LJWorld.com weblogs Shop Talk with Jenn and Julie

Budget Friendly Dinner Challenge -- $11.03


In my blog on Wednesday, I wrote about a budget friendly dinner challenge. Basically, I wanted to see if I could shop Dillons' ad and purchase a meal for my family of 4 for $10.

You know we all have the best intentions of planning and clipping coupons, etc. But sometimes are crazy lives get in the way of our plans. And while I am still being cost conscious, I'm not always well prepared.

So, here is what I purchased at Dillons for our meal:

4 pork chops - $4.56

Birds Eye Steamer Veggie - $1.69

Pillsbury Biscuits - $1.00

Kroeger Chunky Bleu Cheese Dressing - $1

Driscoll 16oz. strawberries - $1.98

In addition to the items I have listed above, I also am making a salad (I have lettuce in my fridge) using the bleu cheese dressing and stuffing, which I also have in my pantry.

I know some of you couponing pros are probably snickering thinking I spent too much on this meal. But the point I wanted to make was that on those occasions when you haven't planned and you don't stockpile, you can still feed your family nutritiously and inexpensively.


thebcman 7 years, 10 months ago

I'm betting if you used bisquick you could have made those biscuits for about 30 cents.

Nathan Anderson 7 years, 10 months ago

I'm betting if you used flour, baking powder, salt, milk and butter you could have done better than 30 cents. There's really no reason to buy heat-and-serve biscuits; homemade biscuits are quick and simple. BTW, I hate Dillon's pork. It's that "moist and tender" crap which has been injected w/ water.

UfoPilot 7 years, 10 months ago

Yea, but then this article couldn't be a commercial for Dillons.

Katara 7 years, 10 months ago


I think you miss the point. The planning ahead and being prepared is exactly for those times when life is crazy.

Yes, the planning does take time initially but you'll find that if you stick to it the amount of time you have to spend overall decreases. This means less stress for you and your family.

You don't have to clip coupons to save money. That is true. It is the planning ahead that you will find the most savings with. The coupons just make a good deal better.

This means you have to completely change your way of thinking and it is hard to do. For me, planning meals out a week at time helps. I don't have to do the "Hmmm, what's for dinner game?" each night. I can go by what is on sale and plan my meals around that or I can grab what I need from my stockpile because I stocked up when the price was low.

For me, I am working on setting aside a block of time on the weekend to do baking & freezer meals - two things I think will help me even more. The problem is that I really don't enjoy baking so much so I have put it off. I have to get past that because I know it will not only save me time during the week when we are all going 50 different directions but that it will save me money by baking things from scratch. It is a change that I need to put my mind to doing.

Ronda Miller 7 years, 10 months ago

You could buy a bag of lentils or beans and feed your family of four several meals for the price of ten dollars and be eating healthier too.

Add one porkchop to the lentils or beans if you must have meat. The lentils and/or beans can be served with brown rice, making a complete protein, and a healthier choice than biscuits by far. Keep the salad and the fruit. Certainly several times the meals for four, easy to heat another night and probably close to half your cost and more healthy

mom_of_three 7 years, 10 months ago

If she would have went to aldi for strawberries, it would have cost her as much in gas as it would to buy them at dillons.
I think its great what she spent on the meal, on the spur of the moment without a plan.


shorttrees 7 years, 10 months ago

Which pork chops did you get? There are 3 different ones in this week's ad.
Downgrading to chicken legs/thighs and switching to the Green Giant veggies could make it cheaper as well, but if the night was truly "crazy" you should have spent $8 on 5 Marie Callenders or Healthy Choice dinners and kept the extra for a lunch. All spending $8 or less.

julieanderson 7 years, 10 months ago

shorttrees, my family does not like legs and thighs -- I've tried. Also, the Green Giant veggies were very limited in choices, thus going for the steam fresh.

SuperJenn 7 years, 10 months ago

One thing that I dislike about Dillons is their selection of GreenGiant frozen veggies. The steamers don't have any PLAIN veggies but two. Everything else is sauced and buttered.

denak 7 years, 10 months ago

Healthy Choice is good but you really have to watch Marie Callenders meals, they are extremely high in fat content. Sometimes the convenience isn't worth the negative health benefits.

SuperJenn 7 years, 10 months ago

I think that is a great example of what you can do to avoid things like eating out!

Planning ahead IS the whole idea..but it is a MAJOR life change for a lot of people. What Julie has shown us is that if you take even an extra 10 or 15 minutes you could save $10-20 that you would have spent eating out...and this is a well balanced meal for any family.

Biscuits made from scratch is what I prefer to do...it is quick and simple and more cost effective...but I do it weekly. Anytime I try something new you can bet it takes me a lot longer. If that isn't something you are used to doing and you have kids and adults running in four different directions, that isn't a viable option.

I like to prepare food ahead of time as well. The first meal of the week that I make I look ahead and cut up my veggies for the week, I mix up my dry ingredients for baking and set them aside, labeled so that it is more of a "quick mix" for me than from scratch. I love to make extra of a meal and throw it in the freezer for a crazy night. I find it is the best way for me to feed my family the way I want to AND stay on top of my budget.

We should all be so lucky to have the time and knowledge to make perfectly balanced, preservative free, prepared ahead of time food for our families. Julie is someone who acknowledged from the beginning that she is learning how to run the coupons...how to make changes to her budget, her planning.

Great job on finding a meal that cost you 1/3 of what you would have spent eating out and is FAR more nutritious than what you would get from fast food or even a restaraunt!!

AlligatorMama 7 years, 10 months ago

My goodness I have never seen such a negative group of people in one place...most of you have totally missed the point of what she is trying to do. That is a good, well balanced meal for 1/3 of the cost and 1/3 of the fat for a quick and easy meal.

Great job Julie!! I've been reading "the $5 dinner mom" cookbook, TONS of recipes for a family of 4 for under $5. All well balanced and healthy!

Thanks for sharing your experience Julie!

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