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    I Feed My Family Of Five For $100 A Week — Here's Exactly What A Week Of Meals & Groceries Looks Like For Us

    Some weeks are easier to plan than others — but there are a few specific things that always help me.

    Hi! I'm Sydney. I'm a stay-at-home mom of three, and I cook homemade meals for my Colorado family every week.

    The author and her oldest child
    Sydney Martin

    In my house, meal prep and planning are crucial. Not only does it save me a lot of time, but it also helps me keep to a budget, normally around $100 a week.

    Each weekend, I plan all my family's meals for the upcoming week. This includes choosing the recipes I will make — via the internet and cookbooks — plus the actual shopping.

    Several dinner recipes pictured online
    Tasty

    I cook pretty much every meal every day due to a severe peanut allergy in my household. We don't rely on much takeout for this reason. 

    With meal planning, upfront preparation is key — but it's also the most challenging thing. Here are a few tips and tricks that I use each week:

    1) I pick recipes with ingredients that can be used for multiple meals (and in multiple ways). This also includes getting creative with leftovers. Sometimes eating leftovers all the time can get old, but I try to remember that I can always use different components of my leftovers to create new ones.

    2) I look at what's on sale. For example, this week I was able to get six ears of corn for $2!

    3) I buy the cheapest store brand most of the time. Unless it's something that I'm unable to use due to the peanut allergy (or if a different brand is on sale), store brand it is.

    4) I ask my kids to help me! Feeding kids is a challenge. They change their minds constantly, and they seemingly get new taste buds every meal. When I ask them to help pick out recipes (usually by them looking at pictures), I find that they are more excited to eat them.

    My kids are small, so I'm really able to make $100 go a long way — as long as it's coupled with a plan.

    This past week, my groceries rang in at $100.28. This includes all breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. I found my recipes on Tasty and input all my ingredients into my local grocery store's app.

    Total cost of groceries for the week- $100.28
    Sydney Martin

    I would also like to mention that as you continue to build your pantry, it's easier to spend within your budget because you will utilize staples you have already acquired. But for the purpose of this article, several pantry staples (things like vanilla extract, oats, and brown sugar) were included in the $100 I spent. The only ones I did not include were olive oil and spices.

    Planning-wise, the big thing I kept in mind for the week ahead was that I wanted meals that were easier than usual — both in prep and cleanup.

    All three of my kids are home right now for summer break, so anything I prepare, I have to do in between taking care of them. I also had an appointment coming up one afternoon this week, meaning I wouldn't be home to prep dinner as usual. So I knew I had to be extra strategic about stretching leftovers.

    Here's how the week went!

    For my weekly grocery haul, I normally opt for delivery because it saves me a lot of time and prevents impulse buys. However, this Saturday didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped.

    Groceries delivered to the front porch
    Sydney Martin

    When I usually schedule my delivery, I'm able to select a morning or afternoon slot. But this week, the earliest delivery time available was later in the evening. 

    To accommodate that time crunch, I made a change to tonight's recipe selection and bumped up a different (faster-to-make) dinner from later in the week.

    Here was my grocery haul when it finally arrived:

    Groceries spread out on the countertop
    Sydney Martin

    (Produce: Strawberries, bananas, peaches, cucumber, corn on the cob, yellow onion, red onion, tomato, garlic, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, pico de gallo/salsa. Meat: Bacon, deli slices, chicken breasts, chicken thighs, ground beef. Dairy: Eggs, shredded cheese, Greek yogurt, mozzarella, milk, cream cheese. Pantry: Oats, cereal, lemon juice, pita, BBQ sauce, taco seasoning, jumbo shells, penne pasta, enchilada sauce, brown sugar, vanilla extract, chipotle peppers in adobo, rice, pretzels, graham crackers. Misc.: Crescent dough, tzatziki, hummus.)

    To make up for the lost time, I swapped in a dinner recipe from later in the week that had the shortest prep time: Enchilada Stuffed Shells.

    Ingredients used for Enchilada Stuffed Shells.
    Sydney Martin

    Prep was simple: quickly chopping and sautéing onions and peppers, and boiling a big pot of water for the shells.

