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Cutting Back on Your Food Costs-- Part 1--Where to Start

Budgeting your food money affects your family's health, how much you spend on medical care, eating-out habits, and how well you save.  But lowering your food Costs is an excellent place to start when trying to conjure up more family funds.

My quest for reducing our food budget began in the 1980s when I wanted to travel to England to meet my Navy submariner husband.  Funds were unavailable, and the only place to slash was food.  From learning to feed my family more cheaply and healthily, I was able to see my sailor for a good two-week vacation abroad. Cutting food costs proved to be a big win-win, and maybe it's a good place for you to begin, too, so here are two starting tips.

Controlling our finances by creating homemade dishcloths

Tip #1-- Set a reasonable food budget.

The King family set our spending limits based on the USDA recommendations for the cost of food at home. This report sets monthly spending levels for each of the four levels--The Thrifty Plan, The Low-Cost Plan, The Moderate Plan, and The Liberal Plan. Look up the above link and set your family food budget. We started our journey by using The Thrifty Plan. Do note that between the four plans, or The Thrifty to The Liberal Plan, there is a $180 difference per person per month, which was calculated using food cost totals for a 51 to 70-year-old male. That USDA publication is the best place to plan your plan.

Tip #2-- Look deeply into your provisions.

Yes, take stock of what you have.  Delve into your cupboards and food shelves in the basement or garage.  Glance at the expiration dates; then ask yourself if you are ever! going to use that can of pickled pig’s feet? And if in doubt, throw it out.  Also, check your refrigerator and see what you can combine to create anew.  Can that dying carrot be thrown into a stew with the wilted celery and sprouting potatoes?  Get creative.  Try new food recipes, particularly on the backs of product cans or boxes. What you'll find, if you're like most Americans, is that you can actually pocket money upfront by living from your pantry and refrigerator for several weeks. Food money saved is a great budget booster.


Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author

The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more

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