Would you like to have an extra $100-$200 this month to pay down your student loans or credit card? You can do it by saving that much on food, while eating healthily. It’s not hard, it just takes some planning. I have been eating a healthy, frugal diet for decades. I am starting a 15 day series, where I will demonstrate how to do it. Here are my parameters: I will spend $45 for 15 days for food for myself. I will document my meals here. I have salt and pepper in my pantry, and will use those. All other foods and beverages will be included in the $45 total. I will also approximate the calories for the meals, so you can see that I am not undereating.
The key to this kind of eating is to purchase inexpensive, versatile foods that can be prepared in many different ways (think bread, eggs, plain yogurt) so it is not necessary to eat the same thing over and over. A second key tenant is to use everything–no waste allowed.
I could happily eat plain (only salt and pepper added) oatmeal for breakfast every single day, but for the purposes of showing you how to create variety with simple foods, I have made several types of breakfast.
Before I went to the grocer store, I made a menu plan. But when I got there, I adjusted it. The bananas and oranges were the cheapest fruit and the advertised chicken thighs for 69 cents/# were nowhere to be found. I did find some chicken drumsticks for $2.99 for 2.5#, which were not as good a deal.
All these food were purchased at an Aldi in Springfield, Illinois. Here’s what I bought:
Oats $2.39 for 42 oz., tea (100 bags) $1.49, peanut butter $1.49 for 18 oz., spaghetti $1.45 for 32 oz., a stalk of celery for $1.19, broccoli for $1.39, carrots 2 # for $1.29, northern beans 2# for $1.99 (pinto beans are cheaper, but these are more versatile), fresh spinach $1.49 for 8 oz., bananas 9 for .78, 2 loaves wheat bread 20oz. for $1.39 each, canned tuna: 2 cans at .65 each, blackberry preserves 9.95 oz. for $1.99, plain yogurt 32 oz. for $1.89, oranges 9 for $1.99, a dozen eggs for .40, a pound of butter for 2.99. Ground turkey 1 # for $1.89, canned crushed tomatoes 28 oz. for .95, tomato paste 6 oz for .39, frozen peas for .95, canned diced tomatoes 14.5 oz. for .49, polish style turkey sausage $1.99 for 13 oz, yellow onions .79 for 3#, packet of chili spices .49 for 1.5oz, a cabbage $1.49, 3 head of garlic for $1.29, blue corn chips $1.69 for 9 oz. And the aforementioned chicken drumsticks. Food total $43.69 with 1% tax (.44) for total of $44.13 for food to be eaten over the next 15 days.
As soon as I got home from the grocery store, I put the frozen foods in the fridge to thaw and I started soaking the beans. Key tenant #3 is to do prep work and some of the cooking on your days off, so you are not tempted to get convenience foods due to an exhausting work day. To make my life easier, I generally cook at least 2 servings of anything that I cook, so I can eat leftovers when life gets hectic.
I am a 58 year old female. My calorie needs are 1200-1500 per day. If you are younger or more active: add in more oatmeal, spaghetti, butter. Or add things full of calories to your oatmeal: sugar, cream, peanut butter. Double the butter or oil you cook with. Similarly, if you have other dietary needs: you are gluten intolerant (don’t buy bread and spaghetti–but potatoes and brown rice) or you are vegan (buy more bean varieties, buy or make tofu or seitan.)
Taking control of our diet is good for our budgets, our waistlines and the planet. Why not start now?
Very slow movement forward continues. New helper (son Mike) has a reoccurring job that will keep him occupied in the mornings. That means between his mornings as a landscaper, his afternoons as a student, his weekends as a farmer, his Friday evenings as a music teacher, he is available to help on the trailer Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. And sometimes I have things scheduled then. But we have managed to get the 12 rusty bolts cut off. Then we attempted to jack up the old wall framing on the new floor joist.
So now, I am planning some structural reinforcements. Or abandoning the entire project on some lonely back road. With the license plate removed, of course. Really, I would have been better off if I had started with a new (blank) trailer frame. It would not have had the vintage vibe….but during this dark night of the soul…I am so over the lovely vintage vibe.