I’ll be speaking later this month (here in Las Vegas) on Eating for .40 a Day. If you’re interested, I’d love to see you there! This event is free to attend.

Tuesday, August 21st, 7:00 pm

Goldcrest Ward Relief Society Meeting

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

3350 Alexander, North Las Vegas (at the corner of Alexander and Ferrell)

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  1. How would your family like to take a little vacation to the lovely state of Arkansas? I would so love to meet you in person and hear you speak!

  2. I’m going to miss you by one day! Darn it, I would love to hear it. Maybe you could video tape it and put it on a youtube channel, if you don’t have one you should. You are amazing! I’ll be in your area August 22 – 24. I’ll drop you an email.

  3. I realize this does not have to so with this post. I was wondering if you might do a post on your homeschool, I for one glean a lot of info from your homeschool tab on your website, maybe you could update your readers as to where you are in your homeschool, the list you have put on your website of requirements for specific grade levels, is extremely helpful, so thanks for that. Take care. Sincerely, Kim

  4. I wish you would publish your speech here on your website. I’d LOVE to learn more about such frugal eating.

  5. I don’t write out a speech word for word; in fact I rarely teach with an outline anymore, as I continue to speak on this subject around town. It’s never quite the same, as the audience asks questions throughout the entire thing, which can often make it different.I will talk a lot about what I have written here on eating for less http://theprudenthomemaker.com/index.php/frugal-living/eat-for-less In fact, my talk will go much like that, with a few specifics about local prices and comparisons.Also, use my menus! They can give you great ideas on inexpensive meals!

  6. Hi!I use a lot of your meal planning ideas during the homeschooling year. Many of the ideas are helpful and my children help with making the meals.Thanks for sharing, Pat

  7. I’ve been reading your website for a long time and I’m confused. I’ve tried to figure it out and there is no way that I could feed my family for 40 cents per person each day unless we only ate oatmeal and beans and I would probably go over budget. Do you count the cost of gardening (water, dirt, seeds, plants, fertilizer, etc.) in the cost of your food? You’ve written about your high water bills and some of that water is going to produce food. All of your gardening costs for food should be counted in what it costs to feed your family.Are your only sources of food from your garden, what you have stocked in your pantry or the little that you buy here and there when you have some extra money? I just don’t see how it’s possible to eat on that amount of money, stock your pantry at the same time and have all those wonderful meals that you make. Lauren

  8. Lauren,I wish I could have you over for dinner some night! I wish I could have all of my readers over for dinner; it would be wonderful!Last year, I spent .40 per person per day for food. That’s $100 a month for food for my family. I balance less expensive meals with more expensive ones. For example, if I feed the family oatmeal, I’m out .22 for breakfast. If I make bean burritos that’s another super cheap meal. That allows for more expensive meals that cost $5. The $5 meals usually stretch out to 1-3 meals with leftovers. I make bread; I don’t buy it. At .25 a loaf it really cuts costs over buying bread.I have a large grass area in my yard which is where most of my water goes. I also have 8 people at home, around 22 loads of laundry a week, lots of bathing happening for everyone, LOADS of dishes, etc. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, to figure out exactly how much water goes to food, how much goes to grass, and how much goes to inside uses (even in the winter the grass has to be watered). I know that if I didn’t have fruit trees and vines I would be watering roses and flowering plums trees instead, so I would have exactly the same water bill even if I wasn’t growing food, so no, I do not count my water bill. I am thankful to have grass here (it is rare; a lot of people have rocks); it gives my children a place to play, and that helps to keep them healthy.I figure my seeds/garden plants in a different category than food, but I do not spend more than $120 a year in that category, including buying manure to add to my beds and a new pair of garden gloves each year. I do not count fertilizer since I went pretty crazy buying fertilizer over 8 years ago and I haven’t bought any since! I have used free deals to get dormant oil, so that cost me $0. I am working towards growing more heirloom and open-pollinated varities of vegetables so that I can elimate the cost of seeds entirely. Most of what I harvest is fruit. I have not done a cost amoritization over the years for my garden; I counted it when I put in the garden and I do not count the cost of my fruit trees every year. Obviously the first few years, my “costs” were higher, but as the years go on, the cost of maintaining a garden goes down. Also, a lot of seeds are good for many years, so I don’t have to buy all new seeds every year.We do eat a lot of oatmeal: 75 to 100 pounds a year, in fact. I buy it in bulk at $15.45 for 25 pounds. We eat a lot of beans, too; I pay a little under $18 for 25 pounds of beans.I glean whenever possible. There are a lot of opportunities to glean–even here in the desert. If you’ve been reading the comments that others have been making each week on the Frugal Accomplishments page, you’ll notice how many are canning from fruit that they’ve gleaned, be it tomatoes, apricots, plums, apples, or more. One of my readers cans hundreds of jars from gleaned food that she finds for free by looking at free listing on Craig’s List! I’ll bet many of your neighbors have extra zucchini right now that they would LOVE to share! Look for opportunities to glean, let people know that you’re willing to come pick fruit from their trees (some people buy a house with an apricot tree, there are 2 people living in the house, and they hate the fruit–or just can’t use it all. They would be thrilled to not have the mess if you came to pick it!) You’ll see that I mentioned last week that I had the opportunity to pick some peppers and tomatoes at a friend’s house last week. She is just inundated, and my plants are doing that well this year, so I took the opportunity to pick!

