How one man made $35 worth of food last an entire month

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How one man made $35 worth of food last an entire month
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If you’re looking for ways to trim the fat from your budget, start with your grocery spending!

According to government data, American households spent an average of $7,023 on food in 2015 (12.5% of income), including things they bought at grocery stores and restaurants.

That’s a lot of money, especially considering that 30% to 40% of food ends up in the trash.

Read more: Need extra cash? Here’s how I earned $1,500 using these 3 apps

One man’s $35 a month grocery budget

Inspired by the story of someone who spent only $98 on food for an entire month, one Reddit user shared details about how he managed on a grocery budget of $35 for one month.

Extreme? You bet it is! But there are a few things we can all learn from his journey.

Let’s begin by taking a look at the grocery spending he shared. Here’s a breakdown of exactly what the Reddit user says he bought with that $35.

  • $8 = 4 packets of corn tortillas, with each packet containing 80 to 100 tortillas
  • $5 = 5 pounds of beans (multiple varieties)
  • $2 = 6 pounds of onions
  • $2 = 8 cans on tomato sauce
  • $4 = 10 pounds of rice
  • $3 = 5 pounds of lentils
  • $2 = 36 eggs
  • $1.50 = Milk
  • $3 = Cereal
  • $1 = Salt
  • $2 = Oil

The Texas man said he was only able to make this work because he was a college student at the time.

He explained that every week he typically cooked up one type of beans with onions, tomatoes and spices to make a gravy dish, which he would eat along with tortillas, rice and lentils.

The man said he shopped at various stores to find the best deals, including Aldi, Kroger and local Mexican supermarkets.

Mom with 13 kids reveals her secrets to making $1 meals

When I read about this man’s story, it reminded me of Sam Fatzinger, a Maryland mother of 13 who told us she feeds her family for less than $1 a plate.

Her secret? Keeping things simple! 

Fatzinger sent Clark.com this picture of the pantry where she stores budget-friendly staples like pasta, rice and beans, which are incorporated into easy-to-make meals.

Breakfast

  1. Cereal
  2. Yogurt
  3. Toast
  4. Oatmeal
  5. Fruit

Lunch

  1. Leftovers
  2. Nachos
  3. Sandwiches
  4. Fruit and vegetables

Dinner

As for dinner, Fatzinger loves her slow cooker! She whips up a lot of simple meals like tacos, spaghetti, chili and “many, many chicken dishes.” Rice, potatoes or noodles are served nightly.

She has posted some of her favorite recipes on her blog, including these:

Like the man from the Reddit thread, Fatzinger mostly shops at Aldi, but she spends $300 a week.

Buying meat is an exception. She gets that from a butcher who told her exactly when he marks down inexpensive cuts by 33% or more.

There’s a good chance the butcher at your store will be just as happy to help you!

30-day Aldi challenge results

One of my personal goals for 2017 is to reduce food spending by 15% compared to last year, so I’ve been putting a lot of savings strategies to the test.

My biggest success so far was when I switched to shopping at Aldi for 30 days.

After checking my receipts, I was stunned that I only spent $157 for that entire month, which worked out to about $40 a week. And I ate a lot more than tortillas, beans and rice.

Here are the strategies that are really working for me:

1. Weekly menu planning: I check the weekly specials and build my menu around the meat, produce and dairy items that are on sale.

2. Sunday meal prep: If lunch is prepared ahead of time, I’m less likely to eat out.

3. Slow cooker: This is how I prefer to prepare chicken now. It’s so easy!

Read more: 15 things I learned while using my crockpot for 100 days straight

4. In case of emergency foods: I keep at least two frozen meals in my freezer for those nights when I’m just too tired to cook.

5. Cash back apps: I’ve earned $1,500 so far using these three grocery apps.

6. Digital coupons: Rarely will I clip coupons, but I’ve downloaded digital coupons from Kroger (regional grocery store) to save on items already on my list.

7. Reduced trips: The fewer times I go to the store, the less I spend overall.

8. Waste log: I keep a list on my fridge of the foods that I throw out and have adjusted how much fresh produce I buy as a result.

Read more: These 5 lists will help you save more money in 2017

9. Prepared foods: I no longer reach for expensive prepared items because of the meal prep and emergency foods system in place.

10. Processed foods: These can really add up! I try to fill my cart mostly with proteins, healthy carbs and vegetables.

11. Pantry staples: This is where Aldi really shines. The discount supermarket has great deals on things like olive oil, spices, baking soda and sugar.

If you’re looking for more ways to save on groceries, we’ve put together a list of 21 ways to spend less money at the grocery store. You may be able to cut your grocery bill in half!

Have a tip to share? I want to hear about it on Facebook and Twitter.

5 basic money rules you can live by forever

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Mike Timmermann About the author:
Michael Timmermann paid off his mortgage in two years. Now, he shares his money-saving tips on his blog, Save on Almost Everything.
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