Dinners for $70 or Less: What Would You Like to See?

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Dinners for $70 or Less: What Would You Like to See? - Submit your meal plan requests.

Last month I introduced a new resource here on Life as MOM: This Week’s Dinners for $70 or Less. It’s a weeklong meal plan that not only watches its dollars and cents, but also makes sure you can prep ahead or on the spot easily and quickly throughout the week.

Each meal plan feeds four people for $70 a week for seven meals. The plans can be shopped at Trader Joe’s as well as any regular grocery store, including Walmarts and Targets that have groceries.

We all want to eat better and enjoy home cooked meals with our families. One of the big take-aways I had from reading Salt, Sugar, Fat was that many families are stuck as to how to do this and still stay in the black. I getcha! Oh how I getcha.

Dinners for $70 or Less

So, this meal planning feature is an act of love. I want you to be able to eat good meals with your family! This is the best I can do next to coming to your house and physically helping you pull it off.

Though that would be incredibly fun, wouldn’t it?

Here’s what readers have said about the meal plans:

Dinners for $70 or Less: What Would You Like to See? - Submit your meal plan requests.

Pulled Chicken Sliders

From Rachel via email: I was able to come in under budget (probably due to having some items on hand) and the prep on Sunday afternoon was so painless!

I LOVE the spice mix – I could eat the shredded chicken on my salad every day! I’m not sure I’ve ever been this excited about a new recipe (can’t lie, I thought of packaging it up for Christmas presents). I often roast a chicken on Saturday or Sunday for the leftovers and broth so I just planned the meals around that and it’s going great.

My 3 year old loved helping shred chicken and roll the buns (that word made her laugh hysterically for some reason). I also got her to prep some of the greens and mix the dressing – her first meal helping with every item served!

Having each day planned and all the prep work itemized has been such a blessing – it has subtracted a huge burden from my week and returned joy to a task I used to love. I wish I could offer something more practical, but the plan was so easy to use and the recipes have been perfect so far –  I can’t wait to try the next plan (ooh, random idea, maybe because it’s actually “warm”  here today, maybe a garden/veggie plan for the summer heat when I don’t want to turn on my oven?)! Thank you thank you thank you. — Rachel

From Heidi: I just had to come back and comment on how EASY it was to take this list to Trader Joe’s and be DONE! :) I did buy chicken breasts at Albertsons (because they were on sale), but other than that I just bought from the list (and picked up extra since we are feeding 7).

I’m also seeing that these meals can be adapted for my husband who has decided that he wants to go back to the Whole 30 way of eating. At least for this week, I won’t have to make two separate meals! Thanks again!

Dinners for $70 or Less: What Would You Like to See? - Submit your meal plan requests.

Tell me whatcha want.

The meal plans take a little extra time to plan, test, and write up, but they are completely free to you. Just print and go.

The plans are slow coming at the moment since I’ve got a big writing project on my plate. But, I also want to take careful time planning and tweaking to make sure the format is just right.

So far I’ve made these plans “shoppable at Trader Joe’s”. Trader Joe’s doesn’t have everything a regular grocery store has. You can still shop these plans at any regular grocery store. Some readers are telling me that they can find everything at Aldi, too — another store that doesn’t always have “everything”.

I want feedback from you as to the type of meals you’d like to see included. So, here’s your chance to describe your typical week, your dream week, whatever comes to mind in terms of home cooked meals to feed your family.

I’ll be developing future plans to help us all eat better and spend less, so you have to tell me what that looks like for you.

  • What kind of proteins do you prefer?
  • What foods will your kids readily eat?
  • What kinds of appliances do you have at your disposal?

See you in the comments!

What kind of meal plans would you like to see?


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  1. Love the idea! Thank you for this project. We eat a lot of chicken, a little fish. Kids love beans, noodles, most savory things I guess. Seems to change with the weather…sigh. Grill a lot in non-winter. I need to get the kids to do better with salads…they love veggies, maybe it’s just the lettuce they’re picky about. I love cook once-eat twice kind of things. This is such a great thing you’ve got going here, thanks

  2. I will be honest: I have never utilized your meal plans or any of your recipes. Sometimes things look really good, but we eat Paleo/Primal (no grains or legumes, or dairy–except butter/ghee and sheep’s milk Romano cheese), and it gets frustrating wading through and modifying recipes, so I either make up my own or get them from Paleo websites.
    *What kind of proteins do you prefer? We like larger cuts of meat (beef & pork roasts), along with ground turkey, whole chickens, & b/s chicken breasts–basically, stuff that I can forget while cooking in the crockpot, or quickly cook (ground or diced) on the stove. Eggs are hit and miss for my kids.
    *What foods will your kids readily eat? As long as it’s not too spicy or weird, my kids will eat protein cooked in a variety of ways. It’s the veggies that cause difficulties. We eat veggies on the side a lot, which are refused by my middle child, but he will happily eat them pureed (in a soup) or finely shredded (in meatloaf/meatballs).
    *What kinds of appliances do you have at your disposal? One small and one large crockpot, stand mixer (used once a week or more), food processor (used as little as possible), small blender, coffee/spice grinder… plus an old air popper and a Cocomotion. 😉
    I have come up with my own weekly skeleton meal plan, so if I could get more recipes to rotate in (for pork roast or chicken stir-fry), that would be nice. 🙂

