Monday, July 1, 2019

COOKIN' WITH MY SISTER: Feeding My Family for A Week for $50

One of my very favorite people in the whole world recently drove ten hours north to visit me: my sister, Robin. We love to gab and cook when she comes to visit and this time was no exception.

She is currently on a beta testing team for a new vegan, gluten free, Instant Pot cookbook. So, she came with recipes in hand for us to try together. I can show you photos and tell you ingredients. But, I can't provide you with recipe links. What I can do, is point you to the cookbook author's website. You'll find information on the upcoming book at

 Psssttt... she also has a lot of recipes she shares on the website absolutely free. But, don't head over there until after you read through my post and check out my weekly menu.

One Week for Just $50! 

As always, I show you how I feed my family for an entire week for just $50! This includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This week, we are even throwing in a couple of dessert ideas! My family this week has expanded to include my 22 year old son, who is home from college, and (of course) my sister, who is visiting from the South. So, we will be feeding seven people on just $50!

(My blog posts contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the link, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you.) 

The 14 year old sous chef joined us in the kitchen. 
He is creating a new citrus dressing recipe.



Soy Yogurt - TOTAL COST: $2.00

This is where I admit to you that we actually ate most of the yogurt before I remembered to take a photo. But, it was good! This recipe was from

The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for Your Instant Pot: 80 Easy and Delicious Plant-Based Recipes That You Can Make in Half the Time

It was thick, tart, and made overnight in the Instant Pot! Yep! Super easy, with no added sugar.  For breakfast, it's perfect drizzled over cooked oatmeal (makes it so creamy!) or used to create overnight soaked oats.

I'll show you an additional way that the 14 year old sous chef used this yogurt to create a yummy dessert. There are photos and a description at the bottom of this post.

Okay, if you want to peek, you can. But, be sure to scroll back up here to see the rest of the menu.


I can not tell you how much these taste like traditional pork sausage! They are even nice and firm, like meat. But, without all the fat and cholesterol. These are definitely a "win" and a "make again" for our family! Serve on toasted English muffins, drizzled with homemade white gravy and a side of fresh fruit! Yum!


Oat groats - TOTAL COST: $3.00

Ever heard of oat groats? This is what your oatmeal looks like before it is steamed and smashed flat. Oat groats can be kind of hard to find, but it is well worth it! They have the lowest glycemic index and the highest protein content of all forms of oats. What does that mean? Simply that they will satiate you, without spiking your blood sugar.  If you top it with fresh fruit and cut up dates, you won't even need to add sugar! That's a win-win, for sure!

What do they cost? I found them locally at a health food store for about $1.50 a pound. So, they are a little more expensive than traditional thick, rolled oats. However, their chewy, nut-like consistency and flavor are a wonderful change in the breakfast schedule.


The breakfast total includes four days of our regular rotation of:

  • a bowl of cream of wheat or oatmeal
  • topped with fresh fruit

Total Cost of Breakfast:  $14.00

It's a little higher than usual. But, we were feeding two additional adults, too. 



Slow Cooker Cream-less Potato Soup

Slow Cooker Cream-less Potato Soup: Cost: $3.00

Creamy and flavorful! Divine! 

I made the recipe as Kathy Hester designed it, but, I used new, red potatoes from my CSA box for this soup, instead of russets and added 1/2 of a red onion. I also doubled the recipe to serve 8 instead of 4. After it was finished, I wished I had tripled it. Seriously! It was that good!

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Navy Beans

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Navy Beans - Cost: $2.50

This soup was a pleasant surprise. It's such a simple recipe, with very few ingredients. I wasn't sure the soup would taste very flavorful. I was wrong! The split peas more or less "melted" into the soup base as they cooked, thickening the soup nicely. My husband, who adores split peas, called from work and asked what was in the soup that was making it taste so good. You couldn't really see the split peas in the finished soup, but you could taste them.

If you've never used a pressure cooker, you need to get one! My sister has an Instant Pot and it's definitely my favorite hands-down! I'm most impressed by the all stainless steel interior pot and the versatility of all the different functions. It's definitely on my list of items to buy.

Instant Pot 6 Qt 6-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, and Warmer

Additional lunch items: 

  • Crackers - $1.00
  • Raw veggies - $3.00
  • Fruit - $4.00

Total cost of lunches: $13.00


Onion and Molasses Baked Beans

Onion and molasses baked beans - Cost: $2.00

These were the best homemade baked beans that I have ever tasted - and that's saying something, because I make homemade baked beans all the time! We taste tested this recipe for Kathy Hester's upcoming cookbook. Served with the vegan sausage "meatballs" and a salad, this makes a complete meal!

Vegan Sausage "Meatballs"

Vegan Sausage "Meatballs" - Cost: $1.00

The cost was incredibly low for these delicious sausage balls. I just took half of the recipe for vegan sausage patties and made meatballs out of them. The kids ate them like a mini-sub sandwich on toasted hot dog buns. The adults threw them on top of salad greens, for a main dish salad. They were delicious!

