This blog is dedicated to all of us college students out here. Grad and Undergrad…
It’s Friday and pay day for a lot of people out there. One exciting fact about payday is the reality of having mo’ money in yo pockets than the day before. The other depressing part of pay day for the responsible worker is paying bills. We know that as soon as we get paid we better pay our bills that night online or in person that day because the money will literally burn a hole in our pockets…
Maybe that hasn’t happened to any of you all but it definitely happens to me.
Now for whatever your reasons for not having a lot of money are I have come to the conclusion that you can survive and make it until the next payday with $40 spent on groceries.
Tough times call for desperate measures and $40 is not comfortable to live off of for two weeks and it will definitely hurt your “going out” spirit but discipline will keep you from over spending and will allow you to stay current on that damn T-mobile bill that seems to come out every other week.
So for starters $40 is the budget for two weeks on food. You have several options…
A. Spend it all on groceries
B. Spend it all on fast food/restaurants
C. Split between the two
D. Spend it on drinks….die of starvation and be a trending topic on twitter.
I haven’t the slightest idea of where you could eat for two weeks with $40 bucks total… So scratch that… if you have an idea that won’t kill you (value-menus) comment below. Splitting is just inefficient in my mind so spending it all on groceries is the only option left where you don’t die so A:
This strategy has worked best for me through 5.5 years of college and I have NEVER resorted to eating Ramen, Top Ramen or any variation of that crap. This line of thinking will allow you to keep some sort of healthy diet without too much compromised. Okay let’s begin…
**Since we are buying groceries you must have the basic skills of cooking or you may have to resort to top ramen; SMH but REMEMBER THIS IS A SACRIFICE time frame…**
First—BREAKFAST: You have to eat something to start the day… It will increase your metabolism and keep you fit during this rough patch. I recommend shopping for Hearty grains…
Your best (friend) here is OATMEAL. You may not like it, you may love it, like I do but you definitely need it. Oatmeal is an extremely healthy carb, source of vitamins and minerals and is one of the few foods that make your stomach work harder than normal to digest causing you to lose a few more calories than you take in by consumption. Not only does it help in digestion it keeps you fuller throughout the day as well. Excellent source of fiber which will let you drop it like it hot too…
The big plus with oatmeal is the generic oatmeal is roughly 1.99 or less for large quantities. GO GENERIC… they’re just OATS.
Another option for breakfast foods is bananas… Packed with potassium and good vitamins it will keep you balanced in the morning and can dress up the boring oatmeal. They also have the same filling benefit of oatmeal, so if you eat it at 8am it will keep you full until lunch. Plus this may be your only “fruit” option for the entire two weeks so plan accordingly.
Secondly—LUNCH: This is the most dreaded of all meals because you usually overspend for it and it is rarely healthy or as fulfilling as it looks from waiting in line. During this rough patch for two weeks you will need to pack a lunch via leftovers from home or a quick lunch you made specifically for work.
Your new best friend TUNA…
This little can of fishy goodness CAN stink to high heaven but save you from disaster during the lunch date…
Partner Tuna with pasta, bread or crackers to get by
… saltines are usually the cheapest, loaves of bread can last two weeks but I recommend pasta. Pasta fills you better than anything else I’ve said. It can fill you up and your stomach may take a bit longer to process it than it would bread or crackers.The best pasta that’s most fulfilling is mostacolli or rigatoni idk it just works out like that. Plus it’s a cheap tuna salad… cmon tuna salad with crackers now that’s living… until day 4 then its misery but leftovers from the night before can be interchanged to break up the monotony. TUNA
is great because it is between .45 to .69 cents a can… You shouldn’t eat more than a can per day… remember this isn’t binge eating trying to get glutoniously full but something to get you by. This is Until you can really really shop for food… But Tuna is a healthy fat, high in omega fatty acids, and a great source of lean protein.
Thirdly—Dinner: This meal will be the most expensive and will need to hold you over until morning because quite frankly you cannot EAT like you want and that third serving of whatever you made cannot be eaten.
Just a heads up but this meal needs to be able to last three days AT LEAST or it isn’t going to work. No 1 night only meals, no “HEY I made tacos everyone come over and eat”… No this meal needs to hold YOU down even when you’re sick of it because money is tight and so are favors from friends tryna buy you dinner.
Luckily you have several best friends for this meal option.
Best Friend #1 Potatoes…
You need this very semi-unhealthy food to help you get by. The skin from the potatoes will do wonders for your diet and will keep you healthier than before. There is a benefit to potatoes as they do provide tons of starch which is essential to bodily functions of energy reserves. One downside is… There is enough starch in 1 potato to light a light bulb (you remember science)… You don’t need all of that starch for the day but you will when it gets close to day 10 and other items are running out. Another great thing about potatoes
is that they can be prepared in a number of ways, FRIED, BAKED, MASHED, SAUTEED, Micro-waved, GRILLED, you name it… you can do it… LOL Never pay more than $5 for a 10lb bag.
