I'm sure most of you have looked at the USDA Food Plans Guidelines before, but it's always interesting to go back and see what changes they've made. (Once you click on the link, you can choose a month and year to view.)
The estimated weekly food costs for our family - two adults and two small children - on the "Thrifty Plan" is $120.90. That's per week! Dear God, what are they expecting someone on a thrifty plan to eat - steak and lobster once a week? I can't imagine having to spend $120 per week on food.
Before our new tightened budget, I spent on average about $90 at the grocery store each week, sometimes more, sometimes less. And that includes toiletries, paper and plastic household goods, cleaning supplies and food. I didn't worry so much about what I spent, just bought the things on the list and a few extras, and I still didn't manage to spend a much as the government's "Thrifty Plan" says I should. Now that we're on a budget, I'm trying not to spend more than $65 per week and I'm doing a pretty good job of sticking to it. The only big difference in my shopping is that I'm more aware of sales and have been using coupons. Maybe someone needs to teach the people in this country how to shop, and how to cook so they aren't spending $120 per week on their groceries.
On the same subject, if you have a Walgreen's near you be sure and check out their monthly "easy saver" catalog for in-store coupons that can be combined with manufacturer coupons for some good deals. A couple of weeks ago I bought my favorite shampoo and conditioner for .50 a bottle. This week I'm gonna pick up bags of Easter candy for .75 a bag and razor refills for $1 a package, regular about $9. It's worth having a look - and kind of fun when you walk out of a store and feel like you just robbed them. ;o)
I've found some cool links lately that some of you might be interested in:
A fun monthly checklist
A free downloadable organizer page - it's pretty, too!