Cauliflower Rice and Black Beans with Kale

Quick and Easy Weeknight Vegan Skillet:
Cauliflower Rice and Black Beans with Kale - Cost: $2.00

Shhh... Don't tell Kathy Hester, but I subbed different greens in her skillet recipe. That's actually one of the main tips that I want you to understand today. In my house, recipes are subject to the ingredients that I have on hand. Don't have kale? Substitute kohlrabi leaves or beet greens. Most of the time, you can sub any deep, green leaf for kale.

Rainbow Vegetable Rice

Rainbow Vegetable Rice (cost is included in the recipes below). 

This was the final recipe that we test tasted for the new cookbook. This is SO simple, and yet so versatile. It was also wonderfully inexpensive to make! Remember, I was feeding 7 people this week, instead of 5. Yet, this recipe was enough to easily feed us for four meals!

It's a mixture of riced cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, and broccoli. That's it! 
It easily makes 15 to 20 cups.

Kathy Hester will give you about ten different ways to use this mixture in the new cookbook. We split it in half and chose two methods of preparation.

"Cheezy" Rainbow Vegetable Rice over Baked Potato

"Cheezy veggies" over a baked potato - Cost: $5.00

"Cheezy" veggies: created by cooking the rainbow vegetable rice in a pan and then adding garlic and onion powder, nutritional yeast, soy milk. We served it over baked potatoes.

Rainbow Vegetable Rice Pilaf

Rainbow Vegetable Rice Pilaf - Cost: $4.00

The 2nd night we used the other half of the mixture as vegetable pilaf by adding: peas, corn, onion and garlic powder, and slivered almonds. We served it over whole oat groats, which had been cooked in the Instant Pot. This method of using the rainbow vegetable rice was definitely my favorite.


We vegans eat a lot of salads! - Cost: $8.00

I'll bet you can guess that we added salads with every single dinner. The lettuces, greens, onions, tomatoes, radishes, and other veggies were all from my weekly CSA box. 

Total cost of dinners: $22.00


I don't serve dessert very often. If we have anything, it's  generally a piece of fruit at the end of a meal. But, Hey! My sister was visiting. So, why not celebrate!

No Sugar Desert Hummus

No sugar dessert hummus  (2 ways) and grapes - Cost: $2.50

Once again, this was a recipe tested for the upcoming cookbook. This amazing hummus contains a specialty item, chana dal, which are brown chickpeas that have been split, skinned, and polished. They give this dish a very smooth, creamy texture.

My advice, if you have a hard time finding chana dal, then cooked chickpeas or split yellow peas would be an appropriate substitute. This hummus is sweetened only with chopped, real dates. No added sugar! We added cocoa powder to half of it to make chocolate hummus, which is remarkably similar to Nutella spread. We enjoyed both the plain and chocolate versions. 

Layered Desert Hummus with Homemade Yogurt and Cherries

Layered Dessert Hummus - Cost: $.50

The 14 year old sous chef created this for us. I, literally, told him to look to see what was in the kitchen and use his imagination!

He placed a dollop of the dessert hummus in the bottom of a pretty cup. He added a generous layer of homemade almond yogurt, and pitted cherries. It was all topped by a light sprinkling of dark chocolate chips. It tasted as good as it looked!

I know you are wondering how in the world we made 7 cups of this for $.50. Since we used the homemade yogurt and the dessert hummus the only part of this dessert not already accounted for was the cherries (which I got on sale for 77¢ a pound) and the sprinkling of chocolate chips (which I got on sale and had in the freezer.) So, the cost was incredibly low!

Dessert Total: $3.00

Let's see how close we came to our goal of just $50 for a week's worth of food for my family.


That's pretty doggone close to my goal of $50, especially considering the fact that I was feeding two extra people. 

I hope that this series of $50 menu posts is showing you that you can, indeed, feed your family fresh, nutritious, food on a shoestring budget. 

Your turn!

If you have any super secret ways that you stretch your food budget, we'd love it if you would share them with the rest of us! Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section. 

One more thing!

Don't forget that right now you can receive my free 6 page Seasonal Produce Guide when you sign up to be a part of my E-mail Posse. In it, I give you the low-down on when the get the best prices on the freshest produce. You'll learn how to use it, store it, and "put it by" for later use in the winter months.  Look for the sign up right under the attractive picture of the produce e-book on the right hand side of the blog. Thanks! 

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like: 

Don't Miss Any of Our Posts!

Follow us:

Receive posts via e-mail !  Fill in the "follow by e-mail" link found on the right side of the blog just under my profile. 

Do all to the glory of God, 



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thank you so much for trying my new recipes and some of my old ones. I love your ideas for the rainbow rice!

    1. Kathy, you are very welcome! We had a blast and everything tasted wonderful! I look forward to trying more of your recipes in the future.

  3. Great blog!! I enjoyed cooking with you

  4. Thanks! Your visits go way too fast!