Three chefs and a food magazine editor were asked to fix a week's worth of meals on roughly $68 -- a basic amount for food stamp recipients. Here are their results..and they did better than you would think!
One rule they uniformly followed -- avoid processed foods.
They also used a lot of chicken, ground beef. Beans made regular appearances, as did chilies and other spice-ay stuff. (Beans and rice are a complementary protein -- and bring out the best in each other nutritionally.)
Part of me was a tad amused at all this fussing about price -- the two of us live on $40 or less a week for food. Combined. Without being on welfare. I'd add a few things that have helped me (Husband doesn't shop much):
*Check the marked down/scratch and dent bins regularly
*If possible, buy everything on sale...or with a coupon...preferably both!
*If things are really tight, a pound of meat (ham, ground beef, pork) can be used in two or three meals. (Just means less meat in your chili or soup -- substitute rice, more vegetables, or in the case of soup, a beaten egg.)
*Eggs for breakfast help keep you from being hungry later in the day. Ditto yogurt. (I can get the latter for 25 cents a cup in the marked-down dairy section at King Soopers.)
*If it's on sale, and you can't use it all now, freeze some. Milk does well with a little poured out, then the gallon frozen. Chop celery, onion and such and freeze it in the bag - you may need to dip other veggies in boiling water quickly (this is called blanching), or saute them in butter before freezing. (Mushrooms benefit from the latter.) Warning: don't buy more than you can use in 6 months or less -- freezer burn gives items like meat and ice cream a yucky taste and consistency.
*Shop at ethnic markets. The Chinese imports grocery I go to in Denver has leafy greens for about a third of the more conventional grocery stores. A Sprouts market just opened -- another great place for insanely low sale prices on veggies and fruits.
Then again, like Peter, we'll have our own greens and sugar peas -- well, maybe not carrots. The garden goes in this weekend.