How do you stretch your food dollars?
November 18th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
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Cuts to SNAP benefits in November 2013 have left 47 million people with $36 a month less to spend on food. That cut (based on a family of four) is a 5% reduction to an already stretched budget.

The February 2014 presidential approval of the Farm Bill entails an $8 billion cut from SNAP over the next 10 years. This means 850,000 families will see an average $90 monthly drop in their food budget.

Millions of others who don't qualify for benefits, but who still struggle to feed their families, are finding the aisles of their local food banks more crowded with fellow shoppers than ever before.

We asked our readers, via our comments and Facebook, to share their strategies for making the most of their limited food funds. Here's what they had to say.

Cook without a kitchen

"I'm homeless and I am still able to buy food and sometimes even meat!
Why, because because I think about what I can buy before I get to the store with the money that I have! Aldis, Dollar General and Walmart are my usual choices.

Hint, shop at the outside aisles because these are where the cheaper brands and clearance items usually are. I can forage for food better than most, so I leave the welfare for the welfare moms!

What do I get? Lots of pastas, noodles, ramen, bread on markdown, sauce packs, SPAM (yes it makes a tasty meal, when done right), rice, beans and anything I can cook without a kitchen." - Jaay

Shop smartly and think ahead

"One turkey can feed a family of four well for a week at a very small cost per meal. Never buy pre-cut meat whether chicken or beef. Don't buy prepared meals. Use canned goods. Make meals from 'scratch' ranging from bread, biscuits, cakes, and cookies. Flour is cheap!" - Willard W. Olson via Facebook

"Soup is always good. You can make ten servings of good hearty and filling soup for less than $10. Buy day or two old bread for toast, bread pudding or a breakfast. Many stores sell baked goods at a discount price once they are a day or two old. Purchase packed meats on their expiration day. You can often save $3-5 on such a meat package." - Elaine Golding via Facebook

"Lentil soup and black bean chili. When you get dried beans and rice from the bulk bins in a grocery store they are way cheaper, just a few dollars for a big bag that lasts all week. And just a few bucks more for the big bottle of hot sauce." - Jeannie Allen via Facebook

"Buy non-perishables in bulk and don't buy so many cold food items. The non perishables last longer and if you get stuck inside due to an ice storm or something you do not have a lot of spoiled food. Peanut butter is something I always have. It is something you can eat that you do not have to keep cold, and it is healthy." - Tina Armstrong via Facebook

"People always think unhealthy food is cheaper and healthy food too expensive, but that is just an excuse. You can buy Kraft dinner which will feed you just one or two meals. But if you buy an entire bag of noodles, a jar of sauce and a few veggies you can make a healthy meal, freeze it and have food for weeks or months. It may seem more expensive at first, but in the long run it is cheaper." - Hollie SC via Facebook

Grow your own

"IF IF IF you have a little dirt, PLANT YOUR OWN vegetables! We do, but then I have an acre lot. Then there are clay pots to use also, hanging tomato plants." - Rebecca Howard via Facebook

I did gardening this summer the price of dirt was $6 I went to the dollar store and bought my containers for $12 and hit Walmart for seeds for $10 dollars. I had tomatoes, lettuce, green beans, strawberries and green peppers all summer long. Cheaper then buying produce all summer long for a family of five." - Brandi Devlin via Facebook

"Invest in fruit trees and a vegetable garden. Recycle organic waste into compost and till the soil. A garden is the cheapest investment one can make with the highest continual return." - Tyllor Parker via Facebook

Pump up the protein

"At the food bank where I work we're typically low in foods that are high in protein. Obviously meats have protein, but so do nuts/seeds, dairy products, eggs, beans, quinoa, peanut butter, lentils, barley, etc. We actually recently developed our own intentional food products, one of which is a lentil and barley chili mix, as a way to combat our lack of protein in the warehouse. It's all donated from local farmers, packaged by volunteers and it's delicious!" - Carly Petersen via Facebook

Get cooking

"$30 a week per person doesn't sound too bad, assuming you have a kitchen, time and ability to cook and shop. It'd take some effort, and there are 'start-up costs' if your kitchen is otherwise bare. If your usual lunch is a $10 gourmet spinach salad, it's not going to be easy to get used to. And doing all the work involved for one person is a pain, compared to cooking for a family. But it shouldn't mean rice and beans for dinner every night and PB&J sandwiches for lunch, either. Nor mystery meat and hot dogs.

