Author Topic: $40/month to feed one person?  (Read 15480 times)

Offline vonhismean

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #30 on: March 13, 2010, 04:20:58 PM »
Great post lunk.  Idk how to eat on $40 a month but i think one thing alot of people leave out of cheap and HEALTHY eating is sprouts.  I like to eat really cheap myself and think I follow more of a Asian or Medieval diet most of the time.  Typically everything I eat either has rice, greens of some kind, garlic, onions, peppers, seasoning and some small amount of meat and sprouts of some kind.  And it either stirfried or in a soup version.  I think aside from the amount of processed food people eat combined with the high prices of meat and how much most people add is where the high prices of food come in.  And eating like this for me also provides alot of energy since I like to workout everyday.  I like to follow a book called(The Warrior Diet) for ideas and it has worked really well for me.

Offline Lunk

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #31 on: March 14, 2010, 12:04:14 AM »
I like sprouts as well. There was a thread I read the other day about Lentils that they were talking about sprouting them. It had never occurred to me to make my own sprouts. It is now something I'm going to be looking into shortly.

Offline antsyaunt

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #32 on: March 14, 2010, 07:10:00 AM »
Great post, Lunk.  It's so easy to get in the habit of cooking the same foods the same way over and over.  Your post was a great reminder to mix things up a little.  +1  Also, I have sprouted lentils; they taste similar to fresh peas.  I like them in a wrap with marinated hot peppers and feta cheese.  weird, but tasty. 

Offline CGFxColoneill

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #33 on: March 14, 2010, 08:28:27 PM »
   For starters the most important thing I can talk about for cooking well is have a SHARP KNIFE! The style, shape, size does not matter. All that matters is that it is as close to razer sharp as you can get it. A sharp knife is a safe knife. A dull knife you have to apply force to get it to go though things and it can bind and when you apply to much force it can slip and cut you.
I hope this is at least mildly useful, if anyone has any other questions feel free to ask. I will help as best I can. ;D
you have recommendations on knifes? maybe 100 to 200 dollars for how ever many would get me started

I am going to be moving out on my own after I graduate in a bit less than 2 months and the only knifes I own are not related to kitchen work:P

so any other recommendations would be great as well

thanks great posts btw +1


Offline Lunk

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #34 on: March 15, 2010, 02:20:51 AM »
you have recommendations on knifes? maybe 100 to 200 dollars for how ever many would get me started

I am going to be moving out on my own after I graduate in a bit less than 2 months and the only knifes I own are not related to kitchen work:P

so any other recommendations would be great as well

thanks great posts btw +1



You can get by with 3 knives. I have 3 different knife sets and the one I carry to work everyday has:
1 8 inch french knife
1 4 inch pairing knife
1 12 inch serrated slicer
1 12 inch (used to be 14 inch but I cut it down to 12) HEAVY weight french knife
1 potato peeler
1 lemon reamer
1 microplane grater

If I were to re-purchase everything in that roll I think I would be into it for about $100 with the exception of the 12 inch french knife, that was a gift and I would not buy one for myself.

The 8 inch french knife is made by a company called Mercer. They are made in Taiwan using High carbon stainless from Germany.
You can see it here Knife. I do not remember where I got it online but I was into it for less than $30 bucks. I have found it to be comparable quality-wise to Trident, Henckel, Global, etc. but costs half as much.  Don't pick the one I did just because I use it tho. I would suggest you go to a knife store or housewares store and ask to handle various knives. See which one feels good in your hand. If it's not comfortable, you won't use it and it's wasted money.

The paring knife is a Henckel because I needed one and it was the most economical choice of the types I needed to choose from. On that note there is a health requirement at least in my area that the knife has a bonded handle. So no riveted wood, shank with an end cap etc.

The only other knife I need regularly is the serrated one. There are many types and manufacturers out there. The thing to know about them is that they are all almost impossible to re-sharpen well so buying a $10 dollar one and chucking it every 2 years is perfectly fine. I have a Forschner because I can kind of re-sharpen it so it has lasted me going on 6 years now but you should be able to get a Dexter-Russell for $10-$15. Pick one that keeps your knuckles off the cutting board as it is far easier to slice through and item if you don't have to hold the knife at an odd angle to keep your hand up.

