What Did We Eat This Week – How to Eat Well on a Budget • Week 1 of a full month!

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Welcome new friends and returning readers!

This is my 3rd round of recording and photographing a full week of what groceries I bought, what I made to eat, and how much it all cost for my household of 3 adults. 

And what’s really exciting, is I’m going to keep track for a full month to give a fuller picture of what my shopping and cooking habits look like, so look out for 3 more consecutive weeks of posts!

If you are stuck trying to figure out “What’s for dinner?” or looking for ideas to stretch your grocery budget further, I hope you can find something within this blog that either helps or inspires you!

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 you are still saying, “Yeah, but…” then I encourage you to have a look at my original post where I talk in a little more detail about the hows and whys of my personal meal budgeting and planning – the most important word in that sentence being “personal”. There is no rule book to any of this after all, so take what fits into place for your life and feel free to leave the rest behind =)  

On to the food!

Since most of us don’t use all of every item we buy from the grocery store every trip, and because most of us have various staples in our pantries and refrigerators that we pull from here and there, I’m going to give you 2 different cost totals. The first being what we actually spent on our grocery shopping for the week. The second number is going to be the cost per meal, including everything down to oils and spices. I know I sometimes get frustrated when I read a blog or watch a video of someone sharing their “extreme budget meal planning”, only to find that they don’t include “pantry items” or other items that they already had on hand.

If I paid for it, it gets counted in the total! 

Also note, this week is a little abnormal because I’m counting 8 days instead of 7. 

So the total amount we spent on groceries at Aldi was $25.25.

The total amount we spent on groceries at Food Lion was $31.38.

The grand grocery total was $56.63.

And the total spent for all of our meals from Wednesday dinner to the following Wednesday lunch was  $62.04.

The total includes an additional $5 to account for random bits of food here and there that weren’t “family meals” that we all ate. Because most of our lunches are leftovers, this usually is just a handful of lunches and snacks consisting mostly of eggs, bread, pancake mix, PB, etc. I did recently bother the others in my house over a couple weeks to keep track of everything they ate outside of family meals, so I feel my estimate is spot on enough that I won’t make them do it every week haha!

Here's what we got!

Aldi Groceries
Aldi Groceries
Food Lion Groceries

And our meals for the week…

As per usual, we’re not typically breakfast eaters (besides coffee which is included in my $5 added on) and our lunches are most often leftovers. It’s not unusual for me to make larger portions at the beginning of the week in order to pack several days of lunches at a time. Since we’ve had weird schedules all summer due to the pandemic, I haven’t been doing that quite as often since we’re frequently home for lunch and can prepare eggs or something fresh, but leftovers are still the main staple of our lunches.  

Wednesday Dinner

Meatballs in a cream sauce over pasta.

Total Cost: $5.88

Our shopping was a little weird this week (and honestly has been since the pandemic started – we do weekday trips now rather than shopping on Sundays like we always have in the past) in that we actually made the Aldi trip on Wednesday and didn’t make it to Food Lion until Thursday.

So for Wednesday dinner I pulled out a bag of frozen meatballs that had been sitting in the freezer for months. I sauteed onions and mushrooms in one pan and browned the meatballs (after thawing them in the microwave) in another. I set the meatballs aside and made a roux in the meatball pan. To the roux I added chicken broth, half and half, and spices. I chopped about a cup of spinach and added it to the sauce. Then I combined the meatballs, onions, and mushrooms into the sauce and served it over pasta. 

  • Frozen Meatballs $2.99
  • Pasta $0.50
  • Onion $0.35
  • Mushrooms $1.19
  • Butter $0.20
  • Chicken Broth $0.00 (I made the broth from chicken and veggie scraps)
  • Half and Half $0.20
  • Spinach $0.25
  • Oil, Flour, & Spices $0.20

Thursday Lunch

Leftover meatloaf grilled cheese.

Total Cost: $0.45

Thursday was a day where we were all teleworking, so I made lunch for us all with our leftovers from Tuesday night (sorry you don’t get to see the finished meatloaf). I always count the full cost of the meal when I make it, and count leftovers as free, which is why you’ll see it marked that way in any meal I make that utilizes leftovers. I don’t always post our lunches, but like to when I make us all lunch. 

  • Leftover Meatloaf $0.00
  • Bread $0.20
  • Cheese Slices $0.25

Thursday Dinner

Breaded pork chops, asparagus, and mashed sweet potatoes.

Total Cost: $7.49

Meat, potatoes, and a green veggie – super simple dinner, but oh so delicious! 

  • Pork Chop $4.03
  • Bread Crumbs $0.25
  • Asparagus $1.99
  • Sweet Potato $1.07
  • Oil and spices $0.15

Friday Dinner

Fajita Friday! Steak fajitas with Spanish rice and refried beans.

Total Cost: $9.29

If I had to live the rest of my life eating only one meal, this might be it. I make the Spanish rice in my rice cooker (it’s as easy as dumping the ingredients in and pressing start), pinto beans for the refried beans in the instant pot, and homemade corn tortillas fresh out of the cast iron pan.

  • Chopped Beef $4.79
  • Onions $0.50
  • Peppers $1.38
  • Masa Harina $0.25
  • Pinto Beans $0.82
  • Butter $0.30
  • Rice $0.25
  • Tomato Paste (half a can) $0.15
  • Can Tomatoes w/ Green Chilis $0.55
  • Broth $0.00 (homemade from scraps)
  • Oil and Spices .30

Saturday Lunch

Avocado toast with scrambled eggs and tomato.

