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Old 02-14-2012, 01:08 AM
 
16 posts, read 35,844 times
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Hi all,
I am a wife and stay at home mother of two {a 4 & 2 yo}. I was wondering if you think it's possible to live on a budget of $150/month for food costs, with only the four of us- remember that's 2 adult serving sizes and 2 toddler serving sizes. If so what are your suggestions. I do want to try and make it as nutritious as possible, and still get meat into at least 3 or 4 dinner or lunch meals out of the week.

So far, these are some great tips that I've heard of:
cheaper foods in bulk: beans & rice
farmers market: veggies & fruits, 1/2 your plate: healthy & cuts cost
bread: buy on sale and freeze
bake: bake snacks & breads yourself *I don't have a bread machine*
in general: meal plan
chicken: buy whole, or from places like Costco
Don't: eat out
Do: eat left overs, freeze leftovers

So what do you guys think? Is it possible to have 3 well rounded meals everyday on a budget of $150 month for food?

*I am trying to find ways to cut my costs in half.
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Old 02-14-2012, 09:54 AM
 
Location: Ka-nah-da
254 posts, read 471,610 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mamavisca View Post
Hi all,
I am a wife and stay at home mother of two {a 4 & 2 yo}. I was wondering if you think it's possible to live on a budget of $150/month for food costs, with only the four of us- remember that's 2 adult serving sizes and 2 toddler serving sizes. If so what are your suggestions. I do want to try and make it as nutritious as possible, and still get meat into at least 3 or 4 dinner or lunch meals out of the week.

So far, these are some great tips that I've heard of:
cheaper foods in bulk: beans & rice
farmers market: veggies & fruits, 1/2 your plate: healthy & cuts cost
bread: buy on sale and freeze
bake: bake snacks & breads yourself *I don't have a bread machine*
in general: meal plan
chicken: buy whole, or from places like Costco
Don't: eat out
Do: eat left overs, freeze leftovers

So what do you guys think? Is it possible to have 3 well rounded meals everyday on a budget of $150 month for food?

*I am trying to find ways to cut my costs in half.
We are two adults and two toddlers as well (2yrs and 3.5 yrs), I'm not sure where you are from but food prices where I live in Canada are more then they are in the states. We do exactly what you have listed in your tips, plus use coupons and the lowest we've gotten our food bill is $230. The sad truth is sometimes baking at home costs more, we pay $4.50 for 3kg of flour (on sale) and $3.75 for a lb of butter, cream cheese runs $2.60-$4.00 and eggs cost us $5 for 2 dozen (and that's the cheapest, we get them from a friend's farm) for example.

Just to add to your tips there are a few other things you can freeze. Blocks of cheese freeze well, so does milk if you ever find it on sale. You can freeze cream cheese, but it will change the texture a bit and is best to use for baking after that. When the season is right you can go to a farm ( if you have one near by) and pick your own fruit for less than what you would pay at a farmers market. I would suggest canning if you have the space, you can make your own jam easily and save some money there.
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Old 02-14-2012, 12:26 PM
 
5,091 posts, read 13,163,320 times
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This is from an old post of mine, on the retirement forum, from 2009. It still applies today. Perhaps you can find some ideas that may be helpful:

"I do budget about $135 a month but mostly I spend about $60-80 a month. I am single and a big eater. I do not eat in restaurants. I cook all my own meals.

I buy mostly staples and do not buy convenience foods. When, I do cook, I do not cook for one; I cook for four-eight and eat for two. I do not eat meat every day. I used dry legumes, rice pasta and many different vegetables, whatever cheap and in season. I eat fresh fruit everyday; again what is cheap and in season.

I do not buy the most expensive cuts of meat. For Beef, I never eat a steak from the loin or the rib. Many times, I will buy round steak. I break down the round with the "top"(inside), being tenderer, I use for stir fry and a small steak. The "bottom"(outside), I use for braised dishes, or I grind with any trimmings. I use the eye round for a small pounded steak.

For Pork, I buy full loins, break them up for chops and stir fry. For Poultry, whole chickens, or parts, what ever is cheaper. I sometime buy whole turkeys, when they sell at the holidays, for $5-6 dollars. I break them up, breast for cutlets. I bone legs and thighs; use them, for example, for grilling with olive oil, rosemary, garlic lemon juice and serve with hummus made from dried garbanzos. Sometimes I bake a half turkey, a quarter turkey, or just a leg and thigh, boned or boneless.

