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Dining deliciously at the dollar store – OR - Going gourmet at Grocery Outlet for $3 a day

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Lost your job?

Living off that unemployment check doesn’t have to mean days of Bar S hot dogs and beans or bologna sandwiches on 99 cent generic white bread … or worse … day old white bread marked down to 50 cents.

Depression dining doesn’t have to be depressing.

Time to explore those 99 cent and dollar stores. Some even sell wine for $1 a bottle. A few years back a poster did reports about what wine was good at the local 99 cent store
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/70784

In the SF Bay Area we have the Rolls Royce of discount supermarkets, a chain called Grocery Outlet.

What is so great about this store are not so much the ordinary low cost items such as cheap hot dogs that people seem to gravitate to when funds are low.

At Grocery Outlet there are lots of organic and specialty items. This week for $1.49 there were bags of hand-rolled straccetti noodles from Italy … excellent red pepper with a hot zing of chili heat or flavorful garlic and basil.

A box of Nutritious Living Antioxidant Indulgence cereal with strawberries, goji berries, dark chocolate was 99 cents.

A 12 oz bag of frozen wild Pollock fillets was 99 cents…. and so it goes.

So for the month of February, I’m putting together meals only from what I found at Grocery Outlet and keeping the budget to $3 a day.

The first link is the menu for week one that started Monday Feb 2nd.

A while back I did a similar thing … but shopping at farmers markets and looking for discounts at all types of stores

Conclusion - Eating like a Chowhound on $3 a day
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/429348

While not all discount stores have such a fabulous selection, the point is to give what is near you a look. At worst there might be a few items to add some interest to meals.

This week one of the worse places in my area, Big Lots, had Annie’s organic green garlic salad dressing ($1), Mediterranean Market EVOO 17 oz ($3.50) and Hunt’s organic tomatoes 28 oz ($1).

At the 99 cent store there were frozen 5 oz fillets of white fish stuffed with shrimp and other 4 oz frozen fish fillets such as tuna, salmon, rockfish, etc, Hormel Naturals pepperoni, all for the price that is the name of the store.

I'm not shopping at those stores though this month, only Grocery Outlet.

Don’t get carried away though. Make sure there actually is a bargain. Some times sale items at regular markets are less, especially combined with coupons. These stores don’t accept coupons.

Always check the expiration dates.

So, this is also a … uh, scavenger … hunt … any great stores in your area? Any really good finds or tips about extreme discount stores?

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  1. I kept the meals simple.

    Something like apple cinnamon oatmeal just means a chopped up apple added to oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon. Most are self-explanatory. If there is more to it there will be a * with the ‘recipe’

    The cost per serving follows in parenthesis

    I drink a lot of coffee and make a pot in the morning. The cost per day for that pot without milk was 15 cents, with milk it was 40 cents

    The cost of olive oil, butter, salad dressing, spices, honey and condiments will be added at the end. It was too difficult to figure out on a per dish basis. I am estimating over the month I’ll have used 1 stick butter (65 cents), 4 oz honey (50 cents), 4 oz of olive oil (74 cents), ½ bottle of salad dressing (50 cents) and about 50 cents worth of various spices and mustard for a total of $1.89 over four weeks.

    Because this is only for me, to make the menus interesting, I will have some things left over for the next month. I doubt I’ll eat all the eggs, butter, oil, spices, apples, oranges, peanut butter, etc this month. That is why I did a per serving breakdown to keep track of actual costs.

    Too often when people try do something like this, they do it for one week. You can’t eat interestingly if you do it that way. People don’t shop that way. They shop over time. Over the course of weeks you can have interesting menus.

    Calories per day averaged about 1400.

    Menu week 1

    TOTAL COST FOR MONDAY FEB 2, 2009 - $2.94

    Breakfast
    Cinnamon apple oatmeal (33 cents)
    Black coffee (15 cents)

    Lunch
    Ham sandwich with Alouette garlic cheese spread on Earthgrains 100 % whole grain, stone ground whole wheat bread (65 cents)
    Fresh Bosc pear (18 cents)
    Coffee

    Dinner
    Pollock ‘Vera Cruz’ style * (71 cents)
    Buttered red pepper hand-rolled straccetti noodles (37 cents)
    Yogurt with organic Smucker’s orange marmalade (37 cents)
    Coffee

    Snacks
    2 squares Lindt Excellence Madagascar 70% cocoa (18 cents)
    Coffee

    * Sautee ½ fresh green pepper and ½ onion, add ¼ cup tomato sauce and three chopped black olives. Top with fish fillet, cover and cook until fish is done.

    TOTAL COST FOR TUESDAY FEB 3, 2009 - $2.96

    Breakfast
    Cinnamon pecan oatmeal (20 cents)
    Coffee with milk (40 cents)

    Lunch
    Pepper & egg ‘sub’ * (66 cents)
    Pear crisp ** (24 cents)
    Coffee with milk

    Dinner
    Discover Cuisine chipotle chicken and Mexican style rice (99 cents)
    Orange sprinkled with chili (17 cents)
    Coffee with milk

    Snack
    10 Orobello’s Finest organic flatbread square crackers with Arrowhead Mills organic creamy Valencia peanut butter (30 cents)
    Coffee with milk

    * Organic egg scrambled with fresh fried green pepper on a Alvarado St Bakery 100 % whole grain organic hot dog bun

    ** Sliced bosc pear drizzled with honey, sprinkled with cinnamon and microwaved. Add topping of oatmeal mixed with butter, cinnamon and honey. Brown in toaster oven.

    TOTAL COST FOR WEDNESDAY FEB 4, 2009 - $2.91

    Breakfast
    Strawberries, goji berries, dark chocolate cereal with 1.2 cup milk (30 cents)
    Black Coffee (15 cents)

    Lunch
    Go Appetit creamy mango spice soup (50 cents)
    1/2 peanut butter sandwich (28 cents)
    Coffee

    Dinner
    4Real spaghetti rings (99 cents)
    Green salad with olives, green pepper, garlic jack, pepperoni, ranch dressing (37 cents)
    Baked cinnamon apple (12 cents)
    Coffee

    Snacks
    5 organic crackers with Alouette garlic cheese spread (20 cents)
    Coffee

    TOTAL COST FOR THURSDAY FEB 5, 2009 - $3.01

    Breakfast
    Cinnamon and honey oatmeal (11 cents)
    Black coffee (15 cents)

    Lunch
    Pepperoni pizza bagel (77 cents)
    Green salad with black olives and ranch dressing (17 cents)
    Coffee

    Dinner
    Wild Pacific salmon fillet (70 cents)
    Buttered garlic and basil hand-rolled straccetti noodles (37 cents)
    Fresh cauliflower (25 cents)
    Edame (22 cents)
    Hot gingered pears topped with yogurt (18 cents)
    Coffee

    Snacks
    Lindt Excellence 85% cocoa extra dark chocolate square (9 cents)
    Coffee

    TOTAL COST FOR FRIDAY FEB 6, 2009 - $2.98

    Breakfast
    Orange marmalade oatmeal (23 cents)
    Coffee with milk (40 cents)

    Lunch
    Pear and Alouette garlic cheese omelet (62 cents)
    Green salad with olives and ranch dressing (17 cents)
    Coffee with milk

    Dinner
    Discover Cuisine sweet pepper beef and broccoli with white rice (99 cents)
    Edame (22 cents)
    Orange with ginger and honey (17 cents)
    Coffee with milk

