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$50 per week food budget  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Location: South Central PA
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One thing that really makes your food dollar stretch is meal planning. I used to feed 2 adults and an occasional guest on $25 USD a week, with $7 being devoted to fresh flowers every 2 weeks. Every week I would write out our meals for 1 week, and choose recipes to vary the cuisine every day so it wasn't boring, planned on leftover amounts for lunches, and kept one day as a wild card for extra leftovers or if we splurged to go out. I'd look through my recipes and if (for example) Monday I chose an Indian dish that used 1/2 of a red and green pepper, I'd find maybe a Mexican recipe to use up those other 1/2's for Tuesday. I planned for 3 meals that I could eat as mains, that hubby would treat as a side while he would add meat to his meal (I'm vegetarian) and the rest we were both eating meatless. As long as I only bought what would make those recipes and nothing more, I had very little waste and normally didn't exceed my budget. Any scraps of vegg went into a bag in the freezer and when full became stock. We buy our grains/spices at Indian and Asian markets nearby, and the rest was from our farmers market. I've since given in to convenience and buying from a regular grocery due to a kitchen reno from hell and times the markets are open, which has increased my spending but I hope to get back to my meal-planning routine soon.
Edited to include all the other stuff at grocery stores: Also, we found reasonable savings, switching from disposable head razors to an old school type that you drop the flat double-edged blade into and using saving bar soap instead of the can version. Regular moisturizers and such were replaced by homemade, trash bags were reduced hugely by not creating as much waste, and shampoo I've started using a large bottle of an all natural type  that 1 bottle lasts us over about a year.
 
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For your dogs and cats, consider using road kill.  Opt for the freshest road kill,  and you could cook it, but some wild rabbit, or squirrel, or ground hog, or deer that was road kill would be great for your pets.  
Fresh or cooked, good meat, no fillers. You know where it came from.  Don't forget to feed the organ meat.  Also if you are cooking down chicken carcass for broth cook until the bones will crumble. Then you can
mush the bones up and a have a good mineral supplement for your animals.  IF you aren't too squeamish, then you can actually eat road kill too if it is fresh. I haven't done it, but I would if I had too.

My husband recently hit a deer. I was willing to have him bring home the deer so I could butcher it but my freezers were full and I had no room for it. It was a shame for it to go to waste. He actually tried
to bring the deer home but it was so big that he could not lift it onto the back of our truck. He was driving our one ton flat bed truck at the time.  It was an 8 point buck, Ohio corn feed.  I need to get another freezer. We had one
die or we would have had room and I have a hog I need to butcher and put in the freezer.

Also, a long time ago, I made my own dog food. I used rice and the meat that was left under the saw when they cut the meat. I paid five cents a pound for it but that was about 20 years ago though.

Good luck.

Bonnie
 
pollinator
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R Ranson wrote:

Now lentils on the other hand... They just don't work for me.



I agree, the brown ones need a LOT of disguise.  However, give the red ones a try.  They don't have as strong a flavor, and blend well with other vegetables.
 
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I live on disability, so I have a pretty small budget.  I've been trying to cut back on grocery prices---it seems that they have shot way up in the last month or so.  Has anyone else noticed this?

I'm pretty flexible on food, as long as I'm not allergic to it, but my bf is very rigid in his eating habits.  That's a big problem for eating cheaply.  He never wants to eat the same thing 2 days in a row.  

I've been eliminating the few packaged things that I still buy, like frozen waffles and gluten free bread.  Being gluten and dairy free eliminates almost all breads, cookies, cakes, etc,  I love all kinds of beans, but they don't love me.  I've found that black beans seem to give me the least digestive problems.  I also buy my own masa and make tortillas and tamales.  I can't eat dairy or gluten, but corn bread is a great substitute.  I save fat scraps from any meat I buy and render it.  I just got 8oz of beautiful tallow off 3.5# of tri-tip I bought on sale.  I skim the fat off of any chicken soup I make, and use it as schmaltz.  I also render fat from raw chickens if I'm going to bake or roast it.  

Where you live, you should look into growing tepary beans.  They can grow on 1 or 2 good rains.  I've heard they are easier to digest.

I live in a very expensive city, where I don't have a lot of choices for cheap supermarkets.  I've found Asian markets tend to have the best prices on things like rice, but I don't always trust them.  I hear a lot of horror stories about stuff from China.

I have gleaned some greens from the park in the past, but I am put off it lately because there are so many homeless pooping and peeing there, not to mention dogs.

I have 3 small dogs.  I buy chicken leg quarters or whole chickens and boil them up with greens, carrots and sweet potatoes.  I throw in about 1/4 cup (each dog) good dog food, like Natural Choice.  My dogs just don't tolerate a lot of brands.  I give them vitamins 1-2 times a week, along with some calcium powder.  Sometimes I alternate with rice instead of potatoes.  Sometimes I eat the food I make them.  I buy hamburger in the big family packs and divide it up and freeze it.  Dogs also get some once a week or so.  I also give them cheap tuna once a week.  I make chili, meatloaf, home made hamburger helper, etc.  I also buy pork on sale, and they often have good deals on bacon.  Pork shoulder I cook with onion, garlic, cumin and a bit of red pepper until it falls apart.  Then I fry it for carnitas.  I render the fat out of the cooking water.  

Eggs are your friend.  Custards are nice, good for breakfast.  It's easy to grow things like peppermint and other herbs for tea.  One stevia plant, and you don't need sugar.

Check out "Depression Cooking" on Youtube.  I got a great recipe from her using potatoes and hotdogs.  Very tasty.  

I don't like fish much.  If I did, I'd get a license and go fishing, since it's right across the street.



 
pollinator
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My lentils go into my 'bread' so I don't notice them.  Here is my recipe. Tools 1 double boiler pot, 1 coffee mill, heat source that will keep the water simmering.
In the bulk section I buy millet, lentils, golden flax, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, I used to buy pumpkin seeds but now I raise my own so I also add the dried pumpkin flesh to the mix. There are a large variety of other seeds available so I change the mix from time to time and I am experimenting with growing my own.
Procedure: put one scoop oily seed and one scoop dry seed in the coffee mill or blender together so that they do not come out as a cloud of dust or a gummy ball. I use scoops that came in supplement powders that are too expensive to buy now. I add real salt to the millet/chia and turmeric to the sunflower/lentil and pie spice to the pumpkin/flax I can also add variety by folding in crystallized ginger, chocolate chips,raisins or other dried fruit.
Before I start grinding I put water on to boil in the bottom kettle. As I grind each batch I add it to the top bowl and stir the mix together making a well in the center to add enough cold water to moisten all the ingredients to prevent clumping when I stir in the hot water then put it on top of the simmering water. It can cook this way for up to 4 hours as long as the water does not boil away. the longer it cooks the more bread like it becomes. so it has become my custom to put it on when I make my breakfast smoothie and then have it for lunch when I come back to the house. This costs me about $20 a month, I spend more on avocados for my smoothie.  
 
master steward
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John Elliott wrote: If you look at cuisines that have had to feed peasants on some starch and beans, you find that they add LOTS of spices to make them palatable.  What Chinese, Indian, and Mexican cuisine have in common is that the spices make the unappetizing edible.  Authentic Chinese cuisine can take the grossest critters out of the sea, add soy and ginger and garlic and hot peppers, until you can't recognize what it is, but it tastes pretty good.  Even sea cucumber becomes edible. It probably would if it was cooked up in some Indian curry too. If all you have for the bulk of your calories is a sackful of beans and some rice or potatoes, mixing in strong flavors is what makes it work.



