$20 Menu Plan

Questions and Answers on the $20 Menu

March 24, 2008






Here’s my attempt to answer some of your questions on the $20 menu and shopping list:

From Allison:

What is mustgo soup?

Oops! In my rush to get this finished before leaving town, I forgot to link a lot of things! Mustgo soup is leftover soup. You can read my previous post about it here.

From Mindi:

Do you all eat any snacks?

Yes, we do eat snacks. And probably too many! We get a lot of snacks like chips and granola bars (and candy) at the food yard sale, as well as CVS. These areas are both included in our budget. I also make things like muffins or cookies to munch on. Along the same lines, we also have dessert occasionally, and especially when we have guests.

Also, do you spend $20 EVERY week? or is this just every now and then?

Since January, we have been spending $20 or less per week on groceries and toiletries. Actually, this week was our first time to spend money on groceries since our daughter arrived in early February (with the exception of a $6 banana box of salvage groceries and a cucumber to get my swelling down after our daughter’s birth. 😉 ).

Of course the main reason we haven’t bought groceries for over a month is because we had so many meals provided after our daughter’s birth. We were extremely blessed in this area. Another thing we have done to keep the out of pocket expense low/nothing is to return many of the baby items that we don’t need/have doubles of and use the Wal*Mart gift cards to purchase fresh produce.

But back to what your probably really wondering, yes we can stay at this budget level for now. A typical shopping list does not look like the one shown because I do try to keep our pantry stocked and some of the expenses go to that. We would also do more eating from the pantry, but this week I wanted to show how a menu at a similar cost could be done by others.

We do have the advantage of having the food yard sale, and without I would guess our budget would be at least $10 more per week. The sale that we go to only takes place every 2 or 3 weeks. If I need to spend more the week of the sale, I may spend more that week. Say I spend $24 that week. Then I will make it my goal to spend $16 or less the next week.

This family of 8 only spent $60 on their groceries this week; that’s much better than us!

From Lyn:

I am wondering how you are able to not pay for any out-of-pocket expenses right now other than bills/gas – I would love to read a post about what you are doing.

Much of this is included in the question/answer above. If we need something, we will buy it. But only if we really need it. And we’ve been learning that we really don’t need as much as we think. But if we do, we try to find a creative way to get it. For example, if we can get something using our extra care bucks at CVS, we might try to see if we can trade for an item we need with someone who doesn’t CVS. As mentioned above, we will see if there is anything we have as a wedding gift/baby gift that we don’t need and can exchange. (Of course, it helps if it was from somewhere like Wal*Mart or Target). And if there are no creative ways, and we truly need it or need it right away, we’ll get it. We’re not bound by this goal, but we’ve had fun and mostly success trying to stick with it.

From Amy:

Do you notice a difference with the ground turkey from Aldi?

Not really. In fact, it’s much healthier than ground beef, too!

This week, we’re actually using ground venison, and I guess that most people would notice a difference with that. We’ve gotten our venison from my parents or others who have leftover, but Daniel hopes to go hunting next year. There is some initial start-up expense, but it will save money in the long run and is also healthier.

From Cherith:

Did you get all those chicken meals out of 1 4lb. chicken??…I’ve been getting turkey breasts (around $9-10) and using them for a turkey meal, then other dishes/turkey salad later. You get lots more meat (all white) and less bone/easier to pull. I’m interested to know how you get your chicken to go so far!

That’s a good question, and I’m kind of wondering that myself. 🙂 Since we have a little left in our budget this week, I’m planning to use it to buy more meat if needed. I am planning to use the meat in ways where the main course is not solely meat, but I’ve never done it with a chicken this small before.

Actually, it would be better financially to buy a very large turkey or chicken (better health-wise to buy turkey) and then use it for several weeks because the bigger I buy, the less bones there would be per pound. The 4lb. chicken was definitely not a good example for saving $ long term.


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  • Mom March 24, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    If you watch for sales on turkey breasts–and it is healthier than whole chicken because of all white meat–you can get them pretty reasonable per pound. And couldn’t you freeze some of the leftover for another week? My dad always tried to buy the highest weight poultry, whether chicken or turkey, because the bone is about the same on all of them, so the the more they weigh, the more meat you are getting/pound! He was an agricultural agent and grew up on a farm, so he was wise in these things!

  • Cherith March 24, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    I was going to suggest freezing as well–what if you do your planning/shopping for 2 weeks at a time (I find I spend less that way anyway!) and freeze leftovers for the 2nd week (or even later–its always nice to have something already prepared that you can pull out of the freezer for an unexpected extra-busy day!). That way you’re not getting tired of it by the 3rd day in a row! I like to try to make extra and freeze for a second meal–I find we eat and waste less if I’ve already planned to just eat half of a dish–rather than put it on the table and see what happens to be leftover!

  • martha March 24, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    One thing, my sister figured, she deboned chicken and weighed it. If she spent .59-.69 a pound for a whole chicken and spent $1.49 a lb for boneless chicken, it was actually the same price for the amount of meat. However you do not have the bones which can make wonderful broth!
    We are a family of 6, 5 of which are male, and we use one whole chicken usually for at least three meals. We usually eat roast chicken, then I pull all the rest off the bones. I freeze a baggie of it for another meal like stir fry, fried rice, chicken and rice etc. and then simmer the bones for a flavorful broth and make soup with that rest of the chicken that boils off and the broth.
    We are on a very small budget as well and I have done it in the past like you are, very commendable! Right now, we do not have to go that low, so we stay at about $45 a week.
    We have a salvage type store, but it is 90 miles away, so we do not get there much. i wish we had one of those yard sale type stores!

  • keren March 25, 2008 at 2:31 am

    Mom and Cherith, thanks for the suggestions about freezing. It would definitely be both a time AND money saver to buy bigger and then to freeze ahead. I did it for Thanksgiving and in preparation for Hana Kate, but I can do it now, too. When we don’t use up our leftovers in lunches or soups, we end up eating it sometimes several times a week…which might be tiring to my poor husband.

    I think I will be freezing some of our leftover Easter ham that my mom sent back with us! 😉

  • keren March 25, 2008 at 2:33 am

    Martha, thanks for your helpful comment! I love using the broth to cook rice in, too! And thanks, again, for another helpful suggestion to freeze!

  • Amy March 25, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    I second what Cherith said about shopping and planning for two weeks at a time. We have cut our grocery bill in half that way. (I don’ t think that will necessarily happen for you. :), but you may save some money and at the very least a little time. Also, it helps us to be more conservative with items when we know they have to last two weeks. 🙂
    About the ground turkey – we only buy ground turkey, not beef. I’ve just never tried the Aldi’s brand. I might next time. 🙂
    Thanks Keren! You encourage me so much!

  • keren March 26, 2008 at 10:22 am

    I third! 🙂 That’s actually one of the things that keeps our expenses low already, though I don’t do it with buying meats since we have a small stash already. Maybe next week I’ll do an example “pantry livin’ menu.” If you are doing the food yard sale, you should get a pretty good “pantry” of things like pasta, flour, and cereal, and after going for a little while.

    We got a deep freezer at the end of last year, and I need to remember that I have more freezer space, now.