The USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan has four levels. For my daughter and I, the levels calculate to:
Thrifty Plan Low-Cost Plan Moderate Cost Plan Liberal Plan
Zowie $35.70 $44.20 $53.20 $65.40
Me 35.50 44.70 54.90 70.40
Totals $87.00 $88.90 $108.10 $135.80
Where do we fall on the FoodStamp Scale?
$213.00 per month for the two of us =
$2,566.00 per year for the two of us =
$49.35 per week for the two of us to eat on
I obviously do not get enough to count for the Thrifty Food Plan. I use a lot of methods to stretch those food dollars, though, including visiting a local food cupboard once in a while.
I do not receive TANF, so the rest of my income is earned by myself. I do not have much cash for food, but can sometimes come up with an extra $5.00 or so a month. This is helpful as well.
Food prices continue to rise in my area, which is pretty scary for those of us on tight budgets, I have to keep cutting things out of our food budget to make ends meet. This is getting increasingly difficult.
Here are the methods that I am incorporating to survive:
- I visit Crossroads Ministries, a local food cupboard, once a month or so. Sometimes I go every week, depending on the situation. The produce is not fresh, but I incorporate freezing methods so that things do not go to waste. I get a free jar of peanut butter their each month, though it is a small jar. They used to give out so much food that it would last all week and we had plenty. Now, with so many people needing help, the food is more limited. Obviously still helpful.
- Coupons. In reality, I rarely use these. My mother sends me the coupon section of the newspaper and I cut out anything that we would like. I use them mainly on sale items. For instance: Pasta sides on sale for a dollar with a .25 coupon per pouch saves quite a bit, with a total cost of .75 per pouch plus tax. We do not eat these often, as we prefer healthier pastas.
- The Dollar Store often has pastas, soups, cereals, crackers and condiments, as well as other good deals. Be aware that sizes can be smaller, making many items less of a deal. I do what I can at these places.
- I combine fresh and canned fruits and vegetables. Fresh is the best, but I simply cannot afford to eat them most days. I do not eat frozen vegetables. Ever.
- Free food from friends and family. These items do not come often, but we appreciate them when they do. On the flip side, we had an overabundance of potatoes this past month. I was able to give a 5 pound bag of them to a friend in need.
- I bake from scratch often.
- I use the slowcooker often during the winter, using the cheapest cuts of meat.
- We often have days when we do not eat meat at all.
- I have a very small pantry where I can stock what sale items I do find.
Share your purchasing plan with us. Let us know what your reality looks like compared to the USDA Thrifty Food Plan.