To read how this challenge came about you can read about January, a Month of Hell Or you can read How I assembled and made this Meal Plan on $250 for food for 44 days
December 31st –
We celebrated the New Year with a homemade Chinese Dinner. I used what was on hand and made A LOT of substitutes. Turned into a feast that stretched for days, and the best part- it only cost me $10 to get the necessary items needed to complete the meal.
Fried rice, chow mien, donuts, baked crab ragoons, orange chicken, egg rolls and sweet n sour sauce.
I had almost every in my pantry/fridge/freezer already. I just needed to buy the cabbage, marmalade, eggroll wrappers, 2 cans of biscuits and 3 packs of ramen.
The chow mein was super easy. One onion and a quarter cabbage sauteed until onions are translucent in 2tbsp oil and 1tbsp butter. Then toss in noodles that were cooked, cold rinsed and patted dry. Mix everything and continue cooking about 5min.
Fried rice was leftover white rice, about 1c mixed frozen veggies, and a scrambled egg mixed in a pot with a few tbsp oil to keep from sticking and soy sauce to taste.
The orange chicken was bbq sauce and orange marmalade.
The donuts were canned biscuits, cut, rolled, and fried in oil. Afterward tossed in sugar. It’s usually one of my favorite things in a Chinese buffet so I felt I needed it here in this meal.
Jan 1st potatoes and gravy with a side of biscuits and green beans.
I cut costs by making my own gravy at home using a roux and adding chopped or shredded meats (sometimes onions) to get a good rich flavor. Green beans were canned, Canned biscuits, meat was leftovers from past meal and potatoes were on hand. Total cost $1.50
Jan 2nd chicken pot pie.
Frozen bag of mixed veggies, 2 cans cream of mushroom soup, sautéed onion, and 2 boxes of pie crusts. Made into two pies, one frozen for future meal and one cooked this night. Total cost $5.97 for 2 dinners.
- Baked tuna noodle casserole. Total cost $4.19. Made 1 8×13 casserole dish worth and provided leftovers for lunch the following 2 days. Tasted great reheated!
- Spaghetti, green beans, garlic bread, total cost $2.23
- Breakfast for dinner. French toast, orange juice, turkey bacon, canned peaches. Total cost $3.34
- Leftover night
Cornish game hens (I had two in the freezer from the holidays, so I only needed to buy 1 @$3.99) had boxed stuffing, a bag of frozen broccoli and a few sweet potatoes on hand. Made a Wacky Cake (uses no butter, eggs, milk) and a homemade peanut butter buttercream frosting. The sparkling apple cider was a Kroger Clicklist freebie from around new years. Making this meal cheap and
***Funny story, I had actually purchased those game hens on 50% clearance around Thanksgiving as an impulse buy because
I had wanted to prank my 4-year old into thinking that the turkey had shrunk in the oven.
8th-15th meal plan
- 8th BBQ chicken pizza. Total cost $3.98
- 9th Honey glazed chicken drumsticks. Total cost $6
- 10th fried rice. Total cost $2.29
- 11th chicken Gnocchi soup. Total cost $ 1.50
- 12th Breakfast for dinner. Total $3.70
13th Leftover Night
- 14th whole roasted chicken, roasted potato and carrots (from on hand) cooked in the crockpot, and made my own overnight chicken stock to freeze after I had the chicken picked clean from dinner. I served up less than half the bird to my family. About one large breast for my husband and me, and one leg for my daughter. This gave us the sides we needed to fill the plate. Leftover chicken was de-boned and portioned into freezer bags for future meals. Total cost $5.45.
- 15th Salsa chicken and rice. Total cost $3.29
- 16th chicken pot pie. Was prepared and frozen on the 2nd. Removed from freezer and cooked.
Please note that the veggies I had on hand at this point were now wobbly and sad because they were almost 2 weeks old, I do not have some magic produce garden in my backyard.
17th chicken burritos. Tortillas $1.20, cheddar cheese $1.79, shredded chicken had on hand, taco seasoning was homemade. Total cost $2.99
- 18th chicken alfredo with broccoli and garlic bread. Total cost $4
- 19th breakfast for dinner. Total cost $3.49
- 21st super basic shepherd’s pie, total cost $1.
- 22nd chicken quesadillas, total cost $4.79
- 23rd baked tuna noodle casserole. Total cost $424th spaghetti, garlic bread, and green beans. Total cost $2.50
25th chili and cornbread. Total cost $4.50
26th breakfast for dinner. Total cost $2.49
27th Leftover night
- 28th whole chicken, salad, cornbread, baked beans. Total cost $7.95. I portioned the whole chicken and divided the rest into freezer bags for future meals.
- 29th potatoes and gravy, biscuits and green beans. Used shredded chicken in the gravy.
- 31st fried rice. Total cost $2.29
- Feb 1st
- Salsa chicken and rice. Total cost $4.49
- 2nd breakfast for dinner. Total cost $2.49
- 3rd leftover night
We stretched this meal plan out until the 11th of February due to how much leftovers were produced in these meals.
Lunches were sandwiches, leftovers, or ramen noodles.
Breakfast, for the most part, was cold cereal (if we ate it at all) we normally aren’t big on eating once we wake up, but it was there just in case.
Some days we had yogurt and frozen fruits (like dollar tree bags of strawberries or blueberries.)
I had granola on hand so some days we prepped a fruit and yogurt parfait before bed. Letting it sit in the fridge overnight, to thaw the berries and soften the granola.
If ever there was a day when I felt we needed more foods, I did my best to stretch it from scratch.
I contently Googled “poor man’s recipes” or “depression era recipes” looking for meal ideas with limited ingredients.
Homemade breads using my bread machine. dDesserts were made once or twice a week using depression era recipes like wacky cake, where I didn’t need milk, eggs, or butter.
Veggies at dinner were limited on types due to how picky my child can be. I always wanted her to have something on the plate that I knew she would eat.
For the nights where I couldn’t fit a meal to fit her palate, I made dessert or Kool-Aid to bribe her with so she would clean her plate.
Fresh apples or bananas were always made available to her, and baby carrots were bought at $1 per bag whenever the budget allowed.