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Can a Single Person Eat at Home for $100 a Month?

08.24.2011 · Posted in Food Tips, Polls

Take this poll and see.

If you only have $100 per month to spend on food, what would your meals consist of?  I’ve searched for menus given this spending restraint but could find no menus, only shopping strategies and grocery lists.  My real question is how healthy and well can you eat on $100 per month?  As a single retired person living on a fixed income, its important to keep expenses at a minimum and health at a premium.  Dare say, struggling single-young-people  have the same quest.  To that end, I’ve devised menus for a month of meals that ensure high nutrition, comfort and ease of preparation.  Every week starting Monday, August 29th, I will blog one week’s worth of menus with links to the recipes and a shopping list with prices so you can glean how this is being accomplished.  Shopping smart is the key.

Its important to note that certain food staples are necessary to have on hand when you begin creating menus.  A list is provided (below) of staples you should have on hand.  These will last for several months,  for example: a box of salt will last you 4 months or more; herbs, spices, vinegars, syrups and extracts will last at least 6 months;  ketchup, mustard and other condiments will definitely last more than a month.  Unless you love to bake, or dried beans and lentils are your thing, you can allow $10-$20 per month to buy new staples and replenish old ones.  Buying those “Lost Leaders” (sale items that get you into the store so you’ll buy more expensive items) will save a lot of money in stocking your staples for the freezer and pantry.  Once you have your staples you can buy more fresh produce (fruits and veggies), meat, fish, eggs and dairy for immediate consumption.

Growing your own herbs and some vegetables will add flavor and nutrition to your diet plus save money.  Making your own condiments and cooking from scratch will also save money.  And, whenever you get a bunch of fresh fruit or veggies from parents or neighbors, its definitely worth the time and effort to preserve, freeze, dehydrate or pickle for future use.  Food Banks are often called to harvest fruit from backyards where the owners cannot deal with the abundance of fruit falling from their trees.  If your neighbor has a lot of fallen fruit and it doesn’t appear they are using it, ask them for it, u-pick it instead of letting the fruit rot on the ground.   Freeze fruit for pies, smoothies, coulis, etc.  Make some jam, jellies or fruit butters for yourself and for gifts.  If you don’t know how to cook check out YouTube videos entitled “how to cook – “, check out Chef John’s videos at foodwishes, buy a cookbook at a garage sale, ask your Mom, your Aunt, your neighbor or your girl(boy) friend for recipes and definitely try some of my recipes.  Just remember, “If you can read, you can cook.”

List of staples to have on hand:

In the Pantry:

  • flour, all-purpose and whole wheat
  • yeast
  • dry milk powder, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk
  • baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, cocoa powder
  • creamed soups (mushroom, chicken, celery, etc) (I like to make these from scratch and freeze them)
  • canned veggies (tomatoes, tomato paste, chipotle chile, roasted red pepper, corn, beets) and fruit (black plums, peaches)
  • various spices & seasonings (the basics: garlic powder, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, thyme, salt, pepper, dried onion, dill etc)
  • various condiments (worcestershire, soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, Tabasco, olives, capers etc)
  • vinegar, olive oil and vegetable oil
  • rice, oatmeal and cornmeal
  • peanut butter, molasses, maple syrup
  • dried fruit like raisins, prunes, figs, and apricots, etc
  • canned tuna, canned salmon, sardines, etc
  • sugars, white and brown, powdered sugar
  • dried beans, split peas, quinoa and lentils
  • potato flakes, couscous, stuffing mixes
  • pasta

In the freezer and frigerator:

  • chicken broth homemade
  • beef broth homemade
  • homemade breads, rolls, plus store-bought tortillas, English muffins purchased on sale
  • pureed pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet peas, broccoli, etc. and other fresh fruits & veggies frozen before they can go bad.
  • ribs, ground beef, turkey, chicken, sausage, etc.  All meats bought on sale, divided into portions and frozen.
  • nuts and seeds (these items keep better and longer in the freezer rather than in a cupboard)
  • ginger root
  • frozen juices
  • butter (real) and cheese bricks bought when on sale
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3 Responses to “Can a Single Person Eat at Home for $100 a Month?”

