You have a great opportunity here to exercise strict portion control. To relieve your anxieties about whether you are getting adequate nutrition, you can measure and track, and see that the portions are reasonable and you're eating your share of protein, etc.
If you buy flour and yeast, you have all you need to make your own bread or rolls. I recently tried to make my own pita bread, which instead came out of the oven as a flatbread. It was absolutely delicious (don't forget to add salt and a little olive oil to make bread flavorful). I used white bread flour and threw in some wheat bran. I make bread enough to skip measuring (not recommended for the solo novice). It was inexpensive. It was filling.
Bread + whatever inexpensive, marked-down vegetables + a small serving of meat. That a meal.
Does the other roommate EAT with you? If so, he should be contributing to the food budget or finding other accommodations. Even if he doesn't eat with you, I would hope he's contributing toward the rent, utilities, etc? When times are tough, there ain't no free lunch, IMO.
You've gotten a lot of good ideas, but I'll add that you should find out when your local grocery stores do their markdowns on meats and produce and make sure you're there for it if at all possible.
Can you contact any of your creditors to ask for lower rates, or a payment plan to help you until you can get back on your feet? If you're sinking, there are only 2 ways to make it better - decrease your spending or increase your income.
Is there an appeal process for the food stamps, or is there other assistance available (rent, utility, bus pass, etc)? Keep asking, calling and pursuing until you've exhausted every opportunity.
I understand the attractiveness of dumpster diving, especially given how much food is wasted needlessly in so many places. Just be aware that there are sometimes local laws prohibiting this and/or no-trespassing signs on private property that means you should stay out. Also, if property owners request you to leave you should always do so. To be safe and because dumpster diving is often done at night always do this in a group.
Fitness Minutes: (6,830)
37 2/11/13 12:19 A
Shadowgirl, I'm sorry to hear about your circumstances! I was in poverty myself for several years so I can relate. Here are some of the things I did ...
Food bank, obviously. You mentioned that you can't always make it there, but perhaps a friend or the aforementioned roommate can help with pickups when it's open. The corollary to that is soup kitchens. Not always tasty or healthy, but it sure beats the alternative of being hungry.
Sometimes grocery stores will sell "expired" produce and bread at a reduced rate. It isn't usually advertised, but store employees were always polite about it when I asked. The hippie or otherwise "natural" stores are usually the most helpful that way.
If you're not afraid to get your hands dirty, you can also join the growing movement of "freegans" who rescue food from dumpsters. Americans waste 40% of all the food we produce, and most of it happens before it even hits the shelves. I got a lot of my food this way as a student, and in some ways it's the best I've ever eaten; I had free access to whole boxes of fresh herbs and exotic produce and high-end baked goods all the time. Now I live in a bigger city where dumpsters are usually locked, and I rather miss the adventure. Here's a good article on getting started if you're interested:
In any case, I wish you well. Hunger is a scary place to be and I hope you come through it soon.
Fitness Minutes: (6,253)
146 2/10/13 11:21 P
Have you tried couponing? Maybe if friends, family or neighbors get the Sunday paper and don't bother with the coupons, you could ask for their inserts. Yes, there are tons of coupons out there for crappy foods, but you can also find healthy things as well. Check out http://thekrazycouponlady.com/. You can search for the stores in your area and see different deals that are going on each week. Even if you only find a few things that you can get for free/super cheap, it will still help with your food budget.
You can definitely find some great recipes that don't bother you texture-wise. I remember wondering the same thing when I had just graduated. Here are some of my cheap staples:
egg-whites (I notice I don't get sick of eggs if I minimize yolk... I mix one whole egg with some liquid egg whites for frittata w/ lots of vegetables, or scrambled eggs, or omelet)
soups - you can vary these a lot... you can even make your own broth to make it cheaper. Use whatever vegetables you like and look up recipes online. I usually make one soup for the week and vary my meals.
whole chicken, or roast - also I make one for the week and eat a little bit each day with soup and potatoes.
