February 23, 2011
I recently had an email I appreciated greatly from one of our management leaders regarding the suggestion in our budgeting presentation that households should try to spend between $75 and $125 per person per month in their household on groceries. His concern (a valid one) is that the number appears quite low when compared to the suggested figures released by the government (upwards of $200 per person per month).
If I had wanted to give a flippant response, I could simply have referred to the wonderful job our federal government does with balancing its own budget. However, that achieves nothing for us.
Is it easy? No.
Is it convenient? Certainly not.
At $75 per person per month, you would have eliminate most of the grocery store budget busters that add nothing to our diets except inches to our waste lines, like bags of chips, expensive brand name breakfast cereals, and soft drinks.
A $75 per person per month grocery budget means that dinners are not served from convenient, but expensive, heat-and-serve containers. Rather, dinners are likely prepared, if not from scratch, at least from several basic ingredients. Expensive meats are generally not an every day affair on the dinner tables of households living on a $75 per person per month grocery budget.
A $75 per person per month grocery budget means brown bag lunches for all family members in school and at work. It also probably means more store brands.
With all of these probabilities, you may be wondering what’s left to east: crackers, peanut butter and the occasional water on the rocks?
Actually, in our household, where we’re been able to hit $30 to $50 per person per month (including our two 12 year olds!), our frugal grocery bill includes, yes, an extra hour or two per week of couponing, plus the additional $15 per month of local newspapers.
But it also includes healthy and tasty breakfast cereals (hot and cold), organic deli meats for sandwhiches a couple times per week, some convenience foods, but mostly healthy and delicious dinners. Plus, we have our occasional – 1 to 4 times per month, or more often if I’m lucky - home made crepes with Nutella and fresh strawberries (that’s our splurge).
The truth is, a $75 per person per month grocery budget may seem like a farce to a household currently spending $200 per person per month, but it’s actually quite achievable.
Besides, I always say in my classes that the $75 per person per month grocery budget is a target, not an inviolable law. The reality is that the grocery bill is one of the easiest of all household bills to save money on with a little extra effort. So that makes it a great place to start when it comes to improving the household finances.
Good luck, and please feel free to share your successes (and your frustrations) in reducing your monthly grocery bill.