$30 A Week: Grocery List & Meal Plan #2


Alright! We’re moving into week two and the reality of this meal plan’s limitations are setting in. There is going to be a whole lot of repitition and while that is what I end up doing for my regular meals (because I like it), somehow it seems rather stark when it’s laid out in these meal plans. I’ve also realized that $30 is a lot tighter than, say, $50, and it’s probably going to take me a bit longer to build up a pantry of reasonable depth than I first thought. While for the first four weeks I want to stick to the two stores I identified earlier, I think perhaps the four weeks after that I will change stores and see how I fare.

Grocery List: $30.60 (again – kind of random!)

  • Coconut Milk, $1 (DT)
  • Mayo, $1 (DT)
  • 3-oz dried minced onion, $1 (DT)
  • 20-oz bag popcorn kernels, $1 (DT)
  • Saltines, $.98
  • Italian dressing mix, $.98
  • Curry powder, $1.48
  • Eggs, 2 doz, $2.24
  • Shredded cheese, 8 oz, $1.48
  • Frozen spinach, 12 oz, $.98
  • Frozen broccoli cuts, 12 oz, $.84
  • Frozen peas, 12 oz, $.84
  • Mixed fruit, 2 cans, $1.88
  • Whole wheat bread, 1 loaf, $.92
  • Lentils, 1lb, $1.54
  • Tri-color slaw, 16 oz, $1.77
  • Classic iceberg salad, 12 oz, $.92
  • Tuna, 2 5-oz cans, $1.32
  • Enriched white rice, 5lb, $2.18
  • Pasta sauce, $.88
  • Grape jelly, 18 oz, $.94
  • Sweet relish, 12 oz, $.98
  • Carrots, 2lbs, $1.14
  • 1% Milk, $1.33
  • Bananas, 6 ct, $1.42

Meal Plan


  1. Oatmeal made w/milk, sugar & cinnamon, half banana, tea w/sugar. 333 calories, 3x/week
    1. Uses: 3 cups rolled oats, 4 cups milk, 12 tsp. sugar, 1.5 tsp. cinnamon, 3 bananas, 6 tea bags
  2. Scrambled eggs made w/margarine, cheese, spinach, & onion, toast w/margarine, tea w/sugar. 352 calories, 3x/week
    1. Uses: 9 eggs (1.5 per person per day), 12 tsp. butter, 3/4 cup cheese, 2 cups spinach, 1 -2 T. minced onion, ketchup/hot sauce as desired, 6 slices of bread, 6 tea bags, 6 tsp sugar
  3. Surprise muffins w/jam (2 each), hard boiled eggs, tea w/sugar. 442 calories, 1x/week
    1. Uses: 1 3/4 cup. flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 egg, 1/4 cup oil, 3/4 cup milk, 12 tsp. jelly, 2 eggs (yield is 12 muffins, so 8 left for snacks)


  1. Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, carrot sticks, half banana, water or iced tea. 395 calories, 3x/week
    1. Uses: 12 slices bread, 9 T. peanut butter, 6 T. jelly, 4-5 carrots, 3 bananas.
  2. Tuna & egg salad w/saltines, salad w/italian dressing, half cup mixed fruit, water or iced tea. 461 calories, 2x/week
    1. Uses: two cans tuna, 4 eggs, 5 T. mayo, 2 T. relish, 2 – 3 tsp. mustard, 24 saltines, 1/3 lettuce & coleslaw combo (mixed together), 6 T. Italian dressing (prepared — used 1 packet dressing mix, 1/2 cup oil, 1/4 cup vinegar), 1.5 cans mixed fruit
  3. Leftovers, 2x/week — choices described in dinner section


