How I Eat for Under $4 a Day

Save Money on FoodMy wife and I spend less than $225 per month on food (groceries and restaurants) on average. This comes out to less than $4 per day for each of us. We’re not malnourished. We don’t clip coupons. And we don’t feel deprived. How do we do it? These 10 tips form the basis of our plan. Use them and you’ll be eating cheap and healthy in no time!

1. Eat Out Less Often

If you want to eat as cheap as we do, you’ve got to stop eating out. I’d estimate my wife and I eat out maybe twice a month. And I’m including ordering out a pizza. The markup on restaurant food – fast or otherwise – is enormous. And it’s generally unhealthy to boot!

The secret to eating out less often without feeling deprived is learning to fix your favorite restaurant meals at home. We’ve done this with Olive Garden items, real Italian restaurant items, Red Lobster (mmm…Cheddar Bay biscuits), and ethnic cuisines. It probably won’t be perfect, but it’ll be close. Need some recipes? Check out some of these cheap meal ideas.

And if you don’t know how to cook, now is as good a time as any to learn! My recommendation is to watch as many Good Eats episodes as possible (but that’s because I’m a science geek, too).

And for those times you do decide to go out, always look for coupons and great deals from sites like Groupon.

2. Plan Ahead

Before my wife goes to the grocery store, we put together a list of meals we’re going to eat over the next week or so. We look over the grocery store flier to see if there are any good deals to give us ideas. Then we talk about other meals we’d like to have. She makes up a list and takes it to the store with her.

Why is this a good idea? We save money by limiting impulse purchases. We also save time throughout the week because we know what we’ll be making for all our meals. (No more umming and ahhing with your head stuck in the fridge.) And we limit waste by choosing meals with overlapping ingredients.

3. Focus on Simple, Versatile Staples

This tip connects very well to #2, but it flows into other areas of your food philosophy as well. Rather than stocking your cupboards with exotic, limiting foods, focus on versatility. You want staples that can play into a variety of dishes. Examples are rice, dry beans, onions, garlic, tomato sauce, celery, carrots, peppers, and pasta. We use these basic ingredients to create many great meals and most of them store well.

Afraid these things will get boring? Learn to use your herbs and spices, and keep a good supply of them; you won’t be disappointed!

4. Avoid Processed Foods

You won’t find any frozen meals, Cheez Whiz, or Hamburger Helper on our shelves. Convenience foods are not only bad for your health, but they’re also bad for your budget. Don’t believe the lie that these things are cheaper than their healthy counterparts. There are some awesome ways to eat healthy on a budget.

Keep in mind that not all “processed” foods are bad. Milk, frozen vegetables, and fruit juices are processed but can be great choices both health-wise and cost-wise. The key is to watch out for the overly-processed, highly-convenient foods with lots of sodium, sugar, or fat.

5. Use Meat & Dairy Less Often

This one can be hard for me and my wife because we both like meat and cheese. But these are often the most expensive parts of a grocery bill. I’m not about to tell you to cut them out completely. I like my steak as much as the next guy. What you want is to use meat and dairy less often in your meals – maybe only once or twice a week. As one solution, your other meals can be focused around vegetarian type dishes.

Don’t worry. I’m not talking tofu and bean sprouts (no offense if you like those). But there are plenty of tasty meatless dishes out there. Beans and rice, pasta with tomato or cream sauces (with veggies), and stir-fry are some of our favorites. There are also great veggie patties that imitate real chicken and beef surprisingly well.

Another tip: Learn how to prepare the cheaper cuts of meat so they’ll taste better. (Ahem…go watch Good Eats!!!) A little know-how goes a long way.

6. Buy Produce in Season

Peaches aren’t cheap in February so make sure you follow the important ways to save money on fruits or vegetables. Learn when the different types of produce are in season and buy them then. This ties in very well with planning ahead. Use what’s in season as the focus of your weekly meal plan.

