A $20 Meal Plan in one week is not impossible! It is incredibly challenging and this post covers dinners only, but the grocery budget is one of the most flexible expense in a monthly budget so it’s totally worth it! The main way to bolster the cost of grocery shopping is a meal plan, and a routine. Breakfast and lunch can be flexible- you can eat the same thing almost everyday for breakfast and not get bored- almost the same is true for lunch, but having the same dinner everyday? That’s where we need variety! And that’s why I keep a Meal Plan Rotation– I have 40+ dinners that I rotate through so that we don’t get bored.

Crash Course for Meal Planning

Initially, it takes quite a lot of work to begin starting a meal plan. That starts with understanding, or knowing, the different prices between stores- or at least knowing price ranges for items like milk, produce, breads, meats. Meats tend to be the most expensive, breads are sometimes most cost effective if purchased at stores like Costco. I buy my produce from the local grocery store and buy staples plus in-season produce, and I only buy what is on the meal plan, plus snacks, plus extras for breakfast.

Read my in-depth article about How to Make ANY Meal Plan Rotation.

$20 Meal Plan for One Week for Chilly Weather

Monday- Cream of Broccoli soup

  • Crown of broccoli $0.81
  • 2 cups Milk 
  • Total 6 TBS of Butter
  • Cheese 
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 cups Broth $2.69/box = $1.35
  • Homemade French Bread dinner rolls way less than $1

Less than $5 for 3 servings

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Cream of Broccoli Soup
Cream of Broccoli Soup
Check out this recipe

Tuesday and Wednesday – Cream of Potato soup

  • Potatoes (estimated 6 potatoes total) about $2-3
  • Chicken/Veggie Broth $2
  • Celery $1.26
  • Carrot $0.10 (guess-stimate)
  • Onion $0.50 (guess-stimate)
  • Garlic $0.10 (guess-stimate)
  • Flour (very little for 4 TBS)
  • (Great Value) Half & Half $1.48
  • Homemade French Bread dinner rolls way less than $1

Less than $10 for 2-3 dinners for two people

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Cream of Potato Soup
It's time for cream based soup and chilly evenings. Check out my cream of potato soup recipe.
Check out this recipe

Thursday- Baked Ziti

  • $1.99 Alfredo sauce (half jar) so $1
  • $1 for marinara sauce (whole jar)
  • ~$1.49 ground beef (fraction of the cost of the ground beef from Costco) 
  • $0.24 ½ bag of Pasta *bag of pasta was on special sale for $0.48
  • $1 1 cup cheese
  • Salt, Pepper, Italian seasoning

$5 for 2-3 dinners for two

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$5 Dinner Freebie
Signup and get a list of 25 $5 dinners and 12 side dishes that are perfect for making a cheap dinner full and $5.

Friday- Chicken Pasta (Frozen Dinner)

  • 1 “package” $6 estimate
  • 1 bell pepper $0.98
  • ½ small onion
  • Some butter, salt and pepper
  • Cheese 

Saturday- Leftovers Night or Fend for Yourself

If you made a dish for more than one night on the meal plan, then you would waste money by not eating the leftovers. You can also get very creative and experiment with new flavors. Check out my blog post for Leftovers Recreations– four recipes from scraps.

Sunday- Chicken & Rice Dish from leftovers

  • Remaining bell pepper from Friday, cut
  • Leftover chicken strips
  • Rice (cooked with 1/2 water and 1/2 broth)
  • Seasoning
  • Chicken Broth

Final Thoughts on This $20 Meal Plan

It is not impossible to make a meal plan with only $20 for one week of dinners. You just need to keep things simple, on a rotation and remember to buy staples. While I normally advocate for low carb options and recipes, dinners with starches are often the most cheap- it’s cheap to make pastas and breads! But there will be low carb meal plans coming soon!

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