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Darth_Kitten Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:10 PM
Original message
Poll question: What's a reasonable food budget for one person a month?
I'm just curious, well, I'm trying to cut down expenses and try to budget my money better. :evilgrin:

I'm talking groceries.

Sorry, polls are turned off at Level 3.

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DBoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:14 PM
Response to Original message
1. What do you eat?
how good a cook are you? Do you enjoy cooking?

How much time do you have for food preparation?
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BikeWriter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:14 PM
Response to Original message
2. It depends on how often you eat out...
I eat out often. :-)
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Darth_Kitten Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:16 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. that will be a separate budget....
:)
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tjdee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:14 PM
Response to Original message
3. The biggest problem is eating what you buy before it goes bad.
I mean, if you're single and you buy some pasta sauce, how long can you keep it opened and half full in the fridge before calling it a day? Do you have to eat pasta every day for a week so you're not wasteful?

If you get yogurt because there's 10 for 8 bucks or whatever, how long are those yogurts going to sit there? Then that's money down the drain....

I tended to underbuy when it was just me....very hungry time, LOL.
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Darth_Kitten Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:18 PM
Response to Reply #3
9. You brought up a good issue...
living single can be expensive sometimes because you cannot buy that huge pasta sauce and keep it for long. :(

I'm starting to learn to "underbuy". :)
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Pithlet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 07:56 PM
Response to Reply #3
30. Very true.
I had similar issues when living by myself. I don't think you get as much bang for your buck buying for one, and it's hard to use everything up before it gets bad, if you don't have a lot of time for food prep.
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China_cat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 08:24 PM
Response to Reply #3
36. You use what you need of the pasta sauce
and freeze the rest in portions (I could eat at least 3 good meals out of one jar of sauce). The same for anything else, buy in bulk and split it out into dry storage or freezer packs.

Costco...a pack of large chicken breasts for $18.00. There are 12 in the pack and I can only eat 1/2 one at a time. That's 24 meals. And since I don't eat meat at every meal...

Or a pack of hamburger for $15. Extra lean so you don't lose so much in the cooking. Make it up into 6 to 8 freezer packs.

If you have a Sav-a-Lot grocery near you, you can get canned veggies really cheap. 10 cans of different stuff for less than $5 (Actually, less than $4) Cheap instant mashed potatoes that come in pouches so they don't go bad after opening, rice-a-roni knock offs for .30. I don't think I've ever spent more than $15 in there and had enough stuff to last a month.

And if you're really broke and desperate, you find somebody with a Costco card and give them $3 for a box of 24 Ramen noodle packets ($2.97, they can keep the other 3 cents for a tip)

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Sanity Claws Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:15 PM
Response to Original message
4. About $50 a week
That's a reasonable sum, with you getting balanced meals and eating in almost all the time. Remember that comes out to about $7.00 a day. Maybe you could get down to $6 or $6.50 a day but it would be hard.
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Dukkha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:35 PM
Response to Reply #4
16. that's what I live off of
Weekdays I actually live off $3.00 a day average. Friday - Sunday I eat a lot more. So It's weekend binging with weekday purging.
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Sanity Claws Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:44 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. I agree
Your budget should allow for the splurge, if you can. Otherwise, you will feel very depressed.
There have been times when I lived off about $25 a week but it was hard and it was for a limited time.
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intheflow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:16 PM
Response to Original message
6. I said $175-225, but
Edited on Mon Aug-08-05 06:19 PM by intheflow
I imagine it depends on food prices in your area. Of course buying generic/store brands can probably save you some money.

And coupons--although I don't eat a lot of the kind of stuff they (the food conglomerates) issue coupons for. Still, one of our local grocery stores doubles every coupon under $1, which can save beaucoup $$$$.

In the sumer, buyig direct from growers at the farmers markets can save some good money, too.
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:17 PM
Response to Original message
7. Buy non perishables in bulk when on sale
shop frequently for fresh stuff, use coupons for stuff you use,cook 2 or 3 portions at a time and "make your own TV dinners" with the extra..

You could do fine on 40-50 a week..
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Silverhair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:18 PM
Response to Original message
8. Depends on lots of variables.
Food prices vary greatly from one part of the country to another. Do you have a special requirements? Do you have a separate freezer? (Those help a lot. Find a great special and stock up.) Are you a coupon clipper? Are you willing to buy groceries at Wal-Mart? (In my area they are about 20 to 30% cheaper for the same items.)
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MissB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:19 PM
Response to Original message
10. Are you including alcohol in that amount?
If so, then I'd tend towards the more-than-$75 range.

Otherwise, you should be able to eat for under $75 for one person. That assumes not much convenience food, though. The more you cook from scratch, the cheaper groceries become.
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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:19 PM
Response to Original message
11. $100/mo. Of course, I pay $200+/mo and that's still thru sams club...
Edited on Mon Aug-08-05 06:20 PM by HypnoToad
Don't give me the spurious morality; I didn't make your society, I am forced to try to survive in it just as you. Having no income for 3.5 months made me appreciate lower prices that much more...

