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Welcome to our newest meal planning series, the $29 (per person/per week) meal planning series. Join us for the next 8 weeks of trimming our budget and eating well.

I firmly believe you can eat well even on a tight budget. We utilize many ways to make eating on a budget work for our family. These include:

  • shopping sales
  • using coupons
  • stocking up
  • buying in bulk
  • finding alternative ways to shop, like buying 1/4 cow from the farmer (No worries! It comes butchered and frozen in burgers, steaks, etc.).

However, for the sake of this challenge and the fact that many who live on low incomes cannot shop around, but need to shop the store closest to them, I did each week’s shopping at one grocery store, except my milk and eggs, which come from the farm. I am figuring those at the price I would pay in the store I shop though to be fair.

I am also showing how you can start your pantry from nothing, so that means this week is a little bare bones in our house as I chose produce over things like baking powder. Do not feel you need to do this. In fact, I would love if you use up the foods that have been lingering in your cabinets and freezers.

If you are doing the strict $29 budget with me, take things like meat out of that budget, but use your regular spices, etc. that you already have. My menu will be based on what I shopped this week.

I am also not buying products that I already have, such as spices. However, I took out the price I would have paid for them at the store to keep in the spirit of the Food Bank of NYC’s challenge to people. I will note the product I already had with a *. Cost will be the price I would have paid at the grocery store.

This week will be our “leanest” week as we are starting out with stocking the pantry. After this we have more room in the budget so if you think this week is rough, hang in there. It gets easier. I should also note that this meal plan is for 5 people. My recommendation is to tailor it your family size.

While I shopped at specific stores for this challenge you should be able to easily adapt it to your local grocery stores and may be able save more money depending on your budget-friendly grocery options such as ALDI, etc.

Grocery List
Giant Food Store/PA


  • 4.5 lb. Nature’s Promise whole chicken – $1.99/lb. – $8.97
  • 1.75 lb. Nature’s Promise chicken thighs – bone in – $3.50
  • 1 lb. ground beef (Organic) – $5.99  (reg. $9.99)
  • 1 lb. Nature’s Promise chicken sausage – $4.53  (reg. $5.54)

MEAT TOTAL: $22.99


  • 2 lb. Green Bell Peppers (5) – $3.99
  • Grape tomatoes, pint – $2.99
  • 3 lb. yellow onions – $2.99
  • Garlic, 2 cloves – $1.00
  • 1 jalapeno – $0.13 (-$0.20 Ibotta coupon)
  • 1 lime – $0.40 (-$0.20 Ibotta coupon)
  • 5 lb. red potatoes – $3.49
  • 5 lb. apples – $3.49
  • 8 ounces bella mushrooms – $1.67 (reg. $2.49)
  • 3 bananas – $0.53
  • 1.9 lb. broccoli crowns – $0.88/lb. $3.82 (reg. $1.69/lb.)
  • Nature’s Promise lettuce mix, 16 ounces – $5.99 (reg. $6.99)
  • 5 lb. Nature’s Promise carrots (organic) – $4.99



  • 8 ounce organic blueberries – $3.99
  • 48 ounces strawberries – $6.99
  • Petite peas, 16 ounces  – $1.39
  • Cut green beans, 16 ounces – $0.99



  • Multigrain bread – $3.29
  • Whole wheat English muffins – $1.79
  • Nature’s Promise Corn Tortillas, 16 ct. – $1.59



  • Stonyfield Yogurt (plain), 32 ounce – $3.59
  • Sargento shredded mozzarella, 8 ounce – $2.50 (reg. $3.79) (-$0.30 Ibotta coupon)
  • *Cabot cheddar, 8 ounces – $2.50
  • *Whole milk – $3.89
  • *1 doz. cage-free eggs – $3.09
  • *1 lb. Giant butter – $3.59



  • Popcorn kernels, 2 lb. – $2.39
  • Giant O’s, 8.9 ounces – $1.79
  • Giant pretzel sticks – $1.89
  • Smucker’s natural peanut butter, 16 ounce – $2.99
  • *Nature’s Promise grape jelly – $2.99
  • Nature’s Promise organic pasta sauce – $2.49
  • Woven crackers (organic) – $1.24 (remember to check clearance sections!)
  • Lundberg brown rice (organic) – $2.79 (reg. $3.29)
  • *Folgers coffee – $3.99
  • 2 lb. black beans –  $3.58
  • *Giant Extra Virgin Olive – $5.69
  • *Nature’s Promise rolled oats (organic) – $2.59
  • *Diamond Sea Salt, 22 oz. – $1.99
  • *Giant chili powder, 2.5 ounces – $1.99
  • *Giant black pepper, 2 oz. – $1.79
  • *Giant parsley flakes, .5 ounces – $2.19
  • *King Arthur unbleached flour, 5# – $3.99


TOTAL: 144.03

COUPONS: -$0.90 in Ibotta

Meal Plan 1


  • Cheerios with frozen strawberries
  • Apple and Oat Yogurt Parfait ( apples sauteed with a bit of butter)
  • Oatmeal with frozen blueberries
  • Oatmeal with banana and peanut butter
  • Fried potatoes and scrambled eggs with broccoli
  • Egg sandwiches with a bit of chicken sausage on English muffins
  • Smoothies – 1 cup yogurt, 1 cup lettuce mix, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1 cup frozen strawberries


  • Peanut butter and jelly, carrot sticks, popcorn, apple slices or banana | Salad with beans, extra veggies, oil, salt, and pepper
  • Peanut butter and jelly, pretzel sticks, carrot sticks, frozen strawberries | Salad with black beans, rice, and tomatoes
  • Grilled Cheese, side salad
  • Quesadilla with homemade salsa, rice and beans, carrot sticks (homemade flour tortillas)
  • Baked flour tortilla chips, black bean dip, carrots sticks, green bell pepper strips, pretzel sticks
  • Leftovers
  • Salad with leftover roast chicken


