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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

5 Meals for $1 or less

     Food is one area where people waste extraordinary amounts of money. Going out to eat is one of the easiest ways to waste hundreds of dollars a month. Even fast food value meals will now run you 6-8 dollars, to say nothing of the quality of the food.

And typical ‘sit-down’ restaurants will cost you even more, especially once tip is considered. I don’t like to eat out much anyway simply because I hate wasting so much time, let alone money.

Aside from eating out though, many people still spend way way too much money on food. I don’t recommend following a Monk diet for decades, but it is an easy way to shed dollars from a budget when you are in the frugal, savings-building period or focused on debt reduction.

During these periods my goal is usually $1 per meal or less. It sounds extreme, but it is totally possible. And unlike what many people say, you can do so very healthily.

Here are ten meals you can have for $1 or less.

1. Oatmeal – Buy generic brand, its no different. A full meal of oatmeal will probably cost you around 25 cents, so even if you add in raisins, or other fruit, some milk, or a small amount of honey or sugar you are coming in easily under the dollar mark.

2. Omelets – eggs are currently around 2.50 to $3 a dozen. So you can have 3 eggs for $0.75. That gives you a little leftover to add a small amount of ham or vegetables, and you can still come in around a dollar. If you get canned mushrooms, olives, etc they last longer.

3. Pasta – Now obviously Ramen noodles falls under this as well, and is an easy addition to this list. At about $0.30 and 5 minutes, you can’t go wrong. However, don’t overlook regular pasta as well. It is very cheap and if you buy it in bulk and don’t waste money paying for a brand name, you can easily get a meal of pasta with sauce for $1.00

4. Chicken and Rice – You should be buying rice in as large a bag as possible. If you do, the price of a single serving is so small its almost hard to calculate. So basically this meal is to just have about $1.00 worth of chicken with rice. This is one of my staple meals.  Buy the chicken when it is on sale and freeze it. A lot of stores will mark down their rotisserie chickens at the end of the evening, around 8-9, and you can get them for $5 instead of 7 or 8. Buy as many as they have, take all the meat off, and freeze it. You can easily get 5 servings of meat off of a chicken, making it $1 each.

5.  Sandwiches – There are a multitude of different sandwich combinations you can make that come out to less than 1 dollar.  You can find a loaf of bread for less than one dollar. It won’t be any exciting multi-grain with pictures of autumn harvests on the wrapper, but it will get the job done and each slice will be around $0.10 or less. Buy lunch meat that is cheap, or even large hams for less than $2 a pound and use that. Incidental veggies can be had pretty cheap, and I recommend growing your own for most of that stuff anyway.

- The Money Monk

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