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Food Budgets According to the USDA and Our Actual Food Budget


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


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.

Monday Mommy Confession #44

I think it’s safe to say, now that we are on our third girl, that we have far fewer surprises when it comes to parenting small children. I know as they get older we will have to cross those big (sometimes scary) bridges like breasts, periods, and the reproductive process of humans (and other creatures), but I have also found that each child doesn’t want to be left out. They want to leave their own graffiti on the wall of our parenting story board, Lucy included.

**This is a GROSS ALERT! Don’t eat while you are reading this. You have been warned**

We thought that Emma had pretty much broken us in when it came to gross situations. There was the time she had eaten pureed carrots for dinner, thrown up in the middle of the night, and went back to sleep without a peep. When I went in the next morning to get my sweet little blonde baby, she was holding onto the rail while bouncing, beaming from ear to ear, and had bright orange carrot caked in her hair among other places. Did I mention I was pregnant with baby #2 at the time? Joel had already left for work so it was just me and the babe.

Then there was the time that her diaper came off when she was sleeping in the pack and play at my parents. My poor (childless, first time uncle on our side) brother, excited to wake up his niece, went up and was horrified to find her in her own poo. It was in her finger, it was everywhere. I don’t think he was ever the same after that.

Sammie has her own stories but they weren’t quite as gross so we were a little more prepared for them.

So as you can see, we had already dealt with the two big gross factors, poop and vomit, what could be worse, right?

Ya, boy were we wrong!

It was a great morning. Everything was going so smoothly and I was getting a lot done. The sun was shining the blinds were open to let it in, the girls were behaving and mommy was in a good mood. Joel came up for a minute to get something and happened to peak his head in the bedroom where Lucy was playing in the pack and play. I don’t know if he heard something or smelled something, but boy am I glad he came up when he did.

Lucy had been dealing with a diaper rash so before I laid her down for a nap I took her diaper off and put some towels down so she could have some air time on her bottom. She woke up after about 45 minutes and the towels were still dry. I had just been into check on her not two minutes before Joel went in and everything was fine, she was playing nicely.

Then I hear “honey come here now” in a very serious tone. Immediately I knew something was wrong and it probably had to do with poo. I went in and saw Joel holding Lucy. I looked in the pack and play and sure enough there was poo but it wasn’t that bad. So said “Oh, ok” and was about to start grabbing the towel and pulling it out when Joel say “No, Look at Lucy.” And then I saw it. It was all.over.her.mouth. It was all over her hands. It was under her nails. And worst of all… it was in her mouth, between her teeth even, not just a little, but a lot.

I will openly admit that I dry heaved many times. I have dealt with a LOT of gross things; smelly, icky, things in my day, but this one about did me in. I kept it together though. I ran and got a wet washcloth and went to work scooping, yes scooping, out the poop from her mouth. Then I got her some water to try and flush the rest out. Next was the bath to clean the rest of her and finally I nursed her to help flush what she did swallow out of her system.

And here I am today, a survivor, a little worse for the wear (my stomach still gets a little queasy just writing this), but stronger for it.

What did I learn through all this? Well, it’s not going to kill your kid if they eat their own poop. According to all the forums I read, if they are going to do it, theirs is the best, since it has already been through their own system and they aren’t introducing something someone else or something else may have. It’s best to keep them well hydrated so that their body can flush it out as soon as possible. It is perfectly normal for them to get diarrhea. If they get a fever you should take them to the doctor.

Here is a very funny story from another mom, with a similar experience. I found this while nursing Lucy after the incident and searching for answers. After reading this both Joel and I have decided to start using the term “Code Red” in these situations so we can give the other a heads up as to the severity of what they are heading into.

It’s share time! What’s your grossest parenting story?

I am linking this to Encourage One Another.

It’s Finally Done!

Here it is my friends, the new blog design. It’s been hours of work on both Joel and I’s part, but we are very happy with the results! There will be more new stuff rolling out down the road, but for now we are up and running and writing again!

