Inflation-Proof Your Grocery Budget with a $70 Two-Week Meal Plan for Two

A mother and daughter share a piece of spaghetti as they prepare dinner.
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Ballooning expenses for daily essentials have finally started to stabilize at the grocery store and beyond. However, staples like meat, eggs and dairy products are unlikely to fall back to previous prices.

Because keeping the pantry full takes a big bite out of the average budget, we wondered if it’s still possible to keep your grocery bill to a few dollars a day. The answer might surprise you, but this food budget comes packaged with the caveat that you’ll be sacrificing some convenience to bring low-cost meals to the table.

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Can You Spend $35 or Less Per Week on Groceries?

If a $35 weekly grocery bill for a couple ($17.50 per person) to afford three square meals a day sounds a little crazy, you’re not wrong. It’s well below what the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends in its weekly grocery shopping spending guidelines for a household of two adults. The USDA’s budget recommends spending at least $129.30 per week for two adults to meet daily nutritional needs.

While you could get by eating ramen and peanut butter sandwiches for a while, scrounging like a college student indefinitely doesn’t have much appeal. Instead, we put together a $70 two-week grocery budget that nets two adults fairly well-rounded meals without skimping too much on the good stuff.

How to Make This 2-Week Plan a Monthly Grocery Budget

This two-week grocery spending plan can be stretched to accommodate a family of four simply by doubling up on ingredients — and cost. Or expand this plan to a month if you prefer to track your family’s budget and compile a shopping list on a monthly basis.

Depending on your family size, creating a monthly budget allows you to trim your overall food spending by buying costly groceries such as pork chops, ground chuck or chicken breasts in bulk.

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The 2-Week $70 Grocery Budget Shopping List

Before diving into the grocery budget calculator, it’s worth mentioning that this two-week grocery budget assumes you have basic staples on hand, including salt and pepper, cooking oil and a few common spices and flavorings. It also requires that you have space and a stove to cook with to reduce food waste and save money.

We’ve focused on whole grains instead of other starches and sugars that provide empty calories and can leave you feeling hungrier later. Note that prices were current as of mid-June and compiled from online store directories for Walmart and Target.

Most of the time we’ve leaned into store brands to avoid the higher grocery prices associated with name-brand grocery items. We’ve also allowed a small buffer to account for fluctuating food prices.


What to Buy for Two Weeks of Groceries

Item Cost

Quick oats (16 oz.)

$1.39

Bananas (4)

$1.00

Corn flakes (18 oz.)

$2.24

Whole wheat bread (20 oz.)

$1.88

Creamy peanut butter (16 oz.)

$1.99

Sliced ham (16 oz.)

$4.57

Orange marmalade (18 oz.)

$2.48

Brown rice (32 oz.)

$1.64

Blueberries, frozen (1 lb.)

$2.98

Carrots (2 lbs.)

$1.96

Light brown sugar (32 oz.)

$1.97

Fresh spinach (10 oz.)

$1.98

Bell peppers (3)

$2.98

Chicken drumsticks (10 lbs.)

$9.94

Black beans, dried (12 oz.)

$1.48

Spaghetti (16 oz.)

$0.99

Yellow onions (2)

$1.30

Pasta sauce with meat (24 oz.)

$1.48

2% milk (half gallon)

$1.64

Eggs (2 dozen)

$3.16

Salsa verde (16 oz.)

$2.54

Navy beans, dried (1 lb.)

$1.29

Vanilla yogurt (32 oz.)

$2.36

Mayonnaise (15 oz.)

$2.16

All-purpose flour (2 lb.)

$1.26

Frozen corn (12 oz.)

$0.98

Cheddar cheese (16 oz.)

$3.68

Tuna (4, 5 oz. cans)

$3.46

Head of lettuce

$1.98

Total

$68.76

6 Tips for Slashing Food Spending When You Shop

Here are the top ways changing spending habits at the grocery store can slash your family’s weekly spending on food and get your budget back on track.

1. Buy the Store Brand

You’ll be amazed to find how much more you have to spend on groceries if you avoid name brands and buy store brands or generic products. Many store brand items also have cheaper prices per ounce when you buy larger packages, so pay a little more upfront and total up the savings later.

Pro Tip

Skipping the store brand is just one way you can overspend on food. Here are eight other grocery store mistakes to avoid.

2. Clip Those Coupons

Don’t be shy with the virtual scissors because digital coupons can make a big difference in this thrifty plan. Join loyalty programs, shop weekly ads or find coupons to help lower costs further and create room for a little indulgence in this grocery budget.

3. Shop Around

Another way to add more fresh fruits and veggies for cheap is to skip the grocery stores and hit the local farmers market. Not only will prices for local produce generally be cheaper (looking at you, Whole Foods), but you’ll get to eat healthy while saving money. For canned goods, one strategy is to hit up discount stores to find dented cans or to compare prices.

4. Plan Ahead

Meal planning can save time and money. Going into the store with a list of ingredients curbs impulse purchases and helps you be more cost conscious about what you put in your cart. Caught in the weeknight takeout cycle? Plan meals ahead and do prep on the weekends.

