We just received a question from our reader. She needs your help with budgeting for groceries:
My family of five is on EBT (food stamps) and we just found out our monthly allowance is going to be cut by nearly $250 a month starting on July 1. Does anyone have any tips for cutting that much out of your budget all at once?
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I would look into pintrest. There are a lot of great ideas on making things from scratch like laundry soap and even dish washer soap. I know that it may not work as great as some of the stuff in stores, but you really can’t get those things on food stamps. Of course if you can coupon and get it the good stuff free that is better!!
Also I would recommend to any one to find a cheap sewing machine. There are books at thrift stores on how to adjust clothes. It can help a lot in adjusting hand me downs for kids or even fitting clothes that are not fitting so well.
I know this are not food related ideas but it can free up more funds for food and help off set the cost a little.
Find an Asian food store that sells 25-50 lb bags of white rice for around .50 cents per lb. Rice is a terrific supplement to other meals, because it keeps really well in the pantry and it has some protein in it – so it’s not just empty carbs. If you happen to have (or can find) an inexpensive rice cooker (around $30 at Walmart), it may be a worthwhile investment – you just add the rice & water, and it turns off the heat when the rice is ready (so it doesn’t burn).
About 1x a month, at least one of the grocery stores in our area (Safeway, QFC or Albertsons) usually has boneless chicken breasts on sale for less than $2 lb (if it’s the Albertson’s butcher block chicken, they even offer to season it – free), which is about the same as the price/lb for the 40lb boxes from Zaycon’s (which IIRC doesn’t take SNAP/EBT).
Drumsticks are another favorite for us, when the price gets below $1 lb (we like to season them like hot wings). Also, boneless porkchops are sometimes on sale for $2/lb or less (delicious when pan-fried with butter or margarine.
We’ve found 1-2 chicken breasts, stir fried with or cut up into strips over steamed vegetables, over rice, will feed 2-4 people with no complaints… and if we make too much, we can use the leftovers for our lunches the next day.
We also wait until London Broil and Chuck Roast are on sale for around $2.50/lb. at Safeway and stock up… I rarely make an actual roast, we cube the beef (a pair of scissors works great for this) and portion it into sandwich bags (about 1 lb per bag) to use in stews and stir frys (if you have the right veggies available, marinated cubes of chuck on cheap bamboo skewers – presoaked in water) also make great shish kebabs on the grill.
Dried lentils (any color) and chick peas are even cheaper and make a great base for lots of filling, nutritious vegetarian Mediterranean/Middle Eastern and Indian-themed recipes (I like a bit of lemon juice in the water when I soak my chick peas. Just get a big bottle of it at the grocery store… you can also mix to make lemonade).
Oatmeal is another great, usually inexpensive staple you can buy in bulk. If you have a Costco card (or know someone who does and can spare $11), another thing we like to do is get a bag of their Kirkland fruit & nut mix (mostly walnuts & cranberries), then add a *small* handful to a bowl of instant oatmeal & water in the AM before we put it in the microwave. Maybe a touch of brown sugar on top. If that’s not an option, buy a big bag of apples (I prefer something tart, like braeburn, cortland or granny smith) & dice one apple into the water in each bowl before you add the oatmeal, then nuke it- that plus a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar is also a really tasty, high-fiber breakfast.
Fruits & vegetables are kind of a wild card… what’s seasonal or abundant locally in your area might be very different from mine. I know a lot of people will say “grow your own!” but in my opinion, it takes a few seasons of trial and error to really learn your climate/gardenspace and while its a great thing to learn, it’s going to be a few years before you can depend on your garden as a reliable food source. In the interim, if you are spending anything out of pocket at all, it might be worth looking for a Bountiful Baskets pick up in your area – $15 buys about a laundry basket’s worth of produce. If not, you can probably still do OK scanning local sales ads – I’d pick the one store each weekend and drop in for whatever favorite staples are being offered as loss leaders or there’s a good sale/coupon combo for that week – mine include eggs, milk, flour or sugar (on occasion), pasta and tomato sauce, carrots, celery, apples, snap peas, green beans, mushrooms, zucchini, summer squash, spinach, broccoli, oranges, peaches, strawberries, grapefruit, bell peppers, onions, fresh or canned tomatoes and potatoes.