  1. Lentil Soup, Drop Biscuits, water or iced tea. 480 calories, 6 servings
    1. Uses lentils, water, 3 carrots, 2 T. minced onion, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 2 cups spinach, 1 c. flour, 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 T. sugar, 4 T. margarine, 1/2 cup + 2T. milk
  2. Chicken and Veggie Curry, Rice, water or iced tea. 460 calories, 6 servings
    1. Uses: 1lb chicken, 1lb broccoli, 1 cup frozen peas, 5 carrots, 2T. minced onion, 2T. oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, 2 cups uncooked rice
  3. Spaghetti w/Marinara Sauce, Salad, water or iced tea. 440 calories, 5 servings
    1. Uses: 10 oz spaghetti, jar of pasta sauce, 1/2 c. cheese, 1/2 lettuce & coleslaw mix, 7 T. prepared salad dressing
  4. Open-Faced Tuna Melts, Salad, water or iced tea. 509 calories, 2 servings
    1. Uses: 2 slices of bread, 2 servings tuna & egg salad, 1/4 cup cheese, remainder of salad mix, 3 T. prepared salad dressing

Leftover Choices for Lunch & Dinner (need 10):

  • 4 servings Lentil Soup
  • 4 servings Chicken Curry
  • 3 servings Spaghetti Meal

Snacks & Beverages:

  1. Cinnamon or Jam Toast. 167 calories, 4 servings (1 slice of bread, 1tsp. margarine, 1tsp. sugar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon) or (1 slice of bread, 1 tsp. margarine, 1/2 T. jam)
  2. Hard Boiled Eggs. 70 calories, 10 servings (10 eggs)
  3. Popcorn. 200 calories, 8 servings (1 1/2 cups kernels, 6 T. margarine [air popped])
  4. Muffins. 186 calories, 8 servings
  5. Cinnamon Biscuits. 157 calories, 12 servings (2 cups flour, 1 T. baking powder, 2 tsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 cup margarine, cinnamon sugar)
  6. Milk. 2 servings, 100 calories (1 cup milk).
  7. Iced Tea, lightly sweetened. 76 calories, 16 servings (8 tea bags, 1.5 cups sugar)
  • 1500 with 2 snacks, water only
  • 1800 with 2 snacks, tea and milk for beverages

This week I feel like there was a bit more variety of flavor but that meant that there was very little overage for snacks and the calorie counts seemed a bit leaner over all. In the meals where there is a higher calorie count, it’s coming from the salad dressing. So the volume of food being consumed overall is pretty low, too. I’m also really starting to get that “the-cupboard-is-bare” feeling and know that I have to replace some of my staples in the next trip while also finding a reasonable variety of foods for meals and so on. I’ve pretty much run out of the following:

  • rolled oats
  • peanut butter
  • margarine
  • oil
  • possibly hot sauce (hard to tell on an “as desired” serving size)

Also, the I realized that I had been miscalculating the calories for the oatmeal — we usually use 1/3 cup when we make it here, but the serving size on the Great Value container is 1/2 cup. This means I also miscalculated the volume in each container — I corrected both the total used and my report of the total left. Because I do think the extra 50 calories are worth adding to the diet, plus it’s healthy fiber. I’ve gone back and corrected the count for the previous week’s breakfasts as well.

So what do I have left? In addition to most of my pantry items (excluding those listed above), I also go into next week with:

  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup dry pintos
  • 12-oz spaghetti
  • .5 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 bag frozen spinach
  • 1/2 bag frozen peas
  • 10.5 cups rice
  • 1/2 jar grape jelly
  • 1/2 cup cheese
  • a few carrots
  • lots of dried minced onion
  • 64 tea bags

Definitely a shorter list than last week! What do you think?


Hillbilly Housewife Grocery List, Updated Prices 2018


After Anne mentioned the Hillbilly Housewife Emergency Menu, I spent some time looking at the various menus and recipes on her site. Her menus are designed for families of five or six and require a LOT of preparation. I think they would be really hard to implement if the cook is also working outside of the home. I also noticed that the grocery list on the site hadn’t been updated since 2009. And in fact the 2009 prices totaled $70, not the $45 she originally started with in 2006. I was curious to see what this list would cost today. She used Walmart and Dollar General prices; I used Walmart and Dollar Tree. I noted which items would be purchased at Dollar Tree (DT).

