My @Quora answer to How can you eat healthy (in the US) if you only have $300 for groceries per month and 4 people t… http://qr.ae/Rp3zX9 (see original link for missing pix)
It’s actually simple and fairly easy to eat on $300 a month or so for 4 people. The key is that you need to do ALL your cooking yourself. No premade, heat and eat, anything.
Example: We’re a family of three and I do 90% of the food shopping for us. We run $200 many months and $300 a few. Some months we buy nothing but fresh veggies and eggs (<$100).
Get a freezer.
Learn to can food and get a pressure canner.
Get a vacuum packager.
Change how you think about food to a cost per serving basis rather than a convenience (instant meal) basis. Instant meals are insanely expensive per serving. As an example two small servings of decent chili is over $4.50 now. I make our chili from scratch in big batches (2 to 3 gal.) Can it in quarts and we have the best chili you can buy for less than $1 a serving.
Buy your staples in bulk. Pasta, brown rice, beans, olive oil, canned tuna, canned chicken, pasta sauce, ham steaks, bacon, chicken tits or tenders, cheese blocks, olives, pepperoncini, etc. are all available at Costco for less than half of retail. I get 12 pounds of whole brown organic rice for $14 or so… that's over 6 months worth at less than 1/2 of the $2.69/pound retail in our area. Cheddar cheese we pay $15 for a 5 pound block of cheese that at retail is closer to $5 per pound then we divide it, vacuum pack the cuts and use it over a few months.
Spices: Keep a WELL stocked spice cabinet because with spices you can take any foundation foods and go anywhere with it. Plus they're GOOD for you as well as being tasty!
Here's a well stocked spice cabinet.
Those big jars up top are the ones we use a lot of and they're typically $10 to $14 where a 2 to 3 oz. Jar at retail is $4 to $7. That saffron in the bottom front was $20 for an amount that would have been over $45 at retail.
Yes, it takes time and effort to get there, in the interim, whilst stocking spices, get them at a Chinese or Mexican market. These are often great places to get meats too.
Here's another example of shifted thinking:
This holdover of a prior life was $3.50 or so (plus veggies)
It claims to serve 4 while it actually serves 2 (barely) IRL.
For the same $ plus a few misc. Spices and some sautéed veggies I can build two of these, throw in some sautéed veggies and feed 8 to 12 easily.
Yes folks, that's 36 oz of pasta for less than the cost of 7 oz! If I'm feeling expansive I can julienne or dice a ham slice at $4 and top the servings. Bringing us to $7.50 per 8 generous, decadent, servings ($0.94 per) vs. $3.50 per 2 smallish, edible, servings ($1.25 per).
As an object lesson this is what 1ea 17.5 oz (500g) bag of pasta looks like after 2 people are very well fed from it.
That container is about 8 cups volume and I could fit perhaps one more cup in it. There's another 3 to 4 servings easily, more if it's served with fruit or bread on the side.
Total cost for this nice batch of yum was about half an hour and about $3.00 at 6 servings so… $0.50 per serving.
I'll admit to cheating a bit as the cucumber and peas were grown here.
Here's 1/3 of another cheap and decadent meal for three:
The base is 2 potatos, a stalk of celery, a shallot, and some reserved bacon grease with 4 eggs. Total cost per serving is less than half the price of a Sausage McMuffin "meal" (which is $2.79 here)
Kiss my ass Betty Crocker!