Friday, April 16, 2010

How Much Do You Spend on Food Weekly?

Can you feed your family of four on $68.88 a week? With the national unemployment rate at 8.9% many families for the first time have applied for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as the federal food stamp program. Several factors determine the actual amount each family receives in food stamps dollars, however the national average for a family of four at the end of 2009 was $275.53 a month, or about $68.88 a week.

A family of four including two children between the ages of 6 and 11 spends an average of $156 per week on groceries. Each additional child would add to that bill. For instance, a one year-old would add an additional $22 per week. An 18 year-old son would mean an extra $45 per week. So what tips and ideas can be used to reduce what we spend on food? Several Blog post have been written about saving at the grocery store. Check them out: January 16, 2009 "Surviving a Recession Without Gaining Weight" by Kathy DiGuiseppe and March 27, 2009 post "Stop Rising Cost from Eating up Food Budget" by Mandel Smith.

Another area is to not waste food once we get it home. The average American family throws away 14% of their food according to a USDA funded study in 2004. In terms of money, that's almost $600 every year in meats, fruit, vegetables and grain products. So here are some helpful tips to reduce waste.

  • Track daily meals for a week to see where waste is happening.
  • Use highly perishables items first such as berries, dairy, and salad items.
  • Create a "leftovers" or "to use up" list and to post it on the fridge.
  • Freeze small quantities of vegetables, rice or noodles to add to casseroles or soups.
  • Use see-through storage containers for refrigerated leftovers.
  • Use leftovers in next-day breakfasts, lunches, snacks, or dinners.
  • Label, date, and freeze leftover main dishes in meal-size servings.
  • Check supplies before going to the store.
  • Write the date on packaged foods before storing in freezer or cupboard. Arrange supplies so the oldest items are in front so you will see and use them first.
  • Post a written inventory of what's in your freezer; designate a specific area for ready-to-reheat leftovers.
  • Make less by reducing the size of the recipe you're preparing.

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