Hillbilly Housewife Grocery List Updated 2018

Somewhat surprisingly, today’s price for these items hasn’t increased much — and in some cases went down — since 2009. It wasn’t always clear to me the size of the item purchased in the earlier years, so I just used what I assumed is the most likely size based on prices then and now. Also, as I typed up the list I really had time to consider how likely I would be to follow this exact list. I think my answer is not likely at all. For one thing, I don’t think a $70 budget is by any means generous, but when you are buying for a larger number of people with a slightly higher budget, you reap the benefits of bulk pricing. Two four-pound bags of two different kinds of beans would be less expensive than four different kinds of beans in a smaller quantity and gives a very little bit of room to purchase seasonings which can have a greater impact on the flavor of meals than the kind of bean (in my opinion). I also don’t think I would use dry milk, although I recognize that it is being used in a lot of the baked goods recipes to up protein. Instead I would buy regular milk and focus on drinking more water, which is very healthy anyway! At current prices, liquid milk is cheaper than dry milk, too.

Also, if this was my regular budget for food as a family of five, there is the likelihood that at the very least my kids would qualify for the free or reduced lunch at school. I don’t know if I would feel comfortable seeking out SNAP benefits if we were able to sustain this grocery budget, but I do think I would swallow my pride and sign my kids up for free/reduced lunch. At $.40 per lunch per child at the reduced rate, I’d have to eliminate $7 from the $70 budget, but this would still give me $63 to work with each week. And I think that concerns related to stigma would be somewhat mitigated by the fact that each kid’s barcode is scanned at lunchtime, they don’t have to produce actual money. Probably the al a carte items are where things get sticky — I have worked primarily in Title 1 schools where ALL students receive free lunch, so I don’t have a clear idea of how it works in a more well-off school district. But I guess not every single variable can be accounted for in these menus!

Finally, probably the biggest thing I would do differently is have much less variety for breakfasts and lunches (for those who would be consuming them). I would focus my energy on creating interesting dinners and it would be oatmeal and eggs for breakfast, like it or lump it. I don’t personally care for many canned vegetables and I do think that you can get more for your money sometimes with frozen veggies, so that might be another area of change. Also, while I enjoy baking, I’m not sure I’d want or be able to do quite this much. I’m tempted to try out a grocery list and meal plan for 5 using this budget, actually!

What would you do differently? Did the food prices surprise you? And are they different in your area? I didn’t explore the cost of food in other cities, but I know that Florida/Jacksonville has a lower cost of living overall than many other areas of the U.S.

If you are interested, I made a second version of this list highlightling which prices increased or decreased since 2009. The items highlighted in green went down in price, the others went up. Sometimes the price change wasn’t very significant at all, but to me it’s all pretty interesting!

Hillbilly Houserwige Grocery List Updated 2018 with Price Change

Setting Up a Minimal Kitchen



Bless and Anne had some good comments regarding my previous post about a very low grocery budget. I realized how much my own taste and/or my sense of “standard/typical” food tastes is influence by the Standard American Diet, even if I don’t think that I personally cook that way very often myself! As I’ve been plotting out lists and meal plans for upcoming weeks, I’ve really been struck by two thoughts:

  1. It’s really a pain to try to build up a pantry — especially a spice/seasoning cabinet — from scratch! My budget feels very low, too, especially with the limit I’ve placed on sticking to one shopping plaza.
  2. If I’m working from the premise that this couple has absolutely NOTHING on hand as far as food goes, do I also need to assume they have no cooking tools?

