Today, I am SO excited to share with you how I create a cheap $50/week meal plan for a family of 5! Technically, we’re a family of 6, but our youngest is just over a year old and doesn’t eat THAT much table food yet.
And like many families, dinner is always the most expensive meal. So learning how to meal plan effectively has helped us free up so much extra money!
Now we spend around $50-$60 each week on dinner because I keep a few of our favorite budget-friendly meals on rotation to help me create a cheap weekly meal plan.
The cheap weekly meal plan I’m sharing today is intended to feed two adults and up to three young kids, so feel free to incorporate some or all of these meal ideas into your own menu!
I purchased every item you’ll see below at Walmart in their Great Value brand, but keep in mind their prices will vary by region and could change at any time.
But if you want to save even more money, I recommend buying groceries from lower price stores like Aldi, or just grabbing the generic brands can save you a lot of money no matter where you go!
This is what makes our meal plans so cheap
Although I’m a huge fan of weekly meal planning as a way to save money on food without the hassle of couponing, it’s not just planning ahead that makes it possible to eat dinner for $50/week for our big family.
It is actually making Stretch Meals!
This is how it works: instead of cooking every single day, I am making 1-2 large meals throughout the week so that they will STRETCH over two days for eating leftovers — and that’s like getting a 2-for-1 deal! ????
Because sometimes I will repurpose leftovers (for example; pulled pork sandwiches the first day, then pork tacos the second day). But most other times we’ll just eat the same meal twice (like if it’s spaghetti).
Incorporating Stretch Meals has made it SO MUCH easier to create a cheap dinner menu. I love that I get a break from cooking duty (without ordering a pizza), plus it’s a meal planning trick that keeps our grocery bill around $100 every week, so we save money without using coupons! (woohoo!).
Here’s what one of our cheap meal plans for dinner looks like:
Sunday & Monday
Chicken Alfredo & Garlic Bread
There are many ways to make this classic dish. My favorite way to make it super cheap is to use jarred Alfredo sauce, fettuccine noodles, frozen chicken breast, and saute mushrooms for extra flavor. Mix it all together and you’ve got a delicious meal that can stretch over two days!
- Frozen boneless chicken breast (3lb bag) – $5.94
- Fettuccine Noodles – $0.82
- Garlic Bread – $2.00
- Alfredo Sauce (2 jars) – $1.50/each
- Fresh Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms – $2.18 ($0.28/oz)
- Cook 4 boneless, skinless chicken (freeze remaining chicken) which can be grilled, baked, or pan-fried and then slice into bite-size pieces or shred.
- Chop Baby Bella mushrooms into bite-sized pieces and slightly brown in a pan with oil.
- Cook noodles according to package directions.
- Combine all ingredients with jarred Alfredo sauce.
Oven-Fried Chicken with Cornbread & Baked Beans
This is Southern fried chicken without the fatty oil. I love that it comes out just as tasty and crispy! So skipping the cooking oil saves me a few extra bucks.
- Frozen chicken bone-in thighs (3lb) – $4.41
- Cornbread – $0.47
- Baked Beans – $1.42
You can click here to get the full recipe.
Italian Pork Chops with Steamed Rice & Broccoli
This recipe is from the $5 Meal Plan which is (if you don’t know) a HUGE inventory of premade weekly meal plans that arrive in your inbox every Friday to help you fill up your week with affordable and easy-to-cook meals, plus a shopping list!
My family loves many of the $5 Meal Plan recipes including the Pineapple BBQ Pork Chops, Ginger Peach Salmon, and Slow Cooker Caribbean Chicken!
You can sign up to get 14 meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert for FREE here and start saving money on groceries.
- Boneless pork chops – $5.95
- Brown rice – $1.00
- Frozen broccoli – $1.98
Thursday & Friday
Homemade Sloppy Joes with French Fries
If you didn’t grow up eating sloppy joes then you didn’t have a real childhood. (Haha! I’m only kidding.) I love making sloppy joe sandwiches for my kids and it’s another one of my favorite Stretch Meals. I prefer to use 3 lbs of ground beef or turkey so that we can have enough leftovers for the following day.
- Frozen french fries – $1.68
- Hamburger buns (2 packs) – $0.87 each
- Green pepper – $0.58
- Yellow Onion – $0.54
- Garlic bulb – $0.60
- Ketchup – $1.00
- Ground Turkey (3lb) – $6.44
- (Side dish for Day #2) Frozen corn on the cob – $2.24
Chicken Quesadillas with Chips & Salsa
Chicken quesadillas are hands down one of the most requested meals in my house every week. I especially love how cheap and fast it is to put it together! I try to cook the chicken breast in advance in my slow cooker to save more time.
- Frozen chicken breast (using the remaining frozen chicken from Sunday)
- 8″ Flour tortillas – $1.58
- Tortilla chips – $0.92
- Salsa – $1.33
- Sour cream – $1.00
- Shredded Mexican cheese blend (16 oz bag) – $2.56
- Cook 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts which can be grilled, baked, or pan-fried and then sliced into bite-size pieces.
- Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium heat.
- Place one tortilla in the non-stick skillet, adding about ¼ cup cheddar cheese to that tortilla. Making sure it is evenly spread.
- Add about ¼ to ½ cups of chicken mixture (depending on the size of your tortilla) to one side of the tortilla.
- Fold over the other half of the tortilla.
- Cook until the bottom tortilla is browned, then flip and cook until the second side is brown and the cheese is melted.
- Repeat with the remaining tortillas and cheese until you have used all the filling.
- Slice and serve with salsa and sour cream!
Grocery Total: $51.38
Some additional items you may have to buy if you don’t already have them in your pantry include all-purpose flour ($1.18), cooking oil spray ($1.53), and brown sugar ($1.00/2lb bag).
Now, I hope this has inspired you to go and create a cheaper meal plan of your own — even if you only double the ingredients of one of your favorite meals this week!
Because that alone will save you more time and money since you’ll have enough leftovers to eat the next day and you won’t have to make a new meal.
More Menu Planning Tips
- What To Do When You Hate Meal Planning
- How to Simplify Dinner Planning: The NFL Strategy Every Busy Mom Needs
- Sick of Taco Tuesday? Here Are 30 Theme Dinner Ideas You Need To Know About
- How to Plan Family Meals On A Budget
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