I have a 23 year old guy living at my house and he has a big appetite. How do I cook for him on a budget?
By Rachael from Lodi, CA
My grandmother raised 4 sons during the depression. I remember her always having a large plate of buttered bread on the table with every meal. This way, instead of asking for seconds, we would take a piece of bread & butter. It's all about the starches (being they are the cheapest food to serve). So always make a starch/carbohydrate a large part of your meal, be it Rice, Bread, Biscuits, Potatoes, Spaghetti, Stuffing, Noodles or even Pancakes, Grits or other more exotic grains like couscous, etc sold in bulk-bins or at your local health food store.
If you can make it from scratch, it'll be even cheaper! You can save time by making "drop" biscuits instead of the kind you have to roll out & hand stamp. Biscuits can be served with gravy, honey, jam, butter or cut in half & spread with a little tuna salad, lunch meat or melted cheese.
As a small child, I remember asking my mother why my grandmother added spaghetti to her chili & oatmeal flakes to her hamburger patties & she told me that Grandmother had raised her family during the depression. With each meal, serve a side dish or main dish of carbohydrates like biscuits, rolls or potatoes.
Don't throw anything away & use up all your leftovers! You can buy a small freezer at Sears for $249 & this way you can shop the sales, freeze your food & save even more money. The freezer will pay for itself in no time!
I am a vegetarian for the last 30+ years, so I eat no meat, but since your friend likely does, make dishes where you add only a little meat, like fried rice, casseroles, soups, etc. I heard yesterday on the news that all food is going up this year, especially meat, poultry & eggs, so the less of these you use, obviously the better!
To get your protein, there's nothing like dried-then-cooked beans over rice! Just soak the beans overnight, drain the water & add new water & simmer all day long over low heat (or in a crock pot) with a little onion & garlic powder, salt & pepper. YUMMY!
I would suggest homemade vegetable soup served with saltines or grilled cheese or peanut butter sandwiches. You can buy a couple frozen bags of mixed vegetables and use a can of tomato juice or V8 as the broth. Add your choice of browned ground beef, pulled beef/pork roast, or even cooked chicken whatever is on sale at the time. It's healthy eating and filling. Should have lots of leftovers you can then freeze for a future meal.
Chili is also not that expensive to make and can get several servings from the pot. Do you own a break maker? That's a good way to serve bread with any soup or chili fixins.
Bean-based meals are usually cheap and super filling. Lots of budget-minded recipes at feastonthecheap.net. Everything is also broken out by cost.
The best way is to have him contribute to the budget. He doesn't need steak. He can eat chicken, tuna and hamburgers. Who fed him before you got him? What did they feed him. Is he a boarder or do you have a future together. If it is a future, don't get him used to fancy meals and a full stomach. You will just have to keep it up for years. If he is hungry he will eat what you fix.
If you click on 'find' in the orange bar at the top of this page and type in 'cheap meals' and also 'inexpensive meals' you will find oodles of recipe ideas!
Rachael Ray also has a section on her recipe site for $10.00 and under meals that serve up to four people:
And here's the link for her budget meals:
I also have the same questions as Lilac. ;-)
Do lots of homemade soups. They can be meatless, using beans/lentils or all veggies. As stressed previous, if he is a keeper or just passing through makes a difference. If he consumes 50%-75% of the food budget, then he kicks in that much. I don't get guys who find a girl to play house with and then expect her to pay the bills too. They were looking for a mama, not a honey. This is not independent for either one. If he does not eat portion controlled meals like any one else does, then he can get a job with more wage to pay that part of it.
I have all big kids (6-4, 6-3, etc) and they don't consume a quantity of food beyond healthy portions. They learned to cook, bake and roast as well as shop carefully. All 3 of my kids started at age 16 at the local grocery store and knew what food costs. The youngest is now a manager at that very store. I would make my children make grocery lists, go shopping with me. Decisions of fruit/veggies or a bag of chips, fruit/vegies won. My thing was, if my kids thought they needed a special item I would not put on the list, they would watch the ads for it and check the coupons for it. Then they took their money out to buy it. You see how badly it is needed that way.
Oh, forgot, then you plant the garden or join up with a community garden and he gets the hard labor work of the weeding, learning how to hoe, watering, etc.
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