For some, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn't have to cost much. Most cereal is priced at about $2-3 per box, and a box will last you at least a couple of days. A little milk and juice won't set you back that much either. Want a hot breakfast? Oatmeal is even less expensive.
In many cases, you can have a good breakfast for about a 75 cents or less. In addition, there's almost no preparation time or energy use. Compared to others, this meal is simple, quick, and inexpensive.
Your mid-day meal can take on any form, and for this reason, it's difficult to give a good set of guidelines. I can offer an example lunch, and break it down by cost. For my selections here, it comes in at around $2.00.
One of the classics of lunch is the soup and sandwich combo. Nearly everyone has had this at one time or another. Rather than paying six dollars in a restaurant however, we'll make it for far less.
A loaf of bread can cost about a $1. This means that a couple of slices represents only pennies. Lunch meat varies, but slices may cost 5-10 cents a piece. We'll call it a good sandwich at 60 cents.
The soup can cost more, if you let it. You can easily spend beyond our limit here, but a smart shopper can get a can of soup at about $1.50. And I'm not just talking about condensed soup. I'm talking cans of chili, stews, and hearty soups. You know, stick-to-your-ribs food.
Finally, we'll take on the evening meal. We've only got a little over $2.00 left. Are we in trouble? Nope, not for the Life-fficient chef.
Again, I could pick a lot of things for dinner. For the sake of reference, I'll choose spaghetti. It's filling, adds a little variety, and is easy to prepare.
Whole wheat pasta is about $1.00 a box. While that's boiling, we'll brown some ground turkey ($3.00 per pound) and add some tomatoes (free from the garden, or <$1 per can) and seasoning.
Wait! Did we spend $5 for dinner? We only had $2.
Don't worry, this meal will last someone at least a couple of nights. We'll add fifty cents for some garlic bread, and divide the whole batch by three. That means our dinner comes in under the requisite $2.00 mark ($5.50 / 3 = $1.83)
Total - $4.68
Breakfast - $.75
Lunch - $2.10
Dinner - $1.83
We ate three good meals, and actually have a fair amount of wiggle room for additions to today's or tomorrow's menu. Some days you may spend less, others more. On average however, you should be able to do quite well on a mere $5.00.
Think about this the next time you enjoy a reasonable $12 restaurant meal. You could eat for two days on what you pay there. Is it worth it?