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

Baked Ziti

  • $1.99 Alfredo sauce (half jar) so $1
  • $2.79 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

Chicken Fajita Pasta

  • 1 “package” $6 estimate
  • 1 bell pepper $1.98
  • ½ small onion
  • Some butter, salt and pepper
  • Cheese
Chicken Fajita Pasta
This chicken fajita pasta started out as a night of mixing leftovers together for a new creation. NOW it's something we enjoy almost weekly!
Check out this recipe
Chicken Fajita Pasta Recipe

Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Cheesy Bread

  • pork loin
  • hamburger buns
  • green beans
  • vegetable mash or Keto cheesy bread
Pulled Pork Sandwich
Check out this recipe
Sweet potato fries and pulled pork sandwiches

Meatloaf & Potatoes Mash

  • ground meat
  • golden potatoes (from a larger bag)
  • green beans
Meatloaf & Fixings
Check out this recipe
Turkey Meatloaf
Check out this recipe

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.

Chicken & Rice Dish from leftovers

  • Bell pepper, from fajita night
  • 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!

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