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How much do you all spend on food? Groceries vs. Dining out?

or can anyone point me to the discussion thread if this has been shared before?

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  1. The subject has been brought up in the past, but I don't see the harm in a new thread.

    We spend more than average on dining out.....$2500-$3000/month. We spend about $100/week on food for the house (does not include household items, pet food, paper products, etc.) and about $600-$750 on beer, wine and liquor.

    We're empty nesters.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Janet from Richmond

      Is that alcohol figure per week or per month?!

      1. re: Peg

        I'm sorry (it is unclear)...the alcohol figure was for the month at home.

        1. re: Janet from Richmond

          We spend approx.$125 a week on groceries[ CSA box, Trader Joes and Whole foods]] and $250-$350 on dinners out. Double income,no kids. vegetarian@home. omnivores elsewhere. Thanks for the new thread!

      2. These are approx. figures but we spend 50-100 on groceries weekly (grocery store and CSA). That includes 4 dinners, all paper products/cleaning product (but nothing for pets), breakfast everyday, and 5 lunches. My SO buys lunch 5-10 daily (although I wouldn't need to spend much more to send lunch with him but he refuses).

        We eat out pretty much Fri, Sat and Sun (per the SO's request). Meals usually range from 20-100 for the two of us. We try to vary the cost so it isn't 100 at every meal. We don't really drink so I would say we usually spend 0-50 a month on alcohol depending.

        1. again 2 people no kids. both in the service industry so we end up eating at odd hours and hanging out with coworkers and colleagues. we probably spend 90% of our food and drink money, out. Our fridge is pathetic....56 kinds of mustard, some eggs and a quart of milk for coffee.

          that being said, I would say we easily spend $2500/mo. eating/drinking. What can I say, not having kids is effing great!:-)

          1. I'm not entirely sure how much we spend on groceries, because we buy whole hogs, sides of beef, and many chickens at a time (either organic or naturally raised), so we rarely buy meat at the stores. And when we travel to someplace with decent grocery stores (like the Whole Foods in Omaha) we go wild and stock up.

            But, that said, I'd guess approximately $500 per month on groceries--for three adults (well, 18 is "adult" in theory, if not always in practice ;-) We eat out about once a week at a cheap and delicious ethnic restaurant--usually Vietnamese or Mexican--and that runs about $25 for three. And we (shame) have probably one or two fast food "meals" a momth, for another $10--15. About twice a month, we are in a city and have a fancier restaurant meal--probably $40--50. So, on average, about $200 on eating out. I'm an excellent cook--if I do say so myself--and also grow a lot of vegetables every summer, and am gradually augmenting our fruit needs, too (apple trees, pear trees, an apricot tree, two cherries, one plum, also strawberries, raspberries, and black berries...) but the trees are just starting to bear, so it'll be a few more years before I have enough to both eat and preserve.

            We had a huge splurge this month, and celebrated our anniversary at one of the nicest restaurants in the Twin Cities--multiple-course tasting menu with a wine flight--and STILL that came to only $320. I cannot imagine how one spends ten times this much every month. Must live in an extremely expensive part of the country?

            I buy high quality groceries--organic staples, imported cheeses, good quality olive oil, etc.--and we also drink about two/three bottles of wine and a couple six packs of beer, a month. We're not into the harder stuff.

            1. Singleton in the UK - an average for the past couple of years (I have embarrassingly detailed accounts) - per month I spent:- on eating and drinking out £90, on alcohol at home £58 and on food at home £157. I eat veggie and occasional fish.
              To put that in some context, I am a reasonably paid IT professional.
              I think people eat out far less frequently than in the US - and friends often meet up at home for drinks, as going out is so expensive - not to mention the seemingly British phenomenon of the Friday night hell that is the city centre full of drunks.

              1. I live in a very expensive country, Switzerland, where meat prices make one shudder (1 chicken costs about $30 and 1lb of ground beef will put you back approximately $10, nicer cuts such as a steak on the bone run around $30 per pound - and this is the grocery store and not the butcher). However, we have lovely fruits and vegetables that are grown locally and can be purchased both in the grocery stores and at the farmers market or directly from the farmers.

                For a family of four I spend close to $300 per week on food and probably about $400 a month on eating out - which is also very expensive here so we go out once maybe twice a month, and often without the kids.

