But what will you do about fresh fruit and veggies? Dairy products like yogurt and cheese? How does healthy eating play into the challenge? I hope you will be posting your meals so we can get more ideas on the frugal eating but I do wonder about the health of the meals.
I thought I would answer Anonymous with another post rather than try to fit an answer in a comment box.
My pantry is stuffed to the gills right now with canned goods and frozen foods. I confess I got into a panic after loosing all my freezer foods three times in a row this year. I went panic buying to restock each time and as a result bought way too much. It's only because we have so much to eat and so little space for storing it that we decided to use what we have before buying anymore. I also get government commodities every month. I get canned milk, dry milk, canned fruit, canned veggies, canned meat, dry beans, pasta, fruit juice, cereal, peanut butter, cheese, and rice. These are free and go a long, long way toward stretching my food budget.
Sometimes I give some commodities to neighbors because I can't eat it all. 5 pounds of cheese or 10 lbs of oatmeal or 15 cans of milk a month is a little hard to swallow sometimes. I do find different ways to use these but after awhile I need a break.... know what I mean? Over the years I've searched cookbooks and the internet for interesting ways to use canned milk or oatmeal or other commodity foods.
The challenge for me to spend no more than $10 a week was mostly my daughter joking around but I was serious. I think we can get by with what we already have plus a few purchases now and then when I find a good bargain on meat or something. The monthly commodities will add to what we have. I'm making plans to have a back yard garden again too.
I've often said.... "The best thing a person can do to stretch their food budget is to do the obvious. Learn to cook!" Ok, I guess I better explain that. It's only since WW2 that women have been convinced we need to pay food processing plants to be our personal chef. I prefer to think about the things our colonial ancestors did without and they did just fine. In their wildest dreams they could not have imagined shopping at a mega store to buy frozen skillet meals. Heck, I don't think they could have even imagined deboned meats or already cut up veggies. Budget or no budget, don't you think we could all be better off if we had to get along without some of the things "unknown" to our great-grandparents?
If you buy quantities of convenience foods aren't you paying the manufacturer to be your person live-in cook or maid service? Can you afford servants? I don't want anyone to think I spend enormous amounts of time in my kitchen because I don't. (I'd rather be quilting.) I do rely on convenience foods...... just not pay for it. I create my own convenience foods. For example: frozen green beans in butter sauce. The extra cost for paying someone to put butter in my green beans for me is too much. I can scoop a spoon of butter in them myself and save a few pennies.
A frozen broccoli and cheese side dish with mostly bread crumbs costs more than double what I pay for plain broccoli then add my own cheese and crumbs. I can peel, slice, boil, and stomp my own potatoes.... why pay for someone else to do it for me? On very rare occasions when I find fresh fruit in the discount bin, it gets processed and canned or frozen right away. I can make my own pies instead of paying someone else to sell me a tiny bit of pie and a mountain of meringue.
When I first started housekeeping; chicken was only sold as whole, not cut up and deboned like today. I already knew how to cut up one chicken to make several meals. I learned how as a child. Every part of the chicken was used for something.... even the neck, back, and gizzard was used. These days you can't find necks or backs unless you buy whole chickens. The best chicken and dumplings I made used necks and backs.
Back then we were also able to buy beef bones to flavor our soups and stew. Have you seen any bones lately? I haven't. Heck, I can't even remember the last time I saw a beef bone in ANY beef. It'a all deboned these days. The food processing industry believes we don't want these things anymore so they aren't sold to us. If it's not offered..... we won't be able to buy it. Then we must rely on what the mega stores want us to buy... convenience.
Ok, I think I've ranted enough about the high cost of convenience foods. I get into a bad mood when I start talking about what foods are NOT offered anymore just so we MUST buy what the food industry wants us to buy.
As for the challenge.... it's only me planning to spend no more than $10 a week. I was hoping that others might have some good ideas for cutting the food budget they would share. Maybe as a result of cutting back they come up with a new idea. I could start posting some of what I do, so you get the idea, and maybe later some others will join me?
Oh, I forgot to say we have enough non-edible stuff to last a very, very long time. We have 30 super large tubes of toothpaste, a couple hundred rolls of t-paper, laundry liquid is always under my feet so I trip over it. My daughter has dozens and dozens of bottles of shampoo, I don't use shampoo. And so forth..... I'm really looking forward to using the last of some of these things just so I can make my own again. I want to make my own body soap and laundry detergent!