I've posted before about trying to control our grocery budget. We still spend way too much money, so this isn't about a miracle fix.
There was an interesting article in the Post-Dispatch on Sunday about a couple of poeple who attempted to eat for a week on $25.38--the amount of foodstamps that a disabled person would receive.
I was intrigued to see what the various people bought with their money. One guy eschewed vegetables and fruit in favor of ice cream. One, a chef (I think), bought flour and eggs for making his own pasta. All three participants relied heavily on pb&j.
It got me thinking what I could come up with for $25.38. Heck, with flour, oatmeal, eggs, brown sugar, butter, peanut butter, and jelly, I'm 90% of the way to a large variety of yummy home baked goods. Add some yeast, baking powder, and cinnamon and I could make my own bread, cinnamon rolls, my favorite jelly muffins (maybe I should post that recipe..its very kid-helper friendly), oatmeal cookies, peanut butter cookies, pizza crust...The list is really quite large. I guess salt wasn't in the shopping list, but I'm assuming that any desperate baker could filch salt packets from a fast-food store. White sugar would be better in some recipes than brown, or maybe some of both, but I could work around it. I like to bake with wheat flour (I use 1/2-1/2 wheat-white in a lot of normal recipes), so I know I would miss that, and it's more expensive than white flour.
For protein, but peanut butter does ok, and some folks afforded chicken breasts (though a whole chicken might be cheaper by the pound). Vegetables can get pricey, but for one person, a couple of onions, carrots, celery, and a bell pepper can do quite a lot. Actually, that sounds a lot like the chicken soup I made over the weekend.
None of the folks went for (cheap!) rice--bought in bulk and steamed, it's filling (even the long-grain or brown stuff is cheap when bought dry). Dried beans are also filling, and full of protein. With some dried red beans, a can of tomatoes, onions and bell peppers, and about 1/3-1/2 pound of ground beef (plus spices...which could get pricey), I could make enough chili to last me 2-3 meals. Eggs are also a cheaper source of protein (though they get more expensive every day lately).
If I had my family's support, I would be willing to try the challenge, if I had access to my pantry full of spices :). I think it would be hard to talk my husband into pb&j sandwiches every day, and to not drink soda (which would be a big budget buster). But for 4 of us, I could totally feed us, and feed us well, for $100 a week. I think.
Funny, I say that, and yet I still complain that we spend more than double that on groceries....
Also, after thinking through all of this, I have come to a realization. The next time we donate food to a food bank, I'm totally including spices. I can't imagine a kitchen without at least cinnamon, some basic herbs, and good chili powder.