    Sydney Martin

    Once the veggies started to soften, I added ground beef to the pan. When all was browned, I scooped the mixture into the shells.

    Stuffed shells prior to going into the oven
    Sydney Martin

    This part was a little more time consuming than I had anticipated, but overall this recipe still came together quickly. For some reason, I ended up having extra shells, so I decided to throw them on the side and make a few plain ones in case the kids preferred them that way.

    I topped the shells with enchilada sauce and some cheese, and everything was ready for the oven! This recipe only needed 15 minutes to bake, which was the main reason I chose it.

    Stuffed shells prior to going into the oven
    Sydney Martin

    To stick with the time-saving theme, I got a head start on the dishes while the shells baked in the oven.

    Dishes that needed to be hand washed.
    Sydney Martin

    I always empty my dishwasher first thing in the morning so that I can put my dirty dishes directly into it throughout the day. This means that I'm not left with a huge stack at the end of the day.

    After 15 minutes, the shells (and the dishes) were ready!

    Stuffed shells coming out of the oven
    Sydney Martin

    When plating everyone's meals, my husband and I stick to the suggested serving size in the recipe. The older kids typically share a serving, and I just estimate for our youngest.

    Stuffed shells plated for the family
    Sydney Martin

    This recipe turned out really well, and I would make this again. However, even though I bought mild enchilada sauce, it was still a bit spicy for the kids. Next time I would try a different sauce or maybe salsa to help make it a little more family-friendly.

    On Sundays, I usually make a fun breakfast that I know the kids will like. This week it was Ham, Egg & Cheddar Pockets. I used bacon instead of ham because I wanted to be able to utilize it later in the week — and my family prefers bacon anyway.

    Ingredients for breakfast pockets
    Sydney Martin

    The recipe called for puff pastry, but crescent dough sheets were on sale, so I went with those instead.

    Puff pastry on a sheet pan
    Sydney Martin

    While the oven preheated, I prepped the bacon and eggs.

    Bacon and eggs prepped for breakfast pockets
    Sydney Martin

    Whenever I make something that calls for bacon inside of it, I put the bacon into my food processor to give it a quick chop. This method makes it easier for my kids to eat without having to try and bite off a large piece with each bite.

    Sydney Martin

    Assembly was super easy. Just place each ingredient on half of the dough, and then top it with the other half.

    Assembling breakfast pockets
    Sydney Martin

    I used a fork to seal the edges and popped them in the oven for 15 minutes. Once cooked, I served these with a side of fresh peaches.

    Breakfast pockets plated with fruit
    Sydney Martin

    These were a HIT.

    Sydney Martin

    My son especially loved these and kept asking for more! He ended up eating two full-size pockets — and we still had leftovers.

    Immediately after breakfast, I started getting dinner prepped. This recipe for Chicken Gyros required time to marinate the chicken ahead of cooking.

    Ingredients for chicken gyros
    Sydney Martin

    The marinade had a Greek yogurt base and only needed a few extra add-ins: yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, and spices. Once the marinade was mixed together, I added it into a Ziploc bag with chicken thighs and let everything sit in the fridge.

    Sydney Martin

    Because dinner prep was already in progress, lunch needed to be extremely simple. We had turkey sandwiches, nothing on the side.

    Plated turkey sandwiches
    Sydney Martin

    Keeping it real! Plus, everyone was still pretty full from the big breakfast we had, and the kids were eager to spend time at the neighborhood pool.

    Turkey sandwiches down the hatch and to the pool we went!

    The author's daughter at the pool
    Sydney Martin

    Post-pool, it was back to dinner prep for the Chicken Gyros. I stacked the chicken on top of an onion and put it into the oven. Shop The Recipe

    Chicken gyros going into the oven
    Sydney Martin

    One oversight I made was that I didn't have a wooden skewer. I ended up using toothpicks. This strategy worked out OK, although it ended up falling over in the oven (thankfully still on the baking sheet!).

    My husband and I ended up going with a pita pocket approach (below), and I dished up the kids' plates with everything separated so they could build their own.

