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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Frugal Food Plan

The USDA put a chart out estimating the cost of food for a family of four last January (2011). It was estimated that on the "thrifty" plan a family would spend $598. On the "low cost" it would be $779, "moderate plan" was $974 and "liberal plan" was $1184 (with children ages 6-11). Those amounts are staggering to me...even the "thrifty plan" is almost double what we, a family of 5, spends monthly on food.

Recently I have been in a bit of a rut with cooking. I haven't come up with great meal plans or grocery lists and I wanted some help with that, so decided to try the Hillbilly Housewife's $70 grocery plan which was put together in 2006. It was a complete menu with complete shopping list that would cost $70 for a week. She revised it in 2009 where it ended up costing $82.26. Because it has a complete menu (including snacks), complete shopping list, and a list of preparations to do and when I decided to give it a go. I wanted something easy for a no-brainer week.

It is not a low-fat or completely healthy menu, but it is pretty much from scratch. With me tweaking a few recipes and sticking to the portion control I think it will end up being healthy.

I was hoping to come in around that $82 price tag (even based on 2009 prices) because I didn't have to buy a lot of what was listed (flour, sugar, spices). Unfortunately, I came in at $96.xx

That ends up costing more than what I typically spend each week. Luckily, I don't think that's a final total as some of what I bought will last longer than a week (the corn meal, dry milk, Miracle Whip, etc.). Because I didn't feel there was enough fruit, I added the bananas and watermelon (though I did not count them in the total price).

I'm starting this menu tomorrow and am curious to see how my family likes it. For me, it's not as thrifty as my usual plan, but I thought I would mention it here for those who do spend more and would like to cut back for a week. If we like this menu I may pull it out once a month to have a no-brainer cooking week.


  1. i'm interested to hear how it goes. my budget is 150/week for a family of seven. that includes cleaning supplies, diapers, wipes and anything i would buy at walmart. i've found the only way to lower it is to buy cheaper meat (which i won't) or more boxed foods (which i avoid). would love any tips how to feed my family healthy for less!

  2. I spend around $160/6 of us a week, we're in Canada... I'm wondering if you could have saved some $$ by buying generic brands rather than name brands?

  3. If I had shopped at a Super Walmart I may have found more generic brands but I bought every single generic and store brand that I saw at the store today...everything else was the only option.

  4. $598??
    lol Our budget for the 4 of us is $300 per month.
    Looking forward to your verdict!

  5. I average about $122 a week for 5 of us, some weeks it's more depending on what I happen to run out of staple wise that week/month. We get paid Monthly so I usually shop once a month

  6. I budget about 75$ for our family of 3, but getting tired of our normal "cheap" menu and needing ideas.

  7. My go-to cheap meal is eggs ala goldenrod, it's basically hard boiled egg whites in white sauce served over torn toast with the yolk crumbled over the top. We have chickens so our eggs are 'free' but they cost us $1/dozen, whether in feed or from Aldis.



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