20 Meals for $150 – The Original Meal Plan in The Series

20 Meals for $150 Meal Plan #1 from 5DollarDinners.com
Do you struggle with meal planning? Or shopping at the warehouse stores and end up with ingredients sitting in the pantry, or even worse…having to through out produce when it goes bad?

I’ve got just the solution for you with this original (first ever!) 20 meals for $150 plan. For months I found myself playing this game of “mix and match” with ingredients from Costco and would cook some, freeze some…and it dawned on me that I can’t be the only one with this “use it all up before it goes bad” problem, so I pulled together a list of recipes and ingredients where you can make 20 meals for $150!

Let’s get to it, shall we?!?


  • Yes, I realize this makes for $7.50 dinners. Meat at Costco is more expensive than sale prices at grocery stores, and many argue that the quality is better. That explains that!
  • Produce prices may vary by region. And season.
  • Meals are for a family of 4. Larger families, or families with teenagers will need to adjust quantities.
  • Meals are as kid friendly, family friendly, and allergy friendly as I could make them. Hopefully you will enjoy them!
  • Mix and Match Meals – because of the bulk purchasing, this is really a game of mixing and matching ingredients. The ingredients are very common and work in a wide variety of recipes, so feel free to use them in other recipes besides those listed below.
  • I would expect you to have some ingredients needed for the different recipes in your pantry, like spices, soy sauce, etc. In the recipe/ingredient list below, I’ve only included the ingredients from the Costco purchase list.
  • Swap Idea – save a few bucks and get a 10 lb. bag of rice and not the quinoa. I just like quinoa, and I like that it has a higher protein content than rice. Make rice with corn, black beans, etc instead of the quinoa. You could also serve the rice alongside the taco/tortilla meals too.
  • As you’ll see if you really analyze this chicken scratch, I forgot to add the peppers to the bottom portion where I priced everything out. So I added them as optional as it would push the total cost to $155 if you added them.

Recipe List

  • Grilled Chicken with Mango & Avocado Salsa
  • Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan
  • (2) Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
  • (2) Beef & Bean Soft Tacos (or Beef & Bean Oven Tacos, if you have hard shell tacos on hand!)
  • (2) Ranchero Chicken
  • (2) Potato & Egg Breakfast Tacos
  • (2) Slow Cooker Beef Stew – freezer pack
  • (2) Slow Cooker Italian Chicken & Potatoes – freezer pack
  • (2) batches Herbed Meatballs – for freezer
  • (2) Beef Stirfry with Broccoli – freezer pack
  • (2) Quinoa with corn & black beans

Ingredients & Price List

  • 1 big package of chicken breasts (contains 6 – 1 lb packages) ~ $19
  • 1 big package of ground beef (about 5 1/2 to 6 lb) ~$17
  • 1 package of beef for stew (about 4 lbs) ~$14
  • 1 – 5 lb bag of baby carrots $4.99
  • 1 – 15 lb bag of gold potatoes $9.99
  • 1 – 6 ct package of avocados $5.49
  • 8-9 mangoes or 1 box $5.99
  • 1 – 40 ct bag of 6″ tortillas $3.19
  • 1 – 36 ct bag of Costco bakery dinner rolls $4.49
  • 1 – 4 lb package of frozen broccoli $5.89
  • 1 – 18 ct package of eggs $1.99
  • 1 – 6 lb package of spaghetti noodles $6.59
  • 2 pack Prego pasta sauce $7.49 (MINUS $2.30 coupon!)
  • 2 pack Kirkland salsa $7.49
  • 1 – 24 oz. container Parmesan cheese $7.99
  • 1 – 4 lb bag of quinoa $10.99
  • 1 – 8 ct package of canned corn $7.89
  • 1 – 8 ct package of canned black beans $5.79
  • 1 – 8 ct package of canned tomatoes $5.99
  • Optional – a 6 pack fresh peppers $6.49

Total – $149.94

(or $156.43 if you get the peppers too!)

Leftovers – you will have lots leftover too…including a jar of spaghetti sauce, lots of quinoa, jar of salsa, several pounds of potatoes, a ton of Parmesan cheese, and smaller quantities of other ingredients. I did not reflect these “leftovers” in the total cost, so it would really be $10-$15 less than $150!!!

Get the printables for this plan…

While we have all the content available to piece together from the site, we thought we’d simplify the experience for you with this printable. This printable has the complete grocery shopping list (with south TX Costco prices), as well as complete recipes with ingredients broken down to make it easy for you.

All in one place y’all! This is worth gold when it comes to saving time in preparing to shop and cook your meals.

