How to Get 21 Servings Out of a $5 Extreme Grocery Budget

Al's Epic Family Life
by Al's Epic Family Life

Today is all about an extreme grocery budget. It's an emergency $5 meal plan where I will feed my family of seven breakfast, lunch, and dinner for only $5. This is 21 servings for $5. This is not a sustainable way to feed your family. But can get you through tough times until you get help or recover financially

$5 Extreme grocery budget

What we got for $5

Here is everything we are working with for one day. 

I spent about $5 on everything using Walmart prices. However, I bought my rice in bulk, and I already had several bags of black beans on hand, which came from Dollar Tree.

At my Walmart, black beans are $1.48 versus Dollar Tree at $1.25, which would make it under $5. Buying rice in bulk saves you about .50 per pound if you buy it in 20-pound bags versus .88 a pound from Walmart if you get a one-pound bag. 

We've got a loaf of white bread. It was $1.32. The 1-pound bag of carrots was .98. I did get 4/5 of a pound of bananas for .34. The black beans would have been $1.48, and one pound of rice, which is two and a half cups, would be .88. That's everything we're going to be working with. 


Start with toasting ten pieces of bread. You want to save 14 pieces for dinner if you have seven people because you'll need two pieces per person later in the day.

After I got the bread in the oven, I picked through my beans and made sure there were no crazy-looking beans in there or any rocks. I gave these a good rinse and put about seven cups of water in the Instant Pot. 

You want to make sure there's plenty of water to cover all of your beans. If you don't have an Instant Pot, you can do them in a slow cooker or on the stovetop. I will cook the beans in the Instant Pot for about 30 minutes.

Breakfast - French toast

Now we're going to make eggless French toast for breakfast. We're going to take one of our bananas, place it in a medium bowl, and we're going to sprinkle it with cinnamon.

I'm also going to add three-quarters of a cup of milk. If you don't have milk, try substituting it with cold water. Maybe not as much of it because water isn't as thick as milk. I am using milk that we already have on hand. I'm going to blend this up until it's smooth.

I've taken seven of the toast pieces. I've left three of them in the oven so they can finish drying out entirely because we will use those later. Each person is going to get one piece of French toast.

We're just going to dip the toast in the mixture. After they get a quick dip, brown the toast in a hot pan with a bit of oil until the toast is browned on each side. 

Breakfast - French toast

Now that it's all done, I've topped it with a few banana slices from the other banana. 

Lunch - Rice and beans

I finished cooking my beans, and I have four cups in one bowl. In another bowl, there are about three cups of beans. I will put a lid on them and save them for dinner, and we'll use four cups for lunch.

We boil two and a half cups of rice on my stovetop. Once the 10 minutes are up, I will turn the heat off. 

We'll have perfectly cooked rice for our lunch. With the lunch, I took the black beans, got rid of the broth it cooked in, and added more water. I also added a couple of teaspoons of tomato chicken and beef bouillon.

I added a little bit of lime juice, and then I added a little bit of salt. While my rice finishes cooking, I'mI will let this sit and saute to combine the flavors. 

Lunch - Rice and beans

Here is our lunch. 

Dinner - Black bean and rice burgers

The first thing I'm going to do to get started with dinner is I'mchopping up my carrots. I will put these on a sheet tray and toss them in oil, salt, and pepper. I will roast these at 375 degrees F for as long as possible to get them soft. 

I will put the toast in my food processor and blend it to make breadcrumbs. I'm going to have to do this in batches. So I will blend this up, then the beans and rice, then I'll put it in a mixing bowl, and then I'll mix it by hand, too, so I didn't pulverize all the beans and rice, but most of them. 

I added onion powder, garlic powder, and beef bouillon powder. I added my breadcrumbs, went in with my hands, and squished everything together because it's a pretty thick mixture. 

We're going to make some black bean and rice burgers. This will turn out well because my family loves mushroom and rice burgers that I make frequently. 

I will start with a third of a cup for each patty and see how those look. I don't want them too big, but I also don't want too little. I was able to get ten patties, and I did use the third cup. 

Now I'm going to put these in the oven with the carrots. I'm going to start with 10 minutes, and I'm going to flip them over to the other side. You're just trying to crisp them up.

I tossed our carrots with some honey, and then we just put whatever we wanted on our burgers or whatever we had on hand. I put some spicy brown mustard and ketchup on mine. 

Dinner - Black bean and rice burgers

This is what dinner looked like. 

Extreme grocery budget

My family loved all three meals. We got three meals with seven servings per meal for $5. Do you have any extreme meals you use? Share your recipes in the comments below.

Join the conversation
  • Indiana Molina-Hurley Indiana Molina-Hurley on Mar 18, 2023

    I would order all three of these meals in a restaurant. They sound delicious 🤤… thank you for the idea.

  • Anne Poulton Anne Poulton on Mar 18, 2023

    I realize the goal is to save money but beans, rice and bread is a very carb loaded meal and would be unhealthy for some people.

    • J J on Mar 18, 2023

      She said this for tough times. When her finances straightened out her family probably ate a bit differently.