Thursday, May 22, 2008

Stretching the grocery budget dollars

According to experts, food prices are higher than they were in March of 2007. Umm, I think most of us know that, though we're not 'experts'. But do you know how much higher? A loaf of white bread has increased 16%, milk has increased 23%, and eggs have climbed 35%. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Americans spent an average of $1,926 per person on groceries in 2007, up 4.2% from 2006 and they project another 4.5% increase in 2008, to $2,013.

Obviously, food prices are an issue here as in many other places around the world. Food shortages are a worrisome possibility (probability?) and many U.S. food banks are struggling with rising costs and plummeting donations. But is it time for those of us in the U.S. to panic? I think not. I do think, however, we need to take stock of what we have, what we need, and what we might need in the near future, and maximize our purchases.

I already do those things but am in the process of creating a plan to enable us to stretch our grocery dollars even more. I'll hammer out my thoughts on that here and will post the final plan.

As a side note, I peruse the USDA's food plans regularly and for April of this year, their "Thrifty Plan" figure for a household of two adults the ages of DH and I is $300. We spent less than $200 on food in April and the only times we've gone over their "Thrifty Plan" amount is when we did huge stocking up two or three weeks in one month. The figures in the USDA charts aren't representative of our household but they seem to be a good average for the typical American family.

Where does your family fall in those averages? If you're above the average, why do you think that's so and what could you do to change it? And if you're below, what things do you do or not do that put you there?

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