I use many dried beans and I make many purees of white, lentils, garbanzos, pintos, black. That with a tortilla and I have a nice meal. I am a big fan of lentils because they cook fast and I make lentil burgers, lentil loaf. All and any bean and legumes I can use for Pasta Fagioli, nice good staple.

I make all kinds of soups from beans, vegetables, sometimes chicken, turkey, fish--I can make soup from anything. If fact, I can make anything; eat anything; combine anything. I can bake anything from pies, to cakes, to breads---I rarely use a recipe. I just browse recipes for suggestions and then I make it all up as I go. I eat what I have in abundance or needs to be eaten. I waste nothing; I throw out no food.

I eat whatever fish I can find cheap, fresh or in a can. I can easily make any fish dish from baked, to broiled, to stewed.

I tend to think of my meals as more vegetables, fruit and carbohydrates, whole grains, with a little meat, now and then and some dairy products. I eat fresh fruit everyday and green vegetables. I do what poor people have done for thousands of years. I combine vegetable proteins to make it complementary, to achieve a complete protein source. That is rice and bean; pasta and beans; whole grains etc., more vegetables and fruit, little dairy, less meat.

If cheese is cheap, I buy a supply. If it gets expensive, I make substitutions and use less. I use eggs in many different ways. Eggs hold much longer than the expiration date. I am not a fan of fried eggs and bacon. I never buy bacon--it is just fat. I prefer a lean ham. I never pay for fatty bones; so I do not buy ribs. I do not buy chicken wings alone--just overpriced fat and you cook it with more fat and I get fatter. I rarely buy cured meats such as hot dogs, salami etc.

It all boils, bakes or stews down to what I can find fresh, cheap or in abundance in all the local markets. When, it is cheap, I buy more. I shop the ads at the local groceries. I go to any ethnic markets, Mexican and Asian, in the poorer working neighborhoods--they are the best prices. I do not shop in the overpriced stores like Whole Foods. Here, in Colorado, we are fortunate to have a good Hispanic and Asian community because they are still poor. It is the poor who know how to eat economically and good. When I was a child, the Italian markets were good because the Italians were poor. Now the Italians are rich; their food is rich and expensive--so I avoid those markets. So goes the world, become rich and you loose the capacity and the knowledge to live a a basic essential good life.

I drink no alcohol, wine or beer. I buy no carbonated beverages or overprice fake vitamin water, pre-made ice teas or any other of that wasted junk. I make my own teas. I drink juices, generally concentrated real juices or I make my own. But mainly I drink water and no expensive bottled water. I rarely drink coffee, mostly tea. I do not buy all that overpriced flavored teas. If, I want rhaspberry tea, I buy regular tea and infuse it myself with preserves.

I buy no potato chips or snacks--I do not need all that extra fat. I rarely buy candies or pre-made cakes or pastries. I eat no donuts. I never order pizza delivery. I can make pizza cheaper and better with vegetable toppings. I use less cheese and top with anything and everything, peppers, onions, eggplant, peas, cauliflower, broccoli, etc., Fried or grilled first. I do not use pepperoni. I do admit buying some frozen pizza recently when cheese got so expensive and doctored them with vegetables. Of course the pizza was at a sales price and I had a coupon.

So, there you have it. I eat good; too good. If you see me, you will know. Yea, I can eat real cheap and a good balanced diet. In fact I have enough food in my house to live for about 7-9 months, and survive another 3 months, just on my body fat.

The trick is you have to know how to cook. You must shop wisely. You need to learn how to use different meats and vegetables. Absolutely avoid restaurants. You have to enjoy different foods and you must not have a meat centered diet.

Oh, I did graduate from The Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, New York, many, many years ago; for whatever that is worth. I now have no interest in that business of slavery, long hours and low pay. I do not have the patience or the health to deal with the abuse. In addition, I am not impressed by overpriced, luxurious foods--I have eaten them, prepared them, served them. That kind of cuisine is a waste of resources. However, I did learn how to use and appreciate food. Yes, I do know food and that is helping me in my old age."

