Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge: 80 Plant-Based Meals for $23

Amelia’s frugal life
by Amelia’s frugal life

I've just been to Aldi and I am going to see how many meals I can make with £20 ($23) of food as part of my extreme grocery budget challenge. I’ll try to use up everything and make flavorful, plant-based meals that will fill my family’s stomachs.

Grocery haul from Aldi
Extreme grocery budget challenge

Food for the week

Aldi haul

Here’s what I bought:

  • 2 Loaves of bread
  • Potatoes 
  • Spaghetti
  • Carrots
  • Flour
  • Porridge
  • Oats
  • Celery
  • Mixed frozen vegetables 
  • Mushrooms
  • Peppers
  • Long grain rice
  • Soy milk (2 cartons)
  • Cauliflower, 
  • Pack of garlic
  • Stock cubes
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Peanut butter. 
  • Syrup
  • Taco bean mix
  • Kidney beans in chili sauce
  • Black beans
  • Coconut milk
  • Green lentils
  • Cans of beans
  • Vegan butter

Total: £20 (approx. $23)

*Based on Aldi prices in the UK as of November 2022

Homemade waffles


Days 1-4 we made homemade waffles with a waffle maker. The batter was oats blended with oat flour, plain flour, soy milk, and golden syrup together until it made a batter consistency. I don't have specific measurements.

Porridge with oat milk

Days 5-7, we had toast, and on the last day I made porridge with oat milk and topped it off with golden syrup.

Ingredients for spaghetti

Spaghetti lunch


For the first five days, we did have leftovers and peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. For a different type of lunch, I made spaghetti and roasted red pepper sauce. I used my three red peppers, some olive oil, spaghetti, an onion, and a bit of garlic to make this meal. We also had some leftover spaghetti for lunch that I’ll toss with leftover mushrooms, butter, and garlic.

Vegetable soup

I made a soup with vegetables including chopped-up carrots, celery, garlic, potatoes, and a big glob of butter, plus salt and pepper I already had. It tasted pretty good! We ate the soup with a loaf of bread. 

Ingredients for a shepherd's pie
Lentil shepherd's pie


I also made a lentil shepherd's pie with carrots, garlic, onions, mushrooms, and two tins of rinsed green lentils, and I’ll use the bag of mixed vegetables plus the stock cube.

Shepherd's pie topped with mashed potatoes

I topped it with mashed potatoes, using six potatoes, that cooked up crispy on top in the oven for an hour.

Fajitas for dinner

Other dinners included mushroom bolognese sauce and spaghetti, and fajitas with refried black beans and mushrooms. For a bean chili dinner, I used onions, carrots, celery, carrots, kidney beans, and some taco beans, plus a stock cube. We had this with rice. 

Ingredients for a curry

Plant-based curry

I have a lot of potatoes left, a head of cauliflower, chopped tomato, coconut milk, and stock to make a vegetable curry. It may not be the best curry I have made, but it will be the cheapest.

I roasted the potatoes and cauliflower in the oven for crunch and they will go into the curry. I fried the onions for extra flavor and added garlic, coconut milk, and spices. We ate this for dinner with leftover rice. 

Leftovers dinner

Our last dinner of the week was super basic with beans and potatoes or rice and whatever vegetables we had left. 

Extreme grocery budget challenge

I couldn’t show you all of the meals I made but I managed to make 80 meals for our family. If you are living on a budget, it's not that simple to get a very balanced diet. But this is the best I could do on the budget I had. 

If you are struggling to get by, please take advantage of the resources in your area such as local food banks and churches. They will also help you find what you need to sustain your family.

Looking back, I learned so much from sticking to this budget for seven days using this much food. I’d change a few things like I would have bought a few more stock cubes and onions to add flavor to the meals.

What would you have done differently? Some people I know are trying to eat on $1 a day. Do you think that’s possible? Share your extreme grocery budget ideas and thoughts in the comments. 

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