When Michael and I were first married, we ate out every night. However, when we got on a written budget, it became very apparent that we were spending way too much on food. This is typically one of the highest spending categories for most families. So, it really helps us to plan out what we are going to eat each month and make a grocery list.
At the end of each month, I begin making a meal plan for the following month. I try to make one big shopping trip at the beginning of the month and stretch this for the entire month. I calculate how many dinners I will need to cook and create a meal plan which includes lunch and breakfast options as well. Most of the time, we do eat dinner leftovers for lunch, but it’s nice to have some other options if we like.
My grocery budget is $250 and we have a $50 “eating out” budget. We also have a $20 toiletry budget which usually just gets rolled into the $250. Actually, when I did my grocery shopping last week, I didn’t even touch our toiletry budget because I still had money left over in the grocery budget. One thing that did help us this month was the $10 off grocery coupon at Walmart to try their new grocery program, and I got a $10 referral coupon which I used to buy our meat, cat food, and litter for the month. Between Aldi and my two Walmart Grocery orders (read the article here for $10 free), I was able to only spend $217.63 for all our groceries and toiletries for the month which comes to about $55 per week. We still have $32.37 left in our grocery envelope and $20 in toiletry envelope for odds and ends that I might need throughout the month like fresh fruit, milk, or ice cream (we love ice cream). Here’s my meal plan below, grocery lists, and the links to the recipes should you want to try them.
Breakfast is pretty basic and easy for us. I don’t always have time to cook something for breakfast with taking care of a baby. So, these are simple options that can be prepared quickly.
Peanut butter toast with honey (my favorite) – I used Smucker’s All Natural Peanut butter, honey from Aldi, and honey wheat toast from Aldi.
Bagels with butter (Michael’s favorite) – We already had three packages of bagels in the freezer because I bought them on sale last month for buy one get one free. So, we are covered for this.
Blueberry Muffins X 2 – Martha White Blueberry muffin mix – two packs.
Pop Tarts – I know these aren’t healthy, but we both love them occasionally.
Pancakes and Sausage X 3 – Sausage from Aldi and pancake mix already in pantry.
Eggs, Toast, and Sausage X 2 – Eggs, bread, and sausage from Aldi.
I have a whole bag of pinto beans in our pantry that I plan to prepare and use to make refried beans which is one of the main ingredients for two recipes on this list. It’s also much healthier and tastier to make your refried beans than buying them in a can. Although, I am not opposed to easy. I am just trying to use what is already in the pantry which is a must when sticking to a grocery budget. I also already had some salsa in the fridge. I have tried a few of the recipes on Money Saving Mom and they have been hits with my hubby. So, I thought I would try two new ones this month (Southwest Roll Ups and Corn Dog Muffins).
Southwest Roll Ups (freezer friendly) – Link to recipe here.
Corn Dog Muffins (freezer friendly) – Link to recipe here.
Leftovers – This is what we usually eat for lunch on most days.
Peanut butter and Jelly Sandwich – Easy and cheap!
Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup – Easy and delicious on rainy days.
Bean and Cheese Burritos – Link to recipe here.
Sides for Lunches:
I do sides for lunches for my hubby because he packs his lunch for work each day. He likes these sides and has options to eat on his breaks at work. It is also helpful to have some snacks on hand so he doesn’t hit up the vending machine at work. I like to have some snacks on hand at home as well.
Fruit: Apples, Bananas
Wheat Thins with Hummus
For dinner options, I do try to stretch the meat we purchase. Some recipes may call for 2-4 cups of chicken and I will only put half that. With my dishes like enchiladas and the taco bake, I typically add more black beans to compensate for less meat. With the broccoli casserole, I don’t really notice not having a full two cups of chicken. It’s really what you are used to. I do try to make more chicken recipes than beef because chicken is cheaper and it’s healthier. I try to eat estimate how much meat I will need for each recipe and then base what I buy at the store off of that.
Chicken Broccoli Casserole X 4 (2 chicken breasts) – Recipe Link Here
BBQ Chicken, Mashed Pots, & Green Beans (or Squash) X 4 (4 chicken breasts) – Basically, this is chicken with BBQ sauce cooked in the oven for about 20-30 mins. Very easy!
Chicken Enchiladas X 2 (2 chicken breasts) – I boil chicken and cut it up into small pieces after cooking. Then, I mix it with about a cup of black beans and 1-2 cups of rice. I am trying a homemade enchilada sauce recipe I found on Pinterest. Once I get the mix prepared, I place a little in each tortilla, add some sauce and shredded cheese. Then, roll it up and place in a baking dish. Then I top it will enchilada sauce and cheese and bake for 20 mins at 400. Very easy and my hubby loves it!
Chicken Taco Casserole X 3 (2 chicken breasts) – Recipe Link Here.
Chicken Casserole X 2 (2 chicken breasts) – My mom’s secret recipe. 🙂
Lasagna X 3 – This is the easiest lasagna recipe and my hubby loves it!! – Recipe Link Here.