Livecontent

Last edited by livecontent; 02-14-2012 at 12:37 PM..
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Old 02-14-2012, 01:10 PM
 
Location: California Mountains
1,448 posts, read 2,493,432 times
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Our budget for two adults are $200/month, and that is not just food but all household needs (light bulbs, batteries, lotion, shampoo/conditioner, shower gels, kitchen soap, laundry detergent, scrubbers, paper goods, toothpaste/toothbrushes, antibacterial wipes, etc.)

It's the same budget we have had since Dec 2007 (it was less before that, but we lived in Europe then.) I probably could shave it off a bit more with beans and such, but beans and my husband do not make the best of combination.

I cook everything from scratch. I do not buy anything in tins or boxes, and the only frozen packages I buy are corn and peas when they are on sale. When a certain ingredient is on sale, I make several dishes with said ingredients, in large quantity, then freeze them in individual containers. I cook mostly Italian (Italian peasant food, not American Italian or TV chefs Italian), authentic Asian, and Southern dishes. We eat a lot of pasta, farro, quinoa, brown rice, and yellow grits. Every summer when the price of basil is at the lowest, I make enough pesto to last us all year long (for pasta, potatoes, chicken, pizza, bread, and soup). Fresh vegetables and fruits are always part of our meals and snacks.

Husband indulges himself once a week in sweets; that's the only thing that isn't healthy in his diet. For my sins, I spend money on a very good bottle of scotch a couple times a year. OTOH, we don't drink sodas or buy convenient snacks.

Based on our experience, I am certain $150 is a very feasible food budget for your family.

Last edited by Ol' Wanderer; 02-14-2012 at 01:35 PM..
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Old 02-14-2012, 03:02 PM
 
17,749 posts, read 15,023,452 times
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Eat the weeds.


Canada thistle quiche + acorn crust and 100% gourmet.
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Old 02-14-2012, 03:10 PM
 
Location: Texas
42,204 posts, read 49,740,662 times
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I make a large batch of food and eat it for days.

Pound of lentils - $2
Yellow and orange bell peppers (organic) - $3
Onion (organic) - 80 cents
Vine-ripened tomatoes (3 organic) - $3
Box of organic chicken stock (bought in a 4 pack at costco) - $1.50
Head of broccoli (organic) - $1.50
Various spices (already have around the kitchen)

6-8 meals for one grown adult packed with protein and veg - $11.80
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Old 02-14-2012, 03:49 PM
 
1,443 posts, read 2,842,771 times
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Can you get by with no/little meat? I know some people need meat (I need meat everyday -- it's not by choice), but in my experience meat is by far the most expensive. If you shop for meat wisely then everything else will be very easy. If you find a good sale on meat, then freeze it (but meat's the only thing I recommend freezing.) Chicken is usually the cheapest.

In a budget diet, pay special attention to grains; these are going to be very important. Please get whole grains and avoid refined white grains as much as possible (or even better, completely.)

Buying produce from the farmers market is my favorite of all the suggestions. You have the right idea by filling the plate half (or more) with fruits and veggies. Usually whatever's in season will also be cheap, cheaper and fresher than anything you can find at the store. Are you in an area where you have access to farmers markets year round?

I don't recommend buying and freezing bread on sale. It takes up too much space and in my experience, bread is on sale frequently enough that it's not worth stocking up on. If you want to store something, dried rice and legumes are much better.
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Old 02-14-2012, 06:39 PM
 
5,091 posts, read 13,163,320 times
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We eat too much meat and that meat we eat far exceeds our daily protein needs. We can easily get most of our protein from vegetable sources, as long as we combined them, as a complement in the same meal, to take in a complete protein source. We can only get the essential B12 from living metabolism but the need is minuscule--a little cheese, a little fish, a little egg, or a few insects. That is really how our ancestors and some cultures got the B12 that consumed no meat because the products were normally enmeshed and contaminated with the natural living organisms. We also naturally consume insect parts in all our agricultural products, especially grains. Many want their world to be sterile which it is not, and should not be.

I think we can complicate our lives about thinking about the amount of this and that because humans have figured out it for thousands of years without the diet and nutritional pundits and their pedantic rants. Eat like the simple folks who live near the land and get a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, cheese, eggs and a very little living something.

I think many farmers market that cater to the impressionable yuppie population are problematic. Most of the products are overpriced. The points of origin and the idea that this is organic and natural is questionable and many times fraudulent. I use to sell to the wholesale markets and a few years ago, I saw this truck loading up on stocked produce and few days latter seeing them selling these "organic" products at the farmers market in the college town at a very high price. Also these markets attract those "entrepreneurs" selling expensive products with dubious claims.

