$100 Food Experiment : And so it begins

Spending just $100 on groceries for AN ENTIRE MONTH is...interesting. The first few days I just lived with the fact that when I opened the refrigerator door all I saw were tumbleweeds and a sad bag of limp carrots. Then I had a friend, her daughter, and her daughter's friend over for dinner. This means I would have to cook. With food. Also, the very next day I joined some lovely ladies for a cooking club sort of thing and I had to bring a dish. It also had to contain food. Que FREAK OUT.

After my mini panic I sat down, took stock of what food I did have and made my dinner menu for my guests from what was on hand. I choose burritos. Super easy, kid friendly and way easy to veganize. I had to buy tortillas, black beans (even though it turns out I had some already), limes and cilantro for the guacamole. I already had quinoa and salsa so I could make a high protein and fiber version of Mexican rice. My friend graciously bought the avocados, lettuce and chips.

As for my dinner the very next night I was responsible for the dessert so I choose to make chocolate mousse topped with strawberries. I had the silken tofu already (pantry staple) but I needed the strawberries and chocolate. Unfortunately the store only had the more expensive chocolate but I wasn't willing to go somewhere else to save a buck. Strawberries were on sale so I bought two tubs and kept one for us to eat. I told the ladies at dinner about what I was doing and the host of the dinner sent me home with a ton of fresh parsley and green onions that I've put to good use. I also brought home a serving of the main course she prepared (polenta topped with black beans and a tomato sauce, TASTY!!).

That one shopping trip cost $13.10 for food. That's actually quite a lot of money considering I barely got one meal out of the trip. But I now have extra cans of black beans, garlic (both that I've since put to use), red onion and we muched on those strawberries for two days.

Breakdown for $13.10:

Tortilla (whole wheat) 2.76
2 tubs of strawberries 3.76
Bakers chocolate squares 2.56
2 cans black beans 1.44
2 Limes .44
Garlic .32
Cilantro .38
Red Onion (they were more expensive than white but I prefer red) 1.44

Our next shopping trip was Sunday night. Sunday's are a great day to get in the weeks groceries. Unfortunately I didn't plan a menu or anything. I planned one meal and bought a few other things I knew we'd eat during the week. It was not as successful as it could have been. I ended up spending $43.35 in groceries.

It was an interesting shopping trip. I always buy organic spinach for salads but it was $5 for a tiny, insignificant tub so I got romaine instead. Not nearly as good for you, but better than iceberg, plus it was organic and half the price for twice as much. Lesson learned in that department. I did "splurge" and buy a few other organic items that cost more. I also needed canned beans for a bean salad that Derick requested. I intended on buying the Target brand canned beans until I read the label and they have High Fructose Syrup in them. WHY!? It's freaking beans, Target. Why do we need to add a sweetener to PLAIN BEANS?! I passed them up for a more expensive variety of organic beans with no sugar or salt added. I consider the extra expense an investment in mine and my kid's health.

We needed fruit so into the basket some went. I almost died on the spot when I saw how much I spent on cherries. $6.40. FOR CHERRIES. Literally, those cherries will last me 2-3 days max. They were even on sale! If I would have gotten the organic cherries that price would have doubled. I love cherries, though and I can only get the good, cheaper ones during the summer so I say whatever to that. I loved each and every one I ate last night.

As for veggies, I threw in some organic celery, a few Roma tomatoes and a big bag of organic carrots. I can make an entire meal from those things if I add some pasta or rice or quinoa.

Breakdown for $43.35

Cinnabon snack bar thingies (AKA why I never take my teenager shopping with me) 2.00
Special K bars (ditto above) 2.39
Organic Romaine lettuce 2.49
Organic ( I can't remember what this was for) .99
Organic celery 1.99
4 Roma Tomatoes 1.28
3 cans Vegetarian Baked beans (again for the teenager) 3.96
4 cans variety of Organic beans 5.24
Organic raspberries 2.49
Organic Carrots 3.99
1 lb strawberries 2.79
1 pint blueberries 2.79
2.57 lbs Cherries 6.40
Red onions 2.06
Organic Target brand soy milk 2.49

Total spent so far on both trips: $56.45

This leaves me $43.55 left to spend for the next 3 weeks. Here I am cheating again, though. Derick left to go back to his dad's house yesterday so I'll be feeding one less(insatiable) teenager so there's that. I have many a meal planned with beans, pasta and grains. I truly think I can do this. And I hope to do it well with different flavors and ingredients. I do not intend on eating boring, season less foods.

What we've eaten so far since this experiment started:


cereal with soy or rice milk
oatmeal, many different ways. I never buy premixed stuff, I like to make my own flavors
pancakes (homemade. I made a TON and froze a bunch)
fresh fruit*


Lots of leftovers. That's usually what I eat for lunch is the leftovers from the previous days.
Fresh veggie "stir fry"


bean soup with homemade cornbread
brown rice pasta with faux sausage, onions and butternut squash
bean salad composed of beans*, onion, parsley, celery*, salad dressing and frozen peas
burritos composed of tortillas*, quinoa Mexican rice, black beans*, guacamole*, and salsa
Yellow curry quinoa with fresh carrots*, cilantro, onions* and peas.


Fresh fruit
Leftover chocolate mousse

*if noted with the asterisk then it was purchased. Otherwise all ingredients I already had


Melissa said...

Okay here's my comments/suggestions

A) I know you have a recipe for tortillas that would have cost you PENNIES to make. It's tried and true and would have saved you $2.76

b) I too would have splurged on the sugar free beans. But to prepare for all emergencies you can cook dry beans in your crock pot. Portion out into freezer bags. That way all you have to do is take them out of the freezer and heat them up!

c) never shop without planning a menu. it leads to buying way more than you needed...and you still won't have what you need to make meals!

d) organic is worth it.

Kristie said...


A.) God I KNOW. I need to make this tortilla recipe. It's all you talk about. Tomorrow! I swear!

B.) You know I was kicking myself because I actually have tond of dried beans at home but I didn't allow myself enough time to soak and cook them. Tell me this crock pot version of cooking them!

C.) This I know. I was being dumb.


Melissa said...

a) but be forwarned I've yet to make a perfectly round tortilla! I just can't do it. Maybe Debi will chime in and let us know if she's magic and can do it.

b) http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/cooking-dried-beans-in-crockpot.html

Awesome awesome awesome. Do the first soak overnight, dump out the water in the am and cook them all day. That night you can bag them up and freeze. Tada cheap, sugar and salt free beans!

Elizabeth said...

I was going to add that I make dried beans all the time now. We were going through cans and cans of refried beans and now I make them at home. Next up - black beans, and then refried beans. And I freeze the extras in ziploc bags.
It's cheaper AND I know exactly what's in them and I am not always about to run out of them.
Also, you should send me this killer tortilla recipe.