No Food? What to Eat When You're Broke!
Okay, so most of us who have been really poor have hit the moment when there's nothing to eat. Well, here are some ideas for how to get FULL!
I know when you have only $3 left to your name and you are hungry, it can be very easy to pull up to that dollar menu and get a quick fix. That is fine as long as you don't have electricity or running water. If you do, however, have bills to pay and mouths to feed, think long run not quick fix, and go to the grocery store.
Grocery Stores Are Cheaper Than Drive-Thrus
Yes, it's true, you can get a cheap meal at McDonalds, but it's sometimes cheaper and always healthier to cook yourself.
And most grocery stores sell good ole meat, right? What's better than a good steak or a nice hamburger? (Good luck finding a cheap vegetarian meal at McDonald's.) If you are just feeding yourself or you and one other person, then go to the meat market. They will cut or weigh out exactly how much you want. If ground beef is on sale for $2.99 a pound, get 1/2 a pound and grab some $1 buns. Or you can buy a $1 pack of hot dogs and a $1 pack of buns along with a cheap can of chili. There are so many cheap options at the grocery store that will feed you for longer than that tiny burger at the drive through would. Remember these guidelines:
- Always look at the house brand, which is usually cheaper.
- Compare the unit price to see if buying in bulk is cheaper.
- Watch for items that are on sale!
Free Stuff at the Grocery Store: If you live near a Whole Foods Mart you need to make a trip in there. Not to buy food (they are notoriously overpriced) but because they have enough samples to fill anyone. Take several tasting tours around the store if you need to. Most grocery stores offer free cookies near the bakery. If you happen to have children, make a snack time a trip to every grocery store around your town. If you have an Ingles in your area, they have free popcorn for kids at the movie department.
Do you only eat healthy food? Good for you. Bags of carrots, kiwis, potatoes, and other fruits and veggies are affordable. A bag of dried beans can feed a family for days.
Below, you'll find a shopping list of cheap foods. Not all of us only eat perfectly healthy food, so I have included many options, including some healthy ones, on this list.
According to the US Department of Agriculture's annual hunger report, more than 17 million American households don’t have enough food for an active, healthy life.
List of 35 Cheap Foods to Eat When You're Broke
- Bread (full loaf under $2 in most places)
- Sliced cheese (not Kraft)
- Noodles (5 packs $1 Dollar Tree)
- Rice ($1 or less for a bag in many places)
- Vienna sausages
- Peanut butter
- Beans or lentils
- Pork 'n' beans
- Canned chili
- Carrots (great with ranch dressing)
- Cucumbers (great with Italian dressing: $1 at Dollar Tree)
- Potatoes (sweet or regular)
- Frozen vegetables
- Eggs (mmmm protein)
- Canned salmon (add an egg and some bread crumbs to make cheap salmon patty burgers)
- Yogurt (3 for $1 at my local Walmart)
- Spaghetti (a 16 oz. box of noodles and $2 can of sauce is enough to feed a family)
- Onions (add flavor)
- Garlic (add flavor)
- Tomatoes (better price if you buy local)
- Protein bars
- Cereal ($1 at Dollar Tree)
- Pecans (in season, you can find trees that drop these in public places, meaning free!)
I am an avid couponer! I can walk in a store and buy $150 worth of food for $35-$50! Get into couponing! It is so worth the time and effort. Stack store coupons with manufacturer coupons to get the best deals. If you have a printer at home, you can print all types of coupons to get yourself started. We feed a family of 5 for $50 a week. It takes work, but it can be done!
Park Your Ego
Your next option is the food bank. Usually, every town has at least one. You can dial 211 from any phone and ask them where the local food bank is. I know, I know, no one wants to stand in a line for two hours to get a bunch of rice and beans. But if you are broke and hungry, suck it up! Sometimes you luck up and get something good. Anything free is better than nothing.
Also you can go to multiple food banks. This way you may be able to get more to last you and you won't have to go again too soon. This also gives you a chance to check out multiple food banks to figure out which ones give out the best food.
Dial 211 from any phone to find out where the local food bank is.
Is Dumpster Diving a Healthy Option?
Dumpster diving, also known as Freeganism, has been gaining popularity. In fact, it's not just for poor people anymore. Many people go out late at night to check the dumpsters behind their favorite stores to see what there is. Stores throw away all kinds of edible, delicious, fresh, healthy food and other usable items. Yes, it might be embarrassing if someone catches you, but it's better than starving or stealing.
Is It Okay to Steal Food if You're Hungry?
Refrain from stealing food: the fact that you were hungry won't reduce your jail time if you are caught. Stores have gotten much smarter these days. They are putting theft sensors in meat packs and all sorts of other containers now. Jail will feed you well though, so if you really are desperate, I guess that could be a good idea for you.
Do you know of other ways to get cheap food? Comment and let us know!