If you need or want produce that’s out of season, consider dried, frozen, and possibly canned versions as an option. They can be just as healthy and tasty if handled properly. It won’t work for all fruits and vegetables, but many are just as good this way. You’ll just have to keep your eyes open when it comes to the nutrition of the canned stuff – sodium is often the killer there. In my experience, I’ve never been able to get canned corn to taste as good as fresh or frozen!

7. Buy in Bulk (When It Makes Sense)

Bulk purchases can save you a good bit of money over time – provided you have the room and don’t let them go to waste. You may have to do some repackaging (with family packs of meat, for example) but it’ll be worth it. I added the “when it makes sense” caveat because bigger is not always cheaper. This is why it’s important to learn how to calculate the unit price and compare your choices. Also, make sure to keep in mind the 5 things you shouldn’t buy in bulk.

8. Stock Up on Good Deals

If you find a good deal on an item that stores well (like canned foods), don’t be afraid to stock up. Obviously, you should only do this with foods you’ll actually use. Buying 20 cans of tuna because it’s on sale is stupid if you hate tuna! If it’s a really great deal on something that’s perishable (like fruits or vegetables), consider ways you can preserve them. Freezing, drying, and canning are all possibilities for those with the knowledge, equipment, time, and space.

9. Don’t Waste Leftovers

If you planned your meals well, this shouldn’t be a problem since you won’t have excessive leftovers. Try to plan to have a reasonable amount of leftovers that you can use for one or two other meals, but no more. If you let leftovers languish in the bottom of your fridge, then you’ve just wasted the money and time you spent buying and preparing that food. Would you throw the money in your wallet in the trash? I didn’t think so.

10. Don’t Eat Too Much

Over-consumption is a dangerous game – and one that we Americans excel at! But when you eat too much, the extra food just goes to waste. Your body will store it as fat or get rid of it. Eating too much not only takes a bit out of your health, but also your wallet. (Note: This doesn’t apply at family get-togethers. Well…the health implications do, but at least you didn’t pay for the food and it’s OK to let loose once in a while!)

These Tips Work! What Are Yours?

How do I know they work? Because I use them every day. There’s no secret to saving money on your groceries. You don’t need to spend hours trying to cut coupons in an effort to become an Extreme Couponer. You don’t even need to grow your own food (though it’s not a bad idea if you enjoy it). Just these few simple principles can help you slash your food costs to under $4/day. I guarantee it or your money back! The best part is, the money-saving tips are also life-saving tips when it comes to your health!

But what about you all? What are your tips for saving money on food? I can think of at least two I left out. Can you guess them? Let me know in the comments!

(photo credit: Masahiro Ihara)

  • Melanie

    $225? My husband and I eat for $150 a month (in southern New England, no less!), although we only eat meat once per week (always organic and humanely-raised). Everything else we simply make from scratch. Homemade granola with soy milk for breakfast every day (during cooler parts of the year, soaked oatmeal with soy milk); lunch is leftovers from whatever last night’s dinner was. The house rule is, whenever possible, make it yourself. We make our own bread and often pasta, every Friday is home-made pizza (including the crust) night (we buy shredded cheese in bulk and freeze it), and we take advantage of summer’s produce to make lots of jam to put away for winter. We do also eat a lot of beans and rice, but hey, they make such tasty burritos!

    • Paul Williams

      Hi, Melanie! I never claimed we spent the least amount possible, but from many conversations I’ve had I do know it’s quite a bit less than most people. I figured these suggestions could help those who haven’t been able to trim down their food budgets to the point you have. Maybe you ought to write an article that outlines what you do! :)

      • Melanie

        Fortunately for us, this menu plan (tasty though it is) will probably increase in price once we dig ourselves out of my grad school debt hole ;)

  • Karmella

    I’m ashamed to say I don’t know exactly how much I spend – I try to keep it reasonable. It helps if I avoid the “just one thing” trips to the grocery store – those kill me, and easy $20 each time. I also avoid what I call aspirational shopping – I tend to go a little overboard on fruits and veggies I won’t use. The farmer’s market was actually a terrible, terrible choice for me.

