culinary review

How a Couple Can Eat Well on a $50 Week Menu

Last Modified: 01/28/12
First Published: 03/24/08
Views: 103336
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Views: 103336

The purpose of this menu

The goal of this menu is to prove that you can live very well and healthy on a $50 a week budgetpotato sausage stew for two people. Sure, $25 per person (or $100 for 4 people), isn't as cheap as you could possibly go, many people survive on much less than that. But with this menu we are not trying to eat rice and beans every day (even if that is served a couple of times) - we are trying to enjoy a varied diet with legumes, vegetables as well as meat and fish. And yes, it can be done, the key here is planning your meals in advance and actually cooking/preparing all your meals in the kitchen, no take-out or restaurant visits.

Meals Breakdown

For breakfast in this menu we feature filling meals that keep you full for a long period of time. We alternate between oatmeal with milk, and eggs and toast for breakfast, with the Saturday pancake exception. If you don't like regular oatmeal, you could easily substitute old fashioned oats for steel cut oats. They take a little longer to cook, but if you have the time (most of us don't), then they provide an even tastier and healthier alternative.

For lunch, we try to prepare food that is easy to bring along whether to work or school. Sandwiches play an important part here, as do beans and rice. Another important aspect of lunch is ease of preparation. You don't really want to be cooking when lunch comes around, that's impractical for most of us.

For dinner, we try to provide a varied diet that includes budget alternatives such as lentils and polenta and garbanzo bean soup. But when you're eating on $50 a week, you can actually afford meats as well as the occasional fish. For meats, we use chicken thighs which provide excellent flavor for a good price, as well as sausage and bacon. On Friday, we feast on salmon.

We have not accounted for drinks in this menu, other than a glass of orange juice each morning for breakfast.

We have attempted to make a practical menu. For example, we allocate a pack of bacon overrefried beans two days: pasta carbonara one day, and BLT sandwiches for lunch the next. We make a double batch of soup, so that the other half can be enjoyed for lunch the next day.

Cost Calculation

All of these meals are priced with the accrual method. That means, that we only calculate the cost of as much as you need. In other words, if a recipe calls for 1/2 pound of bacon - we only calculate the cost of 1/2 a pound, even though you might need to buy a one pound package. That means, that it might cost more than $50 to purchase the ingredients for these recipes, however if you already have staples, it might cost less. Overall, the difference in price averages out over time: the price calculated for these dishes is exact.

Many of the recipes listed, calls for making more than 2 servings. Either scale down the recipe to fit your needs, or make a larger batch and freeze for another day. If you have leftover sausage for example or if you need to buy a larger pack of salmon - then freeze the individual filets or sausage links and use at another time. Sure, the price will be slightly higher one week, but next week it might be lower.

The prices of these ingredients reflect an average across the country. Sure, some people in some areas of the United States will be able to make this food at a lower cost.

$50 Weekly Menue (2 people)

Each meal is priced for two servings (two bowls of oatmeal, two sandwiches, two servings of each dish...)

Monday - Total cost breakfast, lunch and dinner: $6.11

When making tonight's dinner - spaghetti carbonara , save half the bacon back for tomorrow.

Breakfast - Oatmeal with milk and raisins
Total: $1.76

Lunch - Beans & rice with salsa

Total: $1.49

Dinner - Italian Spaghetti Carbonara with Cabbage Salad

Total: $2.86


Tuesday - Total cost breakfast, lunch and dinner: $7.24
With leftover bacon, make BLT's for lunch

Breakfast- Scrambled eggs & toast
Total: $1.5

Lunch - BLT sandwiches and carrot sticks

Total: $2.86

Dinner - Polenta with lentils

Total: $2.88


Wednesday - Total cost breakfast, lunch and dinner: $6.50
Make a double amount of soup for dinner - it will be tomorrow's lunch.

Breakfast - Oatmeal with milk and banana
Total: $1.62

Lunch - Tuna salad sandwiches

Total: $2.86

Dinner - Chickpeas soup with grilled cheese sandwiches

Total: $2.02


Thursday - Total cost breakfast, lunch and dinner: $7.60
Tonight's dinner - chicken cacciatore is made with chicken thighs which is a great cut with lots of flavor for a low cost.

Breakfast - Softboiled eggs with toast

Total: $1.38

Lunch - Garbanzo bean soup & fruit salad

Total: $2.42

Dinner - Italian Chicken Cacciatore

Total: $3.80


Friday - Total cost breakfast, lunch and dinner: $9.01
On Friday's, a festive meal is in order and tonights dinner - salmon with baked potatoes is slightly expensive, but so tasty and healthy.

Breakfast - Oatmeal with milk and raisins

Total: $1.76

Lunch - Beans & rice with salsa

Total: $1.49

Dinner - Salmon with baked potatoes

Total: $5.76


Saturday - Total cost breakfast, lunch and dinner: $8.40
On Saturday's, you have time to enjoy a leisurely pancake breakfast and a creamy butternut squash risotto makes a great dinner.

Breakfast - Pancakes with maple syrup

Total: $1.6

Lunch - Eggsalad sandwiches and carrot sticks

Total: $1.3

Dinner - Butternut squash risotto

Total: $5.5


Sunday - Total cost breakfast, lunch and dinner: $5.16
On Sunday morning, take your time and make hashbrowns for breakfast. Country sausage stew is both tasty and cheap.

Breakfast - Scrambled eggs with hashbrowns

Total: $1.62

Lunch - Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches with carrot sticks

Total: $0.86

Dinner - Country sausage stew

Total: $2.68

Total cost for the whole week: $50.02