The rest of the stuff is really just fluff, I juice allot of lemons for my cooking so I carry a reamer, the peeler was 2 bucks and the micoplane I use occasionally but I have found it to be invaluable when I need it. As I find a regular need for other items I will add them but that knife roll only had 3 things in it for 2 years.

I prefer Forged steel for french knives and any quality knife makers pairing knife will do. I would also recommend getting a good 2 sided whetstone and a bottle of mineral oil from the drug store. Do not use vegetable oil on the stone or you will ruin it. Vegetable oils oxidize and become gummy, it will destroy the stone. The 99 cent bottle of mineral oil from the drug store is exactly the same stuff as the $7-$10 bottle of "sharpening stone" oil without the pretentious pricing. If you do not know how to sharpen a knife well I would go buy the Boyscout handbook that should cover it. It's a good general reference to have around as well.

With the Mercer you can send away for a free knife blade. I believe in them. Use them. You should be able to buy them from a knife store for $2-$3 a piece. Get the ones with the notch in them to rock the blade in. The mercer one they sent did not have that and the blade caught and slipped and I had my boss take me to prompt care to stitch my finger closed.   :-\  I promptly cut a notch in it and have not had a problem since.

I hope this was helpful and feel free to ask any other questions you may have.

Offline jlsellers

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #35 on: March 15, 2010, 01:22:12 PM »
Thanks so much, Lunk! This is a new way of cooking for me but I am going to try it because I really want to have money left over after grocery shopping. BTW, I recently received a new knife set as a gift and it has this santoku knife that is awesome for cutting veggies. Amazing how much it saves my back not having to push so hard on a dull knife.

Oh and +1 great post!

Offline CGFxColoneill

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #36 on: March 15, 2010, 08:03:52 PM »
I hope this was helpful and feel free to ask any other questions you may have.
very helpful thanks for all the tips

Offline jlsellers

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #37 on: March 17, 2010, 12:54:23 PM »
I'm roasting my chicken in the crock pot today. Tomorrow, chicken soup, next day, chicken pot pie. Whew, it is WORK skinning a chicken! I can only imagine what is involved in de-feathering the animal! Thanks for the ideas and the help!!

Offline Lunk

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #38 on: March 17, 2010, 11:22:35 PM »
I'm roasting my chicken in the crock pot today. Tomorrow, chicken soup, next day, chicken pot pie. Whew, it is WORK skinning a chicken! I can only imagine what is involved in de-feathering the animal! Thanks for the ideas and the help!!

Good to hear it! Yes, cooking from scratch is not fast or necessarily easy but with a little practice you will find that scratch cooking is wonderfully flavorful and far more nutritious than anything from a box or can.  Save the cooking liquid! If it gels that's the natural gelatin that cooked out of the bones and connective tissue. It will give your soup a wonderfully rich mouth feel, even hot. The other up side for cooking from scratch is if you like say, Bok Choy instead of green cabbage for an application that uses cabbage, use it! You will like the foods you cook MORE because you can put exactly what you like in them instead of dealing with what the manufacturer puts into them.

As an example I like me a good pot pie but I do not like peas, so no peas in my pot pie.  But almost every commercial pot pie has them because they are a cheaper filler than actually putting some meat in there.

As a side note, do not be afraid of salt. Season your food properly. Salt the water when you cook the chicken, salt the veggies when you sweat them for either the soup or the pot pie. Do not be afraid of salt. If you season properly during cooking you will not need any salt at the table.  Also things like natural stocks with the gelatin in it have more flavor than anything store bought so you can use LESS salt than anything you could buy simply because they are using the salt to make up for the lack of flavor.

