If you are reading this, then it is because the title caught your eye. And you are broke. It happens to me every August, too: summer vacations, doctor visits and too many ice cream scoops leave me with an empty bank account. To help you out this year, I thought I would share my bare minimum “diet” that I fall back on when I need to save my pennies until the next paycheck picks me up. First of all, if you are vegan, gluten-free, or in the process of losing weight, then stop reading. This is not the article for you. This is, however, a slight step above the ramen-noodle diet that some of you may be using to cut down your grocery bill. The following week’s menu is meant to feed two people, and is not intended to last longer than one month. Please take your vitamins to supplement the missing nutrients and vitamins.
- Dinner #1 Fried Egg sandwiches, brownies Homemade bread, 2 fried eggs in each sandwich, brownies made from scratch
- Dinner #2 Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry .75 lbs of chicken thigh meat and the frozen vegetable stir-fry bags with sauce included, serve over instant brown rice
- Dinner #3 Chicken “Pot Pie”
Homemade biscuits, homemade béchamel, .75 lbs of chicken thigh meat and some of the vegetables removed from the stir-fry package
- Dinner #4 Waffles with scrambled eggs Waffles made from scratch and the last of the eggs scrambled
- Dinner #5 Pizza Homemade pizza dough, some marinara sauce and no meat
- Dinner #6 Spaghetti and garlic bread Remainder of marinara sauce and leftover biscuits from the potpie topped with garlic powder and cheese (do not mix noodles and sauce before serving so that they may be stored separately)
- Dinner #7 Soup with leftovers: spaghetti noodles, egg, chicken broth, frozen veg from freezer. Make cupcakes! Cupcakes from scratch, chicken broth with leftovers from the week: noodles, meat, and vegetables.
As you can see, the key to spending less is to use the same ingredients for several nights. Making baked goods from scratch ahead of time saves money because a bag of flour can make biscuits, bread, pizza dough, cupcakes and brownies. Dried milk versus fresh milk is cheaper for making baked goods and dishes like potpie. This menu assumes that you have a fairly stocked pantry. If you’re like me, then you buy peanut butter by the gallon and always have some on hand.
Pantry items needed
Salt, pepper, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, olive oil, butter, all-purpose flour, yeast, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, dried milk, peanut butter
I hope this menu helps you to recover from the summer season. Remember to be creative—if you run out of eggs for baking, use oil and baking soda to substitute, treat meat as an additive instead of a main dish, bake from what you have on hand and learn to like breakfast (it makes the cheapest dinner). Many prosperous savings to you!
Old-fashioned oatmeal $3.29
Brown Sugar $1.89
Grape Jelly $2.19
Boneless Chicken Thigh Meat $6.44 for 1½ lbs
Brown instant rice $2.17
Frozen stir-fry vegetables with sauce $5.08
½ dozen Eggs $0.99
Marinara sauce $1
Mozzarella cheese $3.28
Spaghetti noodles $1.19
32 oz. chicken broth $2.19
Total = $29.71 before tax