Sunday, December 19, 2010

Healthy $10 a Day Menus

When you really want to save money, the most effective way I know to menu plan is to think through everything that's in your fridge, freezer, and pantry and work around those items--going to the store only for a few essentials you need to fill in the gaps (for example, lettuce, tomato and avocado to go with beans and rice). Creating a healthy ten dollar a day menu is fairly easy, especially when you've shopped and stocked up on staples when they're at their best sale prices of the year at the grocery store.
Ten Dollar (Or Less) a Day Menus

Oatmeal (bought in bulk at Sam's for $6; factoring the cost only for this meal, since it yields several servings)=estimating .75 cents for five servings (but I think it's less than that)
Blackberries ($2/pint...will last for at least two uses)=$1
Meal cost: 1.75

Chili, cornbread leftover from Sunday night
(3.5 pounds of ground beef bought on sale for 1.99lb, browned and frozen in 1/2-1 pound baggies; used 1/2 lb=$1; tomato sauce=.25 cents; diced tomatoes=.50 cents; tomato soup=.50 cents, kidney beans=.50 cents; onion, garlic, seasonings=minimal
(Cornbread from popcorn kernels ground in my wheat grinder. Popcorn=$1.50 Walmart...used only 1 cup, approximately .30 cents)
Meal cost $3.15

Cranberry Chicken over brown rice, broccoli, jello
(4# bag frozen chicken breasts=4.96; I will only use 1 pound=$1.49)
Brown rice: Bag=$2.79, for this meal (1c.)=approximately .70 cents
Broccoli=.88 cents for a pound
Jello=sale for .50 cents
Meal $3.57

Total for the day: $8.47

Veggie Scramble (saute red, orange, yellow peppers and a few chopped onions; scramble eggs in with the veggies, add cheese if desired)
Toast (I make my own bread, estimating cost to be .50 cents for 4 loaves or .12/loaf)
Eggs: From a farm for $2/dozen; will use a half dozen=$1; .50 cents for veggies
Meal cost: Around $2

Salmon patties, couscous
Can of salmon=around $3, veggies= .50 cents
Box of couscous=around $3, will yield several uses, so let's say .75 for this meal
Meal cost: $4.25

Spaghetti (made my own marinara sauce), Caesar salad, French bread (in bread machine)

Spaghetti: 88 cents
Marinara sauce $1
Caesar salad: dressing (3.79 jar/will make about 4 salads=.90 or less to make a salad)
Lettuce (3 romaine hearts for 2.49=.83 cents
French bread: maybe .25 for the loaf (bag of flour on sale for $1)
Dinner cost: $3.86

Total: $10.11
Blueberry muffins $1 (stocked up when they were on sale for $1/pint at the store and froze them)
Orange julius .50 cents
Potato soup (10 pound bag of potatoes for $1.49, need only one pound=.15 cents)
veggies and dip=around .50 cents
Milk=.60 cents for 1/4th of the gallon
Meal=$1.25 cents

Goulash, oranges
1/2 pound ground beef=$1
Macaroni=.75 cents,
Tomatoes=.50 cents, other veggies and seasonings minimal cost
Oranges=.49 cents
Bread and butter (minimal, but let's say .25 cents)

Total for the day: $5.75

Breakfast Burritos (I make my own tortillas; it takes a little time but it's pretty easy. To make this easier, I will make a double batch earlier in the week)
Sausage=$2.49 sale; will only use half=$1.25
Potatoes=.15 cents or less
Salsa=$1.59/jar, pennies for the serving
Cheese=32 oz. block on sale for $4.99, about .60-cents for 4 ounces
Breakfast=around $3
Pinto Beans and Rice, lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese, sour cream
Bag of beans=$2; approximately .50 cents for this meal
Rice=estimating .70 cents

Tuna Oriental, rice, clementines
Can of tuna=.44 cents
Rice=.70 cents
Clementines=$3.99 for a 3 pound bag; $1.25 for a pound for this meal
Total for the day=$8.59

Cranberry-orange scones (oranges .49 cents/pound this week)
Craisins=$6 large bag at Sam's; approixmately .75 cents or less for 1 cup
Flour minimal
Meal=$1.50 (rounding up for flour, milk)

Leftovers for lunch or bean and rice burritos
(cost factored in earlier)

White chicken chili, tortillas or tortilla chips
1 pound chicken=$1.49
Tortilla chips=$2, tortillas minimal

Total: $6.59

Saturday: Christmas!
Christmas Morning Pie, fruit salad
(other half pound of sausage=$1.25, eggs=$1,
pie crust: make own for pennies or use store bought=$1.25
Fruit salad using fruit on sale=$1

Ham (.99 cents/pound; I bought one for $8.86, but it will last for several meals=$2 for this meal)
Scalloped Potatoes
(.15 cents for a pound of potatoes, cream and cheese=$1.50)
Pineapple casserole
($1 can of pineapple, $1.50 for Ritz crackers, but need only 1 cup, so .30 cents roughly)
Glazed baby carrots (a little over $1)
Merry Christmas pudding
($2.50 for frozen raspberries, approximately $3 for other ingredients)
Christmas dinner (a little over $10) = $11.50

Christmas Day=$14.50

Cereal (on sale, with a coupon for a $1/box)
Leftovers and snacks

So there you have it. That's how I do it around here to stretch the budget. I didn't really factor in drinks, but we usually have water or milk (between $2 and $2.50/gallon, which will last for about a week). For snacks, we'll eat things we already have in the pantry or fridge, like yogurt, Ritz crackers, apple slices, cheese cubes, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, fruit. Or I'll make something like applesauce bread, granola, granola bars, smoothies, sometimes cookies.

You can do this too, if you don't already! I'm happy to answer questions, if you have any. I'd also love to hear what you do to help stretch your food dollars.

Visit Menu Plan Monday to see more menu plans!


  1. Very inspirationsal! I have fallen into a rut of higher priced, less nutritional convenience meals lately and am going to sit down and make a plan to get back on track.
    Thank you!

  2. Wow - what a great menu and cost breakdown! Things have been crazy in preparation for Christmas and a move upcoming, and I have really felt it when I go to the grocery store for a couple of items and it's $40 each time. Ouch! I'm on vacation now, and a big part of what I hoped to accomplish online is some inspiration like this. Thank you!

  3. This is a healthy menu for an affordable price. Thank you for showing the breakdown.
    Have a terrific Christmas!
    Please stop by and enter my $30 IHOP gift card giveaway.

  4. you did a great job planning this menu. I love to do the same and I love the idea that you save so much money by having a planned out menu

    new follower as well

  5. Wow - I am impressed! I generally have an idea how much the meals I make cost, but I have never taken the time to figure it out ingredient by ingredient and total everything up for the day. Thanks for sharing - I am inspired to try this.

  6. Hi everyone, thanks for the comments. Glad you were inspired! I will try to do this again.
    Amanda, I never really broke it down like this before either. I had a general idea everything I make (usually :)) is pretty frugal, but I thought if I was going to say it was a $10 menu, I better prove it! It was eye-opening to realize how cheap somethings are, per meal.