Well, maybe not gold…but way more than $2.49!!!

Please don’t forget to check out the other 7 plans and their various features in our new $5 Dinners Store.

You might also like our join the $5 Meal Plan family and get weekly meal plans delivered to your inbox each week!

Disclaimer: I have no formal relationship with Costco and am not paid by them to share these plans. I created these plans to help myself (and you!) spend less money at Costco, while using up all the bulk ingredients without them going to waste. Hope they help your family as much as they help our family!


  1. Natalie Rivera says

    Do you have anything like this with less meat and chicken or just no chicken in the recipes/grocery list for costco? I am actually VEGAN. I have 4 kids ( minus 7 month old ) so 3 kids and 2 adults (me and husband) and we all dont like the same things. My son who is 4 will not eat meals anymore. He wont touch green beans, any kind of rice other then White basmati, jasmine or normal rice. He will only eat pasta with nothing on it or red sauce, ketchup, white sauce. No veggies in it. The only way he eats vegetables are raw cut up dipped or just raw. He will eat pizzas of any kind. he likes chicken and meat but we dont buy chicken often as i dont eat it and its expensive. Husband now only buys 1 big tray of ground beef for tacos on days hes home from work. He wille at vegan or vegetarian for lunch at work. Im having a hard time making a 14 meal plan for $180. I keep grabbing a bunch of recipes with similar ingredients but its never enough. We like eating more then 2 plates at a time. we are not over weight by any means. the foods we eat a lot are Vegan. most of us dont like meats anyway. My son eats a ton of white bread in 2 days for sandwhich. oatmeal is gone in a few days.

    • Dana says

      Natalie, google cauliflower pizza crust recipe, maybe your son will try that one, and you can make it vegan friendly. Cauliflower can also be substituted for rice and potatoes in many recipes. I have a friend with a picky-eater child, she searches all over for different ways to incorporate vegetables into food, mostly into her baking!

  2. Robin says

    When you say meals are for a family of four, does that mean the recipe makes four servings or that it feeds four people until no longer hungry? Also, are these intended to be complete meals or only the entrees?


    • Robin says

      Oops! My second question was answered by reading the plan.

      I bought the plan, and am heading to Costco tomorrow. I’ll be feeding six people (including 2 teens) on this plan. The way my family eats, I’m expecting to need to multiply each recipe times 1.5 and add an additional side for each meal, but it would be good to get my first question answered since I’ve never cooked with your recipes before and am not sure if they “run large, ” “run small,” or “fit as expected.”

  3. Kimberly says

    Hi! I just bought all of the ingredients for this and wasn’t sure what you do to prepare the meals. Do you make them all and freeze?

    • Michelle Romero says

      Kimberly, don’t precook anything. Put everything in the bag raw and freeze. Put them in the fridge the night before or in a bowl of warm water then pop in the slow cooker.

  4. Julie says

    I’d love for anyone who has used these recipes to post their results. Good recipes + good food quality = great food. Unfortunately, not all recipes are created equal. Any reviews out there?

    • Michelle Romero says

      So far we have had the Chicken Tortilla Soup rated a 10!! We got some low salt fritos and poured it over the top of them to make Frito Pie, we have had the beef stew Rated 6 the hubby liked it, the child didn’t and I was fine with it. We are now eating the Italian Chicken Stew Rated a 9. We all love it.

    • says

      I am married to an executive chef and am pretty picky. (I do most of the cooking because of the hours he works.) I needed something really, really easy for the start of school and loved this idea so I bought it all and went for it. It only cost about $20 more in my area (Seattle, WA). I expected that as food prices seem to have been slowly going up. :-( I did of course have extras of some items that I can use this month!! The meals were enough for myself and our 3 daughters with enough left over for me for lunch the next day. (My husband doesn’t usually eat dinner at home.)

      Here are my thoughts and tips on some of the recipes if you are still interested . . . the recipes are just OK. Some of them are pretty bland and needed salt or other seasonings added to them (like the beef and bean tacos.) The ingredients were good quality, but I would not make most of the recipes again.

      The baby carrots are horrible when cooked in a slower cooker. Buy regular carrots and use those.

      If you freeze the meals, the potatoes will turn brown if there is air in the bag when you defrost it. Make sure they are totally submerged in the liquid or use a vacuum sealer instead of a ziplock for those meals.

