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Shooter585

How to eat cheaply

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I have finally reached the point in life where I have to buy and cook my own meals. I don't have a very large budget, so I was wondering if you guys had any tips on good things to buy that are pretty cheap. I know the basics like ramen noodles, but I don't want to eat that all the time.

 

Figured this would be a good place to come because many of you guys are doing this now.

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Supermarkets sell a lot of frozen prepared food that require minimal time/effort to cook.

 

Cooking from raw ingredients is cheaper but I often find myself too lazy to do that

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I believe one key is to buy raw things in bulk. Just looking around on Amazon, for example, yields: http://www.amazon.co...words=50lb rice

50 pounds for $25.35. According to this rice converter (what a day to be alive), that's over 122 cups, and that amount is doubled in servings.

Another ingredient with a high caloric yield is oatmeal: http://www.amazon.co...rd_i=1000883061

There's probably plenty of other certain foods to which this applies. Potatoes might work, but they take up a higher volume, so I'm not sure. They're generally more nutritious alone than rice and oatmeal, though.

 

I've also heard that farmer's markets can be a poor person's best friend, and though it makes sense in theory, all I have to base it on is an incidental mention in this article. It also might depends on the farmer market itself, since prices obviously aren't set, and due to public perception, "healthy" and "natural" foods can be rather inelastic in price. Obviously, it also depends on whether you live near one.

 

Also, replace your drinks with water. Obviously, water costs much less than anything else with the same volume, and is probably going to be healthier. Tap water is perfectly fine, or use a purifier if it's as simple as putting the water in. Only use other things like water bottles when absolutely necessary, and refill them for future use if possible. Boxed water is not better than water water, by the way.

 

See also:

http://imgur.com/gallery/pHUdq

http://imgur.com/gallery/YEQIT

Edited by Guitarguy

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Gain a love for ramen noodles.

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Depending on the overall situation, in the extremes of low cash there are places that sell basics & "seconds" ( stuff that is very close either way to use by dates) , will allow you to expand the dietary range on a minimal cost

- or the old classic of dumpster diving after hours behind supermarkets & other food stores requires care (for both security & getting clean items) but no budget ( or idea of what you might ).

 

If you're fit , fast & have a desire to eat well on a meal of your choice theres always dine & dash.

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A friend of mine told me about a slow cooker - really efficient way to eat rice, beans (which are cheap on their own), and make it tasty. I think it's relatively expensive, though, esp. if we look at Ramen as the benchmark.

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it isn't as much what you eat as where you buy it

 

prices for fresh vegetables differ greatly between stores

the big supermarket which stocks only the perfect looking ones or the store around the corner run by the immigrant who sells perfectly fine peppers who aren't the 'right' size and form for a fraction of the price

 

also rice, potatoes, pasta and eggs are dirt cheap

eating out is very expensive

you want cheap you got to cook yourself (or in group)

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it isn't as much what you eat as where you buy it

 

prices for fresh vegetables differ greatly between stores

the big supermarket which stocks only the perfect looking ones or the store around the corner run by the immigrant who sells perfectly fine peppers who aren't the 'right' size and form for a fraction of the price

 

also rice, potatoes, pasta and eggs are dirt cheap

eating out is very expensive

you want cheap you got to cook yourself (or in group)

Totally this. Also: (source: cooking since 1997)

 

When buying, always check the price for pound(/kilogram).

 

If you have a freezer, use the shizzle out of it; prepare some meals in advance and freeze them, and finish cooking them when needed. Aluminium cups will be your friends.

 

Is minced meat cheap over there? If so, oven-baked meatballs are absurdly easy, nutritious, cheap and (with practice) delicious.

 

 

I could whip up a few easy recipes for you, if you can tell me what ingredients are rather cheap in your area. :)

 

 

50 pounds for $25.35
@Guitarguy's love for the order Lepidoptera shouldn't skew your perception: 50 pounds of rice for one person only will yield at most 12 pounds of edible rice and 38 pounds of wondrous habitat for various, lovely, animals Edited by Arianna

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Curses! Foiled again! The butterfly master race will rise some day, I tell you!

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50 pounds for $25.35
@Guitarguy's love for the order Lepidoptera shouldn't skew your perception: 50 pounds of rice for one person only will yield at most 12 pounds of edible rice and 38 pounds of wondrous habitat for various, lovely, animals

You're probably being facetious but I've never had a problem with them! :)

 

I have made my own meals for my past 2 years at college now, and I do a semester in about $700-800 which I think is pretty good. However, sometimes I cook for my friends as well, and most nights I also eat with my girlfriend... so your mileage will vary. Basically, I signed up for a rewards card at my local Giant (which is the supermarket near me) which gives really fast access to pretty solid deals. Basically my typical store run consists of bread, eggs, deli meats, cheese, frozen veggies for peas and carrots and corn, fresh veggies for peppers and onions, then a couple choice fruits. I stock up on pastas when they are on sale, but those boxes actually start to last a while when eating by yourself. I also buy a big thing of peanut butter then some crackers.

