What Could You Do With $11

A few weeks ago I was scrolling through Facebook and read a post from one of my Frugal Groups. It was from a man who had abruptly regained custody of his child and he was panicking because he had only $11 until payday and had four boxes of mac and cheese to feed his child.

He was asking for suggestions on how best to spend his last $11.

Lots of people chimed in with ideas. More importantly, people who had been in his situation were able to steer him to social services that could also help.

It moved me for a couple of reasons. 

It's been a long time since we were that hard up for money. (47 years to be exact, but that dire feeling has been seared into my brain.) It was a sobering reminder that many people still struggle. It's one thing if you starve, quite another to let a child go hungry.

The second thing that struck me is that he was genuinely trying. I liked that. He wasn't looking for handouts. This man wanted concrete ideas on what to do with $11.

I didn't bother adding my two cents to the post. There were already over  80 replies so I think he got the advice he needed.

But I was curious what I could do with $11. 

I think the young man in the post might've been at a disadvantage, not because he was a man, but because he was young. A lot of young people only know how to cook from boxes. That limits your choices tremendously if you want to stay under the $11 limit. Then again, that's what Google is for. If you can read, you can cook from scratch.

For $11 here's what I'd buy.  (All prices are from Walmart. All products were generic.)

1 lb bag of red beans: $1.38

1 lb bag of white rice: .92

1 lb box of spaghetti: .98

28oz can of whole tomatoes: 1.48

Carton of eggs 18: $2.28

18oz jar of jelly:  $1.98

Loaf of sandwich bread: $1.32

Total: $10.34

This leaves 66 cents change. I'm going to assume no matter how poor you are, you probably have salt, pepper and some sort of oil at home. But from these paltry ingredients you can feed two people for a week. 

I fudged and allowed the jelly even though it's not very nutritious because every kid deserves some sort of sweet.

It's not fancy but it should keep bellies full until payday.

The only other thing I would do is look for food on clearance. This is getting harder and harder to find. Aside from that I would definitely tell him to find his local food bank and apply for social services to keep his kid fed.  

When we were in this situation, I'd buy the bare essentials (my limit was $20). If there was any money left, I'd buy an extra can of whatever was on sale. Every week I would expand my little pantry with an extra can of vegetables, or a pound of rice or pasta.

No matter how meager, the important thing is to start somewhere.

What do you think? Would you do something differently with $11?


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Mike Keyton said…
I’d go right up to the 11 dollars, Maria. Why? Onions!
Essential. Mushroom a luxury, cheese presumably unaffordable.
But onions (with their vitamin C) mitigate against the blandness of beans and rice, less so with jelly perhaps
Maria Zannini said…
Mike: I'm with you, though I imagine kids wouldn't appreciate the added flavor like we would.

But I'll make you a deal. If it's you and me and we have 11 bucks between us, we'll forget the jelly and buy onions. :)
Lynn said…
I think you'd eat well on eleven bucks, Maria. The only thing I'd do different is skip the eggs so I could spend that money at a farmer's market for some cheap fresh veggies.
Maria Zannini said…
Lynn: If I'm buying for myself, I'd buy more veggies too.

Ironically, even though I raise chickens, I don't normally eat eggs. I use them as binders and baking.
Luba said…
Mhmmm I don't share myself much but I remember my mom feeding us 3 after her divorce from my father. There was a spell where things were tight. The divorce was ugly. So mom stuck with Italian food to keep us fed and eggs. I remember those days. But they didn't last long, she's a registered nurse and found a job quickly. She also took a part-time job as an Interpreter at a huge Company where she met my stepfather. Who passed away recently. When I was little, I hated Italian food. LoL!!! I don't anymore, but I did then. 🤭
Maria Zannini said…
Luba: I had to smile when you said you hated Italian food.

Greg was the same way, and he's Italian! LOL! I fed him so much pasta and bread in the early days that he was delirious when we finally became financially stable again and could afford meat.

I'm so sorry about your stepfather. I hope he had a long and happy life.
Luba said…
Thank you Maria.💖 As age goes, he lived to be 88. So that was a good thing. And as far as stepfathers go, he was a diamond amongst them. And he loved my mom a lot. Her name is Maria like yours. And he always called her MaryLou. She goes by Meri. 🤭🤗💖
Maria Zannini said…

{sigh} Greg calls me Mule. LOL!