How to Feed a Family Healthy Meals on $128 a Week

Want to purchase healthy food for your family on a tight budget? Be sure to grab your free printable and take this budget grocery list along next time you go grocery shopping.

A ccording to the USDA, the average grocery bill for a family of four with two young children should be only $128 per week on a “thrifty budget”.

But what does this tight grocery budget get you? Is it even possible to purchase healthy foods for such a small amount?

I decided to find out.

In this post I’ll share what I came up with, including:

  • 1-week healthy budget grocery list
  • 1-week healthy budget meal plan with recipes
  • Tips for saving money on healthy groceries for your family

How to Cut Your Grocery Budget and Still Eat Healthy

The following is a budget grocery list for a family of four, with two young children, ages 3 and 5 for one week. I chose this because it was the makeup of my own family not too long ago. However, any family on a budget can use the tips and ideas below to save money on groceries without coupons.

The serving sizes and balance of food groups are based on the USDA Choose My Plate recommendations. We’ll use this as a baseline for a healthy diet in our experiment because it is the standard for setting the USDA grocery spending guideline.

The grocery list is gluten free because trying to eat gluten free on a budget is something a lot of families in this community deal with due to health concerns.

The prices used in the frugal grocery list are based on my natural grocery price list and what I can get in my locale without coupons.

I’ve noted below where things are natural, organic, pastured, or otherwise better than ‘conventional’ quality, and as many of these as possible have been included within the $128 budget.

Using the Budget Grocery List to Feed Your Family Healthy Food

For some of you $128 might sound like a lot; for others, it might feel like an unreachable goal. Your family might be budgeting for more or less than 4.

Maybe you want to eat more organic or less dairy or more meat.

The exact number isn’t the point. As you read through, try to look for the patterns of what types of foods can fit into a healthy budget grocery list. See which tips you could apply to your family, and modify the meal plan and shopping list as needed.

1-Week Healthy Budget Grocery List

Fruit – $14.14

When shopping for fruit, opt lower priced foods like apples, bananas, and oranges and in-season produce.

  • 4 pounds Apples
  • 6 pounds Bananas
  • 1 pound Blueberries, frozen
  • 2 1/2 pounds Any In-Season Fruit (aim for $1.50/lb)
  • 2 Lemons
  • 6 oz Raisins

Vegetables – $29.15

As with fruit, try to plan your meals around lower priced vegetables like carrots, onions, celery, and potatoes and in-season selections.

Also, when following a recipe, don’t be afraid to substitute more expensive veggies for cheaper ones, depending on what’s available when you’re shopping.

If you want to incorporate some organic veggies, buying frozen in bulk is your best bet. You can find a lot of organic food is available at Costco (both fresh and frozen).

  • 4 Avocados
  • 1/3 pound Broccoli, frozen organic
  • 4 pounds Carrots, organic
  • 3/4 pounds Celery
  • 1 bunch Kale
  • 3/4 pound Corn, frozen organic
  • 2 cans Diced Tomatoes, organic
  • 1 head Garlic
  • 1 1/4 pound Green Beans, frozen organic
  • 1 pound Lettuce or Salad Mix, organic
  • 1 small can Mushrooms
  • 3 pounds Potatoes
  • 1 16-oz jar Salsa
  • 10 oz Spinach
  • 4 large Sweet Potatoes, organic
  • 1 pound Tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound Zucchini
  • 1 6-oz can Olives, sliced
  • 1 pound Onion, yellow

Grains – $17.50

Shop in bulk for dry goods as much as possible, and that helps keep prices down a lot.

  • 11 6-inch Corn Tortillas
  • 22 Slices Bread, gluten free
  • 2 pounds Brown Rice Flour, organic
  • 1/2 pound Cornmeal, organic
  • 5 1/2 pounds Oats, gluten free
  • 2 pounds Brown Rice, gluten free organic

Protein – $34.67

You can keep meat costs down by buying larger quantities and freezing.

Canned salmon is a good way to get some Omega-3s into your family’s diet on a tight budget.

Occasionally, opt for eggs or beans to stretch meat dishes or plan a vegetarian meal.

  • 3/4 pound Almonds
  • 3/4 pound Black Beans, dry organic
  • 1 can Salmon
  • 1 pound Chicken Breast
  • 3 pounds Whole Chicken
  • 28 Eggs, naturally nested
  • 1/2 cup Flax Seed, organic
  • 2 pounds Ground Beef, grass fed and grain finished
  • 2/3 pound Red Beans, dry organic
  • 4 1/2 fl oz Peanut Butter, natural
  • 1 6-oz pack Pepperoni

Dairy – $18.64

For my family at least, the USDA recommendation seems to be a crazy high amount of dairy. However, we’ll stick with their guidelines for this experiment.