  3. I loved the Mostly Meatless meal plan. I sent you some comments about it on your contact page.An error message came up after I sent it, though, so I’m not sure if you saw it. It was great that the meals served four of us, including two teenagers, and we had leftovers for lunch. I also had enough green chili burrito ingredients to put six of them in the freezer. We had those last week when I needed a quick meal—so yummy!

    In a typical week, I try to plan at least two make-ahead or crockpot meals for our busiest days.

    For proteins we eat a lot of chicken (boneless, skinless, and whole), some ground beef, salmon (on sale),
    and I try to plan at least one meatless meal a week using beans/rice or cheese.

    My kids have a few food preferences, but will pretty much eat everything.

    I have a small food processor, a blender, and a bread machine. Love my bread machine! After I made the velvety vegetable soup, I thought I maybe need an immersion blender. Does it work for smoothies?

    Thank you for all the work you put into these meal plans! I will be praying for you as you work toward your cookbook deadlines!

    • Yes, we’re working on that error message. I remembered, but couldn’t find your email to quote! Thank you for chiming in!

      As for the blender, it’s supposed to do smoothies. I can’t remember if I’ve done that, but I know I’ve done whipped cream. Thanks for your prayers!

  4. Thank you so much for these meal plans – I really need to execute them 🙂 We are a family of 8 (10 if son & DIL come over) and we need to lose weight, so we may be going Paleo(ish) for an evening meals – don’t know yet (I really would miss my dairy 🙂 It would take a MAJOR new way of cooking and thinking for me!
    Proteins: we eat ground meat, chicken (baked, casseroles, grilled), sausage (occasionally) or brats, pork, beef roasts or round steaks when on sale (not often), love all kinds of beans, mexican dishes
    Kids: not too picky – I don’t short order cook; they eat most any vegetable, salads, fruits (we have a large garden)
    Appliances: food processor, 3 crock pots, bread machine, immersion blender, 2 small food processors, blender, hand mixer & ancient stand mixer on it’s last leg 🙂

    • My husband found that portion control was really helpful to his weight loss. He lost 20 pounds by reducing his portions and choosing high nutrients over processed stuff.

  5. We love the mostly meatless plan. Having green chili burritos tonight. Our most common proteins are ground beef or pork, pork or beef roast, sausage, and sometimes chicken when I can slide it in under the radar. Hubby is not a poultry fan. My kids are not veggie fans, but I keep trying anyway : ). Soups don’t go over well at all. Mexican or Italian dishes are favorites. As far as appliances go, I have two crockpots, a blender, stand mixer, bread machine, and a deep freeze. I’m really enjoying the quicker dishes during this busy spring, so the burritos and sandwiches work great. Thank you for doing these meal plans!

  6. I love the meal plans you post, but I am never able to fully use it for the week due to the allergies we have to cook in mind with. What I usually do is use your plan as a guide to help me usually.

    * The proteins we eat are chicken, pork, ground beef, and some beans.
    * The kids’ pickiness is not really as much of a factor as it needing to be gluten-free, dairy-free, peanut and all nut-free, soy-free. But as I’ve said many times, I find your recipes very adaptable and usually have no problems.
    *I have a small Crock pot, a large Crock pot, a mixer, a blender on its last legs, a bread machine.

    Due to the sports schedules, I typically try to have one slow cooker meal that is ready when they hit the door. It can then be leftovers another night or planned in addition to another meal, and the rest of them are easy, quick, and basic (meat, veg, starch, fruit). No casseroles here due to the allergies. My kids love the buffet idea, so we often have a salad/baked potato, soup night (like tonight) and a Mexican bar night where it is easily adaptable for everyone’s needs.

