The Working Poor Diet

karrie

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Jan 6, 2007
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the working poor diet

This blog really hit home for me. Lately, the budget has been getting tighter and tighter around our household. Not anywhere near THIS tight mind you, but, I have been bargain shopping my rear off to try and cut our grocery bill down significantly.

I hit the stores the first Tuesday of the month for their discount day. At Save-On-Foods that means 15% off our groceries. I go to H&M Discount Produce, buy my bread at the discount bakery for 99cents a loaf, and bargain hunt for cheap bulk meat. But I have TIME to do that, because I don't work.

Reading through these blogs, I teared up considering what life would be like on such a tight budget.
 

tracy

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Nov 10, 2005
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If you invest the time, it's possible to eat fairly well with much less money than most of us spend. I paid off my school loan in about a year partly by working every overtime shift I could get and partly by cooking my own cheap meals. It's difficult but many people have no choice. I'm glad to have more options today.
 

lone wolf

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Nov 25, 2006
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If you invest the time, it's possible to eat fairly well with much less money than most of us spend. I paid off my school loan in about a year partly by working every overtime shift I could get and partly by cooking my own cheap meals. It's difficult but many people have no choice. I'm glad to have more options today.

In case you missed the news, a lot of people are out of work.

Should the working poor need medication, there goes the groceries because McDonalds doesn't have a drug plan - just as an example....
 

karrie

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Jan 6, 2007
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In case you missed the news, a lot of people are out of work.

Should the working poor need medication, there goes the groceries because McDonalds doesn't have a drug plan - just as an example....

I think tracy raises a very valid point though wolf. A lot of people have lost the knowledge of how to shop cheap. So we have all these people who are suddenly out of work, and simply don't know HOW to do it without spending $1000 a month on food. They don't know what to do with flour, sugar, oil, and milk... they need to buy pre-made biscuits, just for an example.

The loss of jobs isn't the only problem, there's also the problem of an entire generation of people who don't know HOW to live poor. And those who still have jobs, who don't get what it means to stare at an empty fridge and try to figure out how to feed your family for a week on your last $10.
 

tracy

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Nov 10, 2005
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In case you missed the news, a lot of people are out of work.

Should the working poor need medication, there goes the groceries because McDonalds doesn't have a drug plan - just as an example....

In case you missed the title of the thread (the WORKING poor diet), the unemployed aren't really the main group I was talking about.

The unemployed and the working poor can sometimes access food aide when the budget simply won't stretch any further. Foodstamps here (called SNAP) give up to $180 a month for a single person depending on income. And yes, I understand there are often hard choices to make. Canadians are very lucky for how cheap their medicines are but nothing will change the fact that it's hard to live on very little money.
 

Tonington

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Oct 27, 2006
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Shopping around, that depends where you live. I recently analyzed weekly Canadian retail poultry prices by province in an advanced statistics class. One of our group results indicated that in some provinces, a savy shopper could indeed find deals, while other provinces could not. The next step in our research is to look at other factors besides mean price and price ranges for the cuts of meat in different provinces. If you live in a one grocery store town, it's not likely that you will be able to find those kinds of deals, at least not like shoppers in a large town or city.
 

karrie

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Jan 6, 2007
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That depends where you live. We recently analyzed weekly Canadian retail poultry prices by province in an advanced statistics class at my school. One of our results indicated that in some provinces, a savy shopper could indeed find deals, while other provinces could not. The next step in our research is to look at other factors besides mean price and price ranges for the cuts of meat in different provinces. If you live in a one grocery store town, it's not likely that you will be able to find those kinds of deals, at least not like shoppers in a large town or city.

ah, but tracy didn't say anything about buying cheap groceries, she said she cooked cheap meals... there is a difference I see there. Are you having steak? Or are you having a can of tuna? Are you having pilsbury biscuits? Or are you buying a bag of flour? Are you eating hamburger helper? or buying a sack of rice? A lot of people make some very pricey choices in their groceries for convenience sake, that can be skipped to eat on the cheap.
 

Ron in Regina

"Voice of the West" Party
Apr 9, 2008
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In the News daily, we keep getting told that so far Saskatchewan has
been an island in this economic turndown. My salary has held steady
(not up but not down) but the cost of everything in the grocery stores
has jumped up, and many things quite significantly in the last year.