I have always felt that Chinese and Cajun foods are basically lots of leftovers.  Those two cuisines are what I eat most often.  

Right now I have a big pot of gumbo that I have been working on for several days.  It started out as chicken thighs that I cooked in the oven.  The second day I cut the chicken off the bones and had chicken salad.  Usually my chicken salad is just chicken with lettuce, tomato and oil/vineger dressing.  I frozen the bones, then thawed them for bone broth. After removing the bones, I added a cup of rice which I cooked in the broth then added bell pepper, onion and tomatoes, leftover sausage which was also in the freezer and spices.  It is not authentic since I didn't make a roux.  Gumbo for me is a great breakfast and lunch and since the bones were frozen I got two weeks of meals from one package of chicken thighs that were 79 cents a pound or I might have gotten them from the 10 lb. bag of leg quarters that were 59 cents a pound.

Another really cheap dish that I make is the Cajun dirty rice.  

Joy Oasis wrote:Sprouting your own sprouts can be quite cheap as 2 tablespoons of small seed such as clover, make full quart size jar of very nutritious sprouts. Not many calories, but tons of vitamins/minerals/healing nutrients. Some of the seeds like buckwheat can be bought from bulk bin. And outside winter wouldn't be a problem, not that you have that problem in your climate.



I use sprouts in the winter as a supplement for veggies that are not growing in the garden.  I have done beans from the grocery store which makes getting the seed a lot cheaper.  When I have sprouts I make Chow mein much the same way as I make gumbo above.  But the spices are different, no tomatoes, and the bean sprouts need to be cooked with the onion and bell pepper.  I have not found a way to make the crispy chow mein noodles like you buy in the can at the store so I do without.



 
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I remember a lesson in school where I learned that beans and a grain of some sort were the most consumed foods in the world.   The reason is that the amino acids in grains and beans complement each
other to form complete proteins that are as good as meat proteins.   In the USA  corn and wheat are popular grains and can be eaten with any kind of beans and cornbread ( or regular bread- wheat)
and beans is a favorite of mine.   In many parts of the world rice is consumed greatly and I like it as well with just about any kind of bean.    Today in this thread I learned about nixtalmization of corn
and turning into hominy and Masa.     As the USA is the worlds largest producer and exporter of corn I cannot believe that more of the society is not better educated as to the advantages of
processing the corn into Masa and or Hominey.   What a huge waste of nutrition that is going on worldwide by not treating the corn.    
Along those lines since I raise pet ducks and feed them  a lot of chicken scratch,   I have concluded by testing that after grinding up the chicken scratch that a most excellent cornbread can be made
and since it is made with several different grains it must also be more nutritious.     Throughout the entire thread there has been no mention of soybeans and that is surprising since they
have the highest concentration of protein of any plant.    I believe many asian cusines feature soybeans and some in different forms such as tofu   but I have found that when I cook red or black
beans in a pot with hambone for flavor I can add up to a third of soybeans and not taste them at all yet all the additional protein is available.   Again, the beans require a grain which is typically
rice, wheat or corn but there are many other grains I am not familiar with.
Incidentially many here may be surprised to find that black beans 1st and red beans 2nd in the level of anti-oxidents  to prevent disease and cancer etc just like wine and grapes.   So for many
years when it comes to bean eating I always have either the black beans or dark red beans.....    It is the deep rich color to look for like red wines.


 
gardener
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A lot do not like eating soybeans... and they are one food that is turning up more and more GMO... like a lot of corn and corn syrup products in the US.

That said I am getting mine from http://www.laurasoybeans.com/50-pounds-of-non-gmo-laura-soybeans/  which is close to a bushel and last for a while. They started shipping the November 2016 crop a few weeks ago. Gluten free, their rotation crop is non-gmo corn.

If you know a local farmer friend that is growing non-gmo soybeans that are being raised organically, without all the sprays and such, they might give you a five gallon pail or two just for the asking.
 
Anne Miller
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Scott Perkins wrote:Throughout the entire thread there has been no mention of soybeans and that is surprising since they
have the highest concentration of protein of any plant.



Usually women do not eat soy due to it messing up their estrogen. The below article doesn't mention that although it gives other reason for not eating soy.

"Soy is not healthy, it can cause health problems, and it’s widespread use is destructive to the planet… don’t eat it! ... Besides the lectin and phytic acid in soybeans, they aren’t the complete protein source they are touted to be. Like all beans, they lack the amino acids Methionine and Cystine. While they are often promoted for being able to provide Vitamin B-12 to those eating a vegetarian diet, the Vitamin B-12 in soybeans can not be used by the body and actually cause the body to need more B-12."

http://wellnessmama.com/3684/is-soy-healthy/
 
Anne Miller
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Bonnie Johnson wrote:My husband recently hit a deer. I was willing to have him bring home the deer so I could butcher it but my freezers were full and I had no room for it. It was a shame for it to go to waste. He actually tried
to bring the deer home but it was so big that he could not lift it onto the back of our truck. He was driving our one ton flat bed truck at the time.  It was an 8 point buck, Ohio corn feed.  I need to get another freezer. We had one
die or we would have had room and I have a hog I need to butcher and put in the freezer.



It is best to check you state laws before picking up a roadkill deer.  In many states, and in Texas it is illegal to pick up a deer that was hit by a car. And a person could be fined.

In some places I have heard that you can call the Sheriff's Dept and they might pick it up and offer it to people.  I have only heard this and its probably not reliable information.

http://tpwd.texas.gov/faq/huntwild/general_questions.phtml

"A deer has been hit on the highway, what do I do?
A1: If the deer is just injured call your local game warden dispatcher. If you are absolutely sure the deer is dead, you may move it off the roadway and leave it there. Texas Department of Transportation will remove the dead animal. It is illegal to tag the deer (or any game animal for that matter) and take it with you. "

This is off topic but I felt this must be explained since there has been several suggestions about road kill.
 
gardener
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Ludi,

I know you are stressed and worried right now, but you are one of the smartest and most resourceful ladies I know. Your input here at Permies has been a wealth of experience, knowledge and skills. This time in your life will be one you will look back on and say, "I faced the challenge. I made a plan. I relied on my inner strength and I did okay." Keep in mind that this is only temporary. I hope your new business venture takes off and does well.

