The Crazy Suburban Mom: Feed your family for only $3000 a month!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Feed your family for only $3000 a month!

The CBS Saturday Morning News annoys me. They do a Chef on a Shoestring segment with a (real) chef cooking a meal for 4 for under $35.

This is how they promote it.

"Shoestring" Budget Of $35
Meager Budget Of $35
Recession-Busting Budget Of Just $35
Mere $35 Budget
Veggie-Packed Meal On Only $35

And sometimes the budget is even higher than $35

Our $40 "Shoestring" Challenge
On Budget Of Only $40
Tries To Make Fancy Meal For 4 For $40
Special Holiday "Shoestring" Budget Of $80

When I first started watching the segment it was interesting; the way The Food Network is interesting. Fun. Fantasy. An escape.

But when CBS started calling feeding 4 people one meal costing $35, recession-busting?
And than calling the fact that someone (a trained chef) could do it, amazing? It annoyed me. It shows a total lack of understanding of how much economy-related pain people are in. Haven't they been listening to their own news?

If you extrapolate their -What did they call it? - Meager budget. That's over $1000 a month for dinner alone. That doesn't take in consideration breakfast, lunch or toilet paper.

I may be able to go without breakfast and lunch. But toilet paper, I need.

According to Feeding America

Food banks across America are reporting a 30 percent increase in requests for emergency food assistance, according to a new survey conducted by Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization.

And that was in December, 2008. What is it now?

CBS clearly has no idea how hard it is to find $35 in your food budget. Period. Or how many of their viewers are stretching $35 over many meals. Stretching that food budget until it screams. My food budget (I call her Janice) was screaming last night.

Feed 4 people on $35 once? Show me a woman who feeds her family for a week on $35 and I will be impressed. But one meal? A chimp with a shopping cart and a debit card could do that.

Granted, if you send a chimp in you will probably end up with a meal of kumquats, Marshmallow Peeps, Trident gum, Meatball Hot Pockets, Kibbles & Bits and a Sponge-Bob-Square-Pants balloon on a stick... but in the end it feels the same to me as The Chef on a Shoestring Segment.

It would be a meal that doesn't fit in my life.

At all.


kiddiescorner 5/19/09, 8:03 AM  

Wow thats expensive!!! I can make 6 dinners off that. I can go to a sit down restaurant for 4 and not even spend $35. Hmmm..

Buckeroomama 5/19/09, 8:15 AM  

...and it's called "reality" tv?

Christa 5/19/09, 8:19 AM  

if people would do the once a month cooking, they would realize several things. If you do it with 3 or 4 friends, it's so easy, and it's fun. Plus it will only cost each of you about $55. Yes and ENTIRE MONTH of dinner, $55. And you don't have to make the same thing, you make like a different recipe for each family and then you make it all together, and then you divide it out. We always have left overs too.

tracy 5/19/09, 8:24 AM  

kiddiescorner- I am totally with you...

buckeroomama - I dont think they get it at all. Maybe if it was food network and not the news? But still...

Christa - yes, I agree. That is much more economical. I do try and freeze meals, or leftovers... Ive tried to do totally oamc but i had trouble. I guess getting it all together was intimidating...

MoonNStarMommy 5/19/09, 8:36 AM  

ha ha - I don't watch CBS - but I'm amazed they do that. It's utterly dumb! The most expensive- meal I make is my manacotti and- I can make that for that much for a family of 8! I can feed my family on $35 a day! LOL... gah

ladyjanewriter 5/19/09, 8:54 AM it wrong that I actually want to see a cooking segment with a chimp and a shopping cart, now? That seems oddly entertaining.

I'm single and I don't think I've spent $35 per meal in a long, long, LONG time. Let's see, split 4 ways...OK, $8.75. I've spent over that for takeout, but that's usually TWO meals, not one.

I've seen the "Chef on a Shoestring" segment where someone actually stayed just above $20, but that was awhile ago...gosh, that may have been a dinner for two segment. Grr.

The Laughing Idiot 5/19/09, 9:51 AM  

If I had $35 to feed my family of 4 every night, do you think I would be the one cooking? Hell, no! For $35 I could let someone else do the cooking and still have a few dollars left over.

Katy 5/19/09, 9:55 AM  

That's hilarious! I just plan on breastfeeding Lily until she's 18, then I'll never have to buy her dinner! ;)

Charmaine @ randalswife 5/19/09, 9:56 AM  


Nichay 5/19/09, 9:57 AM  

Are they for real? LOL I can feed my family of 4 for under $20. Last night I cooked salmon and made a salad with strawberries, almonds, feta cheese and raspberry vinaigrette dressing. It cost me 20 even. How amazing and I can make another salad today if I want one. LOL I giggle when I am standing in the grocery line reading a magazine about how to cut your food bill. HAHA they have not a clue.

tracy 5/19/09, 9:58 AM  

MoonNStar - I totally agree!

