About gDonna
The photo is my son and myself. Now days you can get a photo made to look old like this one. This photo was taken when this was the new look.

Harry S Truman was president when I was born and world war II had ended. I grew up in a time when lunch was put in a brown paper bag and a sandwich was wrapped with wax paper. There was no such thing as pantyhose, we wore stockings that attached to the rubbery clippy things that attached to the girdle. Convenience stores were not common and when we took a trip we packed a picnic basket because many places did not have fast food. Highways had places to pull over and stop, some with picnic tables. Read more ....

Donna's Diary Posts

My Favorite Blog and Books
Recent Posts

Food Budget

February 27, 2013

Food that is simple and warm and made with your own hands can nourish your family in more ways than you can imagine.

This page is dedicated to the visitors on my website asking about food budgets.  Many people are struggling to buy food.
After much consideration and thought I came to the conclusion that there is no way I can tell you what food to buy for a budget because food prices change and seasons change and everyone has a different pallet and many have food allergies.  I will try and do a page just to address the allergies but for now I need to stay on track with a typical food budget and hope that something that I say will help.
I could easily do a page on organic foods and how to eat healthy but when you cannot afford organic food and you are barely getting by, we must modify a bit..
So once again let us go back to basics and stay within budget, this should help considerably.
I have something that is troubling me and I must get off my chest. I saw on the news that in the USA people spend only between 9 to 14% of their income on food.  Who came up with this?  If you go out and buy a few groceries and your total is $40.00 and your paycheck is $1,000.00 a week then this was 4% of your pay, If you make $200.00 a week and you spent $40.00 this is 20% of your pay.  The person that makes little must starve to stay within this insane average someone has figured.
Back in time people did not have the selections of food we have these days.  Food was quite different and families ate less varieties. A very common dish may have been stew and it was eaten often. But that stew was different from the stew we know today because people went out and hunted for their meats. Like it or not, the way it really was when I was growing up is my father would go hunting and bring back game for us to eat. It was very common then for many meals to come from hunting.  We ate rabbit, squirrel, doves, quail, deer, turtle, frog legs and fresh caught fish.  This is just the way it was back then. 
I have a small closet pantry.  In that pantry is a small section we built in for fresh produce.
So what is one to do in this day and time?
First make everything you can from scratch and buy your vegetables that are in season and try to buy foods that are grown without heavy pesticides.
You need certain staples on hand so you can make many different foods.  If you are on a very limited food budget you really need to work these items into your pantry and refrigerator so you can stay on your budget. 
I am going to put a list of foods that are a must in my home to be able to cook all our meals at home. We do not eat out because it is too expensive and that money can go further buying real non processed items.
Somehow, pull the money together to buy your staples because you need them. If I did not have the items listed below we would be spending a lot more money on groceries. If I did not have the money I would actually sell something to have enough money to get my staples built up in my kitchen. If there is nothing to sell then each week try and add an important staple.  Because once you have your staples you can start saving on your grocery bill.
This was our family Thanksgiving meal, pie included
This is the most important thing I will say,
If you can pull it together to do this one thing it would help a lot and that is to buy groceries once a month.  A dear friend taught me this.  Back when my children were young  my dear friend Sally would always have dinner on the table at 5:00 Sharp.  If her children were over at my house they knew when it was time to go home. She always had something such as a casserole and a very decent meal.  She only shopped once a month and I simply did not know how she did this because rarely did she ever go out and buy anything extra. They had a certain night for lasagna and a certain night for chicken.  So I asked Sally how did she do this?. She knew what meals she was going to cook and what day she would serve these meals so she knew what ingredients she needed to buy for that once a month shopping.  She even planned for church events and covered dishes.  She planned for that extra dish to make to carry to a sick friend or a death in the family. She knew when she would make a birthday cake or even a wedding cake. Sally was just that organized even down to that bowl of pudding. She froze milk and butter and other foods.  The family ate what she cooked and there was no special preparation for a finicky eater because back then the children did not boss the parents and this is the way it should be today.
If you sit down with a calendar and write down each day what you are going to cook and truly stick to this then you will know how much to buy. If you look at your recipes and something calls for a cup of flour or a stick of butter, maybe three eggs etc then write that down.  When you have all the meals planned out you will know how much of each item you need.  The family will know when the meals are ready and will be there if this is their only option to eat. Today families are all over the place and involved in many activities. It is a parents responsibility to keep this in check and work around meal time and meal preparation time. Otherwise you will end up in the fast food lane spending way too much and eating unhealthy food.
Once the pasta is cooked this can feed a hungry bunch
I will post recipes but at this point I want to take you through the basics. If you have a very limited budget you may ask yourself reading through this list "How will I be able to afford all of this?”  You might not be able to buy all of these items but this is what works for me to save money.  We have more money to spend on real food because we never buy potato chips, cookies, candy, sodas or junk. We make our own snacks if we have them but generally we do not desire snacking because we stay full from our real food meals. I will list recipes for snacks. Some of your extra money will come from what you are not buying.
