Author Topic: $3 per Day Food Challenge  (Read 3776 times)

morethanconquerors

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$3 per Day Food Challenge
« on: November 22, 2022, 09:33:30 AM »
I have been thinking a lot about how to lower our family's food costs, which have recently ballooned out of control a little bit. I would like to start trying to incorporate at least one dish/week that costs $1/serving or less. I revisited a few content creator's blogs/videos who took on a $1/meal challenge years ago for a small amount of time (typically a week). With the recent rise in food costs, it makes a challenge like this even harder.

My main motivation in posting this is to share ideas for different recipes and dishes and to see if anyone else is interested in trying the challenge.

Here are the different tiers of the challenge

Tier 1 - Make one dish per week that costs no more than $1/serving  <-- I am starting here
Tier 2 - Spend no more than $21 per person per week for food for one week of the month
Tier 3 - Spend no more than $21 per person per week for food for an entire month


Good luck!




ixtap

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2022, 10:02:30 AM »
I always have trouble deciding how to account for spices.

 of our cheap meals:

-channa masala (1 can chickpeas, 1 can dice tomatoes, 1 can tomatoes sauce, one onion, one bell pepper if we happen to have some, spices). I can still usually get the cans for less than $1 and I have been cooking the chick peas from dry lately. Adds to the price per serving, but it is pretty easy to make your own flatbread, as well. Usually we just serve it with rice.

-for summers, bean salad: one can each chickpeas, kidney beans and green beans, season with olive oil, basalmic vinegar, salt, pepper and either dill or tarragon. Started adding in tomatoes this year, but again, if you don't have a garden, that also ups the price.

-black bean and sweet potato tacos/enchiladas. Enchilada sauce is often cheaper than salsa...

-lentil taco salad. DH is happiest when I use the taco seasoning that I can usually pick up for $0.50 a pack. Maybe I don't use enough salt on my own? Anyway, with the seasoning the lentils come to $1/ four servings, the avocado is often a out the same.to add some fat, the rest is for veggies.

Dicey

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2022, 10:30:05 AM »
I always have trouble deciding how to account for spices.

 of our cheap meals:

-channa masala (1 can chickpeas, 1 can dice tomatoes, 1 can tomatoes sauce, one onion, one bell pepper if we happen to have some, spices). I can still usually get the cans for less than $1 and I have been cooking the chick peas from dry lately. Adds to the price per serving, but it is pretty easy to make your own flatbread, as well. Usually we just serve it with rice.

-for summers, bean salad: one can each chickpeas, kidney beans and green beans, season with olive oil, basalmic vinegar, salt, pepper and either dill or tarragon. Started adding in tomatoes this year, but again, if you don't have a garden, that also ups the price.

-black bean and sweet potato tacos/enchiladas. Enchilada sauce is often cheaper than salsa...

-lentil taco salad. DH is happiest when I use the taco seasoning that I can usually pick up for $0.50 a pack. Maybe I don't use enough salt on my own? Anyway, with the seasoning the lentils come to $1/ four servings, the avocado is often a out the same.to add some fat, the rest is for veggies.
Pro Tip: Enchilada sauce is stupid cheap and easy to make from scratch.

caleb

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2022, 10:31:47 AM »

Tier 1 - Make one dish per week that costs no more than $1/serving  <-- I am starting here


Breakfast is probably the easiest meal to make both cheap and satisfying.

You can probably do these for 50-75 cents:

- Oatmeal + banana + honey + nuts.  Add cream if you want the fat.
- Two eggs and toast.
- Yogurt (buy the big container) + granola + a piece of whatever fruit is on sale cut up.

Between those three, you should have enough variety to keep breakfast interesting.

For other meals, soups and homemade bread take time but are super cheap.  They can also help you break out of a rice and bean rut to keep things interesting.

Good luck!

ixtap

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2022, 11:12:48 AM »
I always have trouble deciding how to account for spices.

 of our cheap meals:

-channa masala (1 can chickpeas, 1 can dice tomatoes, 1 can tomatoes sauce, one onion, one bell pepper if we happen to have some, spices). I can still usually get the cans for less than $1 and I have been cooking the chick peas from dry lately. Adds to the price per serving, but it is pretty easy to make your own flatbread, as well. Usually we just serve it with rice.

-for summers, bean salad: one can each chickpeas, kidney beans and green beans, season with olive oil, basalmic vinegar, salt, pepper and either dill or tarragon. Started adding in tomatoes this year, but again, if you don't have a garden, that also ups the price.

