Eating Well On $450 a month

I think we’ve been eating pretty well so far this year, spending a little less than $450 each month. With careful planning and using items and ingredients we already have on hand, we’ve been able to enjoy some very tasty and satisfying dinners.

Does it make a difference that I get a discount at Trader Joe’s? Definitely! Not only does the discount provide savings, but also a larger variety of meals to enjoy these days. I’d still buy a few of these items if I didn’t have the discount, but otherwise would substitute other low cost meals. For example, instead of the Caprese salad we had this past month I might have instead made spaghetti with marinara.

Below are most of the dinners we enjoyed at home in April. Ingredients for some of them were things we already had on hand, like the puff pastry for the chicken pot pie or the Polish sausages, sauerkraut, and hot dog rolls. There are less than 30 meals pictured though because we ate out on the first evening of the month for our anniversary, our DIL took us out to dinner on Brett’s birthday, and she brought over the Japanese hiyashi beef stew one evening (a delicious surprise). Other missing days are when we ate leftovers, and a couple of days when I was too tired to take a photo (we had mini pepperoni pizzas and roasted red pepper soup with toasted cheese sandwiches on those nights).

Lunches are always leftovers, and breakfasts are cereal (for me) or oatmeal (for Brett), English muffins with peanut butter and/or jam, or occasionally pancakes.

(Apologies in advance for the poor quality of the photos.)

Clockwise from the top left: Italian wedding soup & beer bread; chicken Waldorf salad with grapes & beer bread; deconstructed Frito pie; chili-pork burritos; chicken pot pie

Clockwise from top left: katsudon; Polish sausage with sauerkraut, three-bean salad; fried rice; Caprese salad, salami, Dutch oven bread; Cuban sandwiches on Dutch oven bread, sweet potato fries

Clockwise from top left: Mississippi pot roast, mashed potatoes, green beans; lemon-ricotta pasta with peas and Dutch oven bread; Cuban bowl, gorgonzola gnocchi and sautéed green beans; French dip sandwich and coleslaw

Clockwise from top left: Korean-style short ribs, bulgogi fried rice, and green beans; loco moco, apples, and carrots; “Chinese takeout” (*beef & broccoli, honey walnut shrimp, and mandarin orange chicken); hiyashi beef stew with rice (from our DIL); cacio e pepe, sautéed zucchini, and garlic toast; tuna melts and apple slices; spanakopita pie and pita bread

Our menu and spending work for us right now because there’s just the two of us. However, if we were still feeding the girls, I think another $200 – $250 per month would be enough to still provide variety and eat well. There would definitely be a few changes in the menu however.

* both the beef & broccoli and honey walnut shrimp were just OK; I will probably not buy them again.


6 thoughts on “Eating Well On $450 a month

  1. Looks like some tasty meals! Were the three items for your “Chinese take-out” dinner all from TJ’s?


    1. Yes, they were. We did not care much for the beef and broccoli or the honey walnut chicken. They’re popular products, but not what we were expecting. The walnut shrimp was nothing like the honey walnut chicken we’ve eaten in Chinese restaurants – we were really surprised by it. The beef in the beef and broccoli was coated with something, and again, not what we were used to getting. Mandarin orange chicken is always delicious though!


  2. Lot of interesting meals there. I had to look up loco moco, as I’ve never heard of it. It looks yummy.

    We were able to stick around $500 last month, which made me determined to get it even lower. It was kinda out of control TBH. I do see some food prices coming back down by us.


    1. I just finished our May shopping today and we’re about $25 over, even with my discount. Lots of new products introduced today and I bought a few to try. Plus needed olive oil ($$) and a couple of other expensive items that I don’t have to purchase often. Costco was expensive as well as we needed coffee ($30, but lasts for two+ months). But, we’d still be right at $450 anyway without the extras, so I’m going to have to buckle down next month. I know it’s doable. Prices here seem to be hanging tight, and don’t seem as low anymore than they did when we arrived. TJs had eggs the other day though for $1.78!!!


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