Cheap Weekly Meal Plan
I get it. Staying within your grocery budget, and feeding your family, is HARD!
But, it doesn’t have to be. Learning to cook cheap, easy meals is one of my favorite secrets to living frugally, saving money, and staying within a strict grocery budget.
In fact, being able to live on a small grocery budget (with a family of 5) is one of the biggest ways we were able to pay down our debt so quickly.
So, today, I want to share with you a cheap meal plan that you can use to feed your family great dinners for less than $50 a week!
These are all meals that I use to feed my family of 5 and, when we need to cut our grocery budget, I pull these old favorites out and put them in our meal plan rotation.
This $50 a week meal plan is meant to give you some ideas for how to feed your family on a tight budget.
About the $50 Per Week Meal Plan
Dinner is the most expensive meal of the day. So this meal plan focuses on cheap and easy dinner ideas for the $50 per week meal plan.
However, in our house, I don’t typically plan out breakfasts and lunches. We routinely have inexpensive breakfast and lunch options.
For breakfast we usually have cold cereal, instant oatmeal, eggs, bagels, yogurt, toast, etc.
For lunches we will do sandwiches, quesadillas (which can be made from ingredients in this shopping list), leftovers, etc.
Fresh produce is expensive. So this meal plan does use some fresh vegetables, but not a lot. Again, this meal plan is designed to be cheap.
A meal plan like this can feed your family when money is tight and you need some ideas to get through.
These meal ideas were not made with organic, grass fed or any other “real food” qualifications. When feeding your family on a budget, these special designations just increase the cost of your grocery bill.
I, personally, do not worry about feeding my children all organic foods. But if that is important to you and your family, you will need to adjust the budget accordingly.
The $50 A week Shopping list
I created this shopping list using the Walmart Grocery Pickup website for my local Walmart.
Prices will vary based on your location, time of year and several other factors.
But these are the prices I found when creating this list and they are fairly consistent with what I have paid for these items for the past several years.
10 lb Bag of Potatoes ($3.24)
3 lb Bag Yellow Onions ($1.24)
1 Broccoli Crown ($1.11)
1 Green Leaf Lettuce ($1.74)
1 lb bag baby carrots ($.98)
28 oz Green Chile Enchilada Sauce ($1.56)
1 Cream of Chicken Soup ($.50)
1 Nalley Original Chili Con Carne ($1.28)
1 16 oz Can Refried Beans ($.94)
2 Cream of Mushroom Soup ($1.00)
1 can Chow Mein Noodles ($1.34)
1 Jar Pasta Sauce ($1.50)
Pasta and Grains
2 lb Bag White Rice ($1.28)
Mission Flour Tortillas–20 Count, pack of 2 ($6.68)
1 lb Spaghetti ($.80)
1 lb Elbow Pasta ($.80)
1 Loaf Garlic Bread ($1.98)
1 Small Fryer Whole Chicken ($5.47)
2, 1 lb bricks of cheddar cheese ($6.72)
Shopping List Total: $40.16
This shopping list assumes that your pantry has the following items in stock. If not, you will need to spend a little more:
Milk, Salt, Italian Seasoning, Parmesan Cheese, Paprika, Cayenne Pepper, Onion Powder, Thyme, Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, Yellow Mustard and Minced garlic.
Many of these spices can be picked up inexpensively at the dollar store.
Weekly Meals for Under $50
Now we are going to find out what dinners we can make from the shopping list above.
Monday: Potato Burritos
This might sound like an odd meal, but it is really yummy and easy!
8-9 Flour Tortillas
28 oz Can Green Chili Enchilada Sauce
1-2 cups shredded Cheese
6 large Potatoes (or a few more if your potatoes are on the small side)
Boil, peel and cut into chunks the 6 potatoes
Mix ½ of the sauce and ¾ of the cheese and all the potatoes
Place ½ cup or so of the mixture into a flour tortilla and roll up like enchiladas.
Repeat until all the potato mixture is used.
Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non stick spray.
Pour a little of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of the pan.
Place rolled up tortillas in the dish.
Cover with the rest of the sauce and cheese.
Cover with foil and bake in oven at 350 for 30 minutes or so. Until it is hot through and cheese is melted.
Tuesday: Rotisserie Whole Chicken
This recipe is a great way to cook a whole chicken. I recommend encouraging family members to fill up on the potatoes and onions, and eat the meat sparingly.
Then, you can remove the excess meat from the chicken and save/freeze it for later meals.
Whole Fryer Chicken
- 4 teaspoons Salt
- 2 teaspoons Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1 teaspoon Thyme
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
- ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- Prepare your Chicken by rinsing both inside and outside and pat dry with a paper towel (remove giblets if there are any)
- Mix together the Spice Rub in a small container
- Rub the spices onto the skin of the chicken coating well (use all of it).
- Cut Potatoes into large chunks (enough to fully cover the bottom of your slow cooker)
- Rough chop the onions and add to slow cooker
- Place the Chicken on top of Potatoes and Onions
- Place lid on slow cooker
- Cook on low for 6-8 hours until tender
Super easy and yummy. Truly a staple in our house.
1 lb Spaghetti
1 jar pasta Sauce
Parmesan Cheese to sprinkle
1 loaf Garlic Bread
One of the easiest ways to make spaghetti is cook up the noodles. Drain the noodles and return to the same pot. Add a jar of sauce and mix and heat until hot through.
Add some sliced garlic bread and veggies (carrots) and you have your dinner set. Sprinkle the spaghetti with the parmesan cheese!
