Writing Out a Menu Plan Based Around Cheap Meals

*This is the 6th day of the One Month Spending Freeze Challenge. Please click here to see all of the posts in this series.*

On the first day of the spending freeze challenge, I wrote out a menu plan through this coming Friday. Everything on my plan was based around food we already have as well as meals that I know are very cheap. I did my best to make sure we will be getting our fruits, veggies, and proteins. We could not make it a whole week just with the food in our kitchen, so I had to go shopping.

Making cheap and simple meals can drastically reduce the amount of money you spend on groceries each month. Here is a basic meal plan as an example, and then you can come up with your own!

Before I get to my shopping trip and meal plan for the week, I need you to do a bit of work for today’s challenge. If you don’t already have a pantry staples list, you need to come up with one. You’ll find all the information you need to make one over on my post about starting a pantry staples list.

The pantry staples list will be great for you to refer to this month, especially when you run out of ideas.

Back to my shopping trip.

Would you believe my first stop was Costco? Unlike most people who shop at Costco, I actually do not overspend there. I only get what I need, try a few samples, and then I run out of that place like a mad woman. There are so many tempting things to buy in there, but it all adds up and can cause you to spend inordinate amounts on food and stuff that you may never really need.

Let me be completely honest with you, though. I did NOT escape completely free from that place. We were checking out and the hot dogs and chicken bakes were calling us from the checkout line. We couldn’t resist, and we decided it would probably cost as much to buy food for dinner and eat there as it would be to make dinner at home. Surely we could have made it home with plenty of time to make and eat dinner before bed! That is the only time this month I will veer off the straight and narrow, I tell ya.

Grocery Shopping Trips

Here’s what I bought at Costco, only because we needed it (that’s the truth! I did lose the receipt, but I remember approximately how much everything cost):

2 Whole Chickens – $11.88
Mozzarella – $4.50
Mayo – $6.50
Tortillas – $4.50

At Costco I spent: $27.38

Next I went on over to Winco. I either shop at Smith’s (a Kroger store) or Winco most weeks, but I prefer Winco because it tends to be cheaper.

Butternut squash ($0.98/lb.) – $2.29
Potatoes (5 lbs.) – $0.98
Onions (3) – $1.33
Tomatoes (4) – $0.73
Salad (Dole package) – $1.78
Bananas (10) – $2.02
Apples (7) – $2.03
Crackers (saltine, unsalted tops – 3 pkgs.) – $3.51
Eggs (18) – $2.87
Salt – $1.12
Honey – $3.72
Jam – $1.98
Garbanzo beans – $0.68
Puffy rice cereal (for my oat bars) – $0.36
Frozen fruit (mangoes) – $2.30
Corn (frozen) – $0.98
Cornish hens (4 @ $3.31 each) – $13.24

At Winco I spent: $41.92

Then just last night my husband had to stop at Smith’s to buy some food we were running out of:

Milk (2 gallons) – $4.29
Bananas (12) – $2.90
Tomatoes (5) – $1.37

Total spent at Smith’s: $8.56

Total for the week was: $77.86

The total could have been lower, but I needed to buy the Cornish hens this week for a blog post coming up.

Menu Plan Using Cheap Meals

Here is what I put on the menu this week based on what we already had on hand as well as what I bought:


Boring oatmeal got your toddler's tongue? Add some fruit and change it up! These recipes are sure to excite your kids about breakfast!Oatmeal with bananas and applesauce
Eggs & fruit
Eggs & toast and banana
Muffins and smoothies


The Creamiest and Best Egg Salad Sandwich | This sandwich is so yummy and very cheap. It's the miracle whip and one special technique that make this the best sandwich!Leftovers
Shredded chicken on salad
Egg salad sandwiches


Looking for a healthy on-the-go snack that both you and your child will love? Try making some basic dried fruit!Dried fruit
Oat bars


Garbanzo Bean and Tomato Soup - This soup is full of protein and delicious veggies, including red pepper, onions, and tomatoes. It's sure to be a hit with your entire family. SO delicious!Homemade Pizza
Rice bowls and salad with basic vinaigrette
Roast chicken with mashed potatoes, carrots, and bread
Crepes with lunch meat and cheese
Raw veggies (as a side for any of the meals)
Ensalada rusa with skillet chicken
Ramen, Egg, and Garlic Delight
Garbanzo Bean and Tomato Soup
Cornish hens with oven fries (possibly butternut squash fries!) and tomato onion salad
Everything But the Kitchen Sink Quesadillas

As you can see, nothing is too exciting or extraordinary. We eat a lot of the same foods over and over again (which really stinks when you’re trying to teach your children healthy eating habits!) and most of it is very cheap to make.

A lot of these recipes can be found right here on the blog, so I decided to just put together a PDF file with all my frugal food in it. You can download it and refer to it whenever you need something really cheap and easy to make.


Your challenge for today is to come up with a cheap menu plan for the next week (if you haven’t already) based around the food in your house and cheap and simple meals.

Please share all your cheap meals below! We could all use more ideas to help us stretch our grocery budgets further.


I'm a mom of 3 on a journey to feed my family nourishing foods. Personally, I believe that you can feed your family healthy, delicious meals without spending a fortune or slaving away in the kitchen.


  1. I am not doing the spending freeze this month, but we accidentally had an eat out of the pantry challenge this week. We have had fun seeing what we could come up with. Last night I made spaghetti, but realized that I didn’t have any ground beef or venison on hand. I looked in the freezer and found a bag of meatballs. So, spaghetti and meatballs it was! We may be doing egg salad one night this week, too. Thanks for the idea!
    Sarah@TheOrthodoxMama recently posted…5 Ways We Saved in SeptemberMy Profile

    • You’re welcome, Sarah! It’s always nice to have food ready in the freezer! Spending freeze or not, eating out of the pantry is a great idea to keep your grocery budget down. Thanks for visiting and commenting. 🙂

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