Offline nimzy88

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #39 on: March 31, 2010, 07:58:27 PM »
So right now my new favorite cheap food has to be potatoes. At under $2 for a ten pound bag I can't see how you can go wrong. Last nite we had baked potatoes with sautaed onions and mushrooms. Then this morning I threw se in the slow cooker with a pot roast and the few I couldn't fit in were fried up for breakfast with a couple eggs which are probably a close number two on my cheap food favorite list

Offline patrat

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #40 on: April 09, 2010, 05:02:35 PM »
Grocery sales and markdown racks are your friend. In college my roommates called me "manager's special" as that was the markdown sticker on over half of the food I bought. Pour over the discount racks, and show up at odd times of day. 3AM works well.

I lived on $500 a month for rent, food, gas, and entertainment. $350 went to the rent, leaving $150 for all else. My guess is I burned about $60-$90 on food a month, including inexpensive restaurant food. Other expenses were graciously provided for me.

Offline koyote

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #41 on: April 29, 2010, 11:17:57 PM »
Just for fun, while this is more than $40 a month, it's an interesting starting point for those who don't live on cereal products:

http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2009/08/nutritionally-complete-inexpensive-low.html

Not $40 a month, but-

I don't, can't, live on low end grain meals. So I just went shopping with a notebook and calculator to see what I could come up with without dodging into grains. This basic menu would be extendable with some light whole grain use- soem amaranth or buckwheat or even rice in the soups and such.


Items:
Eggs- $2 for a dozen. That's what we pay for case price from a local farmer. For L to XL. Mediums can drop as low as $1.50. But I'm a big nordic metalworker, so I'll eat the big eggs. (if you work in an office, drop it to the medium and save some $$$)

Chicken- Rocky, free range, on sale at $1.49 a pound. A $7.00 bird is 2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 drums, 2 breast splits, 2 tenders, and a REALLY rich and meaty soup stock (you could get another 2 servings of stir fry chicken out of the carcass, though. And still have stock)

Cheese- $7 for 2 pounds of decent cheddar or jack type cheeses. sale price, 2 brands at the local store. (the tillamook was $9 on sale, so we'll pass on that) - 32 servings.

Yogurt, $2.39 on sale, 32 ounces. That's 8 servings, depending on usage.

Mayo- $7 nets 120 servings.

Red Wine Vinegar (this is part of the salad based diet) - $7.00 for one gallon of 252 servings, or 4 months of vinegar.

Oil- Oilive oil is right at $8/liter, which is 67 servings. For twice a day, that's a month. Other oils, or olive oil "mixes" for salad oil, will run half that price or less.

Avocados, fruits, etc.   Avos are 2 for a dollah right now. If they cost more, don't buy. that's 4 salad 'main toppings' for $1. 
Fruits in general are going to run you $40 for a half pound of fruit in your hand/on your plate. That's an apple, orange, watermelon/grape/apple fruit salad, whatever. This is seasonal, so you will absolutely have to vary this and just hit your price point.    - For example, right now the cheapest apples are $1.39 a pound, but watermelon is $.39 a pound.

Taters: $4, 10 pounds. That's like 6 months of taters for me, but if you eat them, that's still a good month of ingredient type spud usage.

onions: 59 cents to a dollar a pound if you buy them right. call it 75 pennies.

Carrots, $.79/LB

$1 for ten servings of beans (.79 to $1.59 a pound DRY, depending on sales, coupons, and variety. This is retail, not buying bulk bags at the local aisian/indian market, where tey are actually CHEAP)

Salad:
Combining 2 types of lettuce, whatever random cull, sale, etc thing you can put in there at $1 a pound (pepper, radish, etc).  I'm getting about $4 for 14 salads. That's stretching it and using some iceberg in the mix, which is okay as long as it's not the whole mix.

Red meat, on sale, reduced for immediate sale (use or freeze by RIGHT NOW), frozen random pickups at the dollar tree (I've seen this), - $1 a pound. that's 5 servings, btw. You have to grab it when you can, though. It's not everywhere or every day.

Freezer? I bought FOURTEEN turkeys, all over 12 pounds, for $5 EACH last winter. You can cost your meat out to $1 a pound over time, no sweat. (hell, we processed 10 of those babies into choice cuts and only made two soups. The rest was cheaper than what we usually buy from the butcher for raw dog food anyway!)

Hrm, haven't done turkey in like 2 weeks.

Okay, got a bird defrosting, I'm back.