If you’re able to increase your budget from the baseline of $128 per week, I would use the extra funds to improve the quality of dairy you buy.

  • 1/3 pound Butter
  • 2 pounds Cheddar Cheese
  • 10 oz Mozzarella Cheese
  • 3 1/2 gallons Milk
  • 1 8-oz yogurt (hint: a larger container may be cheaper than the 8 oz)

Pantry – $10.37

The grocery list price does include the cost of everything you’d need to cook meals for the week, right down to the spices. In most cases, you need only a tiny bit, so you’d use this amount to restock your pantry as needed.

  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 Tb Basil
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Cardamom
  • 1 Tb Cumin
  • 2 Tb Dill
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 cup Molasses
  • 14 fl oz Olive Oil, organic
  • 2 Tb Oregano
  • 3 Tb Potato starch
  • 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 6.5 oz Sugar
  • 1/2 Tb Taco seasoning
  • 2 oz Tamari, gluten free
  • 7 oz Tapioca Flour
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 tsp Xanthan Gum
  • 1 Tb Yeast

Total One Week Grocery Cost = $124.47


1-Week Meal Plan – Feed Your Family Healthy Meals for $128/week

Now for the meal plan. I’ll add the disclaimer that your best bet for saving money on groceries is by buying the foods and making the meals that your individual family enjoys. (Less waste that way!)

However, if you want a jumping off point to get started using this budget grocery list, I won’t leave you hanging. Here’s a one-week meal plan complete with recipes and prep notes.

It’s designed to ensure you use up left overs without getting bored of eating the same foods. I have also planned it out so you can cut down on meal prep and batch cook as much as possible.

Here we go!

Sunday – 

Breakfast

Yogurt with Homemade Granola with Blueberries

Recipes: 

Yogurt and Berries

Lunch

Kids – Cheese sandwiches and carrot sticks

Mom and Dad – Salad with carrots, cheese, hard boiled eggs, ranch dressing, and toast

Recipes: 

Snack

Apples

Dinner

Roasted Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans with Milk to Drink

Recipes: 

Prep

  • Cut up carrot sticks for the week’s lunches
  • Soak black beans over night for tomorrow’s dinner

Monday – 

Breakfast

Oatmeal cooked with 2 small apples with milk to drink (Make half the oatmeal from the grocery list and reheat leftovers for tomorrow’s breakfast)

Lunch

Kids – Peanut Butter Sandwiches with Carrots

Mom and Dad – Leftover chicken and mashed potatoes with green beans

Snack

Yogurt with Banana

Dinner

Chicken tacos with avocado, tomato, cheddar, lettuce, brown rice, and beans.

(Make all the brown rice from the grocery list and save leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch and for fried rice for tomorrow’s dinner. Also, cook all the black beans, so you have enough for leftovers for lunch and Wednesday’s dinner.)

Recipes: 

Tuesday –

Breakfast

Oatmeal (warm up leftovers from yesterday) sprinkled with almonds with milk to drink

Lunch

Kids – Cheese sandwiches with carrot sticks

Mom and Dad – Taco salad with leftover chicken, avocado, tomato, rice, beans, and tortillas with fruit

Snack

Apples with almonds

Dinner

Fried Rice

Recipe: 

Wednesday –  

Breakfast

Homemade granola with milk

Lunch

Kids – Salmon sandwiches with carrot sticks. (Refrigerate extra salmon for dinner on Friday.)

Mom and Dad – Leftover fried rice with apple

Snack

Yogurt with Banana

Dinner

Stuffed sweet potatoes with black beans, spinach, yogurt, salsa and milk to drink

Recipe: 

Prep

Soak red beans overnight for tomorrow’s dinner.

Thursday –

Breakfast

Oatmeal with milk to drink (Make the second half of the oats from the grocery list; save the leftovers for tomorrow’s breakfast.)

Lunch

Kids – Peanut butter sandwiches with carrot sticks

Mom and Dad – Leftover fried rice with in-season fruit

Snack

Yogurt with in-season Fruit

Dinner

Chili and Cornbread

Recipes:

Friday –

Breakfast

Oatmeal (warm up leftovers from yesterday) with fruit and milk to drink

Lunch

Kids – Cheese Sandwiches and carrot sticks and yogurt

Mom and Dad – Leftover Chili and Cornbread

Snack

Celery sticks with peanut butter and cheddar cheese

Dinner

Quiche with milk to drink

Recipe: 

Saturday –

woman cooking

Breakfast

Pancakes and eggs with milk to drink

Recipes:

Lunch

Kids – Peanut butter sandwiches with carrot sticks

Mom and Dad – Leftover quiche with carrot sticks and in-season fruit

Snack

Bananas

Dinner

Pizza with olive oil base, mozzarella, pepperoni, spinach, mushrooms, olives; salad with tomato and yogurt dressing

Recipe:


Click to get your healthy budget grocery list and meal plan free printable.