    • Paul Williams

      Hi, Karmella! I’d recommend you start tracking it – otherwise it’s hard to tell if you’re really keeping it reasonable. I use Mint and it works great for me. But if you just want to focus on one expense at a time, you could only track that one. In my experience, meal plans and a list help curb aspirational shopping as you called it. :)

      • Olivia

        Our low tech solution is to take our grocery money out in cash. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

        The $5 dinner mom (can’t remember her website name right now) has some good options for shopping and cooking.

        • RB Boren

          The $5 dinner mom’s website is…

        • Paul Williams

          Thanks for the tip on $5 dinners, Olivia and RB! I just shared that with my wife. She was asking me this morning for meal ideas for the week. :)

  • Jerret

    I still don’t know how you do it. I have a family of 5 and $600/month is good for us!

    I have neighbors that can eat for $250 but it’s Ramen Noodles and/or grilled cheese every night.

    Fruits and vegetables are our mainstay but they’re wicked expensive! To eat 9-12 servings a day per person would make us go bankrupt.

    I agree with all your tips, I just don’t see how it’s possible unless you have your own garden. Thanks!


    • Paul Williams

      Hi, Jerret! Well, $600/month for 5 wouldn’t sound bad if you were all eating adult sized meals, but I’m guess you’ve got young kids based on your avatar. :)

      We never eat Ramen noodles, and grilled cheese is rare. We do have a small garden, but it’s not very productive. I honestly doubt we’ve gotten more than $30-40 worth of vegetables from it this year. I doubt we’ll try it again next year, except maybe for tomatoes. It’s just not something we enjoy, and with the Amish stands around it’s cheaper to just buy the stuff.

      I can’t think of anything extra special that we do to keep our costs low. We try to find low-cost recipes to fix, and the More-with-Less cookbook has helped some with that. (You can find it on Amazon.) Those recipes are low-cost and healthy.

      What’s your typical week look like in the way of meals?

    • Paul Williams

      Hi, Jerret! I left a comment earlier, but it’s missing now. :-/ I’ll try again.

      $600/month doesn’t sound too terrible for 5, but I’m guess you’re not all adults. In that case it would seem a little high. Maybe it’s where you live? Prices can vary depending on location, though our current food prices seem about average based on my experiences (living in rural, suburban, and urban locations).

      We did have a little garden, but honestly it didn’t produce much. I doubt we got more than $30-40 in produce from it. I’m not sure we’ll try again next year. It’s just not something we enjoy very much, and the local Amish stands provide a cheap option for in-season, locally grown food if we want it. But I do think we’ll still have a little garden with the easy vegetables in it. Tomatoes are just so good fresh from your own garden!

      What does your typical week of meals look like?

    • BARB

      One solution is to not buy your fruit/vegs at a grocery store…usually priced way higher than they should be. Look around your area and find a Farm Market that sells only fruit/vegs…I always find thier prices better…getting a whole bag of produce for about $10-20.

  • Carla

    Because I cant eat certain things like gluten, other grains in general except for a little quinoa, soy, starches, legumes and other classically cheap/inexpensive foods, my grocery bill is a little higher than someone who eats on a budget. With that said, I do stick to what’s in season, local, non-processed and I do eat a lot of veggies. Yes, I do buy grass fed and pastured meats which are more expensive than factory farmed, cheaper options, but as a family of one, what I buy goes very far.

    • Paul Williams

      Hi, Carla! My sister-in-law has to have a gluten-free diet, and I can see how that would increase your costs. Pasta is one of the ways we keep our costs low, and I’m sure the gluten free kind is more expensive.

      But like you said, you can still keep costs low by following some of the other tips. And food does go a long way for one person. How do you keep yours from spoiling?

