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Show ALL Forums  > Off Topic  > How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?      Home login  
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 TinaBaby09
Joined: 4/6/2009
Msg: 1
How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?Page 1 of 3    (1, 2, 3)
Hi There

I have a food budget of 200 dollars to spend on food each month for myself. About almost everyday I get a free lunch meal from groups and this other places. I also go to the food banks every month, and usually I get around enough food to help me for a few days there.

My goal is to eat healthy frugal meals for $ 6.70 daily for 30 days. Spend 50 bucks weekly and 100 bucks biweekly on food. Any suggestions on how I could accomplish this goal:
 white_flag
Joined: 6/28/2009
Msg: 2
How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 5:33:23 PM
$6.70/day? That's tough but I've heard of tougher (the couple that ate on $1 a day).

My advice would be to buy in bulk and figure out how much money per serving that is. I know rice, as an example, is cheap in bulk and works out to around 7 cents a serving.

This is a good website, about the couple that ate on $1 a day:

http://onedollardietproject.wordpress.com/food-cost-index/

While I eat more than $6/a day, I can feed myself on around $4 a meal. You just have to be creative in the kitchen and willing to forgo any sort of restaurant (fast food or not) because you're really only paying for the convenience of not cooking it.

My suggestions would be:

Shop the perimeter of the store as that is where all the fresh foods are (veggies, fruits, meats, breads, dairy). Venture into the middle aisles only for staples like rice, beans, etc.

Look for deals. For example, if I can find pork ribs for under $3.99/lb that's a deal to me. But you also should look into how much food is there. Sometimes, the amount of food out weighs the cost. I recently bought 2 chickens for $13. It seems like a lot even because they were on the smaller side. Those two birds, however, lasted for roughly 4 meals each (2 meals from roasting and 2 meals from turning them into soup). There's 8 meals for $13 which I think is a relatively good deal. That's a $1.60-ish a meal; adding in some potatoes and veggies and you're still well under $6/meal. :)

I recently found pork steaks, 8 of them for $7. Each one is big enough for 2 meals if cut up and put into stir fry.

The best thing though is not to let ANYTHING go to waste. If you make roast chicken, don't throw out the drippings! Mix up some water and flour, put the drippings (in a pan) on the stove on medium heat and whisk the water/flour in to make gravy. Don't throw the carcass of the bird out either. Pull the remaining meat off, dump the bones in a pot, cover just barely with water, toss in some carrots, onions, celery, salt and pepper, boil for 30 minutes, remove the bones and veggies, add in the meat, fresh veggies, more seasoning, and some egg noodles (very cheap too in bulk) and boil just until the noodles are cooked. Voila, chicken noodle soup!

Anything you can do to make a meal last longer is ideal.

In my freezer currently I have a nice pork roast that cost $8. But it's big enough for about 3 meals. A few nugget potatoes roasted with some steamed asparagus and you have a cheap meal.

It can be done, although you're going for sure on the extreme end. I would wager that I'm around the $6-8/meal mark currently although it's a heck of a lot better than earlier this year when I was buying mostly premade meals and paying way more than I should have!

I have found though that buying bulk saves money big time. Utilize your freezer. Buy chicken thighs (cheaper than chicken breasts), Ziploc bag em and freeze em. Same with any meat.

I rambled here but maybe do a google search on frugal eating. That should come up with some more ideas. :)

Have fun!
 SoftAndHappy
Joined: 6/15/2009
Msg: 3
How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 5:45:32 PM
$200 a month is not bad at all. Actually, I probably spend about this - not because it is my budget but because that's all I need to spend...

Breakfast? A box of cereal is cheap and lasts forever. Or toast and peanut butter.

You already said you have your lunches covered...

So that leaves $6 per meal for dinner. That's quite a bit actually, if you cook. Rice, chicken, soups, goulash... even a lb of hamburger meat is not $6 and you'd be hard pressed to eat a lb of hamburger meat...

Actually, come to think of it... even the local pizza place offers pizza at $5 for a medium. I can't eat a medium pizza in one sitting...