Rachel S says
i am so glad someone mentioned bulk oatmeal! oatmeal is cheap, healthy and very filling! When we had our second son I stopped working and we cut back on everything. We stopped buying processed food and anything pre-made. We eat a lot more fruits and veggies. The larger quantity you buy of carrots the cheaper the price and you could split it with someone. I make most of my sons baby food and we buy generic formula. Just for You at safeway has had some excellent deals on “real food” lately. i also buy random things at everyday deals.
My food budget is $50/wk – family of 4 (2 adults, 5 & 7 y/o kids). FrugallivingNW is my first internet site visit EVERY SINGLE DAY.
I shop at multiple stores – I keep a price book and note the prices (regular and sales prices) of the items I use the most, so I know which stores have the best prices and I know when a sale is a good sale. Obviously, I coupon and watch for deals. I bulk shop at Winco, I buy store brands. I do have to list a disclaimer to my $50/wk – that does not include beef – as we buy half a side of beef every year (with our IRS refund) directly from Carlton Farms – and that last us the year. Other meat does come out of my budget.
GOOD LUCK! It can be done!
I volunteer at a food pantry here in clark county, if one gets the downsize of an ebt card, we know it here sending food staples home with the clients…we speak to the people who are great need of food, we have food and give it to them.Many people are misunderstood about people who are hungry, they do work some of them, they pay their bills, they simply have no food in the middle or end of a month..To punish them for this well that is totally ridiculous, if people could prepare and feed people who need food one would never judge another by any means..also there are famers who let gleaners get veggies and fruits that would go to waste in this county..but FISH helps many and SHARE even more..hunger is just a little too real to judge anyone..I see many use their EBT for food that is not nutritious, it is not me to judge anyone at all, it is their choice..when they run out of food they find the pantry/food place where I volunteer and get some hot food, lots of enouragement and advice on how to prepare nutritious foods that cost little money..They go away feeling better and know how to feed their families..Why judge another until you have seen the face of poverty mostly it seems tiny ones, older adults with limited resources who have worked their entire lives..why judge anyone?????? we are members of God’s green earth, why not help others instead of being critical and unkind?!!!!!!!!!! In this depression no one knows how one will feel if they have to scramble for food for themselves and their family? really be KIND and LOVING…it is the way to good Karma and I am sure the good Lord would not want people to judge and critize others….mmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!
What is wrong with you, Tamara? Didn’t your mother ever tell you that if you don’t have something nice to say, DON’T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL?!
Anyway- There are lots of ways to cut back on a grocery budget!
– The free summer lunch program for ALL kids
– Food banks
– A number of DHS offices often have free bread and other bakery items on a table that anyone is welcome to. They don’t advertise it but if you go in, it’s there for the taking.
– URBANEDIBLES.ORG – it’s a site listing all the wild food sources in Portland (pretty amazing, actually)
– Check out Pinterest for lots of food substitution ideas 🙂
– Make large quantities of meals and freeze, freeze, freeze. There are so many recipes that can be made and ‘jazzed up’ once you reheat it!
– Potlucks/BBQs with friends..the host ALWAYS wants to send food home with everyone else
I would add encouragement too-because my situation has been that just when I think I can’t cut back anymore-I get more ideas! 🙂
I credit God for this help in my life-also I share with others & believe this blesses me also.
And a big part is this site-both the articles and the many helpful comments by the readers! I really appreciate it all.
Here are a few little ideas I have found, but they all add up:
-cut dryer sheets in 1/2- it really works just as well!
