I am astonished by the creativity required by eating cheap and eating well. After three pay cuts at DH's job, doubled credit card payments, and dwindling savings, our food budget has been whittled down to $40 a week. The challenge for me is to feed three adults well on this small amount of cash. That works out to $1.90 a day per person. Yesterday was the first visit to the grocery store on this reduced spending plan and we were able to keep it under $40. Only one item had to be crossed off my list.
The agreed-upon terms are: each meal must include meat and dessert/snack of some sort; the family must be willing to eat leftovers for at least two lunches and two suppers; pet food/bird seed is bought from some other source than the grocery money; breakfast is toast or skipped altogether except on Sunday; Saturday night is scrounge for yourself; and there must be as much variety as possible. (The last point is mine. After all, if you're eating the same thing for four meals in a row, I certainly don't want to have it again the next week.)
Here is the plan:
Tuesday/Wednesday: Quick Lasagna (ground beef, ricotta, mozzarella - $9.01; 1/2 bag egg noodles, 1/2 jar spaghetti sauce - already on hand), Collard Greens (on hand), Cornbread (on hand), Cookies ($1.99)
Thursday/Friday: Corn Pudding (cream corn, turkey ham - $8.20; peppers - out of the garden), Popovers (eggs, buttermilk - $3.58; pecans, flour, salt - on hand), Barbecued Peanuts (dry roasted peanuts - $2.69; barbecue sauce, butter, garlic, cayenne - on hand)
Sunday/Monday: Ham slices (other half of Thursday's ham - on hand), Bean Salad (green beans, leaf lettuce - $2.62; italian dressing, onion - on hand), Homemade Bread (flour, salt, sugar, yeast, butter, egg - on hand), Ice Cream Sandwiches (IC sandwiches - $3.99; choc. chips, sprinkles - on hand)
We spent an additional $6.39 on soft drinks. The scratched off item was Koolaid.
If you are doing this, by choice or by necessity, please share how you are approaching meal planning. I see plenty of recipes for inexpensive dishes and tips for saving on particular items (vinegar for cleaning, for example), but where is a comprehensive plan on saving money in the kitchen without feeling deprived? I anticipate that this will become a lot more difficult as we start running low on staples. Thanks for your comments and help.