    Plated chicken gyros
    Sydney Martin

    The recipe says to cook the chicken for 1.5–2 hours. I automatically set my timer for 2 hours and didn't check it again. Next time I would make sure to keep a close eye on it because at the 2-hour mark, my chicken was a bit overcooked.

    The build-your-own technique ended up working well because it became something fun for the kids to do and made them more excited to eat!

    The author's kid eating a chicken gyro
    Sydney Martin

    For Monday's breakfast, the kids picked Apple Jacks and were eager to dig in.

    After breakfast, we all headed out to the park. Once we got back, everyone was thirsty and hungry. While the kids worked on their water bottles, I made a quick snack: Strawberry Cheesecake Crackers.

    Ingredients for cream cheese crackers
    Sydney Martin

    I spread some plain cream cheese on the crackers and then topped them with strawberries and honey. The hardest part of this recipe was getting my crackers to break perfectly in half. 😂

    Cream cheese crackers assembled
    Sydney Martin

    Going into this recipe, I was worried that the kids wouldn't like the plain cream cheese. But to my surprise, these ended up being pretty sweet. Next time I would use less honey because the graham cracker was sweet enough by itself.

    I also had my kitchen helper using a more ~abstract~ technique to assemble the crackers.

    Sydney Martin

    Despite the snarl, these made the cut. All three kids liked these, and I was happy to help finish up any leftovers.

    Recipe: Strawberry Cheesecake Crackers I Shop the Recipe

    Worth noting, though? With meal planning, things can suddenly derail at any time. In any given week, sometimes making snacks or dinner is the toughest part of my day. A lot of the time I have someone pulling on my leg or crying in my arms.

    The author's daughter crying
    Sydney Martin

    I just wanted to acknowledge this because even with the best meal prep and planning, feeding a household (and keeping everything else together) is still HARD. As parents, we often need to roll with the punches. And sometimes I need to remind myself to just breathe and do the best I can.

    Onward to lunch. For the the kids, it was turkey sandwiches again — this time served with strawberries, cucumbers, and hummus. For me, leftover stuffed shells.

    Sydney Martin

    Later in the day, the afternoon snack was pretzels.

    My two girls just started napping on the same schedule again, which means that their nap is my time to hustle. If all goes smoothly, I can get a good workout in and prep everything I possibly can for dinner.

    Things *did* go smoothly this day, so during naptime, I started on Chipotle Chicken for dinner.

    Ingredients for chipotle chicken
    Sydney Martin

    All that was required of me ahead of time was to add a can of adobo chiles, salt, and pepper into my unused chicken from the previous night.

    I was worried that the chiles were going to be too spicy for my kids, so I gave it a quick taste test.

    Chicken marinating in a Ziploc
    Sydney Martin

    The recipe calls for the chiles to be chopped up before adding them to the chicken. Once I tasted them, I decided to leave them whole so the chicken would pull in the flavor as it marinated — but then I could easily take the chiles out once it came time to cook the chicken. Shop The Recipe

    Cooking the chicken was very fast: 4 minutes on each side in a bit of oil. After that, I chopped up the chicken into bites that I normally see at Qdoba or Chipotle.

    Chopped chicken on a cutting board
    Sydney Martin

    Once I did, I was really impressed with how close the chicken actually looked to being from one of those restaurants. Then I gave it a taste and gave myself (and the recipe author) a pat on the back! 10/10 recommend.

    For plating, my husband and I assembled our bowls and added salsa. The kids kept theirs basic with some rice and cheese.

    Sydney Martin

    The next time I make this, I would add a few more toppings. It wouldn't cost much and would have elevated the meal a little more.

    The only downside with this dinner was a bit of cleanup. I'll be the first to admit it: I don't love cooking things in oil on my stove. I hate when the oil splatters, makes a mess, and leaves all the crust in the bottom of the pan. But one trick that I use is adding a splash of chicken broth to deglaze my pan at the end — even if I'm completely done cooking. This saves me time on the old soak-and-scrub when it comes time for dishes.

