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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Family of four can eat on $80.00 a week or less!

Food budget for $80.00 a week or less.


Do you think you could feed your family on a budget of $80 a week for food only that could be for a family of four, 2 adults and 2 children which would be a 7 year old and a 12 year old. Take the ideas that interest you and make changes to your menus and shopping plans.  Substitute your favorite meals for some below and try to substitute less expensive meats for what you have used in the past. 


Menu's - shopping lists – Tips and Tricks to cutting the food budget.



Day 1 of $80.00 week.
Breakfast -
Oatmeal Old Fashioned - one cup per person
- 2% milk - raisins 1 oz.
- sugar 3 tsp. - apple juice 4 oz.
- 1 hard or soft boiled egg.

Lunch -

1 grilled cheese sandwich or 1 bologna sandwich, 1 small apple
Carrot sticks, one glass of kool aid or iced tea

Dinner -
Spaghetti and turkey meatballs, Salad small with oil and vinegar dressing, garlic bread

Snack - homemade cookies make enough for the week of snacks and freeze
Milk for the kids and tea for the adults

Day 2
Breakfast -
Rice Krispy Cereal – Store brand with ½ of a banana – 2 % milk – 2 tsps. Sugar
4 oz. of O.J. made from frozen concentrate

Lunch –
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Raisins and celery sticks

Dinner – Chili with beans made with ½ lb. frozen ground turkey and lentils and kidney beans homemade of course. Corn bread homemade.

Snack – Milk and cookies Milk for kids and tea for adults Cookies made
for the week homemade

Day 2 has about 6 servings of fruit and vegetables, plenty of fiber, protein, and carbs.

Day 3
Breakfast – Cheese omelet – toast– 4 oz. of apple juice

Lunch – Tuna sandwich with celery and onion to help stretch it.
Carrot sticks, Tea or Kool Aid

Dinner – Homemade baked beans with kielbasa or smoked sausage, or franks sliced in it
Lettuce wedges with homemade thousand island dressing. Leftover corn bread.

Snack - Popcorn with milk for kids and tea or lemonade kool aid for adults.

Day 3 has at least 5 or 6 vegetables/fruits, loads of fiber, loads of protein and great carbs.

Day 4
Breakfast – pancakes with syrup – 4 oz. of frozen o.j. from concentrate, 6 oz. glass of 2 % milk

Lunch – Leftover chili or Baked bean dish for those who can reheat it and bologna sandwich for kids in school. Carrot and Celery sticks, tea or kool aid.

Dinner – Chicken stew with potatoes, carrots, celery,
and onions, homemade biscuits, Jello salad with fruit cocktail.

Snack - homemade pretzels and Kool aid or tea

Day 4 has between 6 and 8 veg/fruits for the day and plenty of protein, fiber, and carbs.

Day 5
Breakfast – Biscuits and turkey sausage gravy – small apple and 4 oz. of OJ from frozen concentrate

Lunch - Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, raisins, and iced tea or kool aid

Dinner – Vegetarian taco’s and leftover beans from day 3 Leftover Jello / fruit cocktail salad

Snack – Homemade pretzels reheated and dipped in butter and cinnamon sugar, Milk for kids
and tea or kool aid lemonade for adults

Day 5 has plenty of veg/fruits, protein, fiber, and carbs

Day 6 - Breakfast – biscuit sausage sandwich, apple sauce, milk

Lunch – cheese sandwiches with lettuce and thinly sliced tomatoes, tea or kool aid

Dinner – Mexican soup or Minestrone soup Homemade with Saltine crackers or buttered garlic bread, Cabbage, carrot, raisin cole slaw homemade.

Snack - saltine crackers with American cheese. Cut slices into cracker size pieces. Milk or kool aid or tea.

Day 6 has plenty of vegetables/fruit, protein, fiber, and carbs.