Let's see: two chickens ($8), a dozen eggs ($3), a pork chop or steak ($3), a pound each of pasta ($1), rice ($1), carrots ($1), broccoli ($2), cheese ($4), onions ($1), greens ($2), loaf of bread ($3), gallon of milk ($4), bag of generic breakfast cereal ($5). That's $38 without shopping very hard, substantial meat every day and leftovers." - Bill

"Learn how to cook and buy raw ingredients. Flour, butter, sugar etc. Making tasty food is easier than you think. Most people overthink cooking and preparing food. Making things like homemade stove top macaroni and cheese takes the same amount of time as boxed. Eating to live and not living to eat takes some reconditioning but it can be done. If you cut out the junk food you have more money for the good stuff. Can't do organic though - too pricy! Plus I buy frozen veggies cause they are cheaper but still healthy." - Sierra Bingham via Facebook

Double your dollars

"The Sustainable Food Center farmers markets in the greater Austin area have an excellent program for SNAP recipients. And there are markets in areas all over town, making it somewhat easier for everyone to find a way to the market. AND, they double the dollar value SNAP and WIC recipients can spend on fruits and veg. Moreover, they advertise these benefits broadly to get the word out to people in need." - Lisa G

Editor's note: Wholesome Wave also doubles SNAP benefits at farmers markets around the country.

Shop around creatively

"We are not on the system, we just don't qualify. We watch every penny. My grocery budget is $160 a month for my family of three. That covers breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks for two adults and a preschooler. That also includes all restaurant and impulse (e.g. Starbucks) purchases. How do we do it?

Easy - first, I have an arrangement with a local organic farm to work in exchange for produce. That takes care of the bulk of my family's need for veggies and fruits. Then, I take my shopping list and visit my fave grocery outlet or dollar store. My next visit is Costco for their discount organic items before I'm done with usually enough left for one trip to Starbucks and one trip to a low-cost restaurant (we have a local diner where we can get a family dinner for $25).

Through all of this, my family does not eat low-standard food. We don't fill our menus with pasta, cereal, bread, etc. (my husband is diabetic). We focus on fresh vegetables, some fruits and lots of legumes, seeds, nuts. It works for us. We are not starving, yet we are also not over-fed." - Tonya

Comments have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Learn more ways to help the hungry people around you at CNN Impact Your World and please share your strategies in the comments below.

How to feed your family from a food bank
Opinion: SNAP isn't about a 'free lunch'
The food stamp challenge results: eating on $30 a week
Could you live on $30 a week?
Our family will lose $44 in food stamps
5 Shocking statistics about hunger
Witnesses to Hunger: A portrait of food insecurity in America
Childhood malnutrition has long lasting effects
"A time of record need" for food insecure
Lawmakers eat on a food stamp budget
Food stamp cuts a cruel proposal

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Filed under: Buzz • From the Comments • Hunger • Shopping • SNAP

soundoff (78 Responses)

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    October 8, 2014 at 8:23 pm |
  2. macksmith345

    A nice article about how to reduce the expenses of our food by trying some of the tips above especially growing your vegetables in your garden or by yourself or try to buy food at street stores because in mall food are branded and expensive.


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    March 25, 2014 at 4:50 am |
  3. macksmith345

    A nice article about how to reduce the expenses of our food by trying some of the tips above especially growing your vegetables in your garden or by yourself or try to buy food at street stores because in mall food are branded and expensive.


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    March 25, 2014 at 4:49 am |
  4. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    It truly shocks me how much cheaper it is to cook and eat at home than it is to go out and eat. People can spend $100 + in ONE MEAL OUT where you could easily spend $100 for a week of two if you just ate at home or brought meals with you! Restaurants seriously rob us blind!

    February 8, 2014 at 10:30 pm |
  5. jake

    These articles about how expensive produce is always quote the regular grocery prices. Many ethnic grocery stores and discount stores like the 99cents store in SoCal have B produce that isn't quite as pretty but much cheaper. People on food stamps that shop at stores like Jon's in SoCal rather than the big traditional groceries save a ton of money. Ethnic grocery stores know their target market is not rich and they have to have good prices to get them in.

