If you read yesterday’s post, you know that I’m kinda in the dog house. I blew the November budget out of the water. And NOT in a good way.
We were over by $120, over a third of our overall budget for the month. Looking back over what we bought, the only things that stand out to me is that we bought lots of things in bulk. I blame the lure of Costco.
Buying in bulk is an EXCELLENT way to save money, but when you’re on a budget, just a few bulk items can eat up a large part of the pot. Sometimes it’s best to buy smaller portions, even if it’s more per ounce.
Since money doesn’t grow on trees, that $120 we overspent last month has to come out of somewhere. The only logical place would be our grocery budget for December. So for the next three weeks, our real food budget is only $150.
(For the fellow math nerds:
$330/month – $120 overage = $210.
$210 / 4 weeks = $52.50/week
$52.50/week * 3 weeks = $157.50.
I’m rounding down.)
The best way (and ONLY way) to accomplish this aggressive goal is to eat out of the kitchen as much as possible. An impromptu pantry challenge, if you will.
If you take a look at what we currently have in our kitchen, you’d see that we have a lot of food. Much of it is what I call “random” food: barley, garbanzo beans, canned tomatoes, canned pumpkin, etc. By itself, it looks like nothing grand. In most cases, it needs something else in order to be considered a “meal.”
Except this month, that “something else” needs to come from the kitchen, not the store.
In order to effectively, and efficiently, turn our random food into meals, I have to write a really awesome meal plan.
So here it is, in all its glory and awesomeness, although it’s subject to change. With the exception of some fresh fruits and vegetables, I have everything needed to make everything below. This lets us push out a dinner if there happens to be extra leftovers in the fridge for whatever reason.
There are no formal breakfast or lunches planned, so we’ll have lots of “snacky” breakfasts and lunches where random slices of who-knows-what will get wrapped or dipped or blended and magically become a meal.
The only way we’re able to pull this off, by the way, is because Mr. Crumbs and I are on the same page. This would be an absolute disaster if he were expecting full course meals every night while I delivered plates that looked like I visited an appetizer buffet line.
Cheap Meals for $50/week
A note on this $50 a Week Meal Plan:
- This plan mostly shops from the pantry and freezer. Additional items were purchased costing me about $50 a week. Prices will vary per region and if everything must be bought it may cost you more.
- Many of these recipes use leftovers, or a cook-once eat-twice mentality. Keep that in mind if you switch anything out.
Cheap Meals: Week 1
(S) Spinach Salad with Man Bread
(M) Grilled Cheese with Veggie Sticks and Ranch
(T) Herbed Pork Chops with Sweet Potato Fries and Garlic Green Beans
(W) Spaghetti with Side Salad
(T) Hearty Minestrone Soup x2 (freeze half for post-vacation)
(F) Homemade Pizza
(S) Baked Greek Chicken with Couscous, Hummus, Whole Wheat Pita Bread, and Steamed Carrots
Cheap Meals: Week 2
(S) Cheesey-Mexi Lentils over Macaroni
(M) Greek Chicken Pitas with Couscous and Veggie Sticks
(T) Tomato Basil Soup, Sweet Potato Buttermilk Bread
(W) Savory Pasta with Bacon, Onions, and Greens
(T) Homemade Pizza
(F) Sweet & Sour Pork with Sautéed Veggies
(S) Grilled Sandwiches with Crispy Potato Wedges
Cheap Meals: Week 3
(S) Panzanella Salad
(M) Chicken Tacos, Homemade Salsa, Mango Salsa, Southwestern Corn, Coconut Rice & Homemade Tortillas
(T) Sliced Pork Sandwiches with Carrots and Soaked Whole Wheat Buns
(W) Spaghetti with Side Salads
(T) Vegetable Soup (depending on what’s left in the kitchen)
(F) Homemade Buffalo Chicken Pizza
(S) Baked Potatoes with Vegetable Soup
By the way, having a severely restricted budget isn’t the only hurdle to overcome this month. Coming home to an empty kitchen after vacation is no fun, so I’m doubling a few recipes to have some meals ready to go in the freezer. My goal is to have three dinners that require very minimal work to become a hot meal. Not only does this appease the hungry masses, but it buys me a few days of being before having to grocery shop. It’s kinda like washing your underwear before you come home.
Looking for another $50 meal plan?
The menu above uses leftovers and doesn’t include breakfast or lunch, but have no fear! I TWO MORE $50 meal plan that includes three square meals everyday and does NOT include leftovers. Get the first meal plan and the free shopping download that goes with it, here. And the second one with complete recipes, here!
For more full month real food menus, check out the meal plan archives!