The $30 Grocery Challenge: Is it Even Possible in 2023?

When The Teenager was the Wee One, we had more than one stretch of time when the budget only allowed a meager sum for groceries. Our average grocery bill from 2008 to 2015 was around $250 a month. Now, I think that might get you an 18-count of eggs and a gallon of milk.

I’m shrewd and I shop with excruciating attention to detail when on a budget.

And when I tell you my cupboards are bare, I mean my cupboards are bare. The Teenager had a rough week this week financially and I’m out of work because of my injuries, heart and balance condition… so we may be living off the 1/2 a month’s wages I have in reserve.

But luckily, the cupboards are not bare. And we took my last $30 cash and a handful of change and went to The Dollar Tree to see what we could do to get some groceries that wouldn’t kill me. (I’m trying to control my salt and sugar because of all of my bizarre symptoms.)

Grocery Haul from Dollar Tree

Before we left, I calculated that with Dollar Tree’s new $1.25 prices we could get 23 items, as long as they did not include non-grocery items, because here in Pennsylvania, groceries don’t get taxed.

My main strategy was to only buy items that included more than one serving or could spread across more than one meal.

I’ll start with the loaf of bread and work clockwise:

  • White Bread (I have sprouted sourdough in the fridge, and some sandwich thins and who knows what else in the freezer)
  • Potato Gnocchi (shelf stable, high in protein, four servings per bag)
  • Chicken Egg Roll for me; Shrimp for The Teenager (we have homemade vegan egg rolls in the freezer that will go nicely with them)
  • California Blend Frozen Vegetables. (Picked for its bland diversity. Goes with anything. You could pick out the carrots, broccoli or cauliflower if you really wanted to. We have frozen asparagus and frozen baby brussel sprouts in the freezer)
  • Cheese ravioli (almost bought the meatballs, but they were high in sodium and only had one serving of meatballs per bag so since processed sauce is salty, I put the meatballs back)
  • Minute Maid Hibiscus Aqua Fresca (I use it to season my iced tea– my unsweetened home brewed tea. I use about an ounce or two at a time)
  • Peace Tea Peach Green Tea (“Mom, Can I have a drink?”)
  • Fish Sticks (Now, fish sticks don’t have much protein or nutritional value so I would recommend combining these with the next item, the mac and cheese bites. They are both boxes with 1.5 servings in, so split in half, it could work as a meal for two together)
  • Mac and cheese bites
  • Two small cans of tuna in water
  • a jar of honey roasted peanuts (for when I have to take my meds with food)
  • A big bag of long grain rice
  • Extra Wide egg noodles
  • organic valley Tomato sauce (it was the lowest in sodium)
  • Lower Sodium Chicken Broth
  • a can of black olives (great for texture, flavor or snacking)
  • Prego canned alfredo sauce
  • fried cinnamon apples in a can
  • a block of cream cheese style spread

Price: $26.40

That leaves $4 to buy some milk.

I haven’t lost my touch.


  • chicken flavored rice with asparagus and brussels
  • fish sticks and mac and cheese bites
  • egg rolls and rice
  • soup with chicken broth and noodles
  • ravioli with tomato sauce and olives
  • tuna sandwich
  • grilled cheese
  • peanut butter and jelly
  • chomeur pudding with apples
  • gnocchi with alfredo sauce olives and vegetables
  • tuna casserole, made with chicken broth and cream cheese
  • beans and rice
  • toast
  • rice pudding
  • pancakes with apples

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