Hello again and welcome if you are new to my blog. So, when you have a very limited budget then this is the best time to plan your meals to make sure you don’t spend too much and to make sure you always have something to eat. There was a time when we lived 4 adults, 2 kids, 3 cats and 1 dog on a single income, I took it on myself to plan out the meals and the shopping every week in the budget so we wouldn’t starve . Thankfully things are much better now for us, everyone goes through difficult times, there’s no shame in that. I am actually very thankful for those times, cause I learned so much! Today I’m going to share with you the tips and tricks. I also need to mention that different countries (probably states as well if you’re from US) have different cheap items, something that costs nothing in one country could be a luxury item in another. I know that well after living in 3 different countries and it can be frustrating, especially when I search for “cheap recipes” online and the ingredients cost a lot where I live.
How many meals? And what kind? First you need to find out how manay main meals you need (lunch and dinner), if you get these down it’s all good. Even if you skip breakfast or a snack some days at least you have something to fill your belly. For us this was 14 meals for week, but maybe you get a free meal at your work some days or you can go to your parents (or whoever) to dinner. Then do the same with breakfast. And then the least important, but we can’t live without our afternoon snack. Now you have the numbers, let’s move on.
Promos & coupons. We don’t have coupons where we live, but I always checked online all the offers in different shops before starting my plan. If the rice is discounted I’ll have more rice meals that week and so on. You have to know your shops, where to get the best prices on stuff.
The basics. Those are the main part of your lunch and dinner meals, the ones that fill you up, the ones that shouldn’t you be able to buy anything else, you could still survive by eating those (wouldn’t be fun or good but it’s something). The basics are pasta, potatoes, rice, bread flour, any cereal (buckwheat, cous cous etc). Keep in mind how big is your household. How many people does one pack of 500g pasta feed? If it’s only 2 of you you can have around 3 uses from one pack, so when you’re making a list do the math. For us it was one pack for one meal. A kg of rice gave us around 2 meals.
The toppings. This is the stuff you put on your basics: tomato sauce, veggies, beans, meat, cheese etc. Stick to simple meals with few ingredients. Spices are your best friends and stock up on sauces (like ketchup, mayo, barbeque – whatever is your thing) when there is a good offer to give a more taste to your simple meals. Now that you’ve checked out the promos you can decide which ones are the most convenient, which vegetables are on sale, which toppings are the most versatile and you can make the most of of them and so on.
Breakfast & snacks. Now see what can you use for your breakfast. Flour and bread are really cheap everywhere I think. I didn’t even buy eggs for pancakes or french toast. I made pancakes with yogurt, flour, some water, sugar, baking soda and oil. And for french toast I made them with milk, sugar and cinnamon. We also ate bread with jam or margarine, or just plain cheap tea bisquits. Oatmeal is cheap but we never used that cause no one but me likes it in my family. Eggs are not that cheap where we live so lucky you if they are where you live. If you can get your hands on cheap bulk cereal and milk – go ahead.
Buy for the whole week & avoid small shops. Yes, yes I know, support the local, support the small shops. The small shops are usually a little more expensive, it might not be a lot but it adds up in the end. First you gotta strive, then you can support them in the future :)
I am going to do a post on 3-4 ingredient foods you can make for some inspiration. In the meantime I hope this helped you out a little! Stay strong and with a little bit of organization you can get through anything!