BLTS X 3 – Pretty self explanatory. Simple, but delicious!
Hot Dogs X 2 – Again, very easy meal.
Pepperoni Bake X 3 – I found this on the Pillsbury site. Not the healthiest recipe, but it takes 15 mins to prepare and 20 to cook in the oven and it’s an easy meal on those days when I don’t feel like cooking!! Also, you don’t have to use Pillsbury Grands. You can use the jumbo biscuits at Aldi. That’s what I do! Recipe Link Here.
Meatloaf Patties, Mashed Pots, & Broccoli (or fried squash) X 3 – This recipe below is adapted from one I found on Recipes.com. I changed pretty much all of it and deleted ingredients. So, I guess you could say it’s my recipe now since it looks nothing like the recipe I found online.
- .75 Pound of ground beef
- 1 egg
- 1/4 onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Combine all ingredients except ketchup in a bowl and then place into a loaf pan or make patties with it. I prefer patties because you can freeze them and they cook quickly. Top with ketchup.
- Bake a 350 for 45 mins for loaf and patties actually probably about 20-30 mins (Just check to make sure they are done by cutting into them). NO RED!
Aldi Grocery List:
We did pick up a couple of extra items because we were under budget (some cereal for me, 2 Snicker bars, and brownies for a treat one night).
Tomatoes on the Vine – Package is $2.29
10 lb. bag of potatoes $3.49
Tortillas – 3 X .99
Green beans 4 = .49 X 4
Loaf Bread: 6 = $.99 X 6
Cheddar Cheese: 5 bags X 2.49
Mozzarella Cheese: 2 bags X 2.99
Mac and cheese – $.33 X 4
biscuits – .48 X 4
Sour Cream $1.19 X 2
Butter (4 packs) $2.99 X 4
Fries – $1.75
Chili – 2 X .99
Marinara Sauce 5 X $1.19
Pepperonis (1) 2.29
Jumbo Biscuits (3) .99 X 3
BBQ Sauce .99
Cottage Cheese (48 oz) 2.29 X 2
Bag of Apples $3.49
Krispy Rice $1.39
Rolled oats $2.39
Brownie Mix $.99
Bottle of ketchup $1.49
Eggs: .99 X 2
Center Cut Bacon: $3.49 X 2
2 Snicker Bars – .75 X 2 – snacks after shopping 🙂
Cinnamon Toast Squares $1.29
Bathroom Tissue – 12 rolls $4.49
Paper Towels $4.99 for 6 rolls
Walmart Grocery Lists:
I love Walmart Grocery because ordering my groceries online helps me stay within budget! If I go over, I just delete some items and rethink my menu for the month.
|1||80% Lean/ 20% Fat, Ground Beef Chuck Roll, 5 Lbs Substituted By 7874212321||$11.92|
|1||Always Pads Ultra Thin Regular Unscented, 44 ct||$5.47|
|1||Fresh Step Extreme Odor Control Scoopable Cat Litter, 38 lbs.||$16.86|
|1||Great Value All Natural Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, 5 lbs.||$10.33|
|2||Great Value Hot Dog Buns, 8 ct||$1.74|
|2||Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts Brown Sugar Cinnamon Toaster Pastries, 16 ct/28.2 oz||$7.12|
|2||Nathan’s Famous Skinless Beef Franks, 8 ct, 14 oz||$4.76|
|13||Purina Friskies Prime Filets with Ocean Whitefish & Tuna in Sauce Cat Food 5.5 oz. Can||$5.72|
|1||Reynolds Pastels Baking Cups, 100 count||$1.48|
|1||Bananas, 1 lb. Substituted By 4011||$0.45|
|1||Broccoli Crowns, 1 – 2 lbs||$1.44|
|1||Gold Medal Harvest King Unbleached White Better For Bread Flour, 5 Lb||$2.98|
|1||Great Value Clear Plastic Wrap, 200 Sf||$1.66|
|2||Great Value Cream Cheese, 8 oz||$1.84|
|3||Great Value Lasagna Pasta, 16 oz||$3.69|
|1||Green Leaf Lettuce, each||$0.98|
|1||Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise, 30 fl oz||$3.98|
|1||Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies 12 Ct, 36 Oz||$3.18|
|1||Martha White Self-Rising Corn Meal Mix, 32 oz||$1.34|
|1||McCafe Breakfast Blend Light Ground Coffee, 12 oz||$5.22|
|1||Nabisco Wheat Thins Crackers Original, 16 Oz||$3.43|
|1||Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing, 14 oz||$2.08|
|1||Progresso Tomato Basil Soup, 19 oz||$1.58|
|2||Ro*Tel Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, 10 oz||$1.96|
|1||Sabra Roasted Garlic Hummus, 17 oz||$4.48|
|1||Smucker’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter, 26 oz||$4.42|
|2||Snickers Full Size Candy Bars, 1.86 oz, 6 count
2 packs of yogurt – added on at last minute