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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.
Here we go again! Since it’s mid June, I’m rolling out another $50 meal plan. This is the 3rd in the series so if you haven’t already checked them out, you might want to look over ALDI Meal Plan: 7 Dinners for Less than $50 and NEW ALDI Summer Meal Plan: 7 Dinners for Less Than $50. By the time I write another next month, you’ll have a whole month’s worth of meals for ~$200 for a family of four. That’s not too shabby friends.
Before I dive into the plan itself, let me answer a few questions I receive every time I post a meal plan.
- Yes, we budget more money for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Typically we keep things VERY simple for all of the above. We eat the same thing for almost every breakfast: oatmeal, fruit, cereal, coffee, and occasionally bacon and eggs. To be clear, we don’t eat all of those things but each of us has a breakfast we eat each morning that’s nearly identical.
- There are four of us and none of us is a teenage boy. That being said, I do feel like we’re adequately full and we’re not weakly. Someone suggested last month we weren’t a hard working family because we didn’t eat enough meat. This made me giggle but y’all, I am not starving my husband or children. The portion of meat per meal should be the size of a deck of cards and we hit that every single night.
- If you have special allergy or food preference needs, feel free to alter. This is just an outline. It won’t fit all tastes and needs. I’m hoping this gives you a springboard of ideas to make your own plan that meets your family’s needs just like this meets ours. 🙂
Never been to ALDI before? Be sure to check out The Best Ways to Save Money at ALDI & 15 Items to Always Buy There.
Once again, I will disclaim that in the price I’m not including some 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 where it’s included is minimal). You may not need to buy all of the items on my list. Or you might have to pick up a couple of pantry staples that I have but you might not. That being said, it should average out to be ~$50.
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. Print out a full shopping list here.
Fresh Chicken Breasts $8.60: Y’all this is 4.5 POUNDS of fresh chicken. It was on sale for $1.89. That means you get to use well over a pound per three different dinners. Pro tip: when you’re able to make a large purchase of fresh meat, after getting home and putting away the groceries, open it up and separate it into meal sized portions. Freeze what you won’t use immediately so that it doesn’t go bad.
3 Packages Fresh Ground Turkey $9.87: The price of ground turkey was just a little more affordable than the ground beef this week, so I went for it. We’ll use it for three separate meals and each night there will be leftovers for lunch the next day.
Center Cut Bacon $2.99: Bacon? That should be enough said, right? I’ve become addicted to making it in the oven in a 9×13 lined with aluminum foil. The mess is easy to clean up and everyone in our house loves bacon.
Organic Ketchup $1.69: Since we’re making both black bean meatballs and sloppy joe this week, I felt like I needed to include the price of ketchup. I’m weird about ingredients and prefer purchasing the organic ketchup (we’ve all got our stuff, right?) so it’s a little pricer but I’m glad ALDI has it as an option. You may have enough on hand to pull of the meals without it or choose to pick up the cheaper variety.
Hamburger Buns $0.89: I know the brake lights just went on for my gluten free friends. We rarely eat bread (and in fact one of us doesn’t at all), so if you’re in the same boat, the price is going to be slightly higher at $3.99 for ALDI’s Live Gluten Free White or Whole Grain bread. It’s the only brand of gluten free bread the Princess Youngest will eat (and we have tried them ALL). The bread is for two meals in particular – Sloppy Joes and BLTs.
Peaches $1.98: Hooray! Peaches are in season. There are enough in the bag for a couple of meals’ worth of sides. One night I’ll chop them and put them in the crockpot to make a yummy warm and easy side. The second meal will feature grilled peaches because they are awesome.
Pineapple $0.99: When fresh pineapple goes on sale, I just can’t resist. I’m grilling it up for one meal.
Romaine Lettuce $1.99: I changed the pace from our typical bagged spinach and chose a romaine lettuce this week. It cost me $0.20 more so if you want to shave a few more pennies off you could pick up spinach instead. It will feature on the salad night and be used as a crunchy topping for nachos and salad.
Sweet Onion $0.69: We use onions on a regular basis. Typically I keep a chopped one in my fridge at all times to use for stir fry, fajitas, chili, kabobs, or in omelets. Even though you might already have such an item in your pantry, I went ahead and bought one to use for a couple of the meals.
Carrots $1.29: Once again, I bought a large bag of carrots to peel and cut myself for just about the same price as baby carrots but more than double the weight. We’ll eat them as a simple side dish. Seriously people, there is nothing wrong with some fresh cut veggies especially during the warm summer months when I don’t want to cook. I’ll also put them in the salad and there will be plenty left over, too.
Avocado $0.89: If I had a dollar more to spend, I would have purchased another avocado because I love them so much. But I reeled myself in and we’ll have this one on fajita night.
Multi-Colored Peppers $1.99: I love the red and yellow pepper flavor in this week’s salad and fajitas. ALDI offers them at a price we can actually afford each week. Entrees like pasta, pizza, fajitas, soups, salads, omelets and even sandwiches all feature peppers.
3 Cans Black Beans $1.77: I amy have gone a little crazy with the black beans this plan but again, we love the extra oomph that black beans provide. They’ll top the nachos, go on the side with fajitas, and be incorporated into the Turkey Black Bean Meatballs.
Sweet Potatoes $2.49: Sweet potatoes are another filling and versatile food. We’ll split this 3 pound bag between two meals and probably still have a potato leftover for another day. We’ll bake them as a side dish one day and mash them for the second meal.
