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Our $40 menu for this week


After weeks of living in survival mode with our move and my morning sickness, I am so happy to be settled down a bit, feeling almost 50% myself again most days, and to be 
ready to start cooking, baking, and menu-planning in earnest again.

Since I'm pregnant and nursing, I'm especially taking care to eat well and get in lots of nutrition–especially when it comes to fruits, veggies, whole grains, and protein. The challenge is to come up with a creative, balanced menu that meets all of my nutritional requirements on $40 per week. It's a fun new adventure!

Here's what I came up with for this week:

Whole-wheat griddlecakes with pear butter, oranges, milk
Eggs, whole-wheat toast, grapes, milk
Homemade granola over yogurt, fruit, orange juice
Whole-wheat waffles, oranges, milk
Fruited oatmeal with yogurt, bananas, orange juice
Bran muffins, cottage cheese, fruit, orange juice
Banana muffins, yogurt, fruit

Tuna salad on whole wheat toast, steamed veggies
Mixed greens sprinked with chopped hard-boiled eggs and grated cheese, whole wheat toast
Baked potatoes with cheese and cottage cheese, steamed veggies
Beans and brown rice with cheese, steamed veggies
Turkey sandwiches on whole wheat toast, steamed veggies
PB&J on whole wheat toast, fresh veggies

Chicken enchiladas, steamed veggies, mixed greens salad
Meatloaf, baked potatoes, mixed green salad
Chicken and brown rice in the crockpot, steamed veggies
Homemad mac and cheese with ground beef and onions, steamed veggies
Chicken and veggie pizza, mixed green salad
Dinner out
Leftovers (Sunday evening)

Bran muffins
Banana muffins
Granola over yogurt with fruit

To see more menu inspiration for this week, visit Organizing Junkie.

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  • Sarah says:

    That is wonderful that you are continuing to nurse while pregnant! 🙂 I nursed our oldest son until I was 4 months pregnant with our 2nd son and he self-weaned. His last nursing is one of my treasured memories. Congratulations!

  • Do you cook the chicken and brown rice in the crockpot together?

  • Katy says:

    One question I have is: how do you buy all that lettuce for your mixed green salads and stay within budget? Kroger’s fresh heads of lettuce are almost always $2 or more (for rommaine, green leaf, or red leaf). Publix is about the same. Outrageous! Do you rely on iceburg (which is usually cheapest) for the bulk of the salad? How many heads do you normally use to feed four for a week?


  • I love menu-planning! I couldn’t wait for November to be here before I planned it out with mostly things we have on hand. I’d love to get better at doing breakfasts, though – these days it’s just enough for me to do dinners!

  • Steph says:

    I am so impressed that this week of meals of yours costs $40 – you have it down to a science! I think our milk consumption alone costs $20!

  • Whitney says:

    Just thought you might like to know that there is a Giveaway Carnival going on over at
    TONS of good free stuff!
    I have been lurking your blog for a while now, thanks for all the amazing ideas! I thought this would be right up your alley!

  • Mrs. Q says:

    Wow…sounds delicious! I know you are just getting into the swing of things again, but could you possibly post the recipe you used for the pear butter? That sounds so yummy!

    Again, I am amazed at how much you can do with $40!

  • Org Junkie says:

    Oh I’m so glad you are feeling better! Welcome back 🙂

  • Rhonda says:

    Can you post your chicken & rice crockpot recipe. Thanks!

  • Jaycie says:

    Looks like a good meal plan. I might just have to try it in a few weeks when I buy up the next big round of groceries!

  • LANA says:

    Great menu! Is the Dinner out included in your $40? That is amazing…

  • Melissa says:

    Glad you got moved in okay. We are moving this weekend and I’m NOT looking forward to it. I can’t imagine moving, pregnant and nursing. With this menu looks like you have everything in order for you and your family.

    Welcome back!

  • Honey says:

    I don’t remember if the coupon was from the newspaper inserts or Parade or All You (or what), but there is a .55/2 coupon for tictacs. At Kroger they are 2/$1-so you can get two for .45 or .23 each-great for stocking stuffers, gift baskets, etc.

