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MSN’s $100 / Week Food Bill Challenge

Posted By Jim On 09/18/2008 @ 12:19 pm In Frugal Living | 6 Comments

Melinda Fulmer and her family of four went from a $250/wk grocery bill down to a $105.03 bill when they tried to spend only $100 a week on food [3]. They had some really good lessons learned from their little test, as well some advice if you’re looking to do the same, but there were a few thoughts I had after reading the article that they didn’t mention.

Here are some lessons I learned from her challenge:

  • It doesn’t hurt to try. $100 a week for four amounts to $1.19 per meal per person. Anyone with an elementary grasp of math knows that $1.19 is not a lot and you might be tempted to give up right there. For Melinda and her family, that was less than half of what they normally spent. They were able to do it, why can’t you?
  • They saved $150 that week. She was able to get within spitting distance of $100 a week but it was clear that wasn’t sustainable week after week, given her ground rules. If you were to take those away, perhaps she could’ve by growing some of her own vegetables and shopping at bulk discount stores. However, she saved $150 that week and that’s something she could do every month – that’s a savings of $1,800 a year. Granted, it does simply shift some expenses from a $100/wk to a $250/wk, but you still would save a large percentage of that $1,800 a year.
  • $100/wk is too restricting, a rolling monthly limit makes more sense. In this experiment, they went with an artificial $100/week limit when food often lasts longer than that. If you truly wanted to save money, using a rolling four week limit of $400 is probably more realistic than a weekly limit. They made mention of this in the later parts of the article when discussing stockpiling.
  • Use canned goods when the entree isn’t a single piece of something. I wasn’t sure how to title this lesson but it refers to the idea of using canned fish or chicken if the fish or chicken isn’t the headline entree, as in a casserole. It’d be tough to use canned chicken or tuna if you just wanted to prepare a piece of the stuff, but if you are integrating it into a dish then it’s not a bad idea.

If you’re seriously considering doing this, The Hill Billy Housewife has two menus that can provide much needed inspiration. The first is her $45 menu [4], which is a weekly menu of Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks that will cost you $45 a week. The list includes a scheduled menu, along with nutritional information, as well as a full shopping list. The menu doesn’t assume you have something already, which makes it great, and the nutritional information is a great touch. There is also a $70 version [5].

The menu doesn’t strike me as something you can eat every since week for a year, but it can be a good source of inspiration if you’re looking to trim from your food budget. Also, the prices were gathered in Feb 2006 so it’s likely a little pricer than $45 or $70 week now.

(Photo: benjaminkrause [6])

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[2] Email: mailto:?subject=http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/msns-100-week-food-bill-challenge.html

[3] spend only $100 a week on food: http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/CollegeAndFamily/RaiseKids/CanAFamilyEatOn100AWeek.aspx

[4] $45 menu: http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/40dollarmenu.htm

[5] $70 version: http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/70dollarmenu.htm

[6] benjaminkrause: http://www.flickr.com/photos/benjaminkrause/2416894449/sizes/l/

Thank you for reading!