Fitness Minutes: (51,534)
1,601 2/10/13 8:20 P
Check out this blog. The two writing it got pretty clever with their meals by the end of their 30 days, but I'm sure there are other good resources (reader comments, links, etc) that may be useful to you as well.
YOJULEZ, I'm glad we're not the only ones that are bothered by it. I don't tell too many people because they just tell me to get over it. Not that easy. lol. I'll keep trying the oatmeal and that recipe. Once we get our taxes back I'll stock up on some basics.
Fitness Minutes: (120)
2,171 2/10/13 7:55 P
SHADOW, I have texture issues too. I do not like beans by themselves, but in that zucchini pasta recipe I posted, I couldn't really tell they were there, since they were mashed up pretty good. Also for oatmeal, I tend to make it "thicker" with less liquid, so the texture isn't an issue for me.
I actually also hate eggs, but most people like them :)
Oh yeah, buying dried milk (powdered stuff, mix it with water, most people can't tell the difference) is way cheaper than regular milk. Also, oats are very filling and cheap. You can buy them in bulk to save on packaging costs.
One of my favorite cheap breakfasts is oats prepared in the microwave. Once cooked, I stir in 1/2 to 1 Tbsp of peanut butter and top with banana slices.
Fitness Minutes: (151,126)
14,850 2/10/13 6:08 P
You can also go into most markets and ask the butcher if they have any of the left over sections/cuts they are not the choice cuts but its protein and tends to be cheap (we got about 3 pounds worth of ribs this way that when dun up costs the two of us under two dollars for the meal and we 9 times out of 10 have enough to make a late night snack or lunch the next day).
Same goes for fruits and veggies, if they are not out on the end of date shelf/cart asking the produce section cheif if they have such fruits and veggies can cut costs as well since all they will do is toss it in the bin to go to the wastelands.
If there is a fish monger in your area, you can go to them and get end pices of various fish and seafoods - we actually got a couple of lobster claws last year for valentines day this way ended up with about half a pound of lobster for about 3 bucks, so again pricing it out between the two of us plus fixing came in under a 1.50 each and made enough for lobster rolls the next days lunch.
Rice is always a staple in our home we buy it from the Asian Market for about two dollar a bag (5 pound bag) last a good while (about 3 months) and same goes for potatoes a 20 pound bag for under 3 dollars lasts a while (about a month if kept correctly to prevent them growing).
Cant' speak of beans since I can't eat most of them that are out there, but chick peas are cheap and if you like hummus well since they are the base ingredient to that buying them in bulk and soaking them yourself and then processing them makes for lovely fresh hummus without the added extras that you really don't need.
Pasta can be the same way, though we don't buy it in bulk since I can't eat it but there are several bulk barns in our area that sell the stuff for about 50 cents a pound. For us our staple is rice noodles (gluten free) that we get from the asian market a package costs 75 cents and will make 8 good size servings.
If there's a Kroger nearby, they have 10-lb bags of potatoes for $2.88 (at least in my area)...
Fitness Minutes: (120)
2,171 2/10/13 4:34 P
A few other ideas:
Oatmeal! Buy a large container of oatmeal and you can do it a million different ways, and it can be done in the microwave with water. You could buy a few apples, and cut those up and mix with cinnamon (my store usually has a thing of cinnamon for $1 so I'm sure WalMart has the same). Or add in some peanut butter.
Breakfasty type foods in general are usually pretty cheap. You can do a lot with eggs. Scramble them and top with a bit of salsa/hot sauce (get packets at Taco Bell!). You can mix with black beans and the salsa and wrap in tortillas to make burritos. Just cause it's not morning doesn't mean you can't eat breakfast foods.
Research what's on sale at all the stores in your area, their ads are available online usually. Wal-Mart does price matching so if there's a meat or produce that's on sale at another store for a good price, have Wal-Mart price match it for you. I know like this week, my store has bananas on sale for 59 cents a pound. I could go to walmart and they would give me the same price if I show them the ad (showing it on your phone should work if you can do that).
