Just find this post on Pinterest? Check out what items I bought here: The $50 Grocery Challenge: What I bought.
Last week, I issued myself a challenge. I wanted to see just how many meals I could prepare using only $50. There were some ground rules set and general philosophies under use. Among which included:
- I would only shop at one store. I don’t want to make you run all over town gathering ingredients. I shopped at ALDI (my favorite store!) and came in just a bit under budget at $46.89. I decided to not spend the additional $3.11. I’ll explain why later.
- I would use no coupons. Listen, I’m a ninja and if I wanted to work my magic, I could. But that’s not fair to you. Couponing might not be your thing.
- I chose to fix dinners for four. Breakfasts and lunches were way too easy. We have four people in our family so that was the number I went with for portion sizes. Obviously, if your family is bigger, you may to alter the plan. Typically I also have enough left over for a lunch the next day, too.
- All of the meals are gluten free. Two of the four people in our family have a sensitivity. Each meal will be gluten free.
- Every meal contains a meat source for protein. Yes, I could make you eat beans and rice to stretch $50 way further. During the last six months of paying off $127K in debt, we gave up meat. But I realize for most people, this isn’t an option. That being said, most of us use way too much meat in our dishes. The portion amount per person should be about the size of a deck of cards.
- I’m not making you eat gluten free spaghetti every night. In fact, the meal plan is pretty varied, with very little overlap in dishes.
- I’m not counting a few pantry items into the plan’s dollar total. We all have the basic stuff of life – seasonings, sauces, ketchup, oil, flour, and sugar in our cabinets. You might even have more than that. Specifically for my plan, I’m using 2 cups of rice, a box of rice noodles, and a jar of spaghetti sauce I already had. I built a couple of the meals around the fact that I already had these things. Now, that being said, I also won’t use all of the ingredients that I purchased for under $50. There will be leftover beans, apples, chips, pasta, and maybe more. As stated above more than likely, there will be a fifth serving that I’m able to eek out for the King of Free‘s lunch the next day. Here’s why I didn’t spend the last $3. If you want to get all picky with me, the amount of money that I didn’t spend will approximately equal out what’s in my pantry already.
- It’s not all organic and grass fed. We all make individual choices about what we feed our family. In our house, we choose a mix of organic products and non-organics. You can throw rotten organic tomatoes at me if you will, but this was my choice. And you’d probably be better off composting those anyway. Bring them on over and I’ll put them in my bin. ALDI is continuing to offer a number of organic produce items and more. I’d suggest you’d try shopping there if you haven’t in awhile.
- The meals won’t require a ton of prep time and are middle of the road. I’m not going to be making fancy sauces. There won’t be anything ridiculously spicy or off the beaten path. I need for my very picky children to actually eat this food. That being said, the plan will require a few veggies chopped, a crockpot turned on, some general prep work. I have a busy life. You have a busy life. I get that. I think you’ll find the plan flexible with a low time commitment.
Perhaps you are wondering why it is I undertook this particular challenge. The Indiana Family of Farmers shared with me this particularly shocking graphic a couple of weeks ago. It shows how the cost of food meant to be consumed at home stacks up in the US compared to countries all over the world.
Can you believe that on average people in the United States spend only around 6.6% of their income on food consumed at home? This means compared to nations all around the world, we’ve got it pretty good. Food prices are low (no matter how many times the media reports that they’re on the rise again). Shouldn’t we make the most of that great blessing? Shouldn’t we stretch our dollars and pennies until they let out a little yelp?
Over the next couple of days, I’ll be sharing what I purchased and why, my meal plan, and even a couple of recipes for you. I’d love for you to play along with me! How many meals can you get from $50? I bet a few of you could beat me. Hashtag your posts or pictures with #50dollarchallenge or contact me with what you came up with! Maybe I can share a few of your ideas or plans on here, too.
This post was sponsored by the Indiana’s Family of Farmers. You get to learn about affordable ways to prepare food. I get a few extra bucks in the Royal coffers. The post and opinions are 100% mine. No editing was done by anyone. I’m sure you could find some grammatical errors if you read it again. Read more on my disclosure policy.
Gain inspiration to pay off debt! Check out Inspiration to Pay Off Debt: 30 Days of Encouragement from the Queen of Free on Kindle or Pre-Order Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After (due out October 2014).
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