Cooking On A Budget: One Hundred Dollars A Month Food Budget

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

One Hundred Dollars A Month Food Budget

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I don't think I have any rights to complain about my finances and do you want to know why? Some one approached me to help out two adults who have a mere $100.00 for the entire month for food. This has really struck a nerve in me and I am heartbroken to the core for those in this same situation.
While what I have here in this blog post may not be the end all to so solving the problem of how do you manage to eat on that small amount of money per month, a great effort has been made by the food blogging community to provide inexpensive recipes which is their way of pitching in to help.
As you all know, cooking is not a science and you can substitute and switch out ingredients to suit your personal taste as well as your budget. If you can't buy fresh because of cost and frozen or canned is more affordable then you go that route. I think most all of these recipes give you some leeway. If there's a cheese listed in the recipe that a little more expensive think of a good substitute in it's place. Recipes are meant to be played with anyway!
For those of you who may need to follow a LOW CARB diet this article is a pretty good read. For a list of the top ten foods that are HIGH IN PROTEIN this link takes you there. If you struggle with your food budget and items on this list seem out of your price range, seek your physicians advice or ask a nutritionist what a replacement for an item might be.
I've provided some of my shopping and meal tips and later in this post is a link to an article about shopping without using coupons and it's really a great article in that it is full of useful information. I start off with some key points about shopping in general and shopping for proteins, then we get into the recipes.
  1. Buy pasta on sale. When Barilla goes on sale at 10 for $10.00 is when I stock up on pasta. Pasta is a great meal stretcher and when combined with vegetables or a protein or both you can feed lots of people or plan on re-heating the dinner for another night.
  2. Rice. I cook my rice with boxed chicken stock, however boxed stock can be expensive, so you could use bouillon cubes which are far less expensive. The other thing is cook with water but load the rice with good flavorings from dried spices and use some onion for flavoring as well.
  3. Speaking of spices - they are pricey but I have found a way around that. We have an Ocean State Job Lot close enough to us and that is where I pick up spices. They have around 70-80 varieties and the price range is 88¢ to $1.00. I recommend doing this.
  4. Chicken Thighs and Drumsticks tend to be the least expensive parts of the chicken. Personally we prefer the thighs and stay far away from the Drumsticks. Currently these are on sale at our local grocery store for $1.59 per pound for the store label. I just picked up a package with four thighs for a total cost of $2.83. That's when you really should pick up two packages which will net you four meals if you consider one piece per person or two meals if you eat two pieces. That's still inexpensive.
  5. Whole boneless Pork Loins are on sale for $2.29 per pound. If you can pick one up that is about four pounds you are looking at spending a little over $9.00. Then you can slice it up to make thin pork cutlets, some thicker cuts for pork chops.
  6. Some canned vegetables are okay, I prefer frozen peas for instance but I do use canned whole potatoes sometimes for roasted potatoes and spiced up they taste good and will brown up nicely. Again, our store does offer canned goods on sale for that 10 for 10. Beans - white beans and other beans are another good source of protein and combined with some diced tomatoes, spices and other vegetables can be a very tasty and filling meal.
  7. Seafood can be costly, but mussels are still on the inexpensive side. They are generally in the two dollar a pound range. You can add onions and spices and wine and make an incredible meal and serve them over pasta such as linguine or angel hair pasta.
  8. If you live where you can plant a garden or do some container gardening I highly recommend it. Seeds are cheap and the benefit outweighs what you initially lay out. To have fresh tomatoes and other vegetables that you can can for use throughout the colder months will help immensely. Look at tag sales for canning jars and buy lids and rings as you are able to.
Let's look at what we have so far. We have the proteins, chicken thighs and boneless pork loin. Figure if you get just a little larger pork loin and 3 packages of thighs you are spending approximately $20.00 for the PROTEINS. Leaves us $80.00 for fresh, frozen and canned vegetables, spices, bouillon cubes, rice, pasta and beans. You also may factor in coffee, milk, eggs, butter, bread, cheese. That's cutting it to the bone.
  1. Try and get on sale bread and buy two loaves of your favorite keeping one in the refrigerator so it stays fresher longer or even in the freezer.
  2. When cheese goes on sale for $2.00 a bar - snag it. You can shred your own cheese for various recipes. Cheese also freezes well.
  3. Ocean State Job Lot has food items - not everything is a bargain, but it is worth checking out what the Job Lot stores have to offer.
  4. Wal-mart stores that carry food sometimes have super deals. I actually like picking up a ten pack of Ramen Noodles Chicken Flavor for when I need a quick late night chicken soup fix. The box of ten is usually under $3-4.00. The good thing about Ramen Noodle packets is they make for a quick lunch as well.
  5. Another thing is trying to get butter on sale or regular olive oil on sale. You can always saute with a little bit of olive oil and a dab of butter to make delicious food.
Here are links to some of my most inexpensive meals. Some recipes came out inexpensively because I usually have a decent pantry to go to.
  • I made chicken thighs on the grill with my Apricot Basting Sauce and they tasted so good. You can replace Apricot Preserves with Peach Preserves. Another idea is to purchase a small can of apricots or peaches, drain them and process them for the sauce if the preserves are too costly. Again, bargain shop and look for sales on preserves or check out the job lot stores.
  • Another way to cook Chicken Thighs would be to loosely follow this recipe for Chicken Cacciatore. Should fresh peppers and mushrooms be too expensive you could use canned, but drain them well and even give a quick rinse. Dry the mushrooms.
  • Roasted Chicken Thighs with Asparagus - with this dish you can opt out of using fresh asparagus and replace them with another inexpensive vegetable. When you read the recipe, you will figure it out. The flavor is in the seasonings. Use canned whole or diced tomatoes in place of fresh, unless you have access to a garden. These are just a few ideas for using Chicken Thighs. You could also make Chicken and Biscuits using the thighs.

