Budget Meal Plan for Two Using a Healthy Grocery List
Last updated: August 2021
We’ve talked about ways to save money on groceries before, but now you get to see the meal planning in action. Here is a two week meal plan on a budget for two people that emphasizes a healthy grocery list. I prioritize protein, vegetables, and fruits in our meals, and then add healthier grains and dairy as extras. This two week budget meal plan averages to about $35 per week, and chooses organic for most food items.
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Create a Healthy Grocery List on a Budget
When my husband and I first got married, we lived on income of about $19,000 during the first year. At the time, he was working very part time gigs, and I was working about 32 hours per week at an entry level job in the hospital AND working on my masters degree. During this time, we paid our living expenses, contributed payments to his college debt, and paid my post graduate degree upfront. While it was a challenge, it wasn’t as difficult to manage as what I expected it to be, and for that I’m very thankful.
While we made it work on our own, I do recognize we had advantages that many people do not have. For instance, we lived in an area with a rather low cost of living. If we had lived in a bigger city, I doubt we could have met our financial goals of paying off debt quite as quickly.
Additionally, we both entered our marriage with some savings that we were able to contribute to my first semester of my post graduate degree.
And, while our parents did not pay for our day to day expenses, when they visited, they often brought us snacks they new we enjoyed, or gave us gift cards to a local restaurant for birthdays/Christmas.
However, we were VERY intentional about managing what we spent before we spent it, and prioritizing our long term goals (i.e., paying off our degrees). If you know anything about financial planning, you know that there are really only two options – increase your income or decrease your spending. While increasing our income did happen eventually, we prioritized decreasing our spending those first 12 months of our marriage.
One way that we were able to successfully do so was in our grocery list through creating budget meal plans. For the first few months of our marriage, we lived on about $20 per week to comprise our healthy grocery list. Looking back, we probably didn’t eat enough, but we did get by because the foods we chose were nutrient dense. Now, we spend about $35 per week on our healthy grocery list by creating a budget meal plan for two people.
As mentioned earlier, I recognize that $35 per week will not be as feasible for some people, but I want to share a sample budget grocery list and meal plan to share some great money saving ideas. These items and meals should be more inexpensive in most places than other meal options.
$35/Week Frugal Meal Plan for Two People
This frugal meal plan includes many basics you probable already have in your pantry. If so, yay! You get to save more money by not purchasing these on your healthy grocery list. However, if you don’t have anything in your pantry right now, know that you can still make it under budget! The only items not included are dried spices, salt, and pepper.
Additionally, I prioritize buying organic on many of the listed foods to maximize nutrient content and reduce pesticide use. If buying organic groceries isn’t a priority to you, yay! You get to save more money on an even more frugal meal plan!
If you’d like more information on how I created this budget meal plan for two to maximize nutrients AND save money, check out some of my other posts with great budgeting expertise!
- How to Save Money on Groceries
- Practical and Healthy Meal Planning that will Save You Money
- How to Get Delicious and Nutrient Dense Foods for Every Budget
Here’s our two-week budget meal plan for two people that averages about $35 per week.
Homemade Soda Bread (Toasted) with nut butter (Optional: if you already have pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, or preserves, these would be great additions to boost your protein or omega-3’s!)
*** See note in recipe about what to do if you don’t have milk on hand! I’ve made this recipe multiple times with and without milk and it turns out great both ways.
Frozen Berry, Banana, and Spinach Smoothies (Optional: If you have cacao, protein, or spirulina powders, these are great additions to bump up the nutrient density of your smoothies!)
*** Note: I don’t have a recipe for smoothies that I love, but typically just throw whatever I can in a blender… I’m not too picky. I would recommend pre-blending your spinach in water and freezing in separate containers for best results; Same goes for your bananas – cut in half and pre-freeze)
Eggs with Toast (I’m partial to a fried egg on my bread in open-faced sandwich form)
Leftovers from Dinners
Nutbutter sandwiches and an apple (Optional: I typically buy one fruit per week, depending on what is on sale. Check out citrus during the winter, peaches, melons, and berries during the summer, and apples during the fall for the best prices)
Optional: While cheese and other dairy products are more expensive for better quality items, you can add to your lunches to make them more filling by choosing items such as Greek yogurts or cheese sticks if you purchase these items on sale)
Gumbo from My Kitchen Craze with some alterations (omit okra, shrimp, or green onions to save money; add the bell pepper if desired for a few cents more; use homemade vegetable stock for free!; use ground beef instead of beef sausage for more meat at a lower cost – brown meat before step 2) Makes about 8 total servings / 4 nights for two people
Garlic butter pasta with spinach and chicken (cook chicken in skillet with garlic and olive oil – or grill, if you have one; remove from pan; cook pasta in skillet pan with just enough water to cover; drain most of the water, but leave some; add butter – at this point your pasta should look like it has a thin sauce; add chicken back into skillet and wilt spinach) Makes about 10 total servings / 5 nights for two people
*** You can add some toasted soda bread dipped in olive oil and herbs for extra finesse to your meal
Rice and beans with broccoli (omit keilbasa; double pinto beans – remember to soak ahead of time!; add lightly steamed broccoli or veggie of your choosing to the dish at the end) Makes about 6 total servings / 3 nights for two people
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Optional: I find chocolate is one of the cheaper and healthier options for dessert. It’s got great micronutrients to improve your mood too! You can have it on it’s own, or with fruit. Often the chips are cheaper than bars. Aim for chocolate with 70% or greater cacao, and fewer ingredients for the best bang for your buck.