  9. Yes, I am stocking my pantry when I can shop. I don’t buy for fresh things every week. I’ll but to stock the pantry–oil, tomato sauce, pasta, beans, etc. I seek to ONLY buy when things are the lowest price. I analyze the cost of food to an annoying degree (just ask my husband!) I add up the cost of every meal, every day. I seek to make sure we’re not eating the more expensive meals too often. If I wasn’t continually looking for ways to cut costs, we would be on food stamps, and we are not.When I redid the website in January, I redid the menus. It took a long time, but it was neccesary. My old menus were no longer working for me. I couldn’t afford them. The new menus give a much better idea of what we’re having. Our primary sources of meat for the year are turkey (anywhere I use chicken I can use turkey) and ham, bought on sale in November and December. I don’t count the cost involved with having an extra freezer as part of my food costs, either (do you?) I used to look at Money Saving Mom’s budget of $40 a week for her family (including tolietries) and wonder how I could get my costs that low. We don’t have double coupons, so that elimnated all of the food and tolietries that she often got for free. We don’t have Aldi’s, so those low prices were out. Nevertheless, I needed to lower my costs, and so I worked to carefully analyze the costs of every meal, the best deals, etc. It took a few years to really figure out how to lower costs, because before we started living on our food storage and not shopping at all, we ate more expensive meals.A lot of people figure the cost of toliet paper by the cost per roll. You’ll get the better deal, however, if you figure the cost by the square feet. It’s that kind of thinking that helps you really cut costs. Use your calculator. Learn to eat differently. If eggs are $1.71 a dozen (a price I saw today) I don’t buy eggs. I’ll eat other things. I wait until they are .99 a dozen, and then I buy 13 dozen and stretch them out as far as I can.If you need to lower your costs, you can! It’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s doable.Start adding up the costs of what your family eats. Figure out the cheapest meals. Make those more often. Now figure out how to make them for less. Your faily will take time to get used to things. My husband hates soup, but he knows it is what we can afford, so he eats it. Some people will say that their husbands won’t go meatless. If you aren’t making enough to buy the food you want all the time, then you have to change what you are eating. Our tacos are always lentil tacos now. Sure, my husband would prefer them with beef, but it’s not in the budget.Work on not wasting food. I read a wonderful comment on Money Saving Mom once from a reader who said that she significantly lowered her food bills just by making sure to never let food go to waste. I think that is extremely important.It’s doable! It’s not easy, but it’s doable!

