WEll I try to spend less than $400 a month. On months I know we are gonna be short, I spend even less, but thats where my stockpile comes into play and saves the day. I have a family of 5 and try to spend less than $100 a week. This month with Christmas, I only spent a little more than $200 for the month, using up a good portion of my stockpile. I still have tons left in the freezer, but I need to restock my dry things.
First go to the store and save your reciept. Do it for a couple weeks and see where you are spending the most. The first thing I started doing was buying a little bit ahead each week. Like when I buy deli ham, I buy 2 lbs in seperate packages and throw one in the freezer. That will usually last us a few weeks. Now I budget in buying 2 lbs of ham all the time. At one time I had about 5 lbs of ham in the freezer and didn't need to buy deli ham for quite some time. I also never buy cheese at the deli, unless its on sale. I know bad bad, but I'd rather buy the packaged kind and save myself tons per pound.
When I buy meat, I look for the sale, and try to buy in bulk. I can buy myself a whole pork loin for around $18-$20, then I can cut it up into chops and get probably about 4 or 5 meals out of it, depending on how many chops you cut. I look for Turkeys that are .59 a lb, and when I cook it up, I throw the leftovers in the freezer, and save them for another meal. Pair it with box stuffing or potatoes and you have a CHEAP meal. Great value gravy is only .33 a package, and frozen veggies are less than $1, you probably won't even use the whole bag.
COUPONS COUPONS COUPONS. If you hit that one great sale and use your coupons, STOCK UP, and save for a rainy day! I'm just getting to the bottom of the 20 boxes of cereal I had hanging around here, but I still have tons of pasta and sauce, about 12 meals worth. That always makes for a cheap meal, and less I have to shop for the next time I go.
Try to cook from scratch as much as you can. Premade foods add up fast, real fast. Like I said, I use alot of box mixes, wicked cheap meals and not very time consuming at all. I dont' like meals that take alot of time or ingredients, so I don't bother. You can also make your crock pot your best friend. If thats why your buying premade foods, that is, to save time.
Menus help too! If you plan out what you are gonna cook weekly, it will save you tons when you go to the store becasue you don't purchase tons of stuff you don't need for justin' case. Make your menu and shop for only what you need for that week, plus extra for snacks and drinks. You will find yourself saving TONS.