-bathroom fixtures that have numerous ball type bulbs-take out several
also be really diligent about keeping as many lights off as possible
-there was a great article-or link here-recently about the constant lights on electronic items-really adds to the bill-try unplugging all you can-note some would take reprogramming every time you turn them on-like my microwave-so those you may not want to do this with
-Around spring time I don’t use my heat at all-I manage the temp by
closing blinds during the hot part of the day-& opening windows/doors when it cools-or when it is a little cool-I just put on more clothing. I have an attic fan-I turn it off when it is warm, but not too warm during the day-to maintain the heat-then on when it gets steadily hot.
-like the point above to focus week by week-eat what is the very best buys of the week (not advocating junk food-decent food goes on sale too).
Mandi-is the army helping you guys out at all? I write for a military family website-are you local to Pdx? There are many resources out there that tend not to be used out here because of the lack of active duty military bases…..
Actually my husband is out now. Once he was hurt he was honorably discharged and he is now a veteran.
I am so upset by Tamara’s comments…My husband has been laid off for most of 4 years (He now has temporary work). I can really empathize with the reader on EBT. Tamara should not be so judgemental…I am one who has coach bags, nice clothes and a decent car, but only because prior to our hardship we worked hard, saved and were frugal. (I can’t afford a new Coach bag now of course). My point is, in this economy people are having hard times and should not be judged so harshly. It saddens me. I wish the reader good luck and I’m glad to have her as part of the FLNW group of readers…
I almost forgot, knowing the county you live in would help too. Each county offers different services. I live in Linn Co and we have F.I.S.H. here they offer free food and clothing (including some blankets). As hard hit as our county has been hit a lot of people who still “have” are donating.
Since I totally agree with what most the other women here have said I would like to add a recipe from the Mayo Clinic for minestroni soup of all things. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/healthy-recipes/NU00408
To stretch the recipe budget more you can boil your veggie scraps before hand in water and make your own veggie broth base for the soup. And when you buy beans definitely bulk dried beans. You just soak a little the night before.
Look around at the school districts near you. Every weekday at various Beaverton Elementary schools, there is free lunch for kids (during the summer). It’s open to all kids.
pot lucks with friends/family is nice. i hosted several at my house when i wasn’t working and had more time and ended up getting a ton of leftovers because no one wanted to take them home.
bartering with neighbors/friends/family too. trade housework or other tasks for food. i traded babysitting for groceries several times.
as for cutting down food costs, my only way was couponing and getting the free lunches at the park for my little one during the summer. gardening isn’t going to help you right now, but it would down the road if you have time i suppose.
i wonder if my food stamps and being reduced next month. i haven’t heard anything about it. i sure hope not. yikes.
there are also food banks, of course. i went to my first one last summer when i was supporting 3 children and my slacker ex who refused to even look for a job on my unemployment of less than 1000 a month and only 179 in snap benefits. it was very humbling, but it helped so much food wise.
best of luck! you will pull through!
Ditto everybody above (except Tamara!). Think beans n rice, baby! My husband’s place of work just closed, which means until he gets a new job our family of 5 will need to live on $1700. Total. So I’m in the same squeeze. I’ve cut out anything fast food, entertainment, a freeze on any clothes and shoes (even if they’re needed – they can wait), homemade everything (as mentioned above – laundry soap, breads, etc.). I’m so thankful that if this had to happen, it’s summer – which means less gas on driving to school, no heating bill, etc. Also my children were randomly chosen for an EBT program for summer ONLY, and I literally cried for joy and humble thankfulness that it came at just the “right” time. They’ll get $150 for next month, and I’m going to try as hard as I can to only spend that on food for the whole month – doing my best to honor my husband’s hard work and lack of income. No junk food here! I’m only going to purchase beans, rice, and produce. We’ll be just fine.
p.s. kids eat free at Ikea next week. 🙂 I eat at home or on the way, and get my kids lunch.
