Marisa Miller, a former chef and mother of two, once lived a life filled with food and the security of a lucrative job, but that changed at the height of the recession, when her husband's ill-timed career change left the family food-insecure within a matter of months. Now she supplements her grocery shopping with trips to a local food bank, and on CNN's Eatocracy, she shares her thoughtful, realistic tips for eating nourishing, satisfying meals on an extremely limited budget.
Miller acknowledges that she has cooking skills and tools, as well as access to transportation that many food bank patrons may not have. But her perspective is an interesting one, precisely because she approaches the challenge of creating healthy, filling meals both as a chef and as someone familiar with the realities of food bank eating.
Here are her 6 tips for choosing food on a very limited budget:
- Eat food with the densest nutritional quality.
- Know the pull days at your grocery. When things come off the shelf, they either get reduced for clearance or donated to a food pantry, senior center, etc.
- Be okay with imperfection. Buy the bag of smushy tomatoes on clearance, find the one that needs to get tossed, rinse the rest, make sauce.
- Most every vegetable can be turned into soup, juiced, or preserved, provided you have electricity to cook with, which, sadly, some of the nice people I meet in line, do not.
- If you live in a place where there is a large supermarket chain, ask the manager which organization they donate food to and make that your primary food pantry.
- If grocery stores are not as plentiful where you are, most food pantries will let you come weekly for bread and produce. This can be a great supplement to any benefits you may already be receiving.
If you are in a position to donate food to a food bank, Miller also has some great tips for choosing food that will be the most benefit to recipients. (Hint: peanut butter!) Either way, this eye-opening article is definitely worth a read.
Do you have any tips for eating on a very tight budget?
(Image credits: Steve Lovegrove/Shutterstock)