    February 8, 2014 at 6:32 pm |
    • marisab67

      Jon's was our go to in Los Angeles when we lived there even when I had a large budget. I'm Armenian and it caters to a Persian/Middle Eastern clientele. Bulk feta from every animal and great, cheap produce!!!

      February 18, 2014 at 4:47 pm |
  6. Weeds

    Don't know why, but just bumped into this article. Kudos to all that made it.

    February 7, 2014 at 5:02 pm |
  7. I AM

    It's better to buy liquor by the gallon. Much less cost per unit.

    November 26, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  8. Thinking things through

    I save the bones from better-grade meats, and make bone broth. Which I freeze until I need it. This won't help people without kitchens, alas.

    November 23, 2013 at 12:38 pm |

    Reblogged this on You are what you eat and commented:
    Tagli sul cibo

    November 22, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  10. Noxy

    My boyfriend was officially diagnosed with Graves disease, so it's incredibly hard for him to keep weight on in spite of how much he eats or his workout routine.

    Our grocery budget is typically $100/wk for 2 people, which seems like a lot (it is to me, anyway), but most of what I buy goes towards what -he- eats. Of course, I load up on a few staple fresh veggies – baby spinach, roma tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalepenos, potatoes, and cilantro, but I also get cheaper ground beef, chicken thighs, Mexican chorizo, corn tortillas, eggs, dried beans (whether they're black or pinto), a big bag of rice, and a few other things... You get where I'm going with this theme, right?

    Yes. I cook a ton of Mexican food. It's incredibly cheap.. A couple of potatoes can be boiled in water with the chicken bouillon granules, then mashed with a roma tomato or 2, and a tablespoon or 2 of sour cream. Soften up corn tortillas on a skillet, then add a couple spoonfuls of the potato mixture onto each tortilla, roll it up, and lightly fry them in that same skillet until they're golden on all sides – making sure to put them seam side down in the oil. Top with sour cream, pico de gallo (make it more special and throw some finely chopped cucumber), and queso fresco. Make Mexican red rice and black beans (to which I add chopped jalepeno, garlic, and onion & some chicken bouillon to while cooking) to go with it.

    That's just one of the many examples.. And that one isn't totally healthy because of the carb and sodium content, but it stretches your dollar. A lot.

    November 21, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  11. Ann

    If you don't have room for a whole garden, you can at least grow your own herbs. Fresh parsley adds so much flavor to a lot of things, and it is the easiest thing to grow. Pinch off what you need, and it will grow back. Much better than spending 2 bucks for a huge bunch that will go bad before you use it all.

    November 21, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  12. RAZ

    Just rip off vegies from your neighbors garden at night! :)

    November 21, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  13. Sandy

    I think those who think it is easy to get by on SNAP benefits forget their built-in advantages. For example, I have access (by car) to many stores that run excellent sales on quality foods, a fully-equipped kitchen complete with herbs and spices and things like baking powder and yeast, and a freezer.That said, the single biggest ways to save money are to plan your meals around sale items and make a list before shopping, while being open to discounted meats and great deals you might find in-store. You need to know how to cook, which means not only knowing how to follow a recipe, but where to look for free food - scraps from vegetables and bones from chicken can become stock, and leftovers from one meal can become something totally different or add to a soup. It's a no-brainer to cut processed foods to a minimum. A crock pot is a miracle worker for tough meats and beans. It's so useful, in fact, that giving a basic model and recipes for stews, soups, and beans when applicants are approved for food assistance would make it much easier for them to maximize their benefits.

    November 20, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • KanneMe

      What a terrific idea ! I am making a huge batch of baked beans in my crockpot as I type this. After tonight's meal, there will be enough for another meal this week and plenty to freeze for future enjoyment, all at a minimum of expense and effort.

      November 20, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  14. Joe Friday

    We still buy quality products, many times in bulk, on sale and use LOTS of coupons and spend less than $100 a week. We grow nuts, fruits & vegetables and can/freeze them. Example: The 7lb chicken (plus rice, stuffing and corn) we just had for dinner was for five people. I cooked down the carcass, added celery, stewed tomatoes, corn, carrots and pasta ($1 on sale) and made SIX QUARTS of chicken soup. There were leftovers that were frozen in containers for the following weeks' lunches. Total cost for the meal and the soup? Maybe $12 and it's the equivalent of over twenty meals, which is less than 60 cents a meal.

