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You CAN Feed Your Family for $100 a Week!

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Guest blogger Melinda Fulmer: Yes, you can. And no, you don't have to churn your own butter or eat Spam to do it. It just requires a little more planning and a bit more time in the kitchen. Here are momlogic's seven tips for keeping your family of four's food bill under a Benjamin.

woman in expensive grocery store

1. Write it all down
Plan every meal, snack and beverage you will consume over the course of week and put only those items in your cart. I know! But the more you go, the more you blow.

2. Shop the sales
Use the grocery store's sales circular as a starting point for planning your menu. You can find these bargains, along with the big chains' unadvertised specials on Coupon Mom.

3. Buy in bulk
Stock up on inexpensive snacks in large containers such as raisins, carrots, pretzels, peanut butter, in-season fruit, yogurt, and big bags of popcorn for air-popping. For dinners, buy big containers of rice and pasta, the cheap cook's best friends. Don't buy items packaged for convenience. That's what Ziploc bags are for, right?

4. Stock up when prices hit bottom
If you see a great deal on meat or produce, buy enough for half a dozen meals. Divide it into portions and freeze it. You'll thank yourself later.

5. Less meat, more beans
Meat is one of the more expensive items in the supermarket. Beans are one of the cheapest. You do the math. Add more veggie-filled soups, stews, burritos and chili to your menu.

6. Stick to store brands
Unless there's a good sale and a good coupon, don't spring for the Kraft or Nabisco.

7. When prices go up, go canned or frozen
Frozen veggies are cheaper and they're already washed and chopped. Bonus! Canned chicken and salmon are also cheaper than fresh and great in patties, casseroles and pasta. Canned clams are excellent in linguine.

A final word: Be sure to save a couple of bucks in your budget each week for the occasional trip to the ice cream parlor or other small splurge. That way your thriftiness doesn't feel like a punishment. And Mom was right: Don't go shopping when you're hungry.

Melinda Fulmer is a Los Angeles-based journalist and mother of two rowdy boys. Her work has been featured on MSN and in the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles magazine.


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9 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jenny November 12, 2008, 11:58 AM

I would KILL to have $100 per week on grocery. We are a family of three, one of us due to chemical sensitivities is on a special diet, I am a Celiac and have to buy gluten free products. My husband is the lucky one and can eat whatever he wants. We have $80 a week to spend on groceries including dog food, toilet paper, deodorant, paper towels etc.

Trust me, you can do it, it just sucks.

Virginia November 12, 2008, 3:04 PM

I agree with Jenny - our budget is $50/week for a family of 3 (well, 4, but that one doesn’t eat food quite yet). It’s really not that hard, and it’s a great lesson of discipline - not just disciplined eating, but discipline with your budget, organization, control of finances, etc..

PS - Does anybody go grocery shopping in heels like in that picture?? Dressing like that, I doubt she’s on a budget! :)

Uly November 12, 2008, 6:55 PM

One note: Go canned for fish, but not for beans. Dried beans are something like 10 times cheaper than canned, and easier to lug home, too!

Frozen fruits and veggies, incidentally, are often fresher than “fresh” produce, especially out of season, because it’s frozen when it’s picked, and it’s picked ripe - it’s not picked underripe and then left in a warehouse for a week or a month or so.

Susannah Locketti November 12, 2008, 10:50 PM

Last week my bill was $67 for a family of four, the week before was $155, then back down to $75…we have our “thin” and “heavy” weeks based on all those extras Jenny mentioned and if we choose to stock up on meat etc. Virginia…you are so right when you say it is a lesson in discipline…requires advance planning etc. We do all 21 meals a week from scratch and we have a weekly menu we write on a dry erase board. Every Friday we plan the menu based on our schedule for the upcoming week. Thanks for the tips Uly! I love frozen veggies.

Barb November 13, 2008, 1:07 PM

The site Shortcuts.com has helped me save quite a bit, and I prefer it to clipping coupons (though I still do that, too!).

jenny November 14, 2008, 11:34 AM

That is so simple! We spend $25 a week on groceries, diapers, cleaning supplies, all of it! We usually don’t even reach $100 in a month! Just watch for sales, and stock up when you can!

Melissa Barlow November 14, 2008, 1:25 PM

I am a celiac also and have to get my bread($5)per loaf, cereal($4-5) per box,waffles($3-4) per box, soy sauce that is gf, and my pretzels or cookies IF I splurge and that is rarely. Those items are a rip off but I have to eat them and cannot have the regular stuff like everyone else eats. The only thing I buy that is organic is apples because we eat the skin which is the healthy part and milk and eggs that don’t have hormones. Otherwise I shop at Walmart and buy their brand when I can. It usually is about $150 per week for us.

Anonymous December 4, 2008, 7:59 PM

Seriously? $100?

14x - dollar menu burgers
7x - dollar menu breakfast sandwiches

total - $21 + (lets say) 8% sales tax.
$22.86

That feeds more than 4 people for under $100

Also, Spam is actually, pound per pound, more expensive than ground beef. That little tin hasvery little actual food inside.

David December 9, 2008, 11:08 PM

I shop for a family of four. I do all of my food shopping and household shopping at Costo and 99 cent store. I spend around 5000 a year on food so about 419 a month or roughly less then 100 per week. I always have a list and buy costco brand unless the main brand is a better buy. It is totally possible!!!!!!


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