How a Family of 2 Eats for $50 a Week in Atlanta, Georgia - Food Budget Diaries

How a Family of 2 Eats for $50 a Week in Atlanta, Georgia - Food Budget Diaries
From The Kitchn - September 14, 2017

Welcome to Kitchn's Food Budget Diaries series, where we show you how people around the country spend money on what they eat and drink. Each post will follow one person for one week and will chronicle everything that person consumed and how much it costs them.

Name: Brindar
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Age: 29
Number of people in family: 2, including my partner. For groceries, we cover any purchases that are under $35. Anything over that, we will split it via Venmo.
Occupation: I am a Ph.D. graduate student and my partner is a lawyer.
Household income: $29,000 (not combined income)
Weekly food budget: $50

Day 1:Monday

8:00 a.m.: I eat some leftover brunch from yesterday. It's from the BBQ restaurant across the street from our apartment; I had purchased a handpicked deal so it ended up only being $28 each with a few glasses of mimosas, an appetizer for two, and an entre each, including tip. I had two biscuits with gravy, fried chicken, eggs, and potato hash. It was a lot of food, so I was able to save half for today's breakfast. I like to think of it as two $14 mealsstill expensive, but does not hurt as much.

I am not including this in my budget for the week because it does not follow into the seven-day period.

2:00 p.m.: I have half of a bottle of cranberry juice from a vaccine study I am enrolled in. I end up having to quit the study because my blood pressure has been consistently high. They recommend I see my doctor and start a low-salt diet.

7:30 p.m.: Once I get home, I walk over to Publix to get a few groceries for dinner. I usually go to Kroger, but have to drive to get there, and did not leave work in time to do that today (I bike to work every day). I pick up a rotisserie chicken (a go-to when I do not have much time and want to make a few easy meals), plus some other essentials in my kitchen (yes, that includes ice cream and cookies).

8:00 p.m.: My partner starts taking apart the chicken while I wash and chop the kale. I massage the kale with avocado oil, black pepper, and garlic powder, then cut up the cherry tomatoes and add those to the mix. I roast the chickpeas by draining the can and dumping them out onto a cookie sheet. I toss them with black pepper and garlic powder, then add avocado oil and toss to coat. I put them in the oven (I never wait for the oven to pre-heat, unless I am baking) for about 20 minutes at 400F, and then add them to the salad. I add some craisins (that I bought in bulk from Costco a while ago) and I am done.

My partner chops up the chicken pieces, and we eat the salad with some shredded Kroger brand nacho and taco cheese, and their Private Selection roasted poblano ranch dressing. We also each have a glass of the $2.97 Bay Bridge merlot from Kroger with dinner (purchased last week). I have a cookie for dessert.

When we sit down to eat, I throw the chicken bones and fat into a Dutch oven pot with water covering it, and set it on low. Two hours later, I strain the liquid through a mesh sieve and pour it into two mason jars. One goes in the freezer and the other in the fridge.

Day 2:Tuesday

8:00 a.m.: I am running late and I am not that hungry, so I skip breakfast and down a cup of coffee that my partner made, with a splash of non-dairy half-and-half (purchased previously from Whole Foods).

12:00 p.m.: I am pretty hungry so I eat the salad I packed last night, along with water.

2:30 p.m.: A sales rep stops by our lab, and he always gives us Hershey nuggets, so of course I have a milk chocolate one.

6:00 p.m.: I bike home but do not feel like driving over to Kroger to get what I wanted to yesterday. Instead I make dinner with things we already have. I thaw some hot Italian pork sausage we bought at Costco a few months ago (every few months we spend about $200 stocking up on meat and paper consumables). I take the sausage out of the casing and make this Italian sausage rigatoni with spicy cream sauce recipe. I leave out the onion because we do not have any, but add mushrooms and frozen peas, and I substitute the heavy cream for the non-dairy half-and-half since my partner is lactose-intolerant. I add more tomato paste and sauce to my liking since there's quite a bit of meat, and I like my pasta saucy.

Get the recipe: Italian Sausage Rigatoni with Spicy Cream Sauce by Spicy Southern Kitchen

It turns out delicious and we eat it with more cheap winethis time the Bay Bridge Pinot Grigio.

Day 3:Wednesday

8:00 a.m.: Running late again, I put some coffee with half-and-half and a packet of stevia into a Thermos, eat a cookie (I know, I know), pack up my lunch, and head out the door.

2:00 p.m.: I realize I have not eaten anything since drinking my coffee this morning and have my leftovers from last night. So good.

5:00 p.m.: I get pretty hungry and eat the breakfast I never ate this morning: overnight peach and pecan oats by Quaker. I got it as a Free Friday item a couple weeks ago, so I thought I'd try it. I made it with almond milk since we do not use regular milk, and it's pretty good!

8:30 p.m.: I drove to work today since it's a rainy day, so I drive over to Kroger to pick up a prescription and to get things I was not able to the other day. I pick up low-carb tortillas, a cilantro bunch, two bottles of Bay Bridge wine, frozen broccoli, more Kroger brand nacho and taco cheese, enchilada sauce, a green bell pepper, a shallot, a poblano pepper, two sweet potatoes, a box of Goya cilantro and garlic seasoning, and a box of Annie's macaroni and cheese (a Free Friday item). I had a coupon for free frozen vegetables so the broccoli, in addition to the macaroni and cheese, do not cost me anything. In addition, I have a $2 coupon from the pharmacy. I am not sure why, but the last few times I have picked up my prescription, I have gotten this coupon valid for any purchases in store. I end up getting almost $10 worth of items for nothing. Kroger is the best!

9:30 p.m.: As you might have guessed, I am making chicken enchiladas with Monday's chicken. It's a recipe I used to make a lot from one of my first cookbooks, but have not made in quite a while. We do not have all that much chicken, so I decide to roast the frozen broccoli in the oven at 400F for 20 minutes. I heat up the chicken in the microwave, toss it with Goya cilantro and garlic seasoning, then mix the broccoli in. From here, I follow the recipe for creamy chicken enchiladas from Marlene Koch's cookbook Eat What You Love, but I also top the enchiladas with cheese and some of the red enchilada sauce I bought. We each eat with a glass of the Bay Bridge Cab.

Day 4:Thursday

7:30 a.m.: I have a dentist appointment this morning, so I do not eat or drink any coffee until after.

10:00 a.m.: When I get to lab I eat my yogurt and cut-up peach I had made a while ago but just never ate.

Day 5: Friday

Day 6: Saturday

Day 7:Sunday

1. How did you set your food budget?

2. What are the kitchen ingredients you ca not live without?

3. What's the budget recipe you always rely on?


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