There's a bunch of great posts here. Evidence that there are many people that care about you. We can be your support. You're not going to be alone.

I have been through hard times too. Several years ago, I was nearly homeless. Home was a '74 Mercury Comet. I slept on paper bags full of my belongings in the back seat.

During this time, one of my best discoveries was when I learned that one of the grocery stores in town threw out their frozen food on the same day each week. There was nothing wrong with it. It was just passed its expiry date. It had been frozen and was still frozen when I got it. I would either cook it on a campfire or go to a friend's house and share my bounty in exchange for them cooking it. I know you said that you'd rather not dumpster dive but for me at that time it was sure worth it. And, since I knew when to show up, it was always a score. The first time I ever had lobster, it was obtained by these means. I would get packets of salt, pepper, mayo, mustard and ketchup from the serve yourself area in fast-food restaurants.

Like I said, this was several years ago and many stores give to food banks and shelters now. But, I have been told (by the Walmart meat dept employees) that some places are limited on what they are allowed to take. So it may still be worth checking on.

Scarlet O'Hara said, in Gone With the Wind, "If I have to lie, cheat or steal, I will never be hungry again." Therefore, I hope God forgives me for the couple of times I stole several ears of field corn from what I could reach by the roadside. Just saying...you do what you have to.

As far as food for the dogs, I remember the vet telling me that dogs who ate cheap dogfood or even missed an occasional meal were actually healthier than dogs who ate high dollar dogfood on regular schedules. Reason being that lots of high dollar dogfood was formulated for rapid growth and that only made for more brittle bones in his opinion. I buy mid-priced dogfood and if I'm having meat for dinner I'll add the trimmings or unseasoned broth to the dogfood.

When one of my dogs was in her last days and refusing her regular food, I would get beef trimmings from a small local convenience store. They got one cow for butchering every Thursday. I'd cook them and mix it with rice. (Some trimmings were nice enough for me, too.)

Just an idea here, there are many couponing websites now. I've always been amazed at the stories of people getting huge amounts of groceries for very little money. Some sites like Couponmom, Coupon diva and the Krazy Coupon Lady seem to make it easier by pointing out deals where you live. Anyone here have experience with these sites? I've only done a little with them myself (due to unreliable internet connection and no printer), but found some great deals using their sites and coupons from my local newspaper.

I don't know what you will think of this but...you have lots of artistic talent. Your embroidery is beautiful and if you sold only a few each month, that could double your food budget. Now, being close to Christmas, would be a good time to try this. Etsy? eBay? Local shop?

Wishing you health, happiness and brighter days ahead.
 
Deb Rebel
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Beware on couponing, as it's often for the mainline brandname stuff and sitting next to it is the store brand that's just as good or better, for less than what the brand name with coupon will snag you.

Many great suggestions on here on how to find cheaper food and stretch your budget.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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That is true, Deb. Sometimes it is better to use the coupon and sometimes not. I find it useful to carry a calculator in my pocketbook. The best deals I found were using store coupons with manufacturer coupons for the same item.
 
Deb Rebel
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Karen Donnachaidh wrote:That is true, Deb. Sometimes it is better to use the coupon and sometimes not. I find it useful to carry a calculator in my pocketbook. The best deals I found were using store coupons with manufacturer coupons for the same item.



Also the local store sometimes will put something on 'sale' as it is going to go up in price, and if you read the shelf tagging, the item is still priced at the old price, the sale price tag is higher, and the retail shelf price it quotes is higher than the shelf price. I will take my tech toy, take a picture of the shelf tagging, then when I get to the register explain it and show the clerk the tagging picture. I will get it at the pre 'sale' and pre price hike price. I will usually pick up a few more at the time to get the unintended sale on the item. *IF* I have a coupon then, I get the best deal.

Beware of size/unit pricing. Sometimes a different size is cheaper even though it's smaller. Just pay attention as you shop as well, to get and find those deals.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Good points there, too. The size of the product and price per unit is another reason I carry the calculator. Never was great at math, but it's necessary in shopping.

And, their 'sales', wink wink, are why you should know or carry a list of what you usually pay for that item.

Here is a sample of Coupon Mom site that I cut and paste:

****************
View full Walmart deals list here
Buy 8- Nabisco Go Paks Nutter Butter Bites Sandwich Cookies, 3.5 oz  FREE + $0.14 PROFIT
Buy 1- Barilla Basil Pesto, 6.3 oz  FREE + $0.22 PROFIT
Buy 1- Zantac Acid Reducer 150Mg, 24 ct FREE + $0.42 PROFIT —Print Coupon
Buy 2- Dannon Whole Milk Yogurt, 5.3 oz  FREE —Print Coupon
Buy 1- Four Monks Cleaning Vinegar, 24 fl oz  FREE + $0.28 PROFIT —Print Coupon
Buy 1- Free Produce Item  FREE
Buy 1- Clearasil Acne Cream 1 oz  FREE
Pay at Register: $19.05
Get: $21.07 back from Ibotta, Checkout 51 and a mail-in rebate
Net Cost: 15 FREE ITEMS + $2 PROFIT
View full Walmart deals list here
Don’t forget to sign up for cash back apps such as Checkout 51 and Ibotta to earn money back on every day items. If you are also new to Ibotta then get an automatic $10 bonus just for signing up and redeeming your first rebate.
*******************

It's not always where there's that much of the stuff you regularly use listed for free, but there are free and very cheaply priced deals.

(Edit: Carry a list of the price you usually pay for those items you use and buy regularly.)
 
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When I was in University, I had to live on the cheap.  50 bucks a week is tight though.

Crock pot and various kinds of beans, flavored with ham, sausage or bacon was the core.  

Here we have "Bulk Barn" which is a store full of bins.  Not everything is cheaper.  You need to carry a notebook and keep records.

We also have Costco.  There is a lot of overprocessed stuff in overly large bags, but they also have good prices on other things.

IGA here has a supplier, The Grocery People, that is open to the public.  If you buy case lots, you get good prices.  E.g. at one point  box of bell peppers was about the same price as buying a dozen at Safeway.  Your freezer is your friend.  Chop, blanch, freeze.

Bake your own bread.  If you like variety, "Artisanal bread in 5 minutes a day" Fast, easy.

***

You need to get good at storage.  5 gallon food grade pails with removable lids.  A proper pantry.  Hoard 1 gallon glass jars.  (Ask for them at Restaurants)  This allows you to buy a box of spaghetti, not 1 pound packages.  You buy a 40 pound bag of brown sugar.  That goes in 2 pails.  The 1 gallon jar is refilled from the pail as needed.  The 1 quart jar above the stove gets refilled from the 1 gallon jar.  