Day 7 -
Breakfast - Oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon homemade applesauce and 6 oz. of 2% milk

Lunch – Egg Salad sandwich, carrot, celery and raisins. Tea or kool aid

Dinner - Rice and chicken casserole, Peas, and homemade bread pudding

Snack - Popcorn and Kool aid or milk

Day 7 has plenty of protein, 5 veg/fruits, and lots of fiber, and carbs.
If all of this was bought as inexpensively as possible such as store brand items, in bulk items and homemade it would be a very inexpensive, healthy, and filling menu for a day. The first week when
you start buying bulk will be more but it will average out to be approximately $8 a day when you stop buying convenience foods and junk foods. Do you only make cookies at Christmas and then you buy slice and bake cookies to make? That will change when you find your favorite recipes and make your own mixes to make cooking easier. I make a homemade slice and bake refrigerator dough that I bake
in my hot oven after baking a casserole or meat. It saves power and will give fresher cookies by only baking when your oven was already hot.

This sample menu gets in your 5 fruits and vegetables a day, at least 6 ounces of protein and healthy carbs, and all the fiber you need for a day. I would suspect if it was broken down it would cost this family of four about $8 of their food money for that day. Of course I am assuming they buy their food at the least expensive store they can and use store brands as well as making homemade bread, meatballs and spaghetti sauce. Homemade salad from lettuce and carrots and croutons. Use frozen ground turkey for the meatballs with oatmeal and an egg as filler. The homemade cookies can be oatmeal cookies or simple sugar cookies for very little money.

Most of what is on this menu is bought in large enough sizes to be used for at least 2 weeks such as flour, rice krispies, oatmeal, peanut butter, popcorn, saltine crackers, rice and beans.

The meat such as frozen ground turkey will be bought on sale if possible or at the least expensive grocer you can find. Kielbasa, smoked sausage or franks will be a toss up on how much per serving they will cost you but if you watch the sales and buy in quantity when on sale you can freeze these and use until the next sale.


I suggest buying whole milk and mixing it half and half with instant dried milk to stretch it and to make it 2%. Keep it cold and if you can make chocolate syrup to stir into it the kids will never know it is part instant.

Make all your breads homemade. If you want to use a bread machine, then try the thrift stores, many people get on a health kick and then decide they don't want to take the time or effort to continue and they donate the machine after only using it once or twice. I bought my bread machine for $5 and I often see them in thrift stores for $15 or less. You can buy 25 lbs. of flour at a time very reasonably. 5 lb bags of flour costs a lot more. Sugar is the same way. 25 lb bag will last for months for about the cost of 2 or 3 five lb. bags. Rice is the same way.

Yes this diet I propose has some sugar and white rice and white bread. As the shopper goes along they may be able to introduce some wheat flour into the family’s diet and brown rice. After shopping for a few weeks and cooking from scratch and you start seeing savings in the food budget then add in some brown rice bought in 1 lb bags and whole wheat pasta and see if your family will tolerate it. As you start seeing savings I suggest you add a larger variety of vegetables in season and fruits as well. The ones listed here are less expensive and very healthy. When fall rolls around start serving more winter squash when the price is low like butternut or acorn. You can serve it as a side vegetable or in soups or in breads or sweet breads or muffins, you can also make a pie from it like pumpkin. When turkey goes on sale at Thanksgiving buy at least 2 turkeys and cook one at Thanksgiving, immediately after the meal start a turkey soup with the bones and skin left over, package any sliced turkey for sandwiches hot or cold, and save the bits and pieces for a turkey pot pie along with leftover vegetables, and potatoes and gravy. Freeze the other turkey and do the same things with variations for Christmas and the following week or two. Apples are much less expensive in the fall as well as pears. Raisins are good value but seem expensive when you buy them but they go a long ways. You only need an oz. of raisins to have a fruit serving. It is about the size of walnut in your hand. Nuts are good for you but expensive. If you can buy nuts on sale near Thanksgiving or Christmas then freeze them. You can take them out of the freezer as you are going to serve them. They make a great snack mixed with raisins. Walnuts are very good for you so you could pan roast a few to add to your salads to perk them up. Seafood is another item that can be expensive so you have to be watchful of sales. Often the frozen filets are your best bets. Flounder, perch, tilapia, and cod. Catfish is affordable if you like it. If you fish you can eat what you catch. If you have to buy fish then consider stretching it with a homemade stuffing made with diced apples and raisins, celery, cubed bread, onion, and lemon juice sprinkled over the fish and stuffing, bake it all in the oven and serve like you would any casserole.

