Filet tastes on a franks & beans budget: My October Challange

While wasting time being productive on twitter last week, I stumbled upon a tweet which piqued my interest. 

Groceries? Money? I followed the link to the Official USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels.  After I pushed my jaw back up from my chest, I found the information exceptionally interesting. According to these scientifically and mathematically formulated charts,  my little family of three should be spending at the grocery store each month:

$4880 – thrifty plan
$633.90 – low-cost plan
$783.80 – moderate plan
$964.40 – liberal plan

$964 per month? We’d have to be dining on filet mignon with a side of every off-season fruit and veggie sauteed in truffle butter each night for dinner. Maybe some homemade tiramisu as well (that darned marscapone cheese IS expensive). I could make all the recipes I wanted to try —  like truffled deviled eggs — from the new Cook Like A Rock Star cookbook I am reviewing for Bookshelf Bombshells. I would never have to clip another coupon in my life.

Now, these numbers are assuming all monthly means and snacks are prepared at home. Hubby and Kiddo brown-bag lunch and we almost never eat out, so these number should mesh, right?

I am not about to reveal our wine budget. 
You must possess top secret wino clearance to be privy to that information.
What a fabulous idea. I believe I will.

I  blogged last year about my grocery shopping addiction. If you haven’t read that post yet, you should — it explains my love affair with grocery stores and the rush I get when I score fabulous deals. Not all of us can climb mountains, jump out of perfectly good airplanes, or afford a vicious drug habit — a girl has to get her thrills somewhere. Everyone needs some hobbies, and well, I love food and I have a puney budget, so I have learned to make due.

I am nowhere near an extreme couponer; those people are certifiably crazy and I’m sure there will be an official disease named for them soon (couponaholic? suffering from extreme unnecessary stockpiling syndrome?). I do not illicit looks of terror form the cashiers when they see me coming.

I shop at three stores. I hit Costco for frozen meats, paper goods, and sometimes produce. I go to Publix for whatever is on sale (BOGO dry goods, frozen foods, and a tiny bit of meat and produce), and I use Aldi for just about everything else (milk, eggs, produce, and many other things are ALWAYS cheaper there).  Oh, and I hit the Entenmann’s outlet for bread and bagels ($1 for whole grain Arnold breads and Thomas’ bagels, okay). 

Yes, this takes some extra time, but time I have, money I don’t. It works for us.

So this month I am going to save all of my grocery receipts so I can discover what I really spend on food. I don’t have a set budget; I buy whatever is on sale. Some weeks I spend next to nothing, some weeks I stock up. I will be curious to see how it really evens out.

I am also starting will a full pantry and freezers (they are always full). Technically, we could go an entire month without shopping and not starve, but that would just be no fun. I will shop as per normal.

I have a couple of birthday parties and family entertaining events to work in this month. How much will that add to the bottom line? I’ll find out and let you know.

This should be interesting. And I will see if I have to eat my words…

14 thoughts on “Filet tastes on a franks & beans budget: My October Challange

  1. ModernMom

    I can't wait to hear how you do this. Are you in the States or Canada? I easily spend $200 per week in Canada for a family of 4. Gulp. Room for improvement.

  2. Lady Fabulous

    I'm with you – $900 a month for groceries?? I'd like to see who's eating what!!
    Can't wait to see your results, sounds to me like they will be much more reasonable!
    I watched a marathon of extreme couponers last weekend & was amazed however, yes I agree with you here too, why the need for a $20,000 stock pile of food?? There was one lady who I greatly admired though, she had donated over $100,000 of food to her local food bank & basically got it all for free – that's the way to do it!! 🙂
    My recent post Favorite Fall Fragrances

  3. Alison

    Wow, I think something has to be wrong with their chart. I looked it up and I can't believe how much it says for thrifty for a family of 6 (3 adults and 3 kids in my house). I'm lucky if we have $100 a week to spend on food for everyone. I really want to know who spends almost $1000 a month on groceries-they must eat really well. The extreme couponers scare me. They really are nuts and their stockpiles make me laugh. What the heck are they saving all that food for? It reminds me of my Oma who stockpiled food she made because of WWII and the Cold War. Seriously, people, you're not going to ever be able to finish all that food. What a waste.
    My recent post Pumpkin Muffins and Chocolate Cherry Brownies and a Deco Phone Case

  4. Chris@CookTheStory

    Can't wait to see what you find out! We've been trying to be more frugal. For me, the main thing is to go into a store as infrequently as possible. If I go in for 1 item, I inevitably come out with 3. One of the things I've been doing is trying to have our Sunday meal feed us for several days afterwards (e.g., the meat from Sunday's roast chicken goes into a stir fry on Monday, tacos on Tuesday and then the carcass and any bits of leftovers go into making a soup for Wednesday). The bonus is this also cuts down on how much meat we're eating since i have to be frugal in portioning it all out if it's going to last for that many meals.
    My recent post My Opinion Monday: How Sexy Is The 2012 Farm Bill?

  5. Michelle

    I'm definitely interested in what you find out!! We are between the Low and Moderate (including wine/beer!) and I'm kinda surprised. I always think I spend too much!! Guess I'm a little more thrifty than I thought.
    My recent post Monday. Blerg.

  6. Barbara

    $921 per month?! That's insane and more than our mortgage payment!! If I send my husband to the store he can easily spend over $200 because he has no self control and buys things that just look good. But for 3 of us we are at around $70/week, and I am always brown bagging it to work.
    My recent post So not French

  7. Gigi

    I have no real idea what we spend on food (I don't do the grocery shopping – and probably never will unless forced) but it has always seemed on the high-side to me. I know that with the unemployment, he has cut back quite a bit. So I will be watching this space with interest so I can print it out and give it to Hubby. I keep telling him that I hear Aldi is THE place to shop for some things and he just doesn't buy it. He went once and wasn't impressed (of course, this was pre-unemployment).

    And yeah, I'm with you….the wine budget is separate and secret! 😉
    My recent post He's SEVENTEEN!!!! (how did THAT happen????)

  8. laci512

    Holy Crap! I have a family of 5 that eats between the thrifty and low cost on your chart. Apparently we are eating wrong! Or maybe the people in the study are shopping wrong. I mean, I'm like you I stock up on the sale items and some weeks are more expensive than others but I think it all works itself out in the end. I'm interested to see how this turns out for you.
    My recent post Peace, Love & Stop Domestic Violence

  9. Minivan Mama

    I'm a terrible shopper. With the kids having food allergies, I have enough to keep up with than to worry about coupons and deals and discounts…but in the end its lame excuses and I could so do better. I don't even want to think about what we spend but I know it is way more than acceptable.


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