What Did We Eat This Week #2 – How to Eat Well on a Budget!

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Groceries for less than $50

Hey there!

This is my second week of semi-meticulously tracking and photographing not only how I spent money on groceries for the week for a family of 3 adults, but also what I actually made us to eat and the cost of those meals. 

I hope this gives you some inspiration for your own life, whether that be for ideas on how to cut costs from your grocery budget or ideas on what to actually make for dinner if you’re feeling stuck. It is definitely possible to eat well on a budget!

As for some disclaimers:

  • We all have different dietary needs.
  • We all have different preferences.
  • We all have access to different food sources.
  • We all have different ideas of what a healthy diet looks like.

If you just looked at this short list of disclaimers and are thinking, “Yeah, but…” then I encourage you to have a look at my original post where I talk about the how’s and why’s of my meal budgeting and prepping in a little more detail. TL:DR I am well aware that there are different ways I could be doing things, and there are various reasons I do things the way I do, and I am not advocating that anyone should be doing things my way vs whatever way works best for them and their family =)

On to the food!

I’m going to give both the total we spent on groceries, and the totals that each meal cost to make, because we don’t necessarily use every ingredient we buy each week or all of each ingredient. There are also certain staples that I try to keep stocked in our pantry regardless of whether we plan to use them that week (pasta, rice, flour, etc).

So the total amount we spent on groceries between Food Lion and Aldi was $47.16.

The total spent for all of our meals from Sunday night to the following Sunday afternoon was about $45.93.

I estimated and added $5 to the total to account for random bits of food here and there that may have been eaten as a snack like a pb&j sandwich or my delicious raspberries (that were on sale for $1.29!) and to account for our coffee and creamer. 

Here's what we got!

Aldi Grocery Haul
Aldi Groceries
Food Lion Grocery Hall
Food Lion Groceries

This week I remembered to take photos of my full grocery haul. Yay!

And what we made!

As per usual, we typically don’t eat breakfast (besides coffee!) and our lunches are put together from the things I cook at dinner. At the beginning of the week, I usually cook larger portions of sides and put all of our lunches for the week together. The rest of my work week evenings go by a lot more smoothly if I don’t have to worry about making enough food every night for there to also be lunches the next day. 

Sunday Dinner

Pulled pork with mashed potatoes and broccoli.

Total Cost: $14.12

This is more than we typically spend for an average dinner, but remember this gave us enough protein for a week’s worth of lunches. I only buy pork shoulder when it’s on sale for 99 cents a pound. In this case, we bought a 9.68 lb hunk of pork shoulder. My usual go to for cooking a pork shoulder is to put in my instant pot. Turns out tender and moist and perfect every time!

I also made a large batch of mashed potatoes so that we would have enough to put in several of our lunches. 

  • Pulled Pork $9.58
  • Potatoes $1.50
  • Butter $0.20
  • Broccoli $1.29
  • BBQ Sauce $0.75
  • Chicken Broth $0.30
  • Oil & Spices $0.20
Pulled Pork with Broccoli

Monday Dinner

Chicken thighs, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes in a cream sauce.

Total Cost: $6.00

This is a meal you’ll likely see me going to pretty often. I love cooking in my cast iron, and it’s so cheap and delicious! 

  • Chicken Thighs $2.51
  • Sour Cream .75
  • Mushrooms $1.19
  • Sweet Potato .38
  • Egg Noodles $0.55
  • Spinach $0.47
  • Oil and spices .15
chicken and sweet potatoes

Tuesday Dinner

Pork Chops with zucchini, corn, and cous cous.

Total Cost: $7.27

I didn’t have a lot of free time or spare energy Tuesday evening, which made it an excellent night for some classic shake and bake style pork chops. The zucchini is quickly sauteed in my cast iron and the parmesan cous cous mix from Aldi is one of our convenience food indulgences. Cooking this way allows me to have dinner on the table in about 30 minutes from the time I start taking ingredients out of the fridge. 

  • Pork Chops $2.51
  • Pork coating Mix $1
  • Zucchini $1.50
  • Mexicorn $1
  • Couscous $1.06
  • Oil and Spices .20
pork chops

Wednesday Dinner

Potato Soup.

Total Cost: $5.66

So let me preface this by clarifying that I can absolutely make an amazing and indulgent potato soup from scratch. Heck, I can even whip up some bread bowls if I’ve got nothing better to do than wait for dough to rise for a couple hours. 

But this is a normal humpday night dinner. Middle of the week means medium effort! At least for this Wednesday night anyway.

This potato soup is a “semi-homeade” soup. I don’t really love the potato soup mix on it’s own, nor do I find it satisfactorily filling for three adults despite the claim of each bag containing four servings.

