“Cutting Back on Your Food Costs–Part 2–How to Shop” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.--July 9, 2012

Food expenses aren't static like an apartment rental or a car payment, and that's the problem But by applying two more SOS principles, along with deciding upon YOUR USDA Cost of Food at Home Plan, (See Link), your ship can keep sailing comfortably to the dinner table. Let me explain.

In understanding how to shop for food, you need to start where someone else figured it out; and the USDA has been supplying that information for years. (See above link.) By studying those USDA figures, you can determine which of the four food group plans you are in--"Thrifty plan, Low-cost plan, Moderate-cost plan, or Liberal plan." Thrifty plan is where I began with my family.

Then apply two more SOS principles to help you save even further.

The first of the two principles is SOS: STOP OVER-SPENDING

This means sticking to your food budget.  That adhesion, however, is sometimes daunting for cookies often jump into our grocery baskets, and we feel like captives in the food chain.  But as frugal Catholics, we have the power of The Holy Spirit shopping with us so we can use God’s resources wisely. Here is how you stop over spending:

A. Use a calendar to record a monthly or bi-monthly menu

B. Eat the same dinner two nights in a row and follow a pattern. 

Our pattern is Steak on Sunday; Monday and Tuesday, beef; Wednesday and Thursday, chicken or pork; and Friday and Saturday, meatless.

(HOT TIP) *Create a master list of family favorites.  This idea came from reading how Ethel Kennedy fed her large family the same thing every month. I took that idea and wrote down everyone’s favorites then created a three-month rotational list with recipe/ingredient cards attached for easy planning.  We have Month 1, Month 2, and Month 3.  When Month 3 is up, we start again with Month 1. Or for simplicity, just come up with a one-month plan. No need to complicate this process if you don't want to. Just ask your family, even if it is just you and the dog, what they want to eat then start serving it.

“Three Month Family Favorite Meal Planner”

C. Eat Real Foods Not Processed Ones

God has given us an amazing array of foods to eat so consume most of your food in that state--natural.   For example, God didn’t prepackage The Garden of Eden: Those were fresh foods in their original condition.  Genesis 1:29 expounds, “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.”  Thus, to use coupons only gives me chemical food concoctions which MUST be kept to a minimum.  We need to focus on the outside aisles of the grocery stores where the real foods reside instead of the inside aisles which contain processed chemicals.

And finally, the second SOS principle to save BIG is SOS:STAY OUT OF STORES.

By staying out of stores, (even on-line stores) you gain control of your food money. It really is that simple. Shop every two weeks and keep a running list of what you need in your kitchen.  Have a recipe that calls for an absent ingredient?  Well then, substitute, but SOS:STAY OUT OF STORES.  The more you go into a grocery store with a credit card, the more you spend:  It has been statistically proven true from various studies. So when you do shop for your twice a month or even weekly excursion, use CASH and CALCULATOR. Both cash and calculator help the food shopper who wants credit card control. Because Cash use equals no debt. But if you're ready, and want to shop with a credit card, then apply front end estimation to each article on your grocery list. I don't shop with a calculator when I employ front end estimation: FEE is where I record an estimated cost figure of the article and write it down next to the item on my grocery list.  Here is an example of my front end estimations:

$6–organic potatoes          

$5–organic whole lactose free milk


$10–2 cartons organic eggs

Then before even shopping, I add up my figures and have a ball-park estimation of how much I’ll spend. And if I do use my credit card, then I simply deduct that shopping bill from my food monies in my budget book thus keeping me on target just like cash used to do.

So let's SOS: STOP OVER-SPENDING and SOS: STAY OUT of STORES so we can better accomplish God's work.  John 4:34 states, “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.’“ And likewise, John 6:35 confirms, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.’ ”

Next blog–Part 3– More SOS Shopping Principles