Monday, August 10, 2009

Feed a family of 4 for under $100 per week

Becky over at Suburban Matron unknowingly reminded me that I had written this post weeks ago (she'll be sorry I'm sure). I've been holding it in reserve for a time when I just didn't have anything. Well, that time is now.

It can be done. I have a family of 3 adults and we get by on about $75. This figure does not include wine. Sure, I may think it's a food group but others don't. Idiots! It's a fruit.

I suspect that when the Boy goes back to college in 2 weeks this amount will drop a little. With JR still commuting to Dallas every Monday our August food bill should be much less than $400.

One of the best ways to spend less on your groceries is to stop buying prepared foods. No easy task you say. I totally understand. One could get in the habit of buying these items. Your life is busy. Work, family, commuting, shopping, and just life in general can get in the way of making meals from scratch. But, truly with a little bit of planning you can easily get out of the pre-made food habit.

I've talked about it before but I'll say it one more time. On your days off cook rice, potatoes, soak and cook beans, and boil up a couple of types of pasta. All these things store very well and can be used throughout the week. By pre-cooking staples you can save time and money.

Another bonus of making these staples ahead of time is that you are serving foods that are closest to their original form. When foods are processed they lose a lot of their nutritional value. Pre-made food is also packed with salt and preservatives.

Oh sure, that box of mac & cheese is calling to you but resist. That little package of powdered cheese is not real cheese. It is more like crack than cheese. I call it crack cheese. I can't even purchase this stuff because I can't resist it. That orange, (not found in nature), powdery goodness calls to me. Add the 1/4 cup butter, (the real stuff thank you very much), and cream, (because skim milk is for pussies), and you've got a cancer/heart attack recipe that I can not pull myself away from. Please don't call my cardiologist.

This is from a msnbc article about how to feed your family of 4 for $100 per week. You can see why I focused of it.

Become a flexitarian

Make beans the "meat" in some of your dishes.

One of the healthiest ways to save money is to swap meat for beans as your protein source a few meals a week. Packed with high amounts of protein, fiber, and antioxidants, "beans are one of the healthiest foods on the planet," Sass says. They are also one of the cheapest things you can find in your grocery store, especially if you buy them dry and soak and cook them yourself. Try them in burritos, soups, chili, and salads.

Cutting back on meat is not just good for your wallet, it's good for
your health as well. Most Americans far exceed the recommended meat and protein allowances for our diet, and with that meat can come unwanted saturated fat.

Okay, so I'm a bit obsessed. The meat industry can bite me. Go Meatless on Mondays!

From the same article:

Grow your own

Try budget-friendly backyard gardening.

Gardening can be a fun way to cut food costs and get your kids interested in fresh fruit and vegetables. And it's not as hard as you might think, says gardening expert Rosalind Creasy, author of Recipes from the Garden.

For first-timers, she recommends starting out with a small summer
plot of tomatoes, peppers, beans, zucchini, and herbs. Broccoli, lettuce, and chard can be planted in the fall.

Find a sunny spot in anywhere in the yard. Turn over the soil, add compost and a little organic plant food, and then plant your seedlings or seeds. Water regularly. If you have more veggies than you can use, freeze them to use in winter months.

If you need help deciding what and when to plant, check out the National Gardening
Association’s food gardening guide.

The first thing that JR and I do when we move into a house is plan for our garden. Sometimes it is a large plot or sometimes it is pots sitting on the patio or deck. We've grown tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, eggplant, and zucchini in pots. Herbs and tomatoes are the easiest. Corn is the hardest but anything can be grown in a pot.

I saw the coolest thing awhile back. Urban gardens were being grown in those solid plastic kiddie pools.

This is so perfect. They are small enough to go on a patio, in a small yard or on a roof top. They are deep enough to grow everything except maybe the longest carrots. And, if you put them in a place where you can walk around it to weed and harvest you'll save yourself some bending and stretching. Oh and, they are cheap. Whoever thought of this was a genius. There is a ton of information out there. Here's some info if you want to give it a try. Here in Houston I have to start now because we have two growing seasons; spring and fall. I'll be heading out to buy 2 or 3 of them next week.

Kiddie pool gardens:

Do any of you cook ahead? Do you grow veggies in pots or in a garden? Have you given up or cut down on the amount of meat that you eat? Are you eating out of your pantry (I said pantry, you pervs).Inquiring minds want to know.



  1. Great post....good information. Love the pool idea. I have not been without a veggie garden since 1979. Unfortunately this year's is probably the worst in my history. I admit I don't fuss too much but I don't usually need to.

    And yes, orange cheese power....crack cheese....but it's sooo tasty!

  2. Ha! We're going meatless tonight! Today's menu is black beans and rice and broccoli with some fresh cantaloupe. YUM!

  3. I've also written about this. I avoid processed foods anyway (I don't like the way most of them taste), and have had a backyard garden every year since I've moved to Ohio. My herbs, peppers, leeks and celery are doing well, but my zucchini have some sort of fungus that I can't get rid of and Ohio is suffering from a tomato blight - I'm not going to have nearly the amount of tomatoes this year I have in the past.

    And now I want beans and cornbread for dinner.

  4. I really, really liked this post. I feel like I just read an article in a national mag or something. Really.

    I will be re-reading this one again!

  5. Awesome post! That kiddie pool idea is genius.

    And a big thing for us is the flexitarian, less meat thing. I think my husband and I both think that dinner involves meat. We need to change that habit.

  6. Very interesting. Great info. Did you know there is a variety of carrot which grows in a ball-shape (a bit like a radish) for people who want to grow carrots in their kiddy-pool garden?

  7. My husband complains that we don't eat out enough. My cooking is too good, he says.

    If I am going to have the luxury of being a stay at home wife (corporate world, I do not miss you, just your money), then I will do the work of not wasting money. Not wasting money means line-drying clothes, doing home repairs myself, getting movies from the library, and, of course, doing the cooking. There is the added advantage that I am a really good cook so why pay someone else?

    But you will take my meat out of my cold, dead hands. :)

  8. Mmmmmmm, mac-n-cheese. We can't keep it in our house of Graham wouldn't eat anything else, ever.

    Meat CAN suck it but I can't get behind the idea of eating beans as a substitute. How about nuts? I'm trying that kiddie pool idea soon.