Optional: While I always recommend water first, sometimes you can get tired of drinking only water. Other good options are unsweetened iced tea or sparkling water. Drink your daily recommended water intake first, then have a glass of these if desired.
Total Cost of Items for Your Budget Meal Plan
As of the publishing of this post, here is the cost of each item required for the meals above at my local Kroger. If you shop non-organic, your cost will be lower. If you shop at a Walmart, Lidl, or Aldi, you cost will also be lower. If you already have many of these items on hand, your cost will be lower.
Please note, dried spices, salt, and pepper are not included in this grocery list.
Many of these items I don’t normally purchase at their current price and often aim to only purchase when on sale. Common sale price is noted next to each item if applicable.
- Organic Celery – $1.89
- Organic Baby Spinach (16oz) – $5.99 (I normally only purchase with a yellow tag and freeze until needed at around $2 per container)
- Organic Broccoli (2 stalks) – $3.70
- Garlic (1ct) – $0.50
- Gala Apples (3ct) – $2.01
- Organic Bananas (4ct) – $1.12
- Yellow Onions (3lbs) – $1.99
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs (about 10ct) – $8.55 (I don’t like white chicken meat, but you could reduce cost by buying chicken breasts instead of thighs. Typically, I buy chicken on sale and freeze it for about $6.50 per package)
- Smoked Beef Sausage (12oz) – $3.49 (You can purchase sale version for much cheaper – aim for about $2.50 each; avoid cheaper options that contain corn syrup or soy additives)
- Organic Black Tea (20 bags) – $2.49 (You can purchase canned sparkling water without additives for about $2.50 per 12ct at Kroger or Walmart as an alternative drink)
- Baking Powder (8oz) – $1.19
- Organic Sunflower Butter (16oz) – $4.99 (My husband and I are allergic to nuts. If you’re not, purchase peanut butter for a cheaper cost)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (25oz) – $5.49
- Organic Diced Tomatoes (4ct/14.5oz) – $3.89
- Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (5lbs) – $3.99
- Dried Pinto Beans (32oz) – $1.69
- Long Grain Rice (5lbs) – $2.99 (you can choose different rice options like brown or jasmine, or other grains entirely like quinoa, or barley for a small increased cost)
- Dried Pasta (16oz) – $1.00 (I can typically find pasta on sale for $0.50-0.60. Stock up when possible at this price)
- Organic Frozen Berry Medley (32 oz) – $8.49
- Cage Free Grade A Brown Eggs (12ct) – $2.50 (Purchase from a local farm if you can find one!)
- Salted Butter (4ct) – $2.59
Total Price: $70.54 for two weeks
Price per week: $35.27 — Yay!
Want more tips to save money at the grocery store?
I hope this budget meal plan has given you some great ideas on how to create a healthy grocery list on a budget! While these meals span two weeks and for two people, you can easily change the amounts for fewer or more people, and you’ll find that you will have leftovers of many of these items – flour, garlic, olive oil, onions, baking powder, nut butter, diced tomatoes, pinto beans, rice, and butter – that you can make into extra meals. You’ll only need to add fruit or veggies!
If you’ve got any great frugal meal plans, or recipes, send them my way! I’m always looking for great meals at great prices!
Disclaimer: Although I am a mental health professional, I am not YOUR mental health professional. The information provided on this website is for educational and informational purposes only and using this website does not establish a counselor-client relationship, or constitute provision of mental health services. I am not responsible for any damages resulting from your use of the content on this site, as the information provided does not substitute for collaboration with a health professional. Please consult with your health professional before making changes to your health regimen.