So here's what we got. 2 chickens, $14, one bag of taters, $2, 4 dozen eggs, $8, $8 for olive oil. $2 for onions, and $12 for fiteen days of fruit.

That's the $46. We're sunk.

 But let's add in $2 for beans, $1.50 of carrots, and $16 for salad. Call it $5 for incremental other costs (a few cans of tomato paste for sauce bases, the pro-rate on the vinegar and mayo. One sale package of bacon for adding to eggs and recovering the fat for cooking.)

We're sitting at $70, and we have more soup than we can eat in a month, I promise. Quite possibly, two months of soup.

Eggs: 1/4LB potato in thin slices, fried and then folded into an omelette, with or without onions, is a Spanish tortilla and makes a pretty decent breakfast-
8 eggs and 1 pound tater is 4 of these.
Hard boiled on salad,. Fried over easy, scrambled with the optional cheese.
The chicken tenders, one each, with onion, make a really nice omelette addition and can realy stretch a one egg omelette (especially an XL egg!)

Each chicken nets you 10 meat included meals.

One carcass, with 3 pounds onion, 1 pound tater (more if you do starches much), some carrot, random leftover, cull, forage veggies.- 10 "servings" beans. That's an easy 20 bowls of soup. So, two carcasses, more soup than you want to eat in a month.

The spuds can extend other things, as well. be creative.

For salad, if you are doing it twice a day as a main course, you want your meats, cheeses, some fruits (apples are actually good, but  don't like oranges in salad), things like the 2/$1 avocados. you can make a pretty nice farm salad with one hard boiled egg, 1 ounce cheese, and 2 ounces of meat in there.

Mayo, or oil and vinegar, are the dressing bases.


This is all off the top of my head, but based on what we do eat. The household is 8 people plus about half a dozen 'guest' meals per week, and we are under $100 a head all the time. Some months, we are under $60 a head.









Offline koyote

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #42 on: April 29, 2010, 11:44:28 PM »
okay, the shopping mistress just got home, we're at $71 per head average. And that includes the combined kids eating $6-$8 of fruit every day. EVERY day.

The thing I'm realizing about my list is that it just doesn't work for one person. It's a multi person thing.

Offline Lunk

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #43 on: April 30, 2010, 12:53:24 PM »
okay, the shopping mistress just got home, we're at $71 per head average. And that includes the combined kids eating $6-$8 of fruit every day. EVERY day.

The thing I'm realizing about my list is that it just doesn't work for one person. It's a multi person thing.

Exactly, it's economy of scale. I catered an event at my local rifle range last month and we were into it for about $2.25 per person and that meal was pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, veggie sticks with dip, sodas and some emergency backups in case we had a large turnout which we will be using as the main meal the next go around.

Allot of what is talked about on these boards for preps are about the economy of scale, people may just not notice it. If you can afford to say, shop at Costco or a restaurant supply and can safely store the bulk items you save even more. I have a small freezer but the last time chicken went on sale I bought 7 and took an hour to break them down into meal size packs for my wife and myself and froze them individually. I then made a gallon and a half of the most wonderful stock from all the carcasses.  If you eat "London Broil" that is just a top round roast cut into steaks. You can buy them wholesale for about $1.60-$1.80/lb and cut them yourself for freezing. average roast size is 15lb so you have to have the space for it but it is a cut of meat I use at work for steaks, stew, pot roast, stir fry, skewers, sliced beef for sandwiches, etc. It is a lean cut so there is little fat in it, just a cap over top.

Also Koyote, you may have noticed that mayo is expensive. If you have oil you can always try making your own.... Just a thought.

Offline joeinwv

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #44 on: April 30, 2010, 01:45:54 PM »
Hey Lunk - always nice to see another chef on the board. I was a line guy for about 10 years before the lifestyle wore me out.