Regarding the first question, I’ve limited myself to the one shopping plaza because I think it’s more reflective of many people’s — especially low income individual’s — lived experience. People who live in a small town may really only have access to Walmart, and not even a nearby one at that. And for people who may live in a more populated or even urban area, the reality of gas prices, hectic schedules (I’m assuming both people are working), transportation related issues, and overall convenience/time availability make it unlikely that people will always be able to shop multiple stores. For instance, any full-time job is exhausting and minimum wage jobs often more so — possibly because of the added worry about making ends meet. Retailers are super aware of this, of course — I think the very reality of strip malls and shopping plazas reflect U.S. car/commuter culture — and this is why shopping plazas with competing retailers crop up across from one another or even include semi-competitors within the actual plaza/strip mall. Still. Even if I just have to cross a road, I seriously am often feeling done with my chore by the time I finish up at one store. I don’t even always want to go to Target for cat food even though it is right beside the Aldi where I typically shop. So I think exhaustion and time availability are a big factor in how people choose or are able to shop.

And regarding the second question, well, I guess it only makes sense to consider what basics are necessary for a starter kitchen. This, more than the food even, is where I struggle. Not because I necessarily want ALL the things — I am actively trying to pare down what we have in our own kitchen to better reflect what we actually use — but because I am very resistant to using super cheap, crappy tools. I’m not someone who needs to use the BEST, MOST PREMIUM, HIGHEST QUALITY EVER tools, but a solid cookie sheet that doesn’t bend is worth the extra few bucks in my opinion. (I am also the kind of person who bought herself a cookware set as a highschool graduation gift.) I do think that most of what is needed to set up a kitchen and dining table can be found second hand. And that is a good way to find better quality items at a low or at least lower cost. There are a few things I would not buy second hand, however (unless maybe I found them at an estate sale). And then there is the time factor involved in picking up second hand items — it’s a cheap way to set up a kitchen, but maybe not a way to get everything you need/want quickly. Anyway, these are the items I’d want to buy new and in one case I would not buy from Walmart or Dollar Tree:

  • Chef’s knife
    • A good quality one is about $40 on Amazon and that’s what I would get. I’ve bought cheap ones from Walmart and Target and they are a waste of money. This is one place where my privilege is definitely shining through, because while there are plenty of knives available from Walmart and that is the store I’ve limited myself to for this challenge, I really just…don’t want to face that reality.
  • Dish cloths and towels
    • I’ve never seen anything at good will or other thrift shops that was worth spending money on, usually they are just super cheap, still-in-the-package terry cloth towels. I think that terry cloth towels are basically horrid in the kitchen and prefer lint-free woven cotton, which are pretty cheap. Same thing with wash cloths — although a set of 18 might set you back more than a 6-pack of paper towels, ultimately they’ll last quite a while longer and do the same job.
  • Non-stick frying pan
    • This may or may not be a “must have” item, but they tend to wear out after a couple of years and I wouldn’t have a good idea of how long a used one might still last. Plus you can get them pretty cheap for about $9 at Walmart. I happen to think they are important in a kitchen because they’re the easiest to use for eggs and it’s nice to have a smaller and a larger frying pan/skillet.

I think otherwise I’d be willing to seek everything else out second hand. However, assuming I had to stock this kitchen up overnight, the following plus the nonstick pan and the towels/wash cloths will run about $250 at Walmart and the Dollar Tree. With the chef’s knife from Amazon, about $300. Your mileage may vary, as there were definitely cheaper options for some of these things, I just wanted to give some nod to quality. And perhaps you won’t think these are all essential? I’d say probably not all right away; I’ve underlined the items that would be used in the first week’s cooking.

