Cheap Dinner Challenge!


I haven’t been as good lately about sticking to our $50 a week grocery budget. $10 more one week, $15 the next… time to reign it in. So I made myself a challenge for this week:

Cook a different dinner every night as cheaply as possible. Seven different dinners for $30.

I’m always so tempted to add ingredients to spice it up and make it all fancy, but I’m forcing myself to keep it simple. And healthy-ish. Being a lover of spreadsheets, creativity, and fiscal responsibility, Rebecca is very into this idea.

I think it will work. I’m also having to buy weekly essentials like milk, cereal, yogurt and whatnot, but a lot of what I’ll need is already in the pantry (ITP).

Day 1: Egg Sandwich with Spinach

Materials Needed:

  • 4 slices sandwich bread (ITP)
  • 4 eggs
  • Fresh baby spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic (ITP)

Day 2: Cocoa Oatmeal with Mashed Bananas (adapted from The Runner’s World Cookbook)

Materials Needed:

  • Rolled oats (ITP)
  • Cocoa powder (ITP)
  • 2 Bananas
  • Milk
  • Walnuts

Day 3: Pasta with Jar Sauce

Materials Needed:

  • 1lb Linguini
  • Pasta sauce
  • Frozen peas

Day 4: Black Beans and Rice

Materials Needed:

  • Dried black beans (ITP)
  • White/Brown rice
  • Salsa (ITP)
  • 2 Onions (ITP)
  • Cilantro (in the garden)

Day 5: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with Vegetables (and maybe throw a chopped hot dog up in there?)

Materials Needed:

  • 2 boxes Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
  • 1 Onion (ITP)
  • Frozen peas
  • 2 Hot dogs

Day 6: Hot Dogs, Baked Beans, Steamed Green Beans

Materials Needed:

  • 4 Hot dogs
  • Hot dog buns
  • 1 Large can baked beans
  • 1/2 lb Green beans

Day 7: Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

Materials Needed:

  • 4 Slices sandwich bread
  • Peanut butter (ITP)
  • Jelly (ITP)
  • Carrots and Celery (ITP)

Including weekly staple items, this week’s grocery bill came to $28.48. Victory! That means, in addition to the cheap dinners, we’ve also got breakfast options of toast, cereal, yogurt, and oatmeal. As far as lunches go, we’ll have extra bread for sandwiches, extra rice and beans, and extra pasta.

Success will look like:

  • Not going back to the grocery store for 7 days.
  • Not running out of food.

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