This is just a summary of the above, but are things that restaurant cooks do all the time to shave their food cost:

1. Buy whole cuts of meat - pay for product, not the butcher's labor.
2. Nothing gets thrown out - parsley stems, bones and meat trimmings, bits of vegetables - all go in the freezer and saved.
3. Never buy stock - commercial stock is just salt water and chicken fat. All that stuff in #2 - that's your ingredients. Save it up until you have enough for a pot of soup.
4. Make a bunch at one time - as an example, if it takes you 1/2 hour to make a dozen meatballs - you can probably get 3 dozen done in 40 minutes. You already have everything out to make them. Freeze the extras.
5. Multitask your food / aka hide the leftovers - today's pot roast is tomorrow's beef barley soup.
6. Small portions of protien supplemented with lots of veg and starch/carbs.

Frozen meatballs are a great multi-tasker. Assuming you have a few dozen ready to go in the freezer:
- obviously served with pasta & tomato sauce
- crock pot with cream of mushroom soup, serve over rice
- stuff them into peppers or use for cabbage rolls
- cook w/ BBQ sauce or sweet & sour as an appetizer

Jacquard tool - this is a little box with a bunch of blades in it... used to make tough cuts of meat more tender by breaking down connective tissues.

Knife recommendations - Rada knives are fairly cheap and somewhat durable. They are not going to last forever. If you have a tax ID #, you can sign up to be a dealer and buy them wholesale. (I am not affiliated, just use their products. They do make the best peelers...)

I have a 3 knife set from Ikea - small chef's knife, large chef's knife, Chinese profile cleaver - these have thin blades and were about $20 for the set. Decent everyday stuff.

If you have the means, Frederick, Henkels, Global are all worth the money. I have a decent collection of kitchen knives and the good stuff is certainly better than the cheap stuff. Chicago cutlery used to be better than they are now - if you can find some 20-30 years old, they are good. Forschener is decent.

All the Kitchen Aid, Rachel Ray, etc - garbage.

I use a 7" meat cleaver to do almost everything these days. When working on the line, I used a 12" chef's knife. A "santoku" blade shape is a good everyday knife - get one about 6-8" long.

Offline Lunk

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #45 on: May 01, 2010, 01:05:08 AM »
Exactly Joe. That is it exactly. Thank you for summing up my ramblings. ;D I'm sorry to hear the lifestyle wore you out. It does take a tole on people. I'm at 13 years myself and just starting to really hit my stride.

I will admit I use Better than Bouillon for gravy. If I make stock it does not stay around long.  I do also have a Jacquard but I don't use it except for when the wife wants country fried steak. Otherwise I like to cook the collagen out of the meat for flavor.   

Offline OKGranny

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #46 on: May 01, 2010, 02:12:55 AM »
We spend an average of $65.00 per person. I could lower it and some months I do but you have to take into account I like cooking from scratch and I don't like the taste of most prepackaged foods. Plus we garden and since I can a lot we have lots of basically free veggies and fruits. I don't think most people can eat anywhere near a nutritious diet at minimal amounts of money if they don't cook from scratch. For whatever reason I'm allergic to a lot of the preservatives in off the shelf foods so even if I liked them I couldn't eat them.

Offline PAGUY

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #47 on: September 12, 2010, 06:14:45 AM »
Not tooting my own horn too much but, I am what my wife calls the CFO in our family.  I take care of all if the finances to include the food shopping.  I feed a family of four (including a teenager that is eating me out of house and home) on about 180 a month and I do not even try hard to do that.  The main idea behind doing this is to buy staples when they are on sale.  An example is pasta.  Many time I can find many types of pasts on sale for two for a dollar (two one pound packages).  Put one package together with a pasta sauce that once again you found on sale for 79 cents, add some spices and a can of corn and you have a meal. This is done without pushing the limit.  You can do much better if you try.

Offline cartpusher

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #48 on: September 12, 2010, 06:50:07 AM »
PAGUY - What other meals are you mixing in to keep to that budget?

Offline smuglydawg

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #49 on: September 18, 2010, 07:11:12 PM »
Well if Rachel Ray does $40 a day....

That would be hard living

Offline Perfesser

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Re: $40/month to feed one person?
« Reply #50 on: October 14, 2010, 08:20:23 AM »
$70 a month for 4 - 6 persons.

http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/70dollarmenu.htm

This site has quite a few good tips and recipes.