The Frugal Catholic: “Cutting Back on Your Food Costs– Part 1–How to Start” by Martha Wild King–July 2011

Budgeting your food money affects what your family consumes, their health, how much you spend on medical care, how often you eat out, and how well you save.  By lowering our food budget to the United Stated Department of Agriculture’s Cost of Food at Home’s lowest cost food plan–“The Thrifty Plan,” –our family has been able to eat well and save over the past 30 years, and you can too.

My quest for lowering the food budget began when planning to travel to England to meet my Navy submariner husband.  Funds were unavailable.  The only place to slash was food.  This is when I began to employ my SOS Principles (SOS: SAVE OUR SHIP) so that I could SOS:SEE OUR SAILOR !!!!

English countryside is breathtaking.

I found the USDA figures for Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels found at  and these levels helped us begin, and resulted in my first article “Feeding 4 on $49 a Week,” (Daily Press, July 24, 1986, Newport News VA).  With my WHY at hand (saving money), the HOW (getting to England) became achievable.

London Bridge at night

If you want to reduce your food monies or if you have never “had” a food budget, here’s how.

THE FIRST–SOS: SET OUR SPENDING.  This is based on the USDA recommendations.  For example, if I take each of the weekly Costs of Food at Home and calculate for my NOW family of three, four significant figures develop.  The Thrifty Plan for my husband, myself, and our 14 year old daughter is $108.80; the Low-Cost Plan is $138.30; the Moderate Plan is $169.10; and the Liberal Plan is $205.40.  Thus a $100 savings exists between the Thrifty and Liberal Weekly Plans.

THE SECOND–SOS: SALVAGE OLD STUFF.   Take stock of what you have.  Yes, delve into your pantry, your cupboards, and your food shelves in the basement or garage.  Look at the expiration date, ask yourself if you are ever! going to use that can of pickled pig’s feet, and if in doubt–throw it out.  Also look into 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.  SOS: Salvaging Old Stuff can actually pocket money up front, for you can probably live on what’s in your pantry for several weeks if you are like most Americans.

Traveling in England is like finding unexpected surprises in your own langauage.

Next week–Part 2 HOW TO SHOP




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