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Very very limited amount for groceries...wwyd?

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 
If you had right around $35 to spend on groceries per week for a while (1-3 months) for 3 people (all adult)...what would you get?

Also, I work outside of the house so I need to be able to bring something for lunch that's fairly convenient and can be made very quickly before I leave for work, or that can be made in a microwave.

post #2 of 49
Food stamps? WIC? Food bank? Freecycle?

I guess loads of beans and rice with different spices to mix things up. I can't imagine making it any other way.
post #3 of 49
$5 per day for 3 adults? Ouch. I hope things get better for your budget soon!

In the meantime . . .
brown rice
ramen noodles
millet (tastes like grits for breakfast, can be used like rice or mashed potatoes, too; lots of nutrients)
whole chickens on sale (soup stock, meat for going w/beans and rice or mixed in w/whatever)

Not a lot of fat in there, and that's a challenge b/c fat is expensive (important to keep a good intake of fat for health, esp. when not eating much). Mayo and butter are probably the cheapest fats available, and mayo you may be able to get in packets from FFood places. Same w/butter for that matter (of course most places scarry margarine now which is just below bug guts in my book).

for lunches at work:
leftover potato soup
ramen noodles can be done in m'wave
leftover beans/rice

If I was in a similar situation, I'd find a restaurant that would barter 2-3 hours of dishwashing per night for some leftover food that could be carried home (locally-owned, not chain, might be more likely).

I'd also knock on some churchs' doors during my lunch break no matter how many it took. We've used the local church co-op food pantry, and it was such a big help.

PS> Please IM me if you're anywhere near metro ATL, GA.
post #4 of 49
swiss.army.mom gave lots of good ideas.

Tuna salad on white bread is pretty cheap. You could take that to work. The ramen noodles is probably cheapest.

And pasta. If you can find pasta and pasta sauce on sale that would work.
post #5 of 49
also, if you are lucky enough, find a discount gocery (Save-A-Lot, Aldi's)... i was able to feed my family of 5 (2 adults, 1 tween that eats like an adult, and a 5 and 2 yr old) on about $40 a week for a month. It was hard, but doable.

And swiss.army.mom gave good suggestions.... and i agree about knocking or calling local church - many have food pantires or i know a few here that have gift cards for localy groceries stores.
post #6 of 49
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions everyone. Our budget should be getting a lot better soon, it's just hard right now. One of the people living here is a roommate of ours who hasn't found a job yet, who we're just kind of helping out at the moment. I make a decent amount but I also have a lot of other expenses to worry about, and SO actually makes more than most but is waiting on a couple of large checks right now. We pretty much had no choice but to drain the last one with rent, the deposit for our new place, the pet deposit, etc...
post #7 of 49
Eggs are another inexpensive and versatile option. There's all of the breakfast options, and adding an egg to a pasta or rice heavy meal to add protein. Boiling a bunch of eggs at the beginning of the week will provide you with some quick and easy lunch options -plain hard boiled eggs or egg salad.

Oatmeal is another great breakfast option. A container of oatmeal and a pound of brown sugar sould give you breakfast for most of the month for under $3.

If you already have basic baking supplies, it's very cheap to make bread, muffins, cookies, pizza dough, etc. Even if you aren't already stocked with baking powder, vanilla extract and the like, bread can be made cheaply and simlply with flour, water, yeast and salt.
post #8 of 49
cruddy situation if you're in it but, now that I've been in the very same, I've found quite a few options for even less than what you've got to spend. For the last 2 months dh, myself, dd (3 y/o), and our now 1 month old (wiht me exclusively breast feeding and needing a decent amount of food), have been living on less than $50 per MONTH.