Of course, if food was free everybody would breed like guppies and we'd run out of food and the means to make it with... wait, that's a lie. We have money and all these other artificial means to keep population down and, whoops, it didn't work. Oh well!!


Oh, my diet is EXTREMELY healthy. Mostly vegetables, milk, some meats, and sauces. Some chips and shit food, but not much and I buy NO CANDY WHATSOEVER. Diabetic, you know... one would think real food would be less costly. nope.
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Der Blaue Engel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:22 PM
Response to Original message
12. Yeesh, where do you people live, and can I shop there?
I spend at least $400 a month on groceries, although I do buy for two, but I can't imagine getting by on less than $75/week for just myself.

But then I am a lazy, lazy, slob who rarely cooks, so I buy a lot of things in packages.
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MissB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 07:21 PM
Response to Reply #12
21. If you rarely cook
your food budget is going to be way higher than mine. I cook mostly from scratch. Instead of paying $3.49 for a loaf of focaccia bread, I can make it for around 12 cents.
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mcscajun Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 07:33 PM
Response to Reply #21
27. Absolutely. If I want cookies, then I have to make them.
'cause they'll be cheaper that way, and better.

My cookie jar is rarely empty in cooler weather. It's just too bloody hot to back this summer.
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mcscajun Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 07:27 PM
Response to Reply #12
24. "Convenience foods" are death to a budget.
Edited on Mon Aug-08-05 07:28 PM by mcscajun
One jar of pasta sauce can cost far more than a large can of good quality crushed tomatoes or tomato puree, and it's likely to spoil before you finish it as a single.

Buy the crushed tomatoes and puree to make a 'from scratch' sauce, fry up a mess of meatballs or sweet sausage, put the whole business in Ziploc freezer containers in portion sizes, and you're covered for a few weeks of good pasta meals.

Gradually wean yourself from 'brand loyalty' -- you won't abandon all your favorites, to be sure, but once in a while, try the generic brand -- if you can't really notice much difference, then you've made another saving choice.

Almost any food a single is likely not to consume before it spoils can find safety in the freezer until its time has come. :)

My freezer routinely contains homemade soups, a stew or chili, spaghetti sauce with and without meats, raw bacon strips, butter, english muffins, unbaked scones, and other breads, all in portions so I can pick out what I want at a moment's notice. Sometimes there will even be a delicacy or two, like homemade wontons that can be thrown into chicken broth, or fried for snacks.

If you're going to be on a budget, you've got to really cook. :)

You don't have to cook every night, though. Most of what I mentioned above can be done on a Sunday set aside for the purpose once or twice a month...more often in colder months, naturally.
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Der Blaue Engel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 08:04 PM
Response to Reply #24
31. I mentioned the part where I was lazy, right?
:D
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mcscajun Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 08:10 PM
Response to Reply #31
34. Yup...but you pay for that luxury item. Big time.
Laziness and procrastination cost money.

I've been guilty of both, so I know. :)
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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 09:01 PM
Response to Reply #12
41. Oh, I'd rather go costco but they are much farther away...
:cry:

I also spend $50/mo easily on eating out. :crazy: That makes up for it. :D
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NoSheep Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:25 PM
Response to Original message
13. My food budget fluctuates. If things are going okay, I'll spend money on
good food before I put money in a savings account. That doesn't really seem right, but that is what I do. One can have a very good diet on very little money if you are willing to cook and eat nutritious foods that don't really offer taste and variety. If you are trying to survive a low spot, look for green foods and beans and whole grains. Invest in bulk spices for variety. You will be full and healthy. :9
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HereSince1628 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:25 PM
Response to Original message
14. It depends a bit on where in the country you live.
Things will change their prices seasonally, but also according to surpluses in a single store.

More frequent trips to the store actually increase your probability of hitting these in-store specials.

And I'd advise you to look at your total spending before you cut your budget below what provides a healthy diet. A drink at a bar can cost as much as an entire home cooked meal, a theater ticket can be two meals...

Bottom line is be thrifty, spend smart.







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bridgit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:26 PM
Response to Original message
15. 75 - 125 dollars...
living well is the best revenge :thumbsup:
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nosmokes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:40 PM
Response to Original message
17. the CSAs around here are @$ 250 per month or less and that's
more than enough to feed2 and then you still have dairy on top of that and grains and stuff, but that's mighty fine eating, everything fresh and organic and you don't spend time in the grocery store and you get introduced to veggies you otherwise might not ever hear of. tip on finding a CSA- go to your local farmers mkt and check out the stalls there and ask the people you like if they do CSA. and if a share is too much food for you then split one with somebody.

eat local
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Sanity Claws Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 06:46 PM
Response to Original message
19. for people who said $50-$75 a month,
I'd like to know what your food choices are. What menus are you able to plan with that kind of budget? I'm sincerely curious. It sounds like I could learn something.
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MissB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 07:24 PM
Response to Reply #19
22. I think the key is
to cook from scratch and to mostly not use convenience food. Upthread I gave an example of not spending $3.49 for a loaf of focaccia bread and instead making it from scratch myself for 12 cents a loaf.