We have a shed.  The shed has an old non-working chest freezer in it.  This is a mouse proof storage bin for sacks of dogwood, sacks of sugar.  

We have 2 freezers on the porch.  This reduces their power usage considerably and allows us to split a side of beef with a neighbor, and to buy a lamb each year.  (We no longer are on a 50 buck a week budget, but we are still frugal.)

With a good storage system, it means you can take advantage of sale items.

***

Locally Save On Foods has First Tuesday.  15% off of everything in the store, plus price matching any current ad.  We do our monthly stock up here.

There are some clever apps out there for tracking prices.  Means you have to spend an hour once a week going through the flyers noting prices

***
You need to learn to think in an annual pattern.  Fresh produce goes thorugh a cycle.  Avocados, and fruit that doesn't store well is much cheaper at certain times of the year.  Fruit that is more or less year round available due to good storage, (apples)  or continuous availability  (oranges, bananas) tend to be more even.  But canned goods are often cheap in fall -- they are clearing the warehouse of the last of last year's stuff.  Flour is cheap in fall.  Sugar may or may not be.  Sometimes it's high for canning season.  If you know what the normal price is, then you will know a good sale.

***

Here we have a 'fruit rescue' group.  People who have fruit trees let other people pick the surplus.  A share goes to the food bank.  This is an easy way to get all the apples you can store.   Not all apples keep equally well.  In general the late fall apples do better.  Crisp and tart keep better.  But you need to store and record.  

***

Consider a root cellar if you have room.  This is more complicated than you would wish because different produce has different storage requirements.  There are books written on this, but Mother Earth News has lots of articles.

***
There is a tradeoff between food and gas.  Driving across town to get a buck off a 20 pound bag of rice isn't productive.

There is a tradeoff between time and money.  Spending 5 hours a week hunting for the best bargain may not be the best use of your time.

OTOH:  If you are good at it, start a local food newsletter on what's cheap this week.  Each letter also has articles on storage, pantry, yearly cycles.  All of those can be written ahead.  On whatever day the fliers come out, you go through and make lists.  The list goes into a spreadsheet -- do it as a google sheet, and send people the link.  Give people a 1 month trial subscription, and ask if it saved them 20 bucks.  Then charge them $20 a year.

 
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I go to town 2 times/month and go to the farmers market to get dairy. I grow the rest of my  fruits veg as well as corn and beans in the garden. I bulk buy organic grains and store them in the freezer and grind flour fresh.I don't use much grain.  I like to make waffles and breads with my sweet potatoes dried fruits and nuts. as a high protein staple . I raise rabbit and chicken and barter of other meats . I buy things like honey, oils ,spices, salt, pepper and coffee and sugar. We invested in a dehydrator and a grain grinder as well as canning supplies long ago. I do buy commercial food for my dog and cats as well as hay for my horses. My animals supply the fertilizer for the gardens.  
 
master pollinator
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Thank you everyone for all these great suggestions.

Thank you, Karen.  I do sometimes sell my embroidery.  
 
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Tyler,
I've been lurking for some years now and your posts are a favorite.  Somehow I seem to have lost several generations of "Yankee thrift" on my father's side and Scotch-Irish Cracker heritage on my mother's side so I have little of substance to offer when it come to being frugal.  I too lurk for inspiration.  
I do encourage ethnic stores.  I attended college in the late '50's in a dry county so there was no place for the whites to spend their money except houses and food so prices were exorbitant.  Although being white, we shopped in the black meat markets for less than half the cost of the white supermarkets.  As a social commentary, minimum wage was $1.05 so potatoes at 0.25 per 5# should be some $2.50 today.  
When we complained about the prices we were told that Heidelberg students in the 1600's carried hatchets to school to cut their bread and cheese they brought from home.  I suspect that they also brought along braids of onions, thus French onion soup?  After seeing the two story keg in Heidelberg, I also suspect a good portion of their nutrition came from there.  It's a shame beer no longer has enough nutrition to make it worthwhile.
Keep up the good work.  I hope to reach a tipping point on inspiration soon so I can reachieve some of my frugal heritage.
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:
Of regular dry beans, which would you recommend as the most nutritious and easiest to digest?  This might have been covered in another thread but I need a refresher.  I think it is kidney beans that are the most toxic?  I don't buy them.



I have a suspicion that this is different for different people.  

Gut bacteria seems to be a huge influence.  The more beans we eat, the more the bacteria in our gut adjusts to eating beans.  I think this is why they suggest starting with beans as a side dish or even as a condiment if you aren't used to eating beans, then slowly increase so that in a month or 6 you can have a full size helping three or 7 times a week.  Sally Fallon suggests adding live culture like sauerkraut juice or miso paste to beans just before serving them, which might help.

A big thing for me is fibre.  For anyone, sudden change in fibre consumption can cause major discomfort (or in some cases, hospitalisation).  If you have challenges in your gut, then quite often the doctors put you on zero or low fibre diet.  I think I'm 'supposed' to have no more than 2grams twice a day.  What the dietician at the hospital was confused about is the difference between soluble and insoluble fibre.  Her training is that all fibre is created equal.  My experience differs.  Insoluble fibre is very good at blocking up the gut, especially when one suddenly starts eating it.  However, chickpeas, favas, lentils, dry peas, and to some extent cow peas (basically Old World pulses) have more soluble fibre which I can handle.

I have a suspicion that genetic background plays a huge part in how easy/difficult some foods are to digest.  New World foods are more difficult for me to digest, but I do great on the food of my ancestors.  Everyone seems to be different.  

There's a bit about toxins in uncooked beans here.  I think the general consensus is that they are easier to digest if they are cooked thoroughly.  The fresher dry beans are, the less energy and time they take to cook, and possibly the easier they are to digest.    

 
Karen Donnachaidh
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One of my favorite recipes. It has many ingredients, but they are fairly
inexpensive to buy and some you may already have on hand. I usually
make a double batch so the effort is more worth the time spent prepping.
It freezes really well. When frozen on a cookie sheet and then put into a
container they stay separate so you can just grab however many you intend
to cook. No need to thaw first, just put in a skillet with a bit of oil.

Grits and Veggie Cakes  (DH calls them Fake Crab Cakes)

1C. Black eyed peas
1C. Cooked basmati rice
1C. Shredded green cabbage
1C. Shredded carrots
1/2C. Grated onion
1/2C. Quick cooking grits
1T. Finely chopped fresh thyme
1T. Finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 t. Seasoning salt
1t. Pepper
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1C. Unseasoned bread crumbs
Oil for frying

Cook rice and allow to cool.
In a large bowl, combine blackeyed peas, rice, cabbage, carrots, onion, grits,
thyme, garlic, seasoning salt and pepper. Stir until blended.

