I was reading this blog awhile back and I was 1.) chuckling [because I've done it before and some weeks, lived on even less] and 2.) wondering if they had access to a crockpot.
Yes, it is hard to live on $25 a week. However, there's four weeks in a month (give or take). So, that's $100. With a little planning, one can avoid eating the same thing every single day - granted, it will be meager, it won't be 5 star quality, and there will be times when you want to strangle your co-worker for bringing fast food into the work place, but it is possible to eat cheaply and still eat relatively healthy without starving (although if you had $50 bucks a week, you could get your five servings of fruit AND vegetables per day!).
With a bit of research, I learned about the Depression diet and figured out some good modern-day staples: peanut butter, rice, beans, cheese, eggs, frozen veggies (usually cheaper than produce and has more vitamins and good stuff than canned!), frozen fruit (or, canned fruit on sale), dried milk, sugar, flour, and avocados (for a healthier alternative fat). The cheapest meat today, depending on which sales you hit, can range from chicken to turkey (which is cheaper than hamburger!) - pork is often hit and miss (it's either cheap or it's not). An investment in a crockpot means you can purchase the really cheap, crappy beef and turn a tough hunk of meat into a chewable, edible, and moist hunk of meat :) Yes, there's also canned tuna - but I hate fish and, unless I am faced with ultimate starvation, refuse to eat it. It's just not good to my taste buds unless I can smother it in mayo and sweet relish (which would totally throw off my $100 budget unless I could get the stuff at a fast food restaurant - you know, those little packets filled with various chemicals and high fructose corn syrup? Ick!).
I'd have to go back to the Giant's to gather up some prices, but the basic idea is to get your fruit in the morning (orange juice - cheap if you go with store brand or even cheaper if you can pick up a sale on either store or name brand) with perhaps an egg and some toast (if you can afford the ingredients for gluten free bread - those who can eat store-bought bread do not know how lucky they are). Or, mix rice with sugar and reconstituted milk. Or, there's oatmeal or there's the brown rice puffs which can be picked up at Whole Foods for a buck and some change.
For lunch, grab some peanut butter and jelly. Or, pasta with canned tomatoes (Del Monte's getting pretty crafty with their salt-free tomatoes and if you watch the sales carefully, you can pick them up at Giant's for a buck a piece!). Snacks can be bananas (combine that with some peanut butter - mmmm!) or whatever fruit or veggies are on sale. Or tuna fish wrapped up in tortillas with whatever condiment you can borrow from the local fast food chain. Be creative (without breaking the law)!
Dinner? Simple rice and beans. Or whatever meat's on sale turned into a poor man's stew (meat, potatoes, onion, and carrots in water with may be a bay leaf tossed in if you have the extra money). Or cabbage stew (cabbage, whatever meats on sale, and one of those stew packages if you have the extra money or, if not, then a carrot and onion) and chicken stock (or just water if you're really broke). Garlic is a very cheap seasoning - I get those really big jars found in the international aisles for $2.70 on a bad day and $2 on sale. Various dried seasonings and spices can also be found in the international aisles (and, yup, that's the same aisles as the rice and beans in most grocery stores!) for about half the price of the McCormick spices in the baking aisle.
For desert, just throw some flour together with some sugar, oil, eggs and whatever else you have on hand and bam! Brownies (esp. if you have cocoa) or cake or pies [Need I remind anyone of Ritz "Apple" Pie?]. For those who are gluten-free, an investment in all-purpose gluten free mix is a good investment (bonus: with a jar of yeast, you'll have bread all month!). A little investment in some basic staples pays off in the long run!
With just a few simple ingredients, you can easily mix & match the above ingredients and create an endless option of meals for $100 a month. But, it does take a good dose of self-control (especially when the all important ice cream is on sale, sigh), time and dedication to cook at home and scrounge for sales and coupons. It's obviously easier to live as a single person than a family of four on $100 (duh) per month. It's difficult, but not impossible.
Who here tries to live cheaply? I'd love to hear your stories!
Until the next time, may your guineas bring a smile to your face and give you a reason for getting out of bed in the morning other than just to feed them!