About a year ago, I published an article on how you can have a healthy diet for $20 a week. Some people loved it, some people hated it, other people just wished there was a $20 a week menu plan to go with it.
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Well, here are the answers to all your questions. First addressing the naysayers, and next a more detailed menu plan to go with the shopping list.
(To those of you who commented before November of 2014, I’m sorry to say that we lost all of your comments during a site move, and I apologize if I don’t address them.)
- These Prices Are Lower Than What I Can Find In My Area. I totally understand that some areas have a much higher cost of living than where I’m from, however, in many cases, where there’s a will there’s a way. Ask yourself: are prices in my area really that much higher, or am I simply not branching out to finder a less expensive store? I can tell you that this shopping plan wouldn’t work in my area if I was shopping at H.E.B, Kroger, Walmart, or even Save-A-Lot.
In fact, it’s worth every extra minute for me to drive an hour to Waco where the nearest Aldi is. (If you don’t believe that Aldi is that much cheaper, here’s a true story: We picked up butter for $1.79/lb. on our last shopping trip! No that’s not a normal price, but where else are the sales that good?!).
In case you didn’t notice, those are not greater Nashville area stores. Yep, we changed locations by several hundred miles and can still make this $20 a week thing work.
- You can’t stretch four pounds of chicken per person over 6+ meals. You’re right, not if chicken is the main portion of your meal. Let me demonstrate how we used five pound of chicken leg quarters for our family of four this week: Night 1: chicken, sweet potatoes, salad. We consumed 2 leg quarters.
Night 2: chicken tacos. We used another leg quarter on our tacos. Using so little for all of us was possible thanks to the added protein source of homemade refried beans.
Night 3: Stir-fry veggies, chicken rice, and beans. We shredded the remaining leg quarter into the rice dish, and added more beans. Yum! That was five pounds of chicken, divided among the equivalent of three adults. So you see, stretching four pounds of chicken per person to last an entire week shouldn’t be that hard.
- Not enough snacking options. Welll, I don’t know what to tell you here. The three suggestions were apples, bananas, and carrot sticks. Based on the total daily calorie count of this menu plan, that should be plenty. One of the complaints was that 3 lbs of apple wasn’t enough for 1 a day. If you want an apple a day, I suggest dropping the bananas and getting another bag. Another option is to grab a bag of popcorn (2 lb bag was less than $3 yesterday). We pop ours in an air popper.
- Not enough food. Since this plan was based on an average consumption of 2,000 calories per day, I have three possible explanations.
a). You’re really tall and muscular
b). You’re training for a marathon and burning incredible amounts of calories.
c). You’re very, very large (see “a”)
Very few normal women would eat 2,000 calories daily, and the average man doesn’t eat a lot more.
Personally, the only circumstance under which I breach 2,000 calories is when I’m nursing a baby full time (that’s 700/day), and working out hard. I also happen to be above average height.
So, now that we’ve addressed the naysayers, let’s move on to the actual menu plan. (You may want to look at the $20 a weekshopping list here first.)
The $20 Meal Plan
Breakfast: Eggs, hashbrowned potatoes.
Lunch:. Bean and Cheese burritos (boil beans with onion, mash with salt, and oregano if you have it, spread on tortilla, top with cheese and slasa)
Dinner: Stir-fried veggies, rice, beans
Breakfast: Oatmeal with butter and salt or sliced banana
Lunch: Beans and rice, or bean and cheese burritos (see above)
Snack: Apple, carrot sticks
Dinner: Chicken-veggie soup (place chicken leg quarter in crockpot, cover with water and let cook all day. Debone chicken, shred. Add one diced potato, sliced carrot, ¼ chopped onion, and ¼-1/2 cup of steamed rice. Boil until veggies are done. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 2) Similar to Chicken Noodle Soup
Breakfast: eggs and fried potatoes
Lunch: beans and rice
Dinner: Chicken tacos (homemade refried beans, shredded cheese – ¼-1/2 cup per person, shredded chicken, salsa)
Breakfast: Oatmeal and eggs
Lunch: Bean and cheese buritos
Snack: apple and carrot sticks
Dinner: Potato-Broccoli soup, boiled egg
Breakfast: eggs and oatmeal
Dinner: Chicken with steamed veggies and rice
Breakfast: oatmeal and eggs
Lunch: bean and cheese burritos
Snack: apple with carrot sticks
Dinner: Chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy (baked or cook chicken in slow cooker, debone and shred, add cornstarch to broth at a rate of 1 ½ teaspoons per cup of gravy desired, add water to reach the desired volume, cook and stir until thick, season with salt and pepper. While the chicken is cooking, peel and boil potatoes. When done, drain and mash with butter, salt and pepper)
Breakfast: eggs and potatoes
Lunch: Lefotvers (add to them if needed i.e. more mashed potatoes, more gravy, more veggies, etc.)
Dinner: chicken rice, veggies
Is the lunch menu here a little monotonous? Well yeah, we’re going for cheap, not gourmet here. This is meant for those of use who are trying to get the best use out of every. single. penny. We’re trying to save money on food, because we have something bigger that we want to put that extra money toward. Or maybe we’re trying to put some of our grocery money back so we can stock up during awesome sales later on. You know, sacrifice a little here, so we can eat more awesome food down the road.
So as you read, please don’t forget the purpose of this whole $20 menu plan: Saving money now, so you can get ahead, and live better not just later, but for the rest of our lives.
Because we all get to decide how well we can live within our individual budgets. So if you’re reading this, shaking your head, ask yourself this: Are you willing to do what it takes to make your budget rock?
Learn how to go Gluten-Free on a budget!
We could all you some great ideas for how to save money on groceries, right? And I want to make it as doable for you as possible, so for those of you coming from this page, I’m offering a $2.00 discount on my book Affordable Gluten-Free Living. I’m just nice like that. 😉 Just enter the code 20dollars at checkout!
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