 

Then, of course, the meats. I always get chicken breasts, which for $3 can do 2 meals (or one if you're not having other sidings). Then I also get marked down meats that are about to get outdated, usually steaks and such, that are around $2-4 for a nice sized piece that I can use for a while.

 

I think that covers most of what I buy, I can actually get pretty creative so it doesn't feel monotonous at all. Also it depends on how much you typically eat. I know people spending $2000+ on food a semester, which I think is a bit ridiculous, but they also don't use coupons, and shop at the more expensive places.

 

Overall though, if you want to eat cheap, make it yourself. Buying out, even fast food, is more expensive (usually) than making your own food. Plus you'll be healthier because you know what goes into it!

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50 pounds for $25.35
@Guitarguy's love for the order Lepidoptera shouldn't skew your perception: 50 pounds of rice for one person only will yield at most 12 pounds of edible rice and 38 pounds of wondrous habitat for various, lovely, animals

You're probably being facetious but I've never had a problem with them! :)

 

I have made my own meals for my past 2 years at college now, and I do a semester in about $700-800 which I think is pretty good. However, sometimes I cook for my friends as well, and most nights I also eat with my girlfriend... so your mileage will vary. Basically, I signed up for a rewards card at my local Giant (which is the supermarket near me) which gives really fast access to pretty solid deals. Basically my typical store run consists of bread, eggs, deli meats, cheese, frozen veggies for peas and carrots and corn, fresh veggies for peppers and onions, then a couple choice fruits. I stock up on pastas when they are on sale, but those boxes actually start to last a while when eating by yourself. I also buy a big thing of peanut butter then some crackers.

 

Then, of course, the meats. I always get chicken breasts, which for $3 can do 2 meals (or one if you're not having other sidings). Then I also get marked down meats that are about to get outdated, usually steaks and such, that are around $2-4 for a nice sized piece that I can use for a while.

 

I think that covers most of what I buy, I can actually get pretty creative so it doesn't feel monotonous at all. Also it depends on how much you typically eat. I know people spending $2000+ on food a semester, which I think is a bit ridiculous, but they also don't use coupons, and shop at the more expensive places.

 

Overall though, if you want to eat cheap, make it yourself. Buying out, even fast food, is more expensive (usually) than making your own food. Plus you'll be healthier because you know what goes into it!

I am @Arianna and I approve this message

 

Apart from that, I've had trouble finishing 5 kg (12 lbs) sacks of rice without them becoming moth guesthouses - perhaps something to do with the climate? I invested a bit in airtight jars and/or packets, and dry foods started lasting much longer.

 

The food expense for my two-people family is about 150-200 Euro a month (about 170-230 US Dollars)

 

PRO TIP: Take your time when shopping AND never, ever, ever shop when hungry

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Started cooking for myself earlier this year and I'm terrible at it. My problem is mostly with the cooking itself and not the prices. Already found some nice cheap places. Trying to get my parents to buy me a nice freezer to save some more money.

 

Not sure how much I spend per month, economy is so screwed up it's hard to calculate :P

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Started cooking for myself earlier this year and I'm terrible at it.
Did you die yet? No? Then you're good, you just need practice. :P

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PRO TIP: Take your time when shopping AND never, ever, ever shop when hungry

TRUTH. Cannot be overstated. Bought a ton of bad food that I regretting having around me, luckily my friends were more than eager to take it off my hands. But yeah, didn't make that mistake twice.

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Yeah I have been shopping already, I always check for price per pound. I found potatoes, bananas, and eggs are pretty cheap. I bought ten pounds of potatoes, that should last me around two weeks. Pasta is cheap too but I knew that already. Milk is sort of expensive for me because I drink 2-3 gallons a week, which is $7-10, but I don't think there is a way around this really. Produce and meat are more expensive than I'd like. I'm going to try the farmers' market when I can, though the one in my town is not all that great from what I've heard it is cheap(er). If you have any suggestions for refining this pitch in.

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Lol why do you drink 2-3 gallons of milk/week? Are you some hardcore milk chugger?

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Lol why do you drink 2-3 gallons of milk/week? Are you some hardcore milk chugger?

Got milk? (Hey, when I was on a very tight budget a cup of milk with bread was a filling and cheap - if slightly non-nutritious - dinner)

 

Pasta is cheap too but I knew that already.
Make your own sauces and freeze them if you can, they're going to be extremely useful, especially if you buy the ingredients taking advantage of special offers

 

Produce and meat are more expensive than I'd like.
If there's a farmers' market nearby (do factor transportation costs in), seasonal produce isn't really that expensive, especially large-leaf vegetables such as the various kinds of salad that are in season throughout the year.