    A pan deglazing on the stovetop
    Sydney Martin

    Tuesday's breakfast was the last of the leftover Ham, Egg & Cheddar Pockets.

    Leftover breakfast pockets plated
    Sydney Martin

    I added a side of peaches, and the girls insisted on some Apple Jacks as well. My youngest ate up the remaining scrambled eggs that were extra from the egg pockets.

    After breakfast, we headed out to enjoy the sunshine!

    The author's daughter at the playground
    Sydney Martin

    I didn't make a snack today. I just started getting lunch ready as soon as we got home — which was yogurt parfaits with peaches, strawberries, and bananas.

    A bowl of yogurt parfait
    Sydney Martin

    Some days my kids like granola in their yogurt and other days not. Today we left it out. 

    Recipe: Fruit Parfaits I Shop The Recipe

    On Tuesday afternoon, the kids and I ran a few errands. This meant I needed to put together a dinner fairly quickly once we got home. Enter: the BBQ Chicken Ring.

    Ingredients for BBQ chicken ring
    Sydney Martin

    This recipe appealed to me because it had the BBQ flavors we love in the summer, but with the comfort of a good and flaky crescent roll.

    Even though I had been thawing my chicken that morning, it was still a little frozen — so I tossed it into my Instant Pot.

    The author's Instant Pot
    Sydney Martin

    While the chicken was cooking, I started piecing together the components of the ring.

    Sydney Martin

    It was mostly just layering cheese and meat, wrapping everything back up, and then popping it all into the oven.

    Sydney Martin

    The BBQ Chicken Ring baked for 25 minutes and then came out looking nice and golden. Shop The Recipe.

    The cooked BBQ chicken ring
    Sydney Martin

    Pre-bake, I wondered if some of the filling would ooze out of the cracks or if the bottom of the ring would be soggy at all, but it wasn't!

    While the chicken ring was in the oven, I gave my Instant Pot a quick rinse after the chicken was done and then tossed in some corn on the cob.

    Corn on the cob in the Instant Pot
    Sydney Martin

    The corn only took 2 minutes to cook once it got to pressure. IP to the rescue!

    I thought this meal was great, and so did my husband. We had plenty of leftovers too.

    Plated BBQ chicken ring and corn
    Sydney Martin

    My son thought the chicken was a little too sweet, so next time I might try a BBQ sauce that leans a bit more savory.

    Wednesday was Apple Jacks for breakfast and then a walk to the library.

    The author's son at the library
    Sydney Martin

    Once we got back home, I put together the snack. It was (back by popular demand!) Strawberry Cheesecake Crackers again.

    A plate of cheesecake crackers
    Sydney Martin

    This time, I left out the honeyLike I mentioned before, the graham cracker was sweet enough to balance out the plain cream cheese. It was also less messy of a cleanup, so I was completely on board.

    (Also, when I say everyone loves this snack, I mean it. I even had it planned as a little bedtime snack for myself once the kids went to bed.)

    The author's daughter enjoying cheesecake crackers
    Sydney Martin

    The weather here has been very hot in Colorado this week. Our temps have been over 100 degrees, so we have been keeping our lunches pretty light. The kids wanted yogurt parfaits again today. Instead of using granola, I just crumbled up a few graham crackers I had hanging around from the morning snack and added fruit.

    A bowl of yogurt parfait
    Sydney Martin

    For dinner, I wanted to use up the last of the chicken — plus the leftover bell peppers I had from Saturday's meal. I made One Pot Chicken Fajita Pasta.

    Ingredients for chicken pasta
    Sydney Martin

    There was a bit of slicing and dicing upfront, but nothing too complicated.

    Prepped ingredients for chicken pasta
    Sydney Martin

    Everything cooks in one pan — first the chicken, then the veggies.

    Sydney Martin

    One note for feeding spice-adverse eaters, like I am. The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of chili powder. I ended up only putting in 1/2 teaspoon and thought it was perfect for my family. If I fed my kids anything else spicy this week, they were going to turn into little jalapeños!

    The last few steps were cooking the noodles with sauce and adding cheese at the end.

