If you think a $5-a-day meal plan means you’ll be eating Kraft Dinner and soda crackers every night, think again. Finding ways to save on groceries and planning weekly menus are the secrets to getting by on a budget meal plan.

CTV consumer reporter Ross McLaughlin decided to take on the challenge, eating for just $5 a day. He turned to The $5 Foodie website to help plan his week.

“It has saved us quite a bit of money over the years,” said Lucy Holland, co-founder of The $5 Foodie.

The average Canadian spends about $500 a month on groceries.

Armed with recipes and a list, the McLaughlin on Your Side team set out to cut that in half, shopping for deals at a local Superstore.

Once the groceries were bought, the team started to prepare. Here’s how the week looked:


day 1

Day 1

Breakfast: 3/4 cup steel cut oats with mixed berries, a banana: $0.59

Lunch: Tuna wrap: $1.15

Dinner: Garlic and lemon roast chicken and yams*: $2.91/serving. The dish serves six so the extra chicken leftover will be used for other dishes and the chicken bones will be used for a soup.

TOTAL cost: $4.65

*Items with an asterisk link to a digital "recipe book," which shows how we made each item. All other meals should be prepared based on package instructions or the cook's preference.



Day 2

Breakfast: Two eggs, a banana and a lemon-blackberry muffin*: $1.10

Lunch: Bacon and tomato sandwich with mixed berries: $1.03

Dinner: Spaghetti alla carbonara*: $1.70

TOTAL cost: $3.83


Day 3

Breakfast: 3/4 cup Chia coconut pudding*, orange: $1.12

Lunch: Quesadilla and homemade salsa: $1.04

Dinner: Chicken pot pie*: $2.14

TOTAL cost: $4.96




Day 4

Breakfast: French toast with bananas and orange glaze*: $1.09

Lunch: Chicken pot pie leftovers: $2.14

Dinner: Spinach and rice soup*: $0.40

TOTAL cost: $3.78



Day 5

Breakfast: Two eggs, two slices of bacon and a piece of toast: $1.24

Lunch: Spaghetti alla carbonara: $1.70

Dinner: Spinach and rice soup leftovers: $0.40

TOTAL cost: $3.34


"I think anyone can do it, even if you don't have a lot of cooking experience," said Holland.

"The key is to be organized and plan ahead and to make use of every bit of food you buy," McLaughlin said.  The price per meal was calculated based on actual price of bulk goods and broken down into a per unit cost. 

At the end of the five days, McLaughlin came in under budget. The total cost for the week was $20.56, which means there was money left over if he wanted to add a few things.

In this case, he added four servings of berries, a head of broccoli, carrots and three apples and used them throughout the week and on days when the meals felt a little carb heavy and lacking on fruits and vegetables.

Those extras totalled $4.46, bringing the five-day grand total spent to $25.02.