Pots & Pans

  • 1 qt. saucepan
  • 3 qt. saucepan
  • 12″ frying pan
  • 8″ non-stick frying pan


  • Mixing bowl
  • Cookie sheets/sheet pan (2)
  • Muffin pan
  • Loaf pan
  • 9 X 13″ baking dish
  • 8″ baking dish
  • Pie plate (not essential, but came in a set that was cheaper overall)


  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cups, dry
  • Measuring cup, liquid
  • Turner
  • Rubber spatula
  • Ladle
  • Slotted spoon
  • Serving spoon
  • Whisk
  • Can opener
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Pizza cutter (again, part of a set, not necessarily essential in my opinion)
  • Tongs
  • Grater
  • Paring knives
  • Bread knife
  • Cutting board
  • Colander
  • Cannisters (for pantry items)
  • Food storage containers for leftovers
  • 2 qt. pitcher
  • Kitchen towels
  • Dish cloths
  • Oven mitts/pot holders


The following appliances are not essential per se, but the convenience they bring is worth the cost, I think. Also if I didn’t have the crock pot I would want a dutch oven (I would still want a dutch oven, but this allows for soups and stews while saving $$ for the dutch oven) or some kind of larger pot to make stews and soups in.

  • Crock pot
  • Hand mixer
  • Toaster

Not included in the $300 total are the basic household supplies also needed to clean and manage a kitchen:

  • garbage bags
  • dish detergent
  • sponges
  • cleaner
  • napkins (we use cloth, but either cloth or paper would be an initial expense)
  • aluminum foil

I would buy all dishes from the thrift store no matter what. And since I’ve never visited one that didn’t have at least 2 plates, bowls, mugs, glasses, spoons, forks and knives available, the time factor wouldn’t come into play with these items.

Everything isn’t used in the first week, so potentially those could be considered non-essentials. And some of the things that I would use to prepare the meals I’ve listed aren’t actually necessary — I really like to use tongs when moving meat in and out of pans, but a fork would do, I guess. In the same vein, I know some folks just cut on a plate instead of using a cutting board.

How would your list differ? What would you leave out or add? Is there anything missing from the list that you might not consider essential but that you would really wish you had? For me it would be a Dutch oven and/or a stock pot.




Budget Meal Plans


So, occasionally I get the urge to create a very minimal meal plan and grocery list using a very low budget. Sometimes I’m inspired by articles I read about the cost of food, or things I hear about what people facing a really low budget struggle with on a regular basis, or sometimes I just like to do it as a math exercise. Anyway, lately I’ve been playing around with the Walmart Grocery Pick-Up calculator and making up lists and meal plans based on the minimum order amount, which is $30. I am using this as a weekly budget amount, and I am also assuming that two adults are being fed for this amount. This is quite a bit higher than so-called “hunger” plans that use a base of $1.50/person/day to emulate the experience of global hunger. I’m not interested in emulating global hunger, just in approaching this as a mental exercise and perhaps as a practical one if I can get Michael on board.

When I originally started playing around with the grocery calculator, I was thinking about times when household income drops or unexpected expenses crop up, or even young adults starting out in their first apartment. In all of these scenarios I envisioned a fairly basic but still thorough pantry — either from food on hand before the income drop or a small amount of items set up by a loved one helping the young adult get on their feet. Truly I have rarely encountered individuals who have nothing and who have no resource for setting up some basics (in some cases I have been the person setting up the basics, but I am still a person doing this in their lives…). However, for the sake of the exercise I decided to also allot about $15 to a start up pantry. The pantry items come from both Walmart and Dollar Tree, but the regular grocery items come from Walmart only.  I chose these two stores because they are in the same shopping plaza near me. I will say that it’s possible that the budget could stretch even further if Aldi was included, but I liked being able to look up exact prices at Walmart so that’s what I did. Also, I wanted to rely on regular prices rather than special sales because this gives an idea of what typically can be purchased for this amount of money, vs. what extra I can sneak in because of a good deal (or how I can stock up, etc). Obviously it’s important to take advantage of those opportunities, but this exercise is for what is typical, not what is the limit of possibility.

Here is what I came up with for the pantry and week one!