To bulk this soup up I toss a bunch of chopped carrots and cubed potatoes into my instant pot for a few minutes to be added to my soup pot. I also cook up a pound of ground sausage. Half the sausage goes into the soup pot and half goes into the fridge for another meal later this week. I add about a half cup of half and half to add some richness along with some spices like garlic, Italian seasoning, pepper, and honestly whatever strikes my fancy on that particular day to make the flavors bolder. Lastly, I add in some chopped spinach at the end to give it a little color and in an effort to get some extra spinach in wherever I can!

  • Potato Soup Mix $2.99
  • 1/2 Pound Ground Sausage $0.90
  • Potatoes $0.50
  • Carrots $0.45
  • Half & Half $0.15
  • Spinach $0.47
  • Spices  $0.20
potato soup

Thursday Dinner

Carnitas tacos with refried beans and Spanish Rice

Total Cost: $2.96

We actually had so much leftover pork from earlier in the week that we had it again for dinner. We needed a change though from the bbq pork flavor profile. I can never get enough tacos, so this was the clear and obvious choice. 

I added a bunch of extra spices and popped the pork under the broiler to get some nice crispy bits and to warm it up. I also sauteed an onion to go on our tacos and made some corn tortillas. 

Ever since I tried making refried beans at home, I just cannot enjoy canned refried beans anymore. And they are so quick and simple to make at home. We frequently have leftovers when we make tacos or fajitas, but we never have leftovers of refried beans since I started making them myself.

I rounded the meal off with some easy Spanish rice that I make right in my rice cooker!

  • Pork $0.00 (I calculated the full cost of the pork in Sunday’s dinner. This is just leftovers!)
  • Pinto Beans $0.49
  • Butter $0.07
  • Maseca $0.20
  • Rice $0.25
  • Tomato Paste (half a can) $0.15
  • Green Chilies (half a can) $0.40
  • Onion $0.40
  • Chicken Broth $0.75
  • Oil and Spices $0.25
pork carnitas tacos

Friday Dinner

Lentil and sausage stew.

Total Cost: $4.12

Friday night was particularly cold, therefore it was a particularly good night for a hot, filling, comforting dish. This lentil and sausage stew absolutely hits all three of those adjectives. Since I’d already cooked the sausage on potato soup night, this was a quick and easy prep for the instant pot. I’ve been buying my lentils for now in 1 pound bags, but I’m on the hunt for a store to buy lentils in bulk on the cheap. Unfortunately my local Aldi doesn’t even sell lentils at all.

  • Lentils $0.50
  • 1/2 Pound Ground Sausage $0.90
  • Carrots $0.45
  • Chicken Stock $0.90
  • Onion $0.25
  • Diced Tomatoes $0.55
  • Spinach $0.47
  • Spices $0.10
lentil and sausage stew

Saturday Lunch

Hard boiled eggs on toast.

Some weekends I put more effort into lunch and some weekends I go with a simple and easy lunch. This was one of those weekends where I just wanted a small, simple meal. We all had some variation of eggs and toast. I personally was craving hard boiled eggs myself. 

Total Cost: $0.40

  • Eggs $0.30
  • Bread $0.05
  • Oil & Spices $0.05
Hard Boiled Eggs and toast

Saturday Dinner

Leftover Night!

Saturday evening was “clear out the fridge before we go grocery shopping tomorrow” night. We had extra lentil stew, Spanish rice, and some other odds and ends from our meals earlier in the week that we fashioned into nothing that was worth photographing, but it certainly filled our bellies for the night!

Total Cost: $0.00

bowl of leftovers

Sunday Lunch

Scrambled eggs on toast. 

Yeah, we went with about the same meal as the day before. Eggs are a super common weekend lunch item for us! 

Total Cost $0.40

  • Eggs $0.30
  • Bread $0.05
  • Oil & Spices $0.05
Scrambled Eggs on Toast

I realized I never got to my cauliflower this week, so that’ll get roasted for my lunches this next week. We also didn’t get to eating a salad that we bought so that will get eaten very soon too. Otherwise, we pretty much went through most of the groceries that we bought this week other than some various portions of one thing or another (peanut butter, potatoes, a can of tomatoes, etc).

I’ll be taking a break from tracking my food budget in this way for the next few weeks because of the holidays, but will continue posts about eating well on a budget again in the new year!

One Week of Meals for $56
Previous Week of Meals
Next Week of Meals


Hey, I'm Lisa! I have a love for thrifting, cooking, entertaining, and updating my old house...and I'm doing it all on a budget! Follow along and hopefully you'll find something that inspires you to live your best life, even if it's with limited finances. Whether you're looking for ways to stretch your dollars, trying to save more and spend less, or just here for the thrift hauls, I hope you'll stick around =)
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