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Cooking Matters Michigan

Empowering families with the skills, confidence and knowledge to prepare healthy and affordable meals

Food budgeting: Feed a family of four on $10? You bet!

jhartrick

In Week 5 of our Eating Right class, we issue a challenge to participants: using what you've learned over the past few weeks, plan a meal for a family of four for $10 or less. Many participants are confused at first--can it be done? Of course!

Using several strategies, there are many ways you can save money at the register. Some of the things we discuss include:

  • Clipping coupons (check out this post for more on coupons)
  • Shopping with a list (so you don't end up with the fifth bottle of ketchup in your cupboards or forget the basil)
  • Eating before heading out to the store (so you don't indulge on the free samples of doughnuts)
  • Using the unit price (the cost of an ounce, a pint, a pound or other amount) to compare the cost of food in different sized containers
  • Buying in bulk

That last one can really save you some big bucks. One of the participants in my (@Dorothy) current class in Inkster is a real savvy shopper. She definitely stood up to challenge and created not one but two shopping lists and meal plans. She ended up going with her spaghetti plan because it was cheaper. She used the store flier to plan and figure out the prices and the price tag for her meal (which included garlic bread with parmesan, which ultimately was cut from the list) was more than $16, well over the $10 parameter. But she brought a spreadsheet that compared the retail price to what she usually pays (she always buys in bulk to stretch her $200 monthly food budget) and that price was several dollars less than the retail price.

For those who aren't as money savvy as Robin, I just came across a great article by Cooking Light that offers different meal ideas for a family of four for under $10.  And there is not one meal including ramen noodles or PB & J in sight! I think the roast chicken with potatoes and butternut squash sounds perfect for a winter's night. What do you think? Check out the list here.