My grocery budget is $300 each month for a family of four – two adults and two kids. This real food budget includes food, toiletries, household items as well as health & beauty products.
Wondering how to feed a family of seven for one week on $150 – while on vacation?!
Earlier this week I shared six tips for eating healthy while on vacation. Step 3 was to plan 80% of the meals you cook, and I shared our meal plan for our trip here. We’re on Step 4 today. If we can prepare and bake meals from what we already have on hand, think of everything we WON’T have to buy!
This week’s Counting Crumbs and Friday Finances are combined into this post. Some of the totals are estimated too, because even though you’re reading this on Friday, I wrote this on Monday so I could get a suntan without a laptop tan line 😉 I knew you guys would understand!
Without further ado, here’s how we can stretch those bucks.
Meal 1 – American (steak, potatoes, seasonal vegetable, green salad)
Before we do any shopping, I’ll browse the local circulars online. I know I can get rib-eyes for $7.99/lb at Costco, so that’s what I’ll use for the numbers today. We’ll use leftovers for sandwiches later, so even though the chances of us each eating a full pound of meat at dinner are slim, we’ll buy seven pounds of steak to cover both meals.
10lbs of potatoes go for $1 and we’ll choose two pounds of a seasonal vegetable that will also ring up at $1/lb.
The green salad will be a combination of lettuce ($1 per head), carrots ($1/lb), celery ($1/lb), cucumbers ($1 each). Three heads of lettuce, 1/4 lb-ish of carrots, 1/4 lb-ish of celery and one cucumber should make enough salad for two meals.
We prefer our salads dressed, so I whipped up and packed up a batch of Italian dressing and made instant homemade ranch. All the ranch needs is yogurt ($2.99) and milk ($1.99), both of which we’ll pick up there.
Total for Meal 1 = $66.16
Meal 2 – Asian (coconut shrimp, white rice, broccoli, carrots)
Large shrimp can be found for $5.99/lb, and we’ll make two pounds for the night. With broccoli season over, we’ll pick up a bag of frozen for $1 and use carrots that we already have in the cart.
The rice? Free. We buy rice in bulk at Costco and since there’s a HUGE bag of it in our pantry, I’m filling up a quart jar and taking it with us.
Total for Meal 2 – $12.98
Meal 3 – Italian (spaghetti, garlic rolls, green salad)
This is a cheap meal. We’re bringing homemade pasta sauce from home (free) and using the green salad already made from Meal 1 and the pre-made dressings.
The garlic rolls? Pre-made from home, a.k.a. free. I poured some yeast in a jar, then all the remaining dry ingredients in a Ziploc bag with the instructions written on the outside.
The only cost is the noodles, but those make a small bill.
Total for Meal 3 – $2
Meal 4 – Mexican (chicken tacos, coconut rice, black beans, southwestern corn, chips and homemade salsa)
Since Trader Joe’s offers drumsticks for $1.99/lb, I expect to pay something similar. Four pounds should be enough for us, especially since the other ingredients are layered on top in the tortillas.
Speaking of tortillas, these will be store-bought. I have equipment to make them at home, but they’re time-consuming and frankly I don’t want to make them if I don’t have to. Call me lazy, but I’m on vacation! A package that doesn’t have hydrogenated oils should be around $3.
Coconut rice is free. Shredded coconut and coconut water from our pantry is the frugal and easy way to pull that dish off. We’ll go lazy on the black beans too since making from scratch is just not necessary for one meal. Southwestern corn will require corn (fresh preferred, but frozen will work), one pepper and one onion. Chips will run $2 a bag and the homemade salsa gets the five finger discount from our own fridge at home.
Total for Meal 4 – $15.71
Meal 5 – Pizza
The ingredient details for homemade pizza make each pie less than $4. We’ll make four for all of us which will also yield leftovers. Bonus!
Total for Meal 5 – $16
Meal 6 – Sandwiches (panini-style) and salads (fruit, pasta and green)
Any leftover shrimp, steak or chicken is getting tossed into this meal. It will require bread ($2), but at least the bread can double for lunches too. The pasta salad will need noodles ($1) and whatever leftover vegetables we have (carrot, celery, broccoli, corn) will get tossed with the Italian dressing for a tasty dish. Leftover green salad will also get finished off.
In order to make this meal work, we’ll need butter ($3), fruit (see below) and cheese ($3).
Total for Meal 6 – $9
Total for All Meals – $121.86
Breakfast, Lunch and Other Miscellaneous Items
Our breakfasts will be simple, but some will require shopping too. Fresh fruit for smoothies (bananas for $1.25, seasonal fruit for $1/lb, kale from home) and eggs ($3/doz) mainly.
Two loaves of carrot bread, ten packets of oatmeal and gifted organic granola was packed up earlier in the week. These in addition to the yogurt and milk already accounted for above will keep breakfast frugal.
Lunches will consist of leftovers, salads and sandwiches. I’ll venture to say we’ll need more lettuce ($3) and another loaf of bread ($2). We’ll pair homemade strawberry apple butter with peanut butter – both brought from home.
Some other random foods we’re bringing are popcorn kernels, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, steak seasoning and taco seasoning.
Total Cost of Food for the Trip – $134.10
$15 under budget!
This still leaves us with some wiggle room, which is great. I didn’t account for ice cream or mineral water, two items that I’d be willing to bet Mr. Crumbs puts in the shopping cart. 😉
There is one minor confession (or a secret weapon) I must make known. It GREATLY affects my numbers too, so it’s really not a fair playing field unless I share.
Which I’ll do tomorrow! 😉