When cooking with turkey instead of beef consider adding a beef bouillon cube or granules to your spaghetti sauce or chili and it will help the flavor. Also cut back on how much meat you put in dishes like spaghetti or chili. By making meatballs you can stretch them using your oatmeal, onions, egg and even some lentils if you have some cooked up. Make bread for sandwiches about every 4 days to make sure it stays fresh. Put it while still a little warm into a zip lock bag, or a cereal box wax paper bag that you save. They work great and keep the bread moist and tender. When you make corn bread make enough for at least 2 meals to save on electricity. Wrap well and refrigerate to keep it fresh for later in the week. Biscuits can be done the same way. Leftover cornbread after serving it twice can
be crumbled and added to leftover sandwich bread to make your stuffing’s for chicken or fish meals. Stale biscuits you can rehydrate by adding a few drops of water and I mean just a few and steaming in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then use them as a base for sausage white gravy. When you make sausage gravy use no more than about 2 patties worth to make it and save the rest for sausage biscuits on another morning. Turkey sausage in the roll is a great low cost substitute for pork sausage and is healthier for you. You can make homemade pizza and use leftover turkey sausage with your cheese for a more interesting and filling pizza. Buy tuna when it is on sale or buy the store brand at a discount store. We have Farm Fresh discount grocery here which is called Sav a Lot. I buy my tuna there when it is not on sale cheaper somewhere else. They want 73 cents consistently. I do stock up in large amounts when a store in the area has tuna for 39 to 50 cents as a loss leader. It will save you time and money.


You won’t be as tempted to run to the store for a can of biscuits or Bisquick if you keep a homemade biscuit mix in your fridge. They make everything that Bisquick will make and won't have extra unneeded preservatives.


You can always cook with instant milk it will save you a lot of money over a period of time. Save the store bought gallons for the kids to drink but do try to add some of the instant as about a quarter of the gallon is gone, the kids won’t even notice and then add another quarter as it is drunk down to that level again. Don’t go past the half regular milk and half instant or you will probably get yucks coming out of your kids mouths. My husband was please with all instant milk on cereal. He said he couldn’t tell the difference. I think the cereal has enough sweetness and flavor to mask it’s instant flavor.


Consider cooking a lb. of kidney beans or pintos once a week also consider cooking a pot of lentils and you can freeze them to use in chili, soups, and as fillers in taco’s, and salads. The dried beans are inexpensive a great source of protein and very good filling high quality carbs.


If your family likes Velveeta type cheese then consider buying one store brand 3 lb. package each month. It lasts well in the fridge and makes good grilled cheese and is great for cubing and adding to casseroles instead of the more expensive cheddar type cheeses. Processed American cheese is usually kind of costly but you can buy it on sale once in awhile. When you find things like this on sale freeze the extra’s that you can’t use in a couple of weeks. Cheese freezes well. Grate your own cheese. It will be more flavorful and fresher and you won’t have to pay for someone else to do it.


Meat that is being sold at the store at a low reduced price because it is ready to expire on its sell by date is just fine. I buy cubed steak, round roast and chuck roasts this way. Cut your own stew meat out of the tough roasts and cook low and slow to get tender flavorful stews, beef burgundy and soups. Get to know your butcher and ask when they mark down the meat and put it out. They may even tell you to be there a certain time and you can pick out the cheapest and best of the bunch.

If you hunt ask your butcher about saving you beef fat to add to your venison when you grind it. It will improve the flavor. Try not to use the fat of the deer because it tastes very gamey. If you like calves liver then try cooking the deer liver the same way. If you don’t like liver, heart, and kidneys then still save them and grind them or chop them and stew them for your dogs. They will love it. Also cook some rice in bulk to add to your dogs food to make it filling and cheaper.

