Tips like these helped us pay off $127K in debt. You can read our story in Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After.
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One of my favorite posts to write last year was when I explored How Many Meals Can You Get from $50? I am THRILLED to bring back the $50 Challenge again this year. In fact, I loved it SO much that I’m going to put together FOUR different meal plans, one per month in April, May, June, and July. And I need YOU to play along with me. I want to know what creative ideas you come up with for less than $50.
In April, I chose to keep my meal plan limited to ALDI for multiple reasons (#1 because I LOVE ALDI and I shop there every week. Check out my post The Best Ways to Save Money at ALDI & 15 Items to Always Buy There.). No coupons were required. Most items were regularly priced, although a few were on sale. I wanted you to easily be able to recreate the meal plan without spending more than $50. I will disclaim that in the price I’m not including seasonings, oils, dressings or condiments. I’m also not including the price of rice (I buy 25 lb. bags a couple of times of year so the price for the two meals where it’s included is minimal). Also, you will have 8, that’s right EIGHT leftover hamburger patties. So we’ll just call it even, mmkay? Without further ado, my $50 ALDI Meal Plan.
Here’s what I bought:
While a picture is worth a thousand words, you can’t see everything smashed into this photo, so let me break down what I bought and why.
Pork Sirloin Roast $4.38: Coming in at 2.2 pounds, this lovely meat will feature in 2 meals, easily. It’s currently $1.99 per pound at ALDI.
Thick Sliced Applewood Bacon $5.89: We buy this yummy bacon on a weekly basis and get 2.5 meals out of it. In April’s meal plan, it pops up twice.
Ground Turkey $3.29: Again, it’s easy for this protein source to stretch into two meals. I’ll be using it in chili and nachos, paired with black beans to give a little extra filling pop.
Dozen Large Eggs $1.69: You can’t go wrong with eggs and bacon. I’ll also need a couple for fried rice. AND there will be leftovers.
12 Frozen Beef Patties $9.99: I’m so glad spring is here. I LOVE to use our grill and the Princess Eldest is a carnivore. We’ll use 4 of the 12 patties for one meal and there will be 8 leftover for another week.
5 lb. Red Potatoes $1.99: One of the keys of making the most of your grocery budget is seeing where you can use the same ingredient stretch into multiple side dishes over the week. Coarsely chopping up red potatoes and lightly coating them with olive oil, sea salt, and adding a little fresh garlic has been a go-to side dish for me for years.
Fresh Spinach $1.79: Spinach is such a versatile vegetable. You can put it in eggs. You can make a salad. You can whip up a smoothie. We won’t use all of the spinach during the week, but it will make more than one appearance.
Sugar Snap Peas $1.99: These are my vegetable candy. I could eat an entire bag in one sitting, easy. Instead for this meal plan, they’ll be a side dish along with fresh carrots and make a little appearance in fried rice.
Baby Carrots $0.79: These are a weekly staple for the lunch box but an easy pick up to slice and add to salads and use in stir fry.
Avocado $0.89: You can’t have nachos without avocado. Enough said.
Extra Fine Frozen Green Beans $1.69: I find that I can usually get enough for two meals out of one bag of green beans.
Canned Crushed Tomatoes $0.95: This is the easiest base for a quick chili to throw in the crockpot in the morning.
Black Beans $0.59 (2 cans): Both the Chili and Nachos will get a little more protein thanks to this simple staple.
Organic Salsa $1.89: You could certainly buy a more economic salsa. My husband prefers the organic ALDI brand so that’s what I buy. 🙂
Black Grapes $1.99: I’m a big believer in offering a fruit and veggie with every meal. This 2 pound bag of grapes will definitely stretch to at least 2 meals.
Strawberries $1.99: The strawberries usually get devoured in one meal but they were on sale and they sounded good so I decided to add them to the plan.
Unsweetened Applesauce $1.89: A large jar of applesauce is like fish and loaves around these parts. Frozen peas and applesauce were featured at least three times a week when we were paying off debt. It’s a simple food, all of us like it, and it costs less in the big jar than in the individual containers.
Shredded Cheddar Cheese $2.79: Everything is better with cheese, right? Nachos, chili, burgers, and bacon/eggs, OH MY. It’s a topping option for several meals. Cheddar is versatile enough that it goes with almost every dish.
Restaurant Styled Tortilla Chips $1.19: Our family doesn’t use a whole bag for nachos since we pile them high with more nutritionally dense foods like beans, ground turkey, salsa, and avocado. So there will be leftovers from this big bag.
