November 16, 2011

Living on $250 Food Assistance

One of my followers sent me an e-mail a few weeks ago.  I think about this person daily and pray for her situation.  She is out of work due to an injury - she is in a lot of pain.  This lady supports 3 teenagers and they receive $250 per month in food assistance.    She has become an Aldi shopper.

Here is what I would like to do over the next day or so, let's come up with some menus and recipes to help this lady stretch that $250 to the maximum (she is doing this).  I just think it would be nice if we were supporting her and others like her with some new recipes that they can use and benefit from. 

Feeding teenagers on a frugal budget is definitely a challenge.  Fortunately her children are very supportive of her and her situation.  They are real troopers. 


Anonymous said...

I will get some of my recipes together for her. Does she have a copy of amys book do you know?


joann said...

Hi What do you mean by "she has become an Aldi shopper"? Aldi is new to my area and I don't know much about them. Are you saying their quality is not the same as other grocery stores, or do only people with small food budgets shop there? Thank in advance for the info.

Anonymous said...

I won't be much help because most of my really cheap recipes come from my canning pantry. But I have ideas that she can use; I just don't have recipes. It's not so much the recipes, as the techniques to save money on the ingredients, such as getting cheap beef bones from a butcher, roasting and boiling them to make your own stck, then adding fresh veggies, which are pretty cheap most of the time.

Some of the things I make are:
Baked potato soup
Sloppy Joe Rice Casserole (1/2 pound beef, home made sauce from the internet)
Spaghetti with diced chicken breast (one breast can stretch to feed two or three people, add lots of veggies)
Any and all soups, but especially beans with a ham hock for flavor.
Breakfast for dinner

I am writing these down and thinking I am being insulting to her...hope not! There are so many ways to be frugal, but I don't know what she already I think I am being too simplistic.

If she has internet, she might want to check Clara's depression era cooking on you tube!. She especially highlights fried potatoes and onions with sliced hot dogs. That's one that makes me hungry every time!

I guess the key is stretching what you have. For example, you have a pound of hamburger. You dont' make hamburger patties because that is really wasteful. You make noodle casserole with part of the mean just to add flavor, and then maybe chili beans with the other half, again just flavoring with meat, not making meat the main focus.

I make a lot of pancakes and waffles and freeze them on cookie sheets and then stack them up in a plastic bag. You can have a short stack for a quarter!

I guess I would say it is really about changing how you think about meals, making meat a flavoring agent, not using cheese at all because of the cost, buying seasonal veggies, stretching with beans, rice and pasta...but I am pretty sure she knows that already!

Martha said...


I didn't mean for my statement to be derogatory, just that she hadn't shopped at Aldi much and now was shopping there because their products are of good value and good quality.

Our Aldi store closed in our town about 6 years ago and I definitely miss them. I shopped there all the time and only once did I got a product that I didn't like. Since they have a money back guarantee, I was able to return it and get my money back.

I shop store brands and generics all the time in our local stores.

Aldi sells their brand and you should give them a try. I shopped there when I was working full time and could "afford" to shop at another trendier store, but I couldn't bring myself to pay more money when I could get just as good quality at Aldi.

Give Aldi a try. Remember though, they do not take checks so you must carry cash or use your debit card. Also you have to sack your own groceries and if you need a cart, simply insert a quarter into a coin insert at the top of the cart and it will release the cart from it's stall. This is their way of people not stealing their grocery carts.

@ j:

A friend gave her all 3 of Amy's books.


She does bake her own bread and makes her own laundry soap. You have given her and the rest of my followers some great tips. I follow many of yours even though I don't get a chance to post many comments.

Kathy said...

Here are two easy menu items I can think of:)

1-homemade pizza. I make my own homemade pizza crust.I use the Pizza dough III recipe from Allrecipes. I double or triple the amount of dough and that way I can make multiple pizzas or calzones that night or save some dough for another night. I use spaghetti sauce as my sauce. It is much cheaper than pizza sauce. As for toppings; anything goes! I have found that cutting the cheese down is not a problem if I use lots of veggies or leftover meats.

2-Minestrone soup again homemade. I always start with boullion cubes in water and then add a chopped onion,a can of tomatoes, carrots, celery, zucchini, a can of kidney beans, a head of chopped cabbage and noodles for the last part of cooking. It makes a thick hearty soup and makes use of some of the cheaper veggies like onions, cabbage and carrots. Plus it is extra healthy:) You can serve it with homemade bread sticks from the pizza dough recipe above. Add parmesan cheese on top of the bread sticks and soup if desired. Hope this helps you:) Kathy

CTMOM said...

HI, I am feeding 3 teen boys and a college girl when she is home, as well as myself and Dh. My food budget is alot lower than what the US government suggests it should be, yet we eat nutritionally balanced meals that also are a variety. Some general thoughts (and I also LOVE Aldi's):
bfst: get several canisters of oats for hot cereal, oat topped seasonal fruit crisps, stretching ground meats.
fzn concentrate of OJ for vitamin C
large can of coffee
box of tea bags (brew your own and refrigerate "iced tea" for pennies
make your own Fr toast/waffles/pancakes
quarts of yogurt
eggs are still cheap protein: serve as is, in fritattas
use bfst meats as a condiment: a bfst/ham/sausage firtatta/Bisquick Impossible pie (homemade recipes on the 'Net)stretch that $4 meat to several meals
bake your own quick breads: pumpkin, banana, apple etc. use nuts sparingly, unless free. check out the reduced rack for fruits

lunch: homemade bread for sandwiches: fillings can be home roasted meats, marked down Deli ends, egg/tuna/chicken/turkey/devilled ham salads, PB& J
home made soup/leftovers for those at home
use refillable drink containers-no pouches/boxes
bake your own cookies/fruit breads
Dinner: use beans along with some meat; serve some vegetarian meals, crockpots help stretch meat dollars, too. Buy marked downs, use seasonal produce. Stock up NOW on check holiday turkey and hams. these go a LONG way!
BTW-can she access a food pantry? get a holiday food basket?
Please see my blog for many other suggestions:

Elizabeth said...

Poor Mans Soup
A can of tomato juice
two packages of beef ramon noodles (broken up)
package frozen mixed vegetables

Heat the tomato juice and mixed vegetables until near boiling. Add the beef ramon noodles as well as seasoning packs. Heat for another 10 minutes or so. It makes a huge pot of soup for about $2. Serve with bread or cornbread for a filling and cheap meal!

Debs said...

When I make my own pasta I top with a sauce I make from scratch - fry some onion and garlic, add herbs (I have a couple of basil plants on my window sill which I bought reduced and nursed back to life, one of them is almost 3 years old!). And then add a tin of tomatoes. I use the generic store brand and tend to buy the whole ones rather than chopped as they're a couple of pence cheaper, and every penny counts, right?!

Sharon said...

I'm so sorry she is in pain on top of being on food assistance. When you are in pain it's hard to be creative.

My FAVORITE food also happens to be the cheapest. Pasta, pasta and pasta. Delicious and nutritious and CHEAP.

Rose said...

Your readers have some great ideas. Stretching hamburger is one way to help your food dollar. With 4 lbs. of burger, you can make 5+ batches of 30 meatballs. 30 meatballs is usually double what my family of 4 will eat, so I generally can get
8-10 meals out of this recipe. You can find the recipe and serving suggestions at my blog here: