Summer Budget Meals – Meal Planning

Summer Budget Meal Plan

When I was in college, I was on an extreme budget. I was taking out student loans and worked forty hours a week at a daycare making $5.15 an hour to make ends meet.  I was especially excited when I received my first – drumroll please – $.05 raise. Making an extra $.40 a day really helped out with the bills. (haha)

After one year I left the dorms and the “meal plan” I had grown accustomed to was left back in Trout Hall. For the first time in my life, I had to start buying groceries on my own.  The budget for my weekly groceries was a little less than $20 a week and that included everything. How did I make it work? At the time, I shopped at Wal-Mart and bought the same thing every week. Occasionally, my cousin would go shopping with me. I knew what the exact total would be when we arrived at the checkout and my cousin found this hilarious.

This was my first experience with meal planning. I wasn’t as organized as I am now, but I pretty much ate the same thing from week to week and stuck to a budget.

The college years were rough but I am now an adult and have experienced what it is like to make a decent salary. Nonetheless, I continued to use my frugal ways to budget for groceries and other areas of my life. However, since I made more my budget was higher than $20 a week for groceries. Funny enough, I still had a good idea of what my grocery bill would be when I passed through the checkout because I allocated myself a certain amount of money for food and household items and used meal planning.


This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you, so thank you. This site uses cookies for a better user experience. For more information read our disclosure policy here. 

Why Meal Plan?

Meal planning will save you tons of money. Moreover, this is why I believe in eating at home for the most part (we go out for an occasional treat) and using meal planning. If you meal plan, you can eliminate wasted food because you are using what you buy and you can save money by not rushing to the store where you are forced to pay full price instead of shopping sales.

Top Reason to Use My Summer Budget Meals

  • Save Money
  • Reduce Food Waste
  • Save your sanity (less stress)
  • Organize your food and life
  • Use your extra money to save for an emergency fund
  • No more running out to the store for last-minute, high-priced items
  • Save time
  • Easy grocery shopping
  • No surprises at checkout
  • Less shopping (I only go twice a month and use my list)

So today, I am going to continue with my easy food solutions and give you a summer budget meal plan that will total you out around $40 for a week’s worth of meals. However, If you are on a really tight budget, check out my $40 Meal Plan which includes two weeks worth of dinners for around $40. Yet, if you are looking for a good summer meal plan and can afford $42 for one week of dinners, here is your one-stop-shop! Let’s get cooking!

Suggested Reading: Budget-Friendly Meal Planning

Summer Budget Meals – One Week of Dinner Meals for $42

Monday: Pasta and Chicken Summer Salad

First, cook a box of rotini and at the same time cook your frozen grilled chicken according to the package. While it is cooking chop up your tomatoes and cucumbers. Mix all the ingredients together and add one cup of Italian dressing. Yum! I LOVE this salad and it is so easy! It only takes around 12 minutes to whip up.

Tuesday: Avocado Turkey Tomato Sandwich

Let me tell you, this sandwich is one of my favorites. I love using whole grain bread with this deluxe sandwich. It is so yummy it taste like a specialty treat in a sandwich shop. Update: Here is a link to the recipe! Super delicious!

Wednesday: Chicken Strawberry Feta Salad

Summer Meal Plan

This salad is oh so yummy and it is a summer favorite in my family. I usually use baby spring mix but iceberg lettuce is fine (and cheaper). Cook your frozen chicken according to the package first and then plate your lettuce, strawberries, feta cheese and top with cooked chicken. A raspberry vinaigrette dressing is a fine choice for this salad but the Italian you already purchased will work just fine! Enjoy!

Thursday: Grilled Ham and Cheese with a Side of Veggies

Use the wheat loaf and provolone or cheese of your choice you bought for the turkey avocado tomato sandwich above and coat bread with butter or margarine. Place cheese and ham on your sandwich and grill on medium high heat for about two-three minutes on each side checking every minute to avoid burning. This is a quick and easy dinner solution that incorporates four food groups – grains, meat, dairy, and veggies! Enjoy!