  1. I have just read the MLA $108 challenge, and found he was also trying to serve his agenda…that it was very hard. We all know it is possible, because many of us not on benefits are doing it now.He has probably never cooked or shopped in the last 20 years.I left a reply on it, and still waiting to see if the moderators publish it.Since I keep a copy in my files, this is part of what I posted:

    After looking thru the local flyers, this is what I have come across this week, this is how I would spend $108
    At the end of this month there will be some things leftover. Next month you can add some others, and eventually you will get a pantry built up.

    1.99- 5 lbs sugar
    2.99-teabags (60)
    .59- box mac & cheese
    $2.28-2 tubs margarine@ 1.14
    10.99- 10kg flour
    2.49- rolled oats
    1.00-yeast (bulk )
    1.00-cornstarch (bulk)
    1.00-baking pwd (bulk)
    2.00- 2 pkgs pasta @1.00

    1.25-pasta sauce
    .75- can tomatoes
    .75-kidney beans
    1.38-2 cans tomato soup @ .69
    .99- can corn
    .69- can baked beans
    .99- can cream of chicken soup
    .59- can vegetable
    2.99- miracle whip

    1.00- 4pk pudding cups
    1.00-4 pk yogurt
    4.00- 500ml half & half cream @1.00
    4.44- 500g cheese block

    3.50-15 lbs potatoes
    2.00- 3 lbs carrots
    2.00-3 lbs onions
    .59- 1 lb cabbage
    2.49- frozen broccoli
    4.00- 2 L juice @ 1.00
    1.50-2 lbs green peppers
    1.50- 4 pk fresh tomatoes
    .99- 1 lb bananas

    4.00- 3 cans tuna
    1.00- can ham
    1.00- weiners
    1.00-pkg bologna
    4.29-26pc fish sticks
    6.00-eggs 2 doz
    13.00- assortd reduced meats

    1.00-baking soda (bulk)
    2.00-spices/S & P
    1.00-cooking oil-dollar store
    1.00-ketchup-dollar store
    1.00-lemon juice- dollar store

    What would I make
    pasta dishes
    tuna casseroles
    beans & weiners
    tuna burgers
    ham dinner
    fish and veggs
    hearty soups
    corn chowder
    baked potatoes
    scalloped potatoes

    french toast

    cinnamon buns

  2. Thanks Kathryn for your shopping list and menu items. Would you please send me the link to the MLA $108 challenge?

  3. Kathryn,
    I found the MLA $108 Challenge online and concur that this guy does not have the skill set to survive on $108/month for food. There are a lot of people out there in the same boat. Instead of throwing more money at them it would be more beneficial to give them a suggested shopping list and a cookbook.
    I save a lot of money making my own condiments, like mayo, ketchup, and mustard. I also bake all my breads, make my own spaghetti sauce, basil pesto without the pine nuts or parmigiano, and when I’m really energetic I make my own pasta. I make yogurt every week, mozzarella and haloumi, when needed, all from powdered milk. The spices and herbs in my cupboard were getting a little old so I ground up a bunch of them for spice mixes like Old Bay Seasoning, pickling spices, Italian seasoning, made some celery salt with celery seeds and sea salt, and rosemary salt with dried rosemary from my garden. Sauerkraut is another favorite to make in a quart jar and only takes 2 lbs of cabbage. It’s tomato season here in Puerto Rico so my newest project is sun dried tomatoes and crispy dried tomatoes that I can turn into powder for paste, sauce or soup.
    I can appreciate the challenge of finding bargains and produce in the Northern hemisphere during the winter months and like my mother and grandmother I hedge those winter shortages by canning and preserving the bounty of produce when in season. Its preparation 101 along with Victory gardens.
    Do stay in touch…I’m always interested in how others are managing.

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