Sometimes it’s hard to live on a budget. In 2009, the national average allotment for a family of four was $275.53 a month, or about $68.88 a week. See this article: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100414/ap_on_re_us/us_fea_food_living_on_food_stamps#mwpphu-container The basis of the article seems to center around meal planning. But is meal planning smart shopping? NO!
Think about it… Whenever you’ve written up a grocery list of things you “need”, how much of it was on sale? I would venture to say about 20%, if even that. By contrast, if you would have purchased the things your family likes or needs when it was on sale a few weeks or even months ago, now you have a scenario where you never pay full price of any food, except for fluid milk. That’s what we call “investing”.
So the question is how to get past the week to week, or hand to mouth confines of living on food stamps or any food budget for that matter? How can there be room to “invest” when there’s nothing left over? As the article mentions, food stamps are intended to augment, not completely meet the needs of the entire the food budget. But, for many families, that may be all they have! So can a family of four live on $68 a week? Most Grocery Gamers are reading this and saying, “of course”! Nevertheless, we spent some time with The Grocery Game databases to take a look at that prospect. I wasn’t surprised to see that yes, it can be done. And there should even be room to invest a little, which makes for more options and even more value down the road. And more investing over time, when you breathe a sigh of relief…
The keys to making it work remain the same. Stack the deals using sales and coupons and any other incentives. Eliminate waste with creative leftovers. Incorporate at least one meatless dinner around dried beans, which are very healthy and full of fiber. I would even advise two or three of those bean meals in the beginning to make room for more investing. Making some sacrifices on what you “want”, to get what you “need” in the first few weeks will pay off and begin to snowball. Note: “Investing”, which we used to call “stockpiling” is a Grocery Game concept that has been proven over and over again for hundreds of thousands of families. It works.
I’m not saying it’s easy, and my heart goes out to those who are living on less. But if you’re in that boat, just know that lots of Grocery Gamers are doing it for $50 a week. Our message board is full of those testimonials, which is also a great place to learn and get brass tacks advice. I was in that boat for many years, with a $35 a week budget for my family of four. That’s how I learned to play The Grocery Game. You can do it.