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Inflation-proof your grocery budget with a $65 two-week meal plan for two

We wondered if it’s still possible to keep your grocery bill to a few dollars a day.
This food budget comes packaged with the caveat that you’ll be sacrificing some convenience to bring low-cost meals to the table.
This food budget comes packaged with the caveat that you’ll be sacrificing some convenience to bring low-cost meals to the table.
Published Dec. 8, 2022

It’s not just the rising cost of housing that is pricing some families out of the market. It’s also the ballooning expenses for daily essentials at the grocery store and beyond. While some food costs are beginning to ease, staples like meat, eggs and dairy products are expected to tip the scales at historic highs well into 2023.

Because keeping the pantry full takes a big bite out of the average budget, we wondered if it’s still possible to keep your grocery bill to a few dollars a day. The answer might surprise you, but this food budget comes packaged with the caveat that you’ll be sacrificing some convenience to bring low-cost meals to the table.

Can You Spend $33 or Less Per Week on Groceries?

If a $33 weekly grocery bill for a couple ($16.50 per person) to afford three square meals a day sounds a little crazy, you’re not wrong. It’s well below what the USDA recommends in its weekly grocery shopping spending guidelines for a household of two adults. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s budget puts spending at least $119.40 per week for two adults to meet daily nutritional needs.

While you could get by eating ramen and peanut butter sandwiches for a while, scrounging like a college student indefinitely doesn’t have much appeal. Instead, we put together a $65 two-week grocery budget that nets two adults fairly well-rounded meals without skimping too much on the good stuff.

This two-week grocery spending plan can be stretched to accommodate a family of four simply by doubling up on ingredients — and cost. Or expand this plan to a month if you prefer to track your family’s budget and compile a shopping list on a monthly basis.

Pro Tip: Want to slash your grocery costs up to $100 or more? Check out our 28 tips for getting more out of what you put in your cart.

The Two-Week $65 Grocery Budget Shopping List

Before diving into the grocery budget calculator, it’s worth mentioning that this two-week grocery budget assumes you have basic staples on hand, including salt and pepper, cooking oil and a few common spices and flavorings. It also requires that you have space and a stove to cook with to reduce food waste and save money.

We’ve focused on whole grains instead of other starches and sugars that provide empty calories and can leave you feeling hungrier later. Note that prices were current as of mid-November and compiled from online store directories for Walmart and Target.

The Penny Hoarder
The Penny Hoarder [ The Penny Hoarder ]

You’ll be amazed to find how much more you have to spend on groceries if you buy store brands. Shopping sales or finding coupons helps lower costs further and creates room for a little indulgence in this grocery budget. Many items also have cheaper prices per ounce when you buy larger packages of store brands, so pay a little more upfront and total up the savings later.

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Another way to add more fresh fruits and veggies for cheap is to skip the grocery stores and hit the local farmers market. Not only will prices for local produce generally be cheaper, but you’ll get to eat healthy while saving money. For canned goods, one strategy is to hit up discount stores to find dented cans or to compare prices.

Pro Tip: Want to stretch your staples even further? Lean into frozen veggies, dried beans and other pantry essentials that with extra effort, can make a little go a long way.

The Two-Week $65 Grocery Budget Menu

Wondering how the slim grocery list above can actually serve two people for two weeks? We’ve done the math and laid out a menu so you don’t have to, giving two options for each meal to get you through all 14 days.

Here’s exactly how to get 84 meals for two out of your two-week $65 grocery budget plan. That’s a cost of 71 cents per meal or $2.13 per day per person. And if you have a little extra money to spend when you’re doing your grocery budgeting, you can work in a few splurges.

Monday

Breakfast

Oatmeal with sugar and cinnamon, chopped apples

Blueberry and toasted oatmeal yogurt parfait

Lunch

Grilled ham and cheese with baby carrots

Cobb salad with diced ham, cheese and hard-boiled egg

Dinner

Spaghetti with pasta sauce and spinach

Corn fritters with salsa

Tuesday

Breakfast

Banana spinach smoothie

Peanut butter toast with apples

Lunch

Spinach and cheese omelets

Grilled blueberry and cheese sandwich

Dinner

Peachy chicken thighs with onions and roasted carrots

Quick fried brown rice

Wednesday

Breakfast

Corn flakes with milk

Homemade peanut butter granola and bananas

Lunch

Ham salad sandwich

White bean salad

Dinner

Burrito bowls

Budget spaghetti carbonara

Thursday

Breakfast

Peanut butter toast with bananas

Blueberry banana smoothie

Lunch

Santa Fe salad (black beans or leftover chicken)

Tuna fish sandwich

Dinner

Brown rice stir fry

Ham and spinach quiche

Friday

Breakfast

Yogurt parfait with apples and oats

Blueberry mug coffee cake

Lunch

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich

Ham hash (rice, ham, onion, fried egg)

Dinner

Salsa verde soup

Cornflake-crusted fried chicken

Saturday

Breakfast

Fried eggs on toast

Peach and granola parfait

Lunch

Santa Fe salad with salsa dressing

Tuna melt

Dinner

Ham casserole

Budget spaghetti alfredo

Sunday

Breakfast

Easy crepes with yogurt and fruit

Overnight oats with blueberries

Lunch

Egg sandwiches

Thai carrot salad with peanut dressing

Dinner

Stuffed bell peppers

Peanut butter Thai stir-fried rice

While this grocery budget won’t give you the opportunity to eat leftovers, most of these meals are easy to prepare and rely on overlapping ingredients to avoid food waste. While it requires a little effort in the kitchen, the goal is to spend as little time shopping and cooking as you spend eating.

A Two-Week $65 Grocery Budget Slashes Costs, But Mind Your Nutritional Intake

While eating fortified cereals and bread can supplement some of the nutritional value you’re lacking, medical experts agree it’s best to have a variety of protein sources and fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Using a bare-bones grocery budget plan like the one we’ve outlined should be done to solve a short-term cash flow problem, not long-term food insecurity.

If you or your family consistently face hunger and can’t afford basic supplies and food, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance. You may qualify for food stamps and most areas have food banks or community pantries to assist those in need. Here are some resources to help:

See if you qualify for food stamps (SNAP program).

Find a food bank or community assistance near you.

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This story originally appeared in The Penny Hoarder.