I don't know what you consider expensive but I spend between 5 and 6 dollars per meal for 2 people and that includes gluten free meals. As has been said I do try to buy what is on sale and I think we eat fairly healthy. The packaged meals are usually what tend to be expensive.
as someone else said...get a something like a Brita Filter and make your own bottled water. As for fruit...it is expensive...buy what is on sale. Lean protein?....I buy what is on sale (and I will cut up chicken or buy the thighs) but I will stretch my protein buy adding some beans to the dish. Not only is it economical but it is extremely healthy. And I buy frozen veggies unless the veggie is on sale. Have your shopping list ahead of time....check the stores website for this week's flyer...and keep track of what you usually buy. You will find that the basics go on sale regularly every so many weeks. Try the store brands ... I used to be hooked on brand names...then I started trying the store's and couldn't tell the difference.
Ask the water utility company if they have a source at their processing plant where jugs can be filled for free.
Fitness Minutes: (204,440)
6/21/14 2:37 P
We had horrible well water, left everything with a an orange stain, and Brita and those kinds of filters did NOTHING! We couldn't afford to have a expensive water treatment system installed, would have cost over $4,500, so, if I couldn't afford those jugs of water at the store, see if some of your friends or relatives who don't have a well, would let you fill up those empty water jugs, do a bunch at a time. That is what we did. And then we sold the place and moved away.................;). Do what you can now. Your picky 11 yr. old may have to change their eating habits for awhile, too. Through the years, we also have gone through the make your own soups, beans, canned veggies on sale stuff. It's doable. Hang in there!
if you have to buy bottled water are you at least doing so at the refill machines? some grocery and convenience stores here have a separate machine that you can put gallon or 5 gallon jugs in and you can refill them. i think it's like 35 cents for a gallon or something else much cheaper than buying a gallon of water. $350 for 31 days is 11.29 per day to feed 3 people. per person, that's 3.76. so you need to be aiming for meals that are about a dollar per person and then you have 76 cents left over for snacks. start by finding some beans and rice dishes that you like. figure if you shop around you can easily get beans and rice for about ten cents a serving. full price, small package tends to run more like 15 cents a serving and you can get it down near five cents if you're buying in bulk, but i'm going to use ten because it's both a nice, round number and because you can get that price without too much bulk buying or shopping around. so a serving of each is going to be 20 cents. frozen store veggies are about 35 cents a serving regular price, though you can halve that if you shop the sales. so rice, beans and veggies is 55 cents for a base meal. store brand sauces like teriyaki and curry and such you can get 30 servings for 2.29 or 8 cents a serving, bringing your meal total per person up to 63 cents. if you wanted to go olive oil and spices you could do that as well. so while beans and rice aren't necessarily the most interesting dishes on the planet, you'll save 37 cents off your average that you can use towards more expensive ingredients for other meals. instead of buying fresh apples, buy applesauce. most of your "apples, water, citric acid" applesauces are about 10 cents for a serving of fruit if you buy the 20-24oz jars. really look at the per serving price when you buy things.
Fitness Minutes: (160,964)
6/20/14 1:46 P
Well water will be fine if you refrigerate it. It should lose the smell. Sulfur? Bottled water is not as healthy as people think- it is dead water. Our ancestor's didn't buy bottled water.
Processed food is very expensive and unhealthy. It's easier for me because I like tuna and canned salmon - both cheap on sale. Eggs are cheap. Buy chicken on sale and stock up. The real trick is - YOU have to cook. Canned soups are expensive - make your own. I buy a whole chicken and roast it, then make soup from the carcass. Several meals from one cheap chicken. I don't buy the "roasters" - the "hens" or "stewers" are the cheap chickens and tastes just as good.
Shop sales - it pays to get the paper for the circulars
It sounds like you have some challenges that are not directly food-related...no car and an injury will make a tight budget even harder to work with. Hopefully some of those issues will be resolved soon.
We've been on a much tighter budget for about 7 or 8 years. I think my first really smart move was to look at other areas of the budget that might be cut to allow more $$ for groceries. This includes EVERYTHING--cell phones, internet, cable, insurance, and non-food purchases such as pet food, health/beauty, paper and cleaning products, etc. If you really look at each area with a want vs. need mentality, you'd be surprised at how easy it is to find some more money at the end of the month.
Then, look at ways to increase your income. Only you can know what you might do as a part-time or side job to bring in a little more cash. Got anything you can sell? Have a skill that people might be willing to pay you for? Get creative!
If you're limited in how many stores you can get to, then you must decide to get the most nutritional bang for every buck you spend. For most, that means buying foods that are less processed and cooking almost all of your meals at home. Eating out should become an infrequent treat. I second the suggestion of a crock pot.....I absolutely love the convenience, and even the tougher cuts cook up quite nicely.
One thing I rarely hear mentioned in budget threads is to reduce WASTE. Check your fridge weekly for anything that's approaching its "prime" and use it up. Date everything that you put in the freezer and make sure to rotate the older stuff to the front. Leftovers should be the next day's lunch or incorporated into dinner.
Before you shop, do some planning. Check your fridge and freezer for what needs to be used up. Check the ads for your store(s) and make your menu and list around what's in season and on sale. If you spot a sale on a staple that your family uses a lot, buy as much as you can afford to/use within a few months, then make plans to use it in your menus. Make sure it's properly stored for optimal shelf life.
If things are really tight, you might look into area food pantries or other agencies for help.
