Hello dear friends! A comment left last week that it was impossible to live on $20 a week for groceries, was like waving a red flag in front of a bull for me. I had to step up and take the challenge. When I wrote that a person could live on $20 a week last week, I meant $20 for one person, so the addition of two more adults is even more of a challenge, but for me, that means more fun.
My guidelines for the challenge were that I assumed we did not have anything at all in the house except running water. As you all know, I have a massive pantry, do to canning and gardening, and we could probably live a year or more off of it if we needed to, but for the sake of this experiment, I didn't use anything on my pantry shelves or root cellar. The only items I assumed I had in the house were salt and pepper. I also didn't shop in any of my usual haunts, such as the salvage and bulk grocery store. Just my regular non-chain grocery store and a local fruit market. I didn't go out of my way to find any deals. Just carefully shopped at these two stores.
Now, before I go any further, I want to say that these meals will not be the most exciting or perhaps they do not meet all of the daily requirements, but I must ask if all of your meals do? Do you really get nine servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day? This is strictly survival eating when money is really tight. I would say that if this was your budget for a family of three adults for a prolonged amount of time, I would avail myself to some of the community food pantries and soup kitchens. You would probably qualify for some sort of assistance such as food stamps. This is just an experiment to see if it can be done.
So here's what I bought and their receipts:
1 pkg. 12 tortillas $1.50
1 block (8 oz.) Cheddar cheese $1.88
3.54 lb. pork sirloin roast with the bone in for 99cents/lb $3.50
1 pkg. dirt rice $1.69
1 container of organic kale mix (reduced for quick sale) $1.50
1 can (14.5 oz.) fire roasted tomatoes 75 cents (reduced for quick sale)
1 lb. dry kidney beans 75 cents (reduced for quick sale)
bag of 6 oranges $1.29
bunch of bananas 33 cents/lb (reduced for quick sale)
box of 12 taco shells 99 cents
2 pkgs. Jiffy biscuit mix $1.00
1 lb. carrots $1.50
5 lb. potatoes $3.00
11 oz bottle of barbecue sauce $1.00
1 lb. oatmeal 69 cents/ lb
OK. So I went $1.88 over. Sue me! I know that the price quoted in the flyer is for the more expensive pre-cut carrots, regular ones would be cheaper. A bag of plain rice would have cost less and I would have had more, but I justified the cost as something to give the bland foods some flavor. Ditto for the barbecue sauce. Also, I've seen pinto beans for 50 cents a pound in the dollar stores, but these were the cheapest beans in this particular store. So I could have made up that $1.88 if I had really tried.
For breakfast, we are eating oatmeal. Just plain oatmeal because we couldn't afford sugar on this budget. Sometimes I mashed in half a banana to give it some sweetness. Plain oatmeal is not my most favorite thing in the world. I think if I had to eat it for every breakfast, I'd borrow a cup of sugar from my neighbor or give into some petty larceny and start swiping a few packets from the fast food joints. Ha! When Ran and I were first starting out and desperately poor, my mother-in-law would save all those little packets of sugar, jam, creamers and butter that came from her restaurant meals and give them to us. You'd be surprised at what a luxury a little jam on toast or creamer in your coffee feels like when you don't have any. BTW, I did allow the guys to have their morning coffee but did not include it in the grand total. I went without for the sake of the experiment, but didn't think the guys needed to do that much sacrificing for the sake of my blog. If we were truly in such a dire situation, I'm sure they would give up their coffee.
Ran ate one of the oranges later in the day.
Prep for the next day: I saved all of the pan drippings and the potato and carrot peels plus the bone from the roast to make a broth for a basis of soup for one of the days. I gleaned all the meat from the bone. I had this much meat left on the bones!:
I cooked up the beans. I added about 1 tablespoon of the barbecue sauce and some of the fire-roasted tomatoes along with salt and pepper to give them more taste. When they were through cooking, I drained the bean "broth" into a bowl and added it to my broth fixings.
I didn't have any grease for the griddle to make the quesadilla, so I used some of the grease that I skimmed off the broth after it had sat in the fridge and the fat had solidified on the top. Necessity is the mother of invention!
So that's it for day 1 and day 2 of the great tightwad experiment. Tomorrow Day 3.