Meal Planning with Dollar Tree
A grocery list and full week of dinners made with only Dollar Tree groceries. Get some meal planning inspiration and stay on budget.
When I was a teenager, I used to sit with a calculator and weekly ads to plan a food budget for my family of 11. I would often rely on Dollar Tree to stretch that tight budget. So I decided to challenge myself and see if I could do all of my dinner planning this week at Dollar Tree. I came up with a menu of 7 quick dinners using only Dollar Tree groceries along with 3 desserts.
First, let me share the list of groceries that I got before diving into the meals. I ended up making two trips to Dollar Tree this week and kept my budget at $20 with an optional 3 desserts for just $3 more. Here is the grocery list:
Bag of rice
Tuna – 2 cans
Frozen veggies – 2 bags
Eggs – 8 count
SnackPack Pudding cups – 4 count
Betty Crocker Cookie mix – makes 1 dozen
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – 5 pack
Can you believe I got enough groceries to make 7 full meals for $20? And a lot of what I got was brand name products: Heinz, Starkist Tuna, SnackPack, Hanover, Betty Crocker. Idahoan Potatoes, etc. Okay, now onto the dinners I made with these groceries. I allowed myself to use some pantry staples (oil, salt, condiments), however, the actual substance of each dinner was from Dollar Tree. Here is a breakdown of each meal:
Day 1 Dinner: Italian Eggs, Garlic Bread, and Steamed Vegetables:
This is a delicious, nutritious, and easy meal to put together. Just heat 3/4 can of the tomato sauce until bubbling and then add the eggs to poach. Meanwhile, bake the garlic bread in the oven and steam the frozen vegetables in a steamer or the microwave. Save the remainder of the tomato sauce, eggs, and veggies for another dinner later this week.
Day 1 Optional Dessert: Chocolate Pudding with Mixed Berries:
This is optional if you decided to allow the extra $3 in your grocery budget. Just serve the chocolate pudding with a side of warmed berries for a luxurious but simple dessert. Bonus: if you've already baked the chocolate chip cookies, add a cookie on top!
Day 2 Dinner: Personal Pizzas and Steamed Veggies
I make these pizzas a little healthier by swapping out pizza crust with a thin flour tortilla. Just use the leftover sauce from Day 1 to spread a thin layer on each tortilla. Then top with the shredded mozzarella and pepperoni. Bake in oven for about 5-10 mins at 400 degrees. Serve with vegetables leftover from Day 1.
Day 3 Dinner: "Salisbury" Steak, Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Canned Corn
This filling comfort food still comes in under budget. Season the ground beef with a mix of spices you have in your pantry, form into small patties and then bake at 350 degrees until done (use a meat thermometer). For sides, make the mashed potatoes and the can of corn (or substitute another bag of frozen veggies). Heat the gravy in a small saucepan and then pour over the steaks when you are ready to serve. Optional: I always have a bag of onions in my pantry so I thinly sliced and sauteed one small onion, then topped the gravy with that.
Day 3 Optional Dessert: Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
This easy mix makes a delicious batch of cookies.
Day 4 Dinner: Tuna Cakes, Rice, Steamed Veggies
This is one of my all time favorites for a quick and easy dinner. Drain both cans of tuna and mix in your choice of spices and breadcrumbs. Section into small patties and let sit for 5 minutes while you heat oil in a skillet. Place patties in the skillet and heat both sides for a few minutes until nicely browned. Meanwhile, cook rice per directions and heat frozen veggies for the sides.
Optional Spicy Mayo Sauce: You probably have these staples in your fridge but since I didn't include them on the shopping list, this is optional. Mix a few tablespoons of mayo with some hot sauce to your preferred taste. Drizzle over the tuna cakes or serve on the side.
Day 5 Dinner: Vegetarian Fried Rice
This delicious dish is so easy and uses up a lot of leftover foods from dinners earlier in this menu plan. First, scramble 1 or 2 eggs (leftover from Italian eggs) and set aside. Saute frozen veggies (leftover from previous meals). If you have some peppers, onions, and garlic in your fridge, add that in too for a boost of flavor. Basically, you can add whatever veggies you want. Add leftover rice to pan and sprinkle with some garlic salt and soy sauce. Continue to heat through. Finish by topping with scrambled eggs.
Optional: I love to add 1/2 white rice and 1/2 cauliflower rice so this dish is packed full of nutritious veggies. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Dollar Tree had frozen riced cauliflower! It tasted so good with the added cauliflower.
Day 6 Dinner: Breakfast for Dinner. Waffles. Fruit, and Yogurt
This is pretty self explanatory. Just heat up the frozen waffles per directions. Microwave a bowl full of the frozen fruit and it will create a delicious, syrupy sauce. Pour fruit over the waffles and top with a dollop of yogurt. If you have some powdered sugar in your pantry, I suggest doing a quick dusting for a truly decadent meal.
Day 7 Dinner: Make Your Own Tostadas
These were so good, I didn't stop to get a photo so please forgive me and use this stock photo (above) as inspiration. The great thing about this meal is that each person can customize to their preferences. Start with a flour tortilla for each person and add salsa, leftover corn, black beans, and some shredded cheese, then add whatever else you want to make it your own, try throwing on some leftover veggies or rice. You can even add leftover pepperoni to give it an Italian spin or a fried egg for a breakfast version.
Day 7 Optional Dessert: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
This is a great dessert that you don't even have to make. Dollar Tree has a huge selection of brand name candy. I picked up a 5 pack of Reese's Cups and they were so good!
I hope you found this menu plan and grocery list helpful. As you can see, it is just for dinners (and some desserts) but planning 7 dinners for $20 means you hopefully have enough left in your grocery budget for the essentials like milk and bread. I hope this gives you the inspiration to start planning and budgeting your own meals this week. Please share your favorite budget meals with me below.