    Snacks
    Lindt Excellence 85% cocoa extra dark chocolate square (9 cents)
    Lindt Excellence Madagascar 70% cocoa chocolate square (9 cents)
    Coffee with milk

    TOTAL COST FOR SATURDAY FEB 6, 2009 - $2.96

    Saturday brunch
    Scrambled egg and ham with sweet potato home fries (56 cents)
    Coffee with milk (40 cents)

    Lunch
    Grilled Sonoma Jack garlic cheese sandwich (36 cents)
    Coffee with milk

    Dinner
    4Real beef ravioli (99 cents)
    Green salad with olives, pepperoni and ranch dressing (31 cents)
    Yogurt with honey (25 cents)
    Coffee with milk

    Snacks
    Lindt Excellence Madagascar 70% cocoa chocolate square (9 cents)
    Coffee with milk

    TOTAL COST FOR SUNDAY FEB 6, 2009 - $3.25

    Breakfast
    Bagel with cream cheese (45 cents)
    Black coffee (15 cents)

    Lunch
    Miller’s Grillers hot dog on Alvarado St Bakery 100 % whole grain organic hot dog bun (93 cents)
    Coffee

    Dinner
    Banquet fried chicken dinner with corn and mashed potatoes (1.29)
    Green salad with ranch dressing (10 cents)
    Spiced sautéed apple (12 cents)
    Coffee

    Snack
    5 organic crackers with Sonoma Jack garlic cheese (20 cents)
    Coffee

    TOTAL COST FOR WEEK 1 – EXACTLY $21

    This might look like I made my goal of $3 a day, but it doesn’t include the 50 cents per week of condiments, spices, oils

    This was actually more difficult than I thought it would be and I made some mistakes that will be corrected over the next weeks now that I have some experience with the meal plan.

    The big score while shopping this week was the fruit, bag of fresh sweet potatoes and the frozen fish. However, to make the menus more vaired than salmon, pollock, salmon, pollock, I included some frozen entrees. They were interesting, but played hell on the budget. Who would think a 99 cent entrée would be pricy.

    Grocery outlet is having a meat sale next week so that will allow some variety with the fish. Since I have a good chunk of the groceries for the month, I now have the luxury of only buying super bargains over the next few weeks.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      GROCERIES USED FOR WEEK 1 (Many will be part of menus for the next three weeks

      If anyone has any interesting menu ideas using these ingredients, I welcome them.

      I'm thinking maybe pollock a l'orange and salmon tossed with red chili noodles and olive oil.

      1.89 Earthgrains 100 % whole grain, stone ground whole wheat bread 1 lb 8 oz
      1.99 Soli’s NY style plain bagels 6
      1.99 Alvarado St Bakery 100 % whole grain organic hot dog buns 6

      99 cents Nutritious Living Antioxidant Indulgence cereal with Strawberries, goji berries, dark chocolate 10 oz
      2.49 Mom’s Best Oatmeal 38 oz

      1.69 Alpine Lace Reduced fat smoked provolone 6 slices
      99 cents Alouette Garlic cheese supreme 6.5 oz
      99 cents Philly Cream cheese 8 oz
      99 cents Sonoma Snacks Garlic jack cheese cubes 8 oz

      99 cents Lindt ExcellenceMadagascar 70% cocoa 10 squares 3.5 oz
      99 cents Lindt Excellence 85% cocoa extra dark 10 squares 3.5 oz

      3.99 Mountain High Heritage blend coffee 32 oz

      1.49 Roegelein Cooked ham (9 slices) 12 oz
      99 cents Gallo Pepperoni 54 slices 3 oz

      99 cents Orobello’s Finest Organic flatbread squares 17 oz

      1.29 Banquet Fried chicken dinner with corn and mashed potatoes 9 oz
      99 cents Discover Cuisine Chipotle chicken and Mexican style rice 12 oz
      99 cents Discover Cuisine Sweet pepper beef and broccoli with white rice12 oz
      99 cents 4Real Spaghetti rings 8 oz
      99 cents 4Real Beef ravioli 8 oz

      2.79 Judy’s organic eggs 18 eggs

      3.49 Aquastart Wild salmon steaks 1.25 lbs
      99 cents Harbor seafood Wild Pollock 5 fillets 12 oz

      1.99 Gala apples (16) 3 lbs
      1.99 Mandarin oranges (12) 3 lb
      1.99 Bosc pears (11)

      2.99 Miller’s grillers 5 extra large hot dogs 12 oz

      1.99 Smucker’s Organic orange marmalade 12 oz

      1.99 Milk 1/2 gal

      2.59 SNC Nut Company Shelled pecans 6 oz

      79 cents Sun Valley Black olives 3 olives 6 oz

      1.49 Simply Enjoy Garlic and basil noodles with wheat germ straccetti hand-rolled noodles from Italy 8.8 oz
      1.49 Simply Enjoy Red pepper noodles with wheat germ straccetti hand-rolled noodles from Italy 8.8 oz

      2.99 Arrowhead Mills Organic creamy Valencia peanut butter 1.6 lb

      79 cents Del Monte Traditional spaghetti sauce 26 1/2 oz

      50 cents Go Appetit Natural creamy mango spice soup

      99 cents bag of lettuce 1 lb
      99 cents head fresh cauliflower
      34 cents fresh bell pepper
      1.59 Onions 3 lbs (6)
      2.49 Sweet potatoes 3 lbs
      1.29 Frozen edame pods 1lb

      99 cents Dannon All natural lowfat yogurt 32 oz

      2.59 Challenge butter 1 lb

      25 cents Busy Bee Honey 2 oz

      79 cents Deli Market Yellow mustard 29 oz

      2.99 Crisco Light olive oil 16.9 oz

      99 cents Wishbone Salad Spritzers Ranch dressing 7 oz

      59 cents Julia’s spices cinnamon 1 1/4 oz
      69 cents Julia’s spices Ground ginger 1 oz

      1. re: rworange

        Bravo! You never cease to amaze and inspire rworange!

        Beginning my own scavenger hunt this week :)
        M

    2. When we lived in the Dogpatch (SF), there was the Bargain Bank at the end of Minnesota. Organic California oils (grapeseed, olive), wines, Hello Kitty cookies, Weleda & California Baby skincare... It appears that the Polk Street location been renamed Spencer & Daniel's and the dogpatch one possibly gone (after leaving the neighborhood it finally cleaned up?).
      http://spenceranddaniels.com/gourmet_...

      There used to be a good Deals store on Lincoln/Western Chicago; the other ones I have been to on the east coast have been rather gross.

      The farmer's markets seem to be the best places to find bargains in NJ.

      1. Nice work ... but will this ween us off "lattes"?

        2 Replies
        1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

          DIY at home and save $3/drink

          1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

            Well, there WERe six packets of latte mix for 99 cents, but I was guessing it was along the lines of something you'd buy at 7-11.

            If I didn't need the caf-fiend, I could have cut my $2 lb coffee cost by half since there were 1 lb bags of whole organic decaf coffee beans for 99 cents.

          2. Krys, it's not clear which is more impressive - your ability to source such great bargains or your ability to keep track of exactly how much everything costs. Do I sense a book in the works?

            One thought, inspired by a recent interview on NPR where Mark Bittman was pimping "Food Matters" - an occasional vegetarian dinner can dramatically reduce the overall grocery bill. Legumes are dirt cheap, filling, and incredibly healthy. And if you have a pressure cooker, they're quick, too.

            3 Replies
            1. re: alanbarnes

              After spending my life keeping diet diaries, I've got the part down about recording meals, calories and portion sizes. All I needed for this was to add a price breakdown which was easy enough.

