Saving

10 Meals for $25? Here's How This Foodie Did It

Tim Stobierski

I consider myself a foodie—it’s the one vice I’ve held onto over the years. Cooking and trying out new foods doesn’t come cheap, though, and over the last few months, I’ve noticed my food bill creeping up.

Recently, I spent more than $25 for ingredients to make chicken curry for lunch—a dish that lasted just two meals. That’s a good chunk of change, and got my thinking about how many meals I could make for the same amount. Could I cover 10—a work week’s worth of breakfasts and lunches?

The answer, it turned out, was yes—and it was a lot easier that I thought. Here’s how I did it.

Related: 10 Cheap (and Healthy) Foods that Last a Long Time

1. I meal-planned before hitting the grocery store.

This accomplished two things. I avoided buying stuff I already had by checking the fridge and cabinets before shopping. Having a list also helped me stick to just what I needed.

Here’s my menu, which actually offered more variety than usual. (What can I say? I’m a creature of habit.)

DayBreakfastLunch
Monday2 fried eggs, toast, bananaCaesar salad and black beans
TuesdayEggs and bean scramble, toast, bananaNoodle and veggie saute
Wednesday2 fried eggsLeftover noodles
ThursdayEggs in purgatory, toast, bananaCaesar salad and black beans
FridayFrench toast, bananaLentils and rice

And my shopping list:

  • 1 loaf of bread, $2
  • 1 dozen eggs, $1.79
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes, $1.09
  • 1 pound dried black beans, $1.79
  • 1 pound dried lentils, $1.74
  • 2-pound bag of rice, $5.39
  • 2 packages of shirataki noodles, $4.98
  • 1 bag of Caesar salad mix, $1.99
  • 1 bag of spinach, $1.50
  • 5 bananas, $0.96
  • 1 bag of frozen broccoli, $2

Total: $25.23

2. I substituted cheaper proteins.

A pound of chicken breast—my go-to protein—costs, on average, $3.24, and sometimes lasts just one meal. (I get hungry, okay?) A dozen eggs, by comparison, costs $1.79, and a pound of dried lentils and black beans costs $1.74 and $1.79, respectively. Depending on the bean, I can get 10 servings from one bag, and easily stretch a carton of eggs four or five meals.

Bonus: I recently lost 60 pounds in a year by not eating meat until dinnertime—and exercising more—so there are health benefits, too. That’s not to say meat lovers can’t save money: A few slices of turkey breast, for example, shouldn’t add much to the bill.

3. I gave each ingredient multiple jobs.

Cooked the same way, eating eggs and beans every day would get old—fast—so I mixed it up. Although I ate eggs every morning, frying, scrambling, poaching and using them for French toast kept it fresh. (A good spice cabinet helps, too.)

Don’t like eggs or beans? Tuna, tofu and starches like potatoes and rice are other versatile ingredients.

4. I kept my leftovers.

Leftovers save money and time. I traveled all day for work on Wednesday, which meant I couldn’t cook. Normally, I’d eat out, but having leftover noodles instead easily saved me $10.

Final Verdict

All told, my $25.23 grocery bill broke down to $2.52 per meal—but I’d argue it was really closer to $1.73, considering all the leftover dried goods I have. With a pantry full of staples, I now have room in my budget to include more fresh vegetables, fruits and other, pricier ingredients next week.

acorns+cnbcacorns cnbc

Join Acorns

GET STARTED

About Us

Learn More

Follow Us

All investments involve risk, including loss of principal. The contents presented herein are provided for general investment education and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any specific securities or engage in any particular investment strategy. Acorns is not engaged in rendering any tax, legal, or accounting advice. Please consult with a qualified professional for this type of advice.

Any references to past performance, regarding financial markets or otherwise, do not indicate or guarantee future results. Forward-looking statements, including without limitations investment outcomes and projections, are hypothetical and educational in nature. The results of any hypothetical projections can and may differ from actual investment results had the strategies been deployed in actual securities accounts. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

Advisory services offered by Acorns Advisers, LLC (“Acorns Advisers”), an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Brokerage and custody services are provided to clients of Acorns Advisers by Acorns Securities, LLC (“Acorns Securities”), a broker-dealer registered with the SEC and a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”). Acorns Pay, LLC (“Acorns Pay”) manages Acorns’s demand deposit and other banking products in partnership with Lincoln Savings Bank, a bank chartered under the laws of Iowa and member FDIC. Acorns Advisers, Acorns Securities, and Acorns Pay are subsidiaries of Acorns Grow Incorporated (collectively “Acorns”). “Acorns,” the Acorns logo and “Invest the Change” are registered trademarks of Acorns Grow Incorporated. Copyright © 2019 Acorns and/or its affiliates.

NBC Universal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns Grow Incorporated.