I'm pretty fearless on cooking (or baking) things from scratch. We don't always eat meat at every meal either. One of our favorite (cheap) meals in the summertime is flaffel (in homemade pita), hummus and taboleh.

The working side of our family doesn't eat out at lunch time either. We pack lunches.
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Sanity Claws Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 08:05 PM
Response to Reply #22
32. Do you work outside the home?
I use canned beans instead of dried and buy bread, not make it from scratch. The reason is the convenience and time; I simply don't have the time to do all that is necessary.
How much time do you spend on food shopping and preparation per week?
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MissB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 08:35 PM
Response to Reply #32
37. I don't currently, no.
But when I was, I relied on a version of once-a-month cooking (it was more like once a week for me, on the weekends) to control the food budget.

I have unlimited time right now for food shopping. I generally go once every two weeks (I abhor grocery shopping) and spend about an hour shopping. I think it takes me about an equal time to write the grocery list. I probably spend about an average of about an hour and a half a day on food prep and slightly more on the weekends.
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nothingshocksmeanymore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 07:28 PM
Response to Reply #19
25. I think a single person could eat the following on 50-75 a month
Edited on Mon Aug-08-05 07:29 PM by nothingshocksmeanymo
4 whole chickens - about 20$
4lbs ground meat - about 7$
4 lbs pasta about 4$
4 weeks salad greens 8$
4 weeks veggies seasonal 8$
bag of rice...............2$
bag of beans..............1$
bacon to season beans.....3$
garlic/onions 4 weeks.....2$

We aren't to 60$ yet and I could show a single individual how to take the chicken and turn it into three meals...I could show them how to turn the ground beef into two meals and have pasta as a main dish another night (with a meatball from the ground meat) and use the beans for a main course as well)

(but for the record, I voted that she should budget $200 for food)
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Sanity Claws Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 08:12 PM
Response to Reply #25
35. I think more has to be spent on produce
than you have allotted. $2.00 a week will pay one head of lettuce and a cucumber. That's not enough. Vegetables will also be more than $2 a week. One bunch of celery is about 1.29; with the rest you could buy some carrots. These vegetables would not last a full week.
No fruit, dairy, or bread is listed. Also not listed: juice, coffee, tea, cooking oil, condiments, or occasional dessert.
While one may get by on your list, I don't think one would be very happy or very full.
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SOteric Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 08:52 PM
Response to Reply #35
38. It depends on region and it depends
on one's cooking skills, but if a person were to budget carefully it's more than possible.

I note that like me, you live in Washington state. NSMA lives in southern California. Both areas have access to a great deal of fresh produce, but SoCal is perhaps a cut above us in variety and low pricing.

I'm well able to spend less than that in the Seattle area by shopping farmer's markets, buying bulk and by knowing what's in season. Why would I buy a whole bunch of celery for $1.29, when I only need a maximum of 3 stalks for the week and many roadside stands will let me buy by the stalk...? While fresh produce is ideal, tastey and healthy, frozen product can help a person on a budget get their vital servings in a more fiscally efficient manner.

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Sanity Claws Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 08:59 PM
Response to Reply #38
40. Budget carefully
That is the problem. The question is what is a reasonable budget, not what is the losest you could get it down to.
There comes a point where you can scrimp but are you getting any enjoyment from the food? Is is as nurtritous as it could be? I took those things into account, as well as satiating hunger, when looking at the numbers.

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SOteric Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 09:02 PM
Response to Reply #40
42. I'll grant I have an advantage,
because I come from a long line of foodservice professionals, but truly, in summertime, I don't usually spend more than $80 a month on food for me (kitty and laundry stuff not included) and I drink excellent wines and only use really good cheese.

:hi:

I think we need to start a thread to share some of our tips on keeping to a food budget in a decadent manner.
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Sanity Claws Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 09:06 PM
Response to Reply #42
43. Count me in
I'm pretty frugal and eat a lot of my own cooking. Would love to know some new tips on how to save on food while not scrimping on nutrition.
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mcscajun Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 07:17 PM
Response to Original message
20. Depends greatly where you live...
Edited on Mon Aug-08-05 07:19 PM by mcscajun
...your costs for many grocery items in metropolitan areas will be higher than in other locations; conversely, in isolated areas, many things need to be trucked in over long distances and everything but locally produced items will be more expensive.