-black bean and sweet potato tacos/enchiladas. Enchilada sauce is often cheaper than salsa...

-lentil taco salad. DH is happiest when I use the taco seasoning that I can usually pick up for $0.50 a pack. Maybe I don't use enough salt on my own? Anyway, with the seasoning the lentils come to $1/ four servings, the avocado is often a out the same.to add some fat, the rest is for veggies.
Pro Tip: Enchilada sauce is stupid cheap and easy to make from scratch.

Last I priced it out, it was cheaper to buy the can of sauce than the veggies. And we don't have a blender on the boat, so  the texture comes out funny.

economista

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2022, 11:58:33 AM »

Last I priced it out, it was cheaper to buy the can of sauce than the veggies. And we don't have a blender on the boat, so  the texture comes out funny.

When I make enchilada sauce it doesn't require veggies or a blender. Tomato paste, flour, oil, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, water.

economista

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2022, 11:59:42 AM »
Great idea for a challenge! Link to enchilada sauce recipe I use: https://www.budgetbytes.com/red-enchilada-sauce/

morethanconquerors

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2022, 01:09:03 PM »
Great idea for a challenge! Link to enchilada sauce recipe I use: https://www.budgetbytes.com/red-enchilada-sauce/


Thanks for the link. Budget Bytes seems to be a great resource for this challenge (assuming their pricing is still somewhat accurate)!

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2022, 01:15:06 PM »
I like soups & pizza for inexpensive, "use up everything in the fridge" meals. I'm making a large slow cooker of soup today with a bunch of stuff that needed to be used before it went bad. Should serve 8. I tend not to look at the cost of those meals as closely, as I'm using up leftovers that would otherwise potentially go to waste.

Flexibility is a big part of our menu planning, as well as the cook once, eat twice philosophy. Here's an easy bread recipe, although the cost of olive oil may be a deterrent. I haven't experimented yet to determine the lowest amount you can use & still achieve the same output.

https://www.simplysogood.com/focaccia-in-five/

Serendip

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2022, 05:16:24 PM »
Nice challenge! I don't price things out per meal but am trying to bring our food spending down so will implement some of these ideas.

Breakfast options with a savoury twist = millet porridge or a rice congee.  We loved savoury soups in the morning after travelling for months in asia, it turned our palate away from the sweet which we were more accustomed to..can stir in miso or add green onions, soy sauce, quick pickled veggies or a poached egg...whatever you have on hand.

When I am growing micro-sprouts I also toss those on. Yum- I'm now inspired to make some of this tomorrow!

https://omnivorescookbook.com/millet-porridge/
https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/basic-chinese-congee
« Last Edit: November 22, 2022, 05:19:27 PM by Serendip »

Dicey

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2022, 07:17:59 PM »

Last I priced it out, it was cheaper to buy the can of sauce than the veggies. And we don't have a blender on the boat, so  the texture comes out funny.

When I make enchilada sauce it doesn't require veggies or a blender. Tomato paste, flour, oil, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, water.
Yup.

Treedream

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2022, 03:00:11 AM »
I like this idea, but I also don't price my meals out. 3 euro's a day is a real challenge. That means my grocery budget would be 90 euros a month. This month I am aiming at 125 and that is already a challenge. But then again, I am training back to cooking properly again.

Yesterday I made roast potatoes and cauliflower salad with lentils and a mustard dressing.

Potatoes: 1.69/4 = 0.42
lentils: 1.29/6 = 0.21
cauliflower: 1.79/2 = 0.89
mustard: ?
oil: ?
spices: ?
total: 1.52 + ?

Photograph 51

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2022, 06:31:30 AM »
I am averaging about half of what your goals is, but that is because I have access to food that would otherwise not be sold (i.e. closeouts, factory seconds, overruns.)  I get some of my groceries from a bent and dent store where I stock up on whatever random bargains they have on that visit (on a recent visit, carrots were $0.20/pound and so was brown rice and taco shells were 10 cents per box, so I stocked up on those products.)  I also buy food by the case from a warehouse that deals specifically in these misfit products.  I am part of a group of people that does quarterly orders from the warehouse and since we are buying a lot at a time we get a further discount.  If you really want to save on your grocery bill, I encourage you to see if you can find resources like these in your community.  If I had to shop at, say, Aldi's, my food spending would be much higher. 

