Help Me, I’m Desperate: A $50 Emergency Menu From Walmart For A Family of 4

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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.

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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!2016-10-10-17-28-50$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

Total: $49.67

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.

Menu

Breakfast: 

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.

Lunch:

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

Dinner:

Sunday : 

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.

Monday:

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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.

Tuesday:

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.

Wednesday:

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.

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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.

Saturday:

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.


Help Me, I’m Desperate: A $25 Emergency Menu From Aldi For A Family of 4

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This is a follow-up to my popular $50 Emergency Menu From Aldi For 4.  What do you do if you truly have almost nothing to buy groceries? If you have to feed your family, and you only have $25, your focus will be calories, calories, calories. Your options are pretty limited- but you already know that, right?

We all know we should optimally be eating fruits and vegetables every day, but when you have nothing, you need to think about survival first. That means getting at least 1200 calories a day or more if you can. If you have access to a food pantry, don’t be afraid to go there to fill in the gaps. And if you can’t, know that you can manage if you can scrape together $25 and discipline yourself to stick to the menu and suggested serving sizes. You will only have enough for minimum survival, not enough for extras.

This menu is very close to what I ate when I had $10 per week to feed myself. I have been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. I tended towards lentils over pinto beans, but I have never seen dried lentils at my local Aldi. This is very plain eating, but desperate times call for desperate measures. You can do it!

$25 Emergency Menu For 4 From Aldi (about 1500 calories per person per day)

(prices are from my local Aldi in Ohio)

1 42 oz.  quick oats oatmeal: $2.39 (Makes 30 1/2 cup dry servings)

2  gallons of whole milk (has the most fat/calories for satiety): $4

32 oz grape jelly: $1.59 (Makes 45 1 TB servings)

40 oz peanut butter: $3.49 (Makes 45-46 2 TB servings)

3 lb rice: $1.59 (16 half-cup servings per pound)

2 lb. dry pinto beans: $1.79 (Makes 24 half cup servings per 2 pounds dry)

10 lb. potatoes: $3.49 (Has about 20 potatoes)

2 packages taco seasoning: $0.58

1 lb. margarine quarters: $0.75 (Has 32 1 TB servings)

5 lb. all purpose flour: $1.59 (Has 18-19 cups per 5 lb. bag)

4 lb. sugar: $1.59

2 strips of active yeast (6-pack): $.1.58

26 oz. iodized salt $0.39

Total: $24.82

If you luck out and some things are lower priced because of sales, I recommend buying more pintos or some onions to add to them and the potatoes.

Menu

Breakfast: 

1 cup Oatmeal daily (made from 1/2 cup dry) with 1 cup of milk and sugar

Lunch:

PB & J sandwich (2 slices bread and 2 TB peanut butter and 1 TB jelly)on Cuban Bread,  1 cup of milk

Dinner:

Sunday through Friday: 1/2-1 cup rice and 1/2 cup pinto beans seasoned with taco seasoning. (A small child could eat 1/4 to 1/2 cup and a grown man should need about 1 cup cooked). One-half to one potato with 1 TB margarine (a child can have 1/2 and an adult one full potato.

Saturday: PB & J on Cuban Bread or leftover oatmeal with sugar.

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It sounds hard to bake bread, but 5 lb of flour should yield you about 7 loaves of bread with 10 uneven slices each. This should allow everyone to have a little comfort food and  give everyone 2-3 slices per day. Homemade bread tends to be higher calorie than cheap store-bought bread. This is easy enough for a beginner.

Recipe for Cuban Bread from the Complete Tightwad Gazette

5 to 6 cups all purpose flour (I tend to use about 5)
2 tablespoons dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 cups hot water (120 to 130 degrees)

Mix 4 cups of the flour with the yeast, sugar and salt. Pour in hot water and beat 100 strokes, or 3 minutes with a mixer. Stir in the remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Knead 8 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, and cover with a damp towel. Let rise 15 minutes. Punch down. Divide into two pieces. Shape into two round loaves, and place on a baking sheet. Cut an X ½ inch deep on top with a sharp knife. Brush with water, and sprinkle with seeds. Place on the middle shelf of a COLD oven. Place a cake pan of hot water on the lowest shelf. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake 40 to 50 minutes until deep golden brown.