For myself, as a single on a budget, $50 a week does it (not counting an occasional takeout pizza or dinner out.)

I cook and freeze soups, stews and spaghetti sauce with meatballs in portion sizes, and buy family pack meats when on sale and freeze them in portions as well. Any bread likely to spoil before use also heads for the freezer, and bacon gets wrapped in 2-3 strip packages and frozen.

The key is eliminating waste, using nearly NO "convenience foods" and making as much of your own stuff as possible.
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Coyote_Bandit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 07:27 PM
Response to Original message
23. Depends on lots of stuff
I eat cheap - but then I have been a jobless schmuck for nearly three years now. It is unusual for me to spend more than $50 weekly for groceries.

These are my tricks. Shop the sales. Use coupons. Buy in bulk if you are able to freeze portions. Buy fresh fruits and veggies from street vendors and farmer's markets. Shop at the day old bread store - or the local canning factory. Learn to recycle leftovers. Use spices and sauces for variety. Learn to do without the convenience foods - or at least cut back on their use. Ditch the bottled and canned drinks - instead, drink tea or coffee or filtered (not bottled) water. Buy store brands. Ditch some of the junk food so that you are getting good nutrition for your money. Consider alternative forms of protein (cheese, eggs, peanut butter, beans, tofu, etc.) for two of your three daily meals. Learn to mix your own salad dressings, and make your own chili, taco, and spaghetti sauce packets. Don't shop when you are hungry. Don't shop without a list. And shop at least twice a week and make yourself use the express lane every time you go to the store. Buy and eat stuff you like and don't forget to splurge occassionally.


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mcscajun Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 07:32 PM
Response to Reply #23
26. I'll echo the Coyote_Bandit and add one or two more...
The three rules of supermarket shopping:

Don't shop when you are hungry.
Don't shop without a list.
Don't shop when you are tired.

The # 1 Rule of "Bargains" = Nothing is a "bargain" if it will spoil before you finish it.

I'm reminded of an ex-husband cajoling me to buy the large can of olive oil, when I knew as just two of us, we'd never get through the can before most of the oil went rancid. ICK.
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Darth_Kitten Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 07:47 PM
Response to Reply #23
28. Thanks everybody for all your tips!
Much appreciated! :)
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Dastard Stepchild Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 07:51 PM
Response to Original message
29. Hmmm... my husband and I spend about $450
And that's shopping at Whole Foods. In a major urban area. We buy organic, so our food costs are actually pretty high. So, if we can feed 2 people all organic, all at Whole Foods, for about $450, your budget should be SIGNIFICANTLY smaller. :)
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Celeborn Skywalker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 08:07 PM
Response to Original message
33. I spend about $160 a month. (nt)
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SOteric Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 08:57 PM
Response to Original message
39. How about some tips on cutting costs...?
Maybe we could launch a 'Project Austerity' thread for the benefit of yourself and many other DUers who've recently indicated an interest in being more thrifty.

I'll be the collected wisdom of DUers on this matter would be fierce.

:7
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Darth_Kitten Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 09:20 PM
Response to Reply #39
44. Why not?
Sounds pretty darn good to me! :)
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hibbing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 09:44 PM
Response to Reply #39
46. count me in
I consider myself a "cheap" eater, but I don't think I am denying myself good things. Spending 7 bucks for a t-bone just has no appeal
to me. As stated by many, cooking from scratch and not having meat
every meal saves. Would like to see a thread about this eating cheap
idea with recipes! Pizza stones are awesome for bread and homemade pizza btw.
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William Bloode Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 09:26 PM
Response to Original message
45. At least $400 a month for just me.
Serious i have to eat a protein rich diet, and consume 4-5,000 calories a day just to maintain my weight.

But now if i still ate like we did when i was young, maybe $100 a month. We were pretty poor, we always had food, but it was mostly beans/peas, cornbread/biscuits, potato's/rice, and greens. We had meat once a week and that was hot dog friday! If you have to you can get by with just staple foods and save loads of money.
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DBoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 09:45 PM
Response to Original message
47. My two cents
Buy dried beans and grains, pasta, fresh veggies, potatos and inexpensive meats. Get some tasty seasonings. Dinners are a combo of starch/veggie/protein plus whatever sauce meets my fancy.

Buy as basic as possible. Shop around the edges of the market.

Casseroles are your friend.
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DBoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 09:54 PM
Response to Original message
48. Make your own beer/wine
I'm not totally kidding either. Beer kits are not too expensive and can make a lot of tasty brew.

Wine making kits are somewhat labor intensive, but you can make a lot for cheap (esp if you re-use bottles).

I found a recipe for ginger beer that was very tasty and much less costly than any canned soda.
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smartvoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-08-05 10:00 PM
Response to Original message
49. It can be done for less, but if you want to have some variety,
I would plan on $40 - $50 per week.
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