You may have to let totally healthful things slide a bit if you have to buy all of the cheap brands and options but, when you have some money again you can go back to the fancy brands or organics. heres what we've come up with.

eggs cooked one of a zillion ways
$1 packages of rice pilaf or long grain wild rice (SO YUMMY!) I'd eat those even if we had tons of money right now (tons of other flavors too)
tortillas with beans, rice mixes, and eggs (filling for dinner)
cereal (CHEAP cereal)
noodles with pasta sauce (get the dry sauce in the packets and mix with tomato paste), thrown in some frozen veggies and you've got another dinner!
the cheap version of pillsbury rolls to fill you up at dinner
cheap crackers for the munchies
pb&j or tuna sandwiches
drink some milk for a more filling liquid with some callories
lots of water before and during meals so you aren't so hungry
frozen veggies instead of fresh (so you don't waste money with them going bad and can spread them out over more days)
pancake mix for waffles, muffins, pancakes. see if you already have ingredients for these things.
and lots of bread for sandwiches, an empty stomach snack, toast, buttered with cinnamon, etc.
tortillas with butter and cinnamon microwaved are yummy too.

basically get the staples: bread, butter, milk, cereal, rice, noodles, tomato sauce, fresh fruit in season, frozen veggies, beans, oatmeal, some dry sauce mixes, peanut butter or tuna for sandwiches (which ever you prefer), and creativity!

after the first week it's not so bad, I promise
post #9 of 49
refried beans & cheese in a tortilla
bean or lentil soup
potato soup
alphabet soup
spaghetti & sauce
homemade cheese pizza
pancakes or waffles
ramen noodles with stir fry veggies and chicken (about 1 cup of cooked chicken)
tuna and noodle casserole (or chicken/turkey instead of tuna)
mac & cheese

meal ideas-

I'd buy beans.
If you take all the meat off of a cooked whole chicken and cut it up you get about 5 cups. If you use 1 cup in a casserole or stir fry it is enough.
If a recipe calls for a pound of meat scale back to half a pound.

I would take soup, sandwiches, potato to bake, or leftovers to work.
sandwich or wrap- ham salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, peanut butter, hummus
soup- ramen, leftover home made soup
I have gotten inexpensive instant soup cups with minestrone or lentil soup by Nile Spice. Those were more filling than noodles.
post #10 of 49
check out loccal food banks: the one i volunteered at had reduced cost boxes of meat and reg drygoods for sale.
it was something like $40 for hamburgers, hotdogs, steak, roast, ground beef. easily enough meat for a month or two,
and the regular boxes were pasta, rice, cereal, soup, pasta sauce, etc. easily enough food for a few adults for a week, and those boxes were $30
there were no income requirements. you could just show up, pay, and take them. you could buy as many or as few as you like.
government food banks are also a great idea. cornflakes and powdered milk can be used a lot of ways if you need to.
post #11 of 49
You may also want to ask for food on freecycle. I used to clean out my pantry from time to time and list several bags of non-perishables on there.
post #12 of 49
If you have an Aldi close by and have never shopped there, give it a try. We don't eat processed food as a rule, but I get some dairy, their fresh and frozen produce, yummy German roast coffee, etc. My next door neighbor (and good friend) does much of her shopping there and her food budget is quite low for 2 adults. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but I think if you are able to do the lion's share of your shopping in a store like Aldi you'll be able to drastically reduce your grocery bill. I make a lot of gourmet-type meals, but also make simple meals as well and have always found their quality to be excellent. Good luck!
post #13 of 49
First step for me would be to take stock of what I had in the freezer, fridge and pantry and then figure out what meals I could make out of that food while only buying a minimum of other ingredients.

Meals would end up being heavy on legumes (beans and lentils) and rice, oatmeal and brown sugar with a tiny bit of milk for breakfast (my kids and dh's favourite anyway). Light on meat and dairy. Lot of stove top popped popcorn for snacks. Whatever fruit/veg are really cheap to supplement.

