$45 Emergency Meal Plan?

$45 “emergency” meal plan for a week for a family of 4-6! This is quite a bit older, so I was curious how much the shopping list would cost in today’s dollars.



It’s time! It’s time! Time to do another re-calculation of this ~20 year old emergency meal plan!! I last calcuated this for Phoenix, AZ Walmart stores, on 12/27/2018–so a little over four years have passed.

SO much has happened though! Global pandemic and record inflation being two major crises that have affected the average American. Also, in the US, we’re experiencing an egg shortage and substantial cost increase due to avian flu wiping out a large percentage of the conventional egg farming flock. (Keep an eye on organic eggs, especially from smaller farms, as they are the same price or even less than conventional store-brand eggs, as of this update! In fact, a month later, egg prices are slowly returning to ‘normal’ and we do have warnings that eggs will continue to be a hot commodity moving forward. As of 2/27/23 prices are almost back to where they were in 2022!)

Between the plan’s inception in the early-2000s and late-2018, the cost of the menu only increased about $20.

Between late-2018 and January of 2023, the cost has unfortunately increased another FIFTY dollars!!!! ($45 to $63.96 to $113.35)

Now, don’t panic. Wages HAVE increased in many industries but I know they haven’t kept up with the COL overall, especially if you factor in today’s currently crazy housing costs. BUT let’s just focus on getting the family fed for now.

This plan can feed a family of 4-6 with staples left over on $113/week. That includes a big box of powdered milk that cost $8 when the plan was written, but costs $19 now. Remove this and sub in a couple gallons of store-brand whole milk, and you’re at right around $100.

And that’s IF you don’t have any of these items on hand, which you probably do. If you are able to buy staples in larger quantities than listed (I had to in a few cases as it is) this plan would last even longer and can be modified weekly.

So, priced for Walmart in the Raleigh, NC area, we are at $113.35 (or about $100 with liquid milk). Some of these items are less-expensive elsewhere, so if you have time (and the ability) definitely shop around. Remember that dollar and discount stores will often have cheap items, but double-check the unit price. You might not be saving at all if you’re paying $1.25 per pound of flour at Dollar Tree when the 5# bag is $3.50 at Walmart. Sometimes we need a small quantity and $1.25 is more doable than $3.50, and that’s ok. Just be aware.



I priced it for Walmart, as of 12/27/2018 in Phoenix, AZ. Many of the items would be much more affordable if you can afford ot purchase larger quantities, such as a five-dozen pack of eggs vs. two individual dozen, or a 25 pound bag of sugar vs. the smaller 4lb bag, or a large bag of dried beans vs. the 1 or 2 pounders called for. You’ll also spend less if you already have some basics and spices on hand.

So definitely, if you can swing it, buy larger quantities of those items and then you can repeat this menu often and save even more $. (If you have Sam’s or Costco and a membership, compare before shopping for those larger quanties.)

In general, I chose the least expensive options, which usually were the Great Value brand. I buy this brand with confidence myself and it can save a lot.

Grand total is $63.96 plus tax, in my neck of the woods. An $18 increase from when this was written, but not too shabby since I believe the $45 meal plan is close to 20 years old! Check it out at HillbillyHousewife.com.

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