              Part of this was trying to get back to portion control ... though in NO way meant to be a diet ... I just needed to get back to being aware of what I was putting in my mouth.

              When I do something like this I don't cheat because it is too difficult to keep track of. Also, I don't want to tell people you can eat good food and be satisfied and then sneak off and add food not listed.

              Using whole bread is filling. Also, cutting the sugar makes me feel full. The little snack here and there is good.

              I miss wine though. No bargains this month. There are three liter bottles of Almaden burgandy for $3.99, but a bottle of wine won't remain good over a month (even cheapo wine). The only boxed wine is out of my price range for this ... an Argentine wine selling for $9.99 a box. Will keep hoping some of those boxed wines for $5 or under come in. If not ... luck of what is available this month.

              Unfortunately, fresh produce is not Grocery Outlet's strength. I lucked out on the sweet potatoes, but they are more expensive at about 80 cents a pound than at other discount markets or corner markets where they are about 50 cents a pound. The cauliflower was a fluke ... and it was also amazing quality

              1. re: rworange

                The Berkeley store had blueberries for 1.50. You could add them to cereal or yogurt. Also, the bagged onions were a good deal. With the chicken stock you could make soup.

                1. re: rworange

                  I've actually had better than average luck in the produce department at the Oakland location recently. My last visit there were bags of deeply discounted produce, most in good shape. I got 5 pink grapefruits for a buck (still a little expensive for your purposes, but a good deal nonetheless) and 7 or 8 yellow onions for 49 cents.

              2. What kind of coffee do you use?

                1 Reply
                1. re: WCchopper

                  Mountain High Heritage blend coffee

                  It's ok. About as good as what you'd get at a fast food restaurant. In the same league as any canned coffee like Maxwell House.

                  My S/O is from Central America and grew up with powdered Nescafe. The guy is the only one in his family who is a chowhound except for the coffee thing. When I first gave him Graffeo, the look on his face was like I tried to kill him. None of the other local coffee roasters fared any better.

                  So I buy the can of $3.99 coffee of the month for him which makes him happy. Most have been ok, about the same as any canned coffee. There was only one I thought was undrinkable, but I'm blanking on it right now.

                2. Nothing much to add, but I really like these threads.

                  1. In my hometown, I love Public Market (Main St.) for cold cuts and storemade sausage--reasonable prices in an old school Italian grocery store.

                    Here are some regional extreme discount stores:

                    SHOPPING TIP FOR CT and OH:
                    In Cromwell, CT, we have Xpect Discounts--and they accept coupons. Apparently, it's a chain with multiple locations in CT and OH. Since things have gotten tighter, I try to buy what I can there rather than Stop & Shop. The produce is fresh and deeply discounted. They carry De Cecco pasta (my favorite!), Simply Smart milk, eggs, canned tomatoes...just about everything you'd find in a regular grocery store. Here is a link to a store finder by zip code:
                    http://www.marcs.com/base.cfm?page_id...

                    SHOPPING TIP FOR CT, MA, NY, RI and PA:
                    We now have a Price Right in Cromwell--another discount supermarket. They have locations in CT, MA, NY, RI and PA. You can pick up ground chicken/turkey, meatloaf mix, butter, produce...all on the cheap. Just gotta BYOB (bags!):
                    http://www.priceritesupermarkets.com/...

                    This is a great thread on a number of levels--the tips on how other people are stretching a buck, along with meal suggestions, are very helpful. But from an emotional perspective, it makes me feel better to know we are all in this together to some degree (and we're doing OK!). Thank you!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kattyeyes

                      P.S. We often buy "family packs" of meat and make"two-packs" with the Food Saver.

                    2. I am very impressed. You are an inspiration!

                      1. Apparently there's a 99 cents only cookbook --- NPR has a story with recipes. And have you seen the 99centchef? 99centchef.blogspot.com.

                        I have to admit that I'm a little worried, however. Recalled products end up in dollar stores all too frequently --- it happened with the peanut products.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: dancingmonkey

                          Alot stayed in the "real grocery" too though....

                          1. re: dancingmonkey

                            To be fair, Grocery Outlet is more like a nordstrom's rack than a dollar store.
                            Lots of out of region bargains, change of label stuff. overstocks. Not a dented can/salvage
                            place.

                            1. re: bbqboy

                              "More like a Nordstrom's rack than a dollar store"

                              Great description.

                              Recalled products can't be sold even at bargain stores and this happened across every type of product that used that peanut butter in their product including some pricey health food bars.

                              You do need to know the store though. Independents are iffier than a chain which doesn't want the bad publicity. There were these two horrid independant discount stores when I lived near San Diego that got a lot of bad press and were closed down.

                              Even then, if people checked expirations dates and looked at the condition of the stores, they should have known better. Shabby and disorganized ... ok ... downright dirty ... leave.

                              I like the 99 cent chef. Here's hopefully a working link
                              http://the99centchef.blogspot.com/

                              The clam and artichoke pita pizza looks good.

                              For the mini banana pudding I liked the suggestion " how about getting trendy-restaurant-hip with a salty/sweet sprinkle of bacon bits"

                              One idea, even if the budget doesn't allow for eating at expensive restaurants, is to look at their menus to get a feel for what they serve and see how those creative touches can be applied to your dollar stash.

                              One of my favorite restaurants has on the menu tonight

                              happy boy beet carpaccio/ cypress grove goat cheese/ miners lettuce/ hazelnuts

                              OK, I have canned beets, Alouette garlic cheese, pecans and lettuce ... I could make a discount knock-off

                              Many of the budget recipe sites give the same old tired recipes for pasta dishes, beans, cassaroles etc.

                              A good budget recipe site is ... of all places ... Walmart. At their superstores they have free recipe cards in their produce section and I've collected a few hundred of these. They are acually good and mainly healthy. Now the recipes are on their site. I'm modifying a recipe for Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potatoes for my menu this week.
                              http://instoresnow.walmart.com/food-r...

                              Tonight is a modification of Walmart's Baked Maple-Mustard Glazed Salmon
                              http://instoresnow.walmart.com/food-r...

                              1. re: rworange

                                Miner's lettuce is a lot cheaper than a dollar right now - there seems to be a bumper crop of it growing wild all over Northern California.

                          2. Excellent ideas. I'm saving for a trip to Africa so I hit the dollar stores, grocery outlets and Walmart on a regular basis. i love to purchase fun items like marinated veggies as I enjoy them in salads or create my own antipasto plate. The key with these stores is to check the listed ingredients. I even found tins of smoked oysters in sunflower oil. I have found that Indian markets are great places to purchase spices as the variety they carry is very affordable and they seem to be restocked on a regular basis. There are two Middle Eastern markets in my neighborhood one has good deals on lamb but the other carries larger bags of coucous, pine nuts, garbanzos etc. They also replenish their supplies frequently and the prices are better than TJ's. Lastly, with organic products becoming mainstream you can find some great deals at the dollar stores. i got some organic cereals that were really good and usually $3-4 at other grocery stores. it is a scavenger hunt and is soon becoming a fun past time.

                            1. I do shop the 99 cent stores, and there are a few that have some really good produce, as well as many other bargains. I do caution everyone to be very careful about how the food is packaged. If it is in a box, like crackers, and it is also wrapped in plastic, then it's okay, as long as you check the exp. date. BUT if it is in a box loose, leave it there. I say this because I picked up some candy from a dollar store, no exp. date, but didn't look like and old box or dusty, etc. When I ate it I had a severe allergic reaction, and I know it was the candy, because I was eating it when my face started swelling. The only thing the Dr. could determine was that it wasn't the ingredients, but it could have been stored in a warehouse alongside dangerous chemicals that leaked into the candy. Who knows for sure, but now I carefully check every package to be sure there are no tears.

