Food is one of our biggest expenses, but one mum, who feeds a family of 7 on just $300 a month, shows us that it’s possible to eat well without relying on 2-minute noodles every night.
Photo by o5com
Jen Wallwork Dominguez spends $3 per meal to feed herself, her husband, two teenagers, and three preschoolers. There’s no real magic here. It’s all basically smart shopping and planning. She shops solely at ALDI, avoids organic and processed foods, and relies on cheap food staples such as eggs and beans.
Some of the prices in her plan would vary in Australia, and there are a few US-specific food stuffs. The most important part of her plan, though, is the rotation of the cheap ingredients. Ingredients do double duty instead of being used for just a single meal, which helps make those food purchases go further:
I’ve found the single, best way to save money on groceries is to use what is always least expensive and use it a lot. As such, there’s no great variety in my menus, no exotic ingredients that I buy for just one meal. We eat dinner on a two week rotation, lunch and breakfast on a weekly rotation. Yes, it can get a little boring. When that happens, I go looking for something else that uses primarily those same cheap ingredients. God bless the Internet.
That principle — sticking with things that are always cheap — is a useful corollary to the frequent advice to always buy what’s in season. The price of tinned goods doesn’t change, which is helpful if you can’t spend a lot of time planning meals, something we also discovered during our Mastercheap experiment.