On my last warehouse order, I bought a case of frozen turnip greens- 36 pounds for $3.24.  I have been putting turnip greens in anything I can.  Even though I still have some left, I think I may get another case on my next order because the price has dropped to $2.02 per case.  They must really be trying to get rid of them.  Most things aren't quite that cheap, but are still ridiculously low priced, like the time that I got a 25 pound bag of quinoa for 38 cents per pound.


Josiecat23503

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2022, 03:53:45 PM »
@Photograph 51, can you let us know how you found this closeout/factory seconds/warehouse deal?  I don't think we have anything like that where I live, but I may not know where to look.

ixtap

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2022, 04:31:44 PM »

Last I priced it out, it was cheaper to buy the can of sauce than the veggies. And we don't have a blender on the boat, so  the texture comes out funny.

When I make enchilada sauce it doesn't require veggies or a blender. Tomato paste, flour, oil, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, water.
Yup.

Welp, this week I picked up a jar of salsa that was cheaper than enchilada sauce or tomato paste, so probably won't get a chance to try that out this year.

Dicey

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2022, 08:50:18 PM »

Last I priced it out, it was cheaper to buy the can of sauce than the veggies. And we don't have a blender on the boat, so  the texture comes out funny.

When I make enchilada sauce it doesn't require veggies or a blender. Tomato paste, flour, oil, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, water.
Yup.

Welp, this week I picked up a jar of salsa that was cheaper than enchilada sauce or tomato paste, so probably won't get a chance to try that out this year.
Good for you for scoring a deal on salsa. Please don't tell me you're making enchiladas with it. Enchilada sauce (red or green) is a whole different thing than salsa.

ixtap

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2022, 05:47:36 AM »

Last I priced it out, it was cheaper to buy the can of sauce than the veggies. And we don't have a blender on the boat, so  the texture comes out funny.

When I make enchilada sauce it doesn't require veggies or a blender. Tomato paste, flour, oil, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, water.
Yup.

Welp, this week I picked up a jar of salsa that was cheaper than enchilada sauce or tomato paste, so probably won't get a chance to try that out this year.
Good for you for scoring a deal on salsa. Please don't tell me you're making enchiladas with it. Enchilada sauce (red or green) is a whole different thing than salsa.

No, just don't need enchiladas and the meals I will use this for. Heck, trying to get blood sugars down, I just plain don't need enchiladas right now.

caleb

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2022, 08:34:38 AM »
Great idea for a challenge! Link to enchilada sauce recipe I use: https://www.budgetbytes.com/red-enchilada-sauce/


Thanks for the link. Budget Bytes seems to be a great resource for this challenge (assuming their pricing is still somewhat accurate)!

In the enchilada sauce recipe, she quotes $0.27 for three ounces of tomato paste, which is half of one of the small cans.  The little 6oz cans are now a little shy of a dollar, so the cost is about double.

Even at that rate, there's still savings to be had making the sauce yourself since I think the 28oz cans of ready made sauce are now pushing $3.

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2022, 08:34:02 AM »
@Photograph 51, can you let us know how you found this closeout/factory seconds/warehouse deal?  I don't think we have anything like that where I live, but I may not know where to look.

Have you googled surplus grocery, discount grocery, bent n dent store in your area? In the midwest they are sometimes known as Amish stores too.  A lot of these places buy things by the pallets that grocery stores won't sell, or the manufacturer had a weird idea and the stuff never made it to the stores. I have not seen much in the way of markdown fresh produce at a lot of these places, its generally either only pantry goods, or some fresh / frozen stuff, but not immediately expiring fresh items.

I too am curious about OP finding a warehouse.

ixtap

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2022, 10:04:02 AM »
Our grocery store also has Manager's specials. For meats and other refrigerated products, it is just a sticker slapped on near the sell by date, but there is also a shelf where they have bread or even veggies that they have had to cut something out of. Got two heads of cauliflower for $0.99 yesterday.

la Condessa

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2023, 10:52:03 AM »
This sounds like an interesting challenge.  It may be tricky to figure out prices per recipe, as I use a lot of staple items bought in bulk when they were on sale.  I might just have to look up current prices at a local grocery store and use those for a lot of items.

The first meal that comes to mind is oatmeal.  I can feed my whole family of 7 oatmeal for breakfast for $1.

I need to make more oatmeal.