Add beaten eggs and enough bread crumbs to bind mixture together. Pack a
1/4C. measuring cup with the mixture. Then use your hands to flatten into 3" cakes.

Fry in oil until well browned on each side, drain on paper towel or paper grocery bag.
Should make 14 - 16 cakes.
 
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In my opinion, if using the grocery store, legumes are always to be part of the diet, on a daily basis in combination and alternation with tubers and grains. Vegetables and fruits with much more of a sparse regularity (start with thrice per week and expect to require less of them), their use tends to waver more than with the use of legumes grains and tubers, according to the seasons.

If available, include also in your meals [as the first course] fresh leaves (lettuces and sprouts): they provide access to digesting (extracting nutrition) from all sorts of food, raw or rare-cooked.  

Buy nuts only every 2 or 3 months in generous proportions (give preference to raw, or simply roasted with nothing added to them, they replenish the minerals/salts that actually should not be used as supplements in their isolated forms). If you buy too much it's okay but don't eat them if they are not fresh. Bake them when convenient. Don't binge nor use them as meal substitute on the basis of their taste or on their filling sensation (as with any other food, but especially with nuts). They can overwhelm your biological system for days and weeks if not eaten appropriately.

Remember, even with a very strict budget, you should not eat everything you buy in the case you become confused or undecided about the best approach for your well-being that day or time; health is continuously improved and developed and the soil can use your scraps as well for the coming seasons. Strive to keep your food always fresh, even before preparing it.

Also be aware that if you are taking your health seriously, as well as your finances, it will come the day in which you will not eat anything because your body is learning with all that you had for the past days - and perhaps even weeks. It may feel strange and uncomfortable after eating regularly, but don't look for more answers in your diet at that period - get physically active instead and get the answers from your body.

Averaging:
$15 for tubers
$10 for legumes
$15 for leaves and vegetables
$10 for grains

Allotment for each group can vary in relation to supply for fruits.
Coming weeks some of those $50 won't be spent and same nourishment levels will be achieved.
Don't hesitate to get more of each ingredient than you would otherwise: find your kitchen measurements after the grocery shopping measurements.

Make sure to use some of that money for reusable bags (that will last months on end before going to a recycling factory). Avoid buying or taking containers and plastic bags to make more from your cooking (except for plastic bags that you will reuse and glass vats for storage and stocks). Buy in bulk. Make the journey often to ensure freshness.
 
Alex Sonnenschein
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Karen Donnachaidh wrote:One of my favorite recipes. It has many ingredients, but they are fairly
inexpensive to buy and some you may already have on hand. I usually
make a double batch so the effort is more worth the time spent prepping.
It freezes really well. When frozen on a cookie sheet and then put into a
container they stay separate so you can just grab however many you intend
to cook. No need to thaw first, just put in a skillet with a bit of oil.

Grits and Veggie Cakes  (DH calls them Fake Crab Cakes)

1C. Black eyed peas
1C. Cooked basmati rice
1C. Shredded green cabbage
1C. Shredded carrots
1/2C. Grated onion
1/2C. Quick cooking grits
1T. Finely chopped fresh thyme
1T. Finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 t. Seasoning salt
1t. Pepper
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1C. Unseasoned bread crumbs
Oil for frying

Cook rice and allow to cool.
In a large bowl, combine blackeyed peas, rice, cabbage, carrots, onion, grits,
thyme, garlic, seasoning salt and pepper. Stir until blended.

Add beaten eggs and enough bread crumbs to bind mixture together. Pack a
1/4C. measuring cup with the mixture. Then use your hands to flatten into 3" cakes.

Fry in oil until well browned on each side, drain on paper towel or paper grocery bag.
Should make 14 - 16 cakes.



Any idea how long those calories are generating internal organic energy and how they may be preemptive to the next meal?

My experience is that cutting back completely on fried oil and eggs comes to be more sustainable, for the body and for the money.
The exact same recipe, without oil and without eggs, perhaps baked if not simply cooked or stir-fried instead of oil-fried (with the appropriate measure of water and settling) has proved much more effective both on short-terms (daily) and on long-terms (monthly).

If your diet has included both eggs and fried oil for a while the transition for the short-term, daily effectiveness has to be gradual (in the likeness of a detox), but eventually that recipe without oil and eggs could be your ideal meal. It is for me.
 
Alex Sonnenschein
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R Ranson wrote:

Tyler Ludens wrote:
Of regular dry beans, which would you recommend as the most nutritious and easiest to digest?  This might have been covered in another thread but I need a refresher.  I think it is kidney beans that are the most toxic?  I don't buy them.



I have a suspicion that this is different for different people.  

Gut bacteria seems to be a huge influence.  The more beans we eat, the more the bacteria in our gut adjusts to eating beans.  I think this is why they suggest starting with beans as a side dish or even as a condiment if you aren't used to eating beans, then slowly increase so that in a month or 6 you can have a full size helping three or 7 times a week.  Sally Fallon suggests adding live culture like sauerkraut juice or miso paste to beans just before serving them, which might help.

A big thing for me is fibre.  For anyone, sudden change in fibre consumption can cause major discomfort (or in some cases, hospitalisation).  If you have challenges in your gut, then quite often the doctors put you on zero or low fibre diet.  I think I'm 'supposed' to have no more than 2grams twice a day.  What the dietician at the hospital was confused about is the difference between soluble and insoluble fibre.  Her training is that all fibre is created equal.  My experience differs.  Insoluble fibre is very good at blocking up the gut, especially when one suddenly starts eating it.  However, chickpeas, favas, lentils, dry peas, and to some extent cow peas (basically Old World pulses) have more soluble fibre which I can handle.

I have a suspicion that genetic background plays a huge part in how easy/difficult some foods are to digest.  New World foods are more difficult for me to digest, but I do great on the food of my ancestors.  Everyone seems to be different.  

There's a bit about toxins in uncooked beans here.  I think the general consensus is that they are easier to digest if they are cooked thoroughly.  The fresher dry beans are, the less energy and time they take to cook, and possibly the easier they are to digest.    



Before thinking about Gut Bacteria, we must think about Gut Enzymes.

Gut Bacteria is a long-term built-up, varying by the condition of the Gut.
Gut Enzymes, however, are constantly generated by support organs (such as the liver and pancreas), regardless of Gut condition (except for acute advanced illnesses nearing organ/organic failure).

Digestion is a process sustained and promoted by Enzymes, not by Bacteria.
Bacteria makes use of food that is not being used by the stomach and its original digestive enzymatic process. Gut Bacteria is a delicate, complex relation, requiring understanding not only of internal but external microbiology (air-borne and air-thriving in relation to environmental chemistry).

Fresh salads, with nothing but fresh leaves and vegetables help regulate enzymatic production. Raw (vegetable) oil often also provides support for enzymatic production along with the fresh leaves and vegetables.

