How To Eat For Less Than $100 Per Month


I know you can spend less on groceries.

My food expenses were not that high in the first place, but over time I have implemented a few steps that improve my results. With some experimentation along the way, I now spend approximately 35 percent less than I did when I moved to North Carolina.

I started this series with this post.

I want to mention an important thing, which is that I am a single person. My ability to save probably benefits from this factor. Being single gives me some flexibility that I might not have with dependents. I don’t have to prepare school lunches, for example. I eat everything because I have that discipline, but I would not have that same level of control if I had little ones to feed.

I regularly eat for about ninety dollars per month. You may know that the monthly food stamp budget for a one-person household is $194. I mention that because I want you to feel comfortable about trying this plan. You don’t have to spend less than $100 per month per person to be a success. Most people will be able to spend more than me and yet still reduce their overall food costs. You can live well within your means even if you cannot be as dedicated as I am.

Thus, even after acknowledging how my family size might matter, I believe that all of the changes I have made are entirely replicable by anyone. You need to have two things in your favor: you must have rudimentary cooking skills, and you will need the ability to plan. In both instances, you do not need to be a top performer.

I said it in my earlier posts, but the easiest way to save money on groceries is only to buy what you need. I almost never throw anything out. I know what’s in the refrigerator. I understand how long I have before it spoils. I make sure I either eat it, or use it in a recipe, or freeze it, or somehow process it. It matters not how I do it, so much as that I can freeze it and then use it later.

Picture of card
Picture of card

Some things might not be worth the savings—you’re the only one who can decide that. Be aware of what you are buying. You need to know not just the price of a good, but also how much of it you will need to prepare a meal. If you don’t like to eat it, then finding it for a low price is not a good deal.

I encourage you to shop around, not only by comparing the cost of something at different stores but also by looking out for lower-cost substitutes. The grocery store might charge six times more for oregano in the regular spice aisle than it does for the same thing in the ethnic food area. Asian stores often have the best prices for rice and noodles. Learn which stores have the best prices for the things you like to eat. I cannot explain, but neither can I ignore it. I see an opportunity, and I take it, and so should you.  

It should go without saying that store brands present a disciplined shopper with excellent opportunities for saving. However, if you are reading this blog, I expect that you have already come to that conclusion. Store brands are low-hanging fruit.

It is and if there are options for getting the same thing (or almost the same thing, or not the same thing but pretty much just as good) more cheaply—and whether the amount of time you would have to spend to save however much money you would save is worth it.

I hope these ideas will help you think about how you can save money on your food bill. It has worked well for me. I can live by these rules. It succeeds because I don’t mind living within these structures. I can shop this way without making my life one of drudgery and tedium. You will have your methods, but remember, they will only work if you can still satisfy your hunger and your taste buds.

Note: This entry is from Rebecca Currie. Rebecca writes a wonderful blog on saving money. You can see more of her work at "Less is Enough: Because More than Enough is Too Much." 

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