Healthy & Cheap Meal Plan to Feed a Family of 5 for $65/Week (2022)

Are you wondering where this year has gone to already? It feels like it has just flown right by us, doesn’t it?

But what do you do if you are working on a budget, and you didn’t get much from the summer garden this year? Life happens. I totally get it.

However, I also know that when you rely heavily on food you grow yourself and things just don’t pan out, that it can wreak havoc on your family’s financial situation.

So I wanted to encourage you by sharing a few tips on how I have been known to feed my family of 5 during rough seasons of life on less than $65 per week. I’m also supplying a meal plan and shopping list.

Now, keep in mind, my grocery pricing may vary from yours depending on where you are located. I also assumed that you had nothing in your kitchen so you may already have a lot of items on this list.

Healthy & Cheap Meal Plan to Feed a Family of 5 for $65/Week (1)

How To Feed Your Family on the Cheap

Healthy & Cheap Meal Plan to Feed a Family of 5 for $65/Week (2)

1. Scratch Made is Your Friend

When it comes to eating on a budget, you need to go scratch made. This means that you need to make as many meals as possible homemade.

But just because they are homemade does not mean that they need to be difficult. So think basic, think inexpensive, think homemade, and you’ll be well on your way to eating much cheaper than most.

2. Simplicity Is In

When I try to cook on a budget, I have to remind myself to think of simple meals. If the meal is overly complicated, I’m not going to want to cook it. Let’s be real, if you are shopping on an extremely frugal budget, you are probably going through a rough patch. That is exhausting enough!

(Video) Mom’s Tips for Feeding Family of 5 for $150 a Week | Budget Grocery Shopping Tips | MyRecipes

So don’t compound the issue by trying to be Betty Crocker. Just come up with some basic meals that won’t require fancy ingredients. The more simple the ingredient, usually, the cheaper it is as well.

3. Left Overs Are Meant to be Eaten

This is a big one. If you prepare too much food, don’t toss it. I’m the worst for being tired after preparing 5 meals a day in my house.

So I’ll just toss it to the kitchen and think, “Well, I just saved us on feed.” Ummm, no! I just cost myself another meal that I have to prepare…again. Remember to save those left overs so you can reheat them on a lazy night or if you have had a crazy day and are rushed to prepare a meal.

4. Think (and Cook) Ahead

This is another big one for me. I used to try to think about dinner right at dinner time. That is a huge no-no because most likely something I’m preparing will take a little time.

Now, I think about dinner as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning. We have a dry-erase board that I use for homeschool. I list every meal that we will eat that day and begin making preparations first thing in the morning. You can also cook ahead as well and freeze it so you can just thaw out what you need. This is a great website to help you with freezer cooking your meals.

5. Basic is a Bonus

I’ve mentioned making your meals as simple as possible, but what about your beverages. If you drink a lot of soft drinks, then you’ve just busted your budget because they aren’t cheap.

So try to drink more water, tea, and powdered drinks (if the kids absolutely hate water!) This will save you quite a bit of money. But don’t forget your coffee. In my house, coffee is a must!


6. Pretend to be Vegetarian

You don’t have to completely give up meat, but being willing to give it up a few times a week will save you a lot of money right off the top of your grocery budget.

Not to mention, eating plant based meals from time to time is actually really healthy for you. So if you are on a budget, look for other ways to get your needed protein outside of regular meat products.

7. Just Freeze It

Did a little bit of Michael Jackson lyrics just run through your head? Well, they did mine, but that is besides the points. If you have a lot of one meal left over, and you don’t feel like eating the same thing for a week, then freeze it.

Actually, it is so simple. Pull out a freezer bag or freezer safe container, fill it up, seal it, and pop it in the freezer. Most items in the freezer will last for a few months. When you want them, just pull them out, thaw them out, reheat, and enjoy. This is another great way to have a quick, go-to meal after a rough day.

8. Multiply Your Ingredients

When you grocery shop, you don’t want to have to buy a bunch of different stuff. Not only will it make it easier to forget something on your list, but it can also get expensive.

So the goal is to look for ways to use the same ingredients purchased over and over again. That way you will be more likely to have what you need when cooking, and your ingredients should remain inexpensive too.

9. Waste Not, Want Not

It is important to utilize everything that you have when you are working with a super tight budget. This means that you can’t waste anything.

So if you open your fridge and realize that something is getting ready to go bad, then you’ll need to utilize it ASAP so you don’t lose that investment.

10. Find Frugal Friends

It will help you if you have friends that you can rely on for tips and support who are also seeking out ways to feed their families in a frugal fashion.

But if you don’t have any close by, you can always rely on online friends and websites. My favorite website that gives me encouraging frugal recipes that are also very delicious is Hillbilly Housewife. You can also use My Fridge Food as well. You enter in what ingredients you have on hand, and they give you a recipe to utilize those ingredients. Both are great resources to have when you are trying to save money and keep everyone fed.

