I eat on the cheap. I also eat the same thing every single day. I'm not one of those creative people who come up with fabulous ideas to eat on $40 a month. I also don't cook/eat beans, and VERY rarely eat rice, so I hope this helps you!
I eat steamed (fresh) broccoli and scrambled egg whites w/ oats for my lunch (or also dinner if I can get away with it.) You mix 1/4 c oats + 3 egg whites + splash of milk, and scramble. The oats really help keep you filled up. A giant canister of oats is like $4 and it usually lasts me about 2 months. A bunch of broccoli is usually $1.79 or 2 for $3 where I live. I usually cut each bunch into 3 servings and put each one in a tupperware container. Then when I'm ready to eat it, I rinse the broccoli out with water so that they are still damp. Then I put the lid back on the tupperware (but don't close it all the way) and microwave for 2 mins. Perfect every time. So I buy 18 eggs for the week $2.59, 3 bunches of broccoli $6, and a canister of oats for a 2 month supply. That breaks down to about $36 for a months worth of lunches. I use to eat tuna every day w/ baby carrots, but I got sick of it. That's always a cheap alternative as well.
I also eat either a banana for breakfast OR apple slices dipped in greek yogurt. The greek yogurt I buy is 4 for $5, and the apples are 2 for $1 because I buy the lunchbox size as opposed to buying it by the pound. So that's about $30 on breakfast foods. When I had a different schedule, I use to have a protein shake for breakfast each day. The shake mix was $30 on bodybuilding.com, and there were 30 servings. I blended it with ice to save money.
For dinners, I pretty much ALWAYS have broccoli as my veggie. (It's convenient and I love it.) And for another side, I usually have a sweet potato.They are usually prices by the pound, but sometimes you can find them on sale at certain stores like Aldi. If you are into making your stuff ahead of time because you eat the same things every day, I make mashed sweet potatoes, and make 2 sweet potatoes at a time equaling 3 servings. For the meat or main dish, I usually eat something with ground turkey, chicken, or beef. I buy the "thinly sliced" beef bottom round steaks. A package of 2 steaks is usually $4 or so. A whole fresh chicken is usually around $3.50-$4.50 for the size I buy, and the ground turkey is $2.99 for a 1 lb package. You can make turkey burgers, turkey meatloaf, or whatever you want with it. And as for the chicken, you can put the whole chicken in your crockpot to cook during the day, or put it in the oven. Whatever is easier. But you're definitely going to get multiple servings out of it. For dinners, I usually spend about $50 a month.
For my dessert, I have fat free sugar free instant pudding (from the larger box) which is usually $1. I mix it with almond milk which is about $3 where I live, and 1/3 c raw oats. (Those oats sure do come in handy lol.) I also top it with light whipped cream. I always make 1 box of pudding at a time, and pour it into tupperware containers for the next few days. For a month of this dessert it's $18.
I know this was probably too much pointless information, but I just wanted to give an example of what I eat and on what budget. I hope some of this was helpful!
Some of the cheaper things we love are frozen veggies. We take a couple dollar (you may be able to find them on sale or for less than $1 as well) bag of frozen stir-fry veggies and add in a chicken breast. I don’t use stir-fry sauces as there is just too much sodium in them, so instead I just add a bit of Italian (or other) dressing and whatever seasonings I want. SO cheap, so healthy and so filling. Cook up some brown rice if you need more.
When you buy foods, buy filling foods. Look for whole grains (pastas, rice, etc aren’t any more expensive than white stuff), lean protein, etc. I never like the suggestions of cheap TV dinners or canned soups because they’re not filling so you’re just going to eat more of them to fill up, which will end up costing the same or more…and be a lot less healthy.
What about PB&J? Or to be slightly healthier, PB&Honey. PB is expensive up front, but lasts a long time if you’re watching portions and overall it’s a lot less expensive than deli meat and cheese on a sandwich.
People don’t look at the overall picture. I know around me, a can of soup is something like $1-$2 a can…if you eat the whole thing you’re getting WAY WAY too much sodium and hardly any nutrition or anything that will fill you up. What do you eat it with? White processed crackers that also don’t fill you. I do think making your own is a great idea though! You control what you’re putting in it and you can make a LOT for super cheap.
My other main suggestions is to watch portion sizes. If you’re eating the correct portion sizes you’re going to lose weight and save loads of money. My husband and I have gotten to the point that we split a chicken breast at dinner. It’s typically a larger breast, but we’re still only getting about 3-4 oz (the appropriate size) of meat instead of most people eating 5-10+ oz of meat with dinners.
I also agree with rice, dried beans, oatmeal in the morning,
There are so many things you can do. Oh, and definitely avoid “Dollar Menu’s” – another big waste of money. You spend $3 on a meal, but it doesn’t fill you or give you much nutrition. I easily make meals that are less than $3 at home that are totally satisfying and very healthy.
Fitness Minutes: (50,334)
1,568 11/21/12 9:23 A
I agree with those who suggested soups. But, I do it like this: Buy the cheapest per pound whole chicken you can find. Roast. Use chicken for 2 meals (more if you can) then remove all the rest of the meat. Make broth with the carcass. Use remaining chicken and any veggies you like for the soup.
This way, for the price of store-bought broth, you get better tasting homemade broth plus protein for two more meals.