Please don’t take offense to this because I really don’t mean any, but why not apply for SNAP benefits for your whole family? With only 1700 income and i’m assuming you pay some form of rent or mortgage, you would qualify for at least a couple hundred dollars. That way the things your family needs shoes/clothes or whatever wise, they could get.
I honestly don’t know what SNAP is! 🙂 The EBT card was an application that they sent home with parents before school was out, and we were just randomly selected. It hasn’t been 30 days yet since my husband’s last paycheck, so if they ask me for income in the last 30 days that’s what they’ll see. You’re right our mortgage is more than half of that income. I’m hoping/praying hubby gets a job fast.
If you call them sometimes it gets the ball rolling.
Ruth: From what I understand, you can apply for food stamps and the Oregon Health Plan (if you’re in OR) for your kids now, even with the pay stub. I’ve had numerous friends apply the day their husband’s lost their jobs and were eligible immediately.
As a disclaimer, no one is encouraging anyone to “live off the government,” but if a family qualifies for benefits and can truly use them, I say go for it.
SNAP is what they now call food stamps. Supplemental nutrition assistance program. With your mortgage and family to support with so little income, I would strongly encourage you to apply through DHS for benefits. It’s not living off the government and it’s designed to help people get on their feet or stay on their feet in situations like yours. It’ll make the tough times not so tough and allow you to deal with any emergencies that may come up (transportation, clothing, housing issues) while still being able to feed your family.
Can you cut back by going to the grocery store and asking for their produce scraps. They will give them to you and you can have fresh vegetables very week.
Being a grocery checker and seeing the items bought by ebt, I also have concerns. Today was food stamp day and the line of unhealthy foods was miles long. BUT, She was looking for help and suggestions to feed her family, not criticism.
So my first thought is bulk bins at Winco foods. You can save lots by not buying packaging. And no, I don’t work at winco! Coupons, coupons, coupons. I spend less than $150.00 a month to feed two of us and we eat better now, than before coupons. Though it takes me some time, maybe an hour a week, the savings are worth it. We grow a garden, have chickens, can veggies. Pretty much, we do whatever we have too to make ends meet. My hubby is in construction, and work is slim, and I work part-time. Sad part for us is I’d take ebt, but we have too much savings, and not enough debt.
So folks, We’re here to help, not condemn each other thanks
This is off topic, but I am curious what state you are in. A lot of states don’t look at savings anymore, just income. I live in WA and found this out a few years back when my husband lost his job and we received assistance for a few years. I’ve read a lot of states are like this so people don’t exhaust their savings on food, instead to pay utilities/rent/mortgage. I’m relieved I know this and have helped a few out by letting them know they don’t have to exhaust all measures (in many states in order to qualify for food benefits AND children/pregnancy medical).
I too am on EBT and they have made cuts. And I do have nice things that I owned before going into this hardship. Those things I’ve tried to sell but they aren’t selling for nearly what they are worth. So it’s ridiculous to pass judgement on ones that do need the assistance.
Moving forward, I take advantage of Safeway’s 10 dollar off of $75 purchase coupon the first Tuesday of the month is when they usually have it and you can use it for that Tuesdays sale and the rest of the following week through the following Tuesday. So I get two of those Tuesday papers and that is the biggest bill I spend on groceries every month.
As a person who worked at a higher end grocery store for 7 years I understand everybodys mixed feeling on foodstamps. A majority of the people I rang up who used food stamps did not use them in a cost effective way which was very frustrating to me. They bought soda, chips, premade sandwiches and tons of snack and junk food. I beleive these people were not doing this to abuse the system but because that was what they were used to doing and didn’t really know any other way. I also met a mother who always used her foodstamps to buy healthy food and used coupons to feed her family and was crying from happiness because she has just enough money left to buy a premade decorated birthday cake for her daughters birthday party since she worked and didn’t have time to make a fancy cake. There is always two sides to every issue and I applaud this mother for wanting to feed her family of five frugally.