  7.  What kind of proteins do you prefer? We use ground beef/turkey, homemade sausage, chicken, various beef/pork cuts. DH and I have been doing Atkins for a couple of months so lots of meats & veggies. I usually will throw in rice/pasta/potatoes/rolls for the boys for adaptable recipes
     What foods will your kids readily eat? Not too picky. Basic veggies are all good, younger one isn’t into squash/peppers but otherwise is big on salad and such.
     What kinds of appliances do you have at your disposal? 1 large & 1 small crockpot. Ninja with prep ninja, hand mixer, blender, juicer, rice cooker.
     What types of meals to include? We will probably be doing 2-3 crockpot meals a week. I usually try to brown up a bunch of meats listed above to have for tacos, spaghetti, sloppy joes (low carb gets replacements of salad, spaghetti squash, stuffed peppers). Things like your Salsa Verde beef are great for crockpot nights and then a soup later in the week (even if it is 100F out). If I make something we cannot have, baked chicken with salad are an easy fall back. Really need to get back to meal planning as meals were REALLY weird this past week and I am sick of taco salad. 🙂

    • How do you make your stuffed peppers?

      • I slice them length-wise, parboil to shorten baking time, stuff with sloppy joe mixture, sprinkle with cheese and bake 20-30 minutes. I’ve done the traditional stuffed pepper mixture, but while doing low carb I use the sloppy joes (and the 12 yo makes a sandwich with mixture left for him).

  8. I love the plans that you made for Trader Joe’s. Finally, a store that I can go to. I don’t have an Aldi’s or any of those other stores that people mention that sound so good to grocery shop at. 🙂

    ■What kind of proteins do you prefer? We eat chicken, ground beef, roasts, sometimes pork and sometimes turkey.
    ■What foods will your kids readily eat? Mexican, Italian, chicken and dumplings and fried chicken. They like salads. One likes more variety of veggies than the other. They both like fruit.

    ■What kinds of appliances do you have at your disposal?
    I have three nice size crock pots. I have a food processor that is meh. I do have a bread machine and an immerson blender. I would love more recipes for the crock pot. Especially with summer coming it would be very helpful.

    Thank you!

    • I know some people who put their slow cookers in the garage or back deck so the kitchen stays cooler. One friend even puts her bread machine out there too.

  9. Wanted to say that I love the meal plans. I don’t use them every week, but they are awesome! 🙂 I really like the Trader Joe ones that you put together. So please keep them up, I know they take time to put together and I thank you for doing this!

    Preferred Proteins: Chicken, Turkey, Fish, Shrimp, Beef (also use ground for the chx, turkey and beef) I try to eat a lot of meatless or fish meals, but I do fix other proteins for my husband and son.

    Foods my son and husband will eat ( I have to put my husband in this because my 2 1/2 year old will eat more variety than my husband! 🙂 ): All fruits and veggies except broccoli, mushrooms, eggplant, tomatoes. I will cook broccoli and use tomatoes, just won’t put them on my son’s plate. My son is not a big pasta eater but will pick at it sometimes.

    Appliances that I have: Blender, large Food Processor (getting a small one soon), bread machine, hand held mixer and stand mixer, Magic Bullet, panini press/griddler (the cuisinart one), toaster oven, microwave, looking at getting a juicer soon.

  10. Hi, I’ve never left a comment here either, but thought this was a perfect post to do it. First, thank you for your blogs – I’ve used a bunch of your recipes and bought your freezer cookbook. I LOVE the salsa verde chicken recipe and have used it on shrimp too. So good. I’m doing a lot of freezer cooking these days because baby #3 should be here mid-May.
    What kind of proteins do you prefer? We split a cow with a family this year so have TONS of beef in the freezer. However, we like pretty much all protein around here, especially if it’s at a good price and not too fatty.
    What foods will your kids readily eat? My 2 yr old is not picky and eats everything. 4 yr old doesn’t care for veggies, but I want to get him to be a better eater. I also read French Kids Eat Everything and it was very inspirational for me. He seems to like pureed soups (last night was homemade tomato, he gobbled it up, even though he “hates” tomatoes. My husband eats everything as long as I tell him it’s “low fat” 🙂
    What kinds of appliances do you have at your disposal? Stand mixer, blender, food processor, crock pot, immersion blender. Magic Bullet, George Foreman grill/panini press. I use them all on a fairly consistent basis.

  11. Love your menus use them as a starting point. We do not use dairy, white flour and try to limit wheat it just helps us feel better. Husband is pre diabetic, so we watch our carbs. We each work over 40 hours at jobs outside the house. Always changing work hours and work days, some bosses just can not understand or care that people have a life outside of work. If we sit down to dinner twice a week together it is a good week.

  12. We are up for just about anything. My ideal meals have lots of vegetables and some good protein. We eat a lot of: ground beef, ground turkey, cheaper cuts of steak, chicken, shrimp, salmon, random white fish. There are some veggies the kids don’t like, but I will serve pretty much anything. I try to avoid too much rice/pasta/bread.