Friday: BBQ Chicken Salad

For this tasty treat you will need black beans, corn, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and bbq sauce – Cook your frozen chicken pieces according to the package. Plate your lettuce and top with black beans, corn, onions, tomatoes, and chicken. Top with BBQ sauce and enjoy this summer delight!

Saturday: Italian Grilled Chicken and Veggies

My husband is the grill master in our house but I like to help by marinating the chicken for four to five hours in Italian dressing. Grill up the chicken until it is fully cooked and plate with a side of veggies. Super healthy!

Sunday: Hot Dogs and Veggies

I know this one isn’t the healthiest but when can you eat hot dogs, if not be in the summer. Grill them or if you do not have a grill boil the dogs on your stove top. You can top with a can of chili to make chili dogs or just add ketchup and mustard. Don’t forget your veggies and use whole wheat buns so your meal isn’t totally unhealthy. You can get back to your regular diet on Monday. I always believe in having a cheat day anyway!

Totaled out around $42

Other Saving-Money Posts:

Grocery List for  Your Summer Budget Meal Plan

Let’s total out your food and see how much you will be spending on this weeks dinner menu:

On hand: Mayo, Ketchup, mustard, butter

Dry Foods:

1 box Rotini $.99, Italian dressing $.99, Whole Grain bread $2, Black Beans $.99, BBQ Sauce $1, Buns $1 – Total $6.97


Tomatoes $2, Cucumber $.99, Avocado $.99, Strawberries $2, Lettuce $2, Onion $1 – Total $8.99


Turkey Lunch Meat $3, Cheese (I like provolone) $2, Feta Cheese $3, Ham Lunch Meat $2, Chicken $5, Pack of Hot dogs $2 – Total $17


Cubed Chicken (I usually buy Tyson Naturals) $6.99, Bag of Broccoli $1, Bag of corn $1 – Total $9

Grand Total: $41.97

If you are shopping at Target, like I often do, and you use your Redcard, you will receive an extra 5% off which brings your price to $39.88. You will also find many of these items on the Cartwheel App and if you use coupons, you can cut your bill even more! Remember you can stack manufacturer coupons with Target coupons so look for sales match ups. I usually buy my salad dressing at Kroger when it is on sale for .99 and stock up.

For more information on saving on your grocery bill click here.

If meal planning has got you down, check out $5 Meal Plan for your 14 day free trial. This is an amazing company that send affordable meal plans to you weekly and most meals are less then $6 total. Save time and money! Check them out.

To learn more about saving money and budgeting, sign up for the I Heart Frugal Newsletter below:

Newsletter signup

Sign up for the I Heart Frugal newsletter!

Please wait...

Thank you for sign up!

Save More…

After committing to my Summer Budget Meals, an easy way to continue your frugal eating habits through breakfast and lunch is to throw a bucket of oats into your cart for breakfast and some healthy bread and lunch meat for sandwiches (use any leftovers from the dinners as well). Nonetheless, you could also do eggs or potatoes and soup for a frugal lunch and now you have an entire weeks worth of groceries for around $50.00!

You can do this money-saving thing and get your budget back on track.

I hope you have enjoyed my list of summer budget meals. This will be a healthy week, besides the hot dogs but everyone needs a good hot dog during the summer months!  If you balance your eating and spending habits you will be A-okay!

Take care – Sarah



Sharing is caring!

3 Comments on Summer Budget Meals – One Week Under $42

  1. Oh I wish our Target had more grocery type foods but they don’t. These sounds like fabulous foods. Thanks for sharing with us at the Summer Time Fun Party. Pinned.

    • You are so welcome! I hope you found some good meals to add to your summer budget meal plan! My friends laugh when I tell them I buy all of my groceries at Target, but honestly, it is good quality! Even the meat! Take care!

Comments are closed.