Monday, October 06, 2008

How little could you spend on groceries?

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.

1 comment:

Kathy G said...

The $25.38 breaks down to $3.62 a day.
On September 25th I tracked the cost of my food for the day and posted the results.

I completely agree with you that the participants in the article didn't make the best food choices. You could tell they weren't experienced cooks.

Interesting idea to donate spices to the food pantry...