Roma Tomatoes $1.19: Tomatoes are super cheap and a great way to add a little more nutritional, filling punch to a meal. We’ll use these with BLTs, on salad, on the nachos, and with the fajitas.
Seedless Cucumber $0.99: I can’t get enough of cucumbers during the summertime! So this English style cucumber will feature in the Grilled Poppyseed Chicken and Pineapple Salad meal. We’ll eat the other half of it with carrot sticks as a side dish with BLTs.
Extra Fine Green Beans $1.59: Since we have 2-3 sides, I’m usually able to stretch one bag of frozen green beans into two separate meals. I love that they take so little time and everyone likes them, even my picky veggie eaters.
Shredded Cheddar Cheese $2.99: Everything is better with cheese, right? For this meal plan, we need shredded cheese for the nachos, on the fajitas, and just a sprinkle on the salad if you want it.
Unsweetened Natural Applesauce $1.89: Look, I know it’s not the fanciest of side dishes, but applesauce is simple (pour from jar, eat, repeat) and incredibly frugal. We’re using it for two meals this plan.
Restaurant Tortillas $1.19: Since our pan of nachos will be weighted down with ground turkey, black beans, cheese, and lettuce, we won’t use all of the chips in one meal. We’ll keep them as a side dish for a second night though, so fight the temptation to gobble up the extras.
Poppy Seed Dressing $1.29: I’m breaking my condiment rule and counting this dressing into the cost of the meal plan. You’ll use it both to marinade and top the salad. There will be leftovers, too. One of my favorite grilling recipes involves dumping a bottle of salad dressing into a bag of chicken and letting it thaw in the marinade for a couple of days (2-3 is the best if you plan ahead). This was a specialty item at my ALDI and not a regular item. So you may or may not be able to find it at your store. An Italian dressing would work or even a French dressing, too.
The Grand Total: $49.25
The Meal Plan
with Cheese, Salsa, Black Beans, Avocado, & Lettuce
We LOVE nachos! Seriously, this is an incredibly simple meal to prepare on a busy night. It requires very little prep and satisfies the pickiest of eaters. If you have leftover salsa from a prior week, then add it to the mix. Because of the nutritionally dense toppings, this should fill everyone up.
Years ago, I purchased some metal skewers that are reusable and dishwasher safe. If you use wooden kabob sticks, you’ll want to soak them in water before you put the meat on them so that they don’t catch fire on the grill. In the morning, make a quick marinade using ~ 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1 T of brown sugar, and a 1 t of garlic salt. Add 1-2 cups of warm water and stir. Pour over the cut chicken in a bowl with a lid and allow to marinade all day.
If you’ve never grilled peaches before, be to cut them in large pieces and thick slices so that they don’t fall apart on the grill.
Carrot Sticks and Cucumber Slices
This meal reminds me of childhood. It’s incredibly simple and low prep. I know it’s not haute cuisine, but it works for our family. Use half of the ketchup, some brown sugar, a bit of onion, salt, pepper, and garlic to create a simple sauce for the ground turkey. Use up your leftover chips before they go stale. 🙂 The remaining ketchup will be used in the Black Bean Turkey Meatballs.
After dinner, go ahead and marinade 2 of the large chicken breasts with half to three quarters of the bottle of poppyseed dressing for the next night’s meal.
Poppyseed Grilled Chicken Salad
Topped with Grilled Pineapple, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Red & Yellow Peppers, Carrots
Holy cow, this makes an enormous salad, friends. Of course if you have extra salad toppings in your pantry or fridge, feel free to add them but this is a lot of summer yum and so simple to whip up. We used two heads of the romaine, only a couple of carrots, half of the cucumber, 3 tomatoes, and a small portion of red/yellow peppers and it was still enormous. I did cut and grill the entire pineapple but about half of it was left over. What a delicious combination of flavors.
Black Bean Turkey Meatballs
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
This recipe is one that we’ve used forever. If you don’t have quick oats in your pantry, use bread crumbs, crackers, or even tortilla chips. If you don’t have a tablespoon of barbecue sauce, feel free to make your own with the ketchup, brown sugar, and some garlic. It’s not hard at all. 🙂 For the peaches, simple cube in small pieces and cook on low all day long in your crockpot. If you feel fancy, add cinnamon or brown sugar or butter (or all 3!), but really it’s not necessary.
Baked Sweet Potatoes
We’ve got bacon. We’ve got lettuce. We’ve got tomatoes. We’ve got yum. Use the 4 remaining buns, top with mayo, and devour. Such a simple sandwich partners nicely with a baked sweet potato, too. And we’re back to the quick and easy apple sauce to keep your life simple, friends. Don’t overthink it. Sometimes, you need a break, ya know?!
Chicken Fajitas with Onions, Red, and Yellow Peppers
Black Beans, Avocado, Lettuce, Cheese, and Tomato
Chicken fajitas will finish our week off with some easy yum. You can throw them together in less than 30 minutes in a skillet on your stove top. If you’ve pre-chopped your meat and veggies, they’ll be even easier to manage.
Once again, the greatest keys to stretching your grocery budget lay in flexibility and willingness to use ingredients that play well with multiple meals. Meats, veggies, and fruits that can “get along” with multiple recipes can help you use all of the items that you’ve purchased instead of your ingredients expiring before you have a chance to use them.
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.
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