Total Cost: $1.84

For Saturday lunch I made us some avocado toast.

According to the headlines, this is why I’m broke haha.

  • Bread $0.10
  • Eggs 0.25
  • Avocado 0.69
  • Tomato 0.65
  • Oil & Spices  $0.15

Saturday Dinner

Hot fried chicken w/ mac and cheese and salad.

Total Cost: $7.40

I had almost 4 pounds of chicken thighs that I removed the skin and bones from, and put half of the thighs in the freezer to use later in the week. I pounded the thighs that I left out of the freezer flat and cut them in half. I dipped each thigh in a beaten egg, dredged them in a flour/corn starch mix, and then dropped them in a small pan of oil. 

Once I was done frying them, I took some of the oil I’d fried them in (and may or may not have stupidly melted one of my measuring cups…) and stirred in a robust amount of paprika, cayenne, and other spices. Using a basting brush, I gave my crispy chicken thighs a good coating of the hot, spiced oil. 

I served them on slices of bread (they soak up the excess oil and are so tasty) with salad and a nice easy box mac and cheese on the side. 

  • Chicken Thighs $2.40
  • Mac & Cheese $1.25
  • Salad Kit $2.50
  • Spinach $0.40
  • Oil, Flour, Corn Starch, and Spices $0.85

Sunday Dinner

Sheet pan gochujang chicken, green peppers, broccoli w/ rice.

Total Cost: $5.13

I’d been wanting to try out some sheet pan recipes, because I love the simplicity of tossing everything onto a single pan. I used half the package of chicken breasts I had (about 1.5 pounds) and cut the breasts into approximately 1 in cubes. I also cut up a bell pepper and chopped about half the broccoli I’d bought.

I made a sauce by mixing some gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste), soy sauce, oyster sauce, and garlic. I tossed the sheet pan ingredients in half of the sauce and set the other half aside. I also made a cup of rice in my rice cooker. Once the chicken was cooked, I brushed the remainder of the sauce over the ingredients and served with the rice.

  • Chicken Breast $3.14
  • Rice $0.25
  • Bell Pepper $0.59
  • Broccoli $0.80
  • Spices and Sauce Ingredients $0.35

Monday Dinner

Southwest chicken on corn tortillas.

Total Cost: $7.05

I took the second half of my chicken breasts (about another 1.5ish pounds) and cut them in half since they were pretty thick, and I was worried about them cooking through.

I put a can of black beans, a can of Mexi-corn, a can of tomatoes with green chilis, and a chopped bell pepper to a large baking dish. I added salt (just a dash since there were so many canned ingredients), pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder to the dish, and stirred everything together. I seasoned the chicken well with the same spices and laid the breasts on top of the other ingredients. I covered the dish with foil and baked until the chicken was done.

I pulled the dish out of the oven and removed the chicken. I’d made a cup of rice in my rice cooker, and I stirred that into the dish with the other ingredients. I sliced the chicken and returned it to the dish, then added cheese to the top of everything. I put the dish back in the oven uncovered and under the broiler until the cheese melted. I also made some corn tortillas to eat this on. Delicious!

  • Chicken Breasts $3.14
  • Black Beans $0.39
  • Mexi-corn $0.99
  • Tomatoes w/ Green Chilis $0.55
  • Bell Pepper $0.59
  • Shredded Cheese $0.74
  • Rice $0.25
  • Masa Harina $0.25
  • Oil & Spices $0.15

Tuesday Dinner

Chicken thighs in a cauliflower cream sauce over pasta.

Total Cost: $5.34

I pulled the chicken thighs from early this week from the freezer and cooked them in my instant pot. I boiled some cauliflower, drained it, then put it into my blender. Side note: I bought a Vitamix in 2009 and, while an expensive one time purchase, it has been so worth it across 11 years of ownership! 

I added sour cream, Parmesan cheese, half and half, and spices (salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic) in with the cauliflower and blended until smooth. I removed the chicken from the instant pot, added the sauce in, and stirred with the liquid from the cooked chicken. I chopped a 1/3 a bag of spinach and added that to the pot. I put it on the saute setting for about a minute to get everything hot and integrated, then added the chicken back to the sauce and served over some big chunky pasta I found in my cabinet. 

  • Chicken Thighs $2.40
  • Half and Half $0.20
  • Sour Cream $0.22
  • Parmesan $0.57
  • Pasta $0.40
  • Half head of Cauliflower $1.00
  • Spinach $0.40
  • Oil and Spices $0.15

Wednesday Dinner

Brats with onions, cauliflower, sweet potato/white potato fries, and broccoli. 

Total Cost $7.17

I’ve only got the cauliflower and sweet potatoes pictured on my plate, but I pretty much just made the odds and ends of whatever veggies I had left hanging around!

  • Brats $2.99
  • Onions $0.30
  • Half Head of Cauliflower $1.00
  • 1 lb sweet Potato $0.72
  • 1 lb Red Potato $0.62
  • Broccoli $0.80
  • Buns $0.59
  • Oil & Spices $0.15

And that’s another week of eating down! I’m already working on next week’s blog post, and I’m excited to share with you what I bought for the following week, as well as how I used some of the ingredients I didn’t get to from this shopping trip. 

And in the meantime you are always welcome to follow my Instagram for a sneak peak at what I’ve bought and what I’m cooking. It’s also where I post grocery hauls and meals that don’t always make it to the blog!

Full Week of Meals for $46
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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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Robin

    I can’t find the recipe for the baked zucchini fries… I don’t understand what you are costing it with…

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