One Family’s Experience: Feed Your Family for $15 a Dinner

Feeding your family both nutritiously and inexpensively can be a challenge. Are you up for one?

When I posted a link to the Whole Foods Initiative, Feed Your Family of 5 for $25, many readers suggested that the $25 threshold wasn’t that big of a challenge. Readers felt that it would be more difficult to feed either a large family with that figure or spend less money. I decided to try to do both, and went to my local grocery store with a week of dinners planned. I gave myself a budget of $75 to feed 8 people for dinner. I did not include charges for staples or spices that you should have in your house, like garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and honey. I was surprised to see that it was not as tough of a struggle as I had anticipated. 

Some of the recipes I used are linked below, and others are explained with in the meal despcriptions.

Meal #1 – Black Bean and Cheese Tortilla Roll-Ups, Mexican Rice and Orange Wedges.

Meal #2 – Roasted Chicken, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Green Beans and Apples Wedges

Meal #3 – Chicken Noodle Soup, Salad, Whole Wheat Crackers, Carrot Sticks

Meal #4 – Teriyaki Chicken Thighs, Veggie Rice, Apple Wedges

Meal #5 – Crock Pot Chili Mac, Corn Muffins, Bananas

Meal #1: Ingredients, Brands, Prices and Instructions

  • 3 cans Goya seasoned black beans ($.82 a can)
  • 2 8 count Buena Vida Whole Wheat Tortillas ($1.74)
  • 2 tomatoes (purchase 4 tomatoes, $2 per pound = 1.5 pounds)
  • 8 oz low fat Kraft sharp cheddar cheese ($2.48)
  • 4 oranges ($.78 each)
  • 1 bag Mahatma brown rice (2 lbs, $1.52)
  • 1 container fresh salsa ($2.14)
  • 1/3 bag frozen store brand peas (2 lbs, $1.84)
  • 1 bag fresh carrots (2 lbs, $1.58)

Heat beans and tortillas separately. Fill flat tortillas with beans, shredded cheese and diced tomatoes and roll up. Dice 1 carrot and steam it with 1/2 bag of frozen peas. Prepare brown rice and stir in 1-4 Tbsp salsa and veggies. Serve with cut up oranges.

Meal #2 Ingredients, Brands, Prices and Instructions

  • 1 whole chicken (Perdue, $.88 per pound, 6 lbs)
  • 1 onion ($1.28 per lb, 2 onions for 1 lb)
  • 6 sweet potatoes ($.93 per pound, 5 pounds)
  • 2 lbs fresh green beans ($1.88 per pound)
  • 4 apples ($4 for5 lb bag)

Rinse chicken and remove giblets. Pat dry and rub with olive oil and drizzle with a bit of honey. Cut up 1/2 onion and place inside the cavity. Roast until internal temperature reaches 165 F. Wrap sweet potatoes in foil and bake with the chicken. Steam green beans and cut up apples.

Meal #3 Ingredients, Brands, Prices and Instructions

  • 1 whole chicken (Perdue, $.88 per pound, 6 lbs)
  • 1 onion ($1.28 lb, 2 onions for 1 lb)
  • 1/3 bag frozen peas from above
  • 2 carrots from above
  • 1 bag whole wheat egg noodles (Mueller’s, $1.18)
  • bananas ($.49 lb, 5 lbs)
  • whole wheat crackers ($2.48, Organic Back to Nature)
  • 1 bag salad greens ($3, Dole)
  • 1 tomato from above

Rinse chicken and place in stock pot. Cover with water. Add cut up onion, carrots, and add garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and allow to boil until chicken falls off the bone. Remove from heat, remove bones and return chicken to stock. Bring to boil and add frozen peas and noodles. Boil ten minutes. Serve with crackers, bananas and salad assembled from greens and tomato.

Meal #4 Ingredients, Brands, Prices and Instructions

  • 2 lbs chicken thighs (Perdue, 5.48 for 5 lbs)
  • 1/2 bag brown rice from above
  • low sodium Teriyaki sauce (1.37 10 oz, La Choy)
  • 1/3 bag frozen peas from above
  • carrots from above

Follow recipe for Chicken Teriyaki. Steam rice and stir in chopped carrots and peas. Serve with cut up apples.

Meal #5 Ingredients, Brands, Prices and Instructions

  • 1 bag whole wheat macaroni (Ronzoni, $1)
  • 1 lb ground turkey (Shadybrook 93%, $2.08)
  • 1 onion from above
  • 1 16 ounce can chopped tomatoes (Del Monte, $.83)
  • 1 can Healthy Request Tomato Soup ($1)
  • 1 c. low sodium tomato juice (Del Monte, $2.18 for 2 qts)
  • 8 oz kidney beans (Hanover, $.84)
  • Cornmeal (Goya, $1.18)

Follow the recipes for Crockpot Chili Mac and Corn Muffins. (Instead of buttermilk, fill liquid measuring cup with milk to just below the 1 cup line. Top off with vinegar and allow to sit for 2 minutes. Voila! Buttermilk!)

It was a fun challenge, and one I’d like for you to try!

Please let me know if you try this challenge, and what choices you make!

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