 

Meat is kinda important but you can rely on legumes as a main supplier of proteins. Chicken, especially unsliced, ought however to be the cheapest of meats and takes freezing rather well (it does become a bit chewy, but you can soak it with a marinade of oil+salt+lemon juice for a couple hours to tenderize it)

 

Potatoes are an incredibly versatile food, and a slicer (10 dollars at Wal-Mart) will allow you to save lots of time and to fry your own chips :D

 

One cheap and nutritious (and delicious) recipe is rice and beans:

 

Serves 4 people, or 2 very hungry college students, or 0.57 Dani

 

250 grams (~9 ounces) rice

1 can of beans (roughly as many as the rice, one 400ml can is usually alright)

>20 fl. oz. (~600 ml) water

salt, pepper

onion to taste

bacon (recommended 2 ounces (~55 grams), adjust to taste and/or finances)

2 tbsp oil (olive if possible, but almost any oil is alright). Butter is fine too, margarine if you must, but you'll break my heart

 

YOU WILL NEED:

a pot, preferably nonstick

whatever you use to cook rice (I use another pot)

a wooden spoon

an immersion blender (optional)

about 20-25 minutes, maybe 30 the first time around

  1. Rinse the beans (if from a can) under water
     
  2. Take a pan and put in: 2 tablespoons of oil, chopped onion to taste, bacon
     
  3. Put on medium fire, wait until the onion begins to color (don't dally around too much or the onion will burn)
     
  4. Pour the beans in, add 20 fl. oz. water, stir slowly to mix the ingredients, cover and let cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
     
  5. Cook the rice, by itself, for half the time the box says (usually 15 minutes, so cook for 7-8 minutes)
     
  6. Drain the rice if your cooking method requires it
     
  7. OPTIONAL: with an immersion blender, blend some beans to turn them into a cream; if you like whole beans, mix it just a bit without moving the mixer to make a little sauce, otherwise mix to taste, even entirely
     
  8. Incorporate the rice in the beans+bacon
     
  9. Let cook for the remaining half cooking time, stirring often to avoid sticking; if it seems a bit dry, add water, preferably warm
     
  10. Add a dash of pepper, or whatever ingredient catches your fancy (I personally use ground hot peppers)

None of the doses above are word of god, by the way. Don't like onion? Don't use onion. Feels a but dry? Add lube. Want it a bit more creamy? Substitute up to half the water with milk. Experiment! (*)

 

(*) don't burn the flat to the ground, or at least don't blame me

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All you can eat buffets are pretty bomb.

 

But nah. What I do if I eat at home is make my ramen but add a little flavor to it, like hot sauce or soy sauce, then add a boiled egg. Yummy

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Just don't eat, 2% body fat is fashionable.

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If you wanna buy local/organic fruits and veggies in a supermarket you'll probably have to pay premium, as opposed to a local farmer's market. We have one by my college and a bunch of us poor college kids go there because it's all cheap and locally grown in an independent business.

 

Thought I'd suggest that so you aren't just eating carbs and can maybe put together some side dishes :D

Edited by Twist of Fate

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Have you considered the hunter-gatherer lifestyle?

Hunting the most dangerous game :trumpet:

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Rice and beans is the best way to get a cheap complete protein, usually cooked separately. How many people are in your household? 20 kg. rice is a lot, but if you are in a household of three or more and you have guests often and eat rice at least twice a week, you'll use it up quickly.

 

Beans require patience, but if you sort and soak them in the morning, they will be ready to cook when you get home from work/school. 2 parts water to 1 part beans, bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer at low heat for 40 minutes to an hour, depending on what texture you want. Lentils cook the same way in half the time if you're feeling impatient and don't need to be pre-soaked. White rice cooks in twenty minutes, brown rice in 50, plus the time to prepare it as pilaf (because I prefer separated grains except for risotto, but that's too complicated to describe on the Internet). Brown rice uses twice as much water as rice, white rice will do with 3/2 (1.5) parts per part of rice. It depends on what texture you want. A machine designed to cook rice is unnecessary. You can also skip the rice if you have some kind of flatbread to scoop up the legumes.

 

Meat is expensive. Do not buy meat except for special occasions.

 

Tubers are generally available year-round and store well. Potatoes, parsnips, carrots, yucca, yams, Jerusalem artichokes, cassava, etc. Most of them can be washed well enough not to need peeling (Jerusalem artichokes are an important exception). Cabbage is also magical and stores well, but you have to like eating cabbage. Not everyone does, but the Brassica family is a delicious one, including broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, etc.

 

Peanut butter is very dense in calories and other nutrients and tastes good with many starches (bread, potatoes, etc). It's also relatively cheap, but don't get the kind with added sugars.

 

Buy whole spices when you can because they'll last longer that way, even if slightly more expensive at point-of-purchase. They should be spices you use regularly and can identify by smell.

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Oh my unicorn...it looks like you could write a book on frugal living!

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Cooking your own meals is all about cheap & easy dude. Get some stir frys down.. garlic onion chilli, then meat/tofu & any veg you have in the fridge, boil some noodles then add them with some sweet soy sauce & you have a cheap easy healthy meal. I eat this shizzle 4 times a week for the last 5 years man get on it

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