There are indeed beans more nutritious than others, some of which happen to be so nutritious a moderately or lightly ill stomach wouldn't be capable of digesting even half. In any case, however, of a perfectly healthy or ill stomach, initiating your meals with a fresh salad will generate enzyme production for further digestive processes. Do not dress the salad with any dairy products or meats. Be very careful in including fruits (lime, pomegranate or mango for example). Small portions of basic croutons (airy baked or pan dough with no eggs) should be okay. Be very careful with the raw vegetable oils (canola, olive or coconut for example). Be very careful with the vegetables (tomato, cucumber, radish). Be generous with the salad leaves (lettuce, sprouts, kale for example). Once you get to include the habit in your routine you can get more creative and adventurous (especially with spicy leaves and cooked vegetables: crass, mustard, radish leaves, asparagus, bell pepper, eggplant).
 
Tyler Ludens
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I think all these dietary specifics are very personal.  It doesn't make much difference how nutritious or frugal a specific food is if I can't get my family to eat it (my family being, most of the time, my husband and myself).  The challenge I'm facing is how to gently push our diet in a more frugal direction while maintaining or increasing nutrition and avoiding making the process unpleasant.  All of these suggestions and different points of view are useful and helpful in getting me to look at my food choices and consider different options and approaches.  Some of the suggestions might not work for me but they might work for someone else reading the thread.

 
Deb Rebel
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Exactly. Hope that you have found some stuff to explore to keep the food on the table, stuff that all your family likes and wants to eat, plus cut the cost of feeding everyone.

The plan is multifaceted and it takes all the bits to make it work. Good luck Tyler Ludens.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Alex Sonnenscheins asks,"Any idea how long those calories are generating internal organic energy and how they may be preemptive to the next meal?"

No, but I do know that this is the Cooking Forumwhere I can freely share my favorite recipes without them being debated, analyzed or put under the biological microscope.
 
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Back to the lentils I like lentil dhal which is made out of red lentils. But the usual brown ones are much better with a bit of bacon. Our national dish is lentils and spaetzle which is vry good.
 
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I know I'm jumping in kind of late on this, but sprouted green pea falafel is a very inexpensive, flavorful and nutritious food that's easy to fit/make into a meal. Dry green peas can be had in bulk for change.

Soak, drain and sprout as you would (a little or a lot).
Toss in blender with garden greens/weeds/herbs, garlic and salt. The garlic mellows so put an extra clove in. Ramps, Garlic chives or Society Garlic are also great!
Don't over-blend; let there still be crumbs/pieces.
Form balls and press onto generously oily skillet until golden.

Needs oil! Balance your quality/budget ratio accordingly.

It's an unassuming recipe but often turns out surprisingly irresistible.
Best of luck!
O
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Hi Ola. Welcome to Permies. "Jump in" anywhere and hang on  . That recipe sounds delicious. Maybe it's just me, but I think a mint yogurt sauce would go great on that. Fresh would be better, but I've still got some dried mint from the wild plants growing up by the creek.
 
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This is a great thread.  I have only skimmed over it but there are a lot of great ideas.  Keeping the family fed is my biggest stress from month to month.  A lot of things are cheaper here in Africa, but FOOD is NOT one of them.  The prices of most foodstuffs are the same, or even higher than those of the USA.  (Really make you wonder how people are surviving, since most of the rural population makes less than $1.50 a day).  My food budget is also about $50 a week, but I have to feed 2 adults, 4 children, 1 part-time worker, and a constant flow of visitors and day-laborers. I do have the benefit of eating what we grow and raise, but its only been this last year that we have produced enough to eat a significant amount of calories off the farm.

A bit of this is repetitive from other posts.  But this is what we do:

1.  Keep the meals very simple.  For most meals we eat a starch, with an "escort", uually vegetables, sometimes a protein.  The "escort" provides flavor for the bland starches.  Here our "staple" starch is maize, ground up in a flour and then cooked into "ugali", which is something like polenta.  We also use rice, potatoes, cassavas, taro, sweet potatoes, etc, but my husband doesn't like those as well.  

2.  Learn to make many different things with the same old ingredients.  We don't have a lot of variety here.  Its not even a choice, we are pretty limited to what is grown locally because here in Kenya they don't have the infrastructure to ship foods long distances. So I've had to get creative to keep meals interesting and appealing.  How many different dishes can you make from cabbage?  Potatoe?  Rice?

3.  Along the same as #2, learn to use spices to make food tastey.  If you look up recipes from cultures that are struggling with poverty, you will often find tastey food that uses few, cheap ingredients, and lots of spices to make them interesting.  I have imported a lot of recipe ideas from India, Asia, and of course Africa.  Spices can be pricey, but they last a long time.  I usually buy 2 bottles of spice a month, either refilling what has run out, or trying something new.

4.  Buy in bulk as much as possible, and shop less often.  I only grocery shop once a month to buy my non-perishable items that I can't grow on the farm, plus my "supplies" like soap, toilet paper, etc.  I have been pinching pennies for so long, I already know what of everything is cheapest.  Kenyans are a little funny, in that bulk isn't ALWAYS the cheapest.  Its cheaper for me to buy two 5 kg boxes of palm oil cooking fat than it is to buy one 10 kg box.  Its also cheaper for me to buy individual rolls of toilet paper than one pack with multiple rolls.  I always get a funny look from the cashier as I unload 15 individual rolls of toilet paper from the cart.  Do the math!

5.  Cook in big batches, and invent many meals.  R. Ranson mentioned doing this with beans.  We do it with lots of stuff.  We make "githeri" which is boiled maize and beans - a huge pot of it.  Then we make many different meals - frying it with some onions and tomatoes, mixing it with some potatoes, putting it over rice, adding a bit of meat, topping it with green vegetables.  Yeah, by the time the pot is finished, we are all thoroughly tired of githeri, but it saves us in terms of cooking fuels, time,and money.  The last couple of days we have been finishing off a pot of sweet potatoes, same deal.  

6.  As for feeding the animals... I'll probably get some hate-mail for this, but all our animals just eat the leftover people food.  3 dogs and a cat.  Yeah, its probably not ideal, but they are happy and healthy and do just fine.
 
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Hi Tyler! Loving this thread- so many awesome ideas (despite already living on a tight budget, I'll be poaching some ideas from this thread!)

Some weeks I'll spend as little as $5 on groceries, but other weeks I might spend $80 or more. That's because I tend to buy things in bulk lots, and freeze batches of food. And my medications (unfortunately necessary) come to $100 per month, presuming I'm not actually sicker than normal.

Here's the thing: I'm fussy. There are a lot of foods I don't like eating, and the foods I DO like to eat, I don't like eating too many times in a week. So I need to be selective, and mix things up.

