Could you feed a family for less than a dollar a day?

United States
June 2, 2008 11:53am CST
Have you ever fed your entire family for such a small amount of money? Have you ever prepared a meal for less than a dollar? When I was a kid, my mom would cook up lima beans and cornbread. Back in the day a bag of limas was 50 cents and could feed a whole family. A small box of cornbread was a dime, so you could cook up a good meal for less than a dollar, with salt and pepper and stock seasoings and a little bit of smoked pork from the freezer. We had iced tea or cool-aid. Not milk! Because milk was too expensive. It was frugal cooking at it's best. We thought it was the best stuff in the world. We were just kids, though. We didn't know we were poor and broke. Sometimes I wish that feeding my own family were so cheap. But, it's not. These days, even stock supplies like dried beans are not cheap. Even a thrifty home cooked meal costs at least $15 to prepare. When you were growing up, did your mom have tricks for feeding everyone for just a few dollars? What's your best thrifty meal that you could prepare for under $5 or $10? If so please share.
5 people like this
18 responses
@Thoroughrob (11750)
• United States
2 Jun 08
Grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken noodle or tomato soup.
1 person likes this
• United States
2 Jun 08
Now you're speaking my language! I had no idea those were considered a thrifty meal, cause they taste so good. I love grilled cheese sandwiches! I should do those more often. I have frozen veggies in the house, always, so a couple tablespoons of those in the soup and it would be a complete meal. Thanks again!
@deebomb (15322)
• United States
2 Jun 08
You could also add some macaroni to the soup to give it more substance. I knew a family that liked to put pop corn in their tomato soup.
• Singapore
2 Jun 08
well, my family bought instant noodles which cost about $2. enough to feed everyone. haha. family of five(5). cool. if we have more money, we would buy more packets. each packets for 5 small packets.
• United States
2 Jun 08
That's a good tip! I love the Ramen in a cup. Not sure if my kid would eat Ramen, but the adults could.
@sedel1027 (17854)
• United States
2 Jun 08
How many people are you feeding with $15. I hope it is quire a few. I can easily whip up a hearty meal for my family and have left overs for less than $5. You scenario above with the beans. You can get a bag of beans for less than a buck, corn bread for about $.30, a few servings of rice is maybe $.50 + ham from the freezer...about $2.00, add in some salad and a veggie...brings the total to about $5, maybe less, and there is usually beans left over for another dinner, or at least a few lunches.
• United States
2 Jun 08
You are phenomenal! You have the best ideas. I guess I'm a little out of practice on being frugal. I'm not feeding an army of people, so I think that I could definitely use some of your ideas to save a ton of money. Thanks ever so much for all the ideas.
@sedel1027 (17854)
• United States
2 Jun 08
Another thing I do is buy the bag of leg quarters - 10 lbs of chicken for $5! I will give my husband an entire quarter and my son and I split one. We get 6 meals out of one bag. Less than a dollar for a meal and sometimes we have left over meat for soup or fajitas.
• United States
2 Jun 08
That is a phenomenal idea. Chicken is always in great demand in our house. I will try that out.
@cher913 (25887)
• Canada
2 Jun 08
oh definately, we eat on the cheap during the winter - we make a whole lot of homemade soups and i have started introducing meatless meals just to same a little bit of money here and there. we eat a lot of pasta and in the summer we eat a lot of chicken.
• United States
2 Jun 08
I used to make homemade soups in my crockpot. They were so inexpensive. Will have to try that again this next season.
@Arphoe (50)
• China
3 Jun 08
when i was a kid, my family really was poor, no meat ,no fish, just a little vegetables, but we felt happy. that is the most important thing
@bombshell (11266)
• Germany
3 Jun 08
yes many food this time less than a dollar.
@sun2day (1063)
• Virgin Islands (U.S.)
3 Jun 08
That may have been back in the day when sugar was 0.1 cent per lb.. That was in my parents days, it is not happening. God has richly blessed these countries. That has been long gone. Maybe some cornmeal gruel(that is cornmeal add a dash of salt and spice, sugar & a little milk. Bring to a boil and you have a meal. Or become a vegetarian. Vegetarian life style doesn't demand much. Dont know what else to really add.
