Times are tough. Feeding a family of six is expensive. Normally we try to feed our family farm fresh eggs and tasty produce from our homestead garden, but heading into a cold Wisconsin winter, like most families, groceries are our main source of food. On our road to becoming homesteaders we pinched all of our pennies and learned a thing or two about stretching our dollar. We also have the homestead skills to make our own bread, tortillas and pasta.
So we challenged ourselves: Could we feed our family of six, for one week a delicious homestead dinner for under $20? That’s six people multiplied by seven days or, in other words, 42 homestead dinners for under $20. That is just $0.47 cents per dinner!
The rules are to only use groceries (within $20) and we could only use salt and pepper and some oil from within our kitchen staples. Normally, we would use eggs from our chickens and produce from our garden, but for this challenge, we did not allow that and used only our $20 worth of groceries.
Assemble Your Frugal Homestead Shopping List
We created a list and started shopping around. We have a local Aldi and the prices and selection seemed doable within our tight budget. Our strategy was to focus on cheap made from scratch staples.
We started by buying a bag of flour for $1.15 and a package of yeast for $0.89. This would provide us with homemade bread, hamburger buns, pasta noodles and tortillas all for around 10% of the entire budget! We also found a discounted, 10-pound bag of Russet potatoes for only $1.49! This was a huge score and would work in many homestead meals. Here is our entire and exact list of items we purchased:
- All Purpose Flour: $1.15
- Yeast: $0.89
- 10lb Russet Potatoes: $1.49
- 3 lb 73/27 Ground Beef: $7.49
- 12 Large Eggs: $0.68
- 12 Large Eggs: $0.68
- 24 Oz Meat Pasta Sauce: $0.85
- 2 lb Spaghetti Noodles: $1.39
- Pinto Beans: $1.39
- 3lb Long Grain Rice: $1.89
- Steam Veg Mix: 0.79
- Aldi Total $18.69
- * Grand Total $19.93
*We used the Aldi app to plan this list, but in the store the prices were much lower. So with our leftover $1.31 we bought a 1-gallon bag of milk from our local KwikTrip. (That’s right: Here in Wisconsin, we have milk in bags! See the video to learn more!) So, with our milk purchase, our grand total was $19.93.
Meal Planning for a Tight Budget
To stretch our budget, we started on day zero by preparing a bunch of bread and hamburger buns using our flour and yeast. Please watch the video to see the meals in all of their glory but here is a quick summary:
- Day 1. Meals 1-6. Smash Burgers with homemade hamburger buns and Fried Potatoes.
- Day 2. Meals 7-12. Shepherd's Pie with homemade bread
- Day 3. Meals 13-18. Breakfast For Dinner. Egg Crunchrolls with Homemade Tortillas and made from scratch hash browns
- Day 4. Meals 19-24. Beef Tacos with Homemade Tortillas, Sticky white rice and pinto beans
- Day 5. Meals 25-30. Spaghetti- Homemade Pasta Noodles (and store bought pasta) with meat sauce and a side of homemade bread
- Day 6. Meals 31-36. Potato Soup and a side of homemade bread
- Day 7. Meals 37-42. Leftover Shepherd’s Pie, leftover rice, beans and leftover Spaghetti.
Overall, we had seven days of delicious meals. The homemade hamburger buns were 10 times better than store bought buns! We also made tortillas for the first time and our girls had a blast making them... and again, they tasted way better over store bought tortillas. Our favorite meal was a tossup between the beef tacos, rice and beans on day four VS the Egg Crunch Rolls we had on day three. Those tortillas hit it out of the park for us. We usually have a weekly taco night on our homestead and from now on it will only be with homemade tortillas!
Overall we were amazed with how well these meals turned out on such a tight budget. It was a lot of extra work making everything from scratch but well worth the effort. All of these meals could have been improved by adding some homestead flair. For example, the burgers on Day 1 would normally be topped with fresh tomatoes and lettuce from our garden along with a side of our own homemade pickles. Spaghetti on Day 5 would have been improved by using our homemade spaghetti sauce we canned earlier this year and the eggs would have all tasted better had we used farm fresh eggs from our own hens.
Please watch the video to see how these amazing meals turned out!
If your homestead is looking to stretch your meal budget, you can really go a long way and still enjoy some amazing dinners especially if you are willing to cook them from scratch and can compliment them with produce from your own homestead. Please enjoy the video version.
Kerry W. Mann, Jr. moved to a 20-acre homestead in 2015, where he and his family use modern technology, including YouTube and Instructables.com, to learn new skills and teach homestead projects. Connect with Kerry on his Homestead How YouTube page, Instructables, Pinterest, Facebook, and at My Evergreen Homestead. Read all of Kerry’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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