I guess the question is... what are you buying now? Stay away from the frozen pre-packaged stuff and you should be ok. What gets you is when you buy that prepared stuff... it's bad for both you AND your wallet!
 carterscutie85
Joined: 5/31/2007
Msg: 4
How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 5:47:58 PM
You could try shopping at some discount stores. I know our local dollar stores carry the same food Kroger does for way less. Their food isn't old like most people think-at least not in our dollar stores. Aldi's is also a great place to shop too. Also u can stock up on things u eat alot that won't expire quickly (like canned goods) when they are on sale.
 Breaker_one_nine
Joined: 4/26/2006
Msg: 5
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How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 5:52:59 PM
Some will probably jump all over you but there is a saying, "Don't much matter how the jackass got in the ditch, how do we get it out?"

I would strongly recommend getting yourself a freezer. Buy meat and vegetables when they are on sale and freeze them. This being harvest time is a good time to hit the farmers market.
Next, read up on home canning and give that a try.
Homemade soups and stews are great in the winter time.

Lets hear some other suggestions from people who have at one time been there ok?

$200 a month sure isn't much for food, I wish you the best and hope things get better.
 JWG86
Joined: 7/5/2008
Msg: 6
How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 6:05:04 PM
Sub $7 bucks a day healthy is kinda hard, but here is how I would do it, ends up about $10/day to get what I require for my needs. $7/day if you compromise on health is easy though.

GV Chicken=$8 per bag and gives about 8 pieces, so $1/piece=100kcal per piece
Instant microwavable brown-rice=$2/bag= 500kcal
GV Cerial=$4/box=10 servings? box at 150kcal/serving=$0.50 serving or less
Gallon milk=$4 =10 bowls cerial= $.50 serving and 100kcal per serving
Water = .78/gal and is good for 1/gal per day
Frozen vegetable medley=$2 and 250kcal
Tilapia=$3.50 for 5 servings=120kcal per serving=$0.70 serving

________
EDIT:
OOOOoooooooohhhh...sorry, I did not even LOOK at the OP, yeah, you could do my diet and get away with it, or close to it, at your budget. You don't need as many calories as I do, being as you are a girl, less mass to fuel.
________

Also, since I cannot PM you and I helped you with a question, please answer mine (in PM if you like). You are both satanic and wiccan? I presume that you are much more wiccan than satanist, as very few satanists claim to be wiccan. *I am curious, explain?*

 WantaSmart1
Joined: 8/18/2008
Msg: 7
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How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 7:52:08 PM
I'm not sure how prices are in Ontario compared to where I am. Canadian vs. U.S. dollars might throw the whole thing off.

All good suggestions so far. My suggestion would be to try to buy ingredients that have multiple uses. Buy stuff like ground beef on sale and in bulk then divide it up and freeze it. You could get twice as much that way. Buy enough stuff for a week at a time to avoid extra trips and temptation to buy junk. A couple of weeks ago, I was tempted to buy a piece of cornbread - maybe 5 x 5 inches. They (Safeway) wanted $2.00 for that. Instead, I bought a $4.00 sack of cornmeal - already had flour, eggs, milk at home. For less than $2.00 in ingredients, I made a whole pan of cornbread - probably 5-6 times the amount they were selling. Avoid stuff like large bags of potatoes unless you're going to eat them within a week. Beyond that, they're programmed to start rotting and half ends up getting tossed. Buy a smaller bag and pay about the same in the long run. Don't forget the fruits and veggies - they're important to have and enjoy.

I agree with sticking to the outsides of the grocery store - that's where the basic ingredients are usually kept. Just get used to spending an hour or so per day cooking your own meals and you can be banking the saved cash for something else, or a rainy day. I think I splurged in the past month and spent about $125 on food in total, including some fast food once a week or so, but again I don't know how that computes in exchange rates.

