1 Day, 5 people, $15- Gluten Free, Real Food

Posted on | May 16, 2013 | 8 Comments

Recently I received a gift card to Trader Joe’s in the amount of $10. I don’t normally shop Trader Joe’s. When we moved to the Knoxville area, there wasn’t a Trader Joe’s, but one opened this past fall. I hadn’t been. I decided I wanted to try to feed the 5 of us for one day on this gift card (tax aside).

I looked through their “Fearless Flyer” paper that we get every few weeks. I picked out a few things that I felt would be a complete 3 meals. Since 2 of us are gluten free, I had to keep this in mind as well. After getting there, I found some things cheaper, but seeing them in my cart, it seemed like there wouldn’t be enough food. I have 3 boys. They can eat…

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What I came up with may not seem like a lot, but no one went hungry. The better for you & more nutrient dense food is, the better it fills bellies. I decided to show you what I bought, what staples I’ll need with it (and their costs as well) & the menu I’ll be following.

You’ll notice that some of these items are organic, some are not. I try to follow the Dirty Dozen, Clean Fifteen list. However, I buy tomatoes, corn & papaya either organic or locally grown from open-pollinated seed. Over 90% of corn is genetically modified, and the other 2 are often genetically modified, those numbers rising.

The Shopping List:

Avocado (The bag of 4 was $2.99, but I’ll only be using 1 for the day) – .75¢

Coconut milk, unsweetened – $1.99

1 dozen “cage free” eggs – $2.49

18 oz organic polenta – $1.99

1 package “natural” chicken drumsticks (1.19#) – $2.37

1 pound organic carrots – .89¢

1 pound gluten free organic pasta – $1.99

5 bananas – .95¢

Total spent (pre-tax) – $13.42

What’s In the Pantry

1 stick butter – approx .75¢

Honey – pennies

Vanilla – pennies

Salt & pepper – pennies

Additional spices of choice – pennies

Total – We’ll call it $1.50

Total for everything – $14.92

What’s On the Menu?


Smoothies, made with:

> 3 cups coconut milk
> 1 avocado
> Honey & vanilla to taste

Blend til smooth.


Fry polenta & eggs in butter (save 2 tablespoons for dinner), salt & pepper to taste, add additional spices if desired & you have them on hand.




Simmer chicken in coconut milk until chicken is cooked through. Salt & pepper to taste. Season as desired. Debone chicken, shred & return to the seasoned coconut milk.

Melt rest of butter, cut carrots into sticks. Coat sticks with melted butter, then toss with salt & pepper. We also like this with garlic powder & onion powder, but they are tasty with just salt & pepper, too! Roast uncovered at 350º for about an hour or until carrots are tender. This method also sweetens them.

Cook pasta as directed. Serve shredded chicken & sauce over cooked pasta with the roasted carrots on the side.

How did we do?

The food was well received. I completely forgot to get pictures, because I was so intent on following the menu down to the last grain of salt & pat of butter. I’m not usually so fastidious, but I knew this was intense, because it was a challenge for me. I wanted to share this information with you, so I knew it had to flow. While I don’t spend a lot of money on groceries each month comparably, this one definitely took some thought & planning. No one complained that they were hungry, which is great considering 2 of my boys are teens! There weren’t any leftovers, but I didn’t expect there would be.

One of the biggest reasons this worked was menu planning! I promise, when you make a menu plan & stick to it, your grocery budget is better for it! Buy everything you need, or make a menu off the things you buy. You can make a list based off of your stores sales flyers, as I did. Whichever order you do it in, you have to stick to it.

Do You Think You Could Feed Your Family A Real Food Diet On $3 Per Person Per Day? Tell Us How You Keep Your Grocery Budget Low In the Comments Section Below!!

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Like this? You may also be interested in:

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8 Responses to “1 Day, 5 people, $15- Gluten Free, Real Food”

  1. Barb @ A Life in Balance
    May 16th, 2013 @ 8:52 am

    Great post! TJ’s is one of my favorite stores especially because of their gluten-free items. Which reminds me, I need to make a trip.

    I would love for you to share this post at my Fabulously Frugal Thursday linky when you have the time!
    Barb @ A Life in Balance recently posted..#vlogmom: my advice to new graduates

  2. The Vintage Wife
    May 16th, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

    Barbara- I will! Thank you 🙂

  3. deb thomas
    May 16th, 2013 @ 10:45 am

    Wow, Trader Joes has some great prices. I wish Earth Fare was that cheap. I must admit though, earth fare has some great sales and you can get some real bargains with their weekly special coupon. This article was inspiring, I have got to start menu planning. Thanks for sharing.

  4. The Vintage Wife
    May 16th, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

    Deb- I love my earth Fare! I go for specific things, & I am planning on doing more of these types of posts. Earth Fare will be one of them!! Thanks for stopping by & good luck with menu planning. It really does work 🙂

  5. lydia
    May 16th, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

    Cool beans!

    I have not seen that coconut milk at my Trader Joe’s before – does it have any other added ingredients?
    lydia recently posted..Sour Date Booch

  6. The Vintage Wife
    May 16th, 2013 @ 7:55 pm

    Lydia- It did have a few ingredients (more than I care for), but was the best I could accomplish with what I was going for 🙂

  7. Heather M
    May 22nd, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

    Thank you for coming by and linking up with us for Fabulously Frugal Thursday. 🙂
    Heather M recently posted..It’s About Balance: A Fitness Center

  8. Round 2: 1 Day, 5 people, $15- Gluten Free, Real Food :
    June 17th, 2013 @ 8:02 am

    […] response to my Trader Joe’s edition of 1 Day, 5 people, $15- Gluten Free, Real Food was phenomenal! A lot of people are arguing that they can’t afford real food. I beg to […]

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