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

Because of a food allergy in my household, I cook pretty much every meal, every day.

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

The author and her youngest child
Sydney Martin

With three kids under 7, meal prep and meal planning are essential in my house. Figuring out all the meals ahead of time allows me to save time and stick to a budget (usually around $100) each 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.

Various recipes 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, up-front 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 meals.

2) I look at what's on sale. For example, this week I was able to get chicken BOGO and eggs for nearly half off!

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.

Sydney Martin

Of course, you may need to alter your budget if you have teenagers or live in areas with a higher cost of living.

This past week, my groceries rang in at $103.25. This includes all breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. I found my recipes online and input all my ingredients into my local grocery store's app.

The author's weekly grocery reciept
Sydney Martin

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

When preparing for the upcoming week, I needed to take into account that my son would be starting school this week. I also had an appointment on one day that would prevent me from having my usual prep and cooking time — so I wanted at least a few recipes that were even faster and easier than usual.

Here's how the week went!

For my weekly groceries, I normally opt for delivery. This saves me a lot of time, prevents impulse buys, and I don't have to bring my kids into the store to shop.

Here was my grocery haul once it arrived on Saturday afternoon:

The author's grocery haul
Sydney Martin

(Produce: Onions, carrots, celery, garlic, spinach, lemon, mushrooms, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, zucchini, cilantro, lime, tomato, cucumber, chives, frozen spinach, frozen peas. Meat: Frozen meatballs, canned tuna, chicken, Canadian bacon. Dairy: Greek yogurt, Parmesan, Monterey Jack cheese, cheddar cheese, mozzarella, milk. Pantry: Diced tomatoes with basil, chicken broth, orzo, rotini, flour, bread crumbs, lentils, corn tortillas, flour tortillas, canned whole tomatoes, chipotle chiles in adobo, lemon juice, popcorn, pizza sauce. Misc.: Cucumber-yogurt dip, pizza dough.)

Since it was my family's last Saturday of summer break, I tried to keep it easy for dinner. I wanted something fast and hands off. I decided on Italian Meatball and Vegetable Soup.

Ingredients for soup
Sydney Martin

To save even more time, I used pre-made frozen meatballs instead of making my own. 

Prep for this recipe was quickly chopping veggies and garlic. Then I gave them a nice steam and added broth, then meatballs and spinach. Super easy!

Sydney Martin

Once all the ingredients were added, I covered the pot and let the soup simmer on the stove until we were ready to eat. (Also, I ended up cutting my meatballs in half to make them easier for little mouths to eat.)

Before serving, I added a squeeze of lemon juice and a bit of Parmesan.

Sydney Martin

I was actually amazed at how well my kids ate this. They loved the meatballs, and I loved that they were getting a decent amount of veggies alongside.

Sydney Martin

We had zero leftovers!

Our Sunday, I wanted to make something that would carry over into the rest of the week: Sheet Pan Breakfast Pizza.

Ingredients for breakfast pizza
Sydney Martin

Two things that help me stay within budget are paying attention to serving size and stretching any leftovers. For example, this recipe called for 11 ounces of pizza dough — but I had 16.

Weighing pizza dough
Sydney Martin

So I weighed out the 11 and saved the remaining dough to stretch into later in the week!

I rolled out the dough and let it bake for a few minutes before adding all the toppings. While the dough was baking, I scrambled the eggs.

Sydney Martin

Normally I would wait and put all components of our breakfast on a plate at once, but because we had a busy morning ahead, I had the kids get started on their bananas while the pizza was baking.

The author's kid eating a banana
Sydney Martin

After a few more minutes in the oven, breakfast was served! The kids were really excited about this breakfast and ate really well. I was happy that I was able to get some veggies in first thing in the morning.

Sydney Martin

Lunch on Sunday was a bit scattered, and everyone ate at various times. We did make-your-own yogurt parfaits.

Sunday was our last day of summer break, and I didn't want the evening to be taken up by cooking. I made Easy Chicken Fajitas on a sheet pan.

Ingredients for sheet pan fajitas
Sydney Martin

I did all the prep for this meal during afternoon naps for my youngest kids. The DIY seasoning blend came together in seconds and added a lot of flavor.

DIY blend
Sydney Martin

One alteration I made with this is that I put in half the amount of chili powder to make it less spicy for the kids.

The only other prep needed was slicing veggies and chicken. The recipe calls for three bell peppers of different colors — but I only received two in my delivery.

Sydney Martin

It still worked out fine, though.

Once prep was done, all it took was tossing some foil on my sheet pan to make for easier cleanup later. After 20 minutes in the oven, dinner was on the table.

Sydney Martin

As mentioned, my family normally sticks to the specified serving sizes in a recipe, but if anyone wants to have seconds, they're always welcome.

For reference, here's what everyone's plates looked like when put all together. Sometimes my kids eat four bites and are stuffed. Other times they eat and eat and eat!

