Can we live on $33 a week?

For the month of May, I’m thinking—just thinking, mind you—about slashing my grocery budget. The last time I tracked my expenditures, I spent $280 on food in a month on three people. (We also entertained five house guests during that time.) So this May, I’m thinking of going much, much lower: $33 a week. That figure will include going out to eat, which just might put a cramp in our weekly brunching habit.

Time to dust off the homemade bagel recipe.

What do you think? Can we feed a family of three on $33 a week without starving or subjecting ourselves to a month of beans, rice, and ramen? Give me your advice for cheap eating!

To List or Not to List

Joy’s recent post on saving money grocery shopping sparked an interesting debate in the comments. Erin B. provided some great tips, including this one:

ALWAYS make a list, NEVER buy anything not on the list. Ever… ever… seriously, I know we are all grownups and we think we can walk around Target without a case of the “gimme-gimmes” (a great Berenstein Bears book, by the way!) but we can’t. Make a list with literally EVERYTHING you need and buy off the list and not a single item more. Seriously, it works.

I loved all of her ideas except for that one above, which I hear a lot. Here was my response:

Saving Money on Breakfasts, Lunches, and Snacks

In this post I discussed my dinner menus that save me money on groceries.  What do we eat the rest of the time?

Breakfast foods.  We don’t eat a wide variety of foods for breakfast.  My daughter and I eat toast with peanut butter or microwave oatmeal most mornings.   Sometimes I’ll make homemade waffles or wholegrain pancakes. My husband eats granola (or other organic convenience foods) at work.

Lunch foods.  Andy eats a black bean burrito (which we make in big batches and freeze) every day for lunch–and after about six years, he has still not grown tired of them!  Audrey eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, macaroni and cheese, a quesadilla, or something like that along with apple slices, carrot sticks, or other snack-like items.  I tend to eat leftovers from dinner for lunch.

It’s Easy Eating Green on Meatless Mondays

What do beer, potato chips, and peanut butter and jelly all have in common?  They’re all perfectly ordinary–and all vegetarian.  Sure, they aren’t exactly health foods, but they’re comfortingly familiar.  It can be easy and painless to add some vegetarian meals to your usual rotation–and save a bundle while doing it.  One meat-free meal a week can also have a major impact on the environment.  Eating vegetarian just one day can save eighteen thousand gallons of water–that’s what it takes to produce one pound of raw beef!

Good news!  Potato chips are vegetarian.

The average American eats two-hundred pounds of meat each year.  A family of four spends about $2,300 annually on meat ($192 a month), and that number is climbing. [1]  Families can afford to eat more meat than previous generations, but that luxury takes a toll on the planet.  Many Americans are jumping into the green movement: recycling more, driving less.  Eating lower on the food chain is another simple thing you can do to help out Mother Earth.  If everyone cut down their animal protein intake by ten percent, we could feed the all the hungry people of the world with the grain saved. [2]