Friday, March 26, 2010

Thrifty Food Plan & Shopping

I have been doing a bit of research on the USDA website and trying to figure out the food budget they think is the ultimate Thrifty Food Plan for us American. For a family of three (two adults & 1 teen son) I have narrowed it to 490$ a month and that doesn’t include anything which isn’t edible so toilet paper, napkins, sandwich baggies, etc are separate. They recommend that the weekly budget of @122$ be divide in the following way. When I got this all worked out I was shocked because we buy and eat a lot more meat than that.

This is how it should be.

Group 1: 19$ a week

Flours, rice pasta, chips, cereals, breads and grains, and other baking goods like baking soda & baking power.

Group 2: 32$ weekly
Potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, fresh veggies ~ greens, yellow, & orange

Group 3: 21$ weekly

Fresh Fruit, canned & frozen fruit, juices

Group 4: $17 weekly

Milk, butter, sour cream, cheeses, yogurt, any dairy

Group 5: $20 weekly

Eggs, bacon, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, shellfish, nuts, nut butters, and dry beans & lentils.

Group 6: $14 weekly

Sugars, brown sugar, coffee tea, pop, condiments & sauces, snacks, pop & everything else like oils

Well today I went to four of the eight grocery stores in my area: ALDI’s, Value King, Giant eagle, and BJ’s whole sale club. I was shocked to find out that the cheapest and best prices were at ALDI’s on the baking supplies and just about everything else including hamburger and pasta. Unless, it was something on sale and I had a coupon for the sale item. Then it was cheapest to shop at Giant Eagle. That being said, it would be most cost effective for stuff like flour & sugar to get those at the BJ’s because there you can get a named brand in a huge 25 pound or larger bag for slightly more than the smaller generic version at ALDI’s.

We blow through a lot of flour and sugar here, with my son Joe planning on culinary school after he graduates next year.

I was shocked to discover how pathetic our consumption of fresh fruit & veggies is. In fact our consumption of them including canned and froze items is embarrassingly low. We are carnivores and junkasaurouses. The bulk of our items fall in group 4, 5, 1, 6 and after today’s weekly trip which came in under budget by 12$ we were way over in those categories and need to spend another 40$ on fruit & veggies to achieve a balanced diet.

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