How Much Can You Cut Your Grocery Budget?

Can you spend less than this?

Yes.

I’ve seen meal plans from moms who feed larger families on much less. I will never judge another mom for what she chooses to feed her family or for the tiny budget she has to work with.

I’ve been there and been criticized for it.

By the grace of God, we were able to pay off our $22,000 in debt in 9 months in part thanks to learning how to eat healthy on a tight budget.

Now we’re able to have a bit more of a relaxed grocery budget. I buy the organic milk for my kids now, and we splurge on bacon and good chocolate. :)

Although it’s not perfect, the list above gives a healthy balanced diet on a tight budget.

It includes fresh fruit and vegetables and the best quality food that this budget will allow. The list is full of healthy real foods, not processed junk.

Best of all, no coupons are required to stick to this budget. This also doesn’t include additional grocery savings strategies like planting a garden.

I would love to walk you through creating your own grocery savings system that works for your family – without clipping coupons. Check out my popular course Grocery Savings Made Simple.

shannon Clark, LIFE & FINANCIAL Coach

As a mom, I know what it's like to feel exhausted, overwhelmed by life, and inadequate to meet my children's needs. But I also know you don't have to stay there.

As an author and coach, I've had the joy of encouraging more than 9.1 million moms to find forward motion with their faith, family, and finances — without the frenzy.

Will you be next?

10 thoughts on “How to Feed a Family Healthy Meals on $128 a Week”

  1. it would have been more helpful if you had put the size of the package you bought. For example you have 1/3 a pound of froz. broccoli and 1/2 pound of cornmeal. I have never seen 1/3lb of frozen broccoli for sale, so did you buy an 1 1lb package and estimate the cost of 1/3 of a lb. Also, I have never seen 1/2lb package of cornbread for sale, so did you estimate the cost of 1/2lb and that is in your total cost. The same goes for the spices/pantry items. I don’t know where you can buy tablespoons of anything. I would have liked to have seen the prices of each item individually. However, I do appreciate your time and trouble to do this.

    Reply
    • Yes I do most of my shopping in bulk, so I buy however much is reasonable and then would save the rest for future weeks. In the bulk section of many stores, you can buy small amounts of spices and dry goods if that works better for you. I think that’s a great idea, I will try to add in the individual prices soon. Thanks for the suggestion!

      Reply
  2. This is incredible, Shannon! Thank you for putting this together.
    On another note: I got a Costco membership several months back, but am still trying to figure out how much I love the store (or not). I have a Walmart and an Aldi closer to me, and I’m just not sure yet if there’s anything I can get at Costco that I can’t get between those other two stores (or for a better price). I guess I could do some detailed analysis, but am not sure yet. And sometimes when I buy veggies in bulk from Costco, some go bad before we use them – that’s not a good value, of course!

    Reply
  3. My grocery budget is a constant source of frustration to me. My family is almost identical to your hypothetical family, yet we spend far more than that. Looking over the menu I can see part of it is that we just eat more. My husband is a very high metabolism, super thin, guy who eats a lot. my 4yo son likely has Celiac disease and eats more than anyone I know. Oatmeal is just one of the courses he needs for breakfast. We’ve been instructed to let him eat because he needs the nutrition.

    I know most kids could always eat more, but I feel like I’m feeding a family of adults and it’s killing me.

    Reply
    • Hello! Try doing a high protein breakfast like eggs with lean ham or pot roast (made the night before). Protein takes longer to digest and will keep everyone Fuller longer. Also try upping your fiber content with beans and brown rice with dinner. They also help you fill Fuller longer and are dirt cheap and aren’t loading up your calories! Also do more combined recipes versus stand alone meats will help cut back on pricey meat consumption like chicken, bean and rice mix made in a Crock-Pot versus each item individually served.

      Reply
  4. I need a grocery shopping list for one month to feed a family of four. We eat beef, pork, and turkey or chicken. Lots of veggies like pinto or black beans Lima beans, garbanzo beans, fresh or frozen green beans, dried lentils, corn and squash. We like potatoes pasta and rice as sides. We eat main dish salads. We love desert like baked fruit crumble or parfait with fruit. We eat eggs and bacon or sausage for breakfast as well as granola cereal and waffles. Wheat bread is our favorite choice and lots of southern cornbread with butter!

    Reply

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