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


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.



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


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


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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