What Groceries to Buy With $20 for 60 Extreme Budget Family Meals

Hi everyone, with the recession hitting, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my extreme budget meals. I will show you what groceries to buy with $20, which can make 60 delicious individual meals for my family of 5. Yes, 60! That ends up being $0.34 a serving.

$20 grocery list for extreme budget meals

$20 grocery list as of April 2022:

  • bananas $1.39 
  • carrots .89 cents 
  • cucumber .59 cents 
  • 2 packs of cheese $1.45 each 
  • Knorr fideo chicken soup mix .40 cents 
  • 5 pounds of potatoes $2.98 
  • 2 cans of cream of chicken .58 cents each 
  • evaporated milk .94 cents 
  • hunts spaghetti sauce .92 cents 
  • 16oz of pasta .34 cents x two 
  • 2 loaves of bread .89 cents each 
  • jiffy biscuit mix .66 cents 
  • hotdogs .89 cents 
  • pinto beans $1 
  • onion .20 cents 
  • cornbread mix .82 cents 
  • dozen eggs $1.45 
  • Crescent rolls .97 cents

Total: $20.42

Besides the above groceries, I will be using a few items from my pantry, such as salt, pepper, and fat, such as oil or butter. 

Day 1

Let’s get started with our first day using our $20 grocery list.

Mashed bananas on toast

Breakfast: mashed bananas on toast

We start our first day with a quick and simple breakfast; mashed bananas on toast. All you need to do is toast your bread, mash up some bananas, and spread that on the toast.

My one son does not like his mashed, so I placed sliced bananas on his toast instead. As an optional extra you can add some honey and cinnamon if you have them in your pantry. This is a nice light breakfast and tastes really good.

Extreme budget meals

Lunch: cheap cheesy pasta

Lunch for day one of our quick family meals on a budget is my Cheap Cheesy Pasta. 

This is such an easy recipe. Pour your dry pasta into your pot and cover with the pasta sauce. Add some water to cover the pasta, then add your seasoning and let it cook.

The ready-made pasta sauce is already seasoned but if you have other seasonings in your pantry, such as garlic and herb or onion powder, you could add that as well. 

Once it’s done cooking, add 5 slices of cheese and give it a good stir so the cheese melts. Serve it up with a slice of toast and you have a delicious meal to feed your family. 

(I reserved a few spoons of pasta sauce for day 4’s lunch.)

Cornbread with fried potatoes and beans

Dinner: cornbread with fried potatoes and beans

Our first dinner is cornbread with fried potatoes and beans. All you need to do is add water to your cornbread mix and bake it. Next, fry up your potatoes in any type of fat you have on hand, cook the beans with some salt and pepper and that’s dinner done.

Day 2

Welcome to day two of our emergency grocery budget.

Eggs with toast

Breakfast: eggs with toast

Day two’s breakfast is eggs with toast and a portion of banana. I made one egg per person, a slice of toast, and half a banana. Delicious and nutritious.

Grilled cheese with vegetables

Lunch: grilled cheese

Lunch today is grilled cheese with a side of sliced cucumber and some carrots. Simple, easy, and it’s got vegetables.

Pigs in a blanket with homemade French fries

Dinner: pigs in a blanket with homemade French fries

We are going to make pigs in a blanket with homemade French fries for dinner. The hot dogs go in the rolls with some cheese, then cut your potatoes into wedges, and fry. I am serving them with free ketchup packets I save when we get take-out.  

(I kept 3 sausages and crescent rolls for another meal, and we still have a lot of potatoes left.)

Day 3

Extreme budget family meals

Breakfast: mashed bananas on toast

This morning’s breakfast is another round of mashed bananas on toast. There is nothing wrong with repeating a tasty breakfast when you are on a budget and my family loves this meal.

Appalachian potato soup

Lunch: Appalachian potato soup

I will be serving Appalachian potato soup. For this, we use our evaporated milk, some of the leftover potatoes, fat from the pantry, and some salt and pepper. The leftover crescent rolls I gave to my sons, while my husband and I each had a piece of toast.

Cheap chicken and dumplings recipe

Dinner: chicken and dumplings

Dinner is chicken and dumplings. I added the carrots and cream of chicken soup to my Instant Pot with water. I then made the dumplings, which are simple as you just add water to the mix. And there you have a cheap dinner for the whole family.

Day 4

Today is the last day of our extreme emergency grocery budget.

Quick family meals on a budget

Breakfast: toast and leftovers

Again, we went with eggs and toast and mixed it up with what was left over. Some of us had plain toast, others mashed banana and toast and I even changed up a plate of eggs by frying them.

Cheap meals with $20 groceries

Lunch: fried hot dogs and potatoes

Our last lunch is a poor man’s meal. I fried up the leftover hot dogs with onion and potato and added the leftover pasta sauce I had reserved from day one’s lunch. It was really good.

Homemade soup and grilled cheese

Dinner: homemade soup and grilled cheese

For the last dinner, we are going to make some homemade soup and grilled cheese. Cook up the chicken soup mix and serve it with open-face grilled cheese sandwiches and a slice of cucumber. 

What groceries to buy with $20

If you are all wondering what I have leftover; it’s 5 slices of cheese. I think I deserve an A+ for not wasting.

What groceries to buy with $20

Okay, guys, that’s it. I hope you now know what groceries to buy with $20. Our main goal for this exercise was to keep our tummies full all day for 4 days and it worked. My kids even had a few snacks out of the stuff that I bought. 

I hope you can take some inspiration from what I made and do your own thing with it. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Join the conversation
2 of 54 comments
  • Bbo51415153 Bbo51415153 on Sep 21, 2023

    For me the point of this artical is to be a smart shopper, plan your meals and avoid waste. While we all have different tastes, go for what you like and adapt where you can. Take charge of what you can change. We certainly cannot change the prices. By way the toasted cheese, veggie lunch looks great. Thanks for sharing

  • Vicki Vicki on Nov 20, 2023

    I like the mashed bananas on toast idea. Since I usually eat a half of banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter every morning as my "go-to" rushed breakfast as I run out the door to work, I'm thinking a skim of peanut butter on toast with mashed banana would be a great alternative some days.