                              1. I am also fortunate to have a Grocery Outlet store in my small town. I love shopping there, always find interesting and exotic things plus great prices on everyday items and the necessities for our tsunami/earthquake pantry.

                                1. http://www.groceryoutlets.com/3dollar...

                                  RW, great report as usual! Did you happen to read this brochure from GO?

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    No. Actually another reason I did this was that a few months back Grocery Outlet had it's managers try to live on $3 a day for a week. The results for the most part, were kind of what usually happens when people try it for only a week. You just cant get good results for a single week. I felt like yelling "Step away from the SPAM people".

                                    So I've been mulling over that for a while too. I always thought they could do better.

                                    That pamphlet is a lot better though. A little too heavy on the canned beans. Dry beans are cheaper and really not that difficult to deal with.

                                    Actually, as I got into this, I got better. My big thing this week was not to look at the total price ... my big mistake in week one ... but the price of something per serving. So something for $2 may be the better bet than something for 99 cents if the price per serving is a lot lower. I have to say, as dumb as it sounds, that was a revelation to me.

                                    So that can of beans for 99 cents that serves 4 is less of a deal than they dry beans they are selling at 99 cents and gives 8 servings.

                                    Major scores today
                                    - 24 oz of cottage cheese for 50 cents or 10 cents a serving
                                    - Pepperidge Farm 100 calorie pack dark chocolate chip cookies for 50 cents or 10 cents a pack.

                                    But the better deal was the bag of cookies made in Germany with good ingrediants in it like real sugar and butter for $1.49. That broke down to 2 cents a cookie. Also, they were mixed cookies for variety ... some wafers, some fruit filled, some dipped in chocolate.

                                    I went budget wild however ... couldn't pass up the Pepperidge Farm, but also got the German cookies

                                    One of the things I did this time around was try to keep my meals with a more universal appeal. Last time I did some chicken with Swiss chard thing that a few people said that their families wouldn't eat swiss chard ... though I wasn't trying to plan anyone's meal ... it was just an illistration. And fish head soup ... never again ... I'll starve first ... maybe.

                                    I bypassed the urge to put together a GO plat de mer out of smoked oysters, clams, salmon, mussles and crab. As fancy as I get is today's cheese plate with blue, cheddar, garlic jack, orange marmelade, curried pecans, crackers, pears and apples ... maybe with German cookies for dessert ... haven't totaled this up yet.

                                    So the GO $3 pamplet does a good job of menus for universal appeal. Actually I'm going to steal that recipe for parmesan rice with peas since I have those ingrediants. I keep forgetting to do the peanut butter with apple thing.

                                    The creative ideas section in that pamplet has some great ideas ... though at this point after 14 days I'm running out of oatmeal ideas ... haven't repeated myself once yet.

                                    One other idea I'd add to that is to learn to love spices and get confortable with them. There are some dishes over the past few weeks I will keep in my permanent repetoire ... as were some from my last go at this. The sweet potatoes with ginger and cinnamon were just swell ... and if I have any hamburger leftover I'm using it up for shepards pie topped with sweet potatoes ... that was really, really good ... and would freeze nicely.

                                    1. re: rworange

                                      rw, I believe you should contact GO and offer your suggestions. Write the next brochure and get paid for your god given talent. You really could turn the GO people around with your report. Submit a proposal, rw! Do it!

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        Eh, they have a manager who is a real chowhound and reads the boards. They seem to be doing well on their own. Also, if I had any connection to GO, I wouldn't be able to report my finds there on the board.

                                        1. re: rworange

                                          rw, I hope CH's appreciate your free advice when you could be getting paid to write it. I am sure your insightful and detailed work would be a welcomed voice at GO. Carry on!

                                  2. WEEK 2

                                    The lesson for me on this Valentine’s week was volume and variety. I started to get it better this week, so costs got lower toward the end of the week.

                                    VOLUME

                                    I was just going for the cheap price on week one, something that was 99 cents or less … mistake

                                    One big thing was to look at items not for total price, but price per serving.

                                    I bought a bag of assorted cookies made in Germany which broke down to 2 cents per cookie … decent ingredient list … real sugar and no HFCS.

                                    There was an interesting box of Indian rice with mushrooms for 99 cents, but there were only 2 servings in that box, so at 50 cents a serving for a side dish … 1/6 of my daily budget … pass.

                                    VARIETY

                                    I actually am eating better than normal. Left to my own, at home I’d the same thing every day … oatmeal … coffee … salad … broiled fish or meat fresh and some sort of veggie … fruit. I get bored and eat out a lot.

                                    However, forcing myself to think creatively, I was more satisfied on less food. There were days when I was actually thinking “I get to eat all of this?”

                                    That is the real secret. Make the mundane interesting. You feel sorry for yourself eating the same thing day after day. And if all you can afford is beans eggs and bologna … invest in a few spices to add variety … Cajun beans, Boston baked beans, chili beans… deviled eggs, Mexican eggs, frittata ... uh, bologna ... ... ... bologna with eggs, bologna with garlic aoil? .. gotta be more to do with bologna other than fry it or slap it between two pieces of bread.

                                    Also I re-read my old $3 post from a few years ago. One thing I forgot was making multiple uses out of a single item.
                                    - cut the crust off a sandwich to make croutons
                                    - save a bit of onion or pepper from a recipe to add to a salad, sandwich or salsa
                                    - save the fat from fried meat such as bacon to flavor veggies or other dishes

                                    Stuff like that

                                    I did have one extra meal not listed. My Catholic church celebrated Chinese New Years and the Asian parishiners provided lunch afterward ... never one to turn down free whole roasted pig, I had an extra meal on Sunday.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: rworange

                                      MENU – WEEK 2

                                      TOTAL COST FOR MONDAY FEB 9, 2009 - $2.98

                                      Breakfast
                                      Cinnamon oatmeal (11 cents)
                                      Black Coffee (15 cents)

                                      Lunch
                                      Chef salad – Lettuce, hard boiled egg, ham, smoked provolone, pepperoni, three cubes garlic jack, ranch dressing (84 cents)
                                      Orange (17 cents)
                                      Coffee

                                      Dinner
                                      Red chili noodles tossed with salmon and olive oil ($1.07)
                                      Cauliflower (25 cents)
                                      Roasted pear drizzled with Lindt Excellence Madagascar 70% cocoa chocolate (27 cents)
                                      Coffee

                                      Snacks
                                      ½ cup yogurt with honey (12 cents)
                                      Coffee

                                      TOTAL COST FOR TUESDAY FEB 10, 2009 - $2.93

                                      Breakfast
                                      Strawberries, goji berries, dark chocolate cereal with 1.2 cup milk (30 cents)
                                      Black coffee (15 cents)

                                      Lunch
                                      PBJ sandwich - Organic peanut butter and organic marmalade on Earthgrains 100 % whole grain, stone ground whole wheat bread (49 cents)
                                      Coffee

                                      Dinner
                                      Meijer Lean entrees Thai style chicken with seasoned rice ($1.49)
                                      Green salad with curry mustard dressing * (10 cents)
                                      Cinnamon pear sauce topped with dollop of ginger honey yogurt and chopped pecan (20 cents)
                                      Coffee

                                      Snacks
                                      5 crackers with Alouette garlic cheese (20 cents)
                                      Coffee

                                      * Mix curry powder into yellow mustard to taste. Mix in olive oil. Thin with water.