LadyJane - " it wrong that I actually want to see a cooking segment with a chimp and a shopping cart, now? That seems oddly entertaining." you have a point :)

The laughing idiot - thats a great point. I dont think cbs gets it...but I do

Katy - best comment so far :)

Nichay 5/19/09, 9:59 AM  

P.s. That was a special meal. We don't do that all the time. I can usually feed the four of us for about $30 a day.

tracy 5/19/09, 10:00 AM  

Charmaine -- I love your name :)

Nichay - I know, its kooky. And yes, on the how to cut your food budget articles. Hello?

Mozer 5/19/09, 10:17 AM  

First of all, I'm glad to know I'm not missing much on tv when I sleep in :) Secondly, the comments here have me rolling! Breastfeeding until 18, a chimp and a shopping cart--lol. Before opening this blog, I had actually sat down and figured out how much $$ I had to feed a family of 7 on a daily basis and it was no where near $35! I'd love for it to be though...

MoonNStarMommy 5/19/09, 10:25 AM  

I just wanted to let you know that I awarded you something in my blog! Check it out!

Veronica Lee 5/19/09, 10:26 AM  

If you convert that to Malaysian ringgit,(1 USD = RM3.80), we can really stretch that dollar!

tracy 5/19/09, 10:31 AM  

Mozer - Thats why it bugged me so perfectly out of touch!

MoonNStar - Ive been putting them on the sidebar because I was having trouble with pages loaging when I was putting the award there... But you're there now :)

Veronica Lee - That sounds like a plan to me :) lol...

Christina 5/19/09, 1:53 PM  

These people are so far from reality it's ridiculous!

Venti Vixen 5/19/09, 5:37 PM  

"I may be able to go without breakfast and lunch. But toilet paper, I need."

OMG, bwahahaha!

@eloh 5/19/09, 8:02 PM  

Wow, $35. I've been eating pretty good, and feeding/raising kids on a real budget for so long... I don't think I could even have steak for four to include the "paperwork" finish . . if I tried. I learned where and when to shop a long time ago.

I HAVE noticed that the "NEWS" is really getting outrageously out of touch with reality.

I'm pretty sure this is only going to get worse.

Thank God for Tracy. . . makes us a good 'un Trace'

Ling Ling 5/19/09, 8:16 PM  

I concur wholeheartedly. I would also like to see a special about family of 4 who can eat three meals/day for under $50! That would be worth watching. One meal for $35? Puh-leaze. I could easily eat at a restaurant for that much AND not have any dishes to wash up or groceries to shop for. ;-)

Nicole Feliciano 5/19/09, 9:55 PM  

I would love to see more real moms with real issues. I hope they get a hold of your post!

Kathy B! 5/19/09, 10:48 PM  

Surely they meant $35 for the week... right... please?! What a load of crap. We usually come in under $15 (barely) for a family of 6. We buy in bulk and eat low on meat and high on fresh veggies and fruit, which helps but still...

Now if it was called "How to entertain your boss and his wife for $35 including a good bottle of wine and, oh, by the way, your job's on the line..." that would be a good segment.

marythemom 5/19/09, 11:03 PM  

I feed my family of 6 (including 3 teens) for about $15-20 a day - that includes ALL meals. Would love a food budget this big!

By the way your Chicken Paprika was a big hit tonight. We used chicken breasts so the meat overcooked a little (got a little dry), but the sauce was delicious over the slightly scorched brown rice. *grin* (Hubby cooked and followed my directions EXACTLY. *sigh*)

I love your recipes because my family apparently are the same about (green things, most veggies, and 'picy - half are for it, and half against).

Thank you,

Mary in TX

Mom to biokids Ponito(10) and his sister Bob(12)
Sibling pair adoptive placement from NE 11/06
Finally finalized on Kitty(14) on 3/08 - 2 weeks before her 13th birthday!
Finalized on her brother Bear 7/08. He turned 15 the next day.

" Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain."

Christine 5/19/09, 11:20 PM  

I so agree with you on all points! I think I am doing great with me and the hubbs on $50.00 a week!

Deb 5/20/09, 1:41 AM  

I for one would be more eager to tune in to see the chimp! I can do much better than $35--they should let their viewers have a shot at doing a segment :)

P.S. No one might want to try my cooking, though!

Anonymous,  5/20/09, 12:09 PM  

Good God...I can feed a family of 4 dinner for under $5 hee hee! Imagine the fare I could whip up with $35 for EACH meal? My kids would think they died and gone to heaven. No wonder I don't watch CBS.

Rachel Ray has EXCELLENT cooking on a shoestring recipes. I watch her every day for great new recipes!

imee 5/22/09, 6:32 AM  

People have other ways of saving money on food (not just dinners) and other household expenses. It's either those guys are trying to help but are genuinely clueless, or something's up. I say just use SNAP/food stamps or visit farmer's markets, or better yet, plant a veggie garden at home!


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