See a Penny, Pick it Up…Find 43 Cents and You’ve got a Meal!

Finding money on the ground isn’t the path to eating well, but it is interesting that in the past several years, Ryan & I have found $45.00 on the ground in parking lots and sidewalks.  No, we don’t rely on the sidewalk for all our meals, haha.  Yet we only need to find about 43 cents to cover the cost of a breakfast biscuit for one of us, and 92 cents for a lunch or dinner.  And we shop at the local co-op.  How the heck is that possible? Some have asked, since organic, fair trade, or local foods are often labeled too expensive to afford (not altogether untrue).

Here’s the average cost of food at home in August 2011 from the USDA.

What are we to do if we’d like to eat food without chemicals but are unemployed, living in poverty, starting up a small business, receiving very low income levels or trying to feed a large family? In our case – all those circumstances apply to us except the large family –

Organic, Cheap, Bulk Cooking

It takes some concentration to do this.  But if you don’t have time, and this can be quite a lengthy endeavor as it was for us, I’ve put together this chart sampling a few of the meals we eat and how much it costs.  I’d be happy to share recipes with anyone interested!  Our unique circumstances, location, and choices will not fit everyone’s needs – but hopefully this will inspire some pennies to go towards healthier, local, organic food.

We also eat out at restaurants, but often split the plate to make one serving into 2 whenever there’s enough food (if there is barely enough, we supplement with snacks like hummus at home).  A few of our favorite restaurants are also included in the chart, with an * indicating we split a meal.  We LOVE eating at Greenhouse Grille at least once every two weeks, but it can cost around $6.50 per person even if we order the kid’s black bean burger and get the adult upgrade.  Another trick, though not organic, is to get the 50 cent loaf of day-old bread from Jimmy John’s (sometimes they only charge a quarter!).

We don’t have ALL the answers, and I guarantee that someone else has done this better than we have (please share!) but this is what we’ve been up to lately that will reduce our grocery bill by hundreds of dollars.

Some of our favorite meals.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share that has helped you eat cheaply and still buy organic, fair trade, or local products?  We need some more cheap meals to add to November’s budget, so please share if you’d like!

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