November 13, 2010

Need some help

I write a weekly article for a news site and I am doing some research on an emergency menu plan.  Basically if you were faced with a sudden reduction in income for a period of time, what is the least amount of money that you could live on for groceries?  Hillbilly Housewife has an emergency menu plan, but I want to try creating one on my own.

So if you were faced with a layoff, have lived on food stamps, faced a major expense and must reduce the amount of money you spend on groceries, what would be a fair grocery amount for a family of 2 adults and 2 kids?  Actually, I would like to do two separate menu plans, one for 2 adults and 2 small children and one for 2 adults and 2 teenagers.

In figuring out the amount to use, I am struggling with how much I should figure that a family would have in the pantry or freezer.  I thought it would be a minimal amount such as some flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon.  As to the freezer and fridge, perhaps a small amount of ketchup and mustard.  What do you think?

This emergency food plan would be temporary and would last from one week to two weeks with the goal of saving grocery money to be used towards an emergency expense or until unemployment benefits/food assistance is available.  I also want to provide menus that are nutritious, albeit humble.  I realize that a big part of saving money will be that an individual will have to learn to make a few simple items from scratch.

Why now?  A major employer in our area is laying off 250 people.  Also we are seeing more and more people in our community struggling with the effects of the Great Recession.  I remember hearing on the news two years ago about people in California living in tent cities and all the job losses.  Being as Iowa is located in the center of the country and our economy is more farm related, we did not feel the effects of the Recession until much later and hence, we will recover later than those coastal states.

So what are your thoughts to an amount of money per week for the two family scenarios and also to a minimal amount of food that would be in this family's pantry/fridge/freezer?


Moxie said...

If this helps I did a post with full menu and shopping list with prices. The post is from 2008 but honestly I looked back over it and the prices haven't changed that much. At the very bottom of the post I link to a few other articles about low cost menus. in 2008 my 4 kids were 13,10,10,and 8. Heres the link

Kim said...

I am really interested in seeing your menu plan when you get it together. There are 4 of us in my house, my husband, myself and our boys will be 13 next month and eat us out of house and home! We live on a very tight budget and I'm always trying to cut down on our grocery bill. I'm very excited when I can get out of the store for under $100. Normally by bill comes to about $130 a week but that also has my cleaning thing in there when I need them. I don't make things from scratch mainly because I work full time and don't really have the time during the week. But I'm trying to get better and make things on the weekends to make that easier. I love all of your great tips and I'm learning a lot from them! Thank you!

Martha said...

To Moxie:

Thanks oodles. I have some ideas, but I really wanted to get some more input. I'll take a peak at the link after dinner.

To Kim:

I worked full time until last year and was trying to keep my grocery bill down. Just do the best you can. I found that I could find the time to save money in some areas (such as making my own household cleaners) as that didn't take as much of my time.

Thanks for your kind words.


Debs said...

I'd be interested to read your article, or a summary there of on your blog if you can't link to the whole thing.

The way i keep costs down to to buy a lot of stuff reduced. That means we don't do a menu plan so much as eat what i've found to buy! Or what's in season - for example at the moment i can see myself using lots of pumpkin and squash in recipes.

I have to go as I'm supposed to be off the computer and out the house already, but i'll check back later

Debs said...

Things that I would tend to always have on hand would be things like herbs, spices, oil, vinegar, a can or two or tomatoes and the same of some beans or other, or some dried beans. I have things like soy sauce and worcester sauce too.
I'd probably have rice or pasta too, and flour.

Things i might not have, depending on when i last shopped would be eggs, cheese, fresh fruit and veg (although i try to always have a pack of some sort of frozen veg in the freezer). But i ususally have onions and garlic.

Lately i've been buying cheap cuts of meat like beef skirt or the stuff that's just labelled 'stewing meat'. I look at the price per kg to check i'm getting the cheapest.