The Tightwad Gazette has probably saved me thousands over the years and is well worth the money. If you can’t afford to buy one, they are usually at the library.

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Help Me, I’m Desperate: A $50 Emergency Menu from Aldi for a Family of 4

-HELP Me, I'm Desperate!-

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 no stranger to living on a tiny, tiny grocery budget. Right before I went to nursing school I worked at a crappy job that netted me around $10000 for the year. That’s a little over $800 for the month, and my rent was $535. I had a car payment, electric bill, phone bill, and insurance and gas to pay for. My student loan was in forbearance until I started classes, and thank goodness they were. When you added it all up, I only had about $10 a week left over for groceries.

Thank God for The Complete Tightwad Gazette, because with its help I was able to meet all my caloric needs. That said, it was a pretty unvaried diet of lentils and rice, beans and rice, PB & J, homemade bread with margarine, oatmeal, canned fruits and veggies that I bought for $0.20/can, spaghetti and mac n cheese for $0.20/box, iced tea, and powdered milk. It sucked, but necessity is the mother of invention, and it gave me some blackbelt frugality skills that I still am using today to hopefully retire early and never worry about taking a crappy job to pay the bills again.

Whether you just want to challenge yourself, or if you truly are desperate, I thought I would throw together a $50 grocery budget from Aldi that can feed four. Aldi‘s prices are low and a smaller amount can go a long way.

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Subscribe to get my latest content by email. As a thank you, I'll give you my grocery-saving tip sheet:

10 Steps To Save $100 or More Per Week.

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If you came here from a place of desperation, I want to say that there can be a light at the end of the tunnel. It may not be fast or soon, but if you keep hitting it from every angle, at some point you will hit the end of it.

$50 Emergency Menu For 4 From Aldi

(prices are from my local Aldi in Ohio)

1 42 oz.  quick oats oatmeal: $2.39

2  gallons of 2% milk: $4

1 dozen eggs: $1.29

3 loaves 100% whole wheat bread: $ 4.05 (66 slices)

32 oz grape jelly: $1.59

40 oz peanut butter: $3.49

raisins 12 oz: $1.89

1 pack Hot Dogs: $0.99

1 pack hot dog buns: $0.85

1 5-pound whole chicken ($1/lb): $5

3 lb rice: $1.59

2 lb. dry pinto beans: $1.79

1 head Iceburg lettuce: $1

3 lb apples: $3

2 lb whole carrots: $0.99

1 box dry pasta: $0.99

1 jar spaghetti sauce: $0.99

5 lb. potatoes: $2.99

2 cucumbers: $1

3 lb. onions $1.69

1 bunch celery: $1.29

2 bunches bananas: $1.25

1 jar salsa: $1.49

1 jar ranch dressing: $0.99

1 package taco seasoning: $0.29

1 lb. margarine quarters: $0.75

1 package frozen broccoli: $0.79

Total: $48.42

 

Menu

Breakfast: 

Oatmeal daily with milk and raisins, 1 banana

Lunch:

PB & J sandwich, 1 apple or small handful of raisins, carrots or cucumber slices, glass of milk

Dinner:

Sunday: Spaghetti with sauce, small lettuce salad with dressing

Soak 1-2 lb. beans overnight to prepare for next day.

Monday and Tuesday: Rice and beans with salsa, taco seasoning, and onion. (Mix cooked beans and rice with salsa and seasoning as well as 1 onion sauteed in margarine).

Wednesday: Whole chicken roasted with margarine and potatoes

Use carcass of chicken, half an onion, and celery leaves to make chicken stock overnight in slow cooker.

Thursday: Shredded leftover chicken with rice, celery, carrots. Cook rice using chicken stock.

Friday: Hot dogs on buns, broccoli (from frozen)

Saturday: 2-3 Eggs each, toast with margarine and/or jelly, fried potatoes and onions (fried in margarine)

Snacks: Leftovers, Toast with margarine or peanut butter

If you have an extra $5, and have no extras like condiments, you might want to pick up these few things:

4 lb. sugar: $1.59

mustard: $0.89

ketchup: $0.99

100 tea bags (use to make mason jar iced tea in the fridge): $1.49

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