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4,205 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been reading with amazement over the food budget threads. After breaking in down into days and meals so many here seem to do meals for around $1 person.
Can you share you meal budget.

1,610 Posts
Hmmm, not sure if this is what you mean ... but every week before I go shopping, I make a list of things to cook every day. They are very simple, and follow a basic pattern. Last week's was:

Spanish omelet with peas, potatoes, green onions and saffron. Served with a salad of mixed greens.
Pizza: I either make a homemade crust, or pick up a 2-pack of premade ones from Giant, for $1.99. They're surprisingly healthy, and good for those weeks when I am not in the mood for rolling out dough. Toppings vary, depending on what I have on hand. That means lots of tomatoes and summer squash this time of year. There's no shortage of fresh basil right now either.
Pasta shells with pan-roasted garlic, fresh basil and tomatoes. More salad!
Sauteed pork chops; steamed green beans with yogurt cheese, fresh dill (from my porch garden) and toasted walnuts; quinoa.
Pizza, again!
Today: DP usually grills on Saturday. Whatever good produce and/or meat we have leftover, today it looks like it will probably involve eggplant, tomatoes zucchini and sausage.
Sunday: Spaghetti with homemade meat sauce. Some sort of veggie side based on what we have left over in the produce.

Those are for dinner. For breakfast, lunch and snacks, we have oatmeal, eggs, toast, sandwiches, leftovers, fruit etc.

This is a summer menu for 3 adults (including one very hungry pregnant lady!). We eat more soups, meat and grains in the fall and winter.

I've never broken it down to the cost per meal. I just know that these days I spend about $50 at the co-op every Monday, for produce, dairy and eggs, coffee and bulk grains, and other $40-50 at Giant for stuff I can't get at the co-op, such as those pizza crusts, big jugs of bottled water (we have a lead problem in D.C.), "natural" meat, whole wheat bread, tortillas, canned beans, etc. I don't feel like I am actively trying to be frugal. I just buy what looks good to me, what's on sale, etc., and make use of what I have on hand. Saffron, for instance, isn't exactly frugal, since it's the most expensive spice in the world. But I did have some in the cabinet for some other reason, and it seemed a shame to let it go to waste.

1,730 Posts
I plan out my menu before even thinking of heading to the store...
and then...
I utilize by planning "leftovers" for subsequent meals.

For example...
If we have baked chicken one night, I'll plan on baked chicken sandwiches for lunch the following day.
Leftover pasta sauce gets transformed as pizza sauce the next night.
Leftover taco meat gets added to potatoes, eggs, veggies and cheese for breakfast skillets!

It cuts down on the amount of meat that we have to buy (we buy "natural" or organic meat and it's definately more expensive) and the amount of leftovers sitting in the fridge.

8,198 Posts
I don't think we are able to do $1 per head per meal. We are probably closer to $2 per head per meal (3 adults... my mother lives with us, 1 child). I cook only from scratch, but we do as much organic as we can find, so that probably increases our grocery bill by 30% - 40%. (Sometimes I wish I was ignorant of the benefits of organic!!
) But I do find that when I meal plan, that it is much more frugal. The one thing I have learned, though, is to make the plan as flexible as possible, so that you are not "locked" into making a certain dish on a certain night. I find that some nights the fam just isn't in the mood for what I planned and it's good to be able to do something else. Flexibility = less chance of eating out or waste. The other thing that helps is buying local, fresh and in season.

7,168 Posts
We do eat some more expensive meals (steak, pork chops, pizza, etc.), but we balance that out with a lot of less expensive meals. When you buy staples in bulk and cook from scratch, the ingredients amount to pennies, not dollars. Of course, meat and produce really up the bill, but we've cut back on meat, as well as grow and preserve a lot of our own produce.

Some main dishes:
--Pasta with homemade sauce
--Beans and rice
--Scrambled eggs or quiche
--Peanut butter and homemade jam on bread
--Homemade pancakes
--Homemade veggie burgers (haven't actually tried yet, but I've seen lots of great recipes around MDC)
--Ramen noodles
(I know, but we really like them, LOL.)

Some side dishes:
--Chopped, raw, in-season veggies with dip and fruit
--Microwave-baked potatoes
--Homemade cole slaw (I love cabbage!)
--Hard-boiled or deviled eggs
--Bread and butter
--Rice or pasta
--Homemade stuffing or garlic bread, made from stale bread
--Homemade cornbread, rolls, etc.

1,628 Posts
I love cheap meal planning! Some meals I make cost more (we like fresh fish and some fancy vegetarian meals), but here are a few cheapies I do on a regular basis to drive down the total food budget. I usually serve with cheap in season veggies or salad.

Lentil sloppy joes (60 cents for lentils, $1 for buns and use odds & ends sauces/onions from pantry) ($2 total for the family)

Spaghetti - whole wheat pasta with coupons and canned sauce
. (About $2 for entire family)

Taco Salad (lettuce, can of black beans, can of corn, shredded cheese, a bit of salsa and some crumpled nacho chips) $3-4 for family.

Italian or Lemon chicken. Buy a whole chicken on sale and bake in italian dressing & or lemon juice/rosemary. ($3 - 5 depending on type of chicken used.)

Beans & Rice from scratch with cornbread. ($1-$2)

Breakfast - we like to eat eggs or pancakes with fresh fruit for dinner a few times a month ($2 to $3)

All sorts of dried bean based soups (split pea, barley, lentil, potato are less than $2 for the entire family)

Meatless fried rice ($3-4)

Homemade quiche ($3)

Egg salad ($3)

Various Indian dishes (yams baked in coconut milk, lentil dishes, couscous, etc. are all very inexpensive)

Hope that helps though most of these wouldn't work for a vegan lifestyle.

Barney & Ben

4,696 Posts
My meal budget is the same as my grocery bugdget. I suppose I could break it down to "edible to humans" and "not".. but, eh.
: I was wondering how much we spent per meal per person, figured it out and it IS about $1 per meal (including a snack a day)!

We shop loss leaders at the grocery store, at the farm market, at the Aldi's and also have produce from the garden. We eat a lot of rice, beans, eggs and pasta.

For the next two weeks our dinner are as follows (taken off my 'fridge);

1. halushki (fried cabbage and onion with noodles)
2. home made pizza
3. spagetti, rolls, salad
4. hamburgers and corn on the grill w/ salad
5. chicken kabobs with rice
6. leftovers
7. kelibasa and potatoes w/ green beans
8. tacos
9. stuffed peppers
10. left overs
11. jambalaya w/ salad
12. soup and sandwiches
13. pork roast, rice, salad
14. fried chicken, corn on the cob, noodles

For snacks I buy bulk apples and bananas, crackers and cheese. make jello or pudding, and pop popcorn.

For breakfasts, we buy a dozen bagels and three boxes of cereal for the two weeks. I am pretty lazy in the morning, although sometimes I do make pancakes, muffins or oatmeal. The kids are encouraged to have leftover pizza

For lunches it is leftovers, sandwiches, french toast, pancakes or eggs (omlettes, scrambled, with or without meat).
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