Best Friend #2 RICE…
This option is a lot healthier than potatoes and gives you more freedom when preparing your meats but it does contain a lot of carbs and sugars so it isn’t the best thing (for diabetics) in the world but definitely an upgrade from potatoes. Rice is culturally relevant as well; there are millions of ways to prepare rice depending on your ethnic background. Plus rice can be eaten in the morning, lunch-time and for dinner. So a five pound bag of rice is a must. The downside to rice is it requires some skill when cooking if you do not have a rice cooker. You could easily mess up a whole pot of rice by over-cooking, under-cooking or forgetting its’ there and starting a fire with lid still on it. So when preparing rice follow directions carefully and do not under any circumstances leave that pot lid on the rice…unattended… I’ve seen kitchens blackened because of a bad pot of rice. Never pay more than $2.20 for a bag of rice unless it’s a five pound bag…
Best Friend #3 Beans & Frozen Veggies
Beans are wonderful and last forever. You should find a bean that you like something you can rock with for at least 3 days. I grew up off of southern cooking so all beans are a go for me. I can add them to some rice; eat them plain with some seasoning or with cornbread. Either way I’m an all go. Beans do require minimal skill in the kitchen as you cannot really mess them up. It is very hard to over cook them but if you sample them under-cooked you can tell. Never pay more than $1.70 for a 1lb bag.
I added frozen veggies to the mix because they’re healthier and you get more compared to canned veggies. Plus veggies, especially dark veggies will help you digest a lot of them extra carbs from the potatoes and rice. I prefer frozen spinach or collards…
Broccoli is great but you never get enough in a bag and its usually all stems not leaf. Spinach and collards will keep you uber regular so plan your evenings accordingly when eating these leafy green morsels of goodness. Never pay more than $2 for a bag should be closer to a dollar fifty.
DO NOT… BUY
Remember this is a sacrifice period. Your behind is drinking water… JUICe, POP, WATER may all be tempting but you cannot afford to pay for liquid. TRUST I’ve made the mistake of buying cranberry-grape juice for 3.49 and it was not worth it… but taste so good..smh
DESSERTS n Snacks…
IF YOU buy desserts and things are seriously tight for two weeks… you have more issues than the $40 squeeze..
Snack food is exactly that… a snack… you don’t have the budget to snack on fruit snacks, twizzlers, granola bars and other goodies like bowls of cereal. TRUST they cost more than they’re worth at this point.. I’ve been there. When you are hungry that lone granola bar will NOT cut it when you need some food in your system.
Keep DAIRY off lists…
Dairy products go by too fast, MILK especially is gone after 4 days of good cereal eating if not sooner. Plus it costs between 3.30 to 4.50 for a gallon… That is too much for something that will only last 4 days for a select few items. Cheese no matter how much we love it is a luxury, unless you plan on making mac n cheese from scratch… this my friend is a luxury. Butter… maybe…depending on costs because it is needed for potatoes, rice and other things if you want them to be lively. I say no butter but it’s your $40 not mine.
DO NOT BUY CITRUS FRUIT…
The cost-benefit of fruit is not worth it, especially with bags of apples and oranges ranging from 3.99 and higher for quality products… you will spend an 1/8 of your budget on something that only fills you up for 20 minutes max… At least for me… Plus they spoil FAST depending on shelving and prices that are too low to be true are usually the ones a few days from turning all white and fuzzy.
Now I bet you are asking what about meat…. I’m no vegan or anything close I love my animals but they are the most expensive items on the docket. You have to use serious discretion when purchasing meats. Some of the places around here have the 5 for 19.99…. Those meats aren’t the best but they can do wonders depending on your cooking skills.
I recommend spending no more than 20 bucks on meat total… That’s half of your budget but its real out here for meat lovers like myself. You should stay away from expensive meats…of course… but it will take some thinking. I purchase ground hamburger meat, sandwich meat or pork…
— I empathize for the muslim, jewish and non-pork eaters out there because it is usually the cheapest of meats but it is high in sodium and fat but if cooked correctly it could be leaner than normal.
Also I didn’t mention eggs because a lot of people don’t eat them ironically but they are great for breakfast and can help to substitute for oatmeal some days. You could get a large pack of 24 or 48 for fairly cheap, between 2 and 5 bucks. Eggs help you feel fuller longer and if you eat two eggs for breakfast with a small portion of oatmeal and a banana you will be full well past noon but hunger will come strong around 2.
BUT ENOUGH SAID… Where’s the proof!
To give an example of what a shopping list looks like for someone who spends only $40 on groceries to last 14 days until the next payday I have recently gone shopping with only $40 to my name and have the receipt for proof. This is not a hoax but some RNS. The entire reason I wrote this blog was based on the situation I am in. I have done this for many years on many occasions because of tight situations but this time was out of choice.
< —- Can y’all see it? Proof. Lol
**Tidbit.. My list will differ from yours because I know what I can eat and how to ration things out for a while. I don’t need much variety and I already had oatmeal at the crib but this is how it is done… It sucks but it is possible to live this life until next pay period.**
I hope this helps someone or gives you something to think about when budgeting for groceries. Be economical in your decision making when grocery shopping. Coupons can really lighten the load of buying full price. Also paying attention to sales and other shopping incentives can put a boost in your basket. Take time to do things right and above all things BE thankful when you do have excess money because many times we struggle or are down to $40 bucks for two weeks because we over spent or did some dumb ish the previous paycheck.
But until next time squares…
Mr. LOS aka Private Theory
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