Quarantine Meal Plan
Right now, everyone is being effected in one way or another by the worldwide pandemic. Whatever your politics are, you still have to eat. Since so many people are having to tighten their belts at the moment, the time is ripe to lower discretionary spending if at all possible.
The easiest change is in the food budget. To help save money, I've compiled a full month meal plan, as well as a correlating grocery list. It all adds up to under 100 dollars for two people.
I streamlined the menu and you will have several choices to choose from for each meal, as well as 6 meals that are used on a weekly basis for dinner. My dinners and meals will change monthly, as well as what is fresh in the garden.
The differences to you—
*I have Sunday dinner at my family’s house most weeks, so instead of 6 meals multiplied by four, you will need 7. Don’t worry, there is a little left-over if that is the case.
*I also have a small garden that adds in fresh fillers for 8-9 months out of the year. (for little to nothing, so the money spent on seeds is not added- about 10$ per year)
*In winter months I use seeds to grow lettuce and spinach, as well as sprouts to add fresh fillers to our diet.
*Some pantry items are not included, however there is a little at the end to get condiments, dessert or salt. There is not much though ($8) so choose well.
*Shopping is almost exclusively done at Aldis, as well as meat from a local supermarket (sales are king) and I get my shelf-stable milk from the Dollar Tree for 1$ a quart.
Pancakes with ½ piece of fresh fruit
Cereal with LF milk
Toast (French, cinnamon or regular)
American Fries with grilled onions
(sometimes oatmeal is done in place of pancakes)
Lunch Choices (sandwich and raw veg)
Sandwiches: Peanut Butter and Jelly
Raw Veggie: Carrots
(or whatever is fresh from the garden.)
Dinner Choices (used once per week)
Baked Potato and Veggie
Chicken and Rice Casserole
Poor Man’s Feast-grilled potatoes and onions with cornbread muffins
BBQ Chicken-Mashed Potatoes-Veggie
The Shopping List
GROCERY LIST W/ Price Point ($)
Fruit and Veggies
2# bananas (1)
1# berries (straw or blue) (2)
3# pears (2)
3# apples (2)
1# celery (1)
3# carrots (2)
4 cucumbers (2)
2# frozen peas
2# frozen corn
20# potatoes (6-8)
3# onions (2)
2# frozen green beans
Peanut Butter (2)
2 dozen eggs (3)
10 cans tuna in water (10*.8=8)
8 chicken legs (4)
1# hamburger (quartered)
2# split-cut chicken breast (4)
2# bologna (2)
Pancake Mix (2) Flour, soda and egg can be used as well if you have it on hand)
2 Boxes of cereal (4)
4 loaves of bread (4) Can make your own, but I don’t
4 boxes macaroni and cheese (.4*4=2)
4 cornbread mix (.5*4=2)
2# spaghetti noodles (2)
1# Rice (1) half that price if you buy in bulk (10-20#)
4 qts milk (shelf-stable- found at Dollar Tree) (4)
1# margarine (1)
4# sugar (2)
Tea Bags 100 ct. (1)
4 Cream of Mushroom Soup (4)
4 Spaghetti Sauce (4)
BBQ Sauce (1)
So there is 8$ left in the budget, go crazy.
You could use it for pantry staples like flour or condiments, as well as something for dessert.
My choices this month were baking chocolate (2), confectioner sugar (1) Ketchup (1) ranch (1) sour cream (1) and grated fresh parmesan (2) I have a birthday this month, so chocolate cake it is.
How it all comes together
After you get home, the meat will be frozen into quarters. (hamburger and 2 legs and the split-cut breast are halved-the casserole will be made in double (two week) batches.)
Fruit is used how it last so berries and bananas, then pears and apples. Store in cool, dry place for root veggies and fruit to last longer. If apples get soft, make into applesauce.
Freeze 3 loaves of bread and leave one out for the week.
Choose what you want that day or use extra ingredients to make something new. Creativity and Innovation are at their best when you have limited resources. Example: Corndog Bread- Cut up hot dog and a little cheese in your corn muffins. Pair with some veggies and well, you have dinner that kids will eat. Bologna cut up serves the same purpose if that is what you have. Or how about Potato and Onion Quiche...you have extra ingredients for that too. Great for breakfast and even dinner if you just don't feel like one of the choices. I like to add fresh spinach and sour cream on top from the garden and a "splurge item" from my leftover budgeted amount.
Personalize Your Menu
So I streamlined mine because I am a single mom, that goes to school and runs a home based ghostwriting business, as well as homeschooling, so time is not my friend at the moment. I need to make sure we eat, quick and with little thought beyond the hour or less to make the monthly list and menu.
So that comes to .50 a day or a quarter per person, per day. Doesn't sound like a lot, but we are not big breakfast eaters and there are many grains and low cost fruit that can be paired. Pancakes for 2 cost about .35 for 2, using a mix or scratch. Toast is less than a dime a piece and well add an egg and you have a sandwich to keep you going for a while. Oatmeal and other cooked grains are filling and are quite low cost. There is a reason that most countries start with a hot cereal or starch in the morning. It works.
I chose a sandwich and veggie because it stays in my price point and is super easy to make. Many fresh veggies are pretty low cost and can cost even less if you grow your own. Even a few pots on your front porch or stoop, can be less that you have to spend. In the summer time, cooking cost money or misery, by way of air conditioning, so a light, non-cooked meal works in the summer. In the winter, switch to soups and breads for a filling and warming lunch. Large batches can be made and froze or enjoyed for several days.
Soups and sandwiches are low energy and stick to the price point.
Basically 4 choices that can be made into 7 meals for five dollars. Sounds rough, but is doable...
Example Potato Soup, Tomato Soup, Mixed Vegetable Soup (Bones from meat can be used if on your shopping list)
I like to put fruit in breakfast and make sure to add several veggies and protein for lunch.
So that comes to 6 choices for 4 meals a month, for 10 dollars. So each choice should make a meal for 2.50. Once again, doable with a little planning and careful shopping.
Water is free, but I love tea, so there you do. Not much allotted for this category
Holly on July 03, 2016:
Wow. I am really impressed. I understand squeezing pennies as I too am a single mom. I love my garden too as it is a great help, actually need or hunger for a better budget got me into gardening. I do a simple spinach over a bed of rice for occasional dinners. I am a coffee drinker so that is my vice. And I homeschool too. Kudos to you for all your efforts:)
kaiyan717 (author) from West Virginia on April 19, 2015:
My son drinks the shelf-stable milk, though not very often. It is mainly used for cereal and cooking, though it taste fine to drink. He actually drinks slightly sweetened tea or water most of the time, the kool-aid is for me lol.
Coupons are great, but I can't seem to make them work for me. I end up buying things at a higher price, or things that I don't use. I will have to check out if my library has a box because it seems the hardest part is finding ones that you will actually use. Thanks for the tip. I watch that Extreme Couponing and wish.
Thanks for reading.
Karen Hellier from Georgia on April 19, 2015:
Wow, this is amazing and good for you. But does your 6 year old son drink milk? Or does he only drink water and Kool Aid? Or do you give him the shelf stable milk or is that just for cooking?
If you get coupons, say from friends, or online, you can use that toward condiments and often get them free or for 50 cents and under. Especially if you buy the smallest container allowed by the coupon. Often libraries will have a coupon box too. Congratulations for sticking to your budget and I hope you get that house someday soon.