      My chef/husband cringes anytime someone mentions putting raw chicken in a slow cooker and cooking it for an extended period of time. It’s not safe to have chicken at that low temperature for that long (a few people mentioned trying that in some of the comments I read.) I would recommend cooking those recipes in a pressure cooker (although your vegetables will be mush) or in the oven in a large pot.) If your really have to use the slow cooker, definitely do it on high!! I did use the slow cooker on high the first time to give the recipe a chance. The chicken breasts were dry. I would probably substitute dark meat in that recipe next time as the meat wouldn’t dry out.

      I ended up making about half of the recipes as I felt they were too bland or as we didn’t really care for them. I used the rest of the ingredients and made most of the other menu items using my own recipes.

      The reason why this plan works so well is because she’s done a great job of cross utilizing ingredients. The more recipes you can use an ingredient it, the better and the more cost effective.

      I don’t regret trying out the meals and love this site for ideas, but would only use the menu items as ideas and use my own recipes with more flavor next time. It definitely motivated me to plan meals around key ingredients and to cross utilize ingredients more.

      Hope that helps.

      • Ashley says

        Thank you! This comment helps a lot. I want to try this idea, but i was concerned about how useful the actual recipes would be. I am working on opening a restaurant, and care a lot about flavor and quality. So your experience is super helpful to me :)

  5. Nicholas says

    This is awesome! Just to confirm, 20 meals for $150 is for a family of four? It is just my wife and I so this could stretch to 40 meals.

  6. Jennifer S says

    Hi Erin,
    I purchased the Costco Regular Plan #1 from the 20 meals from Costco for $150 slow cooker freezer pack edition. The reason I purchased the #1plan was because I litteraly need to be walked through this lol. So I was looking forward to the step by step video. … But when I went to download the plan, something went wrong and now I have nothing. More specifically I had 2 options for where I would like to download the plan to. I chose the wrong option and it wasn’t able to download… I couldn’t get back to try the other option and like I said, now I have nothing, today is my grocery shopping day PLEASE HELP

  7. Angela says

    Oooh, this is fantastic. Wondering: any chance there’s a 3rd version coming with more vegetarian options? We have mostly vegetarians in our house and/or eat mostly vegetarian… but LOVE this concept – and have no skill in putting something together like this. Will pay anything (well – a lot!) if you did it! :)

  8. Susan VanHooser says

    I purchased the Costco meal planner recipe package one but am unable to download it. Can you help me?

  9. Sophie says

    Thanks so much for this! I was a little bummed to see how different prices are more almost a year later and in a different region! Im going to keep my eye out and try to stock up on the staples at lower price and find the meat on sale to keep it under the $150 for the second time! Since I had so many of the ingredients on hand, this first go around it was under $100. Can wait to try it all out!

  10. Jennifer says

    I love the idea of your concept, but have to tell you your site is WAY too confusing. Too much information splat everywhere, buttons to click to buy, links to other people’s sites and advertising, confusing numbers… “Costco Plan #4” is part of “Printable Pack #1” or something like that. I’d like to give this a try but as busy as I am, I need things to be clear, concise, and straightforward. I’m hesitant to “buy” anything, because, frankly, I’m not sure WHERE to start. Any help??

  11. Serena Kilseimer says

    I ordered this $5 pack last month and have yet to receive anything…. whats going on? I have the order recite that says it was positively taken out of my account.

    • Sunny says

      Hi Serena. I may be wrong, but I believe you need to download the materials. Wasn’t sure if you were expecting a package in the mail. If you knew that and didn’t receive a link to download, maybe check junk mail?? Hope that helps :)

  12. Wren says

    I’m not sure how these are $5 (in this case $7ish) if it doesn’t include the sides. Maybe these should be called $5 entres.

  13. Kathy says

    I am considering buying – but I see NO answers/replies to these questions in DAYS!!!

    Is anyone monitoring this site to reply to questions? I would need assistance to find out for -2- people as well.
    Also, the concern of not being able to download the information is a big concern – I know it’s a small amount of money, but hubby and I watch every dollar that goes out – hence the need for low-cost and variety in our meals!
    Please respond to the questions and advise if there is any concern to the above issues about downloading the Costco pack.

    • Sunny says

      I was thinking the same thing Kathy. I would also like to purchase but not if there is zero support for download issues, etc. I hope to see some response soon so I can have confidence to purchase and begin planning.

    • Stephanie says

      I agree! I just came across this website today for the first time and was so excited, but a little concerned with the lack of response. It’s a shame too, because it seems like such a neat concept but I am all about good communication.

  14. says

    I paid but now says safari can’t download, furthermore says it will delete after 5 attempts. Sounds like a good idea but it’s not, glad I’m only out $3.00. Will leave comment with BBB next.

