How to Eat Cheap - A Recipe for Survival when you're Low on Money.

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Even Broke, you have to Eat

It really doesn't matter what the cause of your problem might be, the fact remains that a person has to eat, and eat regularly, to survive.

You could be a College student that js out of money a week before you get your next check from Dad and Mom.

You could be a worker who was suddenly laid off for a couple of weeks and you weren't prepared financially.

You could even be the head of a household, with several Kids, and you need to just get a few days of food at the lowest cost possible, until you get your next check.

Whatever the reason, there are times when you need to purchase food with both eyes on the Price Tag.

To Survive, your body needs energy, daily!

Skipping meals is not the answer.

Going on a Starvation Diet to reduce your food intake is not the answer.

And, regardless of your finances, your body must stay healthy..

For your job, your body needs regular nourishment to keep your muscles and organs functioning properly. And, more importantly, your brain needs to be fresh and healthy, to keep you working and thinking at your best.

You must make sure you eat foods that provide at least the minimum daily requirement of; Calories, Fiber, Vitamins and Minerals that you (and your family's) body requires each day.

To this end, this article will provide tips for you to use in stretching your money as far as possible.

Some of the tips are just common sense, and you probably already know them, but as a whole, they can dramatically reduce the cost of your foods.

Buy Cheap to make your money go further

To save money on food, you have to be prepared to "do some walking".

By that I mean either walking through some stores that you may not normally go to, or more importantly, let your fingers do some walking on the internet.

Take the time to walk through the nearest food stores, from the giant chain supermarket to the local Mom and Pop family food store, looking for that great deal.

You need to know which stores have the basic but nutritious foods you (and your family?) need to survive for maybe a few days, but possibly for weeks.

And, in today's information world, those supermarkets will have web sites. Check these out for several thjings. First, what do they have on sale. Second, what foods do they offer coupons on. And finally, what days do they have their special sales.

And, remember, you are into survival eating, so just pass over those enticing ads for Ice Cream, prepared foods, and big fancy name brands.

Keep in mind, while shopping that a great deal on a food or ingredient, is one that is not only priced cheap, but is actually nutritious.

The World cannot survive on Rama Noodles

Although many single people and College students swear that they lived for days on Rama Noodles, you need to look at other foods for your nutritional needs.

Without going into the technology of selecting foods by their nutritional content, you need to understand that you need a certain minimum number of;Calories, Fats, Fiber, and other basic nutrients as well as Vitamins and Minerals for your body to function properly.

Daily Vitamin Pills

So, if you are going to really cut back on your food intake, and variety, then the first thing you need to purchase is a bottle of Daily Vitamins; if you are not already using them.

These little babies will do more to help you stay healthy during your survival eating than anything else you might do.

Buy a brand that is cheap and still provides all of the Minimum Daily Requirements of the major nutrients you will need. And, take them everyday.

Think about it, you may have a day when you only eat bologna sandwiches, but if you take a multi-vitamin, your body is still going to get most of those other nutrients its needs to not only get the most from the bologna sandwich, but also keep your organs and even your brain functioning.

Calories First

Then, as you shop and search for the better deals on foods, you must read those labels for their actual caloric as well as other nutritional content.

That's, right, Calories are your first concern when shopping for foods..

You see, calories are energy, and your body burns calories all day every day, in order to function properly. So, plan your purchases to maximize your calorie intake until you reach your recommended daily input, then look to fulfill the other nutritional needs of your body.

Of course, when you get back on your feet, so to speak, you can go back to eating nutritious foods and putting your long-term health first.

Bot when you're desperate? It's all about Calories.

Potatoes - They don't call them a Food Staple for nothing.

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Where to look for deals on food

You see, you need to find the "real deals" on food, not some advertised, price reduction by the big corporate supermarkets just so they can alleviate an overstock situation.

Often, these "sales" are still priced high relative to what you can get the same food for at another cheaper store.

This other store may not be as grand as the big supermarkets, it may even seem small and poorly lit, but it can contain some real treasures, if you are willing to look.

You see, while you liked shopping in that enormous and expensive supermarket that has such a wonderful variety of foods to select from; around the corner there was that little family run food store, that you always shunned.

Well guess what. That little store has survived by selling less products, cheaper, to people who couldn't afford to shop at the big supermarket. This means that if you look closely, you will probably find some great deals in that little out-of-the-way market.

And, please, avoid thoise hole-in-the-wall QUICK stores.

They survive because they know many people are just lazy and the convenience of popping into a small store, right on the side of your road home and quickly purchase an item offsets the higher price. Typical items sold in these stores are; Beer, condiments, soft drinks, milk, bread and lunchmeats, etc.

Of course, you'll will find that their prices are very high on anything they sell, but they are convenient.

Other Cheap Food Sources

There are a number of places where you can purchase cheap foods, and here are a few that you can check out;

Neighborhood Food Stores

I already mentioned these, but you can often find some cheap prices on many foods in these stores , so check them out.

Discount Stores

You know those stores with the words Dollar in their name and their like? These stores will often have, in addition to snacks, canned and packaged basic foods that are priced cheaply.

But, take care, often the larger chains of these low-cost stores purchase foods packaged in smaller volumes than what you normally see. These 'special" foods are often more costly when you do the calculations and look at Price-per-Ounce.

Bulk Food Stores

These stores are usually membership stores, and they sell foods that are packaged in large uantities. I think you will find that they have very few what I call "Basic" foods that you can use, and often, if you do your "price-per-Ounce" calculations, they can cost more than if you purchase them elsewhere.

Damaged Food Stores

Actually, these stores can provide some great deals. They purchase foods that the packaging design has been changed by the manufacturer, or foods where the packaging is damaged. Damage may be as simple as torn labels or it could be bent cans.

A bent can is not a bad thing, if you are going to consume the food right away, or within a few weeks, Do not store these foods for long periods of time, as the inner liner of the can could also be damaged on a bent can.

Out of Date Food Stores

These stores are great for finding cheaply priced foods. Bread can be purchased at these stores, and there is nothing is wrong with the bread other than it may not be as fresh as when it was on the supermarket shelf.

They are just a snutritious as the day they were made, just not so soft. I have found that a toaster takes care of this problem when making sandwiches.

There are other foods that are put on sale for being Out-of-date. This means that the "sell by" date has been reached. This date is not a regulated requirement and most manufacturers use them for their customers convenience. Nearly always, these foods are fresh and wholesome if consumed within a few days. And, they are great deals.

Fresh Food Stands

If you need vegetables and can swallow your pride, go to a Fresh Food stand, and ask the manager if they have any vegetables that they are throwing away. Just tell them the truth, that you don't have the miney to purchase their fresh foods, but you want to eat healthy foods. And, you know that their wilted or drooping foods are still good.

They are very likely to give you some vegetables that they were throwing away because they did not look good enougn to sell.

OTHERS

There are other places that you can find cheap foods, but these are just a few that you might want to consider.

Have You Ever run out of Money and skipped Meals?

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Survival Tips to Eat Cheap

Here are some random tips for you to follow when shopping for cheap foods.

Off-Brand Canned foods

Some canned Foods are great sources of calories, Protein and other nutrients for the survival buyer.

Supermarkets will usually have not only name brands of foods on their shelves, but they will also have their own store brands. These are usually not any different than some of the name brands, and many supermarkets actually purchase from the name brand companies and have their labels put on the cans.

Off Brand Cereals

Cereals provide fiber and certain basic nutrients as well as Carbohydrates at a relatively low price.

Do not buy those expensive name brands, but look for the cheaper generic or store brands. These cheaper cereals are usually on the lower shelves where you have to bend over and read their lables.

They are just a nutritious as the name brands.

Buy Bulk Root Vegetables

Root Vegetables are great sources of Starch, Sugar and Fiber, which the body will convert to energy, Also, they keep well, for weeks, even months if stored properly. Of course, you still have to shop around for the best price-per-pound, but by eating them you can really help your budget.

Potatoes - Buy them by the large bag and make them your main dish, if necessary. You can bake them, peel and boil them, even slice and fry them. However you prepare them they can help you get to your minimum calorie intake for each day.

Beets - Like Potatoes, Beets can be stored for a long period of time, and can be purchased as cheaply as potatoes and are not only a decent starch but they supply a high level of sugar for energy.

Carrots - Carrots are another cheap root vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked.

Other Root Vegetables - There are other root vegetables that are nutritious and at times, seasonally, can be purchased at a cheap price. Look for these and stock up.

Onions

When you are cooking, you can always use Onions, They are nutritious, add a nice flavor and can be a good source of fiber. And, they store for long periods of time if stored in a dry place. And of course, they can be purchased in bulk for a cheap price.

Chicken

If you want to save money and eat some meat in your meals, watch the price of whole chickens. At times you can purchase these very, very cheaply. If you have a Crock Pot, or if not, a Dutch Over, or if not that, a large Pot with a top, you can make a great meal.

Put the whole chicken in the pot. Split and add several Onions. Also, if you have them, add some split Carrots and quartered potatoes. Add plenty of Salt and Pepper, and then cover the whole mixture with water plus a couple of inches of extra water over everything.

Cook the mixture on Low for several hours until the chicken is almost falling off of the bones. Once done, remove all of the vegetable for eating separately. Remove the chicken and pull all of the meat from the bones for separate serving.

The liquid that is left in the pot is a great Chicken stock that is not only tasty, but when cooked over other vegetables and meats provides extra nutrition.

Buying whole chickens is not only cheap but they can also be cut up and baked or fried easily.

Beef

Beef is usually an expensive meat to purchase when you are watching your money and should only be purchased when it is on sale. Watch for sales on the cheaper cuts. It might not be as rasrt or as tender, but you are looking for Protein and money savings.

On thing that you can try, is to go to the butcher and ask him if he has any beef trimming that you can serve to your dog. If they are pet lovers, they just might sell you some out-of-date meat that you can cook. Be sure to cook this out-of-date meats until well done just to be safe.

These are just a few of the things that I know of that youcan do to save significant money on your food costs, when your budget is tight.

Desperation Food Sources

Even knowing how to do these things to save money, at times you are just flat broke and just need a couple of meals to get you by for a day or so.

Even if this is the case, there are sources of food that you can revert to in order to keep from starving. They may not be good for your pride they are ways for you to eat.

Food Banks

Every City or Town has one or more Food Banks, where people have donated food for distribution to the poor and needy. If you go to one of these, It is almost guaranteed that they will provide you with some food.

Church Meals

If there is no other way, check out the local churches.Many of them provide free meals for the needy on certain evenings, and if you go there, they will provide you with a nutritious meal for the day.

Supermarket Dumpster Diving

OK, Ok, I know I shouldn't list this, but the category is desperation, so here goes.

If all else fails, you will find that a lot of the supermarkets, even the ones who told you earlier they had no out-of date foods, will have dumped their out-of-date foods in the dumpster at night. And, they will also have thrown away their wilted or damaged vegetables.

If the dumpster is unguarded and unlocked, a quick examination of its contents can provide you with several meals worth of these not so great, but still good foods to get you by for another day.

Like I said, it is a desperation move, but a growling stomach has no pride.

HOBO SOUP

Try making some Hobo Soup. A lot of College kids have eaten this Gourmet delight for a meal to quieten their stomachs down.

Did you know that a bottle of Ketchup is a great food source.

You see,1-tbs. of Ketchup has; 20-calories, 4-grams of Sugar and 5-grams of Carbs.

And, did you know that 1 single Saltine Cracker has 10-calories,

So, to make Hobo Soup, just add enough Ketchup to 2-cups of boiling water until you get the consistency you want, and then add some saltines, salt and pepper, and you have a nice and cheap meal that will keep you going for a while and fill your stomach.

It aint Tomato Soup, exactly, but I have had Tomato Soup that wasn't any better.


In Summary

So, what you have here is a pretty detailed list of things that you can do to continue to eat nutritious foods, on a dramatically reduced budget.

Follow these tips and you can get through the bad times of having very little money and with a llitte forethought and work, you can still eat nutritious meals.

Good Luck!

How to get more Protein in your meals, cheaply.

How to tell if Meat has Gone Bad

How to buy healthy foods cheap.

© 2014 Don Bobbitt

More by this Author


Comments 27 comments

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Let me just say this as easy and non rude as possible. I just have one thing to say about this hub.

I love you man!!! Right the F on! So cool. Today my son learned about dandelion salad and Mallow soup. And he freaked out when I ate the earthworm. But I put him in coffee grounds for a week and he tasted yummy in my tummy. (the worm not my son '-) Write more like this and our world will be better.


Don Bobbitt profile image

Don Bobbitt 2 years ago from Ruskin Florida Author

Ericdierker - Earthworm aside, I can see that you are on the right track to clarity of mind through natural and environmentally correct eating.

So, take my advice to heart and beat down the corporate mongols and their slavish drive to bring the populace down via GMOs and overpriced chemically induced madness.

DON


janetwrites profile image

janetwrites 2 years ago from Germany

Wow, these are some great tips. Eating like this is not only cheaper but healthier because you cut down all the GMOs and processed foods. Thanks for sharing.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 2 years ago from California

True survival skills. Hobo soup also has potassium which is really important. Have stone soup parties if you know others who are desperate. Everyone brings one thing to put in the soup. You can get a pretty fine meal and spirits are lifted. How about herb tea? There are rosemary bushes all around my neighborhood that need a snip sometimes. You are my "Hero of the Day".


Don Bobbitt profile image

Don Bobbitt 2 years ago from Ruskin Florida Author

tirelesstraveler - Thanks for the comment.

I ove the Soup Party. I want to add it to my options on my next edit/update. Thanks for such a great idea.

DON


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 2 years ago from California

Good idea.


Lorenzo27 profile image

Lorenzo27 2 years ago from Pistoia, Italy

Very useful article, Don! Voted up :)


Don Bobbitt profile image

Don Bobbitt 2 years ago from Ruskin Florida Author

Lorenzo27- Thanks for the read and the comment.

DON


Tamara14 profile image

Tamara14 2 years ago from Zagreb, Croatia, Europe

One would think we know better these days, but big producers and their strong marketing still trick so many people. I am happy to live in a country where there's still a strong tradition of farmer's markets being available in almost every block of the city so I can still get a good food. As for the price part I'm afraid there would be a lot of people here as well who would like the idea of an out of date food store. Excellent hub, thank you.


Don Bobbitt profile image

Don Bobbitt 2 years ago from Ruskin Florida Author

Tamara14- Sorry for the late response but we were traveling from VA to Fl in our motorhome and were essentially out of touch.

Thanks for reading my article and for your comment. You're right we need to have more people getting smart and forcing the corporations to change their attitude about healthy foods, in general.

DON


Rachel L Alba profile image

Rachel L Alba 21 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

What a nice hub for people who are struggling to find money for food. Most of us are in that category or were in that category one time or another. Thanks for taking the time to write it.


Don Bobbitt profile image

Don Bobbitt 21 months ago from Ruskin Florida Author

Rachel L.Alba- Thanks for the kind comment.

Over ones life, there are times when things get tight financially. Sometimes its just a matter of days, and sad to say, sometimes it is much longer.

I wrote these down, some from experience, and honestly some from when I was a single man, long ago.

I hope my fellow Hub writers notice it and share it with others that they think can use such tips.

Thanks again,

DON


Rachel L Alba profile image

Rachel L Alba 21 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

I have nieces and nephews that are away at college and on their own. These will be great tips for them.