If you would like to take a peek at the photos scrolling in the background just click on the black up arrows on the left navigation bar and the top right of the main body, and they will pull everything up and you can check out the cool pictures, when you’re done, just click on them again and everything will drop back down! Cool huh?

Leave a comment below letting us know what you think of the new design. We’d love to hear your thoughts!


P.S. I’m so glad to be back!

Monday Mommy Confession #43

When Mommy Doesn’t Feel Well

When mommy doesn’t feel well

Nothing seems to ever go right

Some things that are normally “no, no’s”

Aren’t really worth the fight

You’ll most likely see her

In a shirt caked in baby snot

Generously smeared on her

By her beautiful tiny tot

Her hair is unbrushed

Her clothes unchanged

For at least the last two days

And every night before she sleeps

“Help us feel better tomorrow” She prays

I am a Hypocrite

I am a hypocrite, plain and simple. I am right up there with Peter and his denial of Christ. Once again I chose fear over conviction despite the Holy Spirit’s STRONG nudging. I suppose you could add coward and faithless in there as well.

I have talked this whole election about how voting one side or the other is simply voting for the same thing, just with a different name, and I still believe that. I kept say that I was going to vote according to my conviction instead of the lesser of two evils. But when it came time, I was more afraid of 4 more years only without re-election holding him back. I fear for our country either way mind you, a party change is ever so slightly less scary.

Shame on me.

Many men and women fought for my right to be free and to vote, and I chose fear instead of freedom. I serve a God who is wholly in control and is bigger than any president, and bigger than any one vote. What if…. What if God wanted to do something bigger, then Democrat or Republican? How many others like me voted out of fear instead of conscience?

Regardless of the outcome, my God is in control. Regardless of what the next four years brings, my God will care for me and my family.

The guilt that will probably continue to sit on my chest for a little while longer will serve as a reminder, to obey no matter what the odds. You would think, after all the messages at church lately about trusting God and how much bigger He is, that I would have gotten the message, but alas, it was a little late sinking in. Hopefully this will serve as a reminder for many years to come to obey the Spirit when it prompts me.


Thank you Lord for the reminder.

Monday Mommy Confession #42

Let’s talk deodorant. By a show of hands (or lack thereof) how many of you forget or just don’t bother with deodorant when you are at home? Anyone, anyone? Ok I’ll start. Hi my name is Libby and I forget to where deodorant more often then I remember to. There I said it.

The other day I was having this conversation with my husband. He said he needed to shower. I said why, you just showered yesterday (no I don’t shower everyday either. Deal with it). He said that he smelled, and though I said I didn’t notice he said he did and it bothered him. Then the real problem came out. He admitted to me that since he had started working from home he had become rather lacks in the deodorant department. I gently reminded him that he doesn’t put deodorant on for everyone else; he puts it on for me.

Yes, later it dawned on me that I was the pot calling the kettle black.

I wasn’t always this way. I used to work and applied deodorant religiously. But when you welcome a beautiful new baby into your life and say sayonara to sleep, you’re just happy if you make it out of your pjs and run a toothbrush over your teeth (and in those first few weeks the odds are not in your favor that either of those things are going to happen either.)

You know it’s bad when your four year old pushes away from you and say “momma you stink! You need to take a shower.” loud and clear for the entire world to hear. Aren’t kids just the greatest! In my defense that only happened during the hottest part of the summer, when even the I did put on deodorant it melted off like chocolate in the hands of a two year old.

I am pleased to say that I have managed to remember to put deodorant on every day this week (I think). And I hope that I can do better at this goal then must people do at their New Year resolution.

So do you have any basics that sometimes don’t even make it on a burner let alone on the front burner?

