Eating good, healthy meals on three dollars a day is doable, It is not a piece of cake. I spend more time on the front end, shopping and planning, and less time cooking, Yesterday took two hours, but that was because I took pictures and had problems with the reader. Normally, that could have been done in less than a half hour. Once you have a routine, it gets faster, I started the dough first so that it could be doing its rise while I cooked the carrots and celery and put the ingredients in the slow cooker pot. Multi tasking is a way to get out of the kitchen fast. I found things to do while the bread was baking, Like the dishes-- a novel idea.....you mean some little elf does the dishes while you text! LOL. Wishful thinking!
My husband and I decided we would like the breadsticks better if we made them a little smaller so that they would be thicker. Either way, the cost, not including spices, is about forty cents.
The soup can have cooked sausage added. It's cost is about 2.25. This makes a full six quart pot.
So, for less than three dollars, you have dinner and enough for lunch the next day, provided you have the proverbial family of four.
Picking a balanced meal plan so that you can average costs makes it possible to stay on budget and have a more expensive meal at times. We had steak the other night, this week, we will have wild caught salmon, we can still stay within budget. Adding breakfast 4 dinner is another inexpensive meal to afford a more expensive one,
- Use up bits and pieces. Find a way to use up those small leftovers. Frozen veggies are sometimes fresher than fresh ones because they are packed soon after they are picked You can take out as much as you need and return the rest to the freezer, canned veggies are a bit harder to use up.
- Never pay full price. The reason why the soup is as cheap as it is is because The RBP on them is fifty cents for tomatoes and beans. The retail on them is more like 1.59. It makes a big difference. This is a go to fast meal. Otherwise, you could have cooked the beans first.
- Stock when things are at a RBP if they are something you use on a regular basis,
- Plan to have a few pick up the pieces meals up your sleeve for the days when everything falls apart and you need to pick up the pieces and move on, It saves you from the take out, pizza man demons,
- Use everything available to you to cut your cost for food. You can use coupons, rebate sites such as Ibotta, and take advantage of sale prices.
- Slow cookers, food processors, and pressure cookers are tools that make life in the kitchen easier. Please read all the safety tips and remind yourself of them periodically with a pressure cooker. Some people have been burned bad, I suspect because they didn't buy a good pressure cooker and didn't use it properly. Make sure you allow it to depressurize fully before you try to open the lid, It should be impossible to open the lid without it being ready, Do NOT allow a child, even teenager, to use a pressure cooker. If you manually depressurize the cooker, use a wooden spoon handle and put a dish towel over it. It is HOT steam. Open the lid away from you.
- Check pull dates before you leave the store and before you use anything, Somethings are ok after the pull date, some not. Don't necessarily use the pull date as a benchmark to throw everything away. Try to buy things that you are not going to use immediately with a far out pull date and control your stock to what you will use in less than a year. Some things, like pasta. Has an eight year shelf life. I wouldn't eat it eight years old, but I wouldn't throw it out if it looked ok and was a week or two past it's date. We throw away far too much food and sometimes it is just because our adult children think the pull dates are etched in gold. I would be wary of anything acidic and meat or fish. I would not be upset over cornmeal or a pasta salad kit. Cake mixes could have their leavening agents go bad -- but not on two days.
Use your common sense.