Hamburger Buns $0.89: 2 of us eat gluten free, the other 2 rarely eat gluten. So I threw in the buns for those who might need or want a bread source with 2 of the meals. You can choose to buy a gluten free alternative (the Princess Youngest raves about the $3.99 Live Gluten Free bread from ALDI) or just eat the main dish sans bread.
The Grand Total: $49.14
The Meal Plan
Bacon and Eggs with Cheese
Roasted Red Potatoes
Bacon and eggs are a hearty staple and go a long way around these parts. Couple them with roasted red potatoes and you’ll have a stick to your ribs breakfast for dinner (what we like to call Brinner). Of course if you had some pancake mix in the cabinet already, the kids probably wouldn’t complain if you added a short stack to the menu.
Grilled Hamburgers with Bun
Carrot Sticks and Sugar Snap Peas
Mashed Red Potatoes
Spring time means one thing for me – grilling season. The ALDI pre-shaped patties take a lot of work out of your meal prep. You can throw them on the grill frozen and cook them right up. We typically skip the buns or use Gluten Free bread (again it’s only $3.99 at ALDI) but the Princess Eldest is a classic girl so I tossed them into the plan for her. The red potatoes were $1.99 for 5 whopping pounds. This means you can get a couple of dishes out of them and while not quite hamburger and french fries, the potatoes will fill you up.
Turkey Black Bean Chili
with Tortilla Chips
We LOVE this simple Turkey Black Bean Chili recipe. You can throw it into the crockpot at the beginning of the day and let it simmer all day. Pair it with some shredded cheese and tortilla chips for a classic family favorite. You could make a peanut butter sandwich, too but we decided to go with carrots and grapes as side dishes to round out the meal.
Ground Turkey Nachos
with Salsa, Spinach, Avocado, Black Beans, and Rice
Using half of the ground turkey from the chili, this is the quickest and easiest meal on the plan. Simply spread a layer of chips, top with cheese, black beans, and meat and then melt in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Top with spinach, salsa, and avocado for a yummy dinner. If you like, you could fix a side of rice and you’ll have plenty of extra beans, too. Crack open the jar of applesauce again to add a fruit to the meal.
Crockpot Balsamic Maple Pulled Pork
I love to let pork tenderloin marinade in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a wee bit of garlic salt, and some brown sugar over night. Poke plenty of holes in the pork to let it absorb the marinade and become tender. Then in the morning, I toss the crock into its pot and let it cook all day long until it falls apart. You won’t even need a sauce to top it with because it is SUPER delicious. Use half of the green beans and half of the 2 lb. bag of grapes as side dishes. Prepare some rice again (you’ll need the leftovers the next day).
Pork Fried Rice
with Carrots, Sugar Snap Peas, and Egg
This dish is fantastic because basically you’re repurposing the leftovers. Leftover rice is the BEST for fried rice. In fact, it becomes a little sticky and is easier to work with. Your little bags of carrots and sugar snap peans will work perfectly. If you had an onion or even mushrooms on hand, you could veggie up the meal a bit more but it’s not a requirement. Applesauce pairs well yet again.
Bacon Sandwiches with Buns
Applesauce or Leftover Grapes
For the final meal of the week, cook the remaining bacon to have a simple bacon sandwich. You could top with the leftover cheese or spinach and use the other four buns. Green beans would make a great side dish and/or if you have potatoes left you could add them to the plan, too. This is a great night to use any remaining fruit up as a side dish, too. This might mean that not everyone has the same dish but everyone gets a fruit source.
The greatest keys to stretching your grocery budget lay in flexibility and willingness to use leftovers from one day into the next. We almost always have plenty of leftover rice and so using it paired with the leftover pork from Day 5 bridges nicely into Day 6. The same holds true with splitting the ground turkey between two meals and using red potatoes on both Days 1 and 2.
You’ll notice that every meal features a meat. We’re a protein happy family and I wanted to be sure fix foods that would fill us up. While we were paying off debt, we went without meat for a stretch of a few months. It was a challenge but gave us the leverage we needed. However, you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to. This plan has plenty of meat each night.
So are you up to the challenge? How many meals can you make with $50? Share your plan with me in the comments!
My book is now available: Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After. You can also check out Inspiration to Pay Off Debt: 30 Days of Encouragement from the Queen of Free on Kindle.
This post contains an affiliate link. That means when you get a great deal or maybe even something for free, you also help our family pay off our mortgage early. And for that, we royally thank you!