We've been dealing with a low cash flow for about two years now, so I thought I would post some of the things we've learned, along with some meal ideas you might enjoy for those low-cash weeks.
Things we've learned:
1. It's not cheaper to bake your own bread. It costs about the same. We get Schmidt Whole Wheat for $2.00.
2. You're going to have to sacrifice some of your dignity and go shopping at the cheapest food store out there. We shop at Walmart. I'm not proud of this, but I do it, because it saves me an insane amount of money on groceries.
3. Look at the unit price, not the actual price, when shopping for a bargain. Get the cheaper unit price.
4. Do not sacrifice your dignity in favor of store-brand oatmeal. Buy the Quaker. Just do it. You'll thank me later.
5. Learn to garden. It's fun, not too hard, and the veggies taste AMAZING directly off the vine.
6. Buy from local farmers. It's always cheaper and tastes better and is better for you.
7. Snack food is expensive. Note this.
8. Things in cans are cheaper than things in bags.
9. Things in bags are cheaper than things in boxes.
10. Buy store brand cereal. It tastes the same. Again, not the oatmeal. It is worth repeating. No store brand oatmeal.
Here are some meal ideas:
1. Baked bean sandwiches: slices of bread, toasted, topped with baked beans from a can and a slice of cheddar cheese. Open faced. Eat with a fork.
2. Stirfry: rice - and whatever you happen to have in the freezer in the way of frozen veggies or in cans + one can of tomato soup to color the rice and give it some extra flavor.
3. Pancakes. Toss in some mashed banana for extra flavor and a zap of good health. Bananas are the cheapest produce year round.
4. Burritos: flour tortillas, refried beans, rice (your choice rice in a bag - for our family of 4 we use 1 cup rice and 2 cups water + 1/4 cup Velveeta cheese (get the block), 1/2 cup salsa (get the store brand) - add the Velveeta and salsa after the rice is cooked) Michael makes these. He spreads the refried beans (canned) using a spoon into the middle of the tortilla, then adds the cooked rice. The refried beans are still cold. Then he microwaves the whole deal for thirty seconds and serves it. Don't ask me how he wraps the tortilla. He's an expert.
5. Pasta. Pasta is cheap. Anyway you spin it. And you usually have leftovers. Don't use meat. Stir in spinach, corn, or onions for flavoring. Spinach is cheaper than beef and also includes iron. We use Prego sauce. It's cheap and tasty. We get the huge plastic thing of Prego Mushroom Sauce. Make garlic bread to go with it using your sliced bread. Just heat your oven to 425, spread margarine on the bread, dash some garlic on each slice, and cook for 5 - 10 minutes or until toasted.
I also used a lot of ideas from this website.