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Food Budgets According to the USDA and Our Actual Food Budget

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So I was visiting a blog the other day and she had a link to the USDA’s 2012 chart that shows, on average, what a person by age group/gender would eat at home per week and month (this does not include eating out). They have four categories: Thrift plan, Low cost plan, Moderate cost plan, and Liberal plan. Apparently they need to add a fifth category for my family-Dirt Poor Plan.

I worked out the numbers per individual for my family to get our numbers from their chart since my girls don’t fall exactly into their pre-calculated family chart. Lucy is only 9 months, but I put her in at one year since she is quickly increasing the amount of food she is eating. Below is the results.

Thrifty Plan

Lucy-$92.20

Sammie: $100.70

Emma: $104.90

Joel: $181.30

Me: $161.00

Total Monthly Budget: $640.10

Low Cost Plan

Lucy: $123.50

Sammie: $127.30

Emma: $132.70

Joel: $234.20

Me: $203.30

Total Monthly Budget: $821

Moderate Cost Plan

Lucy: $140.40

Sammie: $154.30

Emma: $163.80

Joel: $292.30

Me: $250.80

Total Monthly Budget: $1001.60

Liberal Plan

Lucy: $170.20

Sammie: $188.10

Emma: $198.90

Joel: $359.70

Me: $320.70

Total Monthly Budget: $1237.60!

 

I worked up the thrift plan first since I knew that would be the category we would be closest too, and I was still floored by how much they allotted for our family. Let me tell you, if we had $640 to spend on groceries every month we would be eating like kings and queens!

According to the USDA’s Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) We should be spending $793 a month, $500 of which we should be spending out of our budget and $293 from SNAP. We don’t receive any benefits from the government, though I’m sure we more then qualify, but the money we would receive from SNAP if we were on the program would pay for almost three quarters of our entire budget for the month (which includes food, personal, and household items like toilet paper and pull-ups)!

Just this month we decided to up our budget from $350 to $400. This was hard for me at first because before we lived with my parents our budget for three was $250, which equals $83.33 per person a month. You would think I could manage at $350 a month or $87.50 per person (not including Lucy), however, Lucy is starting to eat more so I need to start account for her. There are some other factors as well that have added to the need to increase our budget. First, the price of food has gone way up since we were last feeding only our family. We moved in with my parents in 2010 and the price of food has gone increased dramatically since then. Second, we are eating a lot more whole and organic foods and lets face it, it costs more to eat healthy. And Third, we moved to a state that taxes food purchases. Nebraska doesn’t charge taxes on food. Seven percent of our grocery budget isn’t going towards food here in Kansas. So out of the $350 we have budgeted, only $325.50 is going towards food. That’s two days, or six meals for four that is going towards taxes! Trying to make sure we have enough food for the month has been stressing me out big time. Add to that, the fact that I haven’t even begun to be able to stock up my pantry, and you’ve got one stressed mama!

So now our budget will look like this $400- $28 (7% taxes)= $372

Lucy: $20

Everyone Else: $88 (I’m just figuring the same for everyone, since I make one meal for everyone)

That’s $2.84 per person/per day

Or $0.95 per meal.

No that does’t account for snack, which we do have occasionally. We don’t always spend $0.95 per person/ per meal though. Like when we have oatmeal for breakfast. I look at these numbers and wonder how in the world we manage to do it, but somehow God always makes it happen.

We don’t eat out as a family more then two or three times a month which most of the time comes out of this budget as we, so pretty much all of our family eating comes out of this budget. Joel eats lunch in town once or twice a week when he is there over the lunch hour for meetings and doesn’t have a place to warm food up. That doesn’t come out of this budget. We are still trying to work on cutting that down further.

If our family ate according to the USDA’s “Thrifty Plan” we would have no problem eating 100% organic and whole foods. We would be eating the smoothies for breakfast that I would LOVE to do, but can’t because all that organic fruits and berries would break our budget BIG TIME. For now we will do what we can, and add new food items as we get stocked up on what we use all the time now so we aren’t buy everything every month.

What do you think of the USDA’s chart? Where does your family fit in? What do you do to keep food costs down?

 

I’m linking this to The Homestead Barn Hop.

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2 Comments

Kate - 25. Feb, 2013 - Reply

Yes, I agree that there should be another ‘dirt poor’ column 🙂 Tracking last year’s food budget (including diapers, household and any adult drinks) we averaged .75 per meal or snack per person (or 3 dollars a day per person) We eat a whole foods diet and since we are renting an apt. we have no room for growing, so these are the prices we pay to buy everything. Last year by switching to making our bread (bread machine) we were able to afford buying all organic grains and bulk items (Azure standard company online) During the summer we were able to buy day old veg from an organic farm. We buy organic beef (from Costco) and natural chicken. Some weeks we can afford organic dairy and eggs and other veg/fruit depending on sales, otherwise we will buy the regular kind of produce. Hubbs and 3 older boys pack lunches for work and school. We also do not receive any food stamps or otherwise. Food prices have really gone up this year so far and we are currently tracking our meals at $1.05 a person. I’m sure I can improve on these numbers. But for the amount of time and effort I am able to put in, I am very happy with these numbers. Of course I will be trying my hand at growing our own as soon as we get into a house with some yard space. Good luck on the frugal budget endeavors and thanks for the encouragement! Have a blessed day.

Libby - 05. Mar, 2013 - Reply

Kate- We’ve just started using Azure and it’s so wonderful. I was a little nervous starting (I was afraid I would miss a step) but it was quite easy and they have some great prices! It sounds like you are doing the best you can with what God has given you! That’s wonderful that you have a farm near buy that you can get cheaper fresh veggies from.