  15. jennifer says

    Hi, I just purchased the plan and was able to download it just fine on my desktop. (to answer above questions) I’m wondering if you have the nutritional value calculated anywhere or if I need to input myself to determine. Would be nice to know before you purchase what kind of foods/meals – bought the second Costco plan as well and all the canned tuna meals as well as the dairy are making me regret the purchase. :( And, finally, will you be offering a dairy free meal plan?

  16. Stephanie says

    Hey All,

    I bought the pdf. and didn’t have any trouble downloading it so I can’t speak to those troubles. After sitting with the plan for a while and reviewing it, I finally went out and purchased the items from Costco. I was kind of hoping that the plan would really lay-out some step by step directions to prepare everything at once for the freezer. But it didn’t. And, it wasn’t really that big of a deal. I’m not sure it would have been all that more helpful to have that. It took me about 4 hours and a little help from my husband to prepare almost everything. Today, I will finish once recipe that needs to cook in the crock pot first before freezing. I did make a few changes. Since I was planning on eating these meals over the course of several weeks, I did not buy avocados or mangoes in bulk. So for the one recipe where the avocados and mango are really important, I just marinated and grilled the chicken as directed and put it over a salad (I already had salad stuff.) Also, i did buy the Costco rolls (36 of them) but i knew they would freeze. If i couldn’t freeze them, they would certainly go bad by the time we needed them. As far as taste goes, I haven’t tasted much of it yet. I have to say though that I think the recipes seem pretty bland as written. But, I added a lot more seasonings than were called for. I hope that works out well with the freezing etc. I suppose we will see. A couple of other things i noticed from the grocery list were that the recipes only call of one can of corn total. I had to buy a 12 can package of corn at Costco (the list calls for an 8 can pack but my Costco only had a 12 can pack.) So, i bought all of that for one can of corn. I’m not upset about that because I can always have it on the side. And i think the corn will be good to add to some of the recipes. I’m not sure how canned corn does in a slow cooker but i might end up adding some right in to the main dishes. Also, I’m not sure i needed to buy Parmesan cheese in bulk. I ended up adding it to the meatballs and into the spaghetti sauce and it’s good to have on hand but still… I now have a lot of Parm. cheese. I do think that’s fine though. I haven’t compared all of the Costco prices to grocery store prices so maybe it makes financial sense to still buy it in bulk. The meat and chicken prices at my Costco were really high compared to this plan. I ended up buying the chicken at the regular store just because i KNEW it was on sale and i saved $10. Also, quinoa at my Costco was $6 more expensive than the list. (bummer) So, i didn’t get that either. I have a lot of rice on hand so I will use that and buy a smaller bag of quinoa for one of the recipes that i did not have to pre-prep. Oh also, i have a lot of potatoes left over but… i think they were cheaper at costco and i can always use them for sides. (Go-go-gadget Carbs!!)

    Oh also, not all of the recipes are good for freezing. Most are but not all and one is made nearly completely of non-perishable items. And a lot of them still require some additional easy add-ons before they are complete (sides, pasta, chopping of fresh veggies, etc)

    After reading some of these questions, i wanted to share my experience so far in hopes of helping to answer some of them. I think it’s important to sit down with the plan and read it several times. Think about how your family can use it, what you might want to add or subtract. Use it as a guide. It’s a good guide but you can’t just go on auto-buy or auto-cook.

  17. Michelle Romero says

    I am in love with all of your recipes!!! I just threw in The Italian Chicken Stew and it is a winner in my family. The Chicken Tortilla Soup was fabulous too. I just downloaded another two plans for the next two months. So so so happy I found you. :)

  18. says

    I didn’t feel the need to purchase any of the lists for sale, yes they definitly could have made my shopping and cooking experience easier but with that said I just wrote down the Costco list with my other shopping list and I have written down all the reciepes from the affiliated sites. It is super simple if you’re willing to pick up the pencil. Once our family gets through these 20 meals if we really like them then at that time I would consider purchasing the lists and recipe cards to make it easier for future trips to Costco.

  19. says

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  20. Emily says

    I’ve been excited to try this, but I’m frustrated that several ingredients were left off the grocery list. I realize you assume some pantry items will already be on hand, but chicken thighs and flank steak? Those are not pantry staples. Your list is incomplete…also, instructions on how to put together the second of a double meal would be helpful….these ingredients are not going to stay fresh for 20 days until I make the last meal. A couple of the doubled meals have freezer instructions, but not all.

    • Jenn K says

      No ingredients are left out. Some have been modified from the original recipes to fit in with the ingredients available to purchase at Costco. If you purchase the printables then everything is spelled out in detail.

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