Cheap Meal Ideas? I can do better!

I follow a lot of grocery and deal sites. I find it fascinating what people are willing to spend money on. What you buy at the grocery store really is a snap shot fof your personal values.

A blog post titled 5 Cheap Meal Ideas for a Tight Grocery Budget was posted on Facebook yesterday and I had to take a look. Immediately, I was annoyed. First, her cost breakdown was void of any specifics. I’m baffled at how spaghetti came out to $4.24. Also, every dish appeared to have meat or dairy as the main highlights. I believe I can do better. For reference, I am going to use this Costco Price List for my price points on the breakdown. Every item might not be on this list, so I will do my best. 


  1. Spaghetti – This is 5 ingredients at most when I make this (counting salt). Pasta – $1.25, 1 can of diced tomatoes – $.79, 1 can of tomato sauce – $.66, herbs and salt are probably $.50 at most. Total – $3.20 (her total was $4.24). You could add lentils for more meatiness but that would only add $.30.
  2. Sausage, Lentil and Rice Skillet – She sites this recipe as what she used. After reading the recipe, I think the sausage is completely unnecessary. Onion – probably a pound is $.58, Bell Pepper – $.75 (sometimes as low as $.50), Lentils – a 1/2 cup weighed 3 ounces which cost $.12 at $.68 a pound, Rice – that, also weighed 3 ounces which comes to $.07 for this recipe, Broth – free (I make my own using veggie scraps). Total – $1.52 (her total was $2.33)
  3. Tuna Melt – This will be a stretch for me because it isn’t something a normally make. Again, she isn’t specific on her breakdown, so I am going to use this recipe as a loose reference. Th recipe has components I don’t like and wouldn’t use but it is a simple personal preference on taste. Chickpeas – $.78 a can (as low as $.50), Celery – $.30, instead of the herbs in her recipe, I would use a tablespoon or 2 of Mrs. Dash  – $.10, I would replace hummus for the mayo – $.16 from a 32 ounce container costing $4.99, Bread – I make my own but sometimes we find vegan bread at the bread outlet for $1.10 a loaf. My total is $2.44 (her was $8.34, WOW!).
  4. Homemade Pizza – She bought her crust. I make my own. Total for the dough I use, which makes 3 pizzas is as follows: All-Purpose flour – $.28 Whole wheat – $.50, Yeast – $.07. Total for the dough is $.85. For the pizza, use a can of $.66 tomato sauce (you could add herbs if you want) and for cheese, you could use this sauce recipe I talked about here. The cheese sauce cost $2. 58 but you are not going to use much. I, also, really enjoy hummus instead of cheese. That is $4.99 for 32 ounce. If you use a quarter of a cup per pizza that is $.43 for the cheese sauce and $.62 for hummus. This is $1.94 for “cheese” pizzas (3 of them) and $2.13 if you use the hummus. If you want a topping, Field Roast sausages cost about $1.00 each when you buy the pack from Costco, so your cost is $4.94/$5.13, respectively (Her cost was $5.33).
  5. Breakfast for dinner – Breakfast for dinner here always means PANCAKES! In her post she does eggs and potatoes. I will do a breakdown of the breakfast potatoes I would do for a fair comparison. Potatoes – $.19 (Costco list price is really high to me, Fred Meyer has had 10 pound bags of potatoes for $1.89 for a long time now), Onion – $.58, Bell Pepper – $.75, Mushrooms – $1.33. Total – $2.85 (She says the eggs cost $2.59 but does not talk about how much the potatoes cost. If you add the same cost of potatoes as I calculated her new total would be $2.78).

My total for a weeks worth of dinners is $14.95 and her total is $23.02. That is a difference of $8.07 in favor of my versions. When money is tight, every penny matters. Removing the most expensive ingredient can really help make that budget work. Vegan versions win (again).

2 thoughts on “Cheap Meal Ideas? I can do better!

  1. Pingback: Recap Wednesday 10/22/15 – 10/28/15 | Vegan for my Wallet

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