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Old 01-10-2013, 05:39 PM
 
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My GF and I have decided to vastly reduce our budget this year. We live in Orlando and I have budgeted $300 for the month for food including things like toothpaste, toilet paper, paper towels, etc. From other threads I've read, this is obviously enough for both of us. I do know how to cook, but am rather out of ideas. Food is relatively cheap around here. I shop the discount stores. I mostly cook with chicken (breasts and thighs), red meat rarely, beans. I'm hoping that you guys can help me out with what you buy as your staples that you create cheap meals from. Sources of protein in particular. I know that pasta, rice, potatoes, beans are cheap. I also buy frozen tilapia filets which are relatively inexpensive. Any ideas are appreciated. I go to the store, spend an hour there and end up buying enough for one or two meals and then I'm back at the store a few days later. We particularly like Mexican and Asian food. So we do get takeout once in a while, but $20 usually lasts us two dinners so I feel it's worth it. My GF works at a restaurant so a few nights a week she eats there and those nights I just end up eating canned soup or something. Oh and we try to keep it healthy. Thanks!
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:35 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
16,836 posts, read 51,286,023 times
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$300/mo in Orlando for two people along with tp is a bit of a stretch. I know women who can use $300 worth of tp alone during a month...

If you have a Sav-a-lot and Aldis, you are ahead of the game. I NEVER buy Aldi's meat, BTDT, threw it out. S-A-L OTOH, has decent meat and fish. Look in the freezer section for the 10 lb packs of frozen leg quarters for from $5 to $8. Cook it all at once and portion it and freeze it. Use the liquid for broth.

Tonight, for supper, we had Chinese - 2 6oz frozen packs of the cooked and cubed thigh meat from when I cooked the last batch. 1 froz 10 oz pack of frozen brown rice (which I also make in batches 2lbs in a pressure cooker). 2 celery stalks ($1 per celery plant from S-A-L today) and one of two fresh broccoli from Publix on sale for $1.50. A half dozen mushrooms from Aldi - $1 or less per box. One shallot from the Chinese market from shopping a month ago. 4 cloves of garlic. Tiny amounts of Hoisen sauce and Kung Pao sauce and soy sauce, a bit of ginger oil. Some fresh green beans fried in the ginger oil and orange juice. Total cost for two - about $3.50.
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:01 AM
 
Location: "Daytonnati"
4,245 posts, read 5,747,512 times
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I just found out that my rent is being jacked up considerably, and the only flex in my budget is the food & sundries line and in the "going out" line (which for me is just coffee & donuts while hiking and trips to KY to visit family),

...so I am going to have to adjust to $50/weekmax for one person for food + various sundry items like tootpaste, shaving cream, lysol, lightbulbs, etc.

Looking forward to monitoring this thread for tips.
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:03 AM
 
Location: "Daytonnati"
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Aldi is a good source for some things. I like their cookies..which last me about a week @ 2 cookies per day. (this is their 'bakery' cookies).
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:19 AM
 
Location: Camberville
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It's totally doable but takes some practice. I'm living off of about the same as a single person in a much higher cost of living area without using coupons (though I hope to move toward using them, I just don't have the patience).

A few tips:

- Always buy on sale when you can, rather than when you need things. This means that when chicken breast is on sale, you buy 4 family packs and then separate it out into plastic bags in the freezer. I can get 2 or 3 month's worth of meat protein in my $50 a week budget by planning correctly. Do the same for tooth paste, batteries, etc.

- Make good use of leftovers and never throw away food. I have made it this entire week without buying any food (except for candy for a friend's daughter's fundraiser) because I made the $50 of weeks past stretch. At the beginning of the week, I made a leftover stirfry with quinoa (cheapest in the bulk bin and a much better carb for you than rice or potatoes) - leftover kale, mushrooms, onion, pepper from the week before... anything that was going to go bad. I tossed in a can of chickpeas that I had bought ages ago on sale (I always stock up) and cooked it all with spices that I had on hand. It ended up being about 10 meal's worth of food for under $6. For I am OK eating the same thing for lunch and dinner - you have more variety because two of you are eating!