11. Plan Your Meals

Planning your meals is another vital tip you’ll need when trying to eat on a budget. You have to be intentional about what you are fixing so you know what to buy.

So you’ll want to always make a meal plan and a grocery list before spending any of your grocery budget. You can also add up what you are buying to make sure you are staying in budget as well.

12. Stick to the List

Then you have to actually stick to the list when you head to the grocery store. It is so easy to want to pick up extra items.

(Video) NUTRITIONIST GROCERY HAUL FOR A FAMILY OF 5 | Eat healthy on a budget

But you have to be smart about it. Take only the cash you have in your budget so you have no back up if you go over, and also be sure to eat before you head to the grocery store as well. That way you’ll kind of force yourself into being disciplined about your grocery shopping.

13. Just Order In

No, I don’t mean order food in the way you might be thinking. A lot of grocery stores now have an option where you can place your order online (and some even deliver.) If you have this option, use it.

Though, the service usually costs an extra $5 or so, you never step foot in the store and therefore, avoid all of the temptations of buying what is not on your list. It is very helpful when trying to stick to a budget.

14. Tell Processed to Go Away!

You will want to make sure that you don’t purchase any processed food, even if it is on sale for about $1 each. The reason is that it doesn’t actually go that far.

For example, when we first became a family of 5 I thought I would do well to purchase some boxed dinners for $1 a box plus the cost of the meat. I soon realized I was spending a lot more than what it cost just to make it from scratch. There are a few items that are less expensive prepackaged, but with most processed foods, that is not the case.

15. Once a Month Is Plenty

Finally, you’ll want to be sure that you only grocery shop around once a month. This may sound strict, but the less you enter the grocery store, the less money you spend.

So do yourself a favor, avoid the grocery store. Buy only what you need for the month (if at all possible) so you won’t blow your budget. I realize not everyone has this option, but if you do, then utilize it.

$65/week Meal Plan for a Family of 5

Week #1:

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal
  • A.M. Snack: Cinnamon Toast
  • Lunch: Vegetable Soup
  • P.M. Snack: Banana
  • Dinner:
    • Day 1: Pintos, cornbread, and greens
    • Day 2: Refried beans, Spanish rice, and chicken tortillas (You can use oil in the place of lard for the tortillas recipe)
    • Day 3: Black beans and rice with polish sausage (add whatever spices you want to your beans to get the flavor you desire. Also you can cook them in stock to help add flavor as well.)
    • Day 4: Black bean soup with rice
    • Day 5: Left over black bean soup
    • Day 6: Pintos and fried potatoes
    • Day 7: Left Over Day

Week #2:

  • Breakfast: Cornmeal mush
  • A.M. Snack: Cinnamon Toast
  • Lunch: Peanut butter and banana wrap with raisins (for the kids); Bean wraps with Mexican salad (for the adults) Mexican salad is just lettuce, tomato, guacamole, and sour cream.
  • P.M. Snack: Banana
  • Dinner:
    • Day 1: Lentil Sloppy Joes with salad (use lentils in place of ground beef)
    • Day 2: Spaghetti and carrot
    • Day 3: Baked spaghetti (use leftover spaghetti, cover with more tomato sauce and cheese, then bake at 400° Fahrenheit until bubbly and brown.
    • Day 4: Ramen Noodles with veggies (Just prepare the noodles and add sautéed vegetables of choice to them. I like onions and celery.)
    • Day 5:Homemade Pizzas
    • Day 6: Pintos and cornbread
    • Day 7: Left Over Day

Week #3:

  • Breakfast: Rice cereal
  • A.M. Snack: Cinnamon toast
  • Lunch: Chicken salad on crackers (for adults);Grilled cheese with carrots and dip (for kids)
  • P.M. Snack: Applesauce
  • Dinner:
    • Day 1: Veggie stir fry
    • Day 2: Pancakes, eggs, and bacon
    • Day 3: Egg frittata (this is just eggs with vegetables and spices baked in the oven until done.)
    • Day 4: Biscuits and gravy
    • Day 5: Loaded mashed potatoes (add sautéed onions, garlic, cheese, etc.) and polish sausage
    • Day 6: Fried potato cakes and greens (use leftover mashed potatoes)
    • Day 7: Left Over Day

Week #4

  • Breakfast: Pancakes or Waffles
  • A.M. Snack: Cinnamon toast
  • Lunch: Egg salad sandwiches with sliced veggies and dip (for the adults);Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with sliced veggies and dip (for the kids)
  • P.M. Snack: Applesauce
  • Dinner:
    • Day 1:Breakfast- French toast and bacon (this would also be a great time to use up any eggs you don’t think you’ll use this month.)
    • Day 2: Pintos and cornbread
    • Day 3: Chili (use leftover pintos in this recipe)
    • Day 4: Black bean soup
    • Day 5: Leftover black bean soup
    • Day 6: Lentil sloppy joes with any unused veggies for the month
    • Day 7: Left Over Day

