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USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food

January 23rd, 2007 at 06:27 pm



For November 2006, the USDA's "Thrifty Plan" for a family like mine of three men and one woman, is $571. Wow, that seems like an awful lot of money for groceries to me. Or is it just that I'm so accustomed to spending less that it seems too high? Granted, we live in an area with a lower cost of living but I work hard to buy and cook on a very limited budget.

Anyway, the USDA's info is here for those who haven't seen it:

http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodPlansCostofFood.htm

I'd like to know what others think of the federal government's ideas on how much money it takes to feed a family.

8 Responses to “USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food”

  1. nance Says:

    I feed two men (dinner only for one of them) and myself everyday, and I spend less than $150.00 a month. I make everything from scratch, including bread, hamburger buns, etc. and buy just about everything on sale or at loss leader prices. We eat well too. This week's main dishes are quiche, lasagna, meatloaf, beef and noodles, chicken and dumplings, tacos/taco salad, and round steak. We get bread flour and yeast, in bulk at Sam's, and buy house brands on canned goods, etc. Milk is always $2.50 a gallon here, sometimes less. I freeze it if it is on sale for $2.00 a gallon, and buy as much as my freezer will hold. This amount does not include junk food, soda, etc. I rarely buy any.

    By the way Denise, the lasagna made with cottage cheese, instead of ricotta was, wonderful. It was the best I have ever made. This using what is on hand, instead of running to the store has been great.

  2. denisentexas Says:

    Nance, you sound a lot like me! It's always good to come across frooglies who cook from scratch and buy almost everything on sale. Smile Milk is always $2.50 a gallon there? Wow, where are you? It's up to almost $4 everywhere here. Frown I miss having a lot of it stored in the freezer!

    I'm glad the lasagna worked out for you. My horde loves it. Smile

  3. Nance Says:

    I'm in Northern Colorado. Actually the major chain stores were always having it on sale for $2.50 a gallon, so Wal-Mart started having it for $2.50 every day. I think that since they match advertised prices, they probably figured it would be just as easy to sell it for $2.50 on a regular basis. I know milk is more expensive in Texas. My daughter lives there.

  4. LuckyRobin Says:

    We spend $250 every four weeks for our groceries. I am trying to get it down to $200, but we can't just fill in with cheap carbs, we eat a lot of organic or natural foods, but we do have higher protein needs than most due to my medical condition, which my daughter also has. But they were saying on that site that we should be spending $120 a week! On the Thrifty program! That's nearly double what we spend and we still eat organic. Maybe they need a fifth plan, like the tightwad plan or something?

    I remember when I was reading the Tightwad Gazette and how Amy talked about how she moped for days when she first read that the Thrifty plan said a certain amount for her family and she was over that amount, until she realized it was for a week and not a month! She had them beat by a mile.

  5. denisentexas Says:

    Luckyrobin, I know what you mean about cheap carbs. With two diabetics in our household, it's very hard to eat the way we need to. We generally have a day or two a week where the eating is really cheap and carby and the rest of the week we try to eat much better. We need to eat really well every day but it's almost impossible to eat as we should *and* be frugal. Frown
    I think they need another plan. On another site I frequent, someone called it "the soup kitchen plan". Baaahahahaha!

  6. threebeansalad Says:

    Another thing to remember is that these food plans meet the US Dietary Guidelines. Even those of us with what we might consider "healthy" at face value diets probably don't meet all these recommendations. I teach nutrition at the college level and have an assignment where students need to come up with a week's worth of menus that meet all the recommendations for $38 (to feed 1 person). Students have alot of trouble, and these are juniors and seniors getting a degree in nutrition.

    It also sounds like you have a well-stocked pantry (way to go!), but the Thrifty Food Plan assumes you are buying all the food for that particular month.

  7. LuckyRobin Says:

    Yeah, I don't buy the U.S. Dietary guidelines, though. Especially because they change them every couple years. Eating that way made me physically ill. All I have learned about my own body flies in the face of government information.

    Instead I eat a lot of vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, root vegetables, cucumbers, celery, carrots, peas, sprouts onions, bell peppers, lettuce, spinach, etc., with minimal fruit (one per day), wild rice, nuts, seeds, eggs, cheese, lean beef, salmon, tuna, cod, snapper, shellfish, and poultry. I use olive oil, grapeseed oil, macadamia nut oil, walnut oil, peanut oil and sesame oil. We drink milk or water. I eat very little bread or pasta and what I do eat I make from scratch from 100% whole wheat flour that is also organic and made with honey. I eat little to no refined white sugar or flour and rarely touch cereal or brown sugar and try to avoid trans fats. Maybe once a month I'll get a not very good for me burger meal take out, but that's it. I pretty much avoid all grains, with the occassional exception of oatmeal or cornmeal.

    I enter my menu plan into fitday the night before to see if it meets all the days nutrient requirements and if it doesn't, I jigger it until it does. Usually there is very little need to fix it. My iron is usually a little low on the days I don't eat beef, and my potassium is low on the days I didn't eat any cruciferous vegetables, but it all balances out over the course of a week.

    I suppose the average person just doesn't do things like that. I've read a lot on nutrition over the years, which is obviously not the same as having a degree in it, but I have found what works for my family to keep us healthy and relatively fit. And that's veggies first, lean meats second, a single fruit, and very little grain.

  8. denisentexas Says:

    "And that's veggies first, lean meats second, a single fruit, and very little grain."

    And that's what DH and I are moving to to help our blood sugar and our hearts. It isn't easy but we're doing it, slowly but surely. Smile

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