                                      TOTAL COST FOR WEDNESDAY FEB 11, 2009 - $2.46

                                      Breakfast
                                      Honey butter oatmeal (11 cents)
                                      Coffee with milk (40 cents)

                                      Lunch
                                      Yogurt with chopped pear pecans and cinnamon (46 cents)
                                      ½ bagel with peanut butter (30 cents)
                                      Coffee with milk

                                      Dinner
                                      Pollock with caramelized onion (47 cents)
                                      Cinnamon and ginger mashed sweet potato (23 cents)
                                      Curried rice (8 cents)
                                      Baked apple sprinkled with cookie crumbs (14 cents)
                                      Coffee with milk

                                      Snacks
                                      Mocha * (9 cents)
                                      4 German cookies (8 cents)

                                      * Melt one Lindt Excellence 85% cocoa extra dark chocolate square. Add coffee with milk

                                      TOTAL COST FOR THURSDAY FEB 12, 2009 - $3.00

                                      Breakfast
                                      ½ cup yogurt topped with Strawberries, goji berries, dark chocolate cereal (29 cents)
                                      Coffee with milk (40 cents)

                                      Lunch
                                      Grilled ham and provolone cheese sandwich (70 cents)
                                      Green salad with pepperoni (12 cents)
                                      Coffee with milk

                                      Dinner
                                      Italian meatballs (33 cents)
                                      Spaghetti with spaghetti sauce topped with grated parmesan cheese (41 cents)
                                      Garlic cheese cauliflower (54 cents) *
                                      Rice pudding with raisins (17 cents)
                                      Coffee with milk

                                      Snacks
                                      2 German cookies
                                      Coffee with milk

                                      * mash or puree cauliflower and mix with Alouette garlic cheese

                                      TOTAL COST FOR FRIDAY FEB 13, 2009 - $2.85

                                      Breakfast
                                      Cinnamon raisin oatmeal (19 cents)
                                      Coffee with milk (40 cents)

                                      Lunch
                                      Meatball “sub” (93 cents) *
                                      Coffee with milk

                                      Dinner
                                      Salmon with honey mustard glaze (70 cents) **
                                      Curried cauliflower (25 cents)
                                      Ginger rice (7 cents)
                                      Apple pecan crisp (22 cents) ***
                                      Coffee with milk

                                      Snacks
                                      Lindt Excellence 85% cocoa extra dark chocolate square (9 cents)
                                      Coffee with milk

                                      * meatballs in sauce on a toasted Alvarado St Bakery 100 % whole grain organic hot dog buns
                                      ** based on this recipe http://instoresnow.walmart.com/food-r...
                                      *** * Sliced apple drizzled with honey, sprinkled with ginger and microwaved. Add topping of oatmeal mixed with chopped pecan, butter, cinnamon and honey. Brown in toaster oven.

                                      TOTAL COST FOR SATURDAY FEB 14, 2009 - $2.84

                                      Breakfast
                                      Honey pecan oatmeal (21 cents)
                                      Coffee with milk (40 cents)

                                      Lunch
                                      Olive and two cheese (provolone and parmesan) pizza bagel (76 cents)
                                      Orange (17 cents)
                                      Coffee with milk

                                      Dinner
                                      Spaghetti tossed with olive oil, ham, green peas and parmesan cheese (58 cents)
                                      Cinnamon baked sweet potatoes and apples (35 cents) *
                                      4 German cookies (8 cents)
                                      Coffee with milk

                                      Snacks
                                      5 Crackers with Alouette garlic cheese (29 cents)
                                      Coffee with milk
                                      * based on this recipe but no raisins or butter http://instoresnow.walmart.com/food-r...

                                      TOTAL COST FOR SUNDAY FEB 15, 2009 - $3.07

                                      Breakfast
                                      Bagel with cream cheese (45 cents)
                                      Coffee (15 cents)

                                      Lunch
                                      Cheese Plate
                                      English Farmhouse Cheddar, blue jack cheese, garlic jack cheese, Alouette garlic cheese spread, bosc pear slices, gala apple slices, curried pecans, organic orange marmalade, 5 organic crackers (51 cents) *
                                      Coffee

                                      Dinner
                                      Shepherds pie with topped with sweet potatoes ** (79 cents)
                                      Green salad with beets, Alouette garlic cheese, pecans and ranch dressing (35 cents)
                                      Gingered pear-apple sauce (30cents)
                                      Coffee

                                      Snacks
                                      1 100 calorie pack Pepperidge Farm dark chocolate chunk cookies (10 cents)
                                      Coffee

                                      * Pear and apple were also used for dinner pear-apple sauce after using a few slices for the cheese plate. A little Alouette from the dinner salad was used for one cracker in the cheese plate.
                                      ** based on this recipe only with just tomato sauce, peas and onions http://instoresnow.walmart.com/food-r...

                                      TOTAL COST FOR WEEK - $20.13

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        ADDITIONAL GROCERIES FOR WEEK 2

                                        A few extra things bought this week and added to groceries from week 1
                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5944...

                                        Now I’m just cruising since I have not only enough to last the next two weeks, but enough to carry me into the first two weeks of next month. Any additional buys will have to be extraordinary bargains like that 50 cent box of Pepperidge Farm cookies. There are a few short term perishables like milk and lettuce I'll pick up. Milk is $1.99 a gallon currently.

                                        3.99 Harris Ranch fresh ground beef chub 3 lbs
                                        99 cents Pilgrim’s Choice farmhouse mature English cheddar 7 oz
                                        1.49 North Beach grated parmesan cheese 4 oz
                                        99 cents Sonoma Snacks blue jack cheese cubes 8 oz
                                        50 cents Pepperidge Farm dark chocolate chunk 100 calorie cookie packs 5 pack box
                                        1.49 Quickbury cookie selection. Assorted biscuits and wafers with chocolate. Made in Germany 14.09 oz
                                        1.49 Meijer Lean entrees Thai style chicken with seasoned rice 9 oz
                                        99 cents Champion raisins 6 1 oz boxes
                                        50 cents American Italian spaghetti 13.25 oz
                                        59 cents Lakeside Foods canned beets 15 oz
                                        69 cents Le Sueur very young small early peas 50% less sodium 15 oz
                                        99 cents another bag of lettuce 1 lb
                                        59 cents Julia’s spices whole oregano 13/16 ox
                                        50 cents Sauer’s Curry powder 1 oz
                                        50 cents Sauer’s Chili powder 1 oz

                                      2. Week 3

                                        I actually ate better this week than I usually eat. Again, the revelation from last week to buy things on a per serving cost rather than a per item cost makes this easier and easier.

                                        There were some shoppers in Grocery Outlet this week buying meal bowls of pasta for about 69 cents and it was all I could do to not tell them to buy a box of pasta and sauce. That 69 cents could have been used for a couple of servings instead of one that way.