    November 20, 2013 at 10:19 am |
  15. KanneMe

    There are only two of us, both adults. I have a healthy, (physically) hard-working husband who consumes an average of 6,000 calories a day. I make nearly all our meals, with the occasional take-out treat. (Papa Murphy's take-and-bake pizza is our current favorite. $14 (with coupon) for a family-sized pie lasts us for two days of suppers and at least one lunch. PLUS !! if I complete their online survey to get a code, they GIVE me a cheesy bread FREE, which is like having a whole other pizza. I throw it in the freezer, then toss on some chopped veg when its time to bake it.) But, I digress.

    When shopping, I combine in-store specials with store coupons and manufacturers coupons, and rarely save less than $65 on a $100 grocery tab. I live in Wisconsin and I'm stunned to read that people pay $3 for a dozen eggs. I get 18 for $1.98. A loaf of whole grain bread is $1.69. Our meals center on fruits and veg, with grains next in importance and meat served as the smallest segment. I make or bake sweets when the craving hits us. We never feel deprived.

    I do have the luxury of an extra full-sized freezer and lots of storage for shelf-stable/canned/dry goods, so I buy lots when something we like is on sale. In the summer, I have gardens: one for fruits, one for assorted vegetables and one for the allium family. Have to have that garlic and those onions.

    Despite how it sounds, I'm basically a lazy Taurus by nature and none of this requires too much time or effort. ( Full disclosure: I do not work so I have nothing but time.) It does, however, require consistency and organization. It took me a number of years to get to be as efficient as I am now, and I could still be better.

    I wish everyone the best, and hope for the day when we can just trade recipes instead of having to worry our neighbors and country-persons are going hungry.

    November 20, 2013 at 4:25 am |
  16. m.

    Raise our own beef, pigs. Have a garden.
    Also make lots of stews and buy store brands.
    Always freeze lunch meats and thaw when needed.. Keeps from having the meat go bad ..Because time flies and many times some of it had to be tossed..
    Lots of little things.. Like saving the last couple tbs of meat dishes etc. to put inside bread and grill for a sandwich at lunch.

    November 20, 2013 at 4:04 am |
    • CherryMama

      I wish more people had the resources like us to grow our own meat. If you have the room, you should at least have a few hens in your backyard. The fresh eggs can be used as you daily meat serving. I do my own beef and pork, and will do my own chickens next year after I build a pen. Its more work, but the savings and quality make it worthwhile.

      November 20, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  17. Well Fed Cheapskate

    My wife and I live in the middle of Boston, and late last year we realized we were spending unnecessary money on groceries, and often buying expensive foods that spoiled before we ate them. In hopes of saving a few dollars and cutting waste, we decided to experiment in 2013. We've spend the year trying to find a decent balance that reduced our food budget, kept us eating good nutritious food, and lowered our waste. Our self-imposed constraints were that we still wanted to eat the same name brands, organic produce/dairy/eggs, hormone-free meats, we did not want to spend more time shopping, and our small apartment does not have much storage so we cannot shop in bulk (in other words, no trips to Costco). The first few months were difficult, but after 11 months, we have averaged $395 a month for two adults, and our cupboards are overflowing with extra food (don't worry, it won't spoil soon). We have been surprised that we can still occasionally shop for some items at Whole Foods and the expensive local groceries, and we actually spend less time shopping because we require fewer (but better organized) trips to the store. Each week, we spend up to an hour making a list and printing a few coupons off the internet (on average, we save about $100 a month by using a handful of coupons and buying sale items). We could pretty easily shave off another $50 a month if we were willing to skimp on the fresh bakery bread, daily organic yogurt, $18/lb manchego, grain fed beef and unnecessary sweets (candy and cola), and that would put us below the SNAP budget ($367 is the maximum SNAP budget for the past year for two adults). I think our lifestyle would start to get cramped around $300/mo. What works for us? We look at the weekly store circular for sale items so you can plan your meals and make a list (and quickly check online or in the paper for coupons), stock up when non-perishable items you love are on sale, make extra at dinner and eat it for lunch, and don't shop when you're hungry!

