Secret Ingredient for Low Cost Meals

I love saving money on food. But with a busy life, I don’t have much time for meal planning. Recently, I found a secret ingredient to lower my grocery bill without clipping coupons, matching prices, or shopping at crowded (and expensive) warehouse clubs. It’s Buy One Get One (BOGO) free deals!

I used to do all my shopping at one place, Wal-Mart. Even the sales at grocery stores couldn’t compete with their “everyday low prices.” But just a few months ago I started paying attention to the BOGO deals Publix. That was a game-changer!

Now, when I get 5 minutes I will look up the online ad for the grocery store closest to my home. I’m only interested in one thing: what’s BOGO this week. (Actually two: sales in the Publix deli).  Everything else, I get from Wal-Mart.

Then, I meal plan around the BOGOs.

Here are recent BOGO items we bought and some of the meals they made.

Flour Tortillas

  • Quesadillas (makes 5 servings)
    • BOGO tortillas $2.65 for 20 = $0.13 per tortilla
    • Cheese = $0.50 per serving
    • Avocados $2.52 = $0.19 per serving
    • Pico de gallo: (tomato $1.48, onion $0.74, jalapeno (free from our garden), lime juice (free from our lime tree), cilantro $0.49, makes 13 servings) = $0.21 per serving
    • Corn (frozen) $ 1.00 = $0.10 per serving
    • Black beans (dried) $0.05 per serving
    • Total per quesadilla = $1.18 
  • Burritos (makes 5 servings, similar to quesadilla but with rice and less cheese)
    • BOGO tortillas = $0.13 per tortilla
    • Rice $4.48 for 5 lb bag, 50 servings per bag = $0.10 per serving
    • Cheese = $0.40 per serving
    • Avocados = $0.19 per serving
    • Pico de gallo = $0.21 per serving
    • Corn (frozen) $ 1.00 = $0.10 per serving
    • Black beans (dried) $0.05 per serving
    • Total per burrito = $1.18
  • Cheese wrap (makes 3 servings)
    • BOGO tortillas = $0.13 per tortilla
    • Cheese = $0.50 per serving
    • Avocados = $0.19 per serving
    • Pico de gallo = $0.21 per serving
    • Hot sauce  = fractions of a cent
    • Total per wrap = $1.03
      • TIP: Perfect for a quick lunch

Chicken breast

  • Chicken enchilada (makes 7 large* enchiladas)
    • BOGO chicken $8.46 for 2 lbs (1lb made 7 servings) = $0.60 per serving
    • BOGO tortillas $0.13 per tortilla
      • *we usually use small corn tortillas for enchiladas, but the BOGO flour tortillas worked just as well
    • Enchilada sauce $2.98 = $0.43 per serving
    • 1/2 onion $0.38 = $0.05 per serving
    • 4 oz cheese $2.22 = $0.32 per serving
    • Total  per enchilada = $1.53 

 

  • Chicken nuggets (5 servings)
    • BOGO chicken $8.46 for 2 lbs (1 lb made 5 servings) = $0.85 per serving
    • 2 eggs at $0.23 each = $0.09 per serving
    • Pantry items (flour, salt, pepper, other seasonings)
    • Total per serving = $0.94

Mushroom Agnolotti (similar to ravioli)

  • Mushroom Agnolotti (5 servings)
    • BOGO Agnolotti  $7.00 for 5 servings = $1.40 per serving
    • Homemade Marinara Sauce (tomato sauce = $0.72, canned tomatoes = $1.24, 1 onion $0.75, 4-5 cloves of garlic $0.26, spices from pantry, basil from our garden) $2.97 for approximately 12 servings = $0.25
    • Total per serving =  $1.65 

Pasta

  • Spaghetti, Rigatoni, or Penne (same prices, we like to keep it interesting)
    • BOGO pasta $1.69 for 4 servings = $0.42 per serving
    • Homemade marinara sauce = $0.25 per serving
    • Total per serving = $0.67 

Pierogies

  • Pierogies
    •  BOGO Pierogies $2.79 for 6 servings = $0.47 per serving
    • Homemade marinara sauce = $0.25 per serving
    • Total per serving = $0.72 

Boca Burgers

  • Boca Veggie Burger
    • BOGO Veggie* Burger $3.69 for 8 patties = $0.46 per patty
      • *it was our first time trying a veggie burger – even my 9 year old loved it!
    • BOGO bread* $3.19 for 44 slices = $0.07  per 1 slice, $0.14 for 2 slices
      • *TIP: we make toast instead of buying buns
    • Total per burger = $0.60 

Bagels

  • Bagel with Jelly
    • BOGO bagels $4.49 for 12 = $0.37 per serving
    • Jelly $2.98 for 40 servings = $0.07 per serving
    • Total per serving = $0.44 
  • Bagel with Peanut Butter
    • BOGO bagels = $0.37 per serving
    • BOGO peanut butter $5.39 for 68 servings = $0.08 per serving
    • Total per serving = $0.45 

Bread

  • Turkey sandwich
    • BOGO bread $0.14 for 2 slices
    • Deli Turkey $9.23 (sale price) for 10 servings = $0.92 per serving
    • Total per sandwich = $1.06 

Peanut Butter

  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
    • BOGO peanut butter $5.39 for 68 servings = $0.08 per serving
    • Jelly = $0.07 per serving
    • BOGO bread = $0.14 for 2 slices
    • Total per sandwich = $0.29 
  • Apple with Peanut Butter
    • BOGO peanut butter = $0.08 per serving
    • Apples $4.43 for a bag of approx. 12 = $0.37 per apple
    • Total per apple with peanut butter = $0.45
      • TIP: I keep peanut butter and apples at work

Cheerios

  • Cereal with milk
    • BOGO Cheerios $4.99 for 38 servings = $0.13 per serving
    • Milk $2.00 for 8 servings = $0.25 per serving
    • Total per bowl = $0.38

Ice Cream

 

We splurged on some fancy pants meals, including some with mushrooms, avocado, turkey from the deli, and lots of cheese.

We could have saved even more money without these splurge items. But they add a taste of luxury to our beans and rice/pasta meals. And we love cheese!

 

What’s your secret ingredient for low cost meals?

 

Check out our other Food Finances Friday Features

Grocery Haul: $60.34 for a Family of 5!

How to Spend $100 per Person per Month on Food

How to Save Time in the Kitchen

10 Ways to Save Money Eating Out

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Don’t Throw That Out, I’ll Eat It!

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