A few weeks ago I happened upon a YouTube video from “Frugal Fit Mom” where she showed how she could feed her family of six for a week on $60 — $10 per person. I watched and thought about the fact that I spend that and more just on me! It made me wonder if I could come up with a low-cost menu for myself that would still allow me to follow my nutritarian principles of getting most of my calories from foods with the highest nutrition: vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds.
I put together a two-week menu for $50 — so $25 per week. My $50 did not include spices or cooking oil — mostly because she didn’t count that. I also did not include my daily tablespoon of flax meal because it comes out to only a few cents per day, nor the teaspoon of date sugar that I put in my oatmeal. I “charged myself” $2 for using the variety of salad dressings I have in the fridge, because I generally get them on sale for $2 per bottle. And I charged myself $1 for popcorn because I buy big packages of it and then pop it in the microwave in a paper bag, so it costs maybe 15 cents each time I have some.
I finished this two-week challenge yesterday and it went really well. I had plenty to eat, I liked all the things I made, stuck with my nutritarian ways, and I saved money! I ended up going about $3 over budget, mostly because I realized I needed more fruit than I had allowed for. But I also ended up the week with left over potatoes, some carrots and onions, and half of the pineapple I bought, so I think it evened out.
And I will say that in order to make it work I had to go to multiple grocery stores to get the absolute lowest sale price — but I have the time and I like bargain hunting. Also, in order to make the budget work I had to cut out berries and mushrooms, and replace walnuts with peanuts and sunflower seeds — and I don’t want to do that forever. But for two weeks it was okay.
One things I discovered is that I really loved having my 2-week menu planned out. It was nice knowing what I was going to make, and knowing that all the groceries in my fridge had a purpose. And I found that it wasn’t that big of a deal to cook dried beans instead of using canned. They are about 1/4 the price, they are much lighter to carry home from the store, and I think it is a little more environmentally friendly not to have all those cans. And it was kind of fun to be a bargain hunter. It is amazing how much prices can vary store-to-store, and how saving a little bit here and there can add up.
Below is what I ate. The number in parenthesis is how many times I ate that meal.
Oatmeal & Apples (7)
Oatmeal & Mango (2)
Eggs Potatoes & Veggies (5)
Salad w/ Salmon Patty (4)
Salad w/ Avocado (2)
Broccoli Pasta Salad (4)
Salad w/ Peanuts & Grapes (3)
(had one lunch out)
Note: Salads typically included lettuce, red onion, tomato, grated carrot, cucumber, white beans.
Carrot Lentil Soup (4)
Tomato Pasta Veggie Soup (4)
Veggie Burger & Sweet Potato Fries (2)
Split Pea Soup (4)
popcorn, bananas, peanuts, sunflower seeds, extra apples, pineapple, peaches
And below are my actual prices from the grocery store. The items in italics are the estimated costs for pantry items. Things are listed multiple times when I bought them on multiple occasions and I wanted to record each individual price.
|Oatmeal (16 0z)||$1.39|
|Apples (3 lb bag)||$2.69|
|Potatoes (5 lb bag)||$1.49|
|Red Onion (3 lbs)||$1.49|
|Kale (small bunch)||$1.05|
|Leaf Lettuce (1 head)||$0.79|
|Leaf Lettuce (1 head)||$1.19|
|Peanuts (16 oz)||$1.79|
|Roma Tomatoes (5)||$1.67|
|Roma Tomatoes (4)||$0.50|
|Carrots (2.5 lb)||$1.39|
|Carrots (1 lb)||$0.79|
|Whole Wheat Pasta (16 oz)||$1.79|
|Salmon (14 oz can)||$2.95|
|Lentils (1 lb dried)||$0.99|
|White Beans (1 lb dried)||$1.59|
|Wheat buns (2) (partial package)||$0.75|
|Split Peas (1 lb dried)||$1.19|
|Black Beans (1/4 lb dry)||$0.32|
|Grapes (1 lb)||$1.00|
|Zucchini (1.5 lb)||$0.99|
|Can Crushed Tomatoes (24 oz)||$1.59|
|Raw Sunflower Seeds||$1.87|
|White Beans (1 lb dried)||$1.59|
|Peaches (4 small)||$1.15|
I’m not going to keep trying to eat for $25 per week, but I do want to try to be more frugal than I have been. And I might do this exact same 2-week plan again sometime — mostly because I really liked all the things I made!
I also decided my next two weeks will be an “eat up old stuff in the cupboards” challenge. That is another good way to be frugal, and good to the environment, since it keeps you from wasting food by letting it go bad. I have already planned out that menu and because it partly uses stuff I have my projected cost for the additional groceries is still about $50. So that means my grocery bill for one month will be about $100. Not bad — for me at least!
Here is the obligatory picture of some of my groceries for the week:
Here is a picture of one of the meals I made — a salad topped with a salmon patty made from canned salmon: