- Personal Finance
$100 Monthly Meal Plan and Shopping List for 2 People
Can you live on 1/2 the Food Stamp Challenge?
The big debate right now is about Food Stamps. How do people live on them and then, what does that look like? Several celebrities and Congressman have tried the “challenge.” Well, I am not on Food Stamps, however my food budget is 100$ a month, for me and my six year old son. So I wanted to share my way of living on about half of the average Food Stamp allotment each month.
I streamlined the menu and you will have several choices to choose from for each meal, as well as 6 meals that are used on a weekly basis for dinner. My dinners and meals will change monthly, as well as what is fresh in the garden.
The differences to you—
*I have Sunday dinner at my family’s house most weeks, so instead of 6 meals multiplied by four, you will need 7. Don’t worry, there is a little left-over if that is the case.
*I also have a small garden that adds in fresh fillers for 8-9 months out of the year. (for little to nothing, so the money spent on seeds is not added- about 10$ per years)
*In winter months I use seeds to grow lettuce and spinach, as well as sprouts to add fresh fillers to our diet.
*Some pantry items are not included, however there is a little at the end to get condiments, dessert or salt. There is not much though ($8) so choose well.
*Shopping is almost exclusively done at Aldis, as well as meat from a local supermarket (sales are king) and I get my shelf-stable milk from the Dollar Tree for 1$ a quart.
Pancakes with ½ piece of fresh fruit
Cereal with LF milk
Toast (French, cinnamon or regular)
American Fries with grilled onions
(sometimes oatmeal is done in place of pancakes)
Lunch Choices (sandwich and raw veg)
Sandwiches: Peanut Butter and Jelly
Raw Veggie: Carrots
(or whatever is fresh from the garden.)
Dinner Choices (used once per week)
Baked Potato and Veggie
Chicken and Rice Casserole
Poor Man’s Feast-grilled potatoes and onions with cornbread muffins
BBQ Chicken-Mashed Potatoes-Veggie
The Shopping List
GROCERY LIST W/ Price Point ($)
Fruit and Veggies
2# bananas (1)
1# berries (straw or blue) (2)
3# pears (2)
3# apples (2)
1# celery (1)
3# carrots (2)
4 cucumbers (2)
2# frozen peas
2# frozen corn
20# potatoes (6-8)
3# onions (2)
2# frozen green beans
Peanut Butter (2)
2 dozen eggs (3)
10 cans tuna in water (10*.8=8)
8 chicken legs (4)
1# hamburger (quartered)
2# split-cut chicken breast (4)
2# bologna (2)
Pancake Mix (2) Flour, soda and egg can be used as well if you have it on hand)
2 Boxes of cereal (4)
4 loaves of bread (4) Can make your own, but I don’t
4 boxes macaroni and cheese (.4*4=2)
4 cornbread mix (.5*4=2)
2# spaghetti noodles (2)
1# Rice (1) half that price if you buy in bulk (10-20#)
4 qts milk (shelf-stable- found at Dollar Tree) (4)
1# margarine (1)
4# sugar (2)
Tea Bags 100 ct. (1)
4 Cream of Mushroom Soup (4)
4 Spaghetti Sauce (4)
BBQ Sauce (1)
So there is 8$ left in the budget, go crazy.
You could use it for pantry staples like flour or condiments, as well as something for dessert.
My choices this month were baking chocolate (2), confectioner sugar (1) Ketchup (1) ranch (1) sour cream (1) and grated fresh parmesan (2) I have a birthday this month, so chocolate cake it is.
How it all comes together
After you get home, the meat will be frozen into quarters. (hamburger and 2 legs and the split-cut breast are halved-the casserole will be made in double (two week) batches.)
Fruit is used how it last so berries and bananas, then pears and apples. Store in cool, dry place for root veggies and fruit to last longer. If apples get soft, make into applesauce.
Freeze 3 loaves of bread and leave one out for the week.
Choose what you want that day or use extra ingredients to make something new. Creativity and Innovation are at their best when you have limited resources. Example: Corndog Bread- Cut up hot dog and a little cheese in your corn muffins. Pair with some veggies and well, you have dinner that kids will eat. Bologna cut up serves the same purpose if that is what you have. Or how about Potato and Onion Quiche...you have extra ingredients for that too. Great for breakfast and even dinner if you just don't feel like one of the choices. I like to add fresh spinach and sour cream on top from the garden and a "splurge item" from my leftover budgeted amount.
Personalize Your Menu
So I streamlined mine because I am a single mom, that goes to school and runs a home based ghostwriting business, as well as homeschooling, so time is not my friend at the moment. I need to make sure we eat, quick and with little thought beyond the hour or less to make the monthly list and menu.
So that comes to .50 a day or a quarter per person, per day. Doesn't sound like a lot, but we are not big breakfast eaters and there are many grains and low cost fruit that can be paired. Pancakes for 2 cost about .35 for 2, using a mix or scratch. Toast is less than a dime a piece and well add an egg and you have a sandwich to keep you going for a while. Oatmeal and other cooked grains are filling and are quite low cost. There is a reason that most countries start with a hot cereal or starch in the morning. It works.
I chose a sandwich and veggie because it stays in my price point and is super easy to make. Many fresh veggies are pretty low cost and can cost even less if you grow your own. Even a few pots on your front porch or stoop, can be less that you have to spend. In the summer time, cooking cost money or misery, by way of air conditioning, so a light, non-cooked meal works in the summer. In the winter, switch to soups and breads for a filling and warming lunch. Large batches can be made and froze or enjoyed for several days.
Soups and sandwiches are low energy and stick to the price point.
Basically 4 choices that can be made into 7 meals for five dollars. Sounds rough, but is doable...
Example Potato Soup, Tomato Soup, Mixed Vegetable Soup (Bones from meat can be used if on your shopping list)
I like to put fruit in breakfast and make sure to add several veggies and protein for lunch.
So that comes to 6 choices for 4 meals a month, for 10 dollars. So each choice should make a meal for 2.50. Once again, doable with a little planning and careful shopping.
Water is free, but I love tea, so there you do. Not much allotted for this category
Why you ask? Well about 4 years ago when I quit my crappy minimum wage job, went back to school and started my business, I lived well below the poverty line. So I had to make it work, to stay home with my son and with planning, it was a controllable expense, unlike rent. So to me, it was necessary. Now it is not so needed and I do go over at times, have a craving for shrimp, but to add to my budget now, would take away from savings and other goals I find more important. So to spend more, I have to make more than my budgeting in-flow.
I love to garden and am quite good at it, which adds nutrients that are hard to add in the budget I have. So I write this and share because I have read soooo many articles lately about the "Food Stamp Challenge" which equates to 29$ a week, per person. For me and my son that would be (29*4*2) 232$, well over twice my budget. I write this to let you know that while you can pick apart my boxed mac and cheese (kid loves it, so once a week I think is okay- same with bologna) I think we get plenty of the food groups we need. We are both healthy and happy. It sucks to have to think about your purchase and while I can spend double and even triple my budget (about average) I choose to use it for savings and buying a house (eventually)
I hope that it helps someone who needs to spend very little. Or just let you know, it can be done. If there was one additional tip, it is to garden. Right now there is fresh lettuce, onions, edible flowers, greens and more to come in the next few weeks. That adds choices to your cooking, as well as much needed nutrients if you do not have the cash to buy all organic, natural, on a weekly basis.
So I wonder if you have any meal ideas that fit in the price point that you would like to share. I am always looking for new ideas!