Usually when you buy fruits try to buy the fruit in a 3 lb. bag but make sure they are small apples or oranges. A small apple or orange is about all you will get most kids to eat without waste. Buy bananas close to the day of serving. They go bad fast. If they start to turn before you can use them, then stick them in the freezer. The peels will turn black but the banana will be great for muffins, quick sweet bread or pancakes. Allow ½ a banana per person for cereal. A half of a banana is one serving. People get too generous with juice. Try measuring your juice out for the family. Juice is part of their nutritional requirement but it shouldn’t be drunk like water. It shoots the blood sugar up and then they will have a large sugar drop in 2 hours, that will make them feel bad and they will be hungry again. If you can get them to eat the fruit instead they will be much better off. Four ounces of juice is a serving which equals a small piece of fruit. If they still want something to drink then serve them their milk or water. Kids usually don’t drink enough water. Kids don’t really need a lot of milk but they should get 2 eight ounce glasses a day. Younger children should have at least 2% milk. There are vitamins that are in the fat that they need and they should be burning off the fat calories by playing outdoors.

If you can buy from a warehouse store then consider buying 5 lb. packages of carrots. A 5 lb. package will last you for two to three weeks. You can serve it as cooked carrots for a vegetable, on the side, or you can put it in soups and stews, you can serve carrot sticks and carrot slaw either by itself or with cabbage. It is great added to salads and Jello. When you get home from shopping take out 4 carrots and wash and peel them. Then cut into sticks do the same with celery and put them into a container of water that you can seal. They will stay super crisp for serving with lunch and for snacks. If you don’t use them within 4 days then dice them and add them to a stir fry, salad or soup. Then start all over again. If you grow your own cucumbers then add them to your snacking items. If you can, make ranch dressing, that will make a great dip for kids who don’t want to eat them plain. If you have a garden make sure you plant the vegetables your kids love and feed them as often as possible. The nutrients in truly fresh vegetables build their immunity so that they won’t catch the fall colds, flu, and viruses. Warehouse stores like Sam’s are the cheapest place to buy bulk flour, rice, sugar, oils, and pastas. If you don’t have a membership then find a friend or relative who does and ask to tag along. You will need to take cash since you have to have a membership to buy foods yourself and they can’t buy foods with your debit card or check. I suggest you never buy groceries with a credit card because the interest you will pay will take away from your savings.

When you make your homemade breads make your white sandwich bread, make French bread for garlic toast, make sandwich rolls for Sloppy Joes, and your salad sandwiches such as egg salad, tuna salad, and chicken/turkey salad. It makes the sandwiches seem more filling and interesting to be on buns rather than ordinary bread. Save the bread for bologna, grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly, toast and French toast. Make up your own pretzels and pizza dough as well. You will be pleasantly surprised how easy and delicious homemade pizza is and the pretzels as well.

Buy your poultry on sale only. The stores are always having sales on chicken drumsticks and thighs in 10 lb packs and the chicken breasts go on sale for 99 cents  on the bone. Don’t pay an extra $1.00 a lb. to get them to cut the meat off the bone. It is easy to do yourself. Just be careful with sharp knives. Use paper towels to hold the slippery meat and you will have an easier time of it. Use a separate cutting board for poultry and pork. After cutting your breasts from the bones throw the bones and skin into a pot and simmer to give you broth for some of your meals to make gravy, soups, or to add to casseroles as your liquid for more flavor and you won't have to buy canned broth.  Disinfect anything that has touched raw poultry or pork with a weak solution of chlorine bleach and water. Wash the board and knives and your hands in hot soapy water or your dishwasher. When you get home from the grocer with your bags of chicken separate them into meal sized portions, I allow one thigh or 2 drumsticks per person. That is plenty of meat for a meal. If you like you may separate the drumsticks from the thighs and serve some meals with just one or the other. The thighs are good for baking and frying and fricassees, and the drumsticks are great barbecued, or like hot wings, or lemon pepper chicken. It used to be that whole chickens were cheaper than cut up chicken but it isn’t that way often anymore. If you just have to have a whole chicken then consider the waste. Make sure you use everything. After serving the whole chicken there will be leftovers. Don’t waste the bones and skin and bits and pieces of meat. Make a big chicken vegetable or chicken noodle soup. Strain your broth after cooking, pick out your meat, feed the skin to your dogs and then you can throw out the bones. Let the broth sit until the fat rises and then skim it. Add back your meat, then add whatever else you will be putting in your
soup and cook till the noodles or veggies are done. Americans waste more food than most families ever have to eat in other countries. We need to learn to use our food wisely and completely. Only discard inedible parts of food such as well used bones and fat. Remember your dogs will love well used beef soup bones but not chicken or turkey bones and not the cut chop bones etc. They splinter and can harm your dog’s tummy or throat.  Spices and seasonings can make the difference in having delicious food and bland food.

