Eating on $25 a week: You can!

So, I challenged myself to eating on just one shopping trip while the Sarge is gone. Actually, that's not one hundred percent accurate -- I think I'll be subscribing to an organic produce delivery service but it won't start just yet. And.. well.. sometimes you get down to the last of your food money and the envelope just isn't producing like it used to (Dave Ramsey fans will know what I'm talking about!).

First of all, I blame the sarge, because we went out to eat SO much before he left. He just can't reign me in, and I apparently thought every night was a celebratory dinner. 


Back when we FIRST got married and we were basically runnin' on fumes, I searched the internet for things like, "What to do with your last $20" and "How to stretch $50 to feed 2 for 2 weeks". Didn't everyone? No? Okay, we'll just say that we're the only couple in the world who has ever been broke. (Broke... not poor. Poverty is a state of mind. Some of the "poorest" people I have ever known were rich with something much more valuable..... but this is another post.)

Anyway. I thought I'd dig up some of those old posts for my "single" life. I found this post for a $20 shopping list to feed yourself for a week.. It's where I started. I think this list could feed two people for a week, or me for two weeks. 

A few words about this little experiment. 

1. It is not necessarily a balanced diet, but it is much less unhealthy than fast food and most prepackaged meals (the decent ones are mostly too expensive for this list anyway). But I am taking a multivitamin every day, so.. there's that. 

2. I had somethings on hand. This may not be fully duplicatable (that's a word) but you can surely get close if you have a couple extra dollars, or a few things on hand.

3. Supplement with more fresh fruit or veggies if you have more to spend. I DID have some frozen fruit that I made super simple smoothies from. But hey, we're talking about being BROKE not healthy. 
4. Even if you ate off the dollar menu, you wouldn't have 3 (relatively) square meals for seven days.. and certainly not fourteen days. I know it seems easier. But fast food is REALLY not for the budget conscious.

So here it is. I got the following from Aldi. It cost me just under $23. 
  • 1 loaf of bread 
  • A bag of onions
  • A 5-lb bag of potatoes
  • A jar of peanut butter
  • 16-slice pack of cheese
  • Package of deli ham
  • 6 Roma tomatos (it was $.99)
  • a head of cabbage or lettuce (I prefer cabbage)
  • 1lb 93% lean ground beef
  • Chicken legs -- there were 10 in the package
  • A dozen eggs
You may also need: Spaghetti and sauce ($2 tops from pretty much anywhere)

Day 1
B: Grilled cheese sandwich with a fried egg 
L: PB Toast  2 slices
D: 2 smothered chicken legs & cabbage (or a salad) -- I cooked 4. 
[Minimally, you'll need an onion, some kind of fat (I had butter), flour and seasonings. You could also just pan fry it. If you have it, you can also make some rice]

Day 2
B: Scrambled eggs with a slice of cheese & a piece of toast
L: Leftover chicken
D: Spaghetti (Make half the package)

Day 3
B: PB Toast 2 slices
L: Leftover spaghetti
D: 1/4 lb hamburger on toasted bread with tomato and onion if you want, and lettuce if you have it.

Day 4
B: Cheese Toast (makes me happy)
L: Ham & Cheese sandwich
D: Fried cabbage with tomato and eggs ... Fry your cabbage then push it to one side. Add more oil if the pan is too dry, and add a few beaten eggs to the empty spot. Scramble until firm, then add a chopped tomato and toss together. Drizzle on soy sauce at the end if you have it.
OR salad with tomatoes, cheese, a hard boiled egg, and a piece of toast as croutons. No dressing? Olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar make a great, simple dressing.

Day 5
B: Two egg omelet with diced ham & cheese
L: Fried/braised cabbage OR a small salad
D: From the original plan: Mini Shepherds pie
[Cut up and boil the potato, and brown the ground beef with a diced onion. Layer beef, some cheese slices and smashed potato in a small oven dish (add butter and a splash of milk or cream to the potatoes if you have it.]

Day 6
B: Fried egg and toast
L: Spaghetti
D: Fried or baked chicken with cabbage or salad

Day 7 - Leftover day. You really should have plenty of leftover food.
OR start the week over to go for two weeks :))

Here are a few more tips to making a little food a long way! How to feed yourself for $15 a week

So there you go. What do you do when you're down to your last $20 or so and need to feed yourself ?

love, me


  1. Oh Mr. Dave Ramsey. I have his book sitting on my desk and every time I buy something online, I swear I feel his disapproval. Hee hee

    We budget money every month for food, plus I hoard it, so there is always something to eat around here. The thing I tend to do with my last 20 bucks is buy yummy junk food. Naughty me!

    1. Haha yes, Dave Ramsey has been present for many of my money decisions too lol.

  2. I would buy a dozen eggs, a jar of pnut butter, a loaf of bread, a box of spaghetti, a jar of sauce, a ham shank, a bag of beans, beef cubes for stew, a bag of carrots, an onion, and 5 pounds of potatoes. I could get all that at Aldi's for $20.

    1. I couldn't find single onions at Aldi, but the bag for 1.89 was good because I can work a lot of onions into meals. And good idea about the beans.. I always have them on hand and a ham shank or ham hocks would be a good addition. I can really only eat beans for one meal but, in desperate times you do what needs to be done lol. Thanks for sharing! I hope people who need this advice read the comments :)

  3. THIS is super helpful...living by myself I can honestly make one meal and have it last for three days. I normally shop once a month, but I think I'll spend less if I shop once a week and only buy for that week? Maybe, I don't know, but this has inspired me to try!

  4. Aleasa, I love this! When we were going debt-free, I made every penny count. I made my own...everything (from freeze ahead meals to cleaning products). It was tough, but so empowering to see the debts get paid off one by one. This post makes me think of that.

    I have a grocery budget of $75 per week for my family of three. Most weeks I nail it, so I am totally with you on this one!

    So glad I found your blog (through Pam at 2 Encourage...she's a writing buddy of mine).

  5. Do you have any ideas for someone that is pretty much a vegetarian? (I will do ground beef in tacos and occasionally some grilled chicken, but I prefer veggies) I'm a grad student and always looking to save money, especially since I just spent $60 yesterday at the grocery store

  6. Hi Kristen! I am not a vegetarian, but while my husband is deployed I am not eating much meat. I have a second version of this coming out in the best week or two, but it includes meat. I think I'll do another one that is meatless while he is gone.

    Now, as for your question. I think you could easily remove meat from this particular plan, and replace the protein with beans. If I were you, I'd make a big pot (or crockpot) of beans, a whole pound, and eat it during the week, specifically replacing the meat. I don't know much about the cost of mushrooms, but you could buy the large ones to eat a burger.

    My other recommendation is find vegetables that you like to eat plain, steamed or sautéed with onion. These are usually not too expensive. I like zucchini and squash, kale, spinach, carrots, broccoli, etc. veggies that don't need co stars -- I'm sure that's different for everyone lol.

    I purchase an organic produce box each week. That's what I'll write about. they have them in and around most metros, at least. Google organic produce delivery or organic produce box. I hope this is helpful :)

  7. Loving this! Do you have any tips on how to do the smothered chicken?

  8. I can't have meat/fish/poultry/peanut butter I use sunflower butter, and I buy jam without corn syrup. I make fake tuna salad with mashed chick peas, celery, onion, parsley, lemon juice, & mayo. I really have to stick to $120.00 for 33 days. it's not easy. I never buy spaghetti sauce, I make it from tomato paste it's delicious