Still have enough left for at least a week, not counting the frozen stuff that I only buy on sale. Soon as I get it home, it goes right into the freezer. I did have to toss a small roast that was half price but only because I left it in the fridge to thaw for a few days longer than I should have, so planning is important. I shop at Safeway ($$$) because it's too far to drive to warehouse-type places, but I still get by well. Hit the stores on Food Day when the sales and coupons are in effect. I rarely buy anything if it's not on sale because it'll just be on sale in a week or two.
 Vancer
Joined: 10/29/2006
Msg: 8
How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 8:42:42 PM
I live in Ontario as well.

Some weeks I buy 2 boxes of cereal, 3 litres of milk in the bags, a loaf of bread, a box of Kraft macaroni, 2 cans of tuna, 2-1 litre bottles of water, 2 frozen burritos and 2 frozen concentrated juices.
It comes to less than $25.00.
Throw in some eggs, soups, salad fixings, fruit and I'm sure it still comes to less than $40.00.

Although in the end it depends on what you like the taste of.
I just buy that stuff because it is simple cheap food, and unfortunately I need to eat to blend in with all you humans. lmao
BTW, that is not all I eat! It is just what I buy when I am lazy, impatient and want to spend less than 5 minutes shopping.
I have the route through the store memorized. :D

EDIT: Oh yeah, to everyone who is suggesting rice... thank-you.
I never thought of that. And it is a very good idea. *rushes to amend shopping route*
 Beachippy
Joined: 3/21/2006
Msg: 9
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How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 8:43:06 PM
in a word... RICE..... ...

with a few veg thrown in... red beans or a small amount of meat a few times a week.... for variety and flavour... (not the bulk of the meal)...

millions of people around the world live on less $..... comparitively... and do OK...

start growing a few herbs ,tomatoes, etc at home.... on the balcony in pots even.... it all helps on a tight budget.... get a few chooks for eggs .... eat the roosters if they hatch....

good luck.....
 pazoozoo
Joined: 8/28/2006
Msg: 10
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How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 9:01:00 PM
$61 dollars a month is frugal, $200 a month is downright decadent, especially if you are getting free meals and groceries. Other than steak and lobster tails, there isn't much you can't buy.

I don't know about Canada, but in the States there is an organization called Angelfood. You can buy a box of really good food for about $30 that will last a week for two people, two weeks for only one. You can look up their offerings on the 'net.
 redneck176
Joined: 7/11/2007
Msg: 11
How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 9:17:47 PM
Venison. Wild game is low in fat and many hunters are more than happy to share some of their cache. My family and friends are always digging into my freezer for elk/deer burger. For my personal usage an elk every other year is plenty, but after the handouts I can easily go through one a year. Lots of hunters like people to sample thier prize. Also my neighbor Susan works in a butcher shop a few days a year for free meat. She does it more because she says "At least I know where its coming from" than any other reason. Butcher shops get busy in the fall.
 WesternWildRose
Joined: 9/15/2008
Msg: 12
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How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 10:08:33 PM
We have @ $400 for groceries a month now...one income...me working very very parttime.... it takes careful planning... that is for 4 of us...and my kids are hearty eaters.

I find that you to plan ahead....and make a list...cook a variety of foods.... you don't have to live on Mac n Cheese when you have little funds.

my kids even get hot lunches, they like soups and meatsauce and pasta for lunch.... I make salads for them and I am trying to get them to eat more fruit.

we don't buy snack and junk foods, no sodas ...they do get some of that at the grandparents once a week so they are happy.

I am not a fan of bulk buying as I find I waste a lot ...I can't get excited about 20lbs of ground beef ....lol. I should though....if the price is right.
 FL CO
Joined: 12/23/2008
Msg: 13
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How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 10:35:16 PM
Start hunting or fishing. That can drastically reduce your meat budget.
 SmilingSalmon
Joined: 12/27/2007
Msg: 14
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How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 10:42:42 PM
Now wait a minute. This is a strange thread to me. Food is relatively expensive where I live and a lot of variety just isn't available. I never spend more than $200 a month and I eat anything I want. I have lobster every few months, I eat steak as often as I want I eat anything and everything I want. I don't get any suppliments or go to any place for food. I am totally confused with this thread.