    November 19, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
  18. What helps me...

    Something I can add is that when I'm doing well and have extra money, I try to stock up on flour and sugar and honey. You can keep your flour in a freezer forever and it never freezes, but will keep it from getting bugs. A few pounds of flour isn't that expensive, and can make a lot of baked goods that can really supplement when you don't have money. Not only just bread itself, but when I don't have any more money to get food and I really want something sweet, I make simple cakes (flour, egg and water) with honey and it doesn't feel like I'm missing anything.

    Even though everyone eschews carbohydrates as evil, it's one of those things that really, really helps when I don't have a lot. Fresh, homemade bread is such a luxury for me, simply because I don't have a lot of time to make it, and I honestly tend to go for convenience (I have a extremely busy schedule, complete with long commute). So when I'm having trouble making my food budget stretch, instead of feeling like I'm being denied something, I feel like I'm treating myself with homemade baked goods.

    I don't know about anyone else, but for me, falling short on food is depressing, which then leaks into the rest of my life. When I've saved something I view as a treat and can eat it during the lean times, I don't feel so bad, and that helps me get through it.

    November 19, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      What helps me is NOT stocking up on flour, sugar or honey. I've lost enough weight that I can actually find bargain clothes to buy. (Try finding outlets that stock BOTH tall and wide, as opposed to one or the other... I am not about to get shorter, so I had DEFINITELY to get less wide. Ergo, no flour, sugar or honey, sorry. It worked, btw.)

      November 19, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
      • Silverwolfy

        Don't leave out honey, honey is extremely good for you but don't buy it at the store because it is likely cut with high fructose corn syrup. If possible buy honey from a local farmers market or directly from a bee keeper. I has a ton of health benefits.

        November 20, 2013 at 2:40 am |
      • what helps me

        Funny, you missing the ENTIRE point of that. Maybe you should try stocking up brain cells, and shopping around for a non-judgemental attitude.

        The POINT is, stock up on things that are a treat to you. A treat (treat, an occasional pleasant piece of food) for me is a home baked bread or cake. Honey, by the way, does not go bad and is a very healthy alternative to processed sugar.

        If a treat for you is broccoli, stock up on frozen broccoli. Although for all your high and mighty, I willing to be that now and again you too have a dessert or a piece of bread.

        Stocking up on non perishable things that you consider treats make the hard times a little less hard. You can't always eat well or perfectly or even a lot, but having a little something enjoyable when you're going through the hardest times helps get you through. Just because you don't have a lot doesn't mean that you have to be miserable all the time.

        Unless, it seems, you prefer it.

        November 20, 2013 at 10:04 am |
        • KanneMe

          You are over-reacting in dramatic fashion. Your reply is an assault not a thoughtful part of an ongoing discussion. Nowhere did that commenter criticize your choices; they merely stated their own. Try to cultivate some objectivity and, as always, kindness matters.

          November 20, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Moose

      I really like what you wrote, when things get lean a piece of simple cake or a muffin can fill you up, cheer you up and give you calories and energy to keep you going. I think this plan is really smart and people who haven't been hungry will never understand what you just said.

      December 12, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
  19. lance corporal

    we save by eating well, nothing packaged, canned etc. Bulk beans and rice made in my kitchen are better than canned. Bone in/skin on chicken can be found for as low as .99 /lb, pull the skin yourself (less dirty processing as well) and when your done with the chicken dinner use the bones to make soup (homemade chicken noodle is soooo much better).
    Plan ahead and shop at the farmers market, buy in bulk when possible and buy what is fresh in season (and hence cheaper)

    November 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  20. George

    That person going to Starbucks is a NUT !!

    November 19, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  21. LinSea

    I have had to cut back on how much I buy at the store, but to save money on food I also bake my own bread; buy fruits and vegetables which are in season and therefore cheaper; buy the store brand for things like canned tomatoes (ironically, the cheaper store brands don't usually add garbage like high fructose corn syrup to their canned goods, but the high-end brands do); shop at dollar stores and stores which sell off the items the grocery stores overstocked on; and eat a lot of legumes (dried lentils, navy beans, pinto beans, etc.) because they are cheap, filling, and very healthy and I can cut back on the amount of meat I need. My crock pot and pressure cooker get a lot of use.