Simple foods can be like gourmet with some simple spices and herbs.

First off if you can grow your own herbs and preserve them it will save you a lot of money each year. Rosemary is a perennial and basil and parsley are easy annuals. You can also grow oregano and thyme. Chives can be grown on your windowsill. If you can buy Kosher or Sea salt it makes a big difference in flavor. Pepper cracked and ground fresh has more flavor, also nutmeg grated fresh is the best way to go.

The bare minimum for your spice cabinet is as follows; salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, cinnamon, cumin, and chili powder. If you like curry then that is good as well, I always have turmeric, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice. But I could live without them. Last on my list but useful are rosemary, parsley, and cayenne. You may like or hate some of these herbs and spices. So you choose what you like to keep on hand. The Dollar Tree carries a fairly large selection of spices and

herbs. Grow what you can and even ask for a small amount of spices and herbs from a friend to try them out before investing in them. Also if there is a dish you want to try that you won’t have use for the herb or spice except for this one dish ask your friend, mom, or sister for a spoonful to make it. If you only want curry once a year then you don’t want a bottle that will sit and gather dust. Maybe you can find a friend or relative that you can go halves with on some seldom used spices. I would like to suggest you try cooking cinnamon chicken and use nutmeg in your greens of any kind that you cook. Turmeric will make your rice yellow and add a zip to a meal that otherwise would be boring. I use onions, garlic, celery and carrots for flavor in soups, stews, casseroles, boiled
dinners and salads. I grow hot peppers in the summer and put them in vinegar and use the vinegar as my hot sauce. You can make some of your own condiments but I find that buying mustard is cheaper than making it and mayo/salad dressing and ketchup are items I would rather buy than make. Barbeque sauce is easily made though so you can make it or buy it on sale. Pickles can be quite expensive so watch for sales or go to the dollar tree. If you grow cucumbers or are given some try making fresh refrigerator vinegar pickles. You slice the cucumbers; I peel mine, then slice an onion thinly and add both to a container that has a lid. Add salt, pepper, and vinegar leave for at least 1 or 2 days then serve. Vinegar pickles are very sour but delicious as a little side dish to heavier meals. Vinegar helps level out blood sugar levels so eating something like these fresh pickles will help with a starchy meal such as macaroni and cheese or a rice casserole.

Try to have themed nights to make your meals more

Mexican night – Vegetarian Chili and cornbread, Tacos or Taco Salad, or Enchilada Casserole

Italian night – Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread, Rotini casserole and brushetta, or Pizza

Chinese night – Stir fry and egg drop soup, or Fried Rice and garlic green beans

Breakfast for supper night – pancakes and sausage, Frittata and salad, or omelets with salsa

New England night – boiled dinner and cornbread, Boston Baked Beans and Ham Steak, or New England Clam Chowder and crackers

New Orleans Mardi gras night – Red Beans and Rice, cornbread, Jambalaya and Biscuits, or chicken creole

Down by the Sea Night – fish and stuffing casserole, Mackerel, salmon or tuna patties and macaroni and cheese, Manhattan Clam Chowder

Barbeque Night – Barbeque chicken or hot dogs and macaroni salad, Barbeque Turkey burgers with grilled vegetables

Night in Paris – Quiche and Salad, or Beef Burgundy and noodles

Vegetarian Night – Macaroni and Cheese, Stuffed Baked Potatoes, Lentil or Split

Pea Soup, Minestrone Soup, French Onion Soup

Inexpensive meals:

Potato Treet Casserole

Soup and sandwiches

French Toast

Potato Soup


Spaghetti Carbonara

Stewed Canned Corned Beef over rice or mashed potatoes

Lemon chicken drumsticks and yellow rice

Fricasseed chicken thighs and rice

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Homemade Desserts:

