Cut it out: Eating for dirt cheap

by Lindsay Sauve on May 5, 2012 · 0 comments

At home, we’ve embarked on a new adventure. We recently sold our house, downsized our possessions and our expenses, and moved into a two-bedroom rental, with the goal of saving money from the mortgage and other home-owning expenses. Part of this adventure includes greatly reducing our food and entertainment budgets.

I like to use the word “adventure” to describe this change, because it adds a positive spin on what is a very difficult process. To save what we want to save we have to dramatically adjust our lifestyle. I know a lot of people, including myself, who would like to spend less of their weekly budget on food, but don’t seem to be able to. How does one actually reduce their food spending?

Kat Merck’s recent article Let Me Eat Cake in the Willamette Week is one example of implementing dramatic budget cuts. Merck shares how she feeds two people for $35 per week, or about $0.83 per meal.  Merck makes all of her meals from scratch, bakes her own bread, and shops at discount grocers like Winco and Grocery Outlet. It doesn’t seem impossible, but scouring multiple grocery stores for deals and spending hours in the kitchen kneading bread sounds like a lot of work. But Merck’s article gave me some great ideas, such as snacking minimally and looking for discounts on the most expensive items, such as meat and cheese.

Given other demands, such 40-plus-hour jobs, hobbies and active social lives, feeding the two of us on $35 per week is a little extreme. This week, I’m going to aim for a $60 grocery budget, down from our typical $80 – $100 bill. Here are some of the strategies I plan to implement:

  • Build recipies around pantry items I already have, like dried beans and rice.
  • Visit Grocery Outlet and stock up on cheap cheese and other staples.
  • Substitute some of our higher prices snacks (almonds, cheese and crackers) with cheaper foods (cut carrots, homemade muffins).

Stay tuned for more ideas and examples of living on the cheap!

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