There are also tons of little tricks that all add up. Buy produce in season, or frozen. Check out the discounted shelves at grocery stores (usually dented or discontinued items) and bakeries. Go to farmer's market at the end of the day and get the leftovers for very good prices.
Crockpot stews and soups will go a long way. Look for manager specials at the stores for meat. Chicken is usually the cheapest but sometimes you can get some beef tips really cheap. In the summer look at at CSA or farmers market. They have them in the winter too at least in my town they do.
Aldi's would be a good place to start.
Fitness Minutes: (20,400)
2,704 11/20/12 5:54 P
"Fried rice" - cooked brown rice mixed with some cooked frozen vegetables and with an egg scrambled in for protein.
Make a vegetable soup with frozen vegetables, canned beans and some whole-wheat pasta.
Make a pot of bean chili with the brands of canned beans and tomatoes that are on sale.
Food banks, certain churches, and food stamps or other government programs! With the economic situation, there is absolutely no shame in getting a little help. After all, a lot of our military families are having to get food stamps and/or eat at the mess to get by. And folks on social security,........
Fitness Minutes: (120)
2,171 11/20/12 12:49 P
You should do a search here on the message boards. This topic has come up a few times recently and those threads have a lot of really good information.
I agree with everyone who said to use beans. I make a package of whole grain pasta (for the week) and add Cannolini beans which are very creamy. A TBSP or 2 of olive oil or tomato sauce, and some grated cheese is very filling, easy and a comfort food. I also use eggs and make a spinach quiche with low fat Mozarella cheese and Parmesan cheese which is very delicious, and with whole grain toast or a homemade muffin is a nice hot evening meal. There are many recipes on Spark that you can use, along with comments and lots of member ideas. When you finds something you like, make it in quantity and use it for the week or freeze portions so you can have variety. Don't forget the good old tuna casserole with a can of light tuna(cheap) and a can of creamy store brand soup. Throw in some frozen green veggies(peas)and you've got a nice hot meal. If you're willing to put in the effort occasionally in your free time, you'll have lots of good meals ahead.
My favorite "go-to" cheap dinner is homemade vegetable soup. I can make a HUGE pot of that stuff for pretty cheap, on a weekend, and have enough for several meals for DH and I during the week. I put beans and rice in it, for the protein. The only fresh vegetables I use are carrots, potatoes, and onions, which are pretty cheap. And the rest of the vegetables, I use frozen. For the base, I use a large can of crushed tomatoes and a ton of beef "stock" (beef boullion in water), maybe 12 cups worth.
Aldi's is a great place to shop if your budget is tight. Their produce is cheaper than the "name brand" stores, and they usually run a few specials on 4 -6 things (varies every week). Last time I was there I got 3 pound bags of medium-sized apples for 2.99 so that's a buck a pound as opposed to around 1.50 - 1.75 a pound at the "regular" store. 2 pounds of fresh pears were 99 cents. Celery was 69 cents, broccoli was 99 cents for the same size head that would've cost 1.89 at Kroger's. And sweet potatoes were on special too but I didn't need any so I don't remember the price.
The big thing when your budget is tight, is meat. I know when we need to cut back around here, I do not serve a roast or other large slabs of meat on a plate-- all the meat goes into a soup or stew or casserole, to make it go further. And I add beans and rice to just about everything, to bulk it up. I'm not fond of just beans and rice for dinner, but I'll eat chili with less meat and double (or triple) the amount of beans, served over rice..
Fitness Minutes: (0)
28 11/20/12 10:33 A
Do you shop at an expensive store like Target or Publix? Try finding an Aldi's or a Sav-a-lot in your area. That's a big help - remember, not everything has to be a certain brand. I personally love Aldi's fresh produce selection. Try baking some bone-in chicken. You can have a piece of the baked chicken w/ spices and a side of veggies the first night. Shred the checken for the next night and wrap it in a tortilla with some shredded low-fat cheese, black beans, and salsa. Boil the bones the third night. Strain and add onion, carrots, celery (basically, whatever veggies you have on hand), and some noodles... add some of the shredded chicken, and you have a yummy chicken noodle soup. Remember, buying chicken on the bone is more wallet-friendly than buying boneless
Fitness Minutes: (26,065)
1,053 11/20/12 10:06 A
Rice and beans. Buy whichever bag of rice is the cheapest per ounce and do the same for the beans (dry is always cheaper). Depending on which types of beans you get, you may need to soak them overnight before you cook them. Boil the rice and beans together and add whatever spices you want. I usually do salt, pepper, cayenne and cumin.
Frozen veggies are also pretty cheap. When my husband is working at night, I sometimes just microwave a cup of frozen veggies for myself for dinner.
Tofu is also very cheap. I mix 1/4 block of tofu with 2/3c frozen mixed veggies and spices to make a cheap stir fry.
Oatmeal is also a great way to stretch you money. Buy the large container and portion it out yourself. You can add in sugar or cinnamon for cheap flavoring.
I need some suggestions for cheap meal ideas that don't require a lot of effort. And by cheap I mean, very cheap. My hours have been cut at work so I can really only afford about $100/month on food! I also don't care for cooking that much (but I'll do it) and I'm not big on food. I enjoy virtually everything but I'm the type of person who doesn't really need variety! When I try to find suggestions online I still get a huge grocery list of perishable food items that only rich people could afford. I really just need 1 or 2 recipes! :)
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