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$50 Grocery Budget

It isn't easy living on a $50 a week grocery budget but it is possible. Check our tips for making the most from your food budget. 

$50 grocery budget: recipe ideas and shopping list

Is $100 per month enough for food? With the right planning, budgeting and discipline, it can be.

For a single person, $50 a week (or roughly $216 a month) is around enough money to enjoy a complete, basic diet. Let’s take a look at what you can afford to get through the week.


How much food can I get for $50 a week?

The University of Otago estimates a single adult needs about $59 to $69 a week for a balanced and nutritionally complete diet. Of course, $50 is a little below this, but when you’re sticking to a budget and shopping smart, it’s often possible to achieve a lot with only a little money.

Here are a few tips to make $50 last the week:

Buy affordable fresh meat

For $50 a week, you can usually afford to buy a small variety of fresh meat. We recommend picking up a whole butterfly chicken. You can get this plain or flavoured, to make dinner extra easy.
Find out how to save money on meat

Your whole chicken can provide enough protein to last a few days, and the left over bones can be used to make soup.

Other than that, chicken drumsticks are often only a few dollars for a whole kilogram. These bones can also be used for soup, so they’re definitely worth keeping.

A small pack of beef mince, around 300 grams, can be padded out with red lentils to make a casserole or chilli that lasts well in the fridge or freezer. Cook a big batch at the start of the week and use it for dinners or lunches.

Get recipe inspiration with our Budget Meal Planners
How to cook a perfect chicken
Chicken Recipes

When you’re eating on such a tight grocery budget, your best bet is to plan your meals a week in advance and do plenty of meal prep. 

Hardy, affordable vegetables

Carrots, onions, potatoes and cabbage make excellent go-to vegetables on any budget. They’re typically affordable year-round and are easy to add to any dish for flavour and nutrition.

Roast carrots, onions and potatoes with your whole chicken and boil cabbage to serve on the side.

Boil and mash potatoes to serve with your mince casserole, then alternate between mash and rice to enjoy some variety.

You can even make a simple homemade hash brown with grated potato and onion for breakfast on the weekend.

Kiwi favourite: Weet-Bix and fruit

Weet-Bix are a great option for an easy breakfast. They’re as simple to prepare as just popping a couple in a bowl and adding milk.

Add some flavour and nutrition by topping your Weet-Bix with sliced banana or apple. To make your bananas last all week, keep them out at room temperature until ripe then pop them in the fridge. The skins will darken, but the banana itself will ripen very slowly in the fridge.

Example $50 budget weekly shopping list

Think you could survive on a $50 per week food budget? Print out this shopping list and bring it with you the next time you do your weekly food shop. Or, use it as a guide to build your own list.

*All prices are indicative only, and may vary according to seasonality, sales and demand. Product, price and limits may vary between store.

Download the $50 budget shopping list.

Looking for more ways to save?

Check out our tips on food budgeting or take a look at our other food budget guides.