  • Honey says:

    If you visit KMart for the double coupons, be on the lookout for some glossy sheets hanging in different aisles. They have a red band at the top and they are store coupons for buy 1, get 2 of various items of the store brand. There are coupons for tissues, for example. You buy one box tissues for $1.39 and get 2 more free! And some of the other items were make-up sponges, bottled water, mouthwash, powder puffs, toothbrushes…

  • Honey says:

    If you visit KMart for the double coupons, be on the lookout for some glossy sheets hanging in different aisles. They have a red band at the top and they are store coupons for buy 1, get 2 of various items of the store brand. There are coupons for tissues, for example. You buy one box tissues for $1.39 and get 2 more free! And some of the other items were make-up sponges, bottled water, mouthwash, powder puffs, toothbrushes…

  • Honey says:

    If you visit KMart for the double coupons, be on the lookout for some glossy sheets hanging in different aisles. They have a red band at the top and they are store coupons for buy 1, get 2 of various items of the store brand. There are coupons for tissues, for example. You buy one box tissues for $1.39 and get 2 more free! And some of the other items were make-up sponges, bottled water, mouthwash, powder puffs, toothbrushes…

  • Michelle says:

    I want to come and eat at your house!

  • SK says:

    I am very impressed, too. One thing I struggle with when having young children (mine are 2 & 1)is what to do when they don’t like things or are too small to eat something easily. I would love to hear yours & others thoughts on this topic. For example, my kids only eat potatoes roasted or won’t eat salad, so do you make them a different add’l veggie. I want to make sure they get variety. Another example is soup…my kids don’t like very many kinds of soup but I think it is a great winter meal (and inexpenive to make)…not to mention that for my 1 year old…it is very messy since he insists on feeding himself. How do you find the balance of keeping meals frugal but keeping toddlers eating…

    Money Saving Mom here: We have a 3-bite rule for our 3 1/2 year-old. (i.e. She has to eat at least three bites of something.) She’s not a big eater (except when it comes to sweets!!) so I only give her really small portions to begin with and then if she eats all of that and wants more, she is welcome to more.

    I do substitute things for her sometimes. For instance, she’s not a big salad eater, usually, so I might give her carrots or broccoli or apple slices instead. Sometimes I will give her a choice between the veggie we’re having at dinner or two other veggies.

    When she’s older, I’ll likely encourage her to eat what we’re having, but right now, so long as she’s eating a fairly balanced diet, I’m flexible about thing so long as she’s not whining or being demanding about it.

    I usually make a slightly different meal for my 16-month-old since she is still being introduced to some foods and will make a colossal mess with others. I try to make most of our meals fairly adaptable or kid-friendly, but sometimes I might give her toast, cheese, and a banana, etc. instead of what we’re having. It really depends upon the meal, though.

    Hope that helps! It sounds like you’re doing a great job as a mom; don’t stress about it too much! 🙂

  • Yay for nursing while pregnant! I’m so glad you are continuing as well! By my 3rd month, my milk completely dried up and I couldn’t nurse my boy anymore. This happens to a lot of women, but I hope you can make it longer!

    Money Saving Mom here: We’re just taking it one day at a time. I’ve never nursed while pregnant since I couldn’t get pregnant last time around until after I’d weaned, so I’m really curious to see how it goes. So far, so good. And it’s also a huge motivation to me to make sure that I’m eating and drinking really well–which is a good thing for me who can sometimes get too distracted and forget to properly take care of myself!

  • Christina says:

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog, including this post. Anyway we can get you to share the recipes?

  • laura says:

    I think I’m going to ‘steal’ your menu for us next week! It sounds yummy, and I have everything on hand to the point that I’d just need a head of lettuce.

    Thank you for the inspiration, Crystal! 🙂

  • Cindy says:

    Your weekly menu plan sounds great but I don’t think I could do a week at $40 – My husband is a big eater and not into salads at all.

    I also wish we had another grocery store, only 1 main one where we live and one small IGA

    Money Saving Mom here: Cindy, don’t be discouraged. My goal in posting the $40 menu plan is not to discourage others who might be in different life situations than us, but to encourage you to be creative and make the most of what you have. Have fun with it and challenge yourself to do the best you can in your circumstances!

  • Mandy says:

    Just curious, should you eat Tuna when you are pregnant? I thought it was off limits now due to mercury.

    Money Saving Mom here: From the research I’ve done, it’s okay in small quantities. However, I had it for the first time this pregnancy for lunch yesterday and it didn’t sit well with me at all. So I doubt I’ll be touching it again for the rest of the pregnancy!

