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If I were involved (and there’s a good reason I am not), the names of these plans would instead have been: 1) reasonable, 2) dial it back, 3) lap of luxury and 4) Alaska (yes, food is sky high expensive there).

I know from my experience in teaching, as well as my own family of six expenses (including 2 teenagers), that the to 0 per person per month is a reasonable range for food for many (if not most) American households. At 5 per person per month, you would have to eliminate most of the grocery store budget busters that add nothing to our diets but do add inches to our waistlines, such as bags of chips, expensive brand name breakfast cereals, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.

A 5 per person per month grocery budget means that dinners are not served from convenient, but expensive, heat-and-serve containers or pre-chopped bags and boxes.

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Even then, I know from personal experience and from other sources that it is possible to spend even less per month – as little as 25% of the IRS guidelines – and still eat nutritious and satisfying meals.

The first point to make is that the IRS guidelines are not suggestions nor even averages.

Best wishes on your endeavors to take control of your finances!

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However, according to 2012 data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ website, essentially ONE-HALF of all American schoolchildren are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches at schools.

A 5 per person per month grocery budget also probably means buying store brand rather than name brand products.

Such frugal budgets often require an extra hour or two per week of research on the Internet and circulars for special deals.

There was a time when our grocery shopping habits included the extensive usage of doubled-value coupons, buy-one-get-one-free coupons and the like.

However, now, grocery shopping trips typically include two trips a month to a warehouse (e.g.

Costco), a weekly run to the supermarket, an occasion visit to the local grocery store for milk, and a monthly trip to the bakery outlet for half-priced (or better) bread.

With all of these probabilities, you may be wondering what’s left to eat: crackers, peanut butter and the occasional water on the rocks?