@chiyosan (30199)
• Philippines
3 Jun 08
i dont think that is possible. 1 dollar a day could not even get myself anywhere, let alone for a family of 4, perhaps. i dont think that can be done. not at all. :\
@kaysue4 (951)
• United States
3 Jun 08
Being that our family is on food stamps, we do this about everyday after you do the break down for each person. I buy in bulk for meat from the meat store, go to the bread store for deals on that and freeze the extra bread, and go to Sav-A-Lot for all of my canned goods. We only get a little over $500 for a large family and I do have a couple extra people staying with me right now also because they don't really have any place to stay for the summer. So we make everything stretch and I personally will eat a lot of rice toward the end of the month so the kids have more food to eat. I think I brooke it down one time and it is like 17 cents per person per meal. The most thrifty meal would be pasta with sauce on it. I can buy noodles for 59 cents and use two boxes and then get the sauce for around 99 cents.
• Malaysia
3 Jun 08
I remembered what my mum used to do, she made a tasty fried rice from leftovers of rice and other meat stuff, added in some eggs and vegetables from our garden. It was so delicious and we used to have a lot of rice congee with salted eggs and fish. Another economical way was, cooking rice with other ingredients in the rice cooker like "Pulao" style. My favourites are sweet potato, potato or yam, carrots, long beans and serve with hot soup of made of leftovers of chicken bones or other meat with tomato or vegetables from our garden. No matter how simple the dish was, mother's cooking was always the best and with all the family enjoying it together, makes me always has a home and sense of belonging :)
@barehugs (8985)
• Canada
3 Jun 08
Has anyone heard of a Vegetable Garden. for $1.65 you can buy a packet of peas , beans, lettuce, and more. Potatoes are cheap and easy to grow, Cucumbers and the dill seed to make them into dill pickles. How easy, cheap and Healthy this would be. Anyone who has a Garden can feed their family for only cents per meal.
@chrysz (1603)
• Philippines
3 Jun 08
Back in the province, especially when there's a typhoon, we usually eat rice and one viand only, usually boiled or steamed camote tops or sweet potato tops, chayote tops, Baguio beans, cabbage, or any vegetable available in our yard and dipped in fish sauce. Some are bought but only for less than .50 USD or around 20PhP. A kilo of rice back then was only less than 50 cents too, now, the cheapest rice here in the Philippines is around 50 cents and most families would have "tuyo" or "daing" or dried, salted fish dipped in vinegar. For me the best thrifty meal I prepared for my family was sauteed fish sauce and steamed eggplant and fried eggs.
• United States
3 Jun 08
If you can handle buying store brand products you can make Baked Ziti for a good price. Spaghetti sauce can be found for under $2, shredded cheese around $2 (if you use the whole bag) and ziti noodles (the walmart brand sells for like 97cents). So that's about five bucks and if the whole box of noodles is made it can easily feed six, maybe more...I make the whole thing for a family of three and it's great leftovers that are easy to heat and eat.
@skinnychick (6907)
• United States
2 Jun 08
I would say my sloppy joe casserole. It makes tons and there are leftovers. You can also half the recipe as well. Here's what you need: 1lb of ground beef or ground turkey 1 can of sloppy joe sauce 2 cans of those cheap biscuits- the kind you buy for 20 or 30 cents. Some cheddar or American cheese shredded Grease a 9 x 13 pan and cut the biscuits into quarters. Press them into the bottom to form a crust. The brown the ground beef, add onion or pepper if you have it, mix in the sloppy joe sauce, throw it on top of the biscuits. Pop it into the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes- then sprinkle cheese on top- cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Super easy, cheap and filling.
@cutepenguin (6456)
• Canada
2 Jun 08
There are only two of us, so we can make a meal for about $3. We will have eggs on toast or waffles with fruit. (It is fortunate that we like breakfast foods). Or I will make a salad with spinach greens and whatever we have around the house.
@deebomb (15322)
• United States
2 Jun 08
Corn bread and beans are very cheap. Make the beans in the crock put and get a bag of self rising corn meal (recipe on the bag) Season the beans with liquid smoke or your favorite seasoning. i like sage and thyme or poultry seasoning. Sometime I will get a smoked turkey wing to add to the beans Makes them taste like ham. If you have some cheddar cheese add a handful of that in the corn bread. Another cheap meal is bread or biscuits and gravy ether with hamburger, sausage or with out. When I was growing up we would have milk toast or just bread and milk.
@moneyandgc (3430)
• United States
2 Jun 08
Soups can be cheap, with a box of cornbread on the side. I buy frozen chicken in the bag for about $6. I get a bunch of meals out of it. Spaghetti sauce can be found really inexpensively and noodles don't cost much either. I can make chicken spaghetti for a few dollars or cut costs even more by making it meatless.
@snowy22315 (62877)
• United States
2 Jun 08
The old box of mac and cheese could feed a family for under a dollar. you could add some canned vegs or cornbread to it. My family did not have alot of money when i was growing up. We ate rice alot when i was a young child. We used to have it for breakfast with brown sugar and milk. it was very tasty.