I Tried To Make Dinners For A Week Using Only Ingredients From A Weekly Ad, And Saved A Ton Of Money

Groceries are so dang expensive. Currently, a bag of chips is, like, $5.

GIF of Donald Glover cringing

It's too much, but I was looking through my Weekly Ad at Albertsons, and the prices were really reasonable, which got me thinking, "Have I watched enough Chopped to make a week's worth of dinners using only things on sale in the weekly ad?"

GIF of a chef with really wide eyes
Food Network

I haven't, but luckily when I was making this post, my Mimi, culinary wizard and mastermind seamstress, was in town to help see if this was doable.

Audrey and Mimi
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

I set a grocery budget of $100, and luckily there was a $30 off $75 coupon Albertsons was offering, so I took advantage of that, too.

A handwritten grocery list

The goal was seven dinners, and here was the plan:

Night one: Herb-roasted chicken and a side salad

Night two: Mini meatloaf and veggies

Night three: Mandarin chicken over pasta

Night four: Burgers

Night five: Grilled cheese & chicken noodle soup

Night six: Chili

Night seven: Steak and veggies

The first hurdle was actually getting the groceries. Albertsons was out of the chicken I needed, most likely because it was on sale in the ad. The steak was the same price, so I asked for that instead.

A grocery basket outside of Albertsons

Of course, this changed my meal plan because you can't make mandarin steak.

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Well, I ended up getting So. Much. Steak. Like seriously, I don't think I've ever had this much steak in my life.

Closeup of steak
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

All in all, my receipt said I saved a boatload of money, and I was pretty happy with this many groceries for $99.43.

Screenshot of the "Purchase Summary"

I got:

Bread and Bakery:

1 Artesano Brioche Bakery Bread — 20 oz (Regular Price: $4.99 / I paid: $2.28)

Breakfast and Cereal:

1 Corn Flakes — 9.6 oz (Regular Price: $6.49 / I paid: $1.52)

Canned Goods & Soups

2 Campbell's Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup — 18.6 oz (Regular Price: $6.98 / I paid: $2.26)

1 Signature Select Black Beans — 15 oz (Regular Price: $1.29 / I paid: $0.76)

4 Swanson Chicken Broth — 32 oz (Regular Price: $17.96 / I paid: $10.69)

Cookies, Snacks, and Candy

1 Cheez-It Crackers — 21 oz ( Regular Price: $7.79 / I paid: $5.36)

Dairy, Egg, & Cheese

Lucerne Sharp Cheddar Shredded Cheese — 32 oz (Regular Price: $8.99 / I paid: $3.00)

Daisy Sour Cream — 16 oz (Regular Price: $2.99 / I paid: $2.13)

Frozen Foods

MorningStar Farms Plant-Based Vegan Meat Grillers (Regular price: $5.99 / I paid: $3.05)

MorningStar Farms Meatless Sausage Patties Six Count (Regular Price: $5.99 / I paid: $3.06)

Fruits & Vegetables

Broccoli Crown (Regular Price: $2.11 / I paid: $1.46)

White Cauliflower (Regular Price: $5.80 / I paid: $3.19)

3 O Organics Organic Spring Mix (Regular Price: $17.97 / I paid: $11.48)

Peppers and Onions Sliced (Regular Price: $2.99 / I paid: $1.92)

Fresh Cut Zucchini and Yellow Squash Slices (Regular Price: $2.99 / I paid: $1.92)

1 lb On the Vine Red Tomatoes (Regular Price: $3.59 / I paid: $2.30)

2 Medium Hass Avocado (Regular Price: $3.34 / I paid: $1.19)

Blueberries 18 oz (Regular Price: $7.99 / I paid: $4.60)

3 lb Bag Prepacked Clementines (Regular Price: $5.99 / I paid: $3.82)

Grains, Pasta, & Sides

Barilla Orzo 16 oz (Regular Price: $1.99 / I paid: $1.15)

Meat and Seafood

3 lb Grass Fed Angus Ground Beef (Regular Price: $32.97 / I paid: $16.06)

3 lb Top Sirloin (Regular Price: $36.05 / I paid: $15.33)

Time for the meals! Night one, we had steak salads.

steak salad
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

I love a good steak salad, and using one pound of the steak I got and the greens, along with some blueberries and cream, was a nice, fresh way to end my evening. Plus, there was plenty of it. It fed our family of five, and there was some left over.

steak salad
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Night two, we had lil' meatloafs with gravy and a side of sautéed zucchini and squash.

Meatloaf and squash
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

The little meatloafs, we toasted and crumbed the bread from the bread loaf we got, mixed that and onion with the ground beef, and cooked it in a skillet. We cooked the zucchini and squash with a little bit of olive oil and salt (which we already had) and added that as a side.

meat loaf
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

We had enough ground beef to cook four lil meatloafs, but IMO, the veggies were so good, there really wasn't enough of it.

A fork in some meat loaf
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Night three, we had a steak stir fry (like I said I panicked when the person at Albertsons called and said they were out of chicken and got WAY TOO MUCH STEAK).

a steak stir fry
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

We took the steak and marinated it in some soy and teriyaki sauces, then cooked it with some onion and peppers, and served it with some orzo (rice wasn't in the weekly ad, and the orzo was...fine).

steak stir fry with orzo
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Night four, we had burgers. We used the ground beef and mixed it with onions and cheese to make patties, then cooked them in a skillet.

cheeseburger patties cooking
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

And we used that Artesano bread for buns!

burger on a plate
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

We also added a side of cauliflower. The cauliflower we tossed in oil and salt (which we already had), and put on a baking sheet to roast. It turned out so well, I didn't think there was enough of it.

cooked califlower
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Night five, we went back to basics, and dinner was a grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup. Whereas the past four meals served the whole family, there was only enough bread and soup for two people.

grilled cheese and soup

This worked out perfectly because there were also a lot of leftovers from the previous nights.

Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Night six, we had vegetarian chili. We used the meatless crumbles, the can of beans, the can of corn, the tomatoes, the avocado, and the chicken broth (like I said I panicked and thought I was getting chicken!!) to make the chili by combining it all in a pot and letting it simmer.

chili in a pot
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

We topped it with the shredded cheddar and optional sour cream!

a bowl of chili with cheese on top
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

The meatless crumbles aren't something I'd typically buy, but this was the most exciting meal I think. It really felt like Chopped, taking ingredients I wouldn't normally use to make something I normally wouldn't. Typically when I make chili, it's the ground beef stick-to-your-bones Crock-pot kind. This was a pleasant surprise!

the author scooping chili into her bowl
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Day seven, you already know what it is: STEAK! I grilled the remaining steak, and we paired it with the rest of the broccoli and cauliflower mix, as well as a side salad. Easy and simple after six prior days of cooking!

steak and veggies
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

AND it left me with some things from my list that I used for breakfast on day eight: meatless sausage, corn flakes, and oranges. So balanced!

cereal and meatless sausage patties
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

While meal-planning is tiring, I'd say overall this was pretty successful. And I just want to disclose it's even easier if you have a grandparent who likes to cook and help you decide what to make.

Mimi and Audrey
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

All in all, I think I'm going to pay more attention to my weekly ad at the grocery store. I get a lot of groceries and feel like I save a lot of money (and I love saving money!).

Albertsons coupons

Though next time, I'm going to have a few contingency plans if they're out of an ingredient so I don't panic-buy. I'm good on steak for a very long time.

steak in a skillet
Audrey Engvalson / BuzzFeed

Do you have a money-saving meal hack? Are there certain tips you use that save you money at the grocery store or on dinner? Tell us in the comments below!