I am one person, now if I had to feed several, I would understand, but the OP seems to be talking only about herself. If you cook for yourself and not buy preprepared foods you will be able to eat like a queen and be a lot healthier. maybe I eat a lot less than I did when I was young, but I think I eat sufficiently for a young person daily. I always have all I want and plenty more if I want it.
 Emanuel123
Joined: 6/14/2009
Msg: 15
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How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 10:44:42 PM
avoid brand names
buy in bulk and cook to make several meals at a time(freeze them)
50$ a week is enough to eat properly if you are smart about it and feeding only yourself

look for deals
Eat to be healthy

I'm sure there are some sites online which can offer you tips and suggestions
 SmilingSalmon
Joined: 12/27/2007
Msg: 16
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How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 11:26:07 PM
Maybe it is because other than meat, I eat low on the food chain. I never buy boxed or canned items, other than tomato paste and the occasional pineapple for cooking with. I never buy junk and snacks because I don't eat that stuff.

Very few sections of items ever go in my basket
~fresh fruit, organic
~fresh vegetables, organic
~a few items monthly from the International section
~a couple of spice items each month
~I spend about $18 a month on sparkling water and about the same on tangerine, acai and pomegranate juices - I also buy teas and soy or almond milks
~occasionally rice, or other grains, but they last me a long time - if I don't eat eggs for breakfast it is usually a hot cereal or fruit and yogurt - I have homemade berry and other fruit smoothies
~a few condiments in jars monthly like pickles, mustard
~I buy butter when on sale, usually 4# and that last about 3-4 months. I only buy organic, so I always wait for the organic dairy sales. A couple of gallons or even half gallons of milk a month is enough for me. I buy olive oils on sale.
~fresh meat, no hormone, grass fed, no antibiotics at least 12+ months before slaughter - an 8oz steak is generally 2 meals for me - I buy as much as I can a couple of times a year in wild game when I have extra money - I rarely ever eat chicken or pork - I buy duck, goose, salmon, shrimp, crab, occasionally other fish, lamb, beef roasts and steak, sometimes any other meat that I may need for a special dish

I usually end up with way more than I need. Right now I need to be giving away a lot of extra food that I have because I know I will never eat it. Processed, boxed and prepackaged foods are extremely bad for your health and very expensive. The most expensive items on my list are usually dairy, but could be meat, depending on what I am buying. I am judging this by how many servings I get per dollar. I buy organic free range eggs from a farmer, so I do not count those in my $200 a month, but I only spend about $6 a month with him. I do eat a lot of eggs. I rarely buy bread because I do not eat it that often and I make my own. On occasion however, if I do not have time, I will buy bread from the artisan bakery, which costs about $6 a loaf.

I never count household products in my food bill. They cost me about $60 a month...tp, paper towels, soaps, detergents for dishes, dishwasher, clothing detergent, cleaners, sprays etc...

Other than prepackaged, frozen, boxed, canned, junk food and snacks, I cannot imagine what else you could be buying that costs so much. Maybe you need to eat fresh. A lot of people think they are eating healthy, when in fact, it is all junk.

SS
 barbee1970
Joined: 12/29/2008
Msg: 17
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How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 11:28:58 PM
$200 a month should be more than enough to eat on esp when you get free lunch.

I don't get anything free. I go to the dollar store and buy basics, bread, eggs, bacon, milk, ramen noodles, peanut butter jelly and some snack foods.

About once a week I go to China Buffet. I spend less than $100 a month for 1 person.

