4 Family Meals for Under $4

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If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably consistently looking for ways to lower your grocery bill. Groceries cost a family of four up to $1,296.60 per month, according to May USDA estimates. Even those on a thrifty plan spend around $600 per month on food at home. This does not include the money we spend going out to eat at restaurants, which costs another roughly $100 to $400 per month.

Our current financial situation has a lot to do with our food spending and choices. Overall, those with higher incomes spend more on groceries and are likely to have more options to choose from. Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s spending data, a higher-income family incurs a grocery bill that’s at least double that of some of the lower-income groups. But no matter what your financial situation is, with food prices on the rise, it’s always nice to have a few choice inexpensive meals you can turn to when an emergency arises or if you’re in a  pinch.

We developed a list of four meals costing less than $4. This list contains meals that will feed a family of four, taste good, and are relatively healthy — we avoided lower-quality foods like potted meat or Spam. The list also calculates the prices of meals based on the total cost of your shopping list, as opposed to a per-serving basis. A per-serving cost basis calculates the cost of one shrimp as 50 cents, instead of calculating the cost of an entire pound of shrimp, which is around $13 to $17.

The goal of this list is to create meals you could actually make with only $4 in your pocket to spend at the grocery store. The list does, however, assume you have everyday items like salt, pepper, flour, and dressing already in your kitchen – the prices of those items are not included. The pricing data on this list are from the BLS’s most recent average food price reports and from two grocery stores: Publix and Food Lion.