You can use some of the green leaf lettuce, carrots and broccoli to make a green salad as well.
Thursday: Hawaiian Haystacks
This yummy meal is a great way to use up odds and ends of veggies and meat.
2 cups Uncooked White Rice
1 cup or so Leftover chicken (from the whole chicken on tuesday)
1 can Cream of chicken soup
½ soup can Milk
½ Broccoli head cut into bite sized pieces
Chow mein noodles
½ cup (or more) Shredded Cheese
Cook up white rice (we usually do about 2 cups of uncooked rice)
To make the sauce, use 1 can Cream of Chicken soup and add ½ soup can of milk. Then add some leftover chicken and heat through.
Stack the rice on the bottom, then the sauce. Then add your choice of veggies and extras. From this shopping list I included the following toppings: Chow Mein Noodles, diced onions, cut Broccoli, carrots (cut or shredded) and cheese. You can also add celery, pineapple chunks, tomatoes and any other veggies desired.
Friday: Mac n Cheese
This is the homemade Mac n Cheese I grew up with. I know there are lots of recipes for this dish. If you have one that you love, and it fits in the budget, Awesome!
Also, the recipe below is doubled from the normal. My family loves it and then we have leftovers.
1 lb Elbow Noodles
2 cans Cream of Mushroom
3-4 cups cheddar Cheese
1 cup Milk
2 Tbs Mustard
½-1 chopped Onions
Boil elbow noodles until tender. Meanwhile, mix together all other ingredients in bowl or casserole dish.
Drain the macaroni and add to the casserole dish. Mix noodles and sauce until well mixed.
Bake until hot through and cheese is melted. About 15 minutes in the microwave or 30 minutes in the oven.
Serve with carrots on the side
Rather than use 2 pounds of ground beef, I add chili and refried beans to my taco meat. This makes it stretch farther and is more filling.
You can also add taco seasoning. You could buy a packet, but I like to make my own with this taco seasoning recipe.
1 lb ground Beef
½ small onion, browned with beef
1 can Nalley Valley Chili
1 can (or less) Refried beans
Mission Flour Tortillas
Brown ground beef and onion together. When cooked through, add the can of chili and desired amount of refried beans. Heat until hot through.
Serve in tortillas with cheese, lettuce and any other fixings desired (salsa and sour cream, if available)
I ALWAYS plan for a leftover night during my week. We usually have enough leftovers from previous meals so that everyone can have a decent, if a bit of a hodge podge, meal.
You can put it in whatever day you want (mine is usually Thursday) but it depends on how you schedule and plan your meals.
Other Cheap Meal Ideas for a $50 Grocery Budget
As I was creating this meal, I had a few other recipes that were in the running to be included. Rather than leave them out, I wanted to give you a few more budget friendly meal ideas for your meal planning.
Baked Potato Bar–you already bought the potatoes. Bake some up and load them up with butter, sour cream, shredded cheese, onions and maybe a can of Chili.
Lasagna Buns–These ALMOST made the list. They are a yummy baked sandwich that are usually a crowd pleaser. And We usually have at least one leftover for lunches or leftover night.
Beef Picante Skillet–My family loves this meal and I keep forgetting I need to double it.
1 pound ground beef
1 can tomato soup
1 cup chunky salsa or picante sauce
4 Large Flour Tortillas cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided.
Brown beef in skillet and drain
Add soup, salsa 3/4 cup water, tortilla pieces, 1/2 teaspoon salt and half of the cheese.
Bring to a boil, cover and cook over low heat 5 minutes
Top with remaining cheese and serve from the skillet.
Recipe from Cookbook Resources LLC
Sloppy Joes and Baked Potato Wedges–There are lots of Sloppy Joe recipes, and many of them are very budget friendly. Pair the sandwiches with seasoned baked potato wedges and ta-da! Another winning meal.
Tips to keep Weekly Food Budget Low
Buy ingredients that can be used for several meals.
You will notice I had you purchase the 10 lb bag of potatoes. It was used in both the potato burritos and the Rotisserie Chicken Recipes.
But you probably still have some in the bag that can be used for future recipes, without needing to spend more.
So buy in bulk, when it makes sense. Just make sure that the price per unit is actually better to buy the bigger quantity.
Most of the items I included on the shopping list are the Great Value brand (the generic Walmart brand). You can save so much money by purchasing the store brand versus the name brand.
Most of the time they taste identical. And, in the case of the creamed soups, these ingredients are being combined with other items. So even if there is a slight taste difference, you won’t be able to notice it once it is all cooked together.
Trust me, 9 times out of 10 I buy the generic item.
Stock up on items you use a lot when you have extra money in the budget.
This shopping list came in at almost $10 below our $50 budget! That means you could use the extra $10 to stock up on some items that are on sale and start building a stock pile for your pantry.
Then you can “Shop your pantry” as you meal plan to help keep your overall food budget lower.
Creating a stock pile takes some time, but if you do a little bit each trip, it will grow faster than you think!
Final Thoughts for a Meal Plan Under $50
I hope this list gave you some good ideas for an inexpensive shopping list. It is totally possible to keep your grocery budget low when money is tight and you need some good budget meals.
All of these meals are tried and true, and are routinely included in our family’s meal plan.
Having a list of cheap, budget meals on hand has been huge in helping us keep our food budget down and pay off a large amount of debt.
Do you have some favorite budget meals? Let me know in the comments what they are! I would love to hear about how you feed your family on a tight budget.