Monday Mommy Confession #41

So I had this great idea a couple of days ago. All the laundry baskets were either in use with clothes waiting to be folder or put away or filled with toys, and somehow I still managed to have ever growing piles of dirty laundry on the floor. With boxes still waiting to be opened and emptied all over the house it was becoming difficult to think let alone DO anything. I needed a solution and I needed it now. Then I remembered that when you are getting ready to check out of a hotel they always ask you to throw all the dirty towels in the tub to make it easier on housekeeping. If it worked for them, why couldn’t it work for me?!?

So I started throwing all the dirty laundry in the tub and having my children and hubby follow suit. It worked wonderfully. Everyone had bathed recently so there was no imminent need of the tub which allowed me time and SPACE to get things put away. And the best thing is that the dirty laundry is all in ONE PLACE!


What are your creative short term ways of dealing with mess?

Making drop cloths out of curtains

While Joel and I were painting our house in Nebraska getting it ready for sale, we were lamenting how we wished we could afford nicer drop clothes. We have always bought the cheapest plastic stuff you can find and have gotten what we paid for-rips, trips, and constant readjusting because it won’t stay in place. We have done enough painting over the past 8 years of marriage that an investment in the beginning would have paid for itself by now. Alas we were poor back then and sadly we are not too much better off eight years later.

As we were getting the dining room ready we took down the curtains that had been hanging in there for the last 6 years. They were cheap cotton loop curtains from Wal*mart we had purchased to cover the windows after our house was robbed. Looking at them now one could tell they had better days. The sun had bleached all the folds that were facing out towards the sun (they were south facing windows, so those curtains had no chance of lasting long term). I decided that I’d keep them for some project like totes or something out of the good parts.

Then I got a brilliant idea. Why don’t we use the curtains as drop clothes! The plastic that we had wouldn’t fit the whole room and the curtains we had would do great fitting into the odd spots. They also worked great in the bathroom as pictured above.

We can chalk that one up to making do with what you have!


What creative things have you done to get what you need/want without having to spend money?


I’m linking this up to:

The Morris Tribe Blog Carnival     

Recipe: Jell-o Punch

My mom got this recipe from a friend at church years ago. It makes a great punch to serve at parties, but it also makes a great summer treat. We just use an ice cream scoop to fill up a glass with the frozen mix and pour ginger ale on top. So delicious!


Jell-o Punch


  1. 1 Lg box of Jell-o (we usually use strawberry flavor but whatever)
  2. 2 cups boiling water
  3. 2 cups sugar
  4. 4 cups cold water
  5. 2 (46oz) Unsweetened Pineapple juice
  6. 2 liter bottle of ginger ale


  1. Mix Jell-o, boiling water and sugar together until completely dissolved.
  2. Add cold water and pineapple juice and stir.
  3. Freeze.
  4. Thaw out four hours before using.
  5. Scoop out into punch bowl.
  6. Add 2 liter bottle of ginger ale to the bowl and serve!

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time:0

Number of servings (yield): 12

I’m linking this toThe Morris Tribe Blog Carnival    

Gift Giving for Kids

Gift giving for kids

With the girls being so young, it can be difficult giving gifts from them in a way that allows them to feel included, not pulling out my hair, and keeping in budget. I decided I would pick up things on clearance throughout the year and then the girls can “shop” from my “gift store” for birthday and Christmas gifts. This way I can wait as close as possible to say, Christmas, for them to “shop” giving them less time to spill the beans.

Recently I was reading “The Tightwad Gazette II” by Amy Dacyczyn. In it was a tip from a reader who did something similar only she took it a step further. She would allow her kids to do special chores to earn “Mommy Money”. Right before Christmas her kids could cash in their “Mommy Money” and shop at her “Store” on at a time. She would pick up items at yard sales, often for a quarter.

I can see myself doing this for many years, at least until my children have learned to be thrifty and plan ahead!


What ways do you involve your kids in the gift giving process while still staying on budget?


I’m linking this to:           The Morris Tribe Blog Carnival