Egg Custard

Bread Pudding

Rice Pudding

Chocolate or Vanilla Pudding


Homemade Cookies:







Baked Apples

Homemade Pies:

Custard Pie

Squash Pie

Vinegar Pie

Homemade Quick Breads:



Lemon poppy seed
Banana Nut

Side Dishes:

Potato Salad


Spanish Rice

Yellow Rice

Buttered Noodles

Boiled Potatoes

Baked Potatoes

Potato Planks or wedges

Mashed Potatoes


Cheese Grits

Macaroni and Cheese

Sweet Potatoes

Baked Onions


Butternut Squash


Green Beans

Dried Kidney Beans

Dried Chick Peas

Frozen Green Peas

Frozen Corn

Buy plenty of eggs which are inexpensive protein. Always have a good sized jar of peanut butter. Always have beans of different varieties on hand such as pinto, lentils, kidney beans, black beans, navy beans, or great northern and garbanzos. You can substitute beans for oil in recipes and beans for meat in recipes. They are good for you and are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates.

Have at least 3 or 4 meals a week that are non meat. Don’t make more than one or two lunches a week that have meat except for leftovers.

Turn leftovers into new meals, be creative.

Leftover pinto’s and rice can make refried beans for tacos

and rice can be made into red rice to serve with them.

Leftover black beans can be used as an oil substitute in

brownies or chocolate cake or cookies.

Leftover spaghetti can make minestrone soup with all the

leftover veggies from the week.

Leftover lentils and kidney beans as well as black beans can

be put into chili or make veggie burgers by mixing with rice and egg.

Cook enough corn bread or muffins for 3 meals a week when

you cook it. As soon as it is cool place
in plastic bag and store in fridge.

Make enough biscuits for at least 2 meals a week and while

still warm place in plastic bags and store in fridge.

Make 4 loaves of bread on the same day and keep 1 loaf out

and store others un-sliced in plastic wrap in the fridge.

Cook your beans for the week all at the same time and you

will only be stuck watching them for the 3 hours or so that it takes to cook
them instead of 3 hours each time you need them.

Plan your menu’s ahead. Shop for basics and then fill in with sale meats and change the menu accordingly.

For example:

Chicken is on sale for thighs and drumsticks 10 lbs for 5.90 so you buy a bag and repackaged your chicken in bags separated for
3 or 4 meals. One night will be bbq drumsticks and Mac and Cheese, one night will be baked garlic chicken thighs (one a piece) with homemade stuffing. One night will be Chicken and dumplings and carrots.
Any leftover chicken uncooked or cooked will be turned into chicken stew later or added to your leftover soup or make a pot pie or shepherd's pie.

Pork roast that is on sale for 99 cents a lb. you buy a 3 lb. roast and turn it into at least 3 meals. Cook the roast and serve thinly sliced roast one or two slices per person for a Sunday dinner. Cut up about 1 cup of pork for pork perlau and one cup of pork for fried rice, and lastly any other left over can be added to your homemade soup along with other meats and vegetables left over from other meals.

Once a week cook 3 cups dry weight of rice. Store in plastic bag in fridge.

Prep your carrots and celery when you come home from the store. The carrot and celery sticks go into storage containers with clean water which you should change daily and the rest should be prepped into chunks or dices for meals and stored in baggies.

Have one big meal a week that is breakfast for supper, such as; pancakes, omelets, frittata, or quiche. These meals are good for stretching your food budget and have plenty of protein.

Unless ground beef is on sale for a very low price I find that it is an expensive meat to serve. If I can get it for approximately a dollar a pound I will scarf it up but
usually I think that the $1 to $1.40 a pound ground turkey is more economical and better for you. But if you really want some ground beef in your diet then buy it on sale for approximately $2.00 a pound and then mix it with the ground turkey or stretch it by adding oatmeal, crackers, or breadcrumbs.

Turkey is fine in chili, spaghetti, and meat balls. Turkey sausage is much cheaper than pork sausage.

I hope this article will give you ideas you can use and will make you think about your own family and how you can save money on your food budget and still give your family nutritious foods and variety.

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