Eating on $10 a Week

by Andy Hough on August 3, 2009

The following is a guest post from Cindy Brick. Her blog is located at CindyBrick.blogspot.com.

Ever need your money to stretch twice as far on short notice? There are few things you can suddenly cut down to near-nothing – except food. With care, you can live on $10 for a week….or $40 a month, using different sources of protein. You’ll do even better planning for two weeks than one, because your money will go further when you can buy in larger quantities.

Here goes, for two sample weeks. Prices are based on the Denver, CO area.

GROCERIES:

2 pounds carrots 1.00

2 bunches green onions 1.00

2 gallons milk 3.20

2 dozen eggs 2.50

2 loaves bread 3.00

1 jar peanut butter 1.50

1 whole chicken (4 lb) 3.20

1 pound hamburger 1.60

1 pound tofu 1.50

1 pound rice .70

1 pound margarine .60

—————

19.80

I’m assuming you have salt and pepper and at least a few spices. (Garlic, oregano, marjoram, hot sauce, curry powder.) If not, salt and pepper will work just fine. A little sugar helps out, as do ketchup or barbecue sauce, as well as soy sauce and bouillon cubes.

Prep work: Cook the chicken for broth, after cutting off the legs and breast portions; use a BIG pot of water. (Add bouillon cubes, if you’ve got them.) Chop the carrots and green onions; add a triple handful while simmering the broth. (Pick the meat off the chicken bones, and put back into the soup. Split the hamburger into four portions, and the tofu into three.

Breakfasts – toast, eggs, French toast (toast dipped in egg and fried, then sprinkled with sugar), leftovers.

Lunches – any of the supper choices, plus fried egg and peanut butter sandwiches

Suppers – Chicken soup (at least 10 portions)
Chicken breast (2 portions)
Chicken legs (2 portions)
Hamburger (4 portions – cook one with rice for ‘porcupine rice,’ one formed in small meatballs and baked or simmered in chicken soup, one mixed with a torn slice of bread and baked for meatloaf, and one baked or grilled, then served as a sandwich with bread.

Tofu (3 portions) – fry two with veggies and serve with rice, grill or bake one (marinate first in soy sauce, if you’ve got it), add some to chicken broth.

Use the veggies either as a side dish or cooked along with your protein. Any leftover eggs are good simmered in the chicken broth (egg drop soup), or stirred into the rice (fried rice). Use the milk for drinking, or add to the soup for extra protein. (If you’re not big on milk, buy just one gallon, plus a box of tea bags.)

For the next two weeks, try substituting or adding 10 pounds of potatoes ($3.00), beans (.70 a pound – substitute for meat), a jar of spaghetti sauce ($1.60), lettuce or greens ($1), or macaroni (.80 a pound). My daughters swear by ramen noodles (.35), tuna (.80) and noodles (.80 a pound). The key is limiting your portions, adding some ingredients for flavor (like onions, celery and so on), and using every single scrap of food. (I even rinse out jars to get every drop, then add the liquid to broths and sauces.)

A few extra bucks can get you a pack of small candy bars ($1), fresh fruit (keep it to $1.50 a pound or less), and luxuries like coffee!

Most of us have more than ten bucks a week to spend on food. It’s helpful, though, to know you can do it if you have to. For more, try these interesting, if sometimes unimaginative blogs:

http://budgeteating.blogspot.com
http://www.hungryforamonth.blogspot.com

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Becky August 3, 2009 at 11:05 am

Just add some celery and mayo and you can have tastier broth without bullion cubes and some chicken salad sandwiches.

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SonyaAnn August 3, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Great post! It is helpful to know that you can make it on so little.

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JerryB August 3, 2009 at 9:30 pm

I’m a big Ramen Noodle fan. The local dollar store regularly has them 10 for a dollar. I save the fat from hamburger or chicken and use that to saute some onions for added flavor to the noodles.
I also visit the bakery outlet store down the block and pick up bread for less than a third of grocery store prices.
That said, I spent $13.00 on dinner tonight. So much for budgets.

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MoneyEnergy August 4, 2009 at 1:46 pm

Are you kidding – $3.00 for two loaves of bread? wow. I’m in the Chicago area and lucky to see a healthy loaf for $2.79 (plus 10% tax). Nice post, though! very inspiring….

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Marilyn August 5, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Great post! Really with coupons, veges from the garden , free eggs from our chickens if I am pressed or broke I can feed our family of 4 for about $30 a week.

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Frugal Urbanite August 10, 2009 at 7:00 am

Oh man, I wish! 2 gallons of milk at our bulk store $6. 2 loaves of the cheapest real whole wheat $4. Cheapest beef in bulk $2.50/lb (too fatty to cook with, even when drained – believe me, I tried)

I also don’t think that menu has nearly enough fruits and veggies or variety. Just eating ‘your veggies” isn’t enough, you need to have a wide variety to get all the nutrients and benefits from them. In desperate times, you gotta make due with what you can but I’d forget the beef and go for some cheap frozen vegetables instead.

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Andy Hough August 10, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Everyone – Thanks for the comments. Note that this menu is for when you don’t have money to spend more on food. It isn’t being recommended as your normal menu although it is probably healthier than the average American’s diet.

Other than the milk I have found all the prices to be in line with what is available here in KC. They aren’t normal prices but the prices are available if you shop at the right store or get stuff on sale. This isn’t going to get you organic or premium brand foods but basic food is better than starving. Looking at a Chicago area store circular I was able to find wheat bread on sale 2/$3. I would expect similar deals in other areas.

Also check out $30 a week. This couple eat for $30 in New York City which has some of the highest grocery prices in the U.S. If it is possible there than it is probably possible in your area as well.

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Greg Griffin October 14, 2013 at 12:45 pm

I see the makings of scurvy, BeriBeri and more. What an idiot

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