General Groceries:
I used to wear makeup every day. Problem is, I'd react to the cheap makeup, so I was stuck wearing MUCH more expensive stuff. Now, I wear makeup AT MOST twice a week. I don't use eyeliner anymore- I just use a flat liner brush with some dark eyeshadow I bought yonks ago. This is way cheaper than buying eyeliner. Little changes like this made a huge difference to my toiletries budget. While I was mortified at having my "naked face" out in public initially, the less I wore makeup, the less horrid my skin looked (even with the "super whizz bang" makeup, my skin still reacts slightly). So after a while, I felt less self-conscious about it.

I don't use body wash when I shower- water is enough to get me clean unless I'm caked in muck from gardening. A teeny tiny bit of shampoo up top makes my hair clean. I only use a little bit of conditioner on the ends when my hair gets frizz. Saves buckets of money on shampoo and conditioner. And even though they say that you shouldn't use old razor blades, I've been using the same ultra cheap razor for pits and legs for nigh over a year now..... that sounds kinda gross, but if that sucker isn't rusty and clogged with gunk, and it still shaves, why replace it??

I only buy non-perishables when they're on sale. Laundry powder, toilet paper, tissues, vinegar, oil, etc etc. Stock up when it's on sale so you're not buying full price when you run out. Don't go nuts with it, just pay attention to how often those supplies go on sale in your local area, and just buy enough to get you through until the next sale.
Of course, if you wanted to go super-crunchy-eco-friendly, you can make your own laundry powder, soaps, cleaners, vinegars, etc, and make reusable toilet paper and tissues and whatnot. I want to do a lot of these things myself (particularly making my own cleaners), but haven't had the money available in one lump to buy the bulk supplies yet. YET. *shakes fist at commercial cleaners*

Pets:
I've never had cats, so I can't help you there, but my mutt gets expensive kibble. While I tried to feed her homemade meals for a while, but she would get randomly fussy (aka refuse to eat for 5 days straight when I tried to "wait her out"), and I'd have to change up the recipe regularly. The wasted food and the extra work wasn't hugely appealing. The kibble? It's the only thing she eats reliably every day without issue. I've specifically bought kibble that is GRAIN-FREE, and contains only animal fats. Companies often include grains in cheap dog food because it artificially bumps up the protein content. Apparently, dogs are actually woeful at USING grain/plant proteins in their body, so they end up being nutrient deficient. Cheap, nutrient-deficient food means that you need to feed more of it to your dog, and it just ends up coming out the back end in the form of big poops. My dog only gets a tiny amount of the expensive kibble. Her poops are smaller, she's healthy, and has great weight.
Treats are just bits of human food.

Food:
Firstly, I avoid anything unnecessary. I don't drink coffee. The only time I drink tea is during winter, and that's just herbal tea. In fact, I rarely drink anything besides water. My milk consumption is dropping rapidly.

I stopped eating cereal (of any kind) for breakfast. Firstly, eating cereal meant I burnt through milk like mad, and cereal is darn expensive. Not to mention dubious regarding health (I'm a fan of the book Nourishing Traditions).

Planning things out will save massive amounts of money. Before I got into the freelancing biz, I used to throw away mammoth amounts of food just because I thought I'd use it when I bought it, only to have it go bad.

Vow to eat what you make. I'm not the best cook on the planet. If I make a meal that I'm not hugely fond of (e.g. too spicy, too bland, etc), I still eat it. Food is food is food. I'll just remember not to make the same mistake next time.

I make big batches of food, and then I freeze it. This accomplishes a few things. Firstly, it overcomes the whole "not wanting to eat the same meal too many times in a row". I can rely on my frozen selection of meals to mix things up a bit. Secondly, it stops me from buying convenience food because I couldn't be bothered to cook. I just go to the freezer and reheat. Thirdly, food you can freeze is typically a lot cheaper than food that's lousy to freeze (think stew vs steak).

I cook things on my gas stove rather than use the grill, oven, or slow cooker. Gas is a lot cheaper than electricity for me, and things usually cook faster on the stove, so it equals less money spent in that department. Of course, my next goal is to build a rocket stove so I can cook using sticks instead of gas for those meals that take longer to cook, like soups and stews.

I use potatoes wherever possible instead of rice. And I use rice wherever possible instead of pasta. Pasta has become expensive, even for the el-cheapo brands. Rice is better, but not as cheap as potatoes from the "cheapo produce store". I ALWAYS used to eat bread/toast with soups, but now I chuck a couple potatoes in the pot to bulk up the batch instead. I've found that I can even skip the tortillas/corn chips for my chilli con carne (just having the chilli by itself with a little natural yoghurt or sour cream) if I bulk it up with potato and lots of beans. Corn chips and tortillas are HUGELY expensive where I live, presumably because our corn isn't subsidized in Australia.

Buy produce only when it's in season. It's way cheaper in season.

"Nose-to-tail eating". I almost never used bottled cooking oils anymore, because I've stopped cutting fat off my meat (or buying more expensive leaner meats). You can eat almost 100% of a chook, and you'll WANT to if the chicken has been pasture-raised and tastes amazing (I raise my own backyard chickens, and eat the roosters). Never buy commercial stock- there's no need if you have access to chickens and venison. I freeze my stock, but if you know how to can that sort of thing, do so. But this mentality doesn't just apply to meat. When Broccoli and Cauliflower is in season, I buy a few of the biggest ones. I cut the florets off and freeze them for curries, stews, etc. I use the stems for vegetable soup. Leftover roast pumpkin makes awesome pumpkin soup. Cheap leaks or fresh garlic from your garden goes great with potato for a simple but filling soup. I bought a hunk of ham-on-the-bone (free-range for $8 per kilo cheaper than the cheapest pre-cut ham, btw, always compare prices!) which I used fresh to feed 3 people for a week's worth of lunches and snacks. Then I threw the meaty bone into a pot for a massive batch of pea and ham soup. I got a lot of meals out of that one hunk of ham.

Canned veggies, beans, and whatnot are expensive. The cheapest can of beans in my area is $1, and the can is mostly water and salt. To get better bang for your buck, you end up spending $3 for a small can, and those beans are pretty lousy. I only buy beans dried, now. Cooking the beans requires planning, because I soak them first to make them more nourishing (and, incidentally, this stops my bean farts COMPLETELY). It's way cheaper (and healthier) to buy dried beans in bulk. I find it's actually cheaper to buy organic dried beans than cheapo canned beans from the supermarket. Your mileage may vary.