Rachel L Alba profile image

Rachel L Alba 21 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

I have nieces and nephews that are away at college and on their own. These will be great tips for them.


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 19 months ago from Midwest

I tried to share on HP but that feature doesn't work for me anymore, so I pinned your very helpful hub to my frugal living board instead. I've been in this position too and it's always good to have the needed information.


mio cid profile image

mio cid 19 months ago from Uruguay

Very helpful hub to those going through hard times most people would benefit from at least one of your tips at one poin or another. voted up shared etc ...


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 19 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Don.....GREAT hub! Yes, I like your comment, "even broke, we have to eat." Your excellent hub is so important for the vast majority of us who are stretching our dollars as far as they will stretch. It's still necessary to eat "healthy," regardless of what we may have to spend on our food.

Your ideas and suggestions are a must read. Just like anything, it takes a little more time and investigating to find solutions, but it can be done.

Thanks for sharing this valuable info with your readers, Don! UP+++Tweeted.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 19 months ago from Houston, Texas

Rice and beans are also rather inexpensive food items that could be added to this list. Oftentimes grocery stores have shopping carts where the food items have been discounted. The end user dates are probably coming up soon. That is another way to possibly pick up some bargains. Interesting and useful hub! Will share this with others.


traveleze profile image

traveleze 19 months ago from Preston

What a great piece! I find now here in the UK, not sure if its the same in the US, but Unhealthy food is actually cheaper to buy!! It's completely wrong but the offers are for always packaged up ready meals where Whole food like fresh fruit veg, meat etc is always more expensive it doesn't make it easy to become unhealthy

Thanks for the great hub

Lee


Don Bobbitt profile image

Don Bobbitt 19 months ago from Ruskin Florida Author

ChristinS- Thanks for your comment.

I wrote this in hopes that it would help someone, anyone, who needed a little advice when they don't have a lot of money.

DON


Don Bobbitt profile image

Don Bobbitt 19 months ago from Ruskin Florida Author

fpherj48- Somewhere I read; "Necessity drives innovation" and that is so true when you are living on a limited budget.

We need to eat, and with some planning you can still do so on very little money.

I hope this article is of some help to those who need just a little help to get by.

DON


Kathleen Odenthal profile image

Kathleen Odenthal 19 months ago from Bayonne, New Jersey

great hub! very useful information, thank you don!


Don Bobbitt profile image

Don Bobbitt 19 months ago from Ruskin Florida Author

Peggy W- Wow, I forgot Rice and Beans. This is the food staple for most of South America.

And, of course they are cheap sources of Starch and Protein.

Thanks,

DON


Don Bobbitt profile image

Don Bobbitt 19 months ago from Ruskin Florida Author

travelexe- You're right, its the same over here in the US. The foods that are the worst for you are the ones that are the cheapest.

Here's one for you. I live in Florida. I should be able to get cheap Fruit especially Oranges. But nope, So many of the Orange crops are shipped to Europe and China, where they are sold at extremely high prices. And us, the Floridians and other Americans? we get South American Oranges.

Ya Gotta Love Capitalism!

DON


traveleze profile image

traveleze 19 months ago from Preston

Hi Don Bobbitt,

I agree, best way to do it is to grow your own! haha

Thanks

Lee


Besarien profile image

Besarien 17 months ago

It is a good survival skill to have a plan for hard times. When we camp we take emergency food just in case but rarely need it. My son is pretty good at bow hunting squirrels and rabbits. We all like to fish. Between that, the kudzu, cattails, occasional blackberries, crawdads, nuts, and edible herbs and mushrooms, we usually eat well.


Don Bobbitt profile image

Don Bobbitt 17 months ago from Ruskin Florida Author

Besarien- Excellent! I am also into the world of using what nature has given us. It sounds like you guys know what you are doing when you go camping.

Check out my blog on this world of survival information;

http://www.retrosurvivalist.blogspot.com

Thanks for the read and comment,

DON

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