The fajitas were light and satisfying. My youngest really enjoyed the crunch of the peppers on her teething gums!

The author's baby eating
Sydney Martin

We had leftovers from this meal, which was a relief, because I had planned on reusing some of the components for a different meal later in the week.

Leftover fajitas
Sydney Martin

Monday was the first day of school. (Second grade, here we come!) In order to ensure things went as smoothly as possible, I pulled out the leftover Breakfast Pizza and quickly warmed it in the oven.

Sydney Martin

We are extremely fortunate in that school doesn't start super early — and we can actually walk to it! With a hands-off breakfast and good preparation, I was able to save plenty of time for the necessary "first day of school" photos. 😉

The author's family on the first day of school
Sydney Martin

As any parent of multiple young kids knows: Even with a decent amount of time, it's nearly impossible to get a perfect picture of everyone.

Lunch for the little ones on Monday was quesadillas, black beans, fruit, and veggies.

Sydney Martin

Fast, easy, and always a crowd-pleaser.

Before my son got home from school, I wanted to prep dinner as much as I could. Again, I wanted a meal that was fast, required minimal work, and packed a punch of flavor. Grilled Chicken Kabobs was the perfect recipe to fit the bill.

Ingredients for kebabs
Sydney Martin

To save more time, I swapped homemade cucumber dip for the store-bought version.

The chicken needed to marinate for a few hours, so I put that together and set everything in the fridge until it was closer to dinner time.

Sydney Martin

I also wanted to serve some fresh veggies with the meal, so I chopped a fast salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, salt, pepper, dill, and lemon juice.

A cucumber salad
Sydney Martin

After school, we did a quick afternoon snack of popcorn on the stove — with vinegar powder (a family favorite) sprinkled on top. My son loved watching the kernels pop!

Sydney Martin

I'm not one to shy away from a nice bag of Redenbacher's, but popping the kernels on the stove is a bit more exciting to watch. Also, this entire bag of kernels was $1.99!

Then it was back to dinner prep. The chicken was done marinating by this point, so I threaded it onto skewers and tossed them on the grill for a few minutes per side.

Skewered chicken
Sydney Martin

I also had leftover orzo remaining from our Meatball and Veggie Soup the other day, so I added a side of orzo.

Sydney Martin

I mixed it quickly with olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and parsley. This meal was a hit!

My kids love oatmeal, but I wanted to switch things up a bit for Tuesday's breakfast. I made baked apple oatmeal instead.

Sydney Martin

Really filling, and really budget-friendly. The only ingredients needed were an apple, oats, an egg, milk, salt, and cinnamon.

My kids devoured this in minutes!

Sydney Martin

I find baked oatmeal to be such a good substitute for flavored instant oatmeal. You can use a variety of fruit or toppings to create or customize tons of flavors — often for cheaper than the pre-made or instant kind.

For lunch, I had to get creative. There were leftovers from the Chicken Kabobs, but not enough for everyone to have a full meal.

Leftover kebabs
Sydney Martin

I pulled out a few other leftovers I had in the fridge from various meals prior. I used the orzo and chicken from the kabob dinner, the black beans from our quesadilla lunches, the spinach from our meatball soup, and a stray carrot.

I thought the result — a veggie-loaded orzo salad — was great!

Light, refreshing, and packed with nutrients. I just added salt and pepper and let the individual components pull their own weight.

For dinner on Tuesday, I took out the leftover peppers from fajita night and got to work making Black Lentil Enchiladas.

Sydney Martin

I got my lentils started on the stove right away since they needed to cook for 25 minutes. While those were on, I sautéed veggies and made sauce in the blender.

Sydney Martin

Once the lentils were cooked, I added them in with the veggies to create the enchilada filling. My grocery store did not have black lentils available, so I subbed in green lentils.

It never fails that the days I decide to cook red sauce are also the days I decide to wear white. So a little PSA to never underestimate the value of an apron!

The author with an apron on
Sydney Martin

The last steps before baking were to fill tortillas with lentil filling, pour over the sauce, and top with cheese. I baked this in the oven for about 30 minutes, and it was done!

Sydney Martin

Even though this dish turned out amazing, there is still a reality of the struggle of making homemade meals and managing all the kids.

Sydney Martin

Today, the reality was that my toddler gave herself some full-body ink while I was cooking. 🤷‍♀️

The author's toddler covered in ink
Sydney Martin

I try to make sure my kids have activities to keep them busy while I'm preoccupied, but this one backfired on me today! 

Wednesday was a back-to-basics breakfast. I knew I was making an egg dish for dinner, so I went with oatmeal for the morning.

Plated oatmeal
Sydney Martin

This time just with brown sugar and milk.

After breakfast and school drop-off, I headed out with the little ones for our morning outdoor time. We went out, and my daughter hit the BMX track!

The author's daughter riding a bike
Sydney Martin

We are so fortunate that we have the ability to use our community recreational facilities in the middle of week. Most times, like today, we are the only ones there! 