I have been in your shoes as a child of a single mother and as an adult with a job loss. One thing that helped with our kids is the summer lunch program through the school district. They generally serve a hot lunch for kids age 1-19, and have sack lunches available in other locations. Breakfast is served at some sights too. This is a federal program so is available in many areas. Another thing to look into is community church based meals. Three churches in our area sponsor family supper on three different nights. One happy memory from childhood is when we had “breakfast for dinner”, everyone dressed in their pajamas and ate their fill of pancakes. Finally in response to misguided person above : We NEVER looked poor, even though we were. My Mom worked very hard to find good used clothes, she took care of her cars, and always bought everything second hand. She just recently bought her first ever brand new car at age 67.
Good luck, you can do this.
Try cutting way back on cleaning supplies. I make my own window cleaner by mixing one part ammonia with three parts water. It can be used on just about anything. I have also liked making “Alice’s wonder spray” from this website with GREEN cleaning recipes: http://highdeserthome.blogspot.com/search/label/domesticity …You can omit the expensive lavender oil.
Try hanging your laundry to dry. I recently calculated that it costs about 32 cents to dry a load of laundry. You can also make your own laundry detergent. Try not using any heat or A/C, or using a bicycle. I am sorry you have to go through this, truly, but get creative and think beyond the food budget. Good Luck.
My advice is to explore real foods and cut down on meat. $250/mo is not very much for 5 people, but you can make quite the effort with dried rice and beans from the bulk section. One of my favorite frual meals is a HUGE pot of minestrone. I used fresh vegetables that are priced right + chicken/veggie stock + canned tomatoes and paste. Delicious! You can meet all of your dietary needs very cheaply if you avoid expensive meats and cheeses.
Also, cut back on things that aren’t 100% necessary. I haven’t bought garbage bags in months because I have so many plastic/paper from grocery shopping. I also stopped with my prissy shampoo/conditioner and have resorted to low end stuff. No difference, I swear.
Jennifer Barker says
Depending on where you live, this may be a good source for free food, rent and utilities payment assistance:
7780 SW Capitol Highway
Portland, Oregon 97219
Here is some info on their food program:
If you have them available, make use of EBT matching programs at Farmers Markets. Some FMs will double a certain amount of the money you take out of your EBT account when you go through their wooden token system at their Info Booth. If you live in the Portland/ Vancouver area I know these markets have matching programs and there may be more:
Lents International FM: Doubles up to $10 for EBT card holders (per card, per market)
King Portland FM: Doubles up to $5 for EBT card holders (per card, per market)
Buckman Portland FM: Doubles up to $5 for EBT card holders (per card, per market)
I know that I’m going to offend many people with this comment, but I cannot read this and move on without taking action. I’ll preface this by saying that I understand that a few people (very few) truly need the assistance of EBT and other government assistance programs. Those truly in need deserve assistance for a reasonable amount of time until they’re able to get back on their feet. Having given that disclaimer, I have to say that due to this post I am cancelling my email subscription and stopping my frequent referrals to your website. When did “frugal” become equated with living off the government? I fully support the EBT cuts. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been in the grocery store and had the person (generally dressed in more expensive clothing) in front of me pay with EBT. Moments later I’ll see them getting into a car ten times nicer than mine. This is disgusting. I was a fan of this site because as a hardworking, dual income household my husband and I still struggle to make ends meet. We both took turns being out of work and never once even made the attempt to live off the government. I understand that each situation is different, but this is too much.
Nice. That is not what this post is about. I get it, no one likes people abusing the system, but you do not know this individuals situation and should not judge blindly. Your statement pretty much condemns everyone on assistance. I am fortunate to have never needed assistance, but as a Christian I am appalled at your judgement of others without compassion.
