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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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




Oatmeal daily with milk and raisins, 1 banana


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


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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