Save 40% on Food Costs: Lunch and Dinner Savings – Part III

If you are shooting to save 40% off your food bill in 2022, then targeting about $4.00 a day for breakfast for a family of four is a really good start. That’s just $ 0.98 cents a person as I showed you in the last post. But saving more money on lunch and dinner for a family of four is right in front of you and can be accomplished if you try. Saving more right now on this important staple (food costs) can set your budget right and take off lots of the inflation pressures you may be feeling these days.

A sliced turkey sandwich representing money-saving lunch and dinner ideas

Numbers Spent on Food in the U.S.

If you spend on average as American families do now for four about $1,000 a month (spending averages between $890 and $1,062 per month according to the USDA for a moderate budget), then spending just $4.00 a day for breakfast (or $120 a month) is only about 12% of your monthly food bill! Even if you spend a total food budget of $600 a month (40% less than the average), you are only spending 20% on breakfast if you make some changes.

My wife and I spent over the past 12 months on average $415 a month for our family of two and that was 37% less than the USDA averages. We want to save even more and we can do it.

You can do it too, can’t you?

If you try, saving on breakfasts will still leave a great amount to spend on the rest of your menu (about 80% of it!) each week. So let’s get started looking at lunch and dinner choices for healthy eating and big savings right now!

Your Money-Saving Lunch Shopping List

First, pick your favorite local grocery store, the one you feel has the best pricing based on everything you already know and have learned. I am using Walmart for my purchases because they are located all over the U.S. and the pricing I can use here is available everywhere as a barometer to shop and use. Normally I use ShopRite markets, but the important part is that I have done my homework and I know where I can get the best prices every day.

The lunch list for a family of four and prices to look for (prices are from 11/18/2021 here in central NJ) can vary by store and location:

  • Bread – Great Value 22 oz. loaf @ $0.88
  • Cheese slices – Great Value Singles American Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product, 24 count 16 oz. @ $1.87
  • Peanut Butter – Great Value Creamy Peanut Butter, 18 oz. @ $1.32
  • Jelly – Great Value Concord Grape Jelly, 30 oz. @ $1.33
  • Eggs – Great Value Large White Eggs, 12 count @ $1.31
  • Tuna – 2 cans Great Value Chunk Light Tuna in Water, 5 oz. cans @ $0.68 each
  • Veggies – Large Cucumber @ $0.68,
    Tomatoes, 3 pack @ $1.50
  • Soup – Great Value Chicken Noodle Canned Soup, family size, 26 oz. @ $1.28
  • Salad mix – Marketside Crisp Greens Blend, 12 oz. @ $1.98
  • Mac and cheese – 2 boxes Great Value Original Macaroni and Cheese, 7.25 oz. @ $0.34 each
  • Salad dressing – Great Value Traditional Italian Salad Dressing & Marinade, 16 fl. oz. @ $0.92
  • Frozen pizza slices – Ellio’s Pizza, 9 slices @ $2.97
  • Sliced turkey – Oscar Mayer Lean Smoked White Sliced Turkey Deli Lunch Meat, 16 oz. package @ $2.98
  • Fruits – 2 cans Great Value Pineapple Chunks, 20 oz. @ $0.94 each,
    1 can Great Value Sliced Peaches, 15 oz. @ $0.98,
    1 jar Great Value Original Apple Sauce, 48 oz. @ $1.98
  • Drinks – 2 cans Arizona Light Iced Tea/Lemonade, 23.5 oz. @ $0.74 each,
    2 bottles Clear American Sparkling Water, White Grape (many flavors), 33.8 fl. oz. @ $0.64 each,
    1 bottle Great Value Apple Juice 100%, 96 fl. oz. @ $1.87
  • Yogurt – Great Value Strawberry Banana Low-Fat Yogurt, 32 oz. @ $1.92
  • Pasta salad – Betty Crocker Suddenly BLT Pasta Salad Mix, 7.3 oz. @ $2.44
  • Kidney beans – 1 can Great Value Dark Red Kidney Beans, 15.5 oz. @ $0.54
  • Mayonnaise – Great Value Mayonnaise, 15 fl. oz. @ $1.28
  • Potato chips – Great Value Original Flavor Potato Chips, 8 oz. bag @ $1.44
  • Brownies (mix) – Great Value Fudge Brownie Mix, 18.3 oz. @ $0.98 *
  • Crackers – Great Value Original Saltine Crackers, 16 oz. @ $0.84

Total cost for one week of lunch for family of four is: $39.97.

* Brownie mix will require eggs and a small amount of vegetable oil from your pantry, or purchase Great Value Vegetable Oil, 48 fl. oz. @ $2.98

Menu: 28 Money-Saving Lunch Meals for 7 Days

Monday

Tuna salad sandwiches (with mayo) and tomato slices and chips. Served with drink and fruit.

Tuesday

Frozen pizza day or pasta salad and homemade garlic toasts, drinks and chips with dessert brownies.

Wednesday

Soup and salad day with beans and dressing and crackers. Drinks and fruit for dessert.

Thursday

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich or yogurt day with drinks and fruit slices.

Friday

Grilled cheese sandwiches with salad, chips, and soup with crackers and brownies all served with drinks.

Saturday

Turkey sandwiches with chips, salad, drinks, and fruit.

