Feeding a Family of 4 Adults on $125 Per Month

When our household's income was significantly reduced, our grocery budget was the first area to be slashed. We are down to $125 per month for all food for 4 adults. When we first embarked upon this journey, I was really not sure if this would be sustainable. Three months in, and I'm still not certain. However, we continue to live at this level and are eating well. Sure, we don't get pizza delivery or have boxes of snacks in the pantry, but we are doing well. If you'd like to read more about how our family is managing on $125 per month, click on any of the following links:

The very beginning of this current journey

**new-5/25/19**  Basics for a Very Low Grocery Budget
The backbone of keeping my grocery budget so low is the creation of a stockpile of pantry staples, such as flour, beans and other legumes, rice, steel cut and rolled oats, corn meal, popping corn, barley, sugar, vegetable oil, baking essentials, and some canned fruits and vegetables. I can pull together a meal with just these items. I mostly find my lowest price per unit at an institutional food service outlet -- the type of place that small businesses or charitable organizations shop for their supplies. The size of packaging that I typically buy are considered suitable for institutional use, such as number 10 cans or 25 to 50 lb. sacks. The ingredients in the extra large cans can be divided into smaller containers for the freezer. This post from 2013 provides an idea of the size of packaging, how I store and use, and some pricing that I find at SmartFood Service Cash & Carry.

In addition to buying my basic supplies in institutional sizes, I also shop the clearance racks, loss-leader items, farm stands, and specialty markets. This post from 2014 provides a list of 30 places to look for rock-bottom prices on groceries. I compare prices online and in-store for every item that I purchase. Prices can fluctuate a great deal from one month to the next, so as I make out my shopping list each month, I search several stores online to find my best deal for each item that I am buying that month.

We also keep a large garden, which provides at least a little bit of fresh produce from March through November. For 32 years, we've kept "gardens" in pots on terraces, in-ground at a rented duplex, under lights indoors, and at our own home in raised beds. We have always had some sort of garden for this entire time. A garden not only saves some money in the present, but it is a back-up plan of sorts. If we should need to live on even less income, we could provide even more using our garden. Think about the space that you currently have. Is there a place that you could add a bed of vegetables, a fruit tree or two, or even fill the pots that you would normally use for flowers instead with tomato plants and salad greens? There's a patio at the Pike Place Market in Seattle that is populated with galvanized troughs filled with vegetables and berries. Any space that receives some sunshine can become a garden.

Poke around a bit in the following posts. You may just find something helpful.

Substitutions and recipes for foods or ingredients

Comparisons and calculations

Miscellaneous posts to save money on groceries

Check back often, as I'll be updating/editing this page weekly.


Anonymous said...

Love this Lil!
Thank you so very much for this. This is going to be so very helpful in this season of my life.
I truly appreciate it.


Lili said...

You're very welcome, Cathie!