      • Carla

        Hi Paul,

        I don’t buy in huge quantities. I mostly shop locally (lucky to be in walking distance to a few stores) so I don’t need to have a fridge full of food. Meat and fish gets put in the freezer until I’m ready to use it. Items I buy in bulk at the co-op (nuts, seeds, coffee, etc) gets used before they have a chance to go bad or rancid. Since I dont eat grains in general, gluten-free pasta isnt on my radar anyway. :)

        • Paul Williams

          Thanks for sharing your tips, Carla! I did many of the same things before I got married. You have to be especially careful with meats when you’re only cooking for one – especially with leftovers. It’s easy to forget them or simply take too long to eat it all.

  • Heather

    Hi Paul,
    This was a timely message for me as I have ben reviewing our family food budget, I have really let things slip in the past year and you gave me that extra push to get back to basics. There was a time when we had very little processed food or junk food in our cupboards and we simply made everything from scratch. If we wanted sweets, we made some out of the ingredients we had on hand. It used to be you would never find chips, fruit snacks, captain crunch etc, in our pantry and we did just fine. We actually dont eat out too much ever because we are always so dissappointed that we could have cooked it ourselves much better.
    Thanks for the reminder. I needed that. Heading into the fall/winter season makes it easier to focus on home-made foods.

    PS: My kids are crazy for pizza…. Anyone have a good cheap homemade recipe?

    • Paul Williams

      I’m glad I could help, Heather! You’re right that it can be easier to focus on homemade foods in the fall and winter. Things seem to slow down a bit there, and if you have kids then they’re back in school.

      Junk foods really add to your bill, and they don’t do much for your health at all either. The same goes for sugary drinks – incredible markups there! I didn’t mention that we never buy soft drinks. We brew tea at home or drink water, and we usually have some fruit juice on hand. But a gallon of homemade sweet tea is half the price of soft drinks (costs me a little under $1 for a gallon – could be less if you use less sugar).

      When we make pizza, I like to use the dough recipe here: Any tasty homemade tomato sauce will work fine with it.

    • Olivia

      We do pizza every Friday. We have several crust recipes. Our secret is to buy our yeast in bulk and keep it in the fridge. Those little packets are a killers price wise.

      1 Tab. yeast
      1 Tab sugar
      3/4 C warm water (about 110 degrees easier if you have a candy thermometer)
      3 C flour
      1 Tab basil
      1 tsp garlic powder
      1 tsp salt
      2 Tab olive oil

      If you have a pizza stone, preheat the oven to 430 degrees with the stone in it for about an hour. If you don’t just preheat the oven until it reaches 430 and pop the pizza in on a greased pan.

      Mix sugar yeast and warm water to proof the yeast (let sit until it bubbles). Add the other ingredients until well mixed. Add more water if necessary a little bit at a time to make the dough smooth enough to handle. Knead ten minutes by hand or for several minutes under the bread hook until it becomes uniform and smoothish If it’s too sticky ad a little flour a tablespoon or so at a time. Put into a greased bowl, and grease the dough’s top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until it doubles. Punch it down, let “rest” for a few minutes then roll it out on a floured surface. Lay it in the pan or directly onto the stone..

      At that point we either put homemade tomato sauce on it and/or homemade basil pesto, then cheese and whatever.and put it back into the oven and bake it for 7-9 minutes on a preheated pizza stone or a bit longer if in a cookie pan. The crust will be browned and the cheese bubbly and slightly brown. We’ve been making individual pizzas for the most part and just sliding them onto the stone already set up with toppings using a pancake flipper.

      • Paul Williams

        Thanks for sharing your recipe, Olivia! I agree buying yeast in bulk is a huge money saver if you’re going to make your own breads or doughs. I like using instant dry yeast because there’s no need to proof and it almost always works (very little dead yeast).

      • Jan

        A breakfast pizza is very good with egg, candian bacon and cheese.

  • RB Boren

    One thing I have learned from international cuisine is that, outside of North America, meat is used as an additive or condiment and not as the star of the meal. Instead of hamburgers or steak, try a casserole with a meat sauce.

