Category: Economic

The One Week $25 Challenge

I’ll be conducting several challenges this year, the first is to cook and eat on less than $25 dollars from Monday to Friday. Normally, I only have coffee for breakfast and eat out for lunch two or three times a week. But for the purpose of this challenge, I will eat three meals a day. I will not be counting beverages or staples that I have on hand at all times, such as salt, pepper, butter, sugar, flour, garlic, seasonings, oil, etc.

I went to the store for the first shopping trip today (Sunday) and stocked up for breakfast and lunch for all five days plus dinner (mostly) for the first three days. I took a strategy of using products more than once such as bread, eggs, rice and potatoes. Each day I will update this post with my meals and recipes.

Here is the grocery list and the prices.

Item Cost
1 lb Chorizo 1.93
2 lb Grade A chicken thighs 3.33
12 oz Center cut Bacon 2.00
Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls (8 cnt. Tube) 0.00
1 white onion 0.33
1.1 lb Red potatoes 1.08
1 head Iceberg lettus 0.88
3/4 pound broccoli crowns 0.73
1.2 lb Roma tomatoes 1.11
1 8oz can cream of chicken 0.88
16 oz Cavatappi Pasta 1.00
16 oz. Linguine Pasta -0.93
16 oz Small Red Beans (Dry) 1.15
16 oz Long Grain White Rice 0.74
1 Small loaf white bread 0.69
1/2 dozen grade AA large eggs 1.19
8oz Monterey Jack Cheese (1) 1.67
Green Bell Pepper (2) 0.78
Calamata Olives (3) 1.04
Tomato Sauce (3) 0.29
White Onion (3) 0.33
Prime Ribeye Steak (4) 4.75
TOTAL 24.98

Day 1

  • Breakfast: Scrambled egg and buttered toast.
  • Lunch: BLT
  • Dinner: Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

I needed some cheese for the casserole so I had to pick up an 8 oz block of Monterey Jack ($1.67). Even though I tried to cut the recipe amounts back so I would not have leftovers, I still had enough for lunch the next day plus some.

Dinner recipe ingredients: 1/2 pound chicken, 1/2 cup rice, 2 medium broccoli crowns, 1 can of cream of chicken)

Day 2

  • Breakfast: Poached egg with toast
  • Lunch: Leftover Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
  • Dinner: Red Beans and Rice with Chorizo

Leftovers AGAIN. I am finding it very hard to cook a single serving, but then again how can you cook 1/8th cup of rice? I guess I could have pre-cooked the rice yesterday and reserved 1/2 for tonights meal. If I try a challenge similar to this in the future, I will definately precook rice. Supplies are holding out well. I expect that when the challenge is over I will still have at least 1/2 of the rice and beans left and probably most of the pasta.

Dinner recipe ingredients: 1/2 pound Chorizo, 2/3 cup rice, 1/2 cup red beans, 1/2 medium white onion, 3 cloves garlic, Cajun seasoning.

Day 3

  • Breakfast: Fried egg toasted Sandwich
  • Lunch: Leftover Red Beans and Rice
  • Dinner: Chicken Fajitas with Spanish Rice

Ok, leftovers have become a strategy at this point, however, I do not plan to have the same dish more than twice. Once for dinner then again as leftovers for lunch the next day. I’m going to have plenty of bacon, tomatoes, lettuce and bread to work with since I have abandoned the daily BLT for lunch.

Dinner recipe ingredients: 1 pound chicken, 1/2 cup rice, 1/2 medium white onion, 1 green bell pepper, 1 Roma tomato

Day 4

  • Breakfast: Cinnamon toast with bacon
  • Lunch: Leftover Chicken Fajitas and Spanish Rice
  • Dinner: Linguine with Red Meat Sauce

Dinner turned out alright, but I do think that the Cavatappi would have been the better pasta to use.

Dinner recipe ingredients: 6 oz Linguine, 1/2 pound Chorizo, 1/2 medium white onion, 1 green bell pepper, 1 can tomato sauce, 2 oz Monterey Jack cheese, 4 oz Calamata olives, 2 cloves garlic, 2 slices of bacon, 1 egg, almost a full head of lettuce

Day 5

  • Breakfast: 2 egg omelet with bacon
  • Lunch: Leftover Linguine with Red Meat Sauce
  • Dinner: Rib-eye with Roasted Red Potatoes

Well I was able to save enough money to treat myself to a Rib-eye on day 5! Smaller than I normally have and choice not prime, but a Rib-eye none the less. I also had enough bacon left to add a few slices to the potatoes as a topping.

Dinner recipe ingredients: 8 oz Rib-eye, 3/4 pound red potatoes, 3 slices of bacon

Bonus Food

I had all of the Cavatappi and cinnimon rolls left, 1/2 pound chicken, 2/3 of the Linguine, 3/4 of the red beans, 1/4 of the rice, 1/2 of the Monterey Jack, a couple of tomatoes and potatoes, 1/2 white onion and a couple of slices of bacon. I was able to go ahead and use most of the ingredients in the next few days. I still have all of the pasta, it will keep, but I did have to throw the chicken out.

So there you have it 3 meals a day for the work week without using any processed packaged food — with food left over. Of course on Saturday I cooked a very nice mushroom risotto that probably cost me $15-20 in ingredients.

-Chef Stacy

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