Black Bean Soup Recipe

  • 2 cups of dried beans
  • 1 onion
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • Optional: jalapenos for heat (which I love)
  1. Soak the black beans over night. Then place them in your slow cooker (or on your stove) and let them cook all day on low. Be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t run out of water. Add water to them as needed.
  2. When beans are done, set them aside.
  3. In a small pan, with a couple of tablespoons of oil, toss a diced onion in on medium heat until it is basically see-through.
  4. Add the garlic, but stir constantly so it doesn’t burn. After 2 minutes, pull the mixture off of the heat.
  5. In a large soup pot, add the beans, onion and garlic mixture, tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, and the optional jalapenos. Add water (or stock) until the mixture is covered. You can throw in some beef bouillon too for extra flavor. Bring to a boil, then allow to simmer for about 30 minutes to an hour.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then serve. I like to add shredded cheese, crackers, more jalapenos, and hot sauce. It tastes great!

Vegetable Soup Recipe

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic
  • 1 bag of mixed veggies
  • 1 container of tomato juice
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 cube of beef bouillon
  1. Brown the hamburger meat until there is no pink left. Add the diced onion and allow it to cook. Then drain the fat off of the mixture.
  2. Add all ingredients to your slow cooker and allow it to cook on low for 8 hours.
  3. Add desired toppings (like cheese, crackers, etc.) and serve.

Fried Potato Cakes

  • Left over mashed potatoes
  • ½-1 cup of milk
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic
  • Shredded cheese
  1. Sautee your diced onion and garlic in a couple of tablespoons of oil until they are soft.
  2. Put cold mashed potatoes in a bowl. Add the sautéed veggie mix, milk, salt and pepper to taste, and desired amount of shredded cheese. Then mix until it is a thick mixture.
  3. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add a small dab of the potato mixture to the oil. When you see the oil begin to bubble around the potatoes, then the oil is ready.
  4. Spoon a round amount of potato mixture into the hot oil. Press down gently to make it into a round cake. Let cook until golden brown on one side. Then flip over and allow it to cook on the other side.
  5. When finished, place on a plate with a paper towel so the excess oil can drain. Sprinkle extra salt as desired. I like to serve my potato cakes with a dollop of sour cream on top.

Grocery List

2Packs of fresh chicken$5 each$10
3Bags of frozen mixed veggies$1 each$3
Beef bouillon cubes$1$1
Tomato Juice$3$3
1Big roll of ground beef$8$8
412oz Cans of crushed tomatoes$1.50 each$6
1Bag of black beans$1.50$1.50
4Packs of smoked sausage$2.50 each$10
210lb Bags of potatoes$5 each$10
4Green bell peppers69 cents each$2.76
3Large cans of tomato sauce$1 each$3
Brown sugar$1$1
12Pack Ramen Noodles$2.50$30
2Packs of pepperoni$2 each$4
2Frozen stir fry veggies$1$2
2Packs of bacon$3 each$6
Gravy mix$3$3
2Bags of fresh greens$2 each$4
Breakfast sausage$2$2
Chili powder$1$1
2Cans of tomato paste50 cents each$1
25lb Bags of rice$3 each$6
3Bags of all purpose flour$2 each$6
Baking powder$2$2
5Dozen eggs$2 each$10
4Gallons of milk$3 each$12
Vanilla extract$1$1
2Bags of pinto beans$1 each$2
6Small bags of shredded cheese$2 each$12
Sliced cheese$1$1
2Small container of sour cream$1$2
2Avocadoes$2 each$4
3Heads of lettuce$1 each$3
2Bags of onions$2 each$4
Packaged minced garlic$2$2
Black pepper$1$1
3Bags of bread flour$3 each$9
3Boxes of margarine$1 a box$3
77Bananasabout .28 cents each$22
2Large containers of applesauce$3 each$6
Peanut Butter$2$2
3Containers of mayonnaise$2 each$6
5lb bag of carrots$3$3
3Ranch mix packets$1 each$3
2Boxes of crackers$1 each$2
Total:$251.32 + tax

Well, hopefully these tips, grocery shopping list (with estimated costs), and menu plan will give you some ideas of some frugal meals to feed your family.

But I’d love to hear from you. What do you feed your family when money is tight?

Please leave us your comments below.

Healthy & Cheap Meal Plan to Feed a Family of 5 for $65/Week (6)

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How do you feed a family with little money? ›

Here are ten tips and recipes from the thrifty pros to help you feed your family well for less.
  1. Go meat-free.
  2. Turn leftovers into tomorrow's dinner.
  3. Forage for your food.
  4. Make your own bread.
  5. Plan your meals every week.
  6. Cook with pulses.
  7. Ditch the store-bought desserts.
  8. Make friends with your butcher.
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