Grocery Savings Through Portion Control

by Mess Sgt. John Harris

Portion control is a budgetary method to determine as closely as possible how much food will be needed to feed a certain amount of people for a certain amount of time.

As an example, there are eight people to feed, one of the main entrees for a particular day is meat loaf. As a rule of thumb each person is allowed 4 oz of meat. This would take 2 lbs. of ground round @ $1.59 per pound. The amount allotted in the budget for this particular item is $3.18. Extrapolate this amount per person for each menu item per person per day, and you will come up with a figure for food purchases to feed this amount of people for however long the budget is planned for.

The primary step is to plan meals using the allotted amount per person (aka "portion control" to arrive at the amount needed to budget for the food to buy. The next step is learning how to increase and decrease recipes to arrive at the amounts needed, to stay within the budget. This also eliminates waste, a large cause of deficit spending.

This is not theory. This method has been used by both caterers and the Military for ages where batch or institutional food preparation is standard operational procedure. Any successful caterer uses portion control and the Army would have to answer to Congress if it didn't use it.

Mess Sgt. John Harris is retired USMC and a graduate of LeNicole Culinary Arts School, Baltimore MD.

Insider Reports is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have information that can help others save time or money please send it to with "Insider" as the subject.

Take the Next Step

  • Once you trim the grocery budget, don't waste that extra money! Consider opening a savings account to start an emergency fund or save for some other financial goal.
  • Continue to trim food costs by visiting our food & groceries section to get tips and tools for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.
  • Try 'portion control' for one week and see how it affects your family and your grocery bill.
  • Stop struggling to get ahead financially. Subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!

Stay Connected with TDS


It's tough raising kids today!

Dollar Stretcher for Parents is a weekly newsletter designed just for parents that will help save your family both time and money.

Little Luxuries

And get a copy
of our ebook
Little Luxuries:
130 Ways to Live Better...For Less
for FREE!

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

Get Out of Debt