    Invest in quality food storage containers and enjoy an excellent return on investment. Your refrigerated and frozen foods will last longer, spoilage will be reduced, and you will save a tidy sum over time.

    Last week eBay had a promotion on a battery-operated (batteries included!) food vacuum sealer. For $17.99 I received postpaid two vacuum sealers and 33 resealable vacuum bags of various sizes. This just arrived and I haven’t used it yet, but this potentially could save me some real money.

    Watch and compare unit pricing in the supermarket. Sometimes the Large Economy Size really is the best deal (your quality food storage containers can be useful here) and sometimes (more often than you might expect) it’s not.

    Stock up on great deals when doing do makes sense, which is to say, when you will consume the entirety of what you buy before its shelf life expires. (This is one of the many uses of having reserve cash on hand.)

    There seems to be a current supermarket trend (or is it a fad?) toward offering ‘extreme’ deals requiring purchase of quantities greater than a shopper would normally buy. With reserve cash and quality food storage containers, you can stock up and save big.

    • Paul Williams

      Wow, great tips, RB! You’re exactly right about meat not being the star in international cuisine. I had a friend from Ethiopia who told me that they usually only serve meat for guests there. But if you go to an Ethiopian restaurant in the U.S. meat is almost always part of the main course.

  • Katie

    Great article! James and I are looking at ways to save on our grocery bill. We have also been interested in starting to eat healthier so that by the time Isobel is older it will be habit. Since I’ve been staying home I am more interested in making foods from scratch. But with a two month old, that isn’t always possible.

    • Paul Williams

      Thanks for commenting, Katie! I’m sure it can be difficult with a newborn, but you can start making small changes now until you have more time.

    • Lori

      I am an old hat at making inexpensive meals when you have kids. Four grown up ones now and worked full time when they were young. What I did years ago was plan 1 1/2 hour meals. What I mean by that is from preparation to eating the meals it takes that amount of time. Example- chicken and rice takes about 1 1/2 hours to cook. You can use thighs if you will eat dark meat.It’s cheaper. It makes a large 13 by 9 pan or cassarole pan. Add salad and garlic toast made from stale bread. Probably $12.00 for a meal for 4-6 with leftovers. Of course, I have 3 boys one of which is 6″5″, so they eat a lot. Even now I cook multiple meals on Sundays, so I don’t have to cook during the week and don’t eat out as much. If you have someone who can watch the baby while you prepare your meals, it will pay off in time in the long run. It is the same principal as anything you pay for. The labor is what costs the most. If you are the labor, it is going to be cheaper. And better.

    • Lori

      I am an old hat at making inexpensive meals when you have kids. Four grown up ones now and worked full time when they were young. What I did years ago was plan 1 1/2 hour meals. What I mean by that is from preparation to eating the meals it takes that amount of time. Example- chicken and rice takes about 1 1/2 hours to cook. You can use thighs if you will eat dark meat.It’s cheaper. It makes a large 13 by 9 pan or cassarole pan. Add salad and garlic toast made from stale bread. Probably $12.00 for a meal for 4-6 with leftovers. Of course, I have 3 boys one of which is 6″5″, so they eat a lot. Even now I cook multiple meals on Sundays, so I don’t have to cook during the week and don’t eat out as much. If you have someone who can watch the baby while you prepare your meals, it will pay off in time in the long run. It is the same principal as anything you pay for. The labor is what costs the most. If you are the labor, it is going to be cheaper. And better.

  • Trent

    Paul, good article. I’ve found you can generally have fresh fruit for cheap if you just buy whatever is on sale that week. Especially apples – there is nearly always a variety of apples for $.99 – $1.50 per lb. We’ve also focused on having our family eat more carrots (at lunch and as a snack) as they are so cheap (provided you peel/cut them yourself.)

