Thursday, July 22, 2010

35 Meals for the Single Person

I happened across this post in the credit forums and thout I would repost it here. I'm single for the entire second half of July and this has come in really handy since I'm economizing while my son is gone ahead of our move.

Well, here's what I do.

I buy a big box of sandwich baggies at Walmart.

Then, I head for the meat department. You can usually buy two small steaks, or four small chicken breasts, for around $5 each. These will make four meals each, for a total of 8 meals for $10.

Buy a big bag of basmati rice, and pasta when it's on sale a dollar a box. Measure out portions of the size you would usually make (I typically make 1 cup pasta, or 1/2 cup rice or couscous). This helps keep you from making more than you'll eat and throwing it out.

I also buy Annie's mac and cheese at BJs where it is less than $1 per box in bulk.

Buy canned soup on sale or store brand if you have it.

Buy larger loaves of white bread (or wheat, or whatever) and make toast for breakfast. You get more meals per loaf than you would get from a box of cereal.

Here is my shopping list for this week:

Boneless Chicken Breast 3lbs $3.34 (it was buy 2 get 1 free, so I got 3 1lb packages)
Navel oranges 12lbs $5.40 (I use one bag for fruit for my lunches, and make juice with the rest as a treat)
Lean cuisine entrees $10 (they do specials where they're 5 for $10, so I take some for lunch or I'm too tired to cook)
Sliced Turkey 1lb $2.64 (buy one get 1 free, I bought 1/2lb)
Chicken Nuggets $5.49 for 48oz (10 meals for me)
Salad dressing $2 for 2 bottles (buy 1 get 1)
White bread $1.69 for 2 loaves (buy 1 get 1)
Baguette $1.99 (makes 3 sandwiches)
Orange juice 2 for $3
Frozen ravioli $3 for 3lbs
Pretzels $1.77
Poptarts 99cents (we all run late sometimes!)
Pasta $3 for 3lbs
Fruit cocktail $1.89 for 30 oz
Macaroni and cheese $3 for 3 boxes
Salad 2 for $5 (enough for 8 salads)
yogurt $5 for 10

Total: $59.20 and enough food for one person for two weeks, given the supplies I already have like rice and peanut butter.

Meals look something like this:

Breakfast: Toast with peanut butter, orange slices, coffee at work (where it's free)
Lunch: Small salad with two chicken nuggets (made at home so they're crispy, then sliced) and dressing, yogurt, water
Dinner: Ravioli and meatballs (bought on sale, carefully portioned so I don't cook too much and not eat it)

Breakfast: poptart and coffee at work
Lunch: Peanut butter sandwich with fruit cocktail, yogurt, and water
Dinner: Grilled chicken breast with rice

I eat as a single person for under $100 a month, easily. I buy stuff when it's on sale, don't buy what's not, and I plan meals around being able to make small amounts of things. A loaf of bread can make at least 8 breakfasts (2 slices of toast) and another 6 lunches. When I buy meat, as soon as I get it home I cut each piece of meat in half and freeze them in separate baggies. A pound of meat makes 4 meals.

When I buy rice, I take the whole container and scoop out half cup servings. This also helps you see how MUCH you're buying when you buy a bag of rice. I know when I buy a 5lb bag of rice that I will get at least 12 half cup servings out of that, and each box of pasta has another six servings. A bag of rice is about $2, so for $4 I have rice and pasta to go with 24 meals a month.

The biggest thing that cut my expenses when i realized I was spending too much on food was that I was making more than I'd eat, filling the fridge with leftovers, and throwing them out. Now, I only cook exactly what I will eat. A small portion of meat, some rice, and if I'm still hungry later I'll grab a granola bar. This, combined with buying things on sale, stretched what I was buying a lot farther. If I make mac and cheese, I save what I don't eat and eat it at work the next day, but I don't plan on keeping leftovers longer than that because I won't eat them.

It requires organization, and work, but once you get the hang of it it's really easy. My list above has enough food for 35 meals if you plan them well.

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