Can a Single Person Eat at Home for $100 a Month?

Take this poll and see.

If you only have $100 per month to spend on food, what would your meals consist of?  I’ve searched for menus given this spending restraint but could find no menus, only shopping strategies and grocery lists.  My real question is how healthy and well can you eat on $100 per month?  As a single retired person living on a fixed income, its important to keep expenses at a minimum and health at a premium.  Dare say, struggling single-young-people  have the same quest.  To that end, I’ve devised menus for a month of meals that ensure high nutrition, comfort and ease of preparation.  Every week starting Monday, August 29th, I will blog one week’s worth of menus and a shopping list with prices so you can glean how this is being accomplished.  Shopping smart is the key.

Its important to note that certain food staples are necessary to have on hand when you begin creating menus.  A list is provided (below) of staples you should have on hand.  These will last for several months,  for example: a box of salt will last you 4 months or more; herbs, spices, vinegars, syrups and extracts will last at least 6 months;  ketchup, mustard and other condiments will definitely last more than a month.  Unless you love to bake, or dried beans and lentils are your thing, you can allow $10-$20 per month to buy new staples and replenish old ones.  Buying those “Lost Leaders” (sale items that get you into the store so you’ll buy more expensive items) will save a lot of money in stocking your staples for the freezer and pantry.  Once you have your staples you can buy more fresh produce and fish for immediate consumption.

Growing your own herbs and some vegetables will add flavor and nutrition to your diet plus save money.  Making your own condiments and cooking from scratch will also save money.  And, whenever you get a bunch of fresh fruit or veggies from parents or neighbors, its definitely worth the time and effort to preserve, freeze, dehydrate or pickle for future use.  Food Banks are often called to harvest fruit from backyards where the owners cannot deal with the abundance of fruit falling from their trees.  If your neighbor has a lot of fallen fruit and it doesn’t appear they are using it, ask them for it, u-pick it instead of letting the fruit rot on the ground.   Freeze fruit for pies, smoothies, coulis, etc. Make some jam, jellies or fruit butters for yourself and for gifts.  Check out my apple butter recipe and lots of other recipes at http://thisdamecooks.com.

List of staples to have on hand:

  • flour, all-purpose and whole wheat
  • yeast
  • dry milk powder, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk
  • baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, cocoa powder
  • creamed soups (mushroom, chicken, celery, etc) (I also like to make these from scratch and freeze them)
  • canned veggies (tomatoes, tomato paste, chipotle chile, roasted red pepper in particular) and fruit (black plums, peaches)
  • various spices & seasonings (the basics: garlic powder, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, thyme, salt, pepper, dried onion, dill etc)
  • various condiments (worcestershire, soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, Tabasco, olives, capers etc)
  • vinegar, olive oil and vegetable oil
  • rice, oatmeal and cornmeal
  • peanut butter
  • dried fruit like raisins, prunes, figs, and apricots, etc
  • canned tuna, canned salmon, sardines, etc
  • sugars, white and brown, powdered sugar
  • dried beans, split peas, quinoa and lentils
  • potato flakes, couscous, stuffing mixes
  • pasta

In the freezer and frigerator:

  • chicken broth homemade
  • beef broth homemade
  • homemade breads, rolls, plus store-bought tortillas, English muffins purchased on sale
  • pureed pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet peas, broccoli  and other fresh fruits & veggies frozen before they can go bad.
  • ribs, ground beef, turkey, chicken, sausage, etc.  All meats bought on sale, divided into portions and frozen.
  • nuts
  • ginger root
  • frozen juices
  • butter (real) and cheese bricks bought when on sale
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