    I also buy herbs and spices at a spice shop or in the bulk section of the grocery store. It is MUCH cheaper to buy them there instead of in those horrendously overpriced little bottles, and knowing how to use herbs and spices makes even plain foods taste good.

    November 19, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  22. Joshua

    If a loss of $36/month is a 5% reduction they were getting $720/month before and $684/month now for a family of 4. I am upper middle class and my family of 5 budgets $600/month. Something is wrong here.

    November 19, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  23. AnotherAnnie

    My family spends about $350-400/month on groceries for a family of 5, and admittedly we eat too much. This amount of money also includes our day to day toiletries, non-food items like toilet paper and napkins, detergents, etc. We also often have the children's friends over for dinner, so there's often an extra mouth to feed. There was a time when we would spend over $1000/month on groceries with no thought, but we made much more money back then. So, sadly, many in this article have done a better job than I at getting their food bill down. And we do eat more rice, beans, and pasta than we used to. But for me, I look for meat on sale. I don't buy what I want; I buy what's on sale. We also eat things like grilled cheese and tomato basil soup – cheap to make AND easy too. Several of our meals are vegetarian most weeks: ravioli's with tomato sauce, macaroni with lentils, macaroni with peas, spaghetti with squash. We buy meat in family packs at a discount. We use smaller portions or throw it in soups to stretch it further. We use a lot of generic products too. It can be quite a challenge, but it can be done.

    November 19, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
  24. Mike

    Wow, you folks are thrifty. I'll have to try some of this stuff out.

    November 19, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  25. KateB

    Use meat for flavoring instead of as a substantial part of the meal (like many cultures do). For example: a pound of bacon lasts a month for flavoring at our house (in soups, crumbled on salad, veggies, pasta, or in cornbread, a few slices with cabbage and apples in a stir-fry, etc.) We buy highly-flavored items that really pack a punch in small amounts (spicy, garlicky, salty, etc.)
    Double or triple the amount of veggies in recipes, and only eat meat a few times a week, which saves money and is great for health (we have for years and don't miss it a bit!) Make a few pots of soup each week and freeze for later – lentil soup is delicious and around $3 to make a gallon if you buy lentils at an Indian or Ethnic grocery store. Buy less-expensive cuts of meat and learn to braise or stew them properly for serious taste and $-saving dividends.

    November 19, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Ann

      Agreed. People whose first reaction to "meatless meals" is to think it's weird need to remember things like eggplant parm, bean soup, etc.

      November 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  26. shorething

    A lot of what is said can be bought at a dollar store. Why spend $2 on bread when you can get the same for a buck. Why spend $3 on a dozen eggs when you can get a 36 eggs for $3. want to stretch your food budget then you have to shop at different stores to get whats on sale and cheap.

    November 19, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • m.

      Just make sure none of it comes from china..

      November 20, 2013 at 4:07 am |
  27. palintwit

    I always encourage tea party patriots to eat as much Chick-fil-A as they want. And to order extra lard and drink it down with gravy.

    November 19, 2013 at 11:38 am |
  28. Beth

    Where do these people shop? I shop and Walmart and can't find anything for the prices they are saying. I'm in ND. Where low wages and high prices are the norm. A cheap cut of steaks is $4/pound, ground beef $3.50/pound. Whole chickens $5.50 and up (and I'm quoting Sam's and Walmart prices, add $1 to everything at a grocery store). Pasta is about $2/pound. Cheap pork is at least $2.50/pound. Compound the fact my daughter has celiac disease and I'm paying about 10 times the price for gluten free flour blend compare to wheat and I make my own. Plus our gas is higher, still at $3.20/gal we spend 10.3% of our wages on gas...according to CNN, highest in the nation.
    Moral of the story, we might have some jobs but they are all blue collar, what you might make more in money you are spending more for food, fuel (Driving and heating) medical and housing. And thanks to oil, our crime rates have gone through the roof. Moving might be on the horizon.

    November 19, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • shorething

      do you have dollar stores by you? look around there, a lot of the basics can be bought there for a few bucks.

