How to Feed a Family of 3 on a $30 Extreme Grocery Budget

For this extreme grocery budget challenge I will be feeding my family of 3 for 3-4 days with a budget of $30. Food is expensive and I am trying to figure out creative ways to feed my family for less. Let’s see how many meals we can make.

Groceries from Walmart

I spent $29.09 at Walmart. Here’s what I got and what I’m planning on doing with it.

I bought some bananas. I got a 16-ounce block of extra sharp cheddar cheese to make some macaroni and cheese and some quesadillas. I bought a 17-ounce roll of ground turkey to make some Rice-a-Roni as well as some chili. I also got 2 cans of beans and 1 can of chili-ready tomatoes for the chili.

I got a box of rotini for the mac and cheese, and I might use some to make some simple buttered noodles as a snack. I got some milk, mostly for my daughter. For breakfast or snacks, I got some fruit and cream oatmeal packets. I also bought a 10-pack of tortillas for the quesadillas and to make some tortilla chips. I picked up a bag of carrots for snacks and the Rice-o-Roni dish.

I got a half dozen eggs for breakfast and to make some cookies. I also picked up some flour and dry yeast to make bread. I got an onion. A jar of peanut butter for the cookies and to have with apples as a snack. I got some apples, a box of sugar, and a box of Rice-o-Roni.

No-knead bread

1. No-knead bread

First I made some bread using my flour, a packet of yeast, and some salt. I started by warming 1 and ½ cups of water to be between 100-110 degrees to activate the yeast.

I put ½ teaspoon of yeast, 1 teaspoon of salt, and three cups of flour. I combined all the ingredients and mixed them until everything was blended. Then I covered the bowl in plastic wrap and left it to rise.

I put my cast iron in the oven at 400 degrees while I worked on shaping my dough. Then I let the dough rise again. After that, I shaped it again and put it in the oven. I cooked it covered for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Then I uncovered it and cooked it for another 10-15 minutes.

Three-ingredient peanut butter cookies

2. Three-ingredient peanut butter cookies

I wanted to have something yummy for us to snack on during this challenge so I decided to make some peanut butter cookies. I combined 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of white sugar, and 1 egg.

I mixed it until the ingredients were well combined, put them on a cookie sheet, and popped them into a pre-heated 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes.

Budget-friendly breakfasts

3. Breakfast options

I was able to create a few different breakfast options with the ingredients I purchased. One morning we had scrambled eggs with a side of fruit. We had oatmeal with a side of fruit another morning. Then we also had some bread with peanut butter for breakfast one morning.

Budget-friendly lunches

4. Lunch options

We made some grilled cheese sandwiches for one lunch. Another lunch option was bread with peanut butter. We also had some carrot sticks and cookies on the side. On another day I made some simple quesadillas for lunch. We also used some of our dinner leftovers for lunches.

Rice-o-Roni budget meal

5. Rice-o-Roni

I made Rice-o-Roni for one of our dinners. It’s good to use box dinners like Rice-o-Roni as a jumping-off point when you’re making meals on a budget. I sauteed some diced onion and ground meat to add some additional flavor and calories. I used half of it and saved half for dinner another night.

Then I sauteed some diced carrots in butter and added in the Rice-o-Roni. I followed the instructions on the box and added the water and seasoning. I let it boil and then covered it until the rice was cooked. Then I added the meat and onion mixture.

Chili and cornbread budget meal

6. Chili and cornbread

For this meal, I used the other half of the ground meat and onion from the night before. I added in a can of chili beans, a can of chili-ready tomatoes, and a can of black beans.

I put everything in a pot on the stove, added some salt and pepper, and let it cook. I also made some cornbread by following the instructions on the box.

I made some homemade tortilla chips as well. I cut my tortillas and sprayed them with olive oil spray. Then I popped them into the air fryer.

Mac and cheese budget meal

7. Mac and cheese

I used a couple of pieces of the bread I had made to make some homemade breadcrumbs. For the sauce, I melted 2 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan.

Once that was melted, I added ¼ cup of flour. I whisked that for a couple of minutes and then added in ¾ cup of milk. I seasoned it with salt and pepper and let it thicken up. Then I added 1 and ½ cups of shredded cheese.

I cooked the pasta and then dumped that into the cheese sauce. Once that was well mixed I put it in a baking pan. I sprinkled the breadcrumbs on top, covered it with aluminum foil, and put it in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes.

Then I uncovered it and let it continue to bake for another 10 minutes. I also steamed some carrots to serve on the side.

We had plenty of leftovers. I didn’t need to make another dinner for the 4th night. Everyone picked their favorite leftovers and just heated them up.

Extreme grocery budget

I hope this gave you some ideas for budget-friendly meals for your family. These affordable meal options should help you save a little bit of money to put towards something else. Leave me a comment and let me know if you tried making any of these budget-friendly meals.

Join the conversation
2 of 10 comments
  • Wal54734647 Wal54734647 on Jul 18, 2023

    Audrey, congratulations. You have done well. Maybe a can of tuna and and a 1/4 cabbage for salad the next 3 days, rice in cabbage rolls with chicken stock cubes.

  • Carolyn Carolyn on Jul 19, 2023

    I would jump into the computer for some of that macaroni & cheese! It looks delicious!