I find the best and most reliable farmers markets are ones that are attached to his fields or at a more reliable fruit and vegetable market that have a long standing reputation.

Freezing bread works great for me because I shop at outlets that have senior day discounts and a buy multiple grain breads for a longer supply. If I see a discount of day old breads, rolls, muffins then I cut and freeze in smaller packages. I take out a little of this and little of that, so I have a variety of bread products.

I also buy flour and corn tortillas in bulk and I freeze small packages. These I use with my pureed legumes, pureed eggplant, roasted vegetables, homemade salsas and other compliments for a nice healthy quick meal. I do not buy expensive specialty breads such as pita breads because tortilla are cheaply available in Denver because of the large Hispanic culture and can work the same as pita bread.

I do agree that storing lentils and rice are an excellent idea. They last a long time and require no refrigeration/freezer costs and space. I can store many products here in Denver for a longer period because of the dry and low humidity; I store them in my cool dry basement of my own food warehouse.

Livecontent

Last edited by livecontent; 02-14-2012 at 07:00 PM..
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Old 02-14-2012, 10:21 PM
 
1,443 posts, read 2,842,771 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by livecontent View Post
We eat too much meat and that meat we eat far exceeds our daily protein needs. We can easily get most of our protein from vegetable sources, as long as we combined them, as a complement in the same meal, to take in a complete protein source. We can only get the essential B12 from living metabolism but the need is minuscule--a little cheese, a little fish, a little egg, or a few insects.
Our ancestors were not only vegetarians. I wouldn't say we can "easily" get most of our protein from vegetable sources (although combining vegetables does seem to be more protein-effective than combining grains/legumes, which have way too high of a carbohydrate/protein ratio for most people these days.) While it's true that meat doesn't need to be the bulk of the diet (my meals are usually made up of 3/4 vegetables), we're omnivores and have the teeth for it.

Quote:
I think many farmers market that cater to the impressionable yuppie population are problematic. Most of the products are overpriced. The points of origin and the idea that this is organic and natural is questionable and many times fraudulent. I use to sell to the wholesale markets and a few years ago, I saw this truck loading up on stocked produce and few days latter seeing them selling these "organic" products at the farmers market in the college town at a very high price. Also these markets attract those "entrepreneurs" selling expensive products with dubious claims.
Yeah, this is true. Selling expensive designer produce and other goods kind of defeats the purpose of being a farmer market. But there are plenty of real farmers markets. I'm lucky to have one near me that sells food fresh from the farm at low prices.
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Old 02-14-2012, 11:34 PM
 
43,012 posts, read 88,940,518 times
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I just want to provide a word of warning to parents out there.

I could never have fed my family on $150 month, not even just hubby and myself (children left the nest).

I was talking to hubby about the food budget today. I mentioned that there are people online feeding their entire families for $150 month.

Hubby said with disgust, "I grew up that way." He did grow up utterly impoverished. Large family of 6 kids in a rural area on his father's small income.

My husband is a very frugal man. But there's a limit. And his limit is necessities. Food is a necessity.

We're thin people. We don't over eat. We eat healthy. No processed foods (except for basics like bread). But we make sure we eat desirable food, not just food that we scrap together with pennies.

I think it's important to not instill future "issues" in your children. Of hubby's 5 siblings, two of them are severely obese. I'm talking over 400lbs. They have spent their adult lives making up for not having enough good food in their childhoods. Don't get me wrong, they never went without food. They just rarely had desirable food. That picture of posted in this thread is gross, sorry but it is. His other siblings never married (except for one other) because they are reliving their childhoods financially. They don't want the burden of children. They want to keep every penny for their own fun. And it's super sad that poverty influenced their adult lives this way.

If you absolutely MUST survive on $150/month, you gotta do what you gotta do. But if you're just being frugal for frugal sake, I suggest not going too extreme if you have children. Even if you managed to do it healthy with all food groups and plenty of food, like hubby's mother, your children could have serious psychological issues when they're older. Most kids don't live in a bubble. They know what the rest of the world is doing. I'm not saying feed them junk food. But seriously consider the importance of creating desirable healthy meals, not just healthy meals.

Last edited by Hopes; 02-14-2012 at 11:42 PM..
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