                                        Menu for week 2

                                        TOTAL COST FOR MONDAY FEB 16, 2009 - $2.84

                                        Breakfast
                                        1/2 buttered bagel with organic orange marmalade (29 cents)
                                        1/2 cup cottage cheese sprinkled with cinnamon 10 (10 cents)
                                        Coffee with milk (40 cents)

                                        Lunch
                                        Ham and cheddar melt with caramelized onions on Earthgrains 100 % whole grain, stone ground whole wheat bread (70 cents)
                                        Salad with beets, black olives and ranch dressing (26 cents)
                                        Bosc pear (18 cents)
                                        Coffee with milk

                                        Dinner
                                        Pollock with corn relish (29 cents) *
                                        Red pepper straccetti noodles tossed with olive oil (37 cents)
                                        Apple sautéed with chili and cinnamon (12 cents)

                                        Snacks
                                        Mocha (9 cents) **
                                        2 cookies (4 cents)

                                        * Based on this recipe but no bell pepper http://instoresnow.walmart.com/food-r...
                                        ** Melt one Lindt Excellence Madagascar 70% cocoa chocolate square. Add coffee with milk

                                        TOTAL COST FOR TUESDAY FEB 17, 2009 - $2.87

                                        Breakfast
                                        Strawberries, goji berries, dark chocolate cereal with 1.2 cup milk (29 cents)
                                        Black coffee (15 cents)

                                        Lunch
                                        Ham, olive, blue cheese and deviled egg * salad with ranch dressing (72 cents)
                                        Orange (17 cents)
                                        Coffee

                                        Dinner
                                        Lasagna-style casserole with garlic and basil straccetti noodles ($1.22) **
                                        Green salad with pepperoni and olives (19 cents)
                                        2 German cookies (4 cents)
                                        Coffee

                                        Snacks
                                        Lindt Excellence 85% cocoa extra dark chocolate square (9 cents)
                                        Coffee

                                        * Cut hard-boiled egg in half, remove yolk and mash with mayo and mustard. Fill egg halves with yolk. Sprinkle one with chili and the other with curry powder. Top with half a black olive.
                                        ** In a small casserole put a layer of cooked noodles. Top with cottage cheese mixed with dried oregano. Top with half a slice of chopped smoked provolone then add a thin layer of sauce (ground beef sautéed with chopped onion and oregano mixed with spaghetti sauce), another layer of noodles, another of sauce, rest of provolone, rest of noodles, and remainder of sauce. Bake till hot. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

                                        TOTAL COST FOR WEDNESDAY FEB 18, 2009 - $2.66

                                        Breakfast
                                        Oatmeal with prunes (21 cents)
                                        Coffee with milk (27 cents)

                                        Lunch
                                        Green salad with beets, orange, ½ cup cottage cheese and pecans with ranch dressing. (60 cents)
                                        Orange gingered rice pudding (20 cents) *
                                        Coffee with milk

                                        Dinner
                                        Baked Salmon with oregano and parmesan (78 cents) **
                                        Buttered peas (10 cents)
                                        Spaghetti with sauce (20 cents)
                                        Honey raisin apple compote (20 cents)
                                        Coffee with milk

                                        Snacks
                                        1 100 calorie pack of Pepperidge Farm dark chocolate chunk cookies (10 cents)
                                        Coffee with milk

                                        * Add 1 cup of milk, juice from 1/2 orange and 1/2 tsp ground ginger to 1 cup cooked rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until rice is soft and mixture thickens. Stir in sugar to taste. based on this recipe http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1942,...
                                        ** Melt a tablespoon of butter mix in oregano and parmesan cheese. Top salmon and bake Based on this recipe http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Baked-Sa...

                                        TOTAL COST FOR THURSDAY FEB 19, 2009 - $2.80

                                        Breakfast
                                        Cottage cheese with orange (27 cents)
                                        Coffee with milk (27 cents)

                                        Lunch
                                        Provolone and pepperoni omelet topped with spaghetti sauce (84 cents)
                                        Crustless apple pie topped with cheddar (20 cents) *
                                        Coffee with milk

                                        Dinner
                                        Unstuffed Peppers (54 cents) **
                                        Mixed peas and corn (19 cents)
                                        Salad with garlic jack (32 cents)
                                        4 German cookies (8 cents)
                                        Coffee with milk

                                        Snacks
                                        Lindt Excellence Madagascar 70% cocoa chocolate square (9 cents)
                                        Coffee with milk

                                        * sauté apples with cinnamon. Top with grated cheddar cheese. Bake until cheese melts
                                        ** based on this recipe only without peppers http://instoresnow.walmart.com/food-r...

                                        TOTAL COST FOR FRIDAY FEB 20, 2009 - $2.94

                                        Breakfast
                                        Oatmeal with raisins and pecans (25 cents)
                                        Coffee with milk (27 cents)

                                        Lunch
                                        Dilled tuna salad sandwich (74 cents)
                                        Coffee with milk

                                        Dinner
                                        Red pepper straccetti noodles with red hots (97 cents) *
                                        Mexican corn (17 cents)
                                        Sautéed apples and raisins (20 cents)
                                        Coffee with milk

                                        Snacks
                                        Brie with 5 crackers (34 cents)
                                        Coffee with milk

                                        * Slice hot dog and sauté. Toss with buttered noodles.
                                        ** Canned corn mixed with mayo, parmesan cheese and chili

                                        TOTAL COST FOR SATURDAY FEB 21, 2009 - $2.61

                                        Breakfast
                                        Cottage cheese with raisins and cinnamon (18 cents)
                                        Coffee with milk (27 cents)

                                        Lunch
                                        Egg salad sandwich (30 cents)
                                        Coffee with milk

                                        Dinner
                                        Ginger, onion and orange pan-seared pollock (63 cents) *
                                        Mashed cream cheese sweet potato (43 cents)
                                        Vegetable Pilaf (27 cents) **
                                        Pear, prune and ginger compote (28 cents)

                                        Snacks
                                        Apple with peanut butter (25 cents)

                                        * Sautee onion until tender. Add ginger and orange marmalade Cook until marmalade dissolves remove from heat, add orange and cover to keep hot. Sautee fish when done, top with orange mixture. Based on this recipe http://low-fat-cooking.suite101.com/a...

                                        ** Heat oil. Add cinnamon, ginger and curry powders and lightly toast. Add uncooked rice, corn, peas and stir together and sautee 2 minutes. Add water and bring to a boil. turn the heat down to low and cover the pan. Cook 20 minutes or until rice is soft and fluffy. Based on this recipe http://www.leviv.com/node/419

                                        TOTAL COST FOR SUNDAY FEB 22, 2009 - $2.87

                                        Breakfast
                                        Bagel with cream cheese (33 cents)
                                        Black coffee with milk (15 cents)

                                        Lunch
                                        Chien chaud – Hot dog topped with melted brie on an Alvarado St Bakery 100 % whole grain organic hot dog bun ($1.08)
                                        Coffee with milk

                                        Dinner
                                        LeViv braised beef short ribs with creamy polenta, sweet peas and rosemary (99 cents)
                                        2 German Cookies (4 cents)
                                        Coffee

                                        Snacks
                                        Lindt Excellence Madagascar 70% cocoa chocolate square (9 cents)
                                        Coffee

                                        TOTAL COST FOR WEEK 3 – $19.59

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: rworange

                                          ADDITIONAL GROCERIES FOR WEEK 3

                                          99 cents President's brie 6 oz
                                          99 cents LeViv braised beef short ribs with creamy polenta, sweet peas and rosemary
                                          50 cents DeepCove Albacore solid white tuna 3 oz
                                          79 cents Mariani Dried prunes 6 oz
                                          1.99 Lady Lee Milk 1 gal
                                          79 cents Del Monte Traditional Spaghetti sauce 26 1/2 oz
                                          59 cents Tendersweet Canned corn15.25 oz
                                          99 cents Bag of lettuce 1 lb
                                          50 cents Sauer’s Dill seed 1 oz

                                          1. re: rworange

                                            Forgot to mention I went off slightly on Fat Thursday and had a Polish donut because ... well ... this happens once a year. Also picked up some tortillas from the nearby tortillaria for my SO and tried one hot and just made.