Fitness Minutes: (36,342)
2,545 6/20/14 1:35 P
Don't be afraid to use frozen fruits and veggies. They can be a lot less expensive than fresh. I also use coupons, shop the sale circulars and use websites Allyou.com
It's a pain in the tush at first but if you track prices at the store you shop at you can figure out the sale cycle. For example week one the peanut butter I like is 3$, week 2 it's 3$ week 3 it's 1.99, week 4 it's 3.50. If I buy PB in week 3 and search on line or in the paper for a coupon (Allyou.com) I can save 1/3 to 1/2 the cost. If you have an option of more than 1 store then you can use Allyou to comparison shop for you,
It's a bit of a hassle but you can save 20 to 30% on your groceries.
Fitness Minutes: (61)
6/20/14 12:29 P
Oh I wish I could get to BJ's - before I was injured DH and I used to bike to BJ's (it is two busses away plus a 1 mile walk)
we are saving for a deep freeze so we can stalk up on foods - and I wish we could shop different stores - but w/ no car it is not easy
I absolutely second the suggestions suggested above and will add that weekdays, especially mornings, are a great time to find things on clearance in the meat case (must use or freeze immediately). Make friends with the butchers to find out when they tend to put things on sale - trucks usually come at the same times, so they generally will have certain days when many of the sell by dates come due.
Dried beans and rice, especially the more you buy, are cheap. Add a small amount of flavorful meat, some frozen veggies and spices and you have a large meal and leftovers. Rice can be used like oats for breakfast. A bit of milk, some fruit (frozen works well) and maybe a dash of cinnamon. Ethnic stores can be a great source for these items on the cheap.
Warehouse stores can be great for meat and fruit and veggies, if you have access to one. I can get a 2 lbs bag of broccoli florets, big tub of spinach, large bag of carrots - all for under $4 per piece. Sure, I may eat a lot of broccoli and spinach that week, but there are tons of things that you can do with them. Apples, melon, etc. tend to be cheaper there as well. I only buy the things that I either know that I will eat right away or that I know will last a couple of weeks as I go through them. I also buy meat there cheaper and bag up and freeze. Frozen veggies and fruit are also good prices here.
Buy big tubs instead of individual servings - like one big tub of yogurt instead of single serves, etc I use plain Greek yogurt as everything from sour cream to mayonnaise with great results. Avoid prepackaged foods.
Meal planning helps, too. I plan several weeks at a time, so that I can buy dry goods all at once and also cross use items. For example, instead of not using leftover cabbage from my cabbage roll recipe, I will plan to use that as a side for a meal or two, or make a stir fry or other recipe that calls for it. Celery for a curry gets used again in a stew and chicken salad, so that I use the whole bunch instead of ending up throwing some away.
Fitness Minutes: (286,943)
6/20/14 11:46 A
Beans are a nutrient and protein dense legume. A legume counts towards your veggie intake. So, you might try adding more beans to your meals. They are extremely versatile as well as cheap. lentil soup is very yummy. Canned beans are reasonably priced and bags of dried beans are even cheaper.
How about frozen veggies ? If fresh fruits and veggies are too pricey, then how about buying frozen ones. Your local supermarket should have plenty of options for house brand frozen veggies. You should be able to find frozen broccoli, peas, carrots, pearl onions, kale, spinach, cauliflower, snap peas, etc. frozen veggies are just as nutritious as fresh veggies.
Buy fruits and veggies that are in season and on sale. Your local supermarket must run sales. If so, buy whatever is on sale. That's another way to save.
Do you comparison shop ? I don't know how many markets are in your area, but locally I have a choice of several. So, I buy products based on who has the cheapest prices. And yes, this might mean I have to walk to 2-3 different markets to buy what I need for the week.
Do you have a BJ, SAMs or Costco near you ? You could also consider buying certain products in bulk if you shop with one of the wholesalers. That's another way to save. Because I know that BJs does have some groceries. They're prices on veggies are competitive with a regular supermarket. If you hit the sale right, it can be better buying in bulk.
6/20/14 11:26 A
Ok - if a farmers market is not feasable - look at what else was suggested:
"Stock up on meat when it's on sale and load up your freezer. Avoid the center aisles at the grocery store, all that packaged stuff will balloon your budget and your waistline."
One of the best things I ever did was by a small chest freezer for stuff like buying meats, frozen veggies on sale and stocking up. Frozen veggies go on sale all the time. Stock up. Frozen berries, as well.
Sometimes even buying a used fridge on craigslist for 50$ and putting in basement or garage helps with that.
If not - you need to stock up what you can.
Also - rely more on dried beans and lentils - way cheap for a buck a bag, and you can get like 3 meals out of that.
Also, look into a slow cooker - great for summer (no heat) and you can use cheaper cuts of meat (fyi - the price of meat is going up even more....) with the longer slower cooking times.
First off, stop spending money on bottled water and get yourself a filter. Brita makes one that goes right on your faucet. It's an investment upfront but will eventually pay for itself.
And eating right on a budget doesn't have to be hard, you just have to make smart choices. Farmers Market for fresh fruits and veggies. Stock up on meat when it's on sale and load up your freezer. Avoid the center aisles at the grocery store, all that packaged stuff will balloon your budget and your waistline.
Fitness Minutes: (61)
6/20/14 9:57 A
is it even possible?
Fruit and Lean meats are SO expensive here - my budget is $350 a month for 3 ppl
ETA: I HAVE to buy bottled water -as our tap is well water and HORRIBLE (it stinks, literally)
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