Buy a whole chicken and roast it yourself. Whole chickens are usually pretty cheap per pound (I got one for $1 a pound this week), and can go for quite a few meals. You can cut up and onion and a lemon and put inside the chicken before roasting, and just salt and pepper on the outside.
Fitness Minutes: (1,708)
214 2/10/13 4:25 P
Not sure how much Im really adding here, but Beans and rice. Get the dried beans....they're about $1 a pound, which makes quite a few servings. Eggs as well. Pasta and potatoes frequently go on sale as well...sometimes as low as 99 cents for five pounds of potatoes. I realize it isn't necessarily the most healthy stuff but when it comes to eating or not, it is better than nothing.
Fitness Minutes: (120)
2,171 2/10/13 4:18 P
Here's a dish you can try. We make it for a class I volunteer with as part of cookingmatters.org, and all the recipes were geared towards low income folks. It makes a lot, about 6-7 servings, and all the ingredients are pretty cheap to buy and are all available at Wal-Mart. And, it's good! I brought the leftovers from yesterday's class home with me. We worked out the total meal cost to $5.50 based on the purchases at the store, but yours might be higher or lower depending on what you find.
Ingredients: 1 box pasta - whole grain is best, but if you use regular you can get 8 servings worth (since a box of regular is usually 16oz, whole grain is usually 13). Smaller shaps work best... elbows, bowties, etc. Wouldn't recommend spaghetti. 1 can white beans 2 zucchini/yellow squash 1 tablespoon oil (canola, vegetable, olive, hopefully you have one of these already at home to avoid buying, if not, I believe they sell small bottles at the dollar tree) 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (the kind from the shaker bottle/canister is fine, or even those kind you can get in packets from pizza places. 1/2 cup may not be necessary) 1/4 tsp salt dash black pepper
1. Cook Pasta according to package instructions. Prepare zucchini sauce while pasta is cooking.
2. Peel and mince garlic
3. Rinse and grate zucchini/squash. Measure 2 cups grated zucchini/squash.
4. Drain and rinse beans and set in a bowl.
5. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add zucchini/squash and minced garlic. Cook until mixture oftens and zucchini yields some liquid, about 5 minutes.
6. Drain pasta, but reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.
7. Add a bit of the pasta water to beans, and mash with a fork until desired consistency.
8. Add 1-2 tsp of cooking liquid to zucchini mixture. Add drained pasta and mashed beans. Stir, coating pasta evenly with sauce. Add more pasta water as needed to make sauce more... saucey :)
9. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Each serving would be about 1 1/3-1 1/2 cups.
The beans add good protein and this is a very filling dish.
Fitness Minutes: (102,320)
13,143 2/10/13 4:12 P
Can you use the food bank?
Fitness Minutes: (14,252)
9,646 2/10/13 4:02 P
Beans, beans, beans. There are an endless variety, they keep well, they're loaded with protein, and you can do SO much with them.
Yes beans and rice were a staple at our house growing up, when times were tight. If you buy the beans dry it takes extra time but it's even cheaper!
Fitness Minutes: (34,376)
3,731 2/10/13 3:13 P
I would try to add some protein. Perhaps you can find a sale on canned tuna (which I often find coupons for) -- or add a few eggs. Beans are another cheap source of protein. You can combine them with rice for a meal.
Like...less than $10 a week for food. I was denied food stamps and the only way we can pay the bills this month is to hope our taxes get in before the end of the month. I work in retail and after the holidays my hours were dramatically cut. I need, just to pay the bills and not including food, $185 a week. I've been getting about $120. So yeah...Sometimes I can get into the food bank but I'm more than not working at the time.
What healthy foods can I get for less than $10 a week? I live right next to a Dollar Tree and Walmart. Currently I'm living off of bread, peanut butter, jelly, ramen, celery, carrots, rice, and sometimes milk and potatoes.
Oh, and I live with 2 others, one being my fiance. Our roommate doesn't help with food. When he does it's junk, ice cream, popsicles, pop, or fast food for himself. And my fiance is putting all extra money into keeping the car running so he can get to work since a bus doesn't go there like it can to mine.
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