I was reading this article in the Free Press – It was a challenge for a single person to survive on 4$ a day for food – they were able to have 5 prestocked food pantry items. 4$ doesn’t seem like a lot, when you think of picking up takeout or a quick meal….but for our family of 3 I think 12$ a day would be completely doable. I often make huge dishes for dinner, things that make 2 or 3 dinners and a few lunches and it’s often under 10$ for the entire thing. With a kid it would be hard, no convenience snacks or prepacked items…but there’s lots of cheap fruit. I guess if you have to factor in milk (coffee cream would be gone) it might be stretching it….but you would just have to learn to limit it. We buy our bread at McGavin’s so it’s less than 1$ a loaf, and you always get some free ones. Toast and soup for 3 for lunch (we often do that with bagels) is under 1$ for 3 people. Throw in some fruit for dessert and you have a meal for maybe 2-3$ tops. We buy our meat in bulk from a farm so it’s really cheap too – and the quality is great! Last night I made pulled pork in the slow cooker – I used 2 small roasts so maybe 10-15$ worth of meat, 1 red onion (no idea?) and 1 bottle of bbq sauce for 2-3$. We had it with mashed potatoes with is probably another 2$, let’s say 3$ with milk and butter. Max for this would be 20-22$ – will make a few dinners and sandwiches for my husband for the entire week. I often make meals out of things that we find free or super cheap at the grocery store too – those old el paso kits for 3.50 with the coupon for free cheese…and use some ground pork and a few veggies. Under 10$ and makes a dinner and a lunch. We buy big cases of applesauce for school snacks – they’re cheap and could be dessert or a snack. Fruit is often on sale – sometimes the deals are crazy, and you can freeze it. Turkeys were 10$ recently – easy to cook and makes tons of meals. I freeze most of it for sandwiches and I make a fried rice with veggies and brown rice with the chopped up meat.
For us with some preplanning it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. It would mean no more takeout or trying out new recipes – but all my cheap old classics would qualify. Definitely no eating out and entertaining would be a stretch though. I’d have to give up my Starbucks and Tassimo for sure too. I think it would be hard for a single person with just the 4$ a day though – big meals wouldn’t make as much sense and would eat up too much of the budget.
What do you guys think? Is it doable keeping it healthy and enjoyable? What are your cheapest recipes? What are the staples that you stock up on when they’re cheap?