by. Just pay it forward when you are able by donating your time, money or food to the pantry so others can benefit.