  • Laura C says:

    I want to eat at your house 🙂 Thanx for the inspiration.

  • Sheila says:

    I love love love your website. I have been telling everyone about it. I have always tried to be budget consciencious with food, but sometimes you loose your way but with times being as they are I am back to really examining it all. So I am new to your site and I wanted to ask your $40 a week is that just you or is that your whole family worth of meals? Thanks so much for doing all the leg work for the rest of us.

    Money Saving Mom here: The $40 is our grocery budget for our family for the week. This menu will be for our whole family though I’ll likely adapt it slightly for the girls since they don’t eat everything my husband and I do quite yet. 🙂

  • Robin says:

    That looks great, nutrition-wise. I don’t think it would cost just $40 here though…

    Money Saving Mom here:

    Robin, you are absolutely correct that it would cost more than $40 if you were basing it upon regular prices. However, I usually only buy things when they are on a great sale and stock up. That way, I have lots of variety in my freezer and refrigerator and cupboards to cull from to make menus with.

    Stick with couponing, bargain-shopping, and stocking up on good deals, and you’ll be able to pull off great menus on the cheap, too!

  • So glad you’re starting to feel better! Sure makes it easier when you try to eat healthy for so many at once. 🙂

  • Stephanie says:

    You’re menu plan looks beautiful! Yummy, healthy and delicious. So glad you are back to almost normal 🙂

  • Amity Hinkley says:

    I wonder how you can buy all that fresh food for $40 per week? I have 4 kids, maybe it’s just not possible for me to do that at the grocery store. I’d love to know how. One thing we have discovered recently is Angel Food Ministries. This organization offers a box of food for $30 which is worth about double that amount. After you buy at least one regular box, they also offer other specials. I got a big box of fresh fruit and veggies for $21. There are about four churches in our area which offer this program, and many more around the country. It is worth checking out.

  • Can you come over and organize my house too?

    This is where we fall down, too many rushed uninformed meal decisions mean poor nutrition and wasted money.

    Excellent Post


  • Carollynn McMahan says:

    Just wondering…I thought you had done away with the $40/week grocery shopping and were now doing a 2-week shopping trip for $70(?). Why did you go back to the 1 week plan instead of the 2 week plan?

  • Jenna says:

    In response to Michelle – My husband and I also both love soup, and soup leftovers! But, none of my three kids really enjoy it (5, 3 1/2, 1 1/2). My solution is to serve it with homemade bread, cheese and fruit/veggie. That way if they pick at the soup they still got a balanced meal. And, my favorite tip for soup with little guys; I always add rice cereal powder (Earth’s Best Baby) to thicken the soup to “spoonable” consistency. My babies always loved bean soups put through a foodgrinder and thickened. Enjoy!

  • Kristin says:

    I am six weeks pregnant with our sixth baby. I have found that our nursling often weans at some point during the first trimester and this time was no exception. Our little lady has only nursed twice in the past five days, so I think she will be done. I’m sad about it, but I am also glad that I was able to nurse her for 16 1/2 months.

    Your grocery budget is terrific. I normally spend about $55 a week for our family of seven (not counting dining out once a week), but we also receive WIC, which covers milk, cheese, eggs, cereal, peanut butter and juice for us. We aren’t big meat eaters, either, which is often a big expense in a grocery bill.

  • Shay says:

    Congrats on the nursing while pregnant.
    I continued to nurse my oldest while pregnant with #2, and then even tandem nursed them after my baby was born! It was a mostly good experience and I think it helped with the sibling rivalry, especially since they are relatively close in age.

  • Candi says:

    FYI: Tuna is fine while pregnant. However Albacore tuna is to be avoided or only a few times. The albacore tuna has mercury, but the regular kind has very little.

  • Alissa says:

    Thanks for the menu post. I’m wondering, does your husband take his lunch to work, and if so is it the lunch you’ve posted here? Maybe and odd question, it’s just that the kids and I (I also have a 1 and a 3 year old) are happy eating REALLY simple for lunch each day. I have a harder time planning lunches for my husband. I feel like I need to come up with a whole separate list for him or something… I need things he can take to work, sometimes he’s on the road, and well, he’s a bit picky.

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