- Asian markets, bulk bins, and clearance aisles are GREAT. Clearance aisles often have oatmeal, soup, and seasoning packets for next to nothing.

- Cut out dairy and cheese (totally 100% unnecessary in a human diet and the cause of many health issues) and limit meat, if you can. That alone can cut my food budget for the week in half.
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:38 AM
 
14,648 posts, read 29,685,966 times
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ALDI is a GREAT source for pantry staples. As someone else mentioned, the meats are not good there (except the bacon). Things I buy regularly and are dirt cheap and great quality compared to other stores are pasta sauce, canned beans, cheeses, butter, spring water, toilet paper, many produce items like apples, lemons, mushrooms, green peppers and fruits in season, coffee, chocolate, pastas, rice, nuts and some bakery items. I don't care for Sav-a-Lot personally, but you might check it out.

Many inexpensive meals can be made using a crockpot, cook a whole chicken and have broth plus meat for several different dinners like chicken and rice or tacos, fajitas, chicken salad, soup, etc. Or do the same with a big pot of beans or a roast.

The cheapest prices on sundry items are at Family Dollar. I buy soap, toothpaste, razors and other items there for the best price.

Hope this helps!
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Old 01-11-2013, 08:09 AM
 
Location: Camberville
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Aldi's meats aren't that bad - better than some local grocery stores.
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:18 AM
 
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A few years ago - my NY resolution was to quit wasting so much food. I actaully sat down and made lists of ways/recipes that were good for using up things about to "turn".

You mentioned Mexican food - I make "refried" beans in my crockpot all the time and freeze them.
Refried Beans Without the Refry Recipe - Allrecipes.com

I also make soups, stews, and chili's fairly often.

I'd also put the word out there with friends/coworkers/family that you are willing to take excess homegrown produce off their hands. Many times people are more than happy to unload their excess tree fruit or garden over-abundance on someone! Over the years - I've grown various herbs and veggies and always ended up with more than we could use. In one neighborhood where we rented - there were several citrus tree whose owners were happy to let others pick the excess fruit as much of it ended up on the ground rotting otherwise...
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:23 AM
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
10,860 posts, read 18,875,631 times
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I shop once a month for a family of four. I spend about $350, including toiletries, paper goods and cleaning supplies.

One of the most important things is to limit how often you go to the grocery store. If you go every couple of days, you end up buying more things you don't need.

I always buy meat on sale. I buy big packages and then we get several meals out of them. For example, the other day I bought a 7lb pork loin for $14, that will be three meals for us...two meals of pulled pork, another of carnitas. I portion the meat into meal-sized pieces and freeze them.

I also buy big cans of tomato products, make my own spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce, and freeze them.

We don't go out to eat anymore. If you learn to make your own flour tortillas, it's easy to make good Mexican food at home. I have a couple of good Chinese recipes that I use, and I make better pizzas than we can buy, so there's really nothing we want from restaurants.
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:30 AM
 
10,143 posts, read 13,833,845 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katestar View Post
I have budgeted $300 for the month for food including things like toothpaste, toilet paper, paper towels, etc. I mostly cook with chicken (breasts and thighs), red meat rarely, beans. Sources of protein in particular. I know that pasta, rice, potatoes, beans are cheap. I also buy frozen tilapia filets which are relatively inexpensive. Any ideas are appreciated. I go to the store, spend an hour there and end up buying enough for one or two meals and then I'm back at the store a few days later. We particularly like Mexican and Asian food. My GF works at a restaurant so a few nights a week she eats there and those nights I just end up eating canned soup or something. Oh and we try to keep it healthy.
What grocery stores do you have down there?

Bi-Lo, Harris Teeter, Publix, Walmart, Aldi, Compare Foods, etc.......
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