If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, you know we typically spend between $75-$100 on food every week. I’ve been working on ways to cut that down even further because….


I’m quitting my job.

Effective as of earlier today, I am on my way out of the “corporate” world and my last day will be April 15th. If you want to know more about that, you can read how the cat made me do it, but for now – back to the grocery challenge:

Many of my fellow bloggers, such as DIY Jahn and Ruth at Living Well Spending Less, give great advice on how to go a month without spending a dime but I’ll be honest – that doesn’t work for me.

A “no spend” challenge can definitely be a great way to save money and get back on track financially, but as I always say, budgeting is a lot like dieting — I don’t do what I can’t maintain.

So this week, in celebration of my new career pathway (woot woot!), I decided to see if we could spend $20 or less on food for the week with no prep work done beforehand (i.e. stocking up on essentials).

Full disclosure: I also forgot this past weekend was Easter and therefore our weekly shopping trip to Aldi – usually done on Sundays – wasn’t an option. I hate shopping anywhere but Aldi because of how much more I spend elsewhere. All the more reason to be extra thrifty this week!

To begin, I gathered up all of our dry goods. I work best with visuals, so I needed everything in one spot to begin my assessment.

How I Spent $19.67 to Feed a Family of Four for A Week

Oh and let’s not forget our mass quantities of quinoa that we seem to always have on hand…

How I Spent $19.67 to Feed a Family of Four for A Week
We got a really great deal on it from Amazon!

After I took a look at what we had with the dry goods, I evaluated our fridge and freezer section. We didn’t have much to work with there, beyond a bit of produce, some cheese, and some frozen chicken – still better than nothing but it certainly wasn’t leading us down the road to a gourmet dinner.

Once I  had an idea as to what we already had to work with, I grabbed my laminated weekly notes list and wrote out meal ideas on the back. Everything we needed and had was written in blue and anything we’d need to buy was written in green:

How I Spent $19.67 to Feed a Family of Four for A Week
Many thanks to Heather over at Simply Save for the Tortilla Pizza idea. Genius!

As you can see, I started to write “garlic bread” – because what’s a pasta dinner without garlic bread – but we could make do with regular bread and I didn’t want to chance going over that $20 limit!

Now since we do have two picky…err…SELECTIVE toddlers, we do have certain things each week that we HAVE to buy lest we incur the wrath that is our children.

Call them spoiled if you’d like, but my daughter’s screech makes the dog run for cover.

Our final grocery list looked like this:

How I Spent $19.67 to Feed a Family of Four for A Week

I knew we’d be cutting it close cost-wise so I ended up eliminating the coffee from the list. Luckily we already have some amazing mango iced tea on hand to keep me from caffeine-withdrawal.

Our final meal plan for the week came to be the following, with dinner’s leftovers always going towards the next day’s lunches:

Breakfast for the week: Eggies with green pepper, tomato, and feta

Sunday – Dinner: Korma (delicious Indian dish, I highly recommend it!)

Monday – Dinner: Tortilla pizza and couscous

Tuesday – Dinner: Stirfry

Wednesday – Dinner: Lentil soup

Thursday – Dinner: Pasta with tomatoes and homemade cream sauce

Friday – Dinner: Chicken, potatoes, and green beans

Saturday – Breakfast: Pancakes and smoothies

Lunch: Tuna and spinach salads (Mac n Cheese for the kids)

Dinner: Leftovers

How I Spent $19.67 to Feed a Family of Four for A Week

It’s not the healthiest meal plan I’ve ever made, nor the most appetizing, but our grocery bill came to a whopping $19.67! Which would have been even less had I remembered Aldi would be closed on Easter Sunday…grumble grumble…

What’s the least amount of money you’ve ever spent on groceries in a week?

Do you think you could do a NO spend challenge?






  • Heather @ Simply Save Reply

    Thanks for linking to my post! This is seriously inspiring! I was recently challenged to feed a family of 4 on $30 for just TWO days and I was sweating….

    • thriftyguardian Reply

      You’re welcome! And I remember reading that post of yours – I think it’d be a LOT harder to do so for a family that wasn’t my own and that I didn’t already have staples for. Like I said in my post, we usually average between $15-$30/day. It helps to buy a lot of the dry goods (like quinoa!) online and then pretty much everything else comes from Aldi.

  • Katie Reply

    Congrats on leaving your job, that’s so exciting! My husband and are I spending April doing a $20 a week food budget, so I definitely can complain since it’s doable for a family of four! I think if I did better at taking into account everything we have in stock and making a plan, our budget could probably stay as low as $20 a week. This was great timing for me to find this post, I feel much more confident in our food challenge this month!

    • thriftyguardian Reply

      Thank you!! Like almost anything, having a plan in hand will make all the difference in your $20/week budgeting adventure! Good luck, be sure to let me know how it goes 🙂

  • Andrea Reply

    This is awesome. I need to get organized and make a meal plan. Since I’ve been laid off work, we are really cutting back.

    • thriftyguardian Reply

      Thank you! Being organized overall can go such a long way in living a frugal life, but starting with a meal plan each week is definitely a great way to cut back!

  • Pamela Lutrell Reply

    Great information on the savings and inspiration on the job front!

    • thriftyguardian Reply

      Thank you, Pamela!!

  • Chocolate Mama Loves Vanilla Reply

    Awesome post! Totally agree with saving money being the same as going on a diet! For me less food is Dieting!

    • thriftyguardian Reply

      Thank you! Dieting and budgeting are both tough at times, but they make all the difference in bettering our lives.

  • Cassie Jahn Reply

    This is so great. Even if you can’t do a full No Spend Challenge, saving money by creating this cheap of a meal plan is a great way to throw some extra toward that debt. Nicely done!

    • thriftyguardian Reply

      Thanks, Cassie! I know the No Spend Challenge works great for some, I hope those that are interested click over to your site to learn more <3

  • Rosemond Reply

    wow I think you might be a magician, I am so impressed!

    • thriftyguardian Reply

      Haha, not quite! Just crazy frugal sometimes 😉

  • Molly Stevens Reply

    I like the idea of pulling out all the dry goods and pantry items plus inventory of freezer to make meal plans. I feel overwhelmed when the cupboard is too full. I know that might sound weird, but I know there are things in there that need to be used and hate to add more to it creating an overflow. We have tried to keep our costs down and find it hard to spend less than $100 and there are only two of us! We are making progress, however, and that makes me happy.

  • Carol Cassara Reply

    i am so impressed with your thriftiness. So, what was for luncH?

  • Rosemond Reply

    Wow, you are a Super Mom! I so wish that I could do this. I have a finicky eating child/teen. Last week I made her figure out our costs when we went to the grocery store. We couldn’t spend over $50. She was amazed at how expensive everything was. A good lesson for kids!

  • Skipah Reply

    It doesn’t get any better than Aldi’s. My girlfriend finally got me to start shopping there, good lord how do these big grocery store chain survive?

    • thriftyguardian Reply

      Right?? There are a few (very few) things that we can’t always get at Aldi but in general we never shop anywhere else. We were out of town last weekend and seriously stopped at an Aldi we saw on our travels – picked up HUGE Crayola art sets for only $2 and knock-off Lara Bars for $.17 each. Sooo good!!

Comments make me smile!