After working up a strong appetite, we headed home, and I got working on lunch right away.

My kids requested quesadillas again, so we used up the final tortillas and created a "big board" lunch.

Sydney Martin

My husband doesn't like quesadillas, so he finished the remainder of yesterday's lunch (which wasn't much) and added a bit of the fajita chicken, carrots, and some fruit.

After lunch, I was away from the house for the rest of the afternoon at an appointment. I knew that dinner would be tricky because of this — so I made sure to account for this in my meal planning.

Before leaving, I took all my remaining fajita chicken and peppers and made a frittata. I didn't use a specific recipe for this, but you can get basic instructions here.

Ingredients for a frittata
Sydney Martin

I prepared everything in advance so that when I got home, I was able to just pop it in the oven for 25 minutes.

Sydney Martin

You can use pretty much any leftovers to create a frittata. In general, eggs are a great filler to stretch odds and ends into a(nother) full meal!

I served these with a side of dressed greens — and everyone liked how it turned out.

Sydney Martin

We also ended up with leftovers...*from* leftovers. 🍳

Leftover eggs
Sydney Martin

Thursday morning was (you guessed it!) leftovers: frittata and baked apple oatmeal.

Sydney Martin

Plus, the last of the strawberries.

After breakfast, we spent most of the morning exploring local planes, trains, and automobiles.

The author's daughter exploring a train
Sydney Martin

Special shoutout to all parents that have to go out in public embracing the outfits their toddlers pick out for themselves. 

My daughter mentioned she wanted pizza for lunch — which made me remember the bit of saved dough from earlier in the week. I also had a few pieces of Canadian bacon left AND a pineapple I hadn't cut yet.

Sydney Martin

I didn't end up having enough dough for a full-sized pizza, but by adding on the additional ingredients, we had enough for a light lunch!

Cooked pizza
Sydney Martin

I wanted to follow up the pizza with a nutritious snack: Green Julius Smoothies. This was also a great way to use up my leftover spinach that was now looking pretty sad and wilty.

Sydney Martin

As soon as school was out, I got this ready so it was fresh — and the kids loved it. My son was a little skeptical because it was green, but as soon as he tasted it, he thought it tasted "just like bananas."

Sydney Martin

I was hoping that the orange would be the most prominent flavor, but it was actually the banana. Either way, my kids loved it enough to have more for the next day.

For dinner, I pulled out all my ingredients and started working on Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole — a dish that I was admittedly a bit nervous about, but still wanted to try.

Ingredients for tuna casserole
Sydney Martin

I was worried about this one. My kids have never had tuna before, and my husband doesn't like the smell of canned tuna. But I love tuna — so I decided that I would make this any way! Gotta try new things sometimes, right?

I sautéed mushrooms and onions and boiled the noodles. Then I made the sauce, added the peas, and put it all in a baking dish.

Sydney Martin

Instead of using condensed soup, this recipe calls for making your own sauce with milk and Parmesan. This leads to the dish being a bit lighter.

Just before putting the casserole into the oven, I made a quick bread-crumb topping with bread crumbs and butter.

Sydney Martin

Thirty minutes later, dinner was complete. This dish ended up being a surprise — everyone liked it, even my husband! The tuna flavor wasn't super prominent (to my husband's relief) due to it being cooked. One misstep I took was that when the recipe said, "LOTS of pepper," I maybe took that a bit too literally.

Although the recipe just called for 10 ounces of pasta and 1 cup of frozen peas, I tossed in the entire box and bag of pasta/peas. That way, I could use up everything — and have more leftovers for later in the week.

Leftover tuna casserole
Sydney Martin

Friday in our house is all about clearing out the fridge. Plus, by the end of the week, I'm normally ready for a break from cooking. That meant breakfast was oatmeal again.

The author's baby eating oatmeal
Sydney Martin

Plus some leftover pineapple on the side.

While I was getting breakfast prepared, I also batch-boiled one of my kids' favorite staples: hard-boiled eggs.

Hardboiled eggs in a pot
Sydney Martin

I actually overestimated how many eggs I would use this week, and this was a great way to get them eaten!

Lunch was hard-boiled eggs, fruit, and veggies.

We spent time playing outside in the backyard for the rest of the school day.

The author's kids in their backyard
Sydney Martin

We also had our leftover green smoothies for snack.

Friday's dinner was simple: reheated Black Lentil Enchiladas.

Leftover enchiladas
Sydney Martin

Saturday morning was hard-boiled eggs and bananas for breakfast. For lunch, the remaining Tuna Noodle Casserole and pineapple.

Leftover casserole; leftover pineapple.
Sydney Martin

Come late Saturday morning, I started looking up recipe ideas for the week ahead — and the planning process started all over!

As mentioned before, 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. Still, I hope that sharing my family's approach is helpful in some way!

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

How does your household approach groceries or meal planning each week? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.