- It is for one person only (I am not trying to feed a family on this budget)
- It must include as many whole foods as possible and minimize prepackaged "food products"
- It must include funds for household supplies (toilet paper) and toiletries (shampoo etc.)
- It must include funds for occasionally eating out.
So how do I intend to pull this off?
- I know my eating habits and preferences.
- I am willing to put in the time to prepare my food at home (I think!)
- I am not an impulse snack shopper; I shop with a list.
Chicken/red meat: $20
Salad greens: $15
Misc. Seasonal Vegetables: $10
Grains/Beans/Lentils: $15 (super cheap stuff and can provide the bulk of your calories)
Lentils and beans: $5
Oatmeal (old fashioned): $5
Seasonal fruit: $10
Cottage cheese: $15
Plain yogurt: $15
Household Supplies: $10
Dining Out: $20
No alcohol, cigarettes, or recreational drugs needed.
When I lay out the numbers like that, it doesn't look like that's a lot of food. However, these numbers are based on actual prices from my local grocery store, and a skeleton menu plan. I didn't do any comparison shopping to find these prices.
I find a skeleton menu plan very handy. I decide how to balance my meals and then just do slight variations over the weeks. Here's what a typical day would be like for me:
I cup slow cooked oatmeal (takes 5 min in the microwave)
I cup cottage cheese
I cup chopped berries
3-4oz meat/chicken/fish (takes 5 minutes to grill in the toaster over, or I can stew up enough for the week)
cooked vegetables (spinach or potatoes etc.)
3-4 oz chicken/meat/fish
rice (bless the rice cooker)
a spicy condiment
Ice cream or a piece of chocolate
There are usually some left-overs from the meals so I can have a couple of snacks during the day as well.
- Laziness (ahem!). If I'm not careful about planning sufficient time to prep my meals, then I will be sorely tempted to resort to using prepackaged items.
- I may want to hang out with friends at restaurants more often than I am planning. I will have to come up with strategies to deal with that.
- I've been reading The China Study and am wondering if I need to rethink the amount of animal protein that I have in my daily diet. After I spend some time mulling that over, this whole menu might change. Hmmm.
I am not a big consumer of household products. My biggest expense in this category is toilet paper. I don't use use chemical cleaners or paper towels. Shampoo and toothpaste last quite a long time. I really don't have to lather, rinse, and repeat. Laundry detergent also lasts a long time. Which TV ad convinced moms in the 1950s that you can't wear your clothes a few times before you wash them? How absurdly wasteful!