What To Eat When You’re Really Broke

What To Eat When You’re Really Broke

When you’re broke you have to cut back on a lot of things because, obviously, you can’t afford them anymore. One of the biggest ways to waste your money is food, so here are a few ways you can cut costs dramatically while still having good, regular meals.

Cutting back means cooking meals yourself, but that doesn’t have to be difficult. Liz Weston, writing for MSN Money, has a bunch of suggestions for cooking on a very low budget without spending a ton of time in the kitchen. What it comes down to is cutting out fast food, processed food, and eating at restaurants. These all cost too much (plus they’re bad for you). You’ll also want to reduce the amount of meat you consume, as meat is probably the most expensive non-processed food you can buy. Instead, buy more veggies. This does not mean cut out meat entirely, but just eat less of it at meals. If you’re still feeling hungry, you can always add rice, bread or inexpensive foods with high fibre content so you’re satiated even if you’re eating less. Keep an eye on how much you eat. Weston points out that Americans waste about 40 per cent of their food, so only buy what you need and cook what you’re going to consume.

Although I’m fortunate enough to be able to afford food, I actually eat like this anyway (although I skip rice and bread) because it’s easy, quick and healthy. I cook with frozen vegetables (fresh is great, but frozen is about the same nutrient-wise by the time the fresh stuff gets to the grocery store), black beans, and either egg whites or tofu for protein. A little garlic, salt and crushed red pepper make a really great simple seasoning, and if you’re a meat eater you have more options than I do. These meals take about 3-5 minutes to make (in a pan) and taste a lot better than you might think (I was surprised, at least). They also only cost a few dollars each. You may not want to go this route if you’re not broke or a little nuts like I am, but it’s a really good way to cut your food costs dramatically whether you need or just want to do it.

How to eat when you’re really broke [MSN Money via the Consumerist]


  • For relevance here is an Australian site written by a mum with kids who developed some great recipes using food purchased for $120 a week or so.


    Oh and don’t buy your fruit and veg from Safeway/Woolworths or Coles. estimate F&V at Woolworths is about twice the price I pay at the fruit shops in Carnegie, apart from the off come-on special.

    F&V is even cheaper at the Asian owned places in Footscray Springvale Clayton and Richmond. Cheaper still, often, at Victoria Market.

    • I’ve just moved to Clayton with my partner, and I was shocked after spending ~$5 on our whole weeks worth of fruit and vegies at one of these little independent Asian stores. And I’m no expert on this, but I could swear it tasted just as good and fresh, if not more, than from the big supermarket chains.

      We’re getting by now on <$70 per week on our main food budget, and like Mark burban said: we're eating good, healthy food and it feels great. Truly recommend to shop around first before heading into your local Coles/Woolies (although, I do find the bread cheaper there).

  • my partner & i tend to spend about $70/wk on groceries; between us.. We eat really well; buying very little processed food. It’s amazing how much more affordable asian food is.

  • We also eat this way at home: no meat (too expensive, too time-sensitive), just vegetables, frequently with rice. It’s very easy to stir fry or bake some vegies, add flavouring, bung on rice (rice cooker). Done.

    Oh, and if we run out of vegies, we eat cereal, or bread with olive oil and balsamic. Tasty.

  • I tend to go to the markets once a fortnight and pick up my fruit and veg there. I can spend $30 and have more than enough to last till the next time I go shopping.

  • Go to your local farmers markets!

    Say you spend $70 at Coles or Woolies on Fruit & Veg – at your markets you’ll get the same amount for about $40! And you can usually bargain and get a few extra pieces thrown in for free! ALso the range is noticably larger.

    Another I do is make snacks myself – eg. Muslie Bars. They are simple and quick to make and probably cost you about $5 worth of ingrediants to make 20. Whereas at Coles or Woolies you spend $5 on 5 bars!

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