It's got 500 pages of slow cooker recipes, and just the first 100 (that's as far as I've gotten so far) are chock full of cheap, filling recipes. (Cereal grain breakfasts, soups, stews, etc)
Brown rice and chicken are probably the cheapest healthy foods that I buy. Make stock from the chicken carcas, freeze if necessary to make it last till next payday. Use stock to cook rice to give it flavor and nutrition. I put butter or coconut oil into rice to make up for the lack of meat fats. If you are going to splurge on hamburger, then spaghetti is a pretty cheap meal, or I have made it meatless when we were poor. Mixed nuts are very very expensive but make a much more filling snack than chips or popcorn. I think boxed flake potatoes are cheaper (in bulk storebrand of course) than buying real potatoes and you can beef them up with stock and butter when you get tired of rice.
If you can get bread at an outlet store, it's cheaper than making it (IME) and for me
bread and butter sandwiches go a long way - and travel well. Somehow I don't get tired of butter - I have to get my fats.
My grandmother was a big time bread and butter sandwich eater. As a child I thought it was weird, my parents never fed us that, but as I have grown up I realize it may be what she ate during the depression. If you had a farm and cow already, it certainly seems better in the long run to eat the butter all year than to kill the cow once.
-- use eggs all the ways mentioned, including egg salad. great on its own or for sandwiches.
-- bone-in chicken thighs are often at publix for $.59/lb. I ALWAYS stock up on these and end up getting 3-5 thighs per package for about $2.30. They are of a nice size, as well.
-- vegetable soup -- not expensive to make (I use 1 lb. ground beef, english peas, two cans of vegetable mix, green beans, carrots and potatoes -- canned since you're going cheaper -- and my husband, daughter and I can eat off it for 2 meals a day for 3 days, at LEAST.
-- you can get oatmeal at Wal-Mart in the big canister for $.97 and it last forever.
You'll make it through this tough time. Hugs!
four angels watching over us -- 4.2003, 3.2004, 2.2009, 9.2009
Eggs can be hard boiled the night before to take for lunch. When you get sick of that, turn them into egg salad on wonderbread. Then pb sandwiches on wonderbread. Fried or scrambled eggs for dinner with a side of potatoes. Ramen noodles with beans for dinner. Oatmeal is pretty quick to make for any meal. I am sorry things are rough right now.
The first items I make sure we have are meat and canned vegetables. As long as we have these items, there is always something to make for dinner and I always make sure to cook plenty for leftovers. My husband and I both eat a lot of leftovers for lunch. Easily microwaved. We do eat a lot pasta and tacos... these are cheap for us and make for good leftovers.
Chicken is something we always have... I think this was already mentioned, but whole chickens are pretty cheap. Around here, pork is also reasonably priced. Beef is only if it's on sale. Luckily, we live in a farming community which brings our price of meat down a little. It's always cheaper to buy more at one time. If you can plan ahead and take one week's worth to bulk up your meat supply, take the next week to bulk up on non-parishable items... you'll have several weeks worth of dinners you can cook.
I don't know if this is an option for you, but on weekends we usually eat with our parents. They enjoy the company and it gives us a break from cooking.
We always go with the off-brand cereals, but sometimes the sale prices on others are cheaper. Luckily, we get our milk for free (my BIL works for a dairy company nearby and is nice enough to share the free dairy products he brings home).
Mallory. Happily married to Joe since 6/25/05. Loving my adventure with my girls, Owyn Samantha, born 3/1/09. and Greta June, born 11/2/11
Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013. If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!
We live on basically $20 a week for our family of 5. My husband is a trucker and gone most of the week, but my 3 young boys, 7 and down, eat well on the limited budget.
We do get some canned goods and a few cereals from a food bank once a month and WIC checks for one child, so that helps.
I agree with others on taking stock of what you actually have in the pantry and do "survival" cooking. You would be amazed at what you actually have in there!
Every 6 weeks or so we go to a butcher, where the meat is preservative/additive free and buy about $100 of various meats. Chops, chicken, hamburg. We freeze them in individual packets.
We check out sales and buy as much frozen veggies, canned tomatoes, pasta, potatoes, rice, eggs, garlic, onion as possible. We avoid buying any processed foods such as boxed mac & cheese and the like.
I will take 1/2 a chicken breast and cut it up into small pieces and make a stir fry or casserole so the meat lasts longer. We fill up on rice, which is a family staple, most nights. It's hard to remember, but a serving of meat is only 3 oz and we as a populace, usually eat too much.
I'll make a large meatloaf and use the left overs to make spaghetti sauce for a spaghetti feed the next night. I will make a double batch of pancakes or waffles to freeze for quick breakfasts.
Lots of recipes on the web to give you new ideas for stretching the food!
Good luck and know it is possible to eat relatively healthy on a tight budget!
Because I use coupons, I get many foods for free or nearly free. Where do you live? I ask, because Southern Savers focuses on grocery stores in the south. They tell you what's on sale at local stores, and also tell you where to print corresponding coupons. It couldn't be easier!
Oh, and Centsible Sawyer does the same thing with Wal-Mart.
You also might want to check out Grocery Cart Challenge. She feeds her family of 6 on $60 a week. She shares lots of recipes and tips. This post show you how to find grocery outlet stores in your area.
Good luck. I know it's hard, but you can do it! Hang in there until things get better.
My new favorite on the cheap meal (and this last month has been on the cheap) is French Onion Soup. Slice up a whole onion and saute in 2 tablespoons of butter or cooking oil for 15 minutes on medium low heat. Add a tablespoon of Worcester sauce (which I almost always have in my fridge) and a 2 tablespoons of cooking sherry (my grocery store sells cheap cooking sherry that has practically no alcohol content about $1.50 a bottle which lasts a long time when you use only tablespoon at a time). Then add two 14 oz. cans of beef broth (lately I've been able to get two cans for $0.88, generic of course). You could also just add water and bullion. I serve it with a piece of toast (sometimes with a little cheese on top, if we are splurging), and a bean salad on the side (also cheap to make, just use whatever beans I happen to have, and throw on some oil, vinegar and spices). This meal is great because it feels a bit decadant even though it is super cheap to make.
Oh, also I didn't see that anyone had mentioned, buy the dried beans in the bags and cook them yourself. It is way cheaper this way than buying beans in cans.
In the summer times my DH and I grow a lot of our own veggies to save money. We are also considering getting 2 egg laying hens to save money on eggs as well.
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Hope this helps!
Just make sure you buy your beans at a place where they are fresh (like a Mexican store) so you don't get too hard beans.
And don't forget nutritional yeast! It is loaded with protein and B vitamins. It makes a great cheese replacer (since we are dairy free).
And making your own bread is great. My dh and I do it in the evening, or I do it during the day. It really doesn't take that long and is super easy.
To top it off, 2 of our family members must eat gluten free - not cheap! However, I can fill one of those big sized grocery carts with lots of GF stuff, canned & boxed items, frozen meat, produce & fresh milk for around $10 - YES, $10! All this is just from a local church that receives donations & they sell it for pennies just to cover some of their costs. (Transportation mostly - they have only volunteers that work)
So call around all your local churches & see if they have any kind of food pantry type ministry!
Also, I've been told about this:
I guess it's really high quality food that will feed 4 people for a week for $30. I don't even have that much to spend so I haven't tried it but I have friends who literally live off of it.