Not So Starving Artist

A friend of mine got me thinking about ways to save money on food today and I decided I would share these thoughts with you lovely readers. How do starving artists, well, NOT starve?

A year ago I came across this article while browsing the net and it totally helped how I think about my grocery money when I first moved here to Seattle and my cash was pretty thin. I had to search around a bit to find it again but I did. And I really think that more accurately for a single person it’s more like $20 a week. $7 per day is a bit excessive.
Check out this page on MSN: Healthy Eating on $7 a Day

Anyways, the idea is that you get your basic staples and then build off it or add to it to make nutritious daily eats. It's not the most gourmet but it is good, cheap & sustaining.

The way I tend to shop is to get my dry goods in bulk (pasta, rice, beans, cereal, spices etc). Nowadays most larger supermarkets will have a bulk aisle. I’ll stock up on those, plus canned tomato sauce and garlic, bout once a month - $20. Olive Oil, another staple I get about… 3 times a year? Then each week I get about $10 of fresh stuff – veggies, dairy. It averages to $15 a week. In the case of fresh stuff it’s whatever is on sale/cheapest and I make do with what I got. Which tends to be the seasonal stuff. Kale in season? Go for it. Broccoli on sale? Go for it. Squash? Oh bugger but I’ll still get it. I built up a way of scanning the produce aisle for the sale flags – and large displays of stuff usually means seasonal.

In the winter, when a lot of the fresh stuff gets more expensive, I start making sprouts. Lentil and Mung Bean are my favorites.

And in all honesty – what I tend to eat the absolute most of – are wraps. What kind? ANYTHING I got mixed with a little lettuce/veggies. Sometimes it’s the standard rice and beans with veggies. A jar of salsa and an 0.80 cent can of black beans will go a long way. Sometimes it’s leftover pasta wrapped up with a little lettuce. Sometimes it’s leftover stir-fry veggies. Whatevers. It helps make your food stretch.

I tend to cook only a couple times a week and when I do I make enough for a couple days - Lunches AND dinners. And if I go out to eat, I try to only eat half and save the rest for the next meal. Example: This week I went and got my favorite hot and sour soup from one of the stands in the market - $6. I ate half for lunch and then that night I made 1 cup of rice. Mixed it in with the soup and I ate that soup 2 more times. 1 cup of rice costs what? 15 cents? Combine that with the yummy soup and I had 3 meals for $2.15 each.

It took me a long time to fully make habits of all this stuff but I really do believe that you could do it. Not only will you not starve but it’s actually pretty healthy too.

1 comment:

Dawn said...

Awesome tips! I'm still working on ways to cut down our grocery bills, but it's tough when you've become so accustomed to just eating canned food and junk snacks. We've gotten a little better (and we made some amazingly yummy dinner from scratch on Friday, though not enough to save leftovers), but it can be tough to shift to that sort of thinking.