Thrifty Food Plan Experience: The End

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$172 per week, two weeks, family of 5, real food.

That is the current experience as part of the series Someone Else’s Shoes. We’re starting completely from scratch following the monetary guidelines put out by the USDA for the Cost of Food at Home Thrifty Food Plan. The USDA attaches a weekly dollar amount to each person dependent on age and sex. You can check out their graph to see where your family falls.

This is the last two days of the second week.  Week 1 we started with an empty kitchen and I used all but 21 cents of the $172 for our meals. We had a few basics that carried over (salt, pepper, sweeteners, oatmeal, etc.) and this week have had quite bit more left over. Going into these last two days we had $24.04 and I actually did not spend any additional. So remaining amount is $24.04.

Here is what we ate the final two days.

Day 6

Breakfast- Creamy eggs on sourdough toast with grapefruit.  This was a recipe from a Quick Cooking cookbook. The original recipe had a Canadian Bacon and a few other things that I didn’t have. So I adapted it to what I did have. The eggs are covered with cream and baked in the oven then put on the toasted bread. It was yummy!

Lunch- Spanish Tortilla but made with only 4 potatoes and 4 eggs. Still delicious! Along with sliced oranges.

Dinner- Citrus Sprouted Lentils. I used this recipe for Sweet and Sour Lentils as a guide but eliminated the honey and vinegar and used the juice of 1 orange and 1/2 of a lemon. Very good! We also had cabbage sauteed in coconut oil and butter.

Snack- Leftover cookies from Day 5. Still moist and delicious!

Day 7

Breakfast- Very light breakfast of sourdough toast with peanut butter.

Lunch/Brunch- An early lunch of sprouted lentil patties which were very much like an Egg Foo Yung, along with coconut chicken soup (basically chicken broth and coconut milk made into a soup- a variation from a Nourishing Traditions recipe) and orange slices.

Dinner- Smorgasbord. We had plenty of leftovers to have a quite tasty full meal.

Snack- GORP

Now I guess the question would be, what to do with the remaining $24.04?  For myself, I know I’d like to have more seasonings than I added during the two week time. I also like to be able to make bulk size purchases since the cost per pound tends to drop. So I think I’d start putting some of my weekly money aside toward that. For me, that would probably mean putting in an Azure Standard order. For someone else, that might mean putting the money toward a quarter (or larger) of beef.  Or possibly ear marking a portion of money each week to go toward both items.

How would you structure the future budget? Would you try to make bulk purchases or would you do something different?

Something that I’ve been thinking of these past two weeks, is what it was like when we first started our real food journey. Money was certainly an issue for us. In my excitement of everything I got completely hung up on doing it ‘perfectly’.  Unfortunately, my budget and location posed a problem for ‘perfection’.

At one point, my husband had to give me a bit of a “talking to” because I refused to buy any produce that wasn’t organic. The problem was not only was organic super expenesive, it wasn’t widely available in my area.   While 100% organic is certainly the goal, the reality for me in my location and situation is I cannot reach that goal. Maybe someday, but not right now.  That was the beginning of realizing that we needed to make our changes slowly and adjust our food choices as our budget and location allowed. We are still not all the way there, our journey continues.

I still sometimes need to remind myself that this is OUR JOURNEY. I am not out to impress anyone else with how “wonderfully we eat” (although I do like to share things with you) or all the great places we shop (or don’t shop).  Our health is drastically improved over where we were just a few short years ago. I am reminded that every step toward a real/whole/traditional foods diet is a positive step. (Why might you want to switch to a real/whole/traditional foods diet? This post might give you something to think about.)

If you are in a similar position with a tight budget (maybe even smaller than the Thrifty Plan put out by the USDA) or in a location where you can’t get the ‘best of everything’, do what you can today. Maybe do something else tomorrow or next week or even next month. A great place to start would be resources. Finding resources should cost you nothing and enable to start planning how best to spend your food dollars.  Contact your local Weston A. Price Foundation Chapter and ask for the local resources guide.

You can do this!

What frustrates you most in your food journey?

See all posts in this seriesI have another installment planned for April for the series Someone Else’s Shoes along with a great giveaway! Next week will be an interview (see all Someone Else’s Shoes interviews here). We’ll meet a real food enthusiast in their own real food journey.  Lot’s of exciting things coming up!

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Millie Copper
Millie Copper is a Wyoming wife and mama. After reading Nourishing Traditions in early 2009, her family began transforming their diet to whole, unprocessed, nutrient dense foods—a little at a time while stretching their food dollars. Millie is passionate to share how, with a little creativity, anyone can transition to a real foods diet without overwhelming their food budget. Millie began blogging in late 2009 and has amassed a collection of frugal recipes and methods. Her specialties include cooking with wild game and creating “Stretchy Beans”. Discovering a love of writing, she has penned four books focusing on healthy eating on a budget and is trying her hand at fiction writing. Learn more at


  1. Joy Y.

    I have to say, that what I love about what you are doing…is that our weekly budget is only $3 above that at $175 for our family of 7. We eat a whole foods diet…and organically as much as we possibly can. It can definitely be challenging to say the least…I think what frustrates me the most is the expense of real food. I think real food should be less expensive than anything fake! Here in northern Indiana, I watch the farmers spraying their fields right now, and it saddens me. However, we just tilled the garden, and are ready to plant our cool weather crops organically. We’ve got to do what we can do for our families’, and teach anyone who is wanting to listen =)

    I’ll be watching your updates!



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      Hi Joy!
      I agree, it seems real food should be less expensive since less needs to be done with it. Funny (not) how it doesn’t work out that way.
      Your own garden is certainly a great way to expand your budget! I’m always amazed how many zucchini come from that little packet of seeds. We’ve yet to have a successful garden since moving to WY but maybe this year 🙂

  2. Carla

    Holy Cow!!! What I could do if I had enough to go by the thrifty guide. We are feeding 6 on $500 per month. The thrifty guideline gave us $874. That would be awesome! In the meantime, I am doing the best that I can with what I have. Very few organic fruits and vegetables, but everything is made from scratch.

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      Hi Carla,
      I know, the USDA does seem very generous. I truly thought it would be a breeze. But my first week was really tight. I believe as time went on it would be okay. 6 on $500 is challenging. I like your attitude about it!

    2. Michaela

      Our budget is 5-600 for a family of 5, but also includes paper products & cat needs. I know what you’re going through, Carla. All we can do is the best with what we’ve got.

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  3. Barbara

    I love that you did this and am so excited that you were able to show you can eat the right things on a budget, even starting from nothing. I had not yet gone to the website to see our budget, per the USDA. so, I just did. We are only two (retired) and I feel like I am able to get MOST, but not ALL of what we want/need. I DO try to be reasonable and have slowly walked down this road. About 90% of what we eat is made in my kitchen. But when I compared what we spend to what their chart says, we are just slightly over the monothly thrifty plan numbers ($376.60) as we spend about $380-390). I,too, was surprised at how high their numbers were. But, if starting from scratch it is obviously different. For those of you that are feeding a family on $5-600, I applaude you! Great job.

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  4. Barbara

    Oops, I read the wrong line on the chart. The USDA’s budget for us would be #357.30 on the thrifty plan and $461.20 on the low-cost plan, so we are almost in the middle.

  5. Kylie

    Great post! Thanks for sharing your experience. Our budget is about that for a family of 5. I’m not shy about going over to get better quality whenever I can. But it’s definitely doable!

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