Trying to figure out what to eat on a tight budget? Here’s the menu plan of our meals on a $200/mo. grocery budget.
If you are new to these menu plans of mine, it’s probably helpful to know a couple of things first:
- Our family of six consists of two adults with fairly big appetites, an 8 year-old boy, a 4 ½ year-old girl, a 2 ½ year-old girl and an exclusively breastfed baby boy. (Yes, there are six of us now…I just haven’t had a chance to update my image to reflect that, so it still says family of 5!) 🙂
- I buy lots of fruits and veggies in bulk from local farmers/orchards in the summer and then freeze or can them. This is not only much cheaper it is also healthier too. But that is why if you look at my Weekly Spending Summaries you won’t always see lots of produce.
- I have a stockpile. My cupboards are full from previous shopping and here’s why. When I can get pasta for free with coupons, I buy as much as I have coupons for. If I’m able to get flour for $0.50/bag like I did last fall, I’ll buy half a dozen and put them in the freezer to use as needed. I do this as much as my budget allows, on as many items as I can and as a result save lots of money. Then when I go to plan menus, I simply plan our meals around what I already have in my cupboards and freezer, as much as possible. Obviously, I still might have to buy a few things at regular price here and there, but by stocking up when the price is at rock bottom I save a lot.
- I cook almost totally from scratch. That means when I make a cake, I rarely use a cake mix. I make my own bread totally from scratch. I rarely use pre-packaged sauces. I make my own cream soups and pie crusts. Making your own food is typically less expensive and healthier too.
- We rarely snack. By eating “heavy” food like granola at breakfast we don’t get hungry until lunch time. And the same goes for the afternoon. 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.
- Our breakfasts consist of Homemade Granola or Baked Oatmeal, the occasional bought cereal that I was able to get for $0.50/box and sometimes some fruit too. I know that might seem awfully boring to some of you, but we actually all really enjoy it and prefer it over other breakfast food. I also have a homemade iced coffee, homemade frappe or some other fun beverage every morning. It’s just one of the little things that I do to add a bit of sunshine to my days!
Below you will find our lunches and dinners. (If we ate something other than our usual breakfast, I’ll note that too.) Monday through Friday, the lunches are just for the three children and I. My husband takes a packed lunch with him to work and it typically consists of sandwiches, fruit, homemade yogurt and sometimes random leftovers too.
Ideas for What to Eat on a Tight Budget
- Ham Loaf (comes pre-made- I just make a glaze for it); Baked Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes; Green Beans; Homemade Applesauce
- Homemade White Bean Dip with Corn Chips; Easy Fruit Smoothie
- Various Leftovers; Easy Homemade Yogurt; Frozen Blueberries; Canned Peaches (I preserved)
- White Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwiches; Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing; 5 Minute Mandarin Orange Jello Salad; Blueberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars
- Meat & Cheese Sandwiches made with 100% Whole Wheat Bread; Easy Homemade Yogurt; Bananas; Frozen Blueberries
- Herb Roasted Chicken and Potatoes; Cooked Carrots; Blonde Brownies (from the freezer)
- Leftover White Pizza Grilled Cheese; Easy Homemade Yogurt; Bananas; Frozen Blueberries
- Cheesy Ham, Potatoes & Green Bean Casserole; Homemade Applesauce; Leftover Blueberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars
- Kid Fresh Chicken Nuggets; Cheese; Bananas; Canned Peaches (I preserved)
- Creamy White Chicken Chili; Lettuce Salad; Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies
– I got the Kidfresh nuggets free with coupons a while back. I like that they are “healthy” chicken nuggets and even though they are technically made for kids, we all enjoy them and it makes an easy dinner for us!
- Meat & Cheese Sandwiches made with 100% Whole Wheat Bread; Easy Homemade Yogurt; Frozen Blueberries; Frozen Peaches (I preserved)
- Leftover Cheesy Ham, Potato & Green Bean Casserole; Leftover 5 Minute Mandarin Orange Jello Salad; Turkey Hill All Natural Ice Cream
- Various Leftovers; Easy Homemade Yogurt; Frozen Blueberries; Frozen Peaches (I preserved)
- Big Lettuce Salad (Lettuce and Chicken with lots of other add-ins); Homemade Applesauce; Blueberry Buckle (similar to this recipe)
- Breakfast Burritos; Easy Homemade Yogurt; Grapes; Canned Peaches (I preserved)
- Easy Chicken Pot Pie; Homemade Applesauce; Frozen Fruit Slush
– I would normally have had a salad with this meal, but when I went to make dinner, I realized I was out of lettuce. How’s that for good planning?!
- Leftover Easy Chicken Pot Pie; Easy Homemade Yogurt; Canned Peaches (I preserved); Frozen Blueberries
- Meatball Sandwiches; Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing; Homemade Applesauce; Chocolate Covered Pretzels
– For the meatball sandwiches I used frozen meatballs and tomato sauce that I got for free thanks to couponing. The chocolate covered pretzels were also a coupon freebie.
- Leftover Meatball Sandwiches; Easy Homemade Yogurt; Canned Peaches (I preserved); Frozen Blueberries
- Homemade Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper; Homemade Applesauce; Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies (from freezer)
– For the Hamburgr Helper, I only used half the amount of meat and then added a can of black beans. We ate it with topping like a haystack or tacos (whichever you happen to call them). It was so good!
- Eggs in a Nest made with 100% Whole Wheat Bread (basically an egg fried in bread); Easy Homemade Yogurt; Canned Peaches (I preserved); Frozen Blueberries
- Ate dinner at my in-law’s
- Refried Bean and Cheese Quesadillas; Easy Homemade Yogurt; Bananas; Clementines
- Baked Chicken; Mashed Potatoes; Green Beans; Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookes (from the freezer)
- Meat & Cheese Sandwiches made with 100% Whole Wheat Bread; Easy Homemade Yogurt; Grapes; Canned Peaches (I preserved)
- Homemade Chicken Alfredo Pizza (used homemade Alfredo sauce and homemade pizza crust and topped with chicken and caramelized onions); Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing; Homemade Applesauce
– This homemade pizza crust recipe is awesome! Not only does it need no time to rise, you can have it ready to go in the oven in 30 minutes! And it’s really tasty too. The only thing I do differently is pre-bake the crust a bit before putting on the toppings.
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