Money is tight. My food budget goal is to spend 300 dollars a month for me and my fiance. We currently live in Ontario, Canada. So we would have to spend five bucks each. I know it's possible. I want servings just under a dollar for five meals a day for lunch, supper, breakfast, and two snacks.
I am just not sure where to go on the net for cheap/frugal meals. I have gone online and haven't found much. Some meals I would like to make are casseroles, soups, and from the crock pot. I basically have gotten into the habit of having frugal breakfasts. I'm interested in once a month cooking as well. Any suggestions?
By Krystal from Kenora, Ontario
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First of all, I think $300 is a decent food budget for 2 people. You can probably get much lower, but of course it depends on the area you live in. I don't know the Canadian food prices, but I live in Sweden which is proven to be one of the most expensive countries in the world when it comes to food. Our monthly food cost is around $275 at maximum.
Here's a few tips:
-Check out hillbillyhousewife.com she has a variety of menu:s to chose from, with both recipes and costs. Really good!
-Avoid eating out at all costs! Eat at home and bring your own lunch to work.
- We mostly eat vegetarian. It is also way cheaper than eating meat. consider a veggie day each week!
-Don't buy snacks when you are at work/out shopping/ever. Bring fruits or something in your purse, in case you get hungry.
-Don't prioritize fresh ingredients. This sounds horrible, but listen: we used to have a fresh salad for each dinner, and it cost a fortune. Plus we usually ended up throwing away half the lettuce and the cucumber molded. Now we just make carrot sticks and have salad on special occasions. Good luck!
Find the discount stores in your area. I live in Massachusetts and we have several (Aldi's, PriceRite and Save-a-Lot). Know your prices for meats and items that you use often. Buy at the lowest price. When meat goes on sale, buy enough for the next sale. I have a family of four, so I package my meat in packages of four.
If I have chicken thighs, I package 4 for a meal. If one of us is very hungry, we load up on veggies and rice/potatoes/pasta. I usually make a meat portion, veggie and starch for each meal. For ground beef or ground turkey, I use 1/2 a pound for all four of us in pasta sauce, tacos, shepards pie, etc. No one has missed the extra meat.
Find your discount farmers market. We have a few in my area that sell to local restaurants. The extra, gets sold in their discount stores. Recently I have found: $.99 asparagus, $1.00 for a double bag of chopped romaine lettuce, 4 lbs for $1.00 bananas. These are just some of the deals.
You can eat fresh, good food on a budget. You just need to know where to shop and how to cook. Also, limit the amount of meat you eat at each meal.
I hope this helps. Good luck. I feed 4 people for about $280 for the month.
Hi Crystal. I live in Ontario, too. You should be able to eat very well for $300 for two people. I feed my family of four (including 10 and 12 yr old boys who eat more than most adults) plus a cat and a large dog for $300 a month. I check the sales fliers every week and only buy items when they hit their lowest sale price, then I stock up so I have enough to last until the next sale. By doing this, I usually pay 50% or less of the normal cost for most food items.
I buy things like rice and flours in bulk (8 or 10 kg bags) when they hit their lowest price and store them in my freezer so they don't go buggy. I make my own bread and flour tortillas, which saves a LOT of money, using bulk flour and yeast (I can make 3 loaves of whole wheat bread for about $2.00, or about 67 cents per loaf!). It's easier than you probably think to make your own bread, especially if you use a refrigerator bread dough. I also buy dried beans in bulk, cook them up in large batches then freeze in 1 1/2 cup portions (enough for 1 meal).
During the summer and fall we visit pick-your-own farms for berries and apples. We also grow tomatoes, peppers, green beans, spinach, lettuce, herbs, raspberries and rhubarb in our little urban backyard. I have lots of recipes on my blog if you want to stop by, you can find it on my profile.
I don't know if someone has already made this suggestion, but I would recommend buying a pressure cooker. A pressure cooker allows you to cook dry beans in a very short time (you can also cook vegetables in it such as green beans or cabbage in a very short amount of time, it really has many uses). To season your beans you can use ham bones which are very cheap and add a lot of flavor. Every single week I make a pot of beans for at least two meals, if not three and it's very easy to freeze for later in the months. Here are some examples of what I make:
Chickpea stew with carrots, celery, and turnip with one leg of chicken (you can easily make four large servings with just one chicken leg).