                                        2. I made it under budget - $2.99 per day average for 27 days.

                                          To be precise … $2.9948148148148148148148148148148

                                          In the end, condiments were double what I estimated - $5.64

                                          I still have lots left for a minimum of a week and probably 2 weeks.

                                          The big thing I got out of this

                                          1. More is less.

                                          Pay attention to the number of servings. This was the big revelation for me. It doesn’t mean unit price and buying those monster groceries at Costco,.

                                          It means when something looks like a bargain, quickly estimate the cost per serving. A bag of cookies for $1.49 may be the better deal than that 50 cent box of cookies if the price per cookies is 2 cents for the first and the price per serving is 10 cents for the latter.

                                          2. Size matters. Smaller is sometimes better

                                          I learned this last time. This applies to fruit especially. Luckily the fruit on sale week one was small … 16 apples for a 3 lb bag … that averaged 12 cents an apple.

                                          3. Seize the bargain

                                          If it is an excellent price get it. Snooze and loose.

                                          4. Love spices

                                          They can make the mundane interesting and cost literally pennies. Except for cinnamon, I spent about 50 cents total for the month on spices.

                                          5. Variety rules

                                          Don’t eat the same thing day after day.

                                          I also accomplished my own personal goals of getting back to paying attention to serving size. I grew very fond of those little cookie snacks. It didn’t take a lot of sugar to keep me happy all day.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: rworange

                                            MENUS FOR WEEK 4
                                            TOTAL COST FOR MONDAY FEB 23, 2009 - $2.49

                                            Breakfast
                                            Oatmeal with prunes ginger and honey (21 cents)
                                            Coffee with milk (27 cents)

                                            Lunch
                                            Salami sandwich on Wedemeyer 9-Grain bread (40 cents)
                                            Green salad with olives and ranch dressing (17 cents)
                                            Coffee with milk

                                            Dinner
                                            Burger with blue cheese (39 cents)
                                            Baked sweet potato (23 cents)
                                            Apple onion compote (46 cents) *
                                            Pepperidge Farm chocolate chip cookies (10 cents)
                                            Coffee with milk

                                            Snacks
                                            Brie with 5 crackers (26 cents)
                                            Coffee with milk

                                            * Sautee 1/2 sliced onion in butter until softened. Add sliced apple and cook until softened. Add marmalade and cook until melted. Add raisins, ginger and oregano and cook till flavors meld.

                                            TOTAL COST FOR TUESDAY FEB 24, 2009 - $2.41

                                            Breakfast
                                            Strawberries, goji berries, dark chocolate cereal with 1.2 cup milk (29 cents)
                                            Coffee with milk (27 cents)

                                            Lunch
                                            Anglo-American Croque-Madame (72 cents) *
                                            Coffee with milk

                                            Dinner
                                            Dirty-ish rice (41 cents) **
                                            Almost Cajun corn (Maque Choux) (35 cents) ***
                                            Salad with pecans and honey mustard dressing (14 cents)
                                            Prunes stewed with cinnamon (10 cents)

                                            Snacks
                                            Spicy mocha (9 cents) ****
                                            2 German cookies (4 cents)

                                            * Melt butter in a skillet. Spread one slice of bread with mayo mixed with a scant pinch of cinnamon and the other with yellow mustard. Top a slice with grated cheddar, ham. Grill in skillet until golden on each side. Top sandwich with grated cheddar and broil until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Add fried egg on top of sandwich and serve.

                                            ** Sautee chopped onion until soft. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add chili powder, oregano and cooked rice.

                                            *** cook onions in butter until soft. Add corn, chili powder, oregano and a tablespoon of spaghetti sauce. Inspired by these recipes
                                            http://www.nashvillecitypaper.com/new...
                                            http://homecooking.about.com/od/veget...

                                            **** Melt one Lindt Excellence 85% cocoa extra dark chocolate square with chili powder and cinnamon. Add coffee with milk

                                            TOTAL COST FOR WEDNESDAY FEB 25 2009 - $2.41

                                            ASH WEDNESDAY (Catholic fast day … 1 full meal and 2 snacks)

                                            Breakfast
                                            Orange (17 cents)
                                            Black Coffee (15 cents)

                                            Lunch
                                            Edame (43 cents)
                                            Coffee

                                            Dinner
                                            Salmon with dill sauce * (70 cents)
                                            Buttered rice with peas, corn and parmesan cheese (35 cents)
                                            Green salad with beets and blue cheese (35 cents)
                                            Pear sautéed with raisins (26 cents)
                                            Coffee

                                            * combine mustard, mayo and dill seed

                                            TOTAL COST FOR THURSDAY FEB 26, 2009 - $2.41

                                            Breakfast
                                            Oatmeal with prunes and orange marmalade (29 cents)
                                            Black Coffee (15 cents)

                                            Lunch
                                            Omelet with brie and ham (66 cents)
                                            Coffee

                                            Dinner
                                            LeViv lemongrass chicken breast with basmati rice with spinach, edame and almonds (99 cents)
                                            Green salad with ranch dressing (20 cents)
                                            2 German cookies (4 cents)
                                            Coffee

                                            Snacks
                                            Lindt Excellence Madagascar 70% cocoa chocolate square (9 cents)
                                            Coffee

                                            TOTAL COST FOR FRIDAY FEB 27, 2009 - $2.30

                                            Breakfast
                                            Oatmeal with raisins and orange marmalade (32 cents)
                                            Black coffee (15 cents)

                                            Lunch
                                            Cream cheese with olive sandwich (42 cents)
                                            Orange (17 cents)
                                            Coffee

                                            Dinner
                                            Mediterranean Pollack (47 cents)
                                            Caramelized onions (14 cents)
                                            Garlic and basil straccetti noodles tossed with peas, parmesan cheese & olive oil (55 cents)
                                            Coffee

                                            Snacks
                                            2 German cookies (8 cents)
                                            Coffee

                                            * Sautee fish in olive oil. Top with spaghetti sauce chopped block olives and parmesan

                                            TOTAL COST FOR SATURDAY FEB 29, 2009 - $2.47

                                            Breakfast
                                            Plain oatmeal (11 Cents)
                                            Coffee with milk (27 cents)

                                            Lunch
                                            Saucy egg with pepperoni (33 cents)
                                            De Cecco strozzapretti ("priest strangler") egg noodles tossed with parmesan and olive oil (45 cents
                                            )Coffee with milk

                                            Dinner
                                            Hamburger stuffed with garlic jack cheese (39 cents)
                                            Sweet potato mashed with caramelized onion (37 cents)
                                            Buttered corn (9 cents)
                                            Green salad with ranch dressing (10 cents)

                                            Snacks
                                            5 crackers with hard salami and cheddar cheese (31 cents)
                                            Mint mocha (5 cents) **

                                            * Heat tomato sauce in a skillet add uncooked egg. Cover and cook until poached.
                                            ** Melt one Lindt Excellence mint dark chocolate square. Add coffee and milk

                                            TOTAL COST FOR WEEK 4 $14.49

                                            1. re: rworange

                                              ADDITIONAL GROCERIES FOR WEEK 4

                                              2.19 Wedemeyer 9-Grain bread 1.5 lb
                                              50 cents Farmland Hard salami 6 oz
                                              99 cents LeViv lemongrass chicken breast with basmati rice with spinach, edame and almonds8 oz
                                              $1.49 De Cecco strozzapretti ("priest strangler") egg noodles 8.8 oz
                                              50 cents Lindt Excellence Intense mint dark chocolate3.5 oz

                                              SPICES AND CONDIMENTS USED FOR THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY

                                              $1.30 Butter
                                              50 cents Honey
                                              10 cents Mayo
                                              10 cents Yellow mustard
                                              $1.50 Light olive oil
                                              99 cents Ranch dressing
                                              5 cents Whole oregano
                                              60 cents Cinnamon
                                              35 cents Ground ginger
                                              5 cents Curry powder
                                              5 cents Dill seed
                                              5 cents Chili powder

                                              GROCERIES LEFT

                                              Because I was the only one in my family doing this and I wanted variety, I calculated everything by serving. It is actually closer to real life as well. People don’t eat every speck in their cabinets by the end of the month. Groceries carry over from month to month.

