When I spent six and a half months living on a bicycle with no real food budget, I had to learn the hard way how to stretch a buck. Without the ability to heat things up, cook or even keep fresh food, the bicycle shopping was a lot different than what I can do now, actually living in a traditional apartment with water, refrigeration and a stove that sometimes works.
Times are going to get tough, everyone is telling us that everywhere we look. Thinking that everyone must be hearing the same things and as our survival urges all kick in, I thought it would be a great time to share a food budget with you that will help trim your expenses and your waist, without going hungry.
Make Soup: My father was born in 1924 and was raised on a farm. He would tell me growing up that his mother would alway have a kettle of soup going and if she needed to feed more people (he had 9 brothers & sisters) she would simply put more water in the soup.
Soup is an affordable thing to cook and actually gets better the longer you keep it (as long as you keep it refrigerated and only take out what you are going to heat up for that meal) with lots of healthy ingredients. You can also place it in freezer bags in portion sizes to be heated up several days or weeks later.
Diversify Your Shopping: Consider going to a dollar store and looking at their food they have. It is easy to get two cans of tuna for a dollar there and some other staples that will help you stretch your food budget. Make sure you consider the expense of gas if you are driving, it is cheaper to shop in one spot if possible.
Packaging Costs You Money: Avoid pre-packaged, quick & easy foods. They are notorious for being less healthy for you and they will eat up your food budget. Think big bags of rice, oatmeal, grains and flours that will give you the chance to make many meals out of something that will cost the same as just one pre-packaged meal. After all, you can't eat the packaging.
Cook For A Crowd: Even if there is just one of you that you are cooking for, cook BIG. Then with the help of freezer bags or containers, you can portion control and time save all at once. Dish it out, let it cool and pop it in the chilly confines of your freezer to be re-heated later for a fast, fresh and healthy meal.
Weekly shopping list: ($35. per person)
- 7 apples : $3.00
- 7 oranges : $3.00
- Oatmeal : $3.00
- Doz eggs : $2.00
- Bread : $3.00
- Rice : $3.00
- Tuna (6 cans) $3.00
- Bag frozen veg $3.00
- Cabbage $2.00
- Onions $1.00
- Popcorn (bag to be air popped) $2.00
- Milk $2.00
- Peanut butter $2.00
- Lettuce $1.00
- Tomato (canned or fresh) $2.00
Make sure you take a list with you to the grocery store and stick with it. Don't fall in to the trap of impulse buying if you are trying to stay within a set food budget. Put a notation beside each item of what you want to spend on it and keep a little calculator with you.
From one week to the next you will find items that are non-perishable or have a longer shelf life still in your cupboard to help with next weeks meals.
Always eat your fresh items first and don't spend money on food only to throw it away.
Tightening our belts isn't a bad thing and will really make us think about all the money that is wasted on food we throw away, thousands of dollars spent on fast food because we were too lazy to wake up earlier and pack a lunch and don't even get me started on the high cost of dining out!
Save money, eat healthier and lose a bit of extra weight if you do it right. If your stomach does get hungry, don't forget to drink plenty of water. Our brain gets the same signal for hungry as it does for thirsty. Eight glasses of H2o a day will keep your fluids topped up and you can always put more water in the soup, theres better times a 'comin!
By Priscilla Houliston
Author of Little Changes
Visit Priscilla online at www.LittleChanges.com
Photo credit: Priscilla eating watermelon at $2.00 a slice in New England, almost half of her dail food budget on her 3,000 mile bicycle ride. Photo by Morton Houliston.