    I have to admit that we do eat tuna/hamburger helpers occassionally. If you buy them on sale and with a coupon you can get them for about $.65 per box. Add a can of tuna, some milk/butter and we feed our whole family (generally with some leftover) for about $1.50. And frankly I think they’re delicious. Healthy? No, probably not, but that’s fine sometimes. We do generally throw some frozen vegetables in them though, so that helps.

    • Paul Williams

      Thanks for reading, Trent! I agree with you on the fresh fruit. That’s what we do as well. Bananas are another cheap fruit option, too. Even better when they go on sale!

      Unhealthy isn’t bad sometimes, but it can be easy to make a habit out of it. My other problem with those types of box meals is that they’re mostly just convenience (which can be useful at times). Most of them contain nothing you can’t easily put together for much cheaper (seasonings, pasta, a quick sauce). They also tend to have some funky chemicals in to help them look/taste better than they really are. We’re not health freaks though, so I won’t claim to eat healthy all the time! :) Adding frozen veggies is a good tip, too. I did that to Ramen noodles in my college years (along with using just a little bit of the seasoning instead of the whole packet).

  • jo

    Hi Paul: I have been feeding a family of 6 on $80 per week, and I buy happy meals for my 4 children once a week. We eat well, and my children are well fed, however with the way the price of food and fuel have been rising, it’s becoming more difficult, even with planting a victory garden every year. We have begun to stock-pile non-perishables and I would advise everyone to do the same.

  • HealthyOldGuy

    I agree with this article. On tip I would like to add is my long lasting breakfast that is inexpensive.
    I pour 3/4 coffee cup of old fashioned oatmeal in a glass microwaveable container. Then I mix a coffee cup of either water, orange juice, milk, or soy milk in it and then cook it for about 5 – 7 minutes on medium microwave temperature. I then mix in a banana with 4 table spoons of either cut up mangoes, blueberries, mixed berries, etc. This is a lot to eat, but it is so tasty and healthy. I get up early and this lasts 5 – 6 hours before I get hungry again.

  • Dmitriy Kropivnitskiy

    I don’t know about other people, I guess it works out well for a large family, where one person cooks for everyone and the others just eat what they are given, but to me number 2 is a deal breaker. I just know, that the mere thought that the content of my next meal is set in stone and cannot be altered will put me off of it. And to me enjoyment of my food is more important than price or health aspects. I would rather eat what I want for a week and eat ramen noodles the rest of the month than eat planned meals. I would guess that a lot of people are not that way though.

  • Fonseca0605

    since my husband made a garden, we had save a lot of money per week!!. He loves to eat vegetables and we need a lot of them! He planted cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, squash, corn, green beans, hot peppers, peaches and blue berries!! we all take care of the garden and its not a lot of work as i thought at the begining…We love it and it’s a great satisfation and the taste are delicious! this is our second year with the garden and we really enjoy it!!! and I really enjoy reading your article! Thanks!!

  • Anonymous

    “5 things you shouldn’t buy in bulk” links to the worng article

  • Sandi Lanzieri

    A few terms ago my instructor had us do a paper on fast food, we had to watch Fast Food Nation as well. I took this assignment with a groan, I go to school full time and it was so easy to stop and pick up dinner on my way home then to make it because that took away from my studying time. As I was writting the paper I realized that I was always tired, crabby and never felt good. I decided that I ate too much junk food. With that said I took a hard look at what i was eating, now several terms later and I have found I am cooking at home more, using left overs for lunch, feeling better and happier. I started working out again recently and have changed my diet more to include fresh fruits, more veggies and water. Its hard to start changing but I know that habits are easier made then broken, but if one tries long enough they can be changed. Discipline is not easy but is easy to obtain if you don’t beat yourself up for taking a step backwards. Just realize what happened and start again eventually your goal will be met. Now I know I have a lot more to do like making a list of meals before shopping but its baby steps, nothing is done overnight!!
    I have also always wanted to make my own bread but seemed to fail when I tried. I don’t want to use a bread machine, I want to get in there and do it myself. I love baking banana bread (great when bananas you bought are too ripe, and the kids love it), zuccinni bread ( when friends garden explode lol ) and pumpkin bread but just have never got a good homemade bread reciepe that works for me. Anyone have one?? lol. Love your article and will hopefully use it to change another bad habit I have created but will break!!