  13. I love what you do! Love the site! Love the family stories! As far as meal plans go I never follow the whole week exactly, because there is always something that we would do differently here :). I do love the idea of a few more crockpot recipes, but what you are doing is great. I was able to send a friend who is very new to menu planning and grocery budgets a copy of the trader joe plans and she was able to get it! It was a great resource for someone who had absolutely no idea what to do.

  14. I loved your Mostly Meatless plan. I don’t like cooking or eating a lot of meat, so it was great for me. We eat chicken breasts (boneless only), beef, sausage and pork (occasionally). I’ve never tried cooking fish, and we do not eat shellfish at all. We eat beans frequently as our main non-meat protein source, and I love slow cooker options.

    My 4 year old is pretty good at trying anything, except sometimes with raw veggies. As long as it’s not spicy or soup, he’ll eat whatever we give him. My 2 year old is awful at trying anything. I keep trying, and she keeps gagging herself when she tries items, even fruit that she once ate happily.

    Small appliances include a toaster oven, slow cookers (2 big and 1 tiny one), food processor, stand mixer, immersion blender, waffle iron, and rice cooker. Not really an appliance, but we do have a grill for when the weather cooperates. I’m considering getting a juicer, in part out of hopes that it will help my daughter get used to new flavors without textures making her gag.

    Our needs/wants are particular enough that I don’t really expect any menu plan designed by someone else to work perfectly, but if I can find something that’s close it’s usually easy enough for me to tweak it a little to make it work for us.

  15. I have used quite a few of your older meal plans but have not had a chance to use your new ones yet. I actually preferred the first one (meat), and was hoping to try it next week. We eat mostly chicken, and beef. Occasionally we will have pork or seafood. We need mostly easy quick meals, we are a homeshooling, self-employed family of 8 with multiple activities evenings so the easier the better! We like to have mexican at least once a week and pizza on Fridays. My kids will eat just about anything once, they don’t like spicy food as well though. I have a microwave, blender, crockpot, minifood prosseser, george foreman grill, and bread machine. And I’m getting a juicer in May from a friend. Looking forward to seeing more of your meal plans! Thank you for all your hard work, I truly appreciate it! (Oh, and I have your freezer cookbook and Love it!)

  16. Jennifer Hoffman says:

    So you know I love your meal plans! 🙂 as far as proteins…the cheapest ones 🙂 we have a very minimal grocery budget right now so the cheaper the better.
    For what my sin will eat- he is 2, not terribly picky but doesn’t like meats too much yet. But I can usuallybgibe him something from the meals. For instance, ifnwe have tacos, he will have tortilla chips and salsa and cheese. Hardest thing to get in with him is veggies.
    Appliances- range, crock pot, deep freeze, ice cream maker, food processor, blender, bread machine, kitchen aid, waffle maker, toaster oven…I think that’s everything?? Lol

  17. I really love your meal plans. I honestly have never used ones from other sites. Yours is so detailed with the prep ideas and make ahead options. I really appreciate your work. I used to use ground beef and chuck roast more but they have been so expensive. I would love a plan with pork shoulder roast though. Thanks for everything!

  18. Michelle Stahnke says:

    I’m dying for more of these $70 meal plans! I did the mostly meatless one and loved it. Today I shopped for the first one you posted, with the chicken sliders, etc. I bought everything at Trader Joe’s and even though I purchased organic veggies, fruits and chicken, I was able to come in at under 70 dollars because I had several items needed in my pantry already. I am thrilled with how organized the plan is, and that I can prep some things ahead to make it easier on the days we have 4-H and the like. Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming up with these. I hope they’ll be more. 🙂

  19. Michelle Stahnke says:

    Well now I’m going to have to keep bugging you for more of these $70 meal plans. I made the Mostly Chicken one this past week. It was such a HUGE hit with my husband and daughter. They are asking if I can just repeat the entire meal plan again for this coming week! So, we will be eating the chicken plan again this week. Everything was super easy to shop for and prepare. I’m thrilled. Please, please, please come up with more $70 plans. Thank you!

    • So glad to hear that you liked it! I need to eat down the fridge before I test another one, but I will keep it in mind. Protein requests?

      • We only eat beef/chicken/pork 3 days a week so we eat a lot of beans and eggs on the other nights. I’d love to see a plan that includes eggs or pork for protein since I haven’t seen those in the other recipes. Thanks for all your work on these meal plans. Our family of 11 is enjoying them and they are helping with the budget.

  20. In trying out the “Mostly Meatless” plan this week, another cost-saver occurred to me… If you’re using dry beans, freeze the leftover liquid for stock! It’s delicious in soups and for boiling rice.

  21. We tried the mostly meatless plan and made it totally meatless. I was surprised at how much my kids liked this since it was a little different than what we usually eat. i loved the bread machine recipes and use them on a weekly basis now…. Will never buy another bun!
    i would love to see more like this. thanks.

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