We had to use EBT for a while I just want you to know that I carried a $200 purse , but someone gave it to me because it was too small for them, all my clothes come from my moms overloaded closet but they look nice, I have a nice ring which was given to me before our need for EBT, I’ve used my moms car or a friend’s upscale van because my husband was at work and we only had one car. You have a right to your opinion but what your basing it on is a little shallow.
I am thankful that the writers of this blog handle themselves with compassion. I used to feel the same as this commenter until my husband was unemployed for 6 months. And yes we did both try to find jobs. My husband, who has a Master’s degree was willing to work anywhere. Our final month of his unemployment we did have to use EBT. When you have children to feed you let your pride go.
We do not know this person’s situation. I’m sure as I was paying for my groceries some wondered why I had so many children, why my van was not rusty, why I had a cell phone, etc. Situations can change in a heartbeat. Cars can still be on a loan and simply be a loss if they are sold, cell phone s can be your only line, etc.
Yes, the system can be abused. But, if I err I would rather it be on the side of compassion.
I am not one to judge any one’s situation. My husband lost his job, I work, and the only job he was able to get paid significantly less than what he made before. We have sold anything of value we had and gotten rid of ANY luxury items we had. I clip coupons, and spent the last three hours out going to multiple discount stores to find the best deals on healthy grocery items. With the rising cost of health insurance, child care, and EVERYTHING else I will not judge anyone for doing what they need to do to survive. I pray that you are never in a situation where you can’t feed your family and I hope that lady luck always shines down on you because I would hate to see you not be able to provide for your family. I would never assume someone that reaches out for a question such as this is “living off of the government.” Since the economy turned I’ve known more people than I can count who have had to resort to EBT for a short time until they could get back on their feet. Would I judge them? No way, that’s not my place. God Bless the person who asked the question and God bless you and your family as well.
It’s a good thing Jesus didn’t think like you.
Just another brainwashed soul, repeating the rhetoric of the right. You have no consideration (or knowledge) of outside factors that affect the social location of the people of this country.
Like Beth said, Good Riddance.
Tamara: Just because they have nicer clothes or cars does not mean their financial world has not been turned upside down. The grass is not always greener on the other side.
As a single mother of a toddler with a decent paying job at a law office, a decent car I purchased pre-motherhood, and nice clothes because I have to dress nice to keep my job, I’m rather offended by this comment. After rent and daycare for my son, I have less than 200 for the month. I have to be able to pay for transportation to and from work/daycare, electricity, and phone. If we didn’t have food stamps, we wouldn’t be able to work because I would have to feed my son instead of being able to get to and from work. Eventually, I’d lose my job and have to get TANF in order to get by. So wouldn’t you rather the government give me 250 a month in SNAP benefits than 600 in welfare a month?
Wow! ya Im pretty sure you are going to offend people. You are clueless and Im guessing most of us will not miss you. My husband was in the Army for 13 years and spent 2 tours in Iraq.We had a great income and I had coach purses and wore expensive clothes. But one day while he was in Iraq his stryker was hit by an IED and our lives changed forever that day. He was put out of the army and we were left to figure this out alone. so when you come across someone who uses EBT and has a coach purse (which I have had for over 5 years) think about what I said…And as for this site I think you are great. I never go to the store without checking your site first. Thank you for all your hard work….
My sympathies to you, Mandi, on what you & your family have suffered.
