How many meals could you make with $50? What are your tips for making that grocery dollar stretch? Recently I was challenged by Indiana’s Family of Farmers to do just that and you might be surprised when you learn what I did with it.
Challenge accepted, I worried it might be a little easier said than done.
I don’t know about you, but my grocery bill always seems to be quite a bit more than $50. That and I am not a couponer– at all– due to the great coupon burn-out of 2010. Ahem… but that is another story for another day.
But I found it to be a lot easier than I thought it would be after a little planning. I landed on what I would consider a non-traditional budget conscious choice– ham. At my house, ham is usually a holiday leftover that we then get to make yummy recipes from. However, I began thinking of the endless ways I could stretch a ham if I didn’t have to initially feed a crowd. The challenge would be to find a nice priced ham and make my recipes diverse enough as to not make my family sick of eating it.
$50 Challenge How Many Meals?
It all started with cooking up a good ham in my crock pot and all kinds of yummy meals followed (scroll to the bottom for my grocery list):
Meal 1 (4 Servings plus sandwiches for lunch the next day):
Easy Crock Pot Ham , Crock Pot Sweet Potatoes (Recipe Coming Soon) and Green Beans
Meal 2 (4 Servings):
Ham Fried Rice (Recipe Coming Soon)
Meal 3 (4 Servings):
Grilled Ham Steaks with Cinnamon Pineapple and Crock Pot Sweet Potatoes
Meal 4 (6 Servings):
Easy Crock Pot Ham and Beans with Cornbread
Meal 5 (4 Servings):
BBQ Ham and Pineapple Kabobs with Rice and Green Beans
Meal 6 (24 Servings):
Freezer Breakfast Burritos (altered recipe coming soon! Here is my original recipe.)
How I did it:
- Obviously I used a ham as the base for all of my recipes. While you may not want to eat ham for a straight week like we did, you could easily freeze a lot of these meals to cash in on the savings while adding more variety.
- I tried to use similar ingredients in different ways to get the most bang for my buck.
- I used strong flavors– such as barbecue sauce to really change the taste. And, while we are on the subject, I think that BBQ Ham might be my new favorite thing to grill! Yum.
- I embraced canned veggies and skipped the convenience packaging.
What I learned:
I recommend this challenge to anyone. It was eye-opening. I could not believe how much food I could make for $50. My little family of 3 can easily spend that on a single meal out to eat and it was shocking to me that for the same amount of money we could eat for a week and still have a month’s worth of hot breakfasts in the freezer.
The exercise really brought home to me that despite the fact that making grocery budgets work are never easy, we are very fortunate to have an affordable food system available to us in the U.S.– which I learned isn’t the case everywhere in the world. Indiana’s Family of Farmers sent me the chart above that shows that in the U.S. we actually only spend 6.6% of our income on food consumed at home compared to other countries that spend far more.
My Grocery List
Below are the items I purchased to make all the dishes above. Note: I did not purchase a handful of staple items but my total came to $43.53, so I consider them covered:
- 9.5lb Ham
- 6 Small Sweet Potatoes
- 2 Large Cans French Cut Green Beans
- 1 Small Bag Beans
- Corn Bread Mix
- 1 Block Cheddar Cheese
- 2 Dozen Eggs
- 24 Flour Tortillas
- 1 Large Can Pineapple Rings
- 1 Large Can Pineapple Chunks
- 1 Bottle BBQ Sauce
- 3 Bags Steamfresh Rice and Veggies
Staple items used: Brown Sugar, Butter, 2 Additional Eggs, Salt, Pepper and Spices (Cinnamon and Cloves).
It’s funny how this challenge has changed my perspective and my shopping habits. Any guesses as to what I purchased for this week’s meals? It isn’t ham, but it definitely is something I can use to make multiple meals!
This post was sponsored by Indiana’s Family of Farmers, but all opinions and ham are all my own 😉