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Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 11:19 a.m.

Can a family eat thrifty AND healthy? Let's find out

Admittedly, I'm obsessed.

It all started a few weeks ago when I was at Trader Joe's. I was just there to pick up "a few things". When I got to the register, the total came to $67!

As I was driving home I kept thinking about how lucky I was to be able to afford a spontaneous grocery store trip like that. I also started wondering what items I would have put back, if I had been on a tighter budget.

Just to be clear, it wasn't like I was buying steak and champagne.

Milk, string cheese, coffee, eggs, a bag of apples, a few loaves of bread... It all starts to add up, especially if you buy organic.

That's how my obsession started.

Food...money...privilege...deprivation...nutrition...weight...poverty... I can't stop thinking about all of those big questions.

When I got home I started exploring the USDA website for Cost of Food at Home. Our family falls somewhere between the "Moderate and Liberal" end of the spectrum.

What shocked me?

The "Thrifty" budget would only allocate my family $144.80 cents a week!

Maybe you are a thrifty shopper already and are looking at that amount and thinking "Big deal, that's easy."

Here's the catch.

The USDA has this other website called Choose MyPlate.gov. They want people to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables, consume three servings of dairy a day, choose meat less often, and eat fish twice a week.

Is that even possible? Food costs money. Veggies are expensive. Fresh fish that hasn't been shipped all the way to China and back, is pricey.

Could I follow the USDA thrifty food plan and meet the MyPlate requirements?

That's the question I'm going to answer this March with "MyPlate on My Budget".

Luckily, I'm not attempting this experiment without a lot of support. Rose McAvoy from Our Lady of Second Helpings is providing help, guidance, and yummy recipes.

March is going to be a major educational experience for my entire family.

We are going to learn about nutrition. We are going to find out where food comes from. We are going to experiment with new recipes.

There's going to be math and science and art and all sorts of things tied into this.

So stay tuned! In the meantime, you might want to check out the MyPlate on My Budget board that Rose and I are creating together on Pinterest.

Story tags » CookingPersonal FinanceNutrition

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