And yes this is pointed DIRECTLY towards you because you directly placed judgement on all people on assistance. You obviously have some real issues because no one in their right mind would say something like that to a woman trying to keep her family afloat. Personally, I don’t think you should even have the RIGHT to use this website because you have FREELY got information to save money for your own household. Yes, FREELY. Doesn’t that seem quite a bit hypocritical to you? The government has these programs for people like this reader and myself included that are trying to live. I am truly appalled at your lack of compassion and too put it bluntly, envy of others that are recieving assistance (which by your perception they are using the system, which you wouldn’t know the truth about in ANY case) because they dress better? Because maybe they don’t look homeless? maybe they are actual human beings with families that have to dress a certain way to keep the one job that their family has. Maybe that was the woman in front of you’s ONLY nice outfit? Do you ever stop to think “wow, that must be really difficult for someone to have to go to that extent to get assistance”, let me tell you even with the economy the way it is, having food stamps is not glamorous or easy to admit to having. How about you try some empathy. You must be pretty bitter in your own life to tear down those who may have it even worse than you. I for one think that this website is amazing for posting that from one of their readers. What a great feeling it must be to have someone (the owners of this site) to care enough about their reader to post and ask for advice. I believe that you need to take a good look in the mirror because you obviously need to see that you, yourself have been freely using this website to get deals… Empathy… maybe you should grab your dictionary.
I’d start planning by the week, rather than the month.
Look at what’s on sale and write out a meal plan, including snacks. Trimming the budget by 60.00 some will be tough, but I think it will be less daunting than tackling the 250.00.
There are lots of great tips in this thread and round the blogosphere. I will pray that this season of your life looks brighter soon!
Sigh…I guess I replied to the wrong place!
Sorry about that, all.
Taking action, or taking judgement. Ultimately it it not up to us to judge others, just have compassion, which you are obviously lacking.
I also realize my comment didn’t post to the correct place. But no matter what, I only wish the best to this family who is asking for ideas to make her bad situation just a little better for her family. God bless!
I do understand how you feel. My husband and I are struggling right now with the current result of the economy. We have in the past lived on food stamps and food banks. I grew up living on food stamps. We are still very much struggling and not on food stamps. That being said I think that the purpose of this post is that people do struggle and every situation is different. I think that rather than all of us expressing our opinions about how government programs work we need to help each other to not depend on the government.
I feel that the best way for that to happen is to develop a community in which we all help each other to be more frugal and depend on our selves. Don’t just give up on the idea of this website and its emails which help us to find ways to make a dollar stretch because people have the need to use government assistance. I do think that one day our government will be forced to start shuting down its programs and I for one want to help people to not depend on those programs and to find way to live happier lives in the process.
When I was growing up my Mom mixed powdered milk with regular milk. That doubled the amount of milk we had to drink. Not too bad when the milk is really cold or as a treat with chocolate. We planted a garden and canned or froze the vegatables for the winter. And when we had meat it was a condiment – not the main dish. For example chili was mainly beans with rice and a little ground beef, cheese and onion on top. We bought in bulk and made everything from scratch – even crackers. We volunteered with gleaner groups to work the fields in the summer and got to bring food home. We volunteered at the food bank and got extra food that way. We had chickens for eggs and bug control for the garden. But don’t forget that a splurge every once in awhile is good for the soul. In the summer we would have homemade ice cream every once in awhile which made it special. In the winter we would have fruit cobbler or pie with fruit sorbet.
jeanette s. says
We go to a free bread day at least once a week. We also get food from our local food bank. It really stretches our money!
This has happened to us a few times, over the years, and we made it. Here are some ideas in no particular order… I cooked big batches of spaghetti sauce, used a lot of rice, and generally tightened our belt, so to speak. Every expense was very carefully scrutinized. Look for neighbors with extra fruit and vegetables, if you don’t already have a garden to grow your own. There are gleaner groups that go in and pick after the farmers or home gardeners are finished. If you can freeze berries, go looking for blackberry bushes and pick all you can use, and freeze. Look for barter sites on craigslist. Freecycle often has free food ads. Try to get more meals out of whatever you are cooking. I know that there are free classes in certain parts of the states for people on foodstamps to stretch their dollars even farther. I got the kids to use less t. paper, and we eliminated paper towels. I diluted milk to stretch it. I bartered for eggs. I made polenta, and fried it for pennies. I made all my own baked goods. We drank a lot of water. Sometimes a friend or neighbor would call, and we would see what we could combine to feed all our two familes together that day. We also got our own laying hens, which made a huge difference.