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How to Survive on Only 13 Grocery Items

It may not seem like much for groceries, but with this easy plan, you'll be eating delicious meals on the cheap.

Buying only 13 groceries may not seem like enough to last you for a week's worth of meals, but trust us, there's a lot you can do with such few items. Being able to survive for the entire week on such a low amount means you have to get really creative with your meals. Instead of buying particular groceries to make one meal, you have to think about how one item can stretch and make two, three, even four meals.

In order to make this work, you have to sit down and really plan out your meals for the week before even going grocery shopping. It will help you save money and will take the guesswork out of what you're going to be cooking for the week.

To give you a taste of what this can look like, we rounded up a sample meal plan for you—grocery list and price estimates included. Here are 12 different meals you can make using only 13 groceries, most of which you can make multiple times!

Grocery list

man holding plastic grocery bag with lettuce and bananas

The prices below will vary based on where you grocery shop. To figure out the following prices, we did some research on the industry standard for each item and estimated just a little bit above the price you may see at the store. This means the total price may be lower, but just in case, we rounded up to make sure you had enough room in your $50 budget.

Bananas (8): ~$4.00
Eggs: ~$3.00
Rotisserie chicken: ~$8.00
Rolled-cut oats: ~$3.00
Peanut butter: ~$3.00
Hummus: ~$4.00
Carrots: ~$3.00
Feta cheese: ~$4.00
Pita pockets: ~$4.00
Kale (1 bag): ~$3.00
Olive oil spray: ~$6.00
Mayonnaise: ~$3.00
Chocolate bar: ~$2.00

TOTAL: ~$50.00

Remember to check if you already have some of these pantry items! There's no need to spend more money on these if you already have them.

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Oatmeal with peanut butter and banana recipe
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Here are three different breakfast ideas you can make using the items listed above.

Oatmeal with peanut butter and banana: Place 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup of rolled-cut oats in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high (uncovered) for 2 minutes, or until the consistency is where you want it to be. Top with a tablespoon of peanut butter and cut up banana slices. If desired, add any toppings you may already have at home, like nuts. Makes 1 serving.

Banana pancakes: Blend together a banana, 2 eggs, and 1/3 cup of rolled-cut oats. Heat up a skillet over medium-low heat, and spray it down with the cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake, flipping the pancakes gets bubbly on top. Serve with peanut butter. Makes 1 serving.

Egg scramble with feta cheese and kale: In a medium-sized skillet, add a handful of kale sprayed down with olive oil spray. Sauté until soft. Whisk 2 or 3 eggs in a small bowl, then add them to the skillet. Sprinkle in some feta cheese and scramble until the eggs are no longer runny. Makes 1 serving.

91+ Best Healthy Breakfast Recipes

Lunch & Dinner

curried egg salad in pita pocket with spoon and bowl of spinach on wooden serving board with blue linen napkin
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

While the above meals could also work for lunch or dinner, here are a few other midday and evening meals you can make with the rest of your items.

Egg salad on pita or kale: Hard boil 4 eggs in a pot. Chop up the hard-boiled eggs and mix together with 1/4 cup of mayonnaise. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper, and if you have it, a little bit of paprika. Serve in toasted pita bread or on a bed of kale. Or add the greens to the pita as well! Makes 2 servings.

Chicken salad on pita or kale: Mix together 1 cup of shredded rotisserie chicken with 1/4 cup of mayonnaise. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Serve on toasted pita bread or on a bed of kale, or enjoy both. Makes 2 servings.

Chicken pita with hummus and feta: Spread in 2 tablespoons of hummus into pita bread. Add in 1/2 cup of shredded rotisserie chicken, and sprinkle in some cheese. Serve with carrot sticks. Makes 1 serving.

Sautéed kale and chicken, topped with feta: In a medium skillet, sauté kale with olive oil spray, salt, and pepper until the kale goes soft. Throw in some rotisserie chicken and continue to sauté until the chicken has warmed through. Sprinkle on some feta cheese. Makes 1 serving.

Chicken legs with roasted carrots: Chop up 3 carrots into sticks and place them on a baking sheet. Spray down with olive oil spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve with chicken legs and thighs from your rotisserie chicken. Makes 2 servings.

21+ Best Healthy Rotisserie Chicken Recipes


baked kale chips with olive oil and sea salt in an orange bowl

How can we forget snacks? Enjoy an afternoon treat with these snacks, all easily made with the grocery list above.

Kale chips: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place 2 cups of kale on a baking sheet and spray down with olive oil spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until the edges of the kale chips are brown and crispy—but not burnt.

Carrots and hummus: Chop up a few carrots and dip in hummus.

Banana and peanut butter: Slice up a banana and serve with a tablespoon of peanut butter.

Chocolate: In need of a sweet treat? Enjoy a piece of chocolate to satisfy that afternoon sweet tooth!

Now that you have a meal plan you can work with, here are 15 Meal Prep Containers You Can Buy for Under $25 to store your food in for the week.

READ MORE: 17 Must-Have Groceries You (Surprisingly) Don't Need to Refrigerate

Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a freelance health and nutrition journalist. Read more about Kiersten