Are Your Family’s Grocery Expenses Thrifty or Liberal?

by - February 09, 2020

How can you figure out if your family’s grocery expenses are reasonable for the size of your family?

Every month, the  U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) releases four budgets, which results in a food purchase formula with four price ranges: 

Thrifty Plan, Low-Cost Plan, Moderate-Cost Plan and Liberal Plan, and these figures are updated monthly.

The U.S.D.A. has been doing this for years based on what Americans really eat and based on accepted nutrition recommendations.

Here is the latest chart for December 2019:

Using the December 2019 chart, with my family, I could expect to spend $75.90 per week or $328.70 a month on the “Thrifty” food plan.

But based on my records, I’m actually spending about $250 a month for two people in my home, which averages out to $125 a month per person. 

Now, how do we manage such a low grocery bill?

For starters we have a lot of frugal tips in our toolbox such as drinking water, and making tea or lemonade and koolaid to cut down on expensive soda pop. (I do keep Sprite on hand for medicinal purposes)

We make home baked cakes instead of commercially made ones, oatmeal made from old fashioned oats rather than instant packets. 

We shop the Crash and Burn sections of the grocery stores and will buy food with the yellow mark down stickers if it fits within my budget. 

We eat meatless meals, such as Bean & Cheese Enchiladas, or homemade Veggie Burgers, or Red Beans & Rice

We eat leftovers or reinvent them into a new dish. For example, we turned leftover mashed potatoes into Potato Pancakes.

We make soups, which can be very economical depending on what ingredients you use. 

We shop at discount grocery stores such as United Grocery Outlet, Save a Lot, and Aldi

We look for and buy discounted groceries at all the places we shop including the flea market. 

We peruse the sale ads online and make a list of items on sale and then stock up on those. We keep a price book to check prices. 

Another way you can save money on food is by using grocery rebate apps like IbottaCheckout 51, Dosh, and Just Google the grocery store app and read about them and do your research first.

We re-purpose food scraps to make other things like vegetable, chicken, or beef broth. 

We utilize The Pantry Principle, which you can read about here. We keep a well stocked pantry of food bought at the lowest price and we cook from scratch.

We search for recipes that are cost friendly. We scour yard sales, used book stores, and flea markets for economical cookbooks. 

One online resource you can use is the online cookbook located here:  Recipes and Tips for Frugal Healthy Meals. 

There are multiple ways you can reduce your grocery budget and I've only scratched the surface here. 

Your way of saving on groceries may contain other ideas I've not mentioned here such as growing some of your food in a garden. 

Let's share ideas with each other. 

~ Living within our Means ~
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