Lunches would be primarily leftovers from previous meals. Leftovers can be frozen in single meal sized servings and brought to work to microwave if eating the same thing two days in a row gets too boring.
post #14 of 49
Like everyone else, I'd be making a lot of egg, bean, rice, pasta, and oatmeal dishes plus homemade bread. If my budget were that restricted, I'd also pick up a bunch of free condiment packets whenever I was anywhere that had them, take a couple extra napkins each time, use the bathroom when out and about rather than at home to save on TP and soap. (Can you tell I've been in your shoes a few times before? ) Those little things can take the edge off, or even give you enough extra to get a treat on sale (fresh fruit, etc.) once in a while.
post #15 of 49
Everyone here has some great ideas. When we've been in that situation I usually make a lot of breakfast, like pancakes, eggs and toast, homemade hash browns, oatmeal, etc.

Also peanut butter and jelly! I eat a lot of those when times are tough. Ramen probably is the cheapest and you can mix it up with a chicken breast cut into slices to make it a full meal.

I don't know if you have a slow cooker but that's one of our favorite things here. I cook a lot of pretty cheap meals. You can make a beef stew using hamburger that's on sale, throw in a few potatoes, an onion, maybe some carrots and a little bit of broth and you can usually make that last for two meals.

Or another I just tried the other day was browning some ground beef, throwing it in the slow cooker with a couple tablespoons of flour, some onion powder and garlic powder. Coat it well and then add a can of tomato soup, a tbsp. or two of paprika and let it cook all day. The tomato soup cooked down into a yummy sauce and then you just add a cup of sour cream at the end. Pretty cheap and easy if you find the beef on sale.I served it over egg noodles but you could server it over anything I would think. Plus we had it for dinner AND lunch the next day so it effectively did three meals.

Sometimes we find chicken on sale for just a couple of dollars, so that with rice always makes a tasty meal. And if you already have spices on hand you can make it taste different for other meals if you stock up on the cheap chicken.

Hope that helps.
post #16 of 49

See if you have a pick-up location near you. There is no income requirement or anything. Anyone can use it!
post #17 of 49
Do you have one of these nearby?

post #18 of 49
Eat little or no meat is my 'top tip' (although in the UK, so I don't know what the situation is wrt meat costs where you are). Odds and sods of it in sauces or similar if you absolutely cannot do without (med. peasent style cooking) and otherwise using it in the same way as oriental cooking does - as a flavouring not the biggest portion of the dish, so less than 1oz or 2oz a person a meal. But you can get a fair amount of veg for the cost of meat.

Otherwise - spend a little on seeds for cut and come again greens. You can get them started off inside without too many issues, and you'll get some supplementary vitamins etc that way within 6 weeks.

Making bread etc yourself - flatbreads, plus pancakes etc as others describe. Bulk soups with oats or barley. Make stock from veg trimmings (careful on the onion skins) for extra flavour (otherwise use water, rather than buy stock cubes), or use yeast extract to add body to soups/stews.

Peanut butter let down with a little water to be a noodle or pasta sauce (also a great way to get the last of it out of the jar), or as satay on veg skewers.
post #19 of 49
We're trying to have that budget too, for two adults and three kids. If dh is able to get some more work, we get more groceries, but I'd rather err on the side of caution.

Anyway, we've been having lots of beans and rice flavored with onions and garlic sauteed in lots of oil and a little butter. I'm pretty well stocked up, so this is easy.

The best thing I've found is the Grocery Outlet (or the Gross Out, as we like to call it). I get great deals on cheese and meat there. Today I got 2 lbs. of Monterey Jack for 3.99. They also frequently have those already cooked chicken sausages for under $3. And they always have cereal for $1-2 a box, especially lots of organic, like Gorilla Munch and stuff. I don't think that fills you up much, but it's nice to have it for a treat.
post #20 of 49
I read a blog ( http://onedollardietproject.wordpress.com/ ) about a couple that was eating on $1 per day each. They were trying to do it without ramen, but that is a good one as well. Here is what I remember them eating:

breakfast: oatmeal, Tang

lunch: things like peanut butter sandwich on homemade bread, beans & rice

dinner: things like bean burritos, soup, channa masala (Indian garbanzo bean dish), spaghetti, tortilla soup, salad

snacks: popcorn, peanut butter cookies
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