In my challenge to plan a $50 frugal meal plan for a family of four, I spent some quality time scouring the bottom shelves of a local supermarket for the largest bulk bag items. I used a notebook and a calculator and received a few odd stares from fellow shoppers - but proved it can be done. Here is the food shopping list for the first week of this incredibly tight frugal plan.
One important thing to note is that the menu builds upon itself each week. The first week will support a family but not create the most exciting meals. Rice and beans, along with peanut butter, comprise the only protein options for Week One. In Week Two chicken is added. Week Three allows for pork loins, Week Four permits catfish fillets and Week five cycles back around to chicken. One can change this all around as they see fit - you can have chicken each week if you prefer, but these meats are the easiest to stretch out into a budget that allows for more food varieties to be included over time.
Note that each item on the list can be used in vast variety of ways. A good cookbook (or access to internet cooking sites) will be a huge help in figuring out the many ways to use cabbage, bake flatbread, make cookies, prepare beans and so on. I recommend a basic, time-honored cookbook that has not changed much from the 1950s - something like a Betty Crocker cookbook.
Here are the items for Week One. you may not like everything on this list, but they are nutritious and filling. I did not allow for taxes in the $50, but did use the sizes and amounts available in my local Safeway at this time:
- Oatmeal - Safeway brand quick oats, 2lbs/10oz for $2.50 (6 cents an oz)
- Apples - a dozen per 3lb bag at $1.33/oz for $3.99
- White Flour - Safeway brand All Purpose Flour, $1.69 for a 5lb bag (2.2 cents an oz)
- White Sugar - Safeway brand, 4lb bag for $2.69 (4.3 cents an oz)
- Potatoes - bag of Safeway Russet Potatoes, a 10lb bag for $4.49 (44.9 cents a pound)
- Beans - bag of dried Safeway Pinto Beans, a 10lb bag at 4.4 cents an oz
- Peanut Butter - 4lbs of Safeway brand (choice of creamy or chunky)for $5.99 (9.4 cents an oz)
- Salt - Iodized, Safeway brand, 71 cents for 1lb/10oz (2.8 cents an oz)
- Rice - Safeway brand, $8.99 for a 10lb bag ((5.7 cents an oz)
- Vegetable Oil (soybean oil) - Safeway brand 1 gallon for $7.91 (6.2 cents on oz)
- Crisco Shortening - your choice regular or butter flavor, 3lb tub for $6.29 (13.2 cents an oz)
- Baking Powder - Rumford 4oz, $1.79 (44 cents an oz)
- Onions - $1 a large onion
- Carrots - $1 for several carrot sticks
- Celery - $1.49 for a large bunch
- Cabbage - $1 a pound (one medium head)
- Cinnamon - McCormick's, $1.49 for 1oz
Week Two adds high quality meat protein (chicken), some more fruit (raisins), some more condiments and a few more staples to add variety in your menu. In my proposed Six Week menu Plan you can build upon the stock in your pantry and add in more fresh food as you slowly stock up.