Home economics

Two years ago I lived on a very tight budget. I’d been let go from a consulting job and was working part-time at a local farm (see January 2010 posts). I had student loans and rent and a whole lot of worries. During this period I lived on a $20/week budget  for all groceries. I did it and did it well, never really feeling like I was terribly deprived and only once eating Ramen noodles. I ate healthy, satisfying meals – or dinners at least.

Today I am again living on a tight budget. I have a wonderful full-time job in a field I love. I am not as burdened with the immediate financial worries as I once was, but it doesn’t mean that I have forgotten the lessons learned either. I’m back to having a very low grocery budget – $30/week. This may blow some minds but as I said all those years ago – it just takes some planning and some know how. I’ve realized that know how is a rare commodity in today’s world.

Question: Do you know what to do with a whole chicken?

I ask because a $5.00 chicken ($4.92 to be exact) has provided me with a week’s worth of meals.

Sunday I roasted it on a bed of potatoes, onions, carrots and celery. I put the meat aside in containers for later use.

Monday I had chicken salad and crackers for lunch while the carcass boiled away in a large pot to make stock (click for recipe). And for dinner I had cream of tomato soup (below) with grilled cheese.

Tuesday’s lunch was left over roasted veggies with about 1/4 c. of shredded chicken and dinner was a quick saute of the final roasted veggies, 1/2 c. of chopped chicken and frozen green beans.

Today is leftovers from last night for lunch and a piping hot bowl of chicken and rice soup for dinner.

Thursday will be leftover soup for lunch and chicken parm pasta for dinner.

Friday will be more soup for lunch and, well, dinner hasn’t been decided yet.

One chicken has provided me with all these meals plus many more. I have 3 quarts of stock still in the freezer and that’s not counting the 2 I have in the fridge waiting for tonight’s soup. I have one serving of tomato soup and 3 servings of diced chicken in the freezer too. And after tonight’s soup I’ll have another 2 servings of that tucked in the freezer as well.

And no, I am not sick of chicken… yet…but I won’t be doing a repeat next week – that featured food is yet undetermined. Careful planning, creative menus and know how – that’s how this single girl is happily living on one tiny (but delicious) budget.

Quick and easy tomato soup (2 servings)

1/4 c. finely diced onion

1 c. tomato sauce

2 c. chicken stock

1/4 c. heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a sauce pan saute onions in 2 tsp. olive oil until translucent.
  2. Stir in tomato sauce and let cook 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Turn heat to low and stir in cream. Let cook for another minute or two or until soup comes back up to temp.


Filed under Basics, Day to day, Food

3 responses to “Home economics

  1. Laura

    Dry beans can go a long way too. 🙂

    • Thought of my veggie friends when I wrote it! Was going to do a follow-up on cheap veggie alternatives, beans a good idea…dry white beans from Tammara with tomatoes and grated cheese, hummus, charna, veggie chili, greens and beans…Yum!

  2. I’ve done a similar thing except I fed myself and 2 kids on $75/week and that’s with packing their lunches for school everyday. We didn’t eat much Ramen either, but we sure ate a lot pasta!

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