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #21 on: March 29, 2023, 12:38:35 PM »
You'd have to buy in large quantity bulk grains, dry store foods and seriously cut back on the meats to eat so cheaply.  I personally don't mind paying premiums on food to get that higher nutrition and quality.  I know what you're saying though, food prices are going up and keeping the expense minimal is going to become more challenging as the global farm shutdown affects market demands.

I don't think that I would be able to get through life on a shoestring food budget because I love good food so much, but when I want to save money I put myself on a mono-diet and make sure I have plenty of flavorings to keep my boring food interesting.  I think right now I could live on no less than a $75.00 a week food budget.

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #22 on: April 06, 2023, 10:07:54 PM »
Oatmeal was appropriately cited above, or anything on budgetbytes. Dishes with lentils, black beans, or chickpeas are easy to keep under $1 for multiple servings. I was too tired to actually cook tonight so I ended up soaking a (dry) pound of chickpeas, then roasting in olive oil, salting & seasoning with spices - granted that's more of a snack food than a meal, but in any quantity of one cereal bowl or less, it's under fifty cents per serving while enormously filling. Were I feeling slightly more reasonable I'd have thrown them over a salad like croutons.

Our usual grocery spend is about $280 for two, but I include a lot of luxuries in that - chocolate, cheese, & beer from Europe; single-origin coffees; fresh fruit always; sometimes berries & herbs; occasional charcuterie or high-end cuts of meat. Keeping my baseline very cheap on whole grains, legumes & veg with loads of spices makes room for a lot of guilt-free delicacies. I lived around $21/wk year-round for a long time, so my consumption now feels extravagant.

I do buy (organic) black beans in bulk, as well as bulk lentils if I can get to an ethnic market. I keep multiple types of rice & flour in bulk. Mostly I get it at Costco. It's not especially taxing or deprived. I'd like to grow more greens, though - they seem to be the hardest thing to source at decent prices since covid started, but that might be because the demand where I live is low.

getsorted

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #23 on: April 18, 2023, 08:58:43 PM »
I came pretty close last month -- $182 for two people. Have spent just over $100 so far this month on food. I'll see if I can bring it in under $168!

getsorted

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #24 on: April 18, 2023, 09:02:44 PM »
@Photograph 51, can you let us know how you found this closeout/factory seconds/warehouse deal?  I don't think we have anything like that where I live, but I may not know where to look.

Have you googled surplus grocery, discount grocery, bent n dent store in your area? In the midwest they are sometimes known as Amish stores too.  A lot of these places buy things by the pallets that grocery stores won't sell, or the manufacturer had a weird idea and the stuff never made it to the stores. I have not seen much in the way of markdown fresh produce at a lot of these places, its generally either only pantry goods, or some fresh / frozen stuff, but not immediately expiring fresh items.

I too am curious about OP finding a warehouse.


Ours sells 50 lb sacks of carrots and beets! And other produce in season.

We call them "freight groceries" where I live, but also all the other names. And several of them are run by Amish communities!

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #25 on: April 21, 2023, 08:16:02 AM »
You'd have to buy in large quantity bulk grains, dry store foods and seriously cut back on the meats to eat so cheaply.  I personally don't mind paying premiums on food to get that higher nutrition and quality.  I know what you're saying though, food prices are going up and keeping the expense minimal is going to become more challenging as the global farm shutdown affects market demands.

I don't think that I would be able to get through life on a shoestring food budget because I love good food so much, but when I want to save money I put myself on a mono-diet and make sure I have plenty of flavorings to keep my boring food interesting.  I think right now I could live on no less than a $75.00 a week food budget.

I'm a former chef and have no problem cooking gourmet, nutritious foods meat free and primarily legume-based.

I do buy dry goods in bulk, I don't find this makes any compromise in the quality of my meals.

But I've been cooking this way for years, so it's easy for me.

getsorted

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #26 on: May 08, 2023, 12:09:01 PM »
I came pretty close last month -- $182 for two people. Have spent just over $100 so far this month on food. I'll see if I can bring it in under $168!

Didn't quite make it -- $188 for two people.

jnw

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #27 on: May 13, 2023, 01:38:54 AM »
For spices no need to buy packets. 

Buy the following from Aldi for $1 each:
cumin, paprika, oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, onion flakes, crushed red pepper

With the above you have spices for many dishes around the world including everything needed for most Mexican and Italian dishes.

Taco seasoning:  paprika, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, a little onion powder (or minced onions in the ground beef), splash of vinegar for the tang.

Italian seasoning (for spaghetti etc):  basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder or minced onion .. tomato sauce.