                                              Ground beef 4 servings
                                              Hot dog buns 2
                                              Bread 12 slices
                                              Oatmeal 12 servings
                                              Cream cheese 3 servings
                                              Garlic jack cheese 4 servings
                                              Grated parmesan cheese 12 servings
                                              Blue jack cheese 5 servings
                                              English cheddar 2 servings
                                              Brie 2 servings
                                              Lindt Excellence Madagascar 70% cocoa chocolate 2 squares
                                              Lindt Excellence 85% cocoa extra dark chocolate 3 squares
                                              Lindt Excellent Mint dark chocolate 9 squares
                                              Coffee 10 servings
                                              Pepperoni 1/2 package
                                              Hard salami 3 servings
                                              German Cookie 1/2 bag
                                              Pepperidge Farm cookies 3 packs
                                              Crackers 2 servings
                                              Eggs 5
                                              Apples 4
                                              Oranges 2
                                              Raisins 1.5 boxes
                                              Dried prunes 1/2 bag
                                              Hot dogs 2
                                              Marmalade 1/2 jar
                                              Milk 1/2 gallon
                                              Pecans 3/4 bag
                                              Garlic and basil noodles 1 serving
                                              Spaghetti 4 servings
                                              Egg noodles 3 servings
                                              Peanut butter almost all of it
                                              Spaghetti sauce 3 servings
                                              Onions 2
                                              Sweet potatoes 4
                                              Frozen edame pods 1 serving
                                              Lettuce 1/2 bag
                                              Butter 1/2 lb
                                              Mayo most of it
                                              Yellow mustard most of it
                                              Olive oil 1/2 bottle
                                              Most of the spices except for the cinnamon

                                          2. Amazing. You're an inspiration :)

                                            Just wondering what you think about baking bread and making pasta? I can't remember if you looked into that, but a big bag of flour is pretty cheap

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Soop

                                              Oops, can't edit, but I'm just writing about bubble and squeak and I thought of you. It's delicious, and as someone pointed out, cheap. It's a delicious leftovers meal.

                                              1. re: Soop

                                                Thanks.Personally I'm a lousy cook. I have yet to make a good loaf of bread, pie crust or even pancake. I just don't have the patience for cooking, it gives me little joy and annoys me mostly. I get off into one or two cooking adventures a year where I tackle some real recipe that catches my fancy. It took me five years to learn how to roast that Thanksgiving turkey. For a while, I had to drag out the cookbook to remember how to boil the Easter eggs ... and sadly that is no exaggeration.

                                                Maybe with the change in the economy people will go back to making their own baked goods which are less expensive and for most people better.

                                                However, part of this was to not get far away from what the average person might buy. The carts at my local Grocery Outlet are more often loaded with frozen waffles and boxed cereal rather tan bags of flour. The oatmeal was for me. I eat oatmeal in the morning and that wasn't going to change as long as oatmeal was available at GO.

                                                While I didn't particularily aim this at the poor, surprisingly those with the least income have the least time. People I know work not only two jobs but sometimes three. At minimum wage, many of those jobs carry no health insurance so getting sick means waiting for hours at a clinic to see a doctor. There are all sorts of time eaters like that. So I aimed at nothing complex or time-consuming.

                                                My Polish grandmother raised three kids, planted a garden, took care of chickens, canned produce, made everything from scratch and worked full-time in a factory which in those days before labor laws meant 12 hour days, six days a week. She would tell me about how for years she got two to four hours of sleep a night and would have to hold on to the walls because she was so dizzy from exhaustion. The thing is that it is difficult to get that time with a low income.

                                                I went hog wild this morning not having to stick to the budget ... not only did I put prunes and marmelade in the oatmeal, I sprinkled it liberally with pecans ... though the personal big objective for me was to get back to watching calories and portion size and getting back to a more structured eating pattern, so need to calm down tommorrow.

                                                1. re: rworange

                                                  You deserve it after all that!

                                              2. What kind of conversation do you have to yourself when you see something you want, it's cheap, but doesn't fit into your budget?

                                                How have you made your budget rule more important than anything else?

                                                That would be my problem trying to do this, so I'm curious.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: SocksManly

                                                  Well, it was only for one month, so at most it made me reflect what it must be like to have so little money that what little money wouldn't cover it.

                                                  Then it was just the game of looking for what would fit in my budget and how to be creative with that.

                                                  Spillover to regular life is that even now I'm more aware of portion for price. Also, I'm more wiling to change eating plans for a great deal.

                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                    I'd need to be eating just to sit down and do the planning... lol

                                                    Congratulations though, personally my will power just isn't that strong, which is why it intrigues me so much.

                                                    So I guess getting yourself through this was mostly that you'd made a decision to do this for a limited time, and therefore always had light at the end of the tunnel to look forward to?

                                                    1. re: SocksManly

                                                      No, it wasn't a light at the tunnel thing. The point was that no matter what the budget you can eat interesting, delicious and healthy food. No need to resort to bologna and baloon bread. I wasn't thinking ... ugh ... three more days.

                                                      Whether living on $3 or $30 don't the majority of us make decisions when buying groceries? People aren't choosing the most expensive bottles of wine, the liquor that's so pricy it is locked up in the market, nothing but the top cuts of meat or the expensive fish, the best chocolates ...etc. It is just a different price point.

                                                      In a way I eat better when I do these things. I get more creative and introduce more variety.

                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                        I've got the problem that I want everything I cook to be perfect. It gets kind of stressful sometimes, but I really really try to make everything as nice as possible, and for me this includes getting the nicest ingredients (like dry cured bacon, rather than the stuff that shrivels up when the water evaporates).

                                                        If I tried to do the whole £3 thing, it would probably involve a lot less meat for me. Thinking about it, it could be do-able though.

                                                        One of my favorite things to do is visit the supermarket at the right time for the reductions.

                                                        Oh, and I guess this is relevant; since my flatmates moved out, we've been re-organising, and I've cleared out my girlfriends food cupboard. She's a terrible hoarder, and I had to throw away loads of out-of-date cans and jars. Then for tea, I made lunches in my head from what was there. I had tuna pasta with cheese and canned tomatoes (tomatoes were not a good addition btw) and made Donna a bacon sandwich with fresh salad and a dressing of chopped basil, olive oil and squeezed lemon juice. This one needed tomato.

                                                        I have a couple of other ideas of how to get through her cans.

                                                        1. re: Soop

                                                          At today's conversion rate that would be £1.82

                                                          In another version I did, one week I shopped at the most expensive farmers market in SF. You have the right thought about this in using creativity and thinking through what you have and how to use it.

                                                          Though you might not want to use it, expiration dates on cans don't mean much. There are lots of threads on the board about canned food being good years after the expiration date. Maybe ask a food pantry or something similar in your are if they want it rather than just tossing.