I am attempting to feed my family well on half the USDA food allowance.
One of the first things we did was to visit the local bean elevator and purchase beans, rice, barley, and lentils in bulk. Beans average fifty cents a pound purchased this way, the rice slightly higher. I'd never had fresh dried beans before, and there is a huge difference. They cook in a couple of hours, no overnight soak, and they're more tender. Makes me wonder just how old the ones in the store actually are...
The USDA allowance chart for June 08 would let us spend $464.30 on food monthly. This is the thrifty plan. The liberal plan would be $908.90. I'm not sure how realistic this actually is for most of us. My goal is to spend $250.00 or less for food each month. Summer is fairly easy, as the garden is producing and we eat a LOT of squash and tomatoes!
We don't buy a lot of canned soup, as the sodium content is so high, but I am working on canning soups myself, to drop the cans bought to zero. The current project is chili, with cheap beans and a five pound pack of hamburger that is threatening to freezerburn if I don't use it. I don't remember how much the meat cost, but it was on sale--I will average it at 1.99 a pound.
Did you know you can ask the meat dept to grind your purchase into hamburger and they will usually do it for free? Lean hamburger has been as high as 3.99 a pound for super lean at Safeway, but they had a sale on london broil last month, it was 1.99 a pound........so if you have that ground at the store, or do it at home, that's 2.00 saving per pound, and it's better for you!