  10. “All of your gardening costs for food should be counted in what it costs to feed your family.”I politely and respectfully disagree with this statement. Only the family person setting up the budget and the budget costs for their own family can make that determination about what goes in a family budget such as the food costs category. A person could make a case for almost any category in a “regular” household budget that should be counted in food costs. For example, gasoline could be counted towards food costs if you are driving all over the place to get food deals. However I am not sure that would be logical when trying to calculate food costs. If I keep my category of gasoline seperated but see that I am using more gas to buy food supplies then I can weigh the cost of the extra gas against the savings I get from buying food at a lower cost at several stores. If all lumped together then I may miss the cost analysis of what gas costs and what food costs. However another family might find it makes sense to include gas costs to the food cost category.Sometimes a person may need a little more detail in their budget to look at the overall costs and the bottom line it is different for each family because each family has different bills, needs and resources.I feed a family of 5 for $50/week which I think is pretty darn good for right now. I am a single mom with lovely a child with special needs and 3 other lovely children. I go it alone with my family but we are happy and healthy so we are doing great. I have a small garden but the heat has really been hard on it. I find I save more money by making clothes, gifts, household products, washing and drying outside, and assessing my budget weekly if not more often. I try to cook regularly and make all our lunches to avoid paying for school lunches. I have several categories that I split my budget into that works for me and helps me when I do a cost analysis of where my money is going. My budget and budget categories work for my family but may not work for another family. Only each family can determine how to identify costs for themselves.

  11. I’ve done the calculating, and for our family it’s not possible. Not everyone is in the same circumstance as you are, so I think that idea that you can eat for 40 cents per person every day is not a reasonable one for most people. For instance, we can’t have a garden where we live and produce prices are quite high. Most people here do not have a garden and I don’t know anyone with extra produce to share. I do believe that water should be counted toward your food costs. It is helping to create the food, therefore it counts. The remark about the freezer, well, that’s just silly. So getting back to food prices: For example, lets say that I my husband and I want to eat an apple each for lunch. Well, at rock bottom prices apples cost about $1.00 a pound here. There are about 5 medium size apples per pound. So two apples cost .40. That’s the amount that you say you can feed one person each day. Another example. I want to make a salad for dinner. The cheapest head of lettuce is 90 cents, then throw in a couple of tomatoes (50 cents), two carrots (20 cents) and some homemade salad dressing (20 cents). That is $1.80 just for that salad. Just the two apples and the salad are over what would be the daily cost amount for our family at 40 cents per person. And that doesn’t even cover one meal for us.I don’t buy boxed cereal and expensive processed foods. We eat real food, as in real butter, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, rice, oats, nuts, etc. We don’t have any cheap grocery stores like Aldi or double coupon options either.I admire Mavis whose goal is to grow 2,000 pounds of food. She states her gardening costs on her blog. Up until this point, her gardening costs and her amount of produce has cost her $2.62 per pound, which isn’t cheap. It will probably come down as she produces more but I don’t know that it will end up being truly cheap. And again, that is not possible for me or for a lot of people.Unless we ate nothing but oats, beans and rice, we couldn’t eat for 40 cents per person unless we were getting some outside assistance of some kind.Lauren

  12. Lauren,I have already explained why I do my budget the way I do. I will not rehash how impossible it would be to figure out what water goes to what in my household.Food prices of course will vary where you live. You have to do the best that YOU can do. If your best is $2 a day per person, that’s wonderful!In your example above, I would suggest that you look at buying carrots at a lower price. I buy a 5lb bag of carrots at Sam’s Club for .39 a pound. Carrots are typically one of the cheapest vegetables out there. Some grocery stores carry bigger bags for a better price. I used to pay $1 a pound for carrots, or even .50 a pound. What I’m saying is, be open to finding new lower prices for things. It’s not always at the store you think is the cheapest.Most gleaning I do is from total strangers. Like I stated above, one of my readers finds hundreds of pounds of produce to can (she literally cans hundreds of jars) just by searching on Craig’s list. She’s not getting it from people she knows.A little note on growing tomatoes. I won’t get enough to can, but it is much more than what I spent to grow them. I also won’t buy tomatoes this year. When tomato season is over, we’ll eat something else. When I was buying tomatoes, I was spending a LOT more on food, because we love tomatoes. So, if you’re buying tomatoes, and lettuce, of course you’re going to spend more.If you are in a place where you can grow a couple of pots of food, you could grow lettuce and tomatoes, both of which give you a GREAT return for your money. If you can’t have a pot (apartment with no balcony, for example), you can look into growing them hydroponically. Lettuce is SUPER cheap to grow. If a $3.50 packet of lettuce seeds only yields 5 heads of lettuce, you’re breaking even. Most packets that price contain 750 seeds. You can get a packet of about 200 seeds of lettuce for $1.29 at Target, Walmart, etc. in the spring. Yes, you’ll need to buy dirt and a pot or water and a container the first year, but you won’t every year after that. Like many things, there is an upfront cost (canning, sewing, etc.) but you recoup it after a few years.Also, Mavis’s gardening costs are very high. Most people I know spend about $25 on seeds a year. Chance are that she is going to have a LOT of leftover seeds from what she bought this year.In 2010, I spent $0.70 per person per day. I had to lower it and I did more gleaning in 2011. It’s not my ideal amount. I think triple that amount would be a better regular budget for my family ($9 a day, or $300 a month on food). I would eat a lot more of what I WANTED to eat at that price. But right now, this is where we’re at.