Dexter Sinister could verify this, but here in Regina grocery shopping
has gotten much more painful than it was just a year ago...it's ugly. In
theory our economy is doing very well out here, and inflation is hitting
hard.
 

Tonington

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Oct 27, 2006
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ah, but tracy didn't say anything about buying cheap groceries, she said she cooked cheap meals... there is a difference I see there. Are you having steak? Or are you having a can of tuna? Are you having pilsbury biscuits? Or are you buying a bag of flour? Are you eating hamburger helper? or buying a sack of rice? A lot of people make some very pricey choices in their groceries for convenience sake, that can be skipped to eat on the cheap.

I realized that after I submitted, and amended that and other my post. Sorry *holds out hands fer slappin*
 

tracy

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I think tracy raises a very valid point though wolf. A lot of people have lost the knowledge of how to shop cheap. So we have all these people who are suddenly out of work, and simply don't know HOW to do it without spending $1000 a month on food. They don't know what to do with flour, sugar, oil, and milk... they need to buy pre-made biscuits, just for an example.

The loss of jobs isn't the only problem, there's also the problem of an entire generation of people who don't know HOW to live poor. And those who still have jobs, who don't get what it means to stare at an empty fridge and try to figure out how to feed your family for a week on your last $10.

This was exactly my point. I haven't had to live really poor in almost a decade, but I have friends who have never had to do it. They're shocked that I would try to hang my own light fixture rather than call an electrician, or change my own locks. People don't know how to make food, sew a hem, etc. This economy is inspiring them to learn these skills once more and look at cutting other expenses (like internet, cell phones, cars, gas, etc). When you need to pay bills, no expense is sacred.

I'm no gourmet chef, but I can use raw ingredients to make food. With anything premade, you pay for the convenience. I do buy premade fairly often, but I haven't forgotten how to make things. The really expensive part in cooking your own food is investing in the starter stuff (flour, oil, spices, etc). Once that's done, you can cut back on spending significantly. People with yards have the advantage of being able to plant food as well. I grew up eating veggies fresh from the garden, not the supermarket. When asparagus is 2$ a lb, you can save a lot by growing your own. It all takes a lot of time though. That's the real problem IMO. People are tired after working and the last thing anyone wants to do with their limited spare time is tend a garden or make a meal from scratch.
 

lone wolf

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Nov 25, 2006
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I think tracy raises a very valid point though wolf. A lot of people have lost the knowledge of how to shop cheap. So we have all these people who are suddenly out of work, and simply don't know HOW to do it without spending $1000 a month on food. They don't know what to do with flour, sugar, oil, and milk... they need to buy pre-made biscuits, just for an example.

The loss of jobs isn't the only problem, there's also the problem of an entire generation of people who don't know HOW to live poor. And those who still have jobs, who don't get what it means to stare at an empty fridge and try to figure out how to feed your family for a week on your last $10.

I have seen it and live it. When the cost of housing, heat and hydro leaves you with little to nothing to put food on the table, you develop all sorts of tricks. From what I playfully call dumpster diving (cutting off the produce guy before the wilted carrots hit the bin) to a kitchen co-op - to guitar string snares and rabbit stew, there are ways to survive and get a lot of the bills paid too.
 
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talloola

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Nov 14, 2006
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I think tracy raises a very valid point though wolf. A lot of people have lost the knowledge of how to shop cheap. So we have all these people who are suddenly out of work, and simply don't know HOW to do it without spending $1000 a month on food. They don't know what to do with flour, sugar, oil, and milk... they need to buy pre-made biscuits, just for an example.

The loss of jobs isn't the only problem, there's also the problem of an entire generation of people who don't know HOW to live poor. And those who still have jobs, who don't get what it means to stare at an empty fridge and try to figure out how to feed your family for a week on your last $10.