Week 1

Pantry: $15.62

  • All-purpose flour, 5lbs, $1.22
  • Granulated sugar, 4lbs, $1.43
  • Salt, 26 oz, $.40
  • Baking powder, $1
  • Baking soda, $.52
  • Margarine, 1lb, $.78
  • Ketchup, $.92
  • Yellow mustard, $.58
  • Vinegar, $1
  • Garlic powder, $.83
  • Black tea bags, 100 ct, $1.94
  • Black pepper, $1 (DT)
  • Cinnamon, $1 (DT)
  • Oregano, $1 (DT)
  • Vegetable oil, 16oz, $1 (DT)

Groceries: $30.60

  • Rolled oats, 18oz, $1.56
  • Eggs, 2 doz, $2.24
  • Shredded cheese, 8 oz, $1.48
  • Frozen spinach, 12 oz, $.98
  • Frozen broccoli, 32 oz, $2.62
  • Yellow onions, 2 ct, $1.31
  • 9 Grain bread, 1 loaf, $1.33
  • Peanut butter, 18oz, $1.33
  • Spaghetti, 2lbs, $1.43
  • Pasta sauce, .88
  • Chicken thighs (BS), $5.64
  • Brown rice, 1lb, $.78
  • Brownie mix, 1 box, $.88
  • Corn muffin mix, 1 box, $.47
  • Frozen kale, 12 ox, $1
  • Tri-color slaw mix, $1.77
  • 1% Milk, $1.33
  • 10″ Tortillas, $1.33
  • Bananas, 6 ct, $1.42
  • Dry pinto beans, 1lb, $.82

Meal Plan


  1. Oatmeal made w/milk, sugar & cinnamon, half banana, tea w/sugar. 227 333 calories, 3x/week
    1. Uses: 2 3 cups rolled oats, 4 cups milk, 12 tsp. sugar, 1.5 tsp. cinnamon, 3 bananas, 6 tea bags
  2. Scrambled eggs made w/margarine, cheese, spinach, & onion, toast w/margarine, tea w/sugar. 352 calories, 3x/week
    1. Uses: 9 eggs (1.5 per person per day), 12 tsp. butter, 3/4 cup cheese, 2 cups spinach, half an onion, ketchup/hot sauce as desired, 6 slices of bread, 6 tea bags, 6 tsp sugar
  3. Crepes w/sugar and banana, tea w/sugar. 295 calories, 1x/week
    1. Uses: 2 eggs, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 tsp. salt, 2 T. margarine, 8 tsp. sugar, 1 banana (4 servings, so 2 leftover)


  1. Rice, bean, and cheese burritos, Amish coleslaw, water or iced tea.  422 calories, 3x/week
    1. Uses: 6 tortillas, 1/2 cup uncooked rice, 1/2 cup uncooked pintos , 3/4 cup cheese, 2 T. hot sauce, 1/2 onion, slaw mix, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup vinegar, 3/8 cup oil, 2 tsp. salt, 1 t. mustard, 1 tsp. black pepper
  2. Peanut butter sandwiches, half banana, water or iced tea. 487 calories, 1x/week
    1. Uses: 4 slices bread, 4 T. peanut butter, 1 banana.
  3. Leftovers, 2x/week — choices described in dinner section


  1. Pintos, Rice, Kale, Cornbread w/butter, water or iced tea. 494 calories, 4 servings
    1. Uses: 1 cup uncooked pintos, 1/2 cup uncooked rice, frozen kale, 1/2 onion, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 t. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, 2T. hot sauce, 1 T. vinegar, cornbread mix, 1 egg, 1/3 cup milk, 1 tsp. oil, 2 tsp. margarine
  2. Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry, Rice, water or iced tea. 420 calories, 4 servings
    1. Uses: 1lb chicken, 1lb broccoli, 1/2 onion, 2T. oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, 1 cup uncooked rice
  3. Spaghetti w/Marinara Sauce, Roasted Broccoli, water or iced tea. 365 calories, 5 servings
    1. Uses: 10 oz spaghetti, jar of pasta sauce, 1/2 c. cheese, 1lb broccoli, 1T. oil, salt, & pepper.
  4. Roasted Chicken Thighs, Amish Slaw, Biscuits, water or iced tea. 464 calories, 4 servings
    1. Uses: 1lb chicken, 1T. oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, Amish Slaw, 1 c. flour, 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 T. sugar, 4 T. margarine, 1/2 cup + 2T. milk.