Grow perennial food first, expensive food second. Buy what's left. Looking after your veggie patch can be expensive if water costs a lot in your area and you need to buy any inputs. My new favourite crop is garlic. I literally just plant the cloves in autumn, then forget about them until they're ready to pick mid-spring. Garlic is also EXPENSIVE to buy in shops. Fresh garlic is ridiculously priced, and jar garlic isn't cheap at all. And generous amounts of garlic make even plain meals taste awesome. I also grow a lot of perennial herbs (or herbs that self-seed)- oregano, sage, parsley, spring onions, rosemary, thyme, etc. These things cost $2 for a tiny fresh sprig at the supermarket, and there's nowhere that sells bulk dried herbs in my area. Those 25gram jars of dried herbs are expensive. Plant the herbs in your yard instead (preferably from seed, so you can plant LOADS) and pick them as needed. Bonus if you live in an urban area, because you can usually sell bunches of herbs to your neighbours for zero effort. Use the money to buy spices that are more labour intensive or don't grow well in your area. Perennial plants are amazing- my neighbour gave me a couple bags of strawberry runners last year in return for a teeny rooster, and I now have all the strawberries I can eat for zero effort. Seriously- I planted those things under my fruit trees and do absolutely diddly squat to look after them. My rhubarb plants propagate easily, and once again, I don't look after them.
Besides those perennial, low-care plants, grow things that are expensive in the shop. I don't grow potatoes anymore, because they don't grow well in my soil, and are cheaper to buy. Rather, I grow the aforementioned garlic, fruits, chilli, watermelon, cherry tomatoes, etc. No joke, it costs $7 for a handful of cherry tomatoes at the shop. They grow like mad in backyard gardens. Find out what's expensive to buy in your area, and focus on growing those things.


I think the most important thing of all is to MEET PEOPLE. I'm an introvert, nerdy, and awkward to boot. Fortunately, most gardeners and farmers are just the same, so don't care. You'll be amazed at how many gardeners/farmers there are in your area. Last week I volunteered for a couple hours to help a lady with her garlic harvest. In return, I got weeks work of organic lamb, because that's what she had in abundance. Trade what you have in abundance for what others have in abundance. I traded garlic scapes for beetroot. I helped a lady with her chicken chores for a couple hours in return for enough fertilised eggs to cover my next batch of meat birds (I'm not allowed roosters where I live).
Often, people are so excited to meet a fellow gardener that they'll lavish you with free produce. Plums, oranges, lemons, rhubarb... bags of free produce because I CHATTED with someone. Meet as many new farmers and gardeners as you can, be generous with the things you have in abundance, and you may just find that your grocery bill gets pretty small, and you'll be going organic to boot.


I'll stop rambling now. If you want some cheap recipes off me (note, I'm a "little bit of this, little bit of that" kinda gal), just shoot me a message. ^_^
 
r ranson
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I started a thread about pressure cooking because it's saved me a lot of money both on the electrical bill and ingredients.

It allows me to get good flavour out of more affordable ingredients - cheaper cuts of meat are easily made tender, dry beans and peas instead of canned, &c.  

It also encourages me to use parts that I used to toss out: the tops of leeks and carrots, onion skins, and so on, for making stocks.

Funny thing is, the slow cooker does almost the same thing for me (less electricity, better use of ingredients) and I use both enthusiastically.  It really depends on what fits my mood and what else is going on in my life that week.
 
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John Elliott wrote:

R Ranson wrote:

Now lentils on the other hand... They just don't work for me.



I agree, the brown ones need a LOT of disguise.  However, give the red ones a try.  They don't have as strong a flavor, and blend well with other vegetables.



I second that, we cook up red lentil beans and add our own blend of spices to use instead of meat in tacos and love it.  My wife and I aren't vegetarians, but one of our sons is and so we're finding lots of ways to slip some meat free meals in.
 
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This topic was one of the things 'pushing' me in a direction ... Things happen, opportunities seem to come, awareness of how to spend money become more important ... So from now on I will budget even stricter. I am on myself, so if you with a family can live on 50$ a week, the challenge for me is: less than 50. Don't know if 1 euro equals 1 dollar ... but I will do my best spending only 40 euro a week on food and the other weekly stuff. So I'll have more savings for my 'future plans'.

First decision: buy no more bananas and other non-local fruits. I'll only eat them if I can get them for free (the brown spotted bananas are in fact my favourites). Local fruits I'll buy the 'ugly' ones, the cheaper kind. My veggies come from my garden, the community permaculture garden and a local biodynamic farm (9,95 euro a bag for a week incl. 6 eggs).
 
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John Elliott wrote:

R Ranson wrote:

Now lentils on the other hand... They just don't work for me.



I agree, the brown ones need a LOT of disguise.  However, give the red ones a try.  They don't have as strong a flavor, and blend well with other vegetables.



Madhur Jaffrey has a great, simple recipe for dal with these - basically, red lentils + turmeric + water, simmered until done, with salt added at the end.  Delicious by itself and nearly a complete meal with rice and a bit of yogurt.  The dal freezes and reheats very well, too.  No soaking is needed with the lentils, but you do want to rinse them in water before cooking them.

In terms of which dried beans work best for digestibility, I suspect this depends somewhat on individual gut bacteria etc., but our experience has been that chickpeas are the best (and the most flexible in recipes), followed by black beans.  White (cannellini) and kidney take more soaking and cooking time to prevent gas.  Dried beans in the pressure cooker are definitely the way to go IMO, in terms of cost, time, texture, and flavor.

Meal planning is good.  Keep a record of what dishes worked well for you, and organize it in a way that makes sense to you.  We have a list of meal templates organized by protein / starch / vegetable / fat - say, chickpea / sweet potato / broccoli / miso tahini dressing, or dal / rice / roasted cauliflower / yogurt.  Each of the templates is somewhat flexible so we can adapt it based on what's in season, what we have, and what we want at the time.
 
Deb Rebel
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Just bought my quarterly bulk buys. Expensive up front, up to $4 a pound cheaper in the long run. It only hurts at the time because buying 50 pounds is a lot. I also invested in a soypot and make my own soy and nutmilks at $8.52 a gallon purchased (with tax, our state taxes food) versus $2 with buying bulk ingredients and making my own (without all the additives). In three weeks I paid for the pot. 8 months and going strong, the savings adds up.

Bulk bulk bulk. I also just went by the grocery store, talked to my good friend the produce clerk as it's freight day and he gave me a huge box of blems, (blemished) over-the-hill, and oddbits. I get to get to it shortly and process all that out. Even black bananas that are at the edge of being ... mush. I can't eat those but spouse can use them frozen in smoothies. Clean 5 gallon pail and I scored a bunch of meat scraplets and bones from the store butcher for $5. Instead of getting them out of the dumpster. I also have a few bags frozen of meat scraps, bits, and bones, so those will go in the pot today and soup is going to happen. Every calorie counts. Wednesday is food pantry freight and Saturday is distribution. So I'm hoping for a few holed bags of rice and such as well.

The way to drop your food bill is to search out where that food can come from. And be creative on what you do with it after. Soup is your friend.

@Inge Leonoraden Ouden, I looked and at the time of this posting the Euro is $1.07 USD or 46.45 Euros to $50.00 USD  So you have a little more room than you thought for food.
 
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