Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spending $10 per week for groceries for one person

Our son, Nathan, just went to college.  He has a very tight budget and is trying to only spend 10 dollars per week on food.  Of course I asked if he was eating fruits and veggies!  If there are any other college kids trying to live on a very tight budget, I am re-posting this article for all of you....

Feed Yourself for 10 Dollars a Week
Food prices are climbing and it is getting harder to feed yourself on a small budget.  If you live by yourself, it is especially hard.  There are some things you can do to feed yourself and stay in a small budget.  The following suggestions can make a big difference as you try to cut back costs: 
  1. Cook from scratch.  Make enough food for several meals at one time and concentrate on planning monthly instead of weekly.  You can make a meal for 4 and then freeze the other 3 portions for later in the month.  Make a batch of muffins, tortillas or pancakes and then freeze by twos.  You will have 6-7 days worth of muffins.  You can have more variety by doing this, instead of eating the same thing every day for the whole week.  Get cheap or free containers from garage sales or save containers when you buy things like sour cream or cottage cheese.  Cooking from scratch and making several meals at one time may be one of the most important things you can do to eat a well balanced diet and have variety in your meals.
  2. Make your own preserves.  You don’t need pectin or canning supplies.  You can just cook it longer and then freeze it.  This is good to do when fruits are in season and are inexpensive.  It is best when you get free fruit from friends, neighbors and family members.  If you don’t have friends with surplus produce, check the ads or place an ad in the paper in the free section.  There are people out there who would love to have someone pick their fruit and take it away so they don’t have to deal with the mess as they fall off the tree and rot.  You can make enough applesauce, apple jelly and apple pie filling to last a year by taking advantage of these opportunities.  We also have wild chokecherries in our area.  You can pick them and make jelly or syrup with the juice.
  3. Plant raspberries, rhubarb, fruit trees or other things that produce each year without much effort on your part.
  4. Buy marked down food.  Find out when your grocery stores mark down items that are close to their expiration dates.  Most things are at least half off the regular price.  Combine it with a coupon and you get things for free!
  5. Eat inexpensive produce.  Bananas, potatoes and carrots are inexpensive.  You can eat just half a banana for a serving so they will last longer.  But produce in season and preserve.
  6. Free Food:  I am amazed at how many free foods are out there, and I am not talking about dumpster diving!  A few weeks ago, name brand rice was on sale for $1 per box.  There were coupons next to the rice for $1 off one box.  If you find things on sale and combine with a coupon, you will be surprised how many things you can get for free. 
  7. Get a bread machine.  Making your own bread saves money.  You can find one for free on Craig’s list or ask around to see if anyone you know has one they don’t want or look for one at a garage sale. 
  8. Get coupons from manufacturers.  Find a place where people recycle newspapers and get coupons for free.  Use coupons.com and couponsurfer.com for printable coupons online. 
  9. Double or triple coupons if you have the chance in your area.  
  10. Offer to make meals for someone if they will pay for the food for both of you. 
  11. Have a pot luck, where you make part of the meal and they bring part of the meal.  You can split leftovers when the meal is done, and everyone will have a complete meal for the next day.  If money is tight, you can have a brunch and make muffins.  Have other people bring orange juice and bacon.  Many people are grateful to bring something easy and quick that they can just buy and love to enjoy homemade food that they don’t take the time to make themselves.
  12. Pay strict heed to portion control.  Americans eat way too much.  Have balanced meals and use whole grains, but be wise about how much you eat.  I can make a batch of tortillas for 42 cents.  If I divide the batch and put some away before we eat them, we are not tempted to eat more than we need and they last for another meal.  For one person, a batch will make enough tortillas for the whole week, eating 2 tortillas a day.  Put the extras in the fridge or freezer for other days. 
  13. Make things using less expensive ingredients.  If you make a batch of muffins, instead of making some with chocolate chips or nuts in them, stick to something inexpensive like banana muffins made from ripe bananas at a reduced price.  You can freeze your muffins in packages of 1 or 2 and they will last a couple of weeks for 1 person.  Make egg salad instead of lunchmeat.  Use refried beans instead of meat in tacos. 
  14. Buy things on sale and plan meals around sale items.  Make a meal plan, but plan it according to what is on sale that week. 
  15. Be flexible when you shop.  Take advantage of free or very inexpensive items that you find while shopping.  You can adjust your meal plan if necessary to eat things that expire soon. 
  16. Use the bulk section to buy smaller quantities of spices, etc. when you just need a little bit.  They may be more expensive per ounce, but you can buy exactly what you need and no more.
  17. Stockpile:  This will take time, but this will be another important key to successfully living on a strict budget.  It will take a few months to get some extra items, but if you are careful to buy deeply discounted items especially in the beginning, you will see your stockpile grow.  This is hard at first, but the more you do it, you will have a greater variety of food and a bigger stockpile. 
  18. Sign up for free samples.  Even if you get a granola bar or a little box of cereal, they will make a difference.  Little things add up.  Manufacturer’s give samples of shampoo and other items too.  You can save yourself some money by signing up for free items.  If you aren’t brand loyal, it is fun to try new things and have more variety.    
  19. When you buy milk or bread, buy the cheapest size and freeze what you won’t use before it spoils.  Use your freezer to your advantage.  You will save money and you won’t waste food.  
  20. Get meat for free.  Many times there are ads in the free section for chickens, goats, etc.  If you don’t mind doing your own butchering, this is a great opportunity.  In our area, there are many people who love to hunt, but don’t want to eat the meat.  Keep your ears open or post something in the paper that you would love free deer or elk.  You may get more than you can use! 
Even though food prices are rising, you can keep your food budget to a minimum by following these guidelines. 

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