Looking for meal ideas on a budget? Here’s what our family of 6 has been enjoying lately. We have a $400/month grocery budget but enjoy lots of delicious, easy, from-scratch meals. I think you’ll enjoy finding some new recipe ideas!
It’s been a while since I’ve shared one of my meal plans.
I guess our summer was full of travel, guests and just all sorts of things that had us out of our routine. As a result, I didn’t do a great job of tracking what we actually ate.
But I finally am back into my usual schedule and am once again sharing a menu full of quick, easy-to-make meals with you.
NEW TO MY MENU PLANS?
It might be helpful to know a few things before reading further.
- The size and ages of our family.
Our family of six consists of two adults, a 14-year-old boy, a 10 1/2-year-old girl, an 8 1/2-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy. All of our kids have hearty appetites and tend to be big eaters.
- Having a stockpile saves me money.
If an item that we use goes on sale, especially if it’s a particularly good sale, I try to stock up whenever possible. Sometimes the saving seems small- it may only be $0.25 an item. But doing that with multiple things does add up rather quickly! Then when I plan my menus, I first look at what I have in my cupboards, fridge and freezer and try to plan as many meals around that as possible.
- I use my freezer a lot.
I freeze so many foods to extend their shelf life- everything from cottage cheese to zucchini to onions! Another thing I like to do is cook up extra meat, rice and even things like soup and then freeze them to save time later. Both of these things help save me time and money too.
- I cook almost totally from scratch.
That means when I bake a cake, I make it from scratch. I rarely use pre-packaged sauces. I make my own cream soups, homemade Bisquick and pie crusts. Making our own food is typically less expensive and healthier too.
- We eat simple, filling breakfasts.
Typically we have either Homemade Granola, Chocolate Granola or Baked Oatmeal, and occasionally some store-bought cereal and fruit too. I know that might seem awfully boring to some of you, but the simplicity of it works well for us. I also have a homemade iced latte, homemade frappe or some other fun beverage like Warm Vanilla Custard every afternoon.
- We rarely snack.
By eating hearty food like granola at breakfast we don’t get hungry until lunchtime. And our lunches are big enough that we usually are fine until dinner time. When we do need a snack, I try to keep it mostly healthy by offering fruit, nuts or maybe No Bake Energy Bites. We don’t always do it perfectly though, and sometimes end up having chips or cookies instead.
A little side note: I occasionally get asked why I only do a two-week menu plan instead of four weeks. To be honest, it’s mainly for my own convenience.
Keeping track of everything we eat gets to be a little tedious. So only doing it for two weeks helps me not get bogged down with it.
Get my FREE $50 Aldi Meal Plan here! It has 7 easy dinners for a family of 5.
- Speedy Spanish Rice with Ground Beef; Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch Dressing; Easy Apple Dumpling Dessert
- Toasted Tuna Salad Sandwiches; Homemade Popcorn; 3 Minute Frozen Fruit Smoothie
- Meat and Cheese Sandwiches; Homemade Hummus and Carrots; Flavored Organic Yogurt; Grapes; Bananas
- Italian Sausage Pasta; Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch; Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake
– We enjoyed the cake as dessert and I used frozen blueberries instead of fresh in the cake since it was cheaper for me that way.
- Super Easy Pepperoni Pizza Quesadillas; Flavored Organic Yogurt; Apples; Fresh Plums (from a local orchard)
- Easy Chicken Curry Soup with Rice; Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch; Leftover Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake
- Meat and Cheese Sandwiches; Homemade Hummus and Carrots; Flavored Organic Yogurt; Apples; Clementines
- Super Easy Macaroni and Beef Skillet; Green Beans; Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Meat and Cheese Sandwiches; Homemade Hummus and Carrots; Greek Yogurt with Honey; Clementines; Grapes
- Easy Bisquick Chicken Pot Pie; Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch; Pumpkin Coffee Cake
– I don’t add the pecans to the topping of the coffee cake and it is still delicious!
- Refried Bean and Cheese Quesadillas (used my homemade refried beans); Greek Yogurt with Honey; Apples; Canned Peaches
- Easy Mexican Rice Bowls; 30 Minute Dinner Rolls; Leftover Pumpkin Coffee Cake
- Meat and Cheese Sandwiches; Homemade Hummus and Carrots; Greek Yogurt with Honey; Canned Peaches; Grapes (we grew)
- Various Leftovers; Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch; Store Bought Cookies
- Hamburgers with various toppings; Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch Dressing; Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars
– I got the hamburgers on markdown at the local grocery store as they were near their sell-by date.
- Tuna Quesadillas; Homemade Popcorn; 3 Minute Frozen Fruit Smoothies
- Meat and Cheese Sandwiches; Homemade Hummus with Carrots; Greek Yogurt with Honey; Grapes; Apples (from our tree)
- One Pan Spanish Chicken and Rice; Green Beans (for the kids); Roasted Broccoli (for my husband and me); Leftover Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars
- Homemade Egg Salad Sandwiches (my recipe is similar to this); Greek Yogurt with Honey; Grapes; Bananas
- Easy Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup; Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch Dressing; Easy Apple Dump Cake
- Homemade Egg Salad Sandwiches (my recipe is similar to this); Greek Yogurt with Honey; Bananas; Fresh Pears (from our tree)
- Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps; Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch Dressing; Leftover Apple Dump Cake
- Refried Bean and Cheese Quesadillas (used my homemade refried beans); Organic Flavored Yogurt; Fresh Pears (we grew); Canned Peaches
- Easy John Wayne Casserole; Peas; Perfect Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Meat and Cheese Sandwiches; Homemade Hummus with Carrots; Greek Yogurt with Honey; Frozen Cherries; Oranges
- Zucchini Herb Casserole; Easy Garlic Butter Swim Biscuits; Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch Dressing; Leftover Perfect Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Peanut Butter and Homemade Apple Butter Sandwiches; Organic Flavored Yogurt; Apples (from a friend’s tree); Oranges
- Various Leftovers; Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch Dressing; Chocolates (were gifted to us from a friend)
I was wondering are you guys still living in England? If so, have you noticed increased prices for food like we have here in the US?
We are, and yes, prices have definitely been increasing! In fact, food prices here are at a 40 year high and from what I have read and heard in talking to friends in the US, the increases are very similar. Every week when I am shopping for groceries I notice more prices going up. I actually am going to raise my grocery budget in November because of it.
I have struggled with meal planning for so long and recently realized that my biggest hurdle was not covering the basics of a stocked pantry first! Even the simplest of meal plans will fail if you have to large haul groceries every week.
Yes, having a kitchen stocked with basic items is such a big help! I do that as well and it makes things so much easier for me. I share my basic pantry staples here as well as a few other tips related to that.
Thanks for all the awesome ideas.
You are very welcome, Christine!