$103. 12 meals-- all ingredients purchased at Whole Foods.
I get requests for this all the time... LEAST expensive, but still fairly healthy meals.
I've put together my top 12 inexpensive meals-- all calculated based on Whole Foods prices-- I buy everything at Whole Foods. (Obviously.)
This is 12 meals for a family of 5 using approximately* $103-- so 2 weeks of dinners.
In many cases there will be leftovers that can be used the next day for lunch, or on the 7th night if you want to try to do 7 dinners for $50.
This list was not created in an effort to make sure your diet is well rounded (although it's fairly healthy.) This list was created for those weeks when you have to get your grocery budget to stretch super tight. Or, for months when you have an unexpected expense and had to dip into grocery money to cover it--this is for THAT.
When I tell people I blog/Instagram about how to shop & save at Whole Foods, some are really surprised. Whole Foods often has an unfair reputation as being too expensive. Sure... if you want to compare buying "anything-goes" groceries to the items Whole Foods allows (at last count they have 81 ingredients banned from being on their shelves), then technically there are many items that are "cheaper" at another grocery store. But, I stick to a tight budget-- and over time I slowly gave up all other stores for Whole Foods. (I still buy ONE thing at Publix-- olives. It's the only 365 Brand item I don't totally love-- but I do splurge on the amazing olive bar when I can.) But Whole Foods wins out in terms of lower cost for healthy/natural/responsible ingredients.
The reason I'd rather figure out how to shop at Whole Foods is simple. I would rather pay the farmer than the doctor. And to get real for a second here--- with healthcare the way it is at this moment-- this is more important to me for my family than ever. Quality ingredients, sustainable, healthy--- and foods that will improve my health, not diminish it.
Let's do itAll of these are vegetarian, some are also vegan, and some are also gluten free.
Click on the meal to go to the recipe.
Week 1: (serves 5 people)1. Lentil Soup- $7
2. Quesadillas- $8
3. Pasta Salad- $8
4. Barley Soup- $7
5. Frittata- $8
6. Shepherd's Pie - $12 (you will have enough to make this again, though)
Week 2: (serves 5 people)
7. Mac & Cheese- $9
8. 5 Bean Chili- $11
9. Loaded Baked Potatoes-$9
10. Pizza- $9
11. Nachos- $8
12. Avocado Pasta - $7- boil pasta, top with avocado, salt, olive oil, garlic- simple!
I also have a great Split Pea Soup recipe here that costs $6 to make-- you could sub that in for one of the $11 or $12 meals above and the total cost would be even a couple dollars under $100.
Tag me if you try any of these recipe @ilovewholefoods
Eat well & have fun!
*I say approximately because, for example, this week avocados are $1 each at Whole Foods, but in the off season they may be $2.50-- so it's an average.
***The above costs assume you have spices and condiments already. (Salt, pepper, cumin, thyme, olive oil, etc) Even if you don't have them you could technically make it without-- they'd just be blander! If you are starting from scratch and have no spices, try to buy 1-2 new species a week if you can budget for it.