With $20 for an entire week’s worth of food, you need to really stretch your dollar. Although you can stay fed on $20, don’t expect to dine out or splurge on pre-made foods. To keep your food bill low, remember to eat before you go shopping. Also, planning out your meals ahead of time helps you see how much you need to spend at the grocery store. Make one trip to the grocery store for the week since frequent and smaller trips are likely to send you over budget.

Step 1

Check your cupboards to see what you can incorporate into your meals for the week. Make a list for the store and estimate how much each item costs.

Step 2

Search newspapers and coupon websites for coupons you can use for the food items on your grocery list.

Step 3

Compare supermarkets and big-box retailers to find the store with the lowest prices on food. Although the store around the corner may be the most convenient, driving a reasonable distance may help you stay in your $20 budget.

Step 4

Eat cheap protein choices. Beans, lentils, canned fish and canned chicken fulfill your protein requirements and can be used to make stir-fries and sandwiches.

Step 5

Purchase generic and store-brand foods whenever possible. Brand-name items are marked up to cover advertising costs.

Step 6

Buy fresh fruits and vegetables from a local farmer’s market. Vendors typically need to get rid of the excess produce and can sell you enough vegetables and fruit to last for the week for mere dollars.

Step 7

Pick up day-old bread for your meals. Grocery stores and bakeries sell day-old bread at discounts of 50 percent or more. Freeze the bread and reheat later in the oven.

Step 8

Prepare your own snack bags. Pre-packaged snack packs are notoriously overpriced. Instead, buy a large bag of pretzels, popcorn, raisins or crackers and separate the food into sealable sandwich bags.