Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cooking on a Shoe String Budget (Dinner for roughly $5)

A woman's rant on facebook today about her food stamps being cut by $64 got me to thinking how a lot of people really don't know how to cook on a shoe string budget. Or how to cook from scratch.  Granted I wouldn't consider that woman's food budget a "shoe string" budget, considering she still gets $1100 a month to shop with.  But for many of us, we don't have the "luxury" of a monthly budget of a $1000 or more to spend on groceries.

Yet that doesn't mean we can't still eat well!!

When I shop I'm always looking for things that can be purchased in bulk and then broke down into smaller packaging at home for the freezer (or canning which ever the case may be) to make multiple meals later.

I also like meals that the left overs can be made into something else later.  For example, yesterday we had sloppy joes. Not my favorite choice in meals, but my husband and kids love it. They didn't eat all the sloppy joe mix, so that will be used for my meat in a pot of chili. 

Today, I decided to put it to the test and see just for how little could I make a dinner?  When I break all the costs down, I think it comes out to roughly $5.   And I fed 9 people.  For $5.

I started with chicken leg and thigh quarters.  I had bought them for 98 cents a pound.  They weighed 5.28 lbs so total cost to purchase was $5.17.  I boiled the leg quarters until the meat was falling off the bones. I made a creamed chicken using 1/2 the broth, 2 tbls of flour,  a dash of salt and a dash of pepper.  Only used half of the creamed chicken for dinner tonight.  Rough estimate of the costs for the creamed chicken (only counting the amounts used for tonight's dinner) is around $2.60.

 Then I moved on to making homemade egg noodles. I use a recipe from a 1978 Better Homes & Gardens cookbook.   This is an old favorite cookbook that survived our house fire when I was 9, and was the only thing I asked my mom to give me for a wedding gift.

These little bit of ingredients add up to roughly 20 cents.  Yes, you read that right.  Twenty cents to make one batch of egg noodles.  The cup of flour cost about 18 cents, the egg came from my chicken, you have less than a penny's worth of salt, and maybe 1-2 cents worth of milk. 

 Normally I would say the potatoes used came from our own garden, but not this year. But, we did find a good deal for 10 lb bags of potatoes ($2.50/bag) and bought 2 bags of them.   This is half of the potatoes from one of those bags.  So, $1.25 in potatoes that were peeled, washed, diced, cooked up, and whipped into mashed potatoes and drowned in real butter.

To round the meal off, we opened 2 cans of sliced carrots purchased at Aldi's for 53 cents per can ($1.06) and 2 quart jars of green beans that we grew and canned ourselves. The cost of the green bean seed was $1.50 per bag, and we put up over 45 quart jars of beans.  I'm not sure how to break down the math on this, given we picked and canned 16 rows of green beans multiple times that I was sick of looking at green beans!  We think the green beans cost us roughly 5 cents per quart jar.

So when you break it all down, and then add it up, the total cost of dinner, that fed 9 people tonight plus allowed for second servings for the children, was $5.19.

Five dollars over 30 days would be $150 for dinners for the month.  Can you imagine?  Granted, a lot of the savings comes from:
1) cooking from scratch
2) growing and preserving foods on our farm and
3) shopping for good deals.

Yes, it was a simple dinner but it was also delicious and filling and no one had any complaints.

Tomorrow, the left over creamed chicken will be used on sandwiches and I'll be making chili from left over sloppy joe mix.

OH! and in with making things stretch, making the most of a meal, the bones and skin from the chicken I cooked today were saved and put into the slow cooker to be cooked down even further into more broth that I will can up tomorrow.  Homemade chicken stock to be used in future meals. 

1 comment:

  1. What is your cookbook called/what does it look like? I may keep an eye out for one ...