I think this might be the first time I’ve ever had a requested post in all the years I’ve been writing this blog. You guys, I’ve finally made it! I almost feel… nervous? (Actually, that’s a total lie. I’m never nervous about anything I post on this blog because I save my nerves for real life drama, obvi.) Anyway, if you checked out my Word of the Year post (or, honestly, if you know me at all), you know that I’m doing a (modified) no-spend challenge this January. And every January. We set goals, we share confessions and support throughout the month, and we give ourselves grace.
The reason I mention this is because I set a $50-60/week grocery budget and people went wild. In a very mature and subdued way. How could this be!? Give me your secrets! And… um… that’s what this post is. This is my $50 grocery budget meal plan.
Some Caveats to this $50 Grocery Meal Plan
These caveats are really important. You won’t be able to do me because you aren’t me. You will have different values, different tastes and different starting points. But you can probably still get your grocery costs down a little bit with a little planning. You can use me as an example, probably.
But here’s what you need to know about me.
- I’m cooking for one. Most of the time.
- I don’t mind eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch almost every single day. If you need variety, there are ways you can mix it up within the week, but I’m not going to be your girl who inspires you to do that.
- I only drink a cup of coffee a day and buy bagged beans, so I don’t need to buy it often.
- I rarely, if ever, cook meat at home. Meat is expensive and other people are better at cooking it than me, so I would rather splurge on having a meat dish when I’m eating out.
- There are certain things I always have in my house, so I’m not buying all the ingredients for every dish every week. Rice, canned beans, oats, hot sauce, flour, spices, dried pasta, a block of cheddar, tofu, lots of frozen veggies.
- However, I usually run out of at least one of those things each week, so you’ll see them pop up on my grocery list on a fairly regular rotation.
- When I make my meal plans, I start by figuring out what I have that I need to try to use up and build from there.
What I’m Using Up This Week
I’m glad you asked! This week in my fridge I wanted to use up:
- Some 1% milk I bought when my niece came over for a sleepover
- A third of a block of cream cheese leftover from a… soup recipe, maybe?
- Half a cauliflower and half a bag of snap peas from Christmas (I thought I also had half a bag of French beans, but I was too late to save them)
- A borderline container of hummus
- Some aspirational bananas that were on their last leg
- One leftover apple
How I Spent $50 on Groceries
I actually expected to spend less on groceries this week that I did because of how much I was trying to use up. But I had to buy coconut oil ($15!!) and I picked up some non-alcoholic beer (long story). Here’s how it broke down:
- Non-alcoholic Beer ($10.61)
- “Mac and Cheese” pre-shredded bag of cheese ($6.49)
- Carton of large eggs ($3.89) – if I hadn’t had to buy the coconut oil, I probably would have bought the Omega-3 eggs and spent over $5
- Coconut oil ($14.49)
- Bunch of green onions ($1.99)
- Bag of spinach ($3.99)
- Carton of white mushrooms ($5)
- 4 Fuji apples ($5.67)
- 2 blocks of firm tofu ($3.88)
Total with tax: $56.48
Full disclosure – I was telling my mom about my grocery shop and she mentioned she had an almost full jar of coconut oil that she wasn’t going to use. So I will be returning the jar of coconut oil this evening which means my grocery total for the week will actually only be $42. And only about $30 that is on food, which makes much more sense for the amount of food I bought.
My $50 Grocery Meal Plan
I know, I know. This is what you came here for. I warn you – it’s not glamorous.
For breakfast this week, I will be alternating between savoury oats and this vegan banana muffin from Work Week Lunch. If I hadn’t had to use up the bananas, I probably wouldn’t be having two different breakfasts this week. But I was crazy craving the savoury oats, so I honoured that. Having two breakfast options means I probably won’t need to buy anything for breakfast next week, so it all comes out in the wash.
For the recipe for the banana muffins, follow the link above. The only thing I had to buy for them was the coconut oil (except not really). For me, two muffins is a pretty filling breakfast.
The savoury oats aren’t really a recipe. Cook a portion of oats, whatever that means to you. Cook one or two eggs, whatever style you like (or scramble some tofu, probably). Meanwhile, get some mushrooms and green onion sauteeing in a little cooking oil & salt. Put greens in a bowl (or not), top with oatmeal, shredded cheese, mushrooms & green onions, hot sauce and finally eggs. For this breakfast, I obviously had to buy greens, mushrooms, onions and eggs. Next week, I’ll probably have to pick up hot sauce and oats.
This is my go-to lunch. It is easy and quick to prep, it can be eaten reheated or cold, and it’s super flexible to use up whatever odds and ends you have. For instance, this week I didn’t buy anything for the lunches. Really, it’s just a series of building blocks – so here we go.
- Greens. (I used the frozen, chopped kale from Superstore. I have a bit left for next week.)
- Rice. (I always cook ¾ cups of dry rice in 1 ¼ cups of water with random dried herbs. It’s enough for 4 or 5 lunches for me, depending on how many I need.)
- Protein. (I pan-fried a block of tofu cut into cubes with salt, pepper and cayenne. Again, it’s enough for 4 or 5 lunches. Sometimes I supplement with some black beans to stretch to 5.)
- Roasted veggies (I did cauliflower and snap peas, tossed in olive oil with salt, pepper, oregano, cumin & cayenne. 425 for 25 min, stir after 15 min. This is also a great place to add more veggies to bulk up the meal and it’s super cheap if you use frozen veg. They roast up just as well, as long as you don’t crowd the pan.)
- Sauce. (This week I had hummus to use up but whatever is good. Sometimes I use salsa or salad dressing or hot sauce – you do you!)
I had that milk and cream cheese that I wanted to use, so I decided to make Half Baked Harvest’s Pumpkin Mac and Cheese. (I forgot to mention that I pretty much always have canned pureed pumpkin around – either in the can or frozen in 1 cup portions in my freezer because no recipe ever calls for a full can. Those bitches are massive.) I also bought a bag of shredded cheese for this recipe because my time is valuable and I did not wish to shred 3 cups worth of cheese.
I panicked and threw some frozen peas and broccoli into the mix at the last minute for health. And it turned out great… but also massive. I had a bowl right after making it and you can see I have five more containers. This is, like, a lot of mac and cheese so I’ll probably freeze two or three of the containers for later this month?
Friday is date night, so I probably won’t need dinner for that evening. I think on Saturday, we might be celebrating Rylee’s birthday so I probably won’t need dinner then either… but, if I do, I’ll pull something out of my freezer or make some soup or something. Would y’all be interested in seeing how I navigate that?
Kind of boring, but I usually only snack when I’m at work. I try to eat a piece of fruit each day as a snack but I fail at least one day a week, which is why I only have 5 apples. I always keep some cookies and something like goldfish kicking around. I also try to always have fruit and nut snack packs or protein bars around because I’m honestly not going to make anything.
Final Thoughts on my $50 Grocery Meal Plan
First of all, I need to make this a series, otherwise I’ll feel like a fraud. This week I was able to use so many food items that I already had, whereas other weeks I might have to buy more ingredients. It will still be a low-cost meal plan every week, but it’s going to look a little bit different.
I’m also sort of wondering if there might be some value in doing a video supplement to these posts? I don’t know… a reel? A youtube video? Would y’all want that?