1 family. friendly food. » Hunger challenge – Budget, groceries, and menu


I’m not writing about Weight Loss Weekly today since I’m going to post about the Hunger Action Week in the next 5 days. But do go and visit Bernie, Sunny, and Joie de vivre who are discussing this question: How do your family and friends support you or hinder you in your weight loss efforts? Do they adapt easily to your changing habits and help you along, or do they confront your new habits with skepticism?

And now to the challenge.

I am feeling a bit nervous about this challenge. It is mainly the thought that to me it’s a 5 days experience but there are other people who face this challenge every day. While I usually shop at my favorite fancy food store, they have to rely on food stamps for much longer periods of time. It’s an everyday reality for them.

I don’t know anyone personally who relies on food stamps to eat – besides my grandmas who raised families during the previous depression years – and I don’t know how they do it. I’ve never been too smart or careful about spending money on food. Ever since I started buying my own groceries out of my own money, I always spent too much on food. I never planned a food budget. Not even when I was a student and working multiple jobs to support myself. I know I’m very lucky. In trying to prepare for next week’s hunger challenge, I realized I must know how much certain ingredients cost and I must plan my expenses.

We have decided to take this challenge as a family, meaning my husband and our two kids are participating as well. Our budget is $22 per day * 5 days = $110 for the 5 days’ challenge. We usually eat at home and I usually cook from scratch. It saves money, I believe, compared to buying pre-cooked, pre-packaged, or highly processed food, and it is much healthier and tastier. For example, if it costs $6-$7 to buy a take-out chicken teriyaki with rice and lettuce salad (and it’s a lot of food, enough for 2 people), I can buy for the same amount of money free-range, maybe even organic, chicken legs and make a home-made cooked meal with a side dish of rice and fresh salad enough for 4 servings. So that’s a good start. (And less Styrofoam.)


The food

Our meals in general, are simple and usually look something like this:

Breakfast is tea,coffee, milk for kids, bread, butter, jam, cheese, yogurt, fruit, maybe 1 egg is involved too.

Lunch: Baby eats lunch and snacks at day care. My son’s school lunch is food from home, either leftovers from dinner or a sandwich and fruit. My lunch is the same. My husband usually eats at his work’s cafeteria. The cost is $4-$6 per lunch and he doesn’t enjoy the food so much so for the challenge I will cook our lunches and he will take food from home. (He would have been very happy to take lunch from home every day, I’m sure.)

Snacks between lunch and dinner can be a fruit, yogurt, crackers, milk/smoothie.

Dinner: See recipe page for dinner ideas.


The plan

I am planning to use pantry items that I already have such as sugar, coffee, tea, olive oil, spices, but I will deduct them from the $110 budget. I estimate the cost of using those to be $2 per day + I add baby’s food at day care (I think it’s around $2 per day). Let’s say it’s a total of $20 for 5 days. That leaves me with $90 for the groceries. It doesn’t sound like much, does it?!

I have to cook 5 lunches and 5 dinners and I’ll be using recipes I have already posted on the blog. Yes, the kids will probably be happier to eat more pasta, pizza, and hotdogs, but I would like to see if what we normally eat would work on a budget.

Estimated cost of 5 dinners for the family

#1 Chicken liver – $3 and Yellow rice – $1

#2 Sweet and Smoky pork chops – $6 (4 servings) and Mashed yams $4

#3-4 Roasted Lemony Chicken Thighs – $8 (8 servings), leftover sides, and Roasted vegetables, like carrots, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts – $5 (4-6 servings)

#5 Upgraded pizza – $6 or Ravioli – $6 and Top Secret Orange Marmalade Salad – $4

Anything that’s left – $0


Estimated cost of 5 lunches for 2 adults

#1-3 French Onion Quiche – $10 (8-10 servings) and Simple salad $10 (6 servings)

#4-5 Black-Bean Burgers $9 (4 servings)

#4-5 Leftovers – $0


That’s $66 for lunch and dinner. So I have $24 left for breakfast and snacks. 

This morning my husband and son took leftovers from last night’s dinner to work and school, Mac and cheese and roasted chicken. The cost for both is $3 which I will take it off of my groceries budget.

… I have no idea how many hours it took me just to plan, estimate, and calculate all these things. Probably 2-3 hours. I could have done so many other things during that time.

OK, I’m going to do the grocery shopping now. I’ll post later about how I did.


Leave a comment, I’d like to know what you think.

Thanks, Nurit


Other food bloggers taking the challenge:

All You Can Eat, Cook & Eat, Eat All About It, Eric Rivera’s Cooking Blog, Favorite Freezer Foods, Foodista, Julie Jams, Live To Eat, Mirch Masala, Musings on the Path to Frugality, NOMalicious, Savory Sweet Life, Self Rising Flour, The Curious Domestic, The Gastro Gnome, What’s For Dinner

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Categories : Food events, Food link love, Power and Food, Seattle/Pacific NW, Stuff, Weekly menu plan

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