Lentils with vegetables (works with any veg, so just buy what's in season, but I always put onion, garlic, etc. Sometimes I do it with artichokes, sometimes peppers, really anything works!)
Red lentils with a ham bone and bacon and leeks (just three or four bacon slices is enough to flavor the beans)
Navy bean soup with a ham hock, carrots, onion, white beans and bay leaf.
Red beans with tomato, garlic, and potatoes.
Split peas with a ham bone and chopped up ham and onion.
Once you start experimenting with beans you will soon discover that your possibilities are endless for making cheap, delicious meals that require very little preparation and can feed you multiple times.
Most beans need to be pre-soaked overnight, but some like lentils don't. The beauty of the pressure cooker is throwing everything in and 20-40 minutes later your meal is done! I hope this helps. I know we really save a lot of money this way and it also adds a lot of variety to the typical meat/veg/starch menu.
My advise is keep in mind that if you cooked for many meals instead of one it is cheaper.
For example, say you cook a chicken in a crock pot. The bigger thechicken the better. With the meat you can make stir fry, chicken salad sandwiches, soup, fajita, etc. And you can freeze some for another time.
Usually buying in bulk is cheaper than buying for "convenience". I hope that make since.
Another thing would be like a large pan of frozen lasagne. A huge pan is usually cheaper than just a 2 or 4 person serving. Cook the whole thing and freeze portions for later.
The trick will be to keep a calculator with you when you go shopping and do some calculating. Good luck.
Frozen dinners are very cheap. Juices are cheaper than fruit, good luck.
Figure out what you like; if you will eat anything with potatoes or rice, carrots, noodles, etc, find the best buy on those or just get a few and wait until you can find a good buy. Like 5-10 pounds potatoes, 2 pounds carrots, 1-2 pounds rice, 2 pounds noodles, 3-4 onions, 2-3 garlic clumps, 1 box generic brand onion soup mix, some small cans tomato sauce, chopped canned tomatoes, and can of tomato paste. If you can find spices in bins get spices you like, always have rosemary, thyme, bay leaves.
Bouillon is good, Knorr brand is excellent. Good Tuna, maybe 2 cans, one can of salmon, look for sales. One package store brand ranch dressing MIX, the kind that needs you to add buttermilk. You will use it in different ways, about a half tablespoon or less as seasoning, the one package goes a long way. Also get one pound of cornstarch, cheap vanilla. These are staples.
Read on the cornstarch box how to make cream sauces, thin, medium and thick. Thin is gravy, medium is for casseroles, thick is for puddings and cream pies. I have to leave right now, will add more later.
I'm a college student I ate stir fry with rice makes it stretch and healthy. Making soup is also cheap and you can freeze it. Making a garden also helps if you can. I also made chicken alfredo its cheap to make as well.
I made it with 200 hundred dollars with two people not saying my meals were healthy! I did it.
I am single, but cook for my dog, too! I spend $100 per month. I buy soup bone,for soup, and the bone goes to my dog. I make beans with tomatoes, onions, pepper, and add some pork salt for flavor. I eat a lot of pasta, veggies (steamers), I make chicken as salad with lettuce, tomatoes, and cukes. I also make my own cookies, cakes, and pancakes. I buy a lot of eggs. I double up on soups, and veggies when they are on sale.
I also buy Marie Callender's frozen entrees, add some more spices, serve with rice or veggies. I make everything taste as home made as possible, and use rice and noodles as a buffer. Navy beans with a big piece of ham goes a long way when you add it on top of white rice. I buy day old bread. Oh,and I drink water or Kool-Aid with sweetener. AND, I only eat what I like, I do not make anything with recipes. Start making menus with food you like. My dog eats well, too. I mix his food with real food. He is very picky, and this way he will eat!