Leftover Choices for Lunch & Dinner (need 8):

  • 2 servings Pinto Meal
  • 2 servings Chicken Stir-Fry Meal
  • 3 servings Spaghetti Meal
  • 2 servings Roasted Chicken Meal

Snacks & Beverages:

  1. Cinnamon or Peanut Butter Toast. 5 servings
    1. Cinnamon Toast: 167 calories (1 slice of bread, 1tsp. margarine, 1tsp. sugar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon)
    2. Peanut Butter Toast: 215 calories (1 slice of bread, 1T. peanut butter)
  2. Hard Boiled Eggs. 70 calories, 8 servings (8 eggs)
  3. Half Banana. 53 calories, 2 servings. (1 banana)
  4. Corn Muffins. 170 calories, 2 servings.
    1. w/1tsp. butter: 200 calories
  5. Biscuits. 163 calories, 2 servings.
    1. w/2 tsp. butter: 223 calories
  6. Peanut Butter Tortilla. 2 servings, 200 calories (2 tortillas, 2T. peanut butter)
  7. Crepes w/Sugar. 240 calories, 2 servings
  8. Brownies. 20 servings, 150 calories (brownie mix, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup oil)
  9. Milk. 3 servings, 100 calories (1 cup milk).
  10. Iced Tea, lightly sweetened. 76 calories, 16 servings (8 tea bags, 1.5 cups sugar)

Approximate daily calories:

  • 1500 with 1 brownie and 1 150 calorie snack, water only
  • 1800 with 1 brownie and 2 150 calorie snacks, water only

This is low for a male, but the added beverage choices for lunch and dinner add some extra calories and there are enough snack options to fill out the rest as well. There would also be about 2 servings of leftover dinner meals, too, which could be another option for rounding out caloric intake. This does assume a fairly normal activity level, too. Anyone who works out intensely or performs physical labor might need to consume additional calories. There would be space to make more biscuits or muffins or similar basic baked goods, but not a ton of opportunity for variety in this first week.

Additionally, while the meals are relatively balanced, I’d personally want to have more fruit, some fresh vegetables, and fewer starchy options — for the meals it doesn’t seem too bad to me, but the snack options revolve largely around bready products. I’d also like a few more seasoning options; in my onion the stir-fry would be fantastic if soy sauce was available. Finally, I included the brownie mix because I think its important to have something that feels like a treat even when the budget is tight. I didn’t make any assumptions about free food that might be available to this couple, although I do think that most of us encounter some opportunity for free food pretty frequently, whether that is through sharing a dessert brought to work, a pot luck at church or community group, a food gift from friends or family, and/or freebies in the community. Hopefully as the weeks go by and this hypothetical model continues to roll, we can see how small amounts of leftover items help fill out the pantry stores even more.

Assuming all prepared food & beverages are consumed, the following would still be on hand for the 2nd week:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup dry pintos
  • 1lb 6oz spaghetti
  • 2 1/3 3.5 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 jar of peanut butter
  • 1lb chicken thighs
  • 1/2 bag frozen spinach
  • 14 cups of sugar
  • 14 2/3 cups of flour
  • 1/3 – 1/2 jar hot sauce
  • 2 – 2 1/2 sticks of margarine
  • 1/2 jar of oil
  • 82 tea bags
  • greater than 95% of other pantry items

What do you think? What would you do differently? What is missing from this pantry and grocery list that you would not be able to live without? Personally I am missing coffee, cream, and jelly. 🙂 There are a lot of directions to go so I think it’s interesting to consider all the different ways this could look. And do you ever do this kind of thing?

ETA: Updated the serving size and caloric value of the rolled oats. 7/9/18