Monday, February 23, 2009

$30 a week Challenge

When Tami of Running with Tweezers asked if anyone was interested in participating in a challenge to only spend $30 on food for a week, I was totally on board. The $30 is a small bump up from the $23 national average per person that those receiving federal assistance receive for food per week.

doesn't seem like much, does it?

This couldn't come at a better time for me as, lately, I've been spending money on food with wild abandon. A not out of the ordinary day for me can look like this:

Breakfast: Latte & oatmeal from Starbucks at about $7

Lunch: Soup and fruit from Metro Fresh at about $13

Snacks: Diet cokes and/or some cereal from the work cafeteria at about $3

Dinner: Delivery ordered from at about $20

TOTAL: $43

Spending like this puts me at almost 10 times my budget this week - and that doesn't even include what I would spend to eat out on the weekends. Oy.

Yesterday, Extraface (who is also participating) and I went to the grocery store for some cheap eats for this week. We got some bread, peanut butter, beans, and corn flakes.

I'll document my participation on the challenge here. Anyone have any ideas on how to keep my spending on food down this week? How about any ideas on how to get fruit and veggies in?


Glue and Glitter said...

I'd make a couple of cheapo things that you can eat all week, like maybe a basic pasta dish and a bean stew or a chili.

If you're missing veggies, YDFM is hands down the cheapest place to score some! Local produce is usually cheaper, since you're not paying for it to travel so far in a refrigerated truck. Stuff like collards and lettuces are cheap right now, since they're in season. ooo and okra, which you can roast instead of frying, if you're trying to keep things healthy.

Good luck! I think this is a really cool challenge!

jimmy said...

I think YDFM has the best assortment of veggies at price that may fit your needs.

Beans, rice, potatoes, stewed meats, bake your own bread, homemade pizza, pasta + homemade sauce, gnocchi, chili, hmmmmm what else...

Good luck!

dirty said...

Good luck! This sounds like a challenge, but something that everyone could use to put things into perspective.

Sheila said...

Thanks for providing us with an interesting topic at dinner tonight. Which, (I'm feeling kinda guilty here,) since it's my husbands b-day we had filets from Shields, AND he had his leftover b-day cupcake from Quinones. Yeah. So you get the drift. Not a $30 meal, much less a $30 week.

So this is what we worked out, at least for week one anyway, and god, it would get boring:
Store brand cereal and a gallon of milk: $7; breakfast for a week.
A loaf of (again) cheap store brand bread and a big packet of lunchmeat. $6-8? Lunch for the week.

Ok, that leaves you with ~$16. A whole chicken, a big bag of rice, some veggies. A condiment or 2? Whatever's left might get you a half gallon of Kroger ice cream. Maybe.

No beer, no $3 buck chuck, no soda. It's easy see how someone's budget can be ruined by a few beers or a trip to McDonalds. Worse, how nutritious can this be, week in and week out?

I think this might be a good exercise for all of us. I really admire you for experiencing it.

JeNi said...

Can't wait to see how it goes! Good luck

Anonymous said...

A well-edited trip to YDFM and a pot of soup are in order. Some of my favorites are homemade lentil soup (carrot, onion, lentils, broth and a little spice), homemade tomato soup and of course veggie chili is great and filling.


Karen Hilyard said...

If you want cheap, to-die-for food, I highly recommend making "artisan bread in five minutes a day." No -- this is not some back-to-nature, labor-intensive project -- when they say five minutes, they mean five minutes. And it makes artisan loaves like you would buy at Panera or other places for about 50 cents a loaf. Delicious for dipping in olive oil or making paninis, plus it can make toast and PBJs seem slightly gourmet. The basic recipe has been on NPR and in Mother Earth News -- video segments are on Youtube and the cookbook authors also have a website. No special culinary skills required, but you must have a pizza stone -- about 10 bucks at Target. The whole wheat version makes a scrumptious loaf for about a buck. Can you tell that I am now a total evangelist for this recipe? I am making fresh bread almost every day now -- took it to a potluck last night and got rave reviews.

Anonymous said...

You need 1) cheap calories (carbohydrates, such as pastas, and some fat), to fuel your body; 2) essential nutrients like proteins, vitamins, and minerals 3) some luxuries to keep you sane.

It is not difficult, but it'll cost a lot of time and hassle. You need to visit a lot of stores and compare prices. And revisit them for special offers. Packet sizes differ, so you always need check the price per pound for a fair comparison. Larger quantities are usually cheaper, but check the use-before date.

Important protein sources are: all kinds of beans, dairy products, fish, meat. These will take a big part of your budget, so you will do a lot of calculating: how little is acceptable for my body, how much is acceptable for my wallet.

It looks like reverse dieting: you must always check if you are taking enough.

The prices of fruits and vegetables vary a lot by season. You don't need to read books to find out which season is for which fruit, just go to the store and see what is cheap. Don't worry if they are transported from far in refrigerated trucks, the current price is all you need to know. Because of their perishable nature, you can often find great offers on fresh produce if it approaches its expiry date. Of course, then, you must eat it the same day or the next.

Note that some fatty products, despite their bad reputation, are a cheap source of fuel (calories) and, more importantly, some fats contain certain vitamins that you don't get elsewhere.

Lastly, use luxury food to mark special moments of the day or special days of the week. But only after you determined how much you can afford.

Sofia Britts said...

Kellog's Special K costs less and really good for breakfast. There are lots of alternative snacks and lunch meals that are cheaper than $2. Consider veggies for a week, and a little meat. It'll make big difference. Though in reality, applying for payday loans online is needed because money is really tough these days. Everybody needs some extras to survive.