Want to slash your grocery costs up to $100 or more? Check out our 28 tips for getting more out of what you put in your cart.

5. Add More Meatless Meals

Animal products cost more to produce, and higher prices at the grocery store reflect that. You can still make nutritious meals and fulfill basic dietary needs by cutting out meat once or twice a week and leaning into cheap vegan proteins like beans.

6. Skip the Delivery

It’s convenient to get groceries delivered to your door, but it’ll cost you. However, not everyone enjoys cruising the aisles or keeping a running tally of the grocery bill in their head.

Instead, avoid delivery fees and stick to a moderate grocery budget by opting for curbside pickup. The more money you save on shopping for groceries, the more you have to spend on food.

Pro Tip

Want to stretch your staples even further? Lean into frozen veggies, dried beans and other pantry essentials that, with extra effort, can make a little go a long way.

The 2-Week $70 Grocery Budget Menu

Wondering how the slim grocery list above can actually serve two people for two weeks? We’ve done the math and laid out a menu so you don’t have to, giving two options for each meal to get you through all 14 days.

Here’s exactly how to get 84 meals for two out of your two-week $70 grocery budget plan. That’s a cost of 83 cents per meal or $2.50 per day per person. And if you have a little extra money to spend when you’re doing your grocery budgeting, you can work in a few splurges.

Pro Tip

We’ve included cost-effective dried beans on the shopping list. They’re cheaper than canned but require soaking and cooking ahead of time or the use of an Instant Pot.

Monday

Breakfast

  • Oatmeal with sugar and cinnamon, blueberries
  • Blueberry and toasted oatmeal yogurt parfait

Lunch

  • Grilled ham and cheese with carrots
  • Cobb salad with diced ham, cheese and hard-boiled egg

Dinner

  • Spaghetti with pasta sauce and spinach
  • Corn fritters with salsa

Tuesday

Breakfast

  • Banana spinach smoothie
  • Peanut butter toast with bananas

Lunch 

  • Spinach and cheese omelets
  • Grilled blueberry and cheese sandwich

Dinner

  • Orange chicken drumsticks with onions and roasted carrots
  • Quick fried brown rice

Wednesday

Breakfast 

  • Corn flakes with milk
  • Homemade peanut butter granola and bananas

Lunch

  • Ham salad sandwich
  • White bean salad

Dinner 

  • Burrito bowls
  • Budget spaghetti carbonara

Thursday

Breakfast 

  • Peanut butter toast with bananas
  • Blueberry banana smoothie

Lunch

  • Santa Fe salad (black beans or leftover chicken)
  • Tuna fish sandwich

Dinner 

  • Brown rice stir-fry
  • Ham and spinach quiche

Friday

Breakfast 

  • Yogurt parfait with blueberries and oats
  • Blueberry mug coffee cake

Lunch 

  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Ham hash (rice, ham, onion, fried egg)

Dinner 

  • Salsa verde soup
  • Cornflake-crusted fried chicken

Saturday

Breakfast 

  • Fried eggs on toast
  • Orange marmalade and granola parfait

Lunch 

  • Santa Fe salad with salsa dressing
  • Tuna melt

Dinner 

  • Ham casserole
  • Budget spaghetti Alfredo

Sunday

Breakfast 

  • Easy crepes with yogurt and fruit
  • Overnight oats with blueberries

Lunch

  • Egg sandwiches
  • Thai carrot salad with peanut dressing

Dinner

  • Stuffed bell peppers
  • Peanut butter Thai stir-fried rice

While this grocery budget won’t give you the opportunity to eat leftovers, most of these meals are easy to prepare and rely on overlapping ingredients to avoid food waste. While it requires a little effort in the kitchen, the goal is to spend as little time shopping and cooking as you spend eating.

A 2-Week $70 Grocery Budget Slashes Costs, But Mind Your Nutritional Intake

While eating fortified cereals and bread can supplement some of the nutritional value you’re lacking, medical experts agree it’s best to have a variety of protein sources and fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.

Pro Tip

Wondering how to fill your pantry with low-cost nutritious staples? A dietitian weighs in on the cheap foods that should fill your cart.

Remember Food Assistance Is Available

Using a bare-bones grocery budget plan like the one we’ve outlined should be done to solve a short-term cash flow problem or to quickly reach financial goals, not to address long-term food insecurity. Keep in mind food assistance is widely available and can help supplement your grocery budget.

If you or your family consistently face hunger and can’t afford basic supplies and food, don’t hesitate to receive food assistance. You may qualify for food stamps, and most areas have food banks or community pantries to assist those in need. Here are some resources to help:

See if you qualify for food stamps (SNAP program).

Find a food bank or community assistance near you.

Pro Tip

If you’re a senior on a tight budget and don’t have much to spend on groceries, don’t panic. You can access free or reduced-cost food through these six programs.

Kaz Weida is a senior staff writer at The Penny Hoarder covering saving money and budgeting. As a journalist, she has written about a wide array of topics, including finance, health, politics, education and technology, for the last decade. 

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