OK I bet it's not the healthiest, but on a budget, I just focus on eating to survive.
 Landra2
Joined: 6/4/2009
Msg: 18
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How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 11:34:33 PM
That's about what I spend and I eat extremely well.
I shop at a small international/ethnic market where the prices on produce are 1/3 that of a chain store. Their preservative-free breads come from a bakery and are all 99cents
Everything I eat I make from scratch, which saves a hundreds of dollars a month. Eggs, brown rice, whole wheat bread, steamed vegetables, fresh fruit, beans, cheese, meat, chicken, soups, etc.
I figure my 3 meals a day are $2.25 each
Check the sales
Shop ethnic stores
Cook simple foods from scratch
 Vancer
Joined: 10/29/2006
Msg: 19
How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 11:44:00 PM
SmilingSalmon, even though I agree $200 a month for groceries is no problem at all, it is possible there is a price difference between where you live and where OP lives.
I honestly have never bought food down in the US nor up in Thunder Bay, so I have no idea what prices are like in either place.
 SmilingSalmon
Joined: 12/27/2007
Msg: 20
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How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/22/2009 11:55:54 PM
Vancer, you clearly didn't read my post a couple up from the last. For food to be that much more expensive, it would be the most expensive in the world, especially with getting free lunches and going to food pantries over and above the $200 per month. What the heck is she eating, gold??
 Vancer
Joined: 10/29/2006
Msg: 21
How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/23/2009 12:18:39 AM
Vancer, you clearly didn't read my post a couple up from the last. For food to be that much more expensive, it would be the most expensive in the world, especially with getting free lunches and going to food pantries over and above the $200 per month. What the heck is she eating, gold??


And I agreed with you.
OP is only asking for suggestions on low budget healthy eating. She has never explicitly implied it was in any way impossible for her. But just in case, I brought up a possibility of price differences between areas, as I truly did not wish to see the topic be about criticizing her.
 Cherie~
Joined: 9/1/2009
Msg: 22
How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/23/2009 2:08:18 AM
Bye in bulk, rice and pulses are brilliant, also oats for breakfast, keeps you full for longer, slow realising carbs. Get some spices and herbs, then voila!

Also bye veg boxes, or see if there is a fruit and veg early morning market near you, half the price of supermarkets!

Any space to grow your own veg?

Hope this helps xx

Cherie xx


Also not sure about US but in the UK just before the supermarkets are about to shut, meat is down from £11 to £1.50 for fillet steak, lamb or chicken! Just a thought... Could freeze it???
 pla*ce
Joined: 2/16/2009
Msg: 23
How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/23/2009 3:04:50 AM
my daily diete icludes
6 large robin's cups of coffee and a box of dougnuts , don't want to go to far
I eat just about $50.00 a day, I know been single sucks ,
and dump around $25.00 weekly in updated groceries
 JWG86
Joined: 7/5/2008
Msg: 24
How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/23/2009 3:52:59 AM

$61 dollars a month is frugal, $200 a month is downright decadent, especially if you are getting free meals and groceries. Other than steak and lobster tails, there isn't much you can't buy.


I can pound $61 worth of food down in a week, and I mean home-cooked stuff that I fix for myself, not including things like steak or whatnot, and not eating out. then again. I eat. A lot.
 bj7
Joined: 1/18/2009
Msg: 25
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How to eat on 200 dollars a month? (Frugal)?
Posted: 9/23/2009 4:11:11 AM
I agree with the posters who buy in bulk. I buy larger packages of meat and seperate them into smaller double wrapped containers. Also learn what freezes well and what doesn't. I always make soups and casseroles, spaghetti sauce, and chili in larger batches and freeze into individual portions which I date and label. If I make a pork roast i will use the leftover meat for a stir fry with asparagus, mushrooms, and onions and bell peppers. Something new from something used, I guess.
My budget monthly is harder to tabulate for me because I hate grocery shopping and do it it spurts. I might spend 400 dollars one month, but then only pick up neccesities for two or three months. My younger brother usually comes to eat at least twice a week, as well as my nephew. And they are both big eaters. I eat well and enjoy treats as well. This week we are having a lobster dinner for my parents . I live near coast, buy from the boat and the lobster is 3 dollars a pound. That is cheaper than chicken here. So i will have extra for the freezer.
Also use your window sill to grow your own fresh herbs. Sometimes you can find them for 2 bucks in your grocery store, Just take them home and repot and in a few weeks enjoy. If you find you have to many, dry them to enjoy later. good luck
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