This is a follow-up to my popular $50 Emergency Menu From Aldi For 4 and $25 Emergency Menu From Aldi For 4. Every few of months I will get an email from someone asking for help to reduce a grocery budget. While most of the time they are looking for tips to knock off a little money from a weekly budget, sometimes those emails are a little more desperate and ask “I only have X dollars. What do I buy to feed my family for this week?”
I am lucky that I have just about every kind of store to choose from within a 20 minute drive: Aldi, Walmart, Kroger, Whole Foods, Meijer, Trader Joe’s, Fresh Thyme, Sam’s and Costco. I can hit each one if I wanted (and if I was crazy) and pick the lowest price for every item. There are many who may only have a local grocer and a Walmart nearby, however. Each store has its own positives and negatives, and Walmart can be great because not only do they price match (take advantage of this!) but they have a lot of variety, including some bulk foods. My local Walmart carries a 20 lb. bag of rice for under $8, and that is a great deal if you have the room in your budget and the storage space.
Once upon a time, I fed myself on $10 per week. I have been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. If you have only ever had lentil soup, I encourage you to try these lentil recipes. They are now regulars on my menus, and my husband and kids love them too. You can do it!
$50 Emergency Menu For 4 From Walmart
(prices are from my local Walmart in Ohio)
Rotisserie chicken $4.99 (Eight 3 oz servings)
2 gallons milk $ 4.58
10 lb potatoes $3.84
1 lb margarine $1.57
1 lb lentils $1.54
5 lb rice $2.98
1 lb Goya black beans $1.28
2 lb onions $2.24
2 lb carrots $1.32
3 loaves bread $3
40 oz Great Value peanut butter $4.37
32 oz Great Value grape jelly 1.72
42 oz quick oats $2.48
Celery- 1 bunch $1.50
Shredded cheese, 8 oz- $2.22
Frozen broccoli- 14 oz Great Value broccoli florets- $1
15 oz can of peas-$0.68
3 lb apples $3.94
3 cans chili ready tomatoes $2.16
Small jar minced garlic $1.38
Bananas- 2 lb ( 2 bunches with about 6-7 bananas each) $0.88
Remember, you are stretching a little a long way. Be a good steward of what you have and stick to the portion sizes, or you may run out. Don’t waste food.
1 cup Oatmeal daily (made from 1/2 cup dry) with 1 cup of milk and sugar (if you have on hand), 1/2 of a banana. If you don’t have sugar, try Overnight Oatmeal by mixing half a cup of oats with half a sliced banana and milk to cover the night before. It will be soft and require no cooking the next morning. Eat it cold and add a TB of peanut butter for extra taste and protein if you want.
PB & J sandwich (2 slices bread and 2 TB peanut butter and 1 TB jelly), 1/2 to 1 apple, carrot or celery sticks, 1 cup of milk
Chicken shepherd’s pie made with homemade mashed potatoes (3-4 lb peeled potatoes mashed with 2 TB margarine and 2-3 TB milk), carrots, and peas and half of the rotisserie chicken, shredded. Mix chicken and veggies with salt and pepper, top with mashed potatoes, and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
Shred the remaining half of the chicken, set aside in the refrigerator, and use the carcass to make chicken stock overnight in the slow cooker with 10 cups of water, half an onion, 1 stalk of celery, 1 carrot, 1 tsp salt, and a bay leaf if you have it. The next morning, remove the carcass and veggies, strain, and divide into four servings. Freeze two and save the other two to use this week.
Lentil and Rice Casserole: Make a casserole out of lentils and rice by mixing 1 cup of lentils, 1 cup of rice, 1/2 a diced onion, 2 cups of homemade chicken stock, 2 cups of water, 1/2 tsp minced garlic, and your choice of seasoning (bay leaf, Italian seasoning blend, or cumin). Place in a casserole dish and cover with foil to keep the moisture in. Bake at 350 for an hour, until lentils and rice are cooked through.
Don’t be afraid of lentils! They don’t have a “beany” smell or taste, smell amazing when cooking with chicken or veggie stock, and don’t cause the GI issues beans can cause.
Mujadarrah: This is a traditional Lebanese dish with lentils that is a favorite of mine. There are many ways to make it, but I prefer the simplest. Cook one cup of rice as normal. In another pot, cook one cup lentils with two cups of chicken stock until soft. In a frying pan, melt 3 TB of margarine and saute 1-2 sliced onions on medium-low heat until caramelized. When done, mix all three ingredients together and salt and pepper to taste. If you hate onions you can avoid them and try mushrooms instead.
As soon as you get up, put the bag of dried black beans in the slow cooker, cover with water, and soak. You will need them tomorrow.
Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole: This is similar to what many of us have eaten for dinner before. Cook 1 cup of rice in 2 cups of chicken stock. Mix cooked rice together with the shredded chicken you already set aside, a bag of frozen broccoli, season with salt and pepper, and top with 1 cup of cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.
Right before bed, drain soaked beans, recover in new water, and place in slow cooker on low overnight to cook through.
Thursday and Friday:
Black Beans and Rice: Cook 1.5 cups of rice in 3 cups of water. Mix cooked rice with black beans, 1 tsp of minced garlic, and 3 drained cans of tomatoes with chilies into a skillet and heat through. May top with cheese if desired. This should last two nights.
Leftover Night: Use up any bread, peanut butter, fruit, and leftover casseroles and/or have a buttered baked potato.
If you have an extra $5:
Buy 2 head iceberg lettuce for $1.98 and 1 Great Value salad dressing for $1.66 for more veggies and $0.99 worth of tea bags to make your own hot or iced tea.