Grandma Donna's No bake chicken pot pie, using leftover biscuits.
I am going to list the 4 flours I keep.  If you can only afford one buy all purpose. If you are truly serious about making all your meals at home, these 4 flours will be very helpful.
All Purpose Flour (for gravies, breading, homemade pastries etc)
Self Rising Flour (Optional but makes very good biscuits and cobblers)
Wheat Flour (to make delicious flat breads and bread)
Bread Flour (optional, I prefer to use bread four for my bread)
Very important staples
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Sugar (Limited)
Sweet Potatoes
Greens in season
Root vegetables such as Turnip roots and Rutabagas
Bell pepper (they have become quite pricey but in the summer a better price) You can easily grow your own bell peppers in a simple garden pot or bucket with holes in the bottom.
I try and keep bananas and a few lemons and then we buy a few apples and oranges etc. It just depends on the season and fruit available and price.
I keep small 6 packs of applesauce in the pantry because the small ones help me to not waste.  I use them for cooking.
Canned pineapple
Buttermilk (If you do not have buttermilk in the fridge then add 1 Tablespoon and ¼ teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to one cup of milk, stir and set aside for a few minutes.  It will be a good substitute for buttermilk.
We don’t use a lot of milk so I buy the shelf stable milk that comes in 8 ounce pouches.  This has saved us a lot on wasting milk.  We do use buttermilk for making biscuits and pancakes and we keep small buttermilk in the fridge.
other foods
Other important food to keep in the house
Olive oil. The only oil we use because it saves us money even though it costs more.  We use it for many things such as oil and vinegar dressing, breads, cooking, hummus and more.  It is our all in one oil.
Pasta (Angel Hair, macaroni, lasagna)
Canned tomatoes
Canned green beans
Canned cream style corn ( I use in a delicious one pot dish)
Canned olives (I know you may think that olives are a splurge but it will help as you will see)
Cream of Wheat
In the freezer
Lima Beans
Meats of your choice and can afford. We slice our meat into small portions to stretch it further and keep these portions in the freezer.
The two meats we try and keep in the freezer is Chicken and ground beef so we can make easy meals.
Would be helpful when afforded
Canned Salmon
Canned Tuna
I buy very little processed foods but at times I will purchase Hotdogs (nitrate free) bologna and Spam for something quick in a pinch.
I separate the hotdogs and the bologna and wrap them individually and keep them in the freezer so we can take out one at a time.
This article is still basically under construction but I am going to post it anyway and make changes and add on as I go just to get it up since I am having requests. 
I will list recipes individually but here there are two recipes that can feed a small or large family at a very reasonable price.
Chicken and dumplings is a meal that has been cooked far back in time.  Dumplings are so easy to make and depending where you live the dumplings are drop dumplings or rolled and sliced dumplings.  Some are square and some are thin or wide strips.  It depends on what you prefer but the main things here is that this is a meal that will nourish you and fill your stomach.  Dumplings are good to stretch a meal and you can put them in other dishes such as stews.  This will help to stretch a meal and it does not make you feel you are being cheated.  It is good enough to make memories and pass down from generation to generation.
Drop dumplings are probably the easiest dumplings of all and all I do is use our homemade southern biscuits recipe and just drop some into the boiling broth. The biscuit recipe is posted on a page on this website but I will repost this recipe here to be used for the drop dumpling.
1 Cup self rising flour
2 Tablespoons butter
Small amount buttermilk
Put the flour in a bowl and using your fingers rub the butter into the flour until crumbly.
Add enough buttermilk to make the dough look like cottage cheese.  Then drop the dumplings into the broth.
It may be best to view my recipe page to see how this is done.  Just click here
For rolled and cut dumplings
2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. butter
3/4 c. buttermilk
Add the salt and baking powder to the flour then cut the butter into the flour. I usually just use my hands to fiddle with the butter and flour until it is worked in with  my fingertips.  Now add the buttermilk.  Roll out the dough on a well floured board. You want it to be fairly thin.  Cut into small strips or squares and drop a few at a tie into the bubbling chicken broth. Turn down the temperature and cover the pot and cook on low for about 20 minutes. You do not need to stir very much.  
A good side dish is cooked carrots or some greens.
1947 our family favorite dish Pate Chinois
Another good dish is Pate Chinois and it is such an easy and very tasty dish.
For three people
1 pound ground beef
6 medium size potatoes
One can of creamed style corn
½ onion chopped
A small amount of milk and butter.  If you don’t have milk and butter you can still make this dish.
First peel and cut up your potatoes. Boil the potatoes until done to make mashed potatoes.  When you boil the potatoes and drain them you can save the potato liquid to add in another dish or use the liquid when mashing the potatoes if you do not have milk and butter.  If you have a dairy allergy you can also add chicken stock to make mashed potatoes.
Brown your ground beef in a skillet and then add chopped onion and cook until onion is just a bit cooked. 
You are going to layer this dish in a oven proof pot or oven proof deep dish. Place the cooked meat and onions in the bottom of the pot. Add the can of cream style corn then on top of the corn add the mashed potatoes.  Put in at 350 degree oven and bake for about 30 minutes or so and until bubbly around the sides.  If the pot is full you may need to put something under it to prevent it from bubbling over.  This is a very easy dish to make.

Comment on this article

Would you like to make a comment or view comments on this article?
Visit the comments section in the new discussion forum!

This article has 1 comment


NEW! Join the mailing list to get email notifications when new articles are posted to our site.

Your information is safe with us and won't be shared.

Thank you for joining! 

You were sent an email to confirm your subscription to our mailing list.
Please click the link in that email to confirm or you won't be added.
If you have not received the email within a few minutes please check your spam folder. 

Loading More Photos
Scroll To Top
Close Window