  • Stuffed Peppers with hamburger, rice, and pasta sauce (MIX – 1 lb. browned burger, 1 cup cooked rice, and 1/2 jar sauce. Cut peppers in half lengthwise, stuff with meat and rice mixture. Top with 4 ounces mozzarella. Bake in covered dish at 400 degrees for 45 minutes – 1 hour.)
  • Vegetarian Mushroom Tacos (no sour cream, cumin, crushed red pepper| salsa made with 1/2 grape tomatoes, onion, garlic, lime, and jalapeno)
  • Chicken, mashed potatoes, and steamed broccoli – chicken thighs browned on the stove (3 minutes each side in a bit of oil) then baked with 2 cloves garlic, diced and 2 small onions, chopped ( bake at 350, covered until chicken is cooked through, appr. 30 minutes),mashed potatoes, and steamed broccoli
  • Whole chicken roasted with carrots, potatoes, onion, and garlic, green beans on the side – roast chicken per instruction on package with 1 medium/large potato per person, 5 cloves garlic, diced, 3 carrots, cut in 2 inch pieces, and 3 small onions, chopped
  • Chicken Sausage, beans, rice, 1/2 jar pasta sauce, steamed broccoli  – Make 2 cups rice per instructions on bag, heat a bit of oil in a pan and fry cut up sausage (save 1 for breakfast eggs),  add 1-2 cups cooked black beans, and sauce. Heat until well incorporated.
  • Rice with peas, carrots, black beans, onions, garlic, and eggs – Cook rice per directions on bag with 1/2 bag of peas, and 1 cup diced carrots, 1 tablespoon parsley, 1/2 cup diced onion, 2 cloves of garlic. When done, add 2 scrambled raw eggs to rice. Heat until egg is cooked.
  • Pancakes (flour, milk, eggs, fruit puree) with vegetable soup (using all leftover veggies, seasonings, and water as base)

Original Publish Date: May 1, 2015

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  1. I am interested in seeing the amount of money saved from grocery shopping. I am excited to try out your meal plan. What budget would you suggest for 2 adults and 1 toddler shopping at Aldi. Also if you have some fun meals we could try, Id be interested in knowing.

    1. Hi Kaisha, I’m sorry. I thought I had responded to this before. This will depend on what type of foods you eat. I’d love for you to shoot me an email and we can talk about it a bit more so I can better guide you. Heather (realthekitchenandbeyond at gmail)

  2. Hi Heather, I just saw your site, and am excited to try your meal plans. I live on the Big Island of Hawaii, and yes, things are as expensive as you may have heard. A gallon of milk is just about $5 and bread starts at $3+ I have been making my own bread and plan to start a garden to help with vegies. I cook for myself and my parents, with occasional Pot Luck’s thrown in. Can you offer any inexpensive ideas for Pot Luck dishes besides a boring green salad? I would appreciate any ideas you can offer, thank you so much.


    1. Hi Teri, Thank you for leaving a comment. A $29/person budget would take quite a bit of creativity but the ways you are looking at saving are such great options AND improve the quality of your food where you are able to. Rice or bean-based dishes are fantastic for potlucks. If you shoot me an email at realthekitchenandbeyond @ gmail . com (no spaces), I can send you links to some of my go-to recipes – both recipes on my site and a couple other sites. Best, Heather

    1. I’m sorry you thought it was something different than it is. How many people are you trying to shop for and feed? Feel free to email me some more information about your particular situation and I can offer you some ideas. realthekitchenandbeyond @ gmail . com (no spaces).

  3. I love following your meal
    Plans. I would like to know what would it be for just two people instead of a family of 5.

    1. Hi Andrea! Thank you so much. According to this break out you would be budgets $58 per week for 2 people. Depending on what grocery store options you have available to you I believe you could spend less than this. If you’d like me to jot down a few ideas for you based on your family size and a specific store, shoot me an email at realthekitchenandbeyond@gmail. com (no spaces) and I can see how I can help you.

      1. Thus is my 1st × 2 take a challenge on a weekly m/p REALLY its my 1st×2 EVER make a weekly meal plan tho my daughters do it weekly ??lol so I’m EXCITED 2TRY THIS,THANKS FOR SHARING PLEASE WISH ME LUCK @TRISH’SSWEETTEA

        1. Hi Trish! Thank you for commenting. I’d love to hear how you do each week. Feel free to shoot me an email at realthekitchenandbeyond @ gmail . com (no spaces). Good luck!

  4. I love your article! I am going to start this challange the next time I go shopping 🙂 I had one question though. The grocery list is for$144 and the meal plan is only for a week so how does it work? Thanks! 🙂

    1. Hi Shelbie, This budget operated on $29/per person, which is why you see such a discrepancy. I am sorry for confusion this has caused you. I would love to help you with whatever size family you have. If you shoot me an email with how many people you are buying for and what store you are shopping at I can see how I can help make suggestions for a significantly lower budget. You can email me at realthekitchenandbeyond @ (no spaces). Our family shopped on a much smaller budget than this for many years. 🙂

  5. I’m so glad I came across your site! I blog all about eating health on a budget and share my grocery hauls every week! Our budget is $70/week for my husband and I, so $35/person/week or $5/person/day. Typically I only spend about $60 weekly, so pretty close to your challenge! It’s so interesting to see what you bought versus what I buy. I like the meal plan ideas!

    1. Thank you. It’s definitely been interesting so far. The last 2 weeks have definitely been more stressful in terms of grocery shopping. Funny how shopping around is easier for us because it is our routine.

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