Sunday

Egg salad with tomato slices on toast with chips, drinks, and fruit.

Average Cost of Lunch

What is the average cost of lunch if you follow this? The average cost for 28 lunches for your weekly family of four is $1.43 per person per day or just $5.71 per day for a family of four!

Is It Healthy for You?

If you have a dislike for these menu items, then you can assert your choices working within these items: pizza, salads, pasta, turkey slices, yogurt, etc. Choices can be tweaked and are flexible.

A grilled cheeses sandwich and soup is just about always a welcome hit. This can work for you and it is healthy. Feel free to substitute some items that you particularly love in any category. Sandwich type you like or a fruit of choice? It will change the numbers only slightly and you can still hit and stay around the $5.60 per day number with relative ease.

Now for the final part of this money saving “inflation busting” meal plan!

Your Money-Saving Dinner Shopping List

  • Fish – Great Value Frozen Raw Wild-Caught Pink Salmon Skinless Fillets, 1 lb. @ $4.96
  • Meat – All Natural 80% Lean/20% Fat Ground Beef Chuck, 3 lbs. @ $4.68/lb.
  • Pasta – 3 boxes Great Value Pastas, 16 oz. @ $0.82 each
  • Pasta sauce – 3 large cans Hunt’s Garlic & Herb Pasta Sauce, 100% Natural Tomato Sauce, 24 oz. @ $0.98 each
  • Chicken – Great Value Freshness Guaranteed Boneless Chicken Breasts, Family Pack, 4.7-6.25 lbs. @ $10.63
  • Pork – Pork Center Cut Loin Chops Boneless, 2.01 lbs. @ $5.87
  • Salad mix – 2 bags Marketside Crisp Greens Blend (similar blends), 12 oz. @ $1.98 each
  • Veggies – 2 Cucumbers @ $0.68 each,
    Tomatoes, 3 pack @ $1.50
  • Salad dressing – Use dressing from previous purchases
  • Frozen veggies – 2 bags String Beans and Assorted Veggies, 1 lb. @ $1.87 each
  • Cranberry sauce – 2 cans Great Value Cranberry Sauce, 14 oz. @ $1.06 each
  • Drinks – 2 bottles Great Value Soda (many flavors), 67.6 fl. oz. @ $0.76 each,
    2 bottles Clear American Sparkling Water, White Grape (many flavors), 33.8 fl. oz. @ $0.64 each,
    2 cans Arizona Light Iced Tea/Lemonade, 23.5 oz. @ $0.74 each
  • Stuffing – Great Value Chicken-Flavored Stuffing Mix, 6 oz. @ $0.82
  • Mashed potatoes – Great Value Instant Mashed Potatoes, 15.3 oz. @ $1.48
  • Butter – Use butter from previous purchases
  • Ice cream – Great Value Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, 48 oz. @ $1.97
  • Dessert – Great Value Cake Mix @ $0.94,
    Pillsbury Strawberry Frosting, 16 oz. @ $1.50
  • Eggs – Use eggs from previous purchases
  • Rolls – Sam’s Choice Sweet Hawaiian Rolls, 12 count @ $2.50
  • Bread crumbs – Great Value Italian Style Bread Crumbs, 15 oz. @ $0.92

Total cost for one week of dinner for family of four is: $67.99.

* Cake mix will require eggs and a small amount of vegetable oil from your pantry, or from previous purchases.

Menu: 28 Money-Saving Dinner Meals for 7 Days

Monday

Pasta with homemade meatballs, salad, and homemade garlic toast. Drinks and dessert (cake or ice cream).

Tuesday

Pork chops served with mashed potatoes along with rolls and a veggie. Drinks and dessert.

Wednesday

Chicken with stuffing and cranberry sauce served with veggies, salad, and rolls. Drinks and dessert choices.

Thursday

Meatloaf served with mashed potatoes, veggies, and salad. Drinks and dessert of choice.

Friday

Fish day with veggies and salad served. Drinks and dessert.

Saturday

Pasta – Repeat of Monday’s menu but can vary by type of pasta served.

Sunday

Chicken – Repeat of Wednesday’s menu.

Average Cost of Dinner

What is the average cost of dinner if you follow this? The average cost for 28 dinners for your weekly family of four is $2.43 per person per day or just $9.71 per day for a family of four!

Total Food Costs for the Week

The grand total of all meals for the week is $135.45. That’s an average of $4.84 per person per day. That includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.

This totals out to a food cost of $7,043 per year or $586 per month! That is 42% less than the average national food spending of $1,000 per month ($12,000 per year) for a moderate family of four’s budget in the U.S.!

Final Thoughts

I had a ton of fun writing this series mainly because it gives me a real feeling that Super Saving Tips can make a difference when I really try to apply it. Food shortages are real and for many it means life or death. For average folks, it means tightening the food budget and saving money that may be needed for other important things like clothing and shelter. Whatever it means for you, it’s definitely a way to save and fight inflation.

I think of it as a real challenge and writing this has even taught me that I, too, can cut more and save from my budget. I guess you never really stop learning how to do that when you try.

Are you ready to cut your food costs in 2022? Where can you make the changes necessary? What stores do you shop now and where can you find better deals when you try? How much are you going to pledge to save right now?

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