  13. I think we all have to remember that everyone’s situation is different. Prices vary greatly by area as do circumstances. I live in CT where prices tend to be a lot higher than most other parts of the country. My stores do double but with the higher price tag, most times it’s still too expensive. My husband and I just bought our first house last August and there was a large cost for us to put in a garden. We built 7 raised beds that we had to fill with dirt and had to buy seeds and plants on top of it. But, we won’t ever have to incur those same costs again. I could add them to this years grocery budget breakdown but I chose not to. Same way Brandy chooses not to add in her water costs. If you sewed, would you add in the price of electricity to the garment you were making? The point she’s trying to make is that YOU need to decide how your family is going to save money. She’s not telling you to do things exactly how she does-but if you took away one idea, that’s one idea closer to a lower budget. Maybe you could check with your community and see if they have a garden? Do any of your friends or family have a small outdoor space you could put some pots in? Do you have a balcony where you live? If so, you could try “vertical” gardening. Most of us don’t have acres of farmland in which to devote to gardening, but I’m sure if you thought on it, you could figure something out. Brandy’s yard is less than a 1/4 acre and she is able to grow more things just by using what she has available and thinking outside the box. Eating on 40¢ per person, per day isn’t easy but with a little ingenuity it can be done. The hard part may be doing it when there’s money in your pocket. Instead of thinking about reasons why you can’t do it, maybe think of some ways you can!

  14. You need to add a “Like” button. I totally agree, Brandy! I don’t think it is appropriate for Lauren to essentially say that you are making this up. I have followed your recipes, and they are good and they don’t cost much. You just can’t decide to have a salad with tomatoes and carrots and lettuce if it costs that much. You have to choose something else that costs less. I think that is the piece of this that Lauren is missing. Also, I saw a post on Pinterest showing how you can grow carrots in a 2 liter bottle with the top 1/3 cut off and the kids can watch the carrots grow, since the 2 liter bottle is clear. So you don’t even need a pot!Allison

  15. I look to this website and your info to Inspire me to do better. To rethink what I am doing and how I am doing it. I assume that your intention with sharing so much info so freely is NOT to tell everyone that they aren’t as good as you if they don’t do all of the same things…)! As intelligent beings, and stewards of the resources we have available – it is our responsibility to choose those ideas that work for our homes and families and to also share. Not to feel like this is a contest or we are being critiqued for who we are and what we do. My husband and I are now Empty Nesters – so our needs & abilities are different from yours. But I still LOVE to get ideas from you! Thank you for sharing so generously….

  16. What I hope that others realize is that if they are also facing a severe income cut–as we have done–that they can make it work on less. If you have more to spend, wonderful! I would spend more on food if we had it! But, if we don’t, we can still have wonderful meals. The point of teaching to others is exactly that–to inspire–so that others who may be feeling like they don’t have enough money to buy food can do so. One reader wrote to me recently that she and her husband, though unemployed, were able, using recipes and ideas from my site, to stretch the last tiny amount of money that they had left (and it was TINY) to last for several months until he had a job again, and that by so doing, they were able to avoid going on food stamps, which was something they had hoped to never do. THAT is the hope that I hope others take, and learn that they can make do on less, and not feel depreived at all!

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