    • LisaL

      @Sandi – Cathy’s Banana Bread is my very favorite banana bread recipe. Easy to find. I add cinnamon, cloves – whatever spices float your banana boat (hee hee), and even dried cherries. Be creative. That’s what I love about this recipe – you can be!

    • jvanderh

      Here’s the most fool proof bread recipe I’ve ever written- no kneading AND no rise time :-D. It doesn’t have the complexity of flavor of a good sourdough, and the speediness means there may be little cracks in the crust, but it’s better than storebought, and it’s great for building your confidence and then you can move on to other breads.

      With no kneading, shaping, rise time, or special equipment, you can have bread on the table in 90 minutes. This method uses a hand mixer to develop gluten, lots of yeast for quick rising, and a frying-pan moat to modulate temperature.

      You’ll need:
      A hand mixer
      A 3-quart, oven-safe saucepan with a lid
      A standard-sized frying pan

      The recipe:
      4 cups (570 g) all-purpose flour
      2 cups (455 g) water
      2 packets (4.5 tsp, or 14g) any kind of yeast
      1 tbsp (18 g) table salt

      Move one oven rack to the second-to-bottom slot, and move the other to the very bottom slot to get it out of the way. Grease the bottom and sides of the saucepan using cooking spray or vegetable oil. If you have one, turn on the oven hood, if not, open a window- you’ll be making a little bit of smoke. In a large bowl, add 2.5 cups (355 g) of the flour. (To measure flour, spoon it into the cup and level it with a butter knife). Add the yeast, salt, and water. Using the hand mixer, mix the dough on the highest speed for five full minutes, scraping around the sides of the bowl with a spoon or silicone spatula to reclaim flour clumps. To avoid burning out the motor on the hand mixer, add the remaining 1.5 cups (215 g) of the flour by hand, mixing with a fork and/or your fingers until just combined and still shaggy. With a clean, wet hand, scoop the dough out of the bowl and into the saucepan. It won’t look very promising at this point, but have no fear. Put the frying pan on the oven rack in the cold oven, and sit the saucepan inside with its lid on. Fill the frying pan with water. Turn the oven to 500 degrees and set the timer for 50 minutes. When it beeps, remove the lid, and set the timer for 15 minutes. Use two pot holders stacked together or a folded kitchen towel to take the saucepan out of the oven. When the bread is needed, gently pry around the edges with a butter knife, making several rotations, then use a spatula to remove it. If you’re not accustomed to using saucepans in the oven, sit the saucepan in the sink and run water over it, or drape a pot holder over the handle to remind you that it’s hot. Serve with salted butter.

  • Mrychr

    Make your own pizza. It’s easy, fun, and you can choose all the great ingredients you like. For a larger group, each person can make their own mini-pizza. WAY cheaper than restaurant or take-out, which can be $25 per pizza!
    Also, choose chicken and/or pork rather than beef if you want meat. Stay away from processed meats, like sandwich meat, bacon, ham. I bought chicken a couple of days ago, $4 per chicken, grown in my state. How can you beat that?

  • andre paris

    I use Good and Cheap the free PDF cookbook that teaches you to live on $4 per day

  • Michele Cook

    I just discovered meal planning a few months ago and it was literally life changing. I even wrote a post for the blog that inspired it. I lost ten pounds, saved $400 a month and didn’t ever have to worry about what was for dinner. One thing I learned quickly was don’t plan several really complicated meals per week. Pintrest recipes are great but keep it to one a week, otherwise you waste food, spend to much and are exhausted!

  • Malcolm Diaz

    Sorry but no meat = no meal.