Planning meals on a budget? Here’s the menu plan that our family of 6 has been enjoying! Lots of frugal meal ideas and easy recipe.
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Tonight at dinner my husband did something that we often do and had us each go around the table and say at least one thing that we appreciate about every person. It always amazes me how this one simple little thing can totally change the atmosphere in our home! Suddenly, we all look at each other a little differently and many times any fighting and rivalry that was happening, stops.
Anyway, tonight one of the things that both of my girl’s said is that they really “like that I make good food”. This is something that often gets mentioned, probably partly because we typically do this when we are sitting down together to eat. But tonight those simple words suddenly felt very powerful.
I’m sure you all are like me and often get weary of the daily grind. And for some reason, it’s often the “what should we have for dinner” thing that especially gets old, right? But those simple words from my girls reminded me that my work and effort to put healthy, nutritious food on the table daily for my family to eat is a huge gift that I’m giving to them. Yes, many times it’s a rather thankless job. But they do appreciate it even if they don’t always verbalize it. And I know your family does too!
You obviously came here to get some meal ideas, right? And I hope that you can find some good recipes that will make your week a little easier! But if you are new to my menu plan posts, it’s probably helpful to know a couple of things first:
- Our family of six consists of two adults with fairly big appetites, a 9 year-old boy, a 5 ½ year-old girl, a 3 ½ year-old girl and a 1 year-old boy.
- 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 almost always make them from scratch. 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 help me have a productive day!
Meals on a Budget | Menu Plan
- One Pan Chicken and Rice; Green Beans; Homemade Applesauce; Spiced Pumpkin Scones
- Cheese Sticks; Apples; Homemade Garlic & Herb Cream Cheese Spread with Crackers; Easy Fruit Smoothie; Homemade Popcorn
– We went hiking with some friends and ate the first 3 things as a little picnic meal then came home and finished filling up with the smoothie and popcorn.
- Meat & Cheese Sandwiches on 100% Whole Wheat Bread; Easy Homemade Yogurt; Watermelon; Clementines
- All Beef Hot Dogs and Rolls; Potato Chips
– Friends invited us over for a picnic supper and we took along these things plus paper plates.
- Refried Bean & Cheese Quesadillas (made with Homemade Refried Beans); Easy Homemade Yogurt; Watermelon; Clementines
- Crustless Bacon & Cheese Quiche (the recipe uses Bisquick- I use my Homemade Bisquick Mix– and it creates a crust as it bakes); Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing; Rita’s Italian Ice Cups (got some of these free with couponing recently)
- Various Leftovers; Easy Homemade Yogurt; Watermelon; Bananas
- Homemade Chicken Pesto Alfredo Pizza (used homemade Healthier Alfredo Sauce, homemade pesto, and homemade pizza crust and topped with chicken, caramelized onions and thinly sliced tomatoes and sliced peppers); Lettuce Salad; 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.
- Meat & Cheese Sandwiches on 100% Whole Wheat Bread; Easy Homemade Yogurt; Frozen Blueberries; Home Canned Peaches
- Cream Cheese Potato Soup with Ham; Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing; Leftover Chocolate Brownies
- Eggs; Toast; Cheese; Frozen Peaches (I froze); Oranges
- One Pan Sour Cream Chicken Enchilada Skillet; Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing; 5 Minute Mandarin Orange Jello Salad
- Homemade Tuna Salad Sandwiches; Homemade Popcorn; Easy Homemade Yogurt; Bananas
- Rice & Bean Wraps (rice/black beans/diced tomatoes/seasonings with sour cream and shredded cheese eaten in tortillas); Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing; Turkey Hill All Natural Ice Cream
- Curry Chicken and Rice Soup; Homemade Applesauce; Iced Pumpkin Cookies
– We had friends over for the day and they contributed salad and French bread.
- Homemade Chicken Salad Grilled Sandwiches; Easy Fruit Smoothie
- Meat & Cheese Sandwiches on 100% Whole Wheat Bread; Potato Chips; Easy Homemade Yogurt; Bananas; Apples
- One Pan Spanish Chicken and Rice; Peas; Homemade Applesauce; Pumpkin Pie Bars
- Refried Bean & Cheese Quesadillas (made with Homemade Refried Beans); Easy Homemade Yogurt; Clementines; Home Canned Peaches
- Chicken Stroganoff (similar to this recipe); Lettuce Salad; Homemade Applesauce; Leftover Pumpkin Pie Bars
- Various Leftovers; Easy Homemade Yogurt; Apples; Frozen Blueberries
- Breakfast Sandwiches (Bacon and Eggs on English Muffins); Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing; Homemade Applesauce; Leftover Iced Pumpkin Cookies
- Meat & Cheese Sandwiches on 100% Whole Wheat Bread; Potato Chips; Easy Homemade Yogurt; Clementines; Home Canned Peaches
- Home Canned Vegetable Soup; Garlic Butter Swim Biscuits; Cheese Sticks
- Meat & Cheese Sandwiches on 100% Whole Wheat Bread; Potato Chips; Easy Homemade Yogurt; Home Canned Peaches; Frozen Blueberries
- Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala; Peas; Homemade Applesauce; Enjoy Life Cookies
– Got the cookies free with coupons recently! You can learn about how I shop and get cheap or free groceries here.
- Refried Bean & Cheese Quesadillas (made with Homemade Refried Beans); Easy Homemade Yogurt; Apples; Bananas
- Homemade Pulled Pork Sandwiches; Lettuce Salad; Best Ever Chocolate Cake with Perfectly Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
– I used my Instant Pot to make the Pulled Pork and it makes it SO easy! Also, I had frozen leftover cake and then pulled out some pieces to use for dinner. I love doing this to save time and make things easier for dinner prep.
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Why do you only post 2 weeks of menus when you say you are making one month of meals for $225
Good question, Marilyn! I have considered doing a full 4 weeks at a time but haven’t for a two reasons. For one thing, I was afraid that because we tend to eat a lot of similar meals, especially lunches, that it would become too repetitive and boring for people. And probably the bigger reason is that doing just 2 weeks allows me to take a little break from recording every single meal. It gets to be a little crazy sometimes in the busyness of everything to try to remember to jot down what we ate daily in my planner. Also, if we happen to go away for a long weekend etc., then I just skip that week so that it can provide more helpful, real life meal ideas.
I started these posts to show people that you really can eat pretty decent on a low budget, if you are willing to get a little creative and be okay with some repetition etc. You may have seen me mention it in some older posts, but a couple of years ago I had some pretty critical followers who would leave comments like “You must feed your kids nothing but bread and milk” or “I’d rather be an inmate than have to eat what you all must eat”. I kind of found the comments laughable and they really didn’t bother me, but I also realized that it might be helpful to show people what we really do eat. I maybe should change the post title, but these meals are what we eat on our $225/mo. grocery budget and I wanted the title to reflect that because I think that is what makes my menu plans stand out and be different than many.
I hope that all makes sense and helps!