Yes, Karrie I agree with you, I had an experience some years ago, attending a
return to work course, the class consisted of 95% single/divorced moms,
trying to get back into the work force, and they were living on, next to nothing.
I was 48 at the time along with one other woman 48, and we were the only two
people who packed lunches and coffee, all the others ate out 'every' day, and
didn't have a clue, or the mindset to figure out how to manage their grocery
shopping for a day, let alone a month.
Buy large quantities at economy prices, cook large recipes, then sort and freeze,
saves bundles, and make everything from scratch, and watch for flyers like a
hawk for specials, my youngest daughter is a wizard at doing that, and also how
to shop for clothes, she dresses quite well, and most of her, and her childrens
clothes are bought at thrift shops, she takes them back there, and selects others, so she also gets some return on her shopping.
When I was a kid we were on rations, my mother had to go to a place for stamps,
during the war, and she sure knew how to cut corners, and we never went hungry.
 

Tonington

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Oct 27, 2006
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psh... turn around silly.... :lol:

But one aspect of my post was valid, I just didn't properly frame it.... She mentioned if people have time they can make cheap meals. That is true for the people like she says who know how to cook. If they don't, what then? It's also true for the people who don't know how to cook, if they have more choice available (many grocery stores, farm markets, etc.). So, it's not a matter of fact in the sense that caveats do apply ;-)
 

tracy

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Shopping around, that depends where you live. I recently analyzed weekly Canadian retail poultry prices by province in an advanced statistics class.

Chicken!!! Oh, how I love it! Like all meats, it's expensive though. I ate it maybe twice a week during that year and in much smaller portions than I would have liked. Most of my meals were vegetarian. If you want to cook really cheaply, look at poorer countries' cuisines. Indian is my fave. I went to the library and took an Indian, Thai and a Mexican cookbook out. I photocopied recipes on my work photocopier (strictly forbidden, but I never got caught) and they were the basis for my diet. Lentils, beans, tofu... much cheaper sources of protein. When I did have chicken it was usually cut up into very small pieces and used in a rice or stirfry dish. The typical North American diet is pretty expensive partly because of its focus on big chunks of meat.
 

karrie

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Jan 6, 2007
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But one aspect of my post was valid, I just didn't properly frame it.... She mentioned if people have time they can make cheap meals. That is true for the people like she says who know how to cook. If they don't, what then? It's also true for the people who don't know how to cook, if they have more choice available (many grocery stores, farm markets, etc.). So, it's not a matter of fact in the sense that caveats do apply ;-)

Okay, I'll grant you that and stop smacking you so hard. lol.
 

tracy

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But one aspect of my post was valid, I just didn't properly frame it.... She mentioned if people have time they can make cheap meals. That is true for the people like she says who know how to cook. If they don't, what then? ;-)

They need to learn. I don't say that flippantly. None of us are born with knowledge. I didn't know how to cook until I moved out either. My mom is an awesome cook, but I just had no interest in it. I still don't really like to cook except on occasion. Recipes are generally pretty simple to follow. I asked my mom a lot too. Heck, I didn't even know how to make a hard boiled egg. My mom nearly died laughing when I asked her "Well, I know you boil it, but how can you tell it's done?". I was 19 or so at the time, living in Williams Lake for school.
 

Zzarchov

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Aug 28, 2006
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Im fairly well off, and reading that, I spent less and bought fewer grocery luxuries than that blog.

I've never considered my diet to be lacking. In fairness, usually between 2-4 times a month I do eat out, either for work or just the hell of it. But I've gone a few months at a time when I haven't and never felt lacking.

I think the loss of the skills involved in cooking might have something to do with it.
 

Twila

Nanah Potato
Mar 26, 2003
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I've heard some say this economic crisis will bring us back to basics. As Karrie mentioned, we'll have to learn how to make biscuits rather then buying premade.

The good news is this will bring us back to whole foods and slow foods. Which are much better for us and the environment.

Gov't use to have free courses offered on how to cook on a budget geared towards recipients on income assistance. But open to all. I'm sure these will increase in number, availability and locations.

It's going to be a hard lesson for some.
 

Tonington

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Oct 27, 2006
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Big chunks of meat, aye Tracy that's a North American trademark ehh? Definitely useful for people to know how to survive without society providing them these services. I was a boy scout. I can manage. That's not to say there aren't a hell of a lot of people out there who need some life education.