I am so thrilled that so many of my blogger friends came up with some budget recipes from their repertoire. The link under the recipe takes you directly to the recipe you want to check out and the other link is to their Facebook food page.
 
A stand out recipe from blogger Nicole Meyer of Nibbles by Nic is her recipe for Old Fashion Corn Pudding. It would make a fabulous side dish to go along with some Pork Cutlets (I have a number of them on this blog), or baked Chicken Thighs.
Biscuit Dinner recipe is courtesy of Cyndee Knoth of Tampa Cake Girl. Filling and it comes in under ten dollars for the whole meal.
Another generous foodie friend Serena Burns of Serena Bakes Simply from Scratch has a Chipotle Black Bean recipe that's super inexpensive and filling and with the beans would be high in protein. You can make the recipe and freeze left overs.
Erica Walton Schwarz of Erica's Recipes has a delicious and really budget friendly Sloppy Joe Pasta Meal.
Debi Wayland of Life Currents has this tasty recipe for Easy Weeknight Mexican Eggs.
Made in the crock pot, these Sweet and Sour Meatballs get a scrumptious coating and the crock pot does the rest. Recipe from Maggie Burgdorf Roush of The Love Nerds.

Heather Brown and I agree on so many points. Here's her post about saving money at the grocery store without using coupons. Heather is author of the page, My Life Well Loved. 

Lori Vachon of Who Needs A Cape provides us with a Slow Cooker Green Chile Pork Taco recipe. To save money Lori suggests purchasing a smaller roast or decide you'll use the remainder for a left over meal another night.
Katerina Delidimou of Culinary Flavors has a super recipe for Greek Fasolada which is a hearty bean soup made with cannelini beans.
It was so great of Heidy McCallum of The McCallums Shamrock Patch to contribute to the list of affordable recipes with her Zucchini Bake with Sausage and Potatoes Colcannon.
Old Fashioned Veggie Soup from Linda of Meal Planning Maven can certainly be made with frozen or in some cases canned vegetables.
Mediterranean Orzo with Roasted Vegetables is another good recipe idea for a meal stretcher from Helga Brandt of The Hungry Belgian.
And last a recipe of Beans and Rice with tons of flavor from Joanne Ferguson of What's On The List. This can help stretch a budget by adding just a little bit of cooked chicken to it or serves as a side or a meal all by itself.

It is my hope that this article provided you with some useful information and tips along with recipes you can adapt to fit your budget and your family. Sometimes when we are in a situation we are so stressed from it that we can't think clearly. You may have been living just fine and then wham - circumstances out of your control, whether they are medical or loosing a job or both bring you about to your knees. I know what that's like - trust me I know. Working then a major heart attack along with NO insurance led to medical bills that amounted to the price of a home forced me out of the work force, and having to file bankruptcy and having to apply for disability. So I've been there and maybe not to the degree some one else has, but I totally understand the worry and frustration.
With that being said I want to impress upon you to seek every available option you have to get some help to get you back on your feet. If you don't know where to begin, start with your local town offices and go from there. The web provides any and all information on services which you might need for a while. See if you can budget your electric, cable, phone and any other bills into smaller monthly payments. As long as you keep paying most companies won't turn off your utilities.
And in closing if you are reading this and you are one who has to try and feed yourself or your family with only one hundred dollars for the entire month, I really hope we've provided something good here. And, if you are reading this and your financial situation is just fine, I encourage you to support your local food bank in any way you can to whatever measure of giving you can. You just may help put food on the table for one of the millions of Americans who are battling hunger every day in this country.
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