Truth be told, my food budget is for shite: I eat like someone with a tapeworm who makes $300,000 a year. Starbucks on my way in to work? Chiming in on the office Potbelly order? An appetizer with my dinner at the pricey restaurant? Don’t mind if I do. Of course this idiot budgeting affects other parts of my life—like my clothing budget, say, where I am now down to about three serviceable winter outfits that have enough holes in them that even Oliver Twist would say, “No thanks, I have my pride.”
So I was intrigued when this Wide Open Eats article popped up on my Twitter feed, as a Reddit user asked people who how they would make a food budget stretch on $30 a month. As an asshole who sometimes eats that much in a day, I needed to read this. And there were some intriguing options here, that revolved around starches like rice, beans, potatoes and ramen, bringing me back to my college days. Some users suggested baking their own bread (seems like a stretch) or tacos every day (totally works for me).
Then I asked around the office: What would my illustrious colleagues, and myself, eat with that meager budget? Of course they came up with glam options like chili and jasmine rice, while I’m hoping that my love of peanut butter will keep me going through meager times and/or the impending apocalypse. The clothes are a done deal though.
I’d stock up on canned beans, tomatoes, and corn for a meat-less chili. Chili is one of those meals that seems to last forever—one pot generates so many leftovers—plus if you don’t include any meat, it’s a pretty cheap but still hearty meal.
Fortunately, I’m a peanut butter fan, so I think I could make a jar of Skippy, a loaf of bread, and maybe a few bananas and the honey I already have in my pantry go a long way. I’m also a fan of rice and beans, so I would buy large bags dry, in bulk, and toss in the slow cooker with about every spice I have. Also potatoes aren’t even a hardship for me, I love them, so I would buy a bag of those and eat those first before they went bad. And I would give up my beloved LaCroix for tap water. That would probably halve my grocery budget right there.
A five-pound bag of jasmine rice. That should last me for six months, actually. A jar of Better Than Bouillon’s no-chicken base, which would give me instant chicken-rice soup. Eight cans of sardines, which would give me a “treat” twice a week. Four cans of Great Northern beans for protein and fiber. Seasoning salt.