    Sydney Martin

    The recipe says it makes four servings, but after plating everyone up, we had a lot of leftovers. The meal was also extremely filling!

    Chicken pasta plated for the family
    Sydney Martin

    For breakfast, my daughter requested a honey sandwich. Using cookie cutters, I decided to do something fun and make a couple of dinosaurs for her! Everyone else had oatmeal topped with brown sugar and milk.

    Sydney Martin

    Always an easy hit in our house.

    After breakfast, we headed to the park early and spent the morning there before it got too hot.

    The author's kids smiling at the park
    Sydney Martin

    After awhile I heard my son yell across the park to his sister that it was time to go so they could eat "cream cheese crackers." My daughter promptly said goodbye to her park friends, just as eager for her snack.

    Back home: snack time! My kids have requested this snack every day since I made it for the first time. 😂

    Cheesecake crackers plated
    Sydney Martin

    Today I swapped in bananas because I had finished up the strawberries yesterday.

    Lunch on Thursday was still light and easy: sandwiches with veggies, hummus, and pretzels.

    A few weeks ago, my son picked out a recipe that was breakfast for dinner. Ever since then, this has been a big request! So this week, I decided to make Cinnamon Roll French Toast Roll-ups.

    Ingredients for cinnamon roll French toast roll ups
    Sydney Martin

    I used a simple white bread for this recipe because I thought it would absorb the moisture of the egg the best.

    The steps for this recipe included making an egg-and-milk mixture for dipping, and a brown-sugar center. Then you spread it on flattened bread.

    Sydney Martin

    Once all the pieces of bread were ready, I rolled them up and put them in the pan after dipping them in the egg-and-milk mixture.

    French toast roll ups cooking in the pan
    Sydney Martin

    I turned them halfway to make sure each side was golden. Shop The Recipe.

    To round out the dinner and add protein, I made some quick scrambled eggs. I also added the leftover bacon from earlier in the week, and a side of peaches.

    Sydney Martin

    I ended up having to make an entire second batch of these because the kids kept coming back for more. By the time they were done eating, there wasn't anything left for my husband and me. Thankfully, this recipe was fast, so it didn't take long to get us fed too!

    TGIF! Friday's breakfast was a favorite repeat: honey dinos and oatmeal.

    Sydney Martin

    We spent another morning at the playground — then headed home once lunchtime rolled around.

    The author's daughter playing at the park
    Sydney Martin

    Lunch for the kids and me was the same as the day before. My husband finished off the final leftovers of the enchilada stuffed shells.

    Sydney Martin

    I was at an appointment for the entire afternoon and didn't get home until dinnertime. I accounted for this when I was planning the week — so we ate leftover fajita pasta.

    Sydney Martin

    This also helped finalize the clear-out of the fridge before we did our grocery haul again over the weekend.

    Saturday was a busy morning because we were heading out on the road. Breakfast was oatmeal again because I knew it would stick with the kids for a bit.

    A bowl of brown-sugar oatmeal
    Sydney Martin

    Then we hit the road. Today was a special day, as we got to celebrate the Olympics in my daughter's gymnastics class. Olympics 2032, here we come!

    The author's daughter at gymnastics class
    Sydney Martin

    Normally on Saturday, I would prepare for the upcoming week, but because we were traveling, I saved it for Sunday.

    Overall, I feel pretty satisfied with how this past week turned out! I do wish I had incorporated more vegetables into the week, but other than that, things went smoothly.

    Again, I understand plans like this won't work for every family. Some families may require a larger budget, have bigger mouths to feed, or have more allergies to consider. I also acknowledge that I'm fortunate to be able to be home to plan, prep, and cook.

    The author and her daughter
    Sydney Martin

    But despite different needs, I feel that meal planning can help simplify and benefit everyone in some capacity — and I hope that sharing mine here is able to help in some small way.

    If you're looking for more inspiration, feel free to check out my previous weekly meal plan posts here and here! You can also follow me on Instagram at @sydneyinsuburbia.

    The author's week of meals
    Sydney Martin / BuzzFeed

    What does meal planning look like in your house? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!