      November 19, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • Maryalice

      I shop at the 99 cent store, Big Lots and Stater Bros. I am in CA. I'm a single mom with one child. I also have celiac disease. The bread we eat is corn bread, potato bread, quick oats for oatmeal and oatmeal cookies, rice crispy cereal. Some hot dog buns are made with rice bread and I use that for sandwiches and burgers (cut in half it's the size of a slider!)

      November 19, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
      • LinSea

        I try to get to places like Grocery Outlet (which buys up items the grocery stores have a surplus of and sells them at a discount) and Cash 'n' Carry (kind of like a Costco without having to buy a membership) for bulk items like big bags of dried beans, rice, flour, frozen veggies, etc. They have really good prices. If you look around, you might be able to find similar stores in your area.

        November 19, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Glutenfreebydefault

      I hear you about the Gluten Free lifestyle. Our family is almost 100% GF due to Celiac in the home. If you go out to eat plan on absorbing a larger bill...

      We have found some great options for cheaper, and you don't have to compromise the taste/texture too much. The nice thing is, the GF fad has helped a lot! more options and competition for good GF food.
      Try looking into Grandpa's Kitchen Flour Blend. It can be used in recipes and used 1:1 to replace wheat flour. 2 lbs for $12-$15 but totally worth it. My wife makes cookies and cakes with this and it is a blessing for my family.

      Good luck :-)

      November 19, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      $3.20 a gallon for gas? No, that's nowhere near high... we pay at least twenty cents more per gallon here in Connecticut, and in some locales, well more than that. I want to tank up where you are at!!!!

      November 19, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
    • Kimberly

      Trying to eat gluten-free can be expensive if you're relying on packaged and processed foods. Might I suggest you get a grain mill and start grinding your own gluten-free flours (brown rice, white rice, etc.). While it's not super convenient, the cost savings is well worth it.

      December 16, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Frugal Hausfrau

      I live in the Midwest, and there is a Walmart available, also Targets – two places I never step in because the cost of food is much higher than our grocery store – at least the sales prices at Walmart are higher than the sales prices at the grocery store – I don't really know about regular prices because I don't buy food at regular price.

      I am a routing ad scanner and use a coupon matching site and can tell you that there is nothing at Walmart that has interested me enough price wise to go there. Now and then I see a few bargains with coupons, but nothing I can't get at my regular store for about the same price.

      I'm not certain why people think Walmart is so cheap, but it may vary by region compared to the local grocery stores.

      May 2, 2014 at 9:35 pm |
  29. Dan

    Not sure you have to worry about food spoiling due to an ice storm Tina from Facebook : 0.

    Sorry, not trying to be mean but found it funny.

    November 19, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Not quite sure what you mean. Ice storms cut out power to appliances like refrigerators. If furnaces are cut out, that doesn't mean the house is at a low-enough temperature to keep food safe from spoiling.

      You may not live in an area where that happens, but trust me - it does and it suuuuuuucks.

      November 19, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
      • Todd

        Uh, I think what he was saying is to store the food outside.........

        November 19, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
        • Kat Kinsman

          Yeah - that's again one of those geographic things. I live in NYC where not many of us have an "outside"!

          November 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
        • Thinking things through

          Indeed, outside may work for refrigerator goods (if there is a place for it to be stored) but at this point in the year, won't remotely work for freezer goods.

          November 19, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
        • Ann

          If I store my food outside, I have to worry that the bears will get it.

          November 22, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Sandy

      An ice storm occurs when it is too warm to snow, so it doesn't necessarily follow that the outside temperature will be extremely cold. We had an absolutely devastating ice storm that downed power lines and trees, but the temps were in the 40's the following week.

      November 20, 2013 at 11:27 am |
      • Ally

        I get what you're trying to say, Sandy. Just to clarify that the surface temperatures must be at or below freezing to get an ice storm. Which is also cold enough to snow. Ice will happen when it's warm enough aloft to keep the precipitation in a liquid form until it hits the cold surface.

        As far as storing food outside in the event of a power will depend on how warm the following days are. I've done it several times.

        March 14, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
  30. gastronomiette

    Reblogged this on gastronomiette and commented:
    A great article that advocates healthy eating on the cheap. It's not that hard, really!

    November 18, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
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