Three Square Meals Plus Some on $5 a Day

Is it just me or has the price of groceries been going up a lot faster than my paycheck? If yur havin’ trouble making yur monthly budget (yep, we’re really poundin’ the budget hard this issue), I’ve got a way you can cut down on yur food bill.

What I’m gonna do is plan ya out 16 days worth of food – three meals, a snack and a dessert – that I promise will fill ya up, not make ya fat, and if eatin’ three meals a day is even possible on yur budget, you’ll be able to afford it with this plan. This month I’m gonna give you four day’s worth of menu and shopping list, as well as a shopping list for a starter kit of ingredients that’ll last you for at least three months, in most cases, and some things may last you for three years (like the salt!). Yur gonna have to check back with me in the next three issues of Single! Young Christian Woman, to get the menus and shopping lists for days five through 16. But that dudn’t mean you can’t start using this menu right now.

Now I know $55 for a starter kit sounds a little outrageous, so if you can’t afford to do that, I’ve put a little star thingy (*) on the items you would use from the starter kit in this first 4-day Menu. So you can set about getting that kit put together little by little if you need to. Regardless of how you get it, that $55 worth of ingredients will average out to be about less than a dollar a day. Added to the $4 a day menu and yur eatin’ for $5 a day.

Now, just a few ground rules.

1. You gotta shop smart. You can’t go to one of those fancy schmancy Fresh Markets or City Markets where they sell two dozen different kinds of olives. You need you a Kroger or a Wal-mart or some other low priced store and even then, you need to buy the store brand when you can to make this work. Deal? I don’t list a size on these products, so just get as large a container as you can without going over the allotted price. For the spices, if you have a Wal-Mart Superstore, look for their large spice bottles for $.50 each instead of paying for name brands. If not, go to the local dollar store to buy yur spices. And a disclaimer: prices vary so much from store to store and then when you take into account different regions of the country, well, this iddn’t no exact science. I’m ballparkin’ figures here and I believe you can get mighty close to the total amount regardless of where you live, as long as you shop smart.

2. Surely notice a little repetition in these menus and that there aren’t too many fancy foods on them. Newsflash: You can’t eat fancy foods on $5 a day. And if yur just feeding yurself, well, you’ve got to have a little repetition to use all the food that was in the package. Again, budget food does not usually come in single servings.

3. That said, I didn’t totally cheap out on ya! I could have put ramen noodles on the menu every night and we could have eaten for a dollar a day! But you can’t live healthy on ramen – it’s crap in a bag, Girls, pardon my French! As always, I’m learnin’ ya how to cook healthy, so you’ll see whole wheat flour and brown sugar, not their adulterated white versions! I sure hope you’ll give this healthy eatin’ thing a fair shake – I just know you can learn to love what’s good for ya.

$55 starter kit

  • Salt* $2
  • Pepper * $1
  • Ginger $2
  • Cinnamon* $1
  • Basil $1
  • Oregano $1
  • Cumin* $1
  • Brown sugar* $2
  • Molasses* $2
  • Baking powder*   $2.50
  • Baking soda* $1
  • Whole wheat flour* $3
  • Vanilla* $2
  • Mayonnaise $2
  • Pesto $3
  • Bullion Cubes (chicken and beef)* $2 each
  • Lemon juice $2
  • Jalapeno peppers* $2
  • Olive oil $5
  • Balsamic vinegar $3
  • Soy sauce* $3
  • Worcestershire sauce*$2
  • Apple cider vinegar* $1
  • Canola Oil* $3
  • Cooking spray $3
  • BBQ sauce $1

If any money left over, buy parmesan cheese ($2.50), a box of crackers ($2.50)

Shopping List for the first 4-day Menu

  • Can of Black beans $.75
  • Corn tortillas $1.50
  • 1 Roma tomato $.50
  • 8 oz Jack cheese $2
  • Old fashioned oats (not instant!) $2
  • Dozen Eggs $1.20
  • Loaf of bread $2
  • Jar of apple sauce $1
  • Bag of Rice $.75
  • Frozen peas $1
  • Turkey smoked sausage $2
  • Celery $1.50

Day 1

Breakfast – apple oatmeal (add ¼ c. applesauce to a serving of oatmeal with brown sugar or molasses)

Lunch – grilled cheese tomato sandwich (2 oz. cheese, bread, ½ sliced tomato)

Snack – baked tortilla chips w/ cheese (1 oz. cheese, cut 3 tortillas into 6ths and bake, sprayed with cooking spray on both sides)

Dinner –turkey sausage, rice and peas (1/4 lb. sausage, ½ c. uncooked rice, 1 c. peas)

Desert – 3 oatmeal cookies (make oatmeal cookies according to yur favorite recipe, subbing whole wheat flour and brown sugar for their adulterated white versions!)

Day 2

Breakfast – 2 scrambled eggs w/ toast

Lunch – fried rice

Snack – apple sauce (1/2 c.)

Dinner – black bean tacos (sub Jack cheese for feta in my recipe)

Desert – 3 oatmeal cookies

Day 3

Breakfast –apple oatmeal

Lunch –2-egg salad sandwich (or 2-scrambled egg sandwich)

Snack – apple sauce

Dinner – celery soup (chicken bullion, ¼ lb. turkey sausage) w/ cheese toast (2 oz. cheese)

Desert – 3 oatmeal cookies

Day 4

Breakfast – breakfast tacos (3 corn tortillas, 1 oz. shredded jack cheese and 2 scrambled eggs, jalapeños)

Lunch –black bean soup w/ tortilla strip croutons (beef bullion, cumin, jalapeño, black beans with liquid, one stick sautéed celery; cut up one tortilla into strips, spray with cooking spray and bake)

Snack – celery sticks

Dinner – 2 eggs and rice (cook eggs with 1 oz. cheese, mix cooked eggs and rice together, add soy sauce if you want)

Desert – 3 oatmeal cookies

Now, I don’t have all day to hold yur hand through how to make ever’ dern one of these dishes. You read the recipes on the packages, use yur imagination or check a cookbook out from the library if you don’t know what to do with the ingredients. And if the menu item has a hyperlink in it, that means you can find detailed instructions on how to prepare said dish on the Reba Ray page at Be sure to look over the menu from top to bottom so you can get an idea of how long each food is supposed to last you. In most cases, I’m counting on yur self-restraint to eat just one serving (oatmeal, applesauce). Some of these ingredients actually carry over to the next 4-day menu. Speaking of which… Be sure to check out Single! Young Christian Woman next month to get the next 4-day Menu!

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4 thoughts on “Three Square Meals Plus Some on $5 a Day

  1. Thanks for the great ideas! I appreciate that you offer cooked-from-scratch foods. Long live rice and beans! The only things I would change would be maybe more fruit/veg- frozen is pretty cheap or check the reduced cart. (As a vegetarian, I’d ditch the sausage for a jar of peanut butter, but that’s just me.) Thanks again!

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