Emergency Budget $5 Meals to Feed a Family of 5 For a Day

I have gotten a few requests asking me to do another $5 meals a day emergency food budget. These are great meals to have when you’re broke because you’ll feed your family cheaply. Without any further ado, this is what I got for the five-dollar emergency budget.

$5 meals ingredients

$5 meals ingredients 

  • 2 Bananas .32c
  • A pound of rice .82c
  • Box of Pasta Roni $1.22
  • California vegetable mix $1
  • Broccoli cuts .84c
  • Muffin mix .98c

Total: $5.18

*Grocery prices are as of September 2022 in budget supermarkets in Tennessee.

Breakfast waffles

Breakfast waffles

So what are we going to have for breakfast? What we're going to be doing is making waffles with the chocolate chip muffin mix. The muffin mix is super simple; you just add water or milk and you have the batter. We're going to slice up some bananas and put them on top of it. 

Spraying the waffle maker

1. Prep the waffle maker

Spray the waffle maker with cooking spray

Making breakfast waffles

2. Add the batter

Add the batter to the waffle maker. Close the lid and cook according to your waffle maker’s instructions. 

Breakfast waffles with banana

So it waffled and it's beautiful! We made five plates of chocolate chip waffles with a side of sliced bananas, and they can put them on top of the muffin waffles if they want to, but breakfast is done. That breakfast was a hit. If you have never made waffles using a muffin mix before, do it. 

Note that this is an emergency grocery budget of $5 a day for my family of five. This five-dollar budget only includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner, because that is what is important, but does not include snacks.

Rice and mixed vegetable bowls

Rice and mixed vegetable bowls

Next up, I'm going to cook a pound of rice, I'm going to saute up some California mixed veggies and we're going to have a rice-veggie stir-fry. 

Cooking rice in an Instant Pot

1. Cook the rice

I’m starting my rice in my Instant Pot. For each cup of rice, I added 1¼ cups of water. The 1-pound package of rice was around 2 cups in total. So that's 2 cups of rice and 2½ cups of water in the Instant Pot. I am not seasoning this rice because we like it plain.

Let it cook for 10 minutes and after it's time, we're going to let it sit for 10 minutes. 

2. Steam the vegetables

I'm going to throw the bags of veggies in the microwave because it's a steamable bag. I'm going to throw it in the microwave for 5 minutes so it's nice and thawed, and then I'm going to saute it. 

Cooking the vegetables

3. Saute the vegetables

Next, I'll put some olive oil on the bottom of a skillet. The first thing I want to do is add some garlic powder because that's all I'm going to use. I'm using minimal ingredients to show you guys that you don't need much.

If you don't want to just cook plain vegetables, add a little bit of salt and pepper. I also added a quarter cup of water because it was charring the vegetables and they went dry. 

Rice and veggie stir fry

I scooped out the rice and added the vegetables to each bowl. Everybody got probably two packed scoops of rice, with lots of sautéed veggies mixed in.

The boys are probably going to put condiments on this rice but condiments are a pantry item for us. You do not have to do that. This is good as it is and I will be eating mine as it is.

If you did this $5 emergency meal plan in a day and you had something in your refrigerator that your kids could use on the rice, you would let them use it. You don't have to have fancy meals for them to be good.

Parmesan cheese pasta with broccoli

Parmesan cheese pasta with broccoli 

It’s time for dinner so let's do this. We just want to cook a simple Pasta Roni and I'm going to bulk it up by adding broccoli cuts. This requires milk. I made this a lot without milk and it was good and I'm out of milk today. 

I don't have anything but shelf-stable milk that I keep in my pantry just in case. So that's what I'm going to use because that's all that I have. 

Cooking the broccoli

1. Sauté the broccoli 

I’m using a big skillet and I’m going to start by adding some oil. I’m adding the broccoli to the pan and sautéing it. I’m going to break up the big chunks of broccoli into smaller pieces then I want to sprinkle just a little bit of pink Himalayan sea salt and pepper on it. I’m also adding 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan. 

Cooking the Pasta Roni

2. Cook the Pasta Roni

Now I'm just going to dump the Pasta Roni and cook it as directed in the pan with the broccoli.  

I'm just making it according to the package directions with my little shelf-stable milk. As I said, meals like these are perfect when you're on a tight budget. That's why I think it's great for everybody to have some pantry staples. 

I had to add a cup of water to this because it was dried up and it was on low, but it dried up and the noodles weren’t done, so another cup went in. So just keep that in mind.

Emergency $5 meals

It makes two scoops for each bowl with a big ladle. You can tell there's a lot in there. It’s a filling dinner.

$5 meals

That was another $5 day of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Remember, if you are facing food insecurity, do not be ashamed. Go to your local food banks or your local churches. Go try to sign up for SNAP or WIC food stamps. Just do not be ashamed. That's what those organizations are there for. 

These $5 meals of breakfast, lunch, and dinner are pretty filling because we had the rice and the pasta and that's filling, and that's the whole point is to keep your tummy full. I hope it inspires you. What are your favorite budget meals? Share them in the comments below!

Join the conversation
4 of 10 comments
  • EmmaSurf EmmaSurf on Oct 26, 2022

    I wish our grocery prices were like yours in TN 😦

    These were some great ideas and we really should be minimizing meat based meals anyway.

    One suggestion that would cost only a tiny bit more is to use 1 or 2 beaten eggs and add to the cooked rice and veg to make fried rice Adds some protein and looks fancy, and only adds a few minutes to cooking time.

  • Dmotan Dmotan on Nov 03, 2022

    I just won't buy processed food for my family. My mother never had this in our home, it was all home made. Takes a lot more time , however, no chemicals and preservatives. She had a full time job and still continued to cook from scratch. I was 15 before I ever tasted canned round spaghetti. I was babysitting and opened a can for the little girl. It was nauseating to me and I never ever tasted it again.

    Rice is a filler but contains a lot of arsenic. Good grocery shopping is stay out of the aisles and shop the outside edges.

    • See 1 previous
    • Indulekha Indulekha on Sep 13, 2023

      Yes!!! I totally agree with you! I cooked everything from scratch for my 5 kids and never introduced processed toxic foods into their diet. I get that people don’t understand or were raised with processed foods but we need to start educating ourselves of the dangers in processed foods.