How much do you expect it would cost a family of four to eat for a month WITHOUT coupons? I did the painstaking math and have discovered that it is possible to feed a family for less than $400 a month.
My Extreme Cheapness at the Grocery Store
When I wrote the article, “25 Examples of My Extreme Cheapness“, many of you questioned how I could survive on just $32 a week for food. And, quite honestly, I didn’t think I was being all that stingy with my grocery selections. Whole grain bread, fresh chicken, green beans: these are the types of foods that I would regularly pick up from the grocery store. From this discovery, I figured that I could get even more wise with my grocery selections and could potentially feed a family for under $100 a week, and maybe even less than $400 a month. The challenge was on and I got to work.
Finding the Food Without Coupons
One of the most amazing features of this post is not that I was able to feed a family of four for less than $400, but that I could do it without the use of coupons.
I absolutely hate coupons.
A few years ago I saw a news special that showed a lady buying a full cart of groceries and only owing $1.16 (or some obscenely low price anyway) for the heaping supply of food. I was so excited about this that I decided to try my hand at extreme couponing. I scoured, I clipped, I went to the “right grocery stores”, and in the end I found myself saving only 30% off my grocery bill. On top of that, I also found myself buying a whole bunch of stuff that I didn’t even want! My grocery bills were slightly lower, but my consumptive happiness was suffering, and I certainly was never able to buy an entire cart of groceries for less than $2.00! After a few failed attempts, I considered couponing to be a complete waste of time.
With couponing in my mental trash can, what else could I do to keep my grocery expenses low? It was pretty simple really. Instead of shopping at the regular grocery store, I decided to start checking out the discount grocery stores. From this exploration I was able to find a wonderful store called Aldi and I’ve never looked back since the discovery. Aldi’s prices are consistently cheaper than Walmart and any other store that you can think of. You won’t find any brand names (but don’t worry, the Aldi brands are better) so there is absolutely no use for coupons. After having shopped there for years now, I can safely say that it’s my kind of place. Easy in, easy out, and for a cheap price.
The Food, Prices, and Servings
In order to prove my case with all of the proper specifics, I began by accumulating a comprehensive list of foods, prices, and serving sizes in which I would feed a family of four. Here are the foods I have selected:
As you can see, many of the food selections are healthy, yet are fairly inexpensive (Note: the ham and turkey are whole and are purchased during the discount seasons – all others are regular everyday prices). Also, after recording the number of servings that each food would provide, I decided that the serving size of many of these foods was completely unrealistic. If I was truly going to feed a family of four on a tight budget, I was going to provide a reasonable serving size. So, for many of the items above you will see that I decreased the number of servings that each product claimed to provide.
The Meal Plan
Finding prices and serving sizes hasn’t yet proved anything. In order to prove that I could feed a family of four for less than $400, I needed to put together meal plans. Take it easy on me though – I’m certainly no chef. Here is a sample week of foods for the family.
Not too shabby right? Also, for these meal plans it should be known that all four members of the family are treated as adults and will be provided with adult portions. Let’s walk through my Sunday meal plan as an example. For breakfast, the family is served 8 eggs, 4 slices of toast, and orange juice. For lunch, each member of the family is provided with a sandwich consisting of 2 slices of bread, 2 slices of lunch meat, 1 slice of cheese, a healthy portion of head lettuce, one banana, and 2 granola bars. For dinner, each adult is served a full chicken breast, pasta, and vegetables.
Here is the summary of what was consumed on day one, along with the total cost:
On day one, the entire family has eaten a well-balanced meal for a cost of $10.44.
The Cost For the Week
The cost for the entire week was derived with the same exact process as I showed you for Sunday’s meal. When I added up all of the food that was needed from Sunday through Saturday, the total servings and amounts came out as follows:
So for one week, I could feed a family of four for just $86.07! Isn’t that unbelievable? Taking this one step further, if a month had 31 days, then the monthly grocery bill would equate to $381.16, which is $18.84 less than the $400 I promised you! Therefore, if you think I skimped on something like milk, spices, or snacks, then you could simply just buy it with the remaining $18.84 and still come in under the $400 mark.
Would you have thought I could feed a family of four for less than $400?