Grab thyme and rosemary from a discount grocer that has them for $1 per bottle.

Grab all other spices from the bulk bins and Whole Foods and/or Sprouts.   Comes out to like 50 cents per bottle or less.  Chives, dill weed, bay leaves, etc..

Spices can be really cheap.  Never pay more than $1 for a bottle's worth whatever spice it is.  Those mccormick spices at the grocers for $3-5 are a joke.

A lot of the wegiht of the spice packets are starch, salt, citric acid btw.  Not much spices in them.  The $1 bottles of spices go far.  And you can always use white vinegar in place of citric acid (like for the taco seasoning).



« Last Edit: May 13, 2023, 01:41:10 AM by jnw »

jnw

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #28 on: May 13, 2023, 01:42:45 AM »
In the enchilada sauce recipe, she quotes $0.27 for three ounces of tomato paste, which is half of one of the small cans.  The little 6oz cans are now a little shy of a dollar, so the cost is about double.

It wasn't that long ago tomato paste was 50 cents per 6 oz jar at aldi.. maybe two years ago.  Now they are 75 cents.  They are 75 cents at Walmart as well. So maybe need to price shop a little if paying $1 per can.. but I don't know where you live.

I was outraged at the increase from 50 cents to 75 cents.. that's 50% inflation.  At least eggs are no longer $5.25 a dozen and down to $1.69 now.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2023, 01:44:34 AM by jnw »

jnw

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #29 on: May 13, 2023, 07:27:40 PM »
-lentil taco salad. DH is happiest when I use the taco seasoning that I can usually pick up for $0.50 a pack. Maybe I don't use enough salt on my own? Anyway, with the seasoning the lentils come to $1/ four servings, the avocado is often a out the same.to add some fat, the rest is for veggies.

Do you add acid? The taco seasoning packets have citric acid in them. I make up for it by adding vinegar.  If I recall correctly, the other things which are in taco seasoning packet, beyond herbs & spices are:  salt, starch, (sugar?), citric acid, preservatives and anti-caking agent(s).

Catbert

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #30 on: May 19, 2023, 11:30:39 AM »
Budget Bytes did a SNAP challenge...counting on fingers, 8 years ago.  How could 2015 be 8 years ago?  Anyway, the prices won't be today's but there might be some good ideas.

https://www.budgetbytes.com/category/extra-bytes/snap-challenge/

Weisass

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #31 on: May 21, 2023, 02:39:37 PM »
I have been thinking a lot about how to lower our family's food costs, which have recently ballooned out of control a little bit. I would like to start trying to incorporate at least one dish/week that costs $1/serving or less. I revisited a few content creator's blogs/videos who took on a $1/meal challenge years ago for a small amount of time (typically a week). With the recent rise in food costs, it makes a challenge like this even harder.

My main motivation in posting this is to share ideas for different recipes and dishes and to see if anyone else is interested in trying the challenge.

Here are the different tiers of the challenge

Tier 1 - Make one dish per week that costs no more than $1/serving  <-- I am starting here
Tier 2 - Spend no more than $21 per person per week for food for one week of the month
Tier 3 - Spend no more than $21 per person per week for food for an entire month


Good luck!

Totally random but is your name a reference to the rend collective song?

Weisass

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #32 on: May 21, 2023, 02:43:48 PM »
Budget Bytes did a SNAP challenge...counting on fingers, 8 years ago.  How could 2015 be 8 years ago?  Anyway, the prices won't be today's but there might be some good ideas.

https://www.budgetbytes.com/category/extra-bytes/snap-challenge/

I did a snap challenge a few years ago for lent. It was a really eye opening experience! Pretty sure budgetbytes was a big part of our journey for that, along with Jack Monroe (https://cookingonabootstrap.com/)

getsorted

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #33 on: May 24, 2023, 01:42:32 PM »
Currently just making this for the month ($139/2 people). I think I'm gonna do it this time.

Weisass

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #34 on: May 24, 2023, 06:30:51 PM »
Currently just making this for the month ($139/2 people). I think I'm gonna do it this time.
Way to go!!!! That is impressive.

Serendip

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Re: $3 per Day Food Challenge
« Reply #35 on: May 25, 2023, 07:11:58 PM »
I love these challenges even though I never actually do this (unless I'm bacheloretting--my partner is pickier about food and more carnivorous).

But it's inspiring to read about!
Heading into garden season is also a great time to try to bring our costs down. We are just starting to have more fresh food available to add to meals.