We do about $350 for 5 people and we eat well. First learn to cook from scratch. We shop Aldis's (basically Aldi's), Save a lot and Shop n save. Buy staples, flour 1.50, 10 pounds of potato's 3.00, a bag of rice 1.50, lettuce 1.00, eggs, 1.00, sugar 1.50, then move to canned goods averaging .33-50 cents a can you can purchase a case for under 5.00 dollare. You can also buy whole chickens 3.50-4.50 then quarter them. (That's 4 days worth of meat) Turkey sausage @1.20 a pound (mayby 5 or 10 rolls) one pound makes a meal. Ground beef and so on.
Ramen noodles 12 to a pack for only 1.80 (.15 cent a pack,add a little left over meat after noodles are done, a dash of green peas and soy sauce) a complete meal for two for under .25 cents (taking into account leftover meat and peas. Plus we have loads of other foods we purchase and snacks all for about $350.00 per month Including Ice cream, popsicles and so on.
I make my own granola. Buy the large container of oats. Mix 4 cups of raw oats with 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 3/4 cup syrup or honey ( you can add cinnamon or ground ginger if you want.) Bake at 350 for about 20 min., but stir the oats after about 10 min. for even browning. Remove when they are golden. Let cool. (You may want to put them in a bowl to prevent them from sticking to the pan.) Add raisins, nuts, dried fruit, shredded coconut....anything you want. This is so much cheaper than store bought cereal and good for snacks or any meal.
I buy items in bulk. I buy 25 lbs of rice, not minute rice. Even though it takes longer to cook, it is cheaper. I make 4 cups at a time. Cooked, this makes quite a bit. Then I portion it out and freeze it. It only takes a minute or two to heat it in the microwave. Try to stay away from prepared foods that contain MSG. It stimulates your appitite and causes you to over eat. Learn to cook from scratch. Pop corn is a cheap and healthy snack, not microwave though, it is unhealthy and full of chemicals
Hi - This is a web site that will help you budget your meals - at least it helped me. It is www.betterbudgeting.com and www.grocerysavingtips.com. I hope this helps
This is a great website that teaches you to live frugally & has lots of low cost recipes. This link will give you her $70/week for 4 people menu plan. She also has a $45 plan.
There is a nice website I have found that has budget recipes that are easy and pretty good. The name and address is:
Oh geez, that is super easy. You could probably do it cheaper if you wanted for me my mom and my son I spend $400 a month $100 a week. It's all about cooking and freezing, and making things like meals and snacks from scratch.
I bought a great book called Hard Times Handbook at this website: http://surviveanythingt.webs.com/
It contains detailed instructions for all the suggestions above, plus a chapter called 'when the wolf is at the door and brought his wife and kids' with really cheap cheap recipes. Also has a section on cooking once for multiple meals and lots of great tips for living real cheap, but well.
I like to use baked potatoes for a complete meal. Bake the potato, cut a slit in the top and fill with one of the following; broccoli and cheese, chili and cheese, sauteed mushroom and onion (add bacon bits if you like), cooked hamburger mixed with brown gravy, or any combination of things that you like. Also add bread crumbs or oatmeal to hamburger to stretch it farther, and try putting your basic meat item on top of pasta or rice to make a meal more filling.
Shop farmers markets and don't be afraid to bargain. Ask for discounts if you buy multiple items. Stock up on items with a long storage life when on sale. Learn the prices of things so that you don't get tricked by phony markdowns. Some large stores mark items up for a week or two in order to advertise them 'on sale' or very close to regular price. Don't be afraid to freeze your cooked leftovers-especially cooked veggies, that you can then throw into a soup stock later on.
The healthiest meal you can make (in my opinion) is homemade soup. It's also costs the least especially if you are making big batches and then freezing. If you always have soup with your dinner, you will eat a smaller portion for dinner as you will be filled. When I worked in a nursing home, some of the longest living residents told me they always ate soup every day. Even on a hot day, I manage to eat chicken vegetable soup, but my main mean might even be just homemade salsa and tortilla chips with cheese topping because between those two I am filled. Summertime also is a great time to make soup and freeze it to take advantage of locally grown produce such as corn, tomatoes, etc. Or how about a cold soup such as canteloupe soup on a hot day? Well, just some ideas that I thought might help.
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