                In general, people in Switzerland tend to eat at home and have people over for entertaining rather than going out as it is so expensive. It doesn't mean we don't go out, it is just that it is more of a special occasion type of thing rather than a "I don't feel like cooking tonight" option.

                But it is a lovely place to live, so I am not complaining!

                1. We spend $900 or so total each month between groceries and eating out for the two of us in the Boston area. I'd say the grocery/dining out split is something like $300/600. When I was working, the number was more like $1200 per month, probably with a similar split. We don't eat meat of any kind. My husband doesn't drink and I will have 3 or so drinks per month during the course of eating out.

                  Most of the dining out is done in small increments. My husband buys lunch at work, I'll often buy lunch on the way to class. We never eat breakfast out. We eat $20-25 meals out fairly often at sandwich or ethnic places. 1 night a week we probably spent $40 or so on dinner, but we rarely have a meal more expensive than that.

                  I'd like to eat out less, but I usually don't have the energy or am not around and my husband breaks into a cold sweat at the thought of cooking (apparently even though he knows how to some extent it really stresses him out). Hence, lots of sandwiches and thai and indian food. We try to at least eat vaguely healthy when we're not cooking, which is a lot easier when you're vegetarian.

                  Also Trader Joe's is my best friend. I spend $200/month there on frozen stuff that will often become my lunch.

                  1. In Quebec here, 2 adults and 1 toddler = 400$/month groceries (including household stuff) + maybe 50$ dining out..

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: AnchovyBourdain

                      This sounds like our household, maybe a bit more on eating out (and I mean just a bit more, probably more like US$60/month).

                    2. Empty nest professional West Coasters here. I'm exalted ruler of our local Elks Lodge this year so we eat a number of meals at the lodge at a cost of $12 to $20 per meal. (The chicken fried steak last night was especially good.) We spend about $150 on groceries each week and probably another $100 or so per week on beer and wine. Plus I often buy visiting Elks drinks in the lodge bar. What really ups our grocery bills are the non-edibles......paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc. That's what irks me!! How can one couple spend $2,500 or more a month on meals and drinks? Wow! I'd like to try that for just one month.....to see what it's like :=)

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: pilotgirl210

                        I would say that close to half that total is booze(at least in my example). cocktails are around $10each, beer around $5/pint.......as far as food goes, we eat out almost exclusively and look at it as our primary entertainment as well. We don't have much more time than that anyways. Take your food budget and entertainment(hobbies included) and add them together, that is about what you'd be looking at if you were in my shoes.

                        1. re: nkeane

                          Come visit my Elks Lodge. I'll buy you a few rounds. Well drinks are $2.25 each and cocktails using the high-shelf brands (as in my Cosmos) are $5.

                      2. thanks everyone! i keep hearing, oh, we don't spend more than $300 a month on food! glad to know that's not the case for a lot of folks.

                        i've been trying to keep the food costs to less than $1000 a month for 2 adults and 1 toddler. this includes groceries and dining out. it usually averages $1000 to $1500 a month. i'm gonna blame my husband who likes to drink (30% of food expense is his alcohol) and my toddler :P. he doesn't eat too much, but there is a lot of "convenience" shopping plus i spend a lot of $$$ on his organic fruits.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: lucymom

                          I only feel guilty about how much I spend on food when I have to trash it for no better reason.

                          p.s. I drink expired milk if it smells fine to me.

                          1. re: lucymom

                            I keep hearing that kind of talk too; the two of us spend at least $400 and up to $600 or more on food, including a bit of take out. I work in the food business so I get my share of free samples and still, if you really track it, at least $100 a week of just basics. I pretty much cook everything from scratch. Before I started a spread sheet (out of curiosity), I would have said I pay $50 a week, but start counting farm stands, trips to Trader Joes and other splurge places, and the occasional pizza out, and you will see the real total. Otherwise your head is in the sand. PS my liquor bills are in a separate column......probably like 30% too. And that's drinking entirely at home, to save money. I do include all paper goods purchased at the grocery store though.

                            1. re: coll

                              Not to burst anyone's bubble, but we spend around $300 a month on food, sometimes less. He eats out once in awhile (I'm not physically up to it) but probably not even once a week, if that.

                              We don't eat a lot of meat. I think it's been over a month since the last time I cooked any meat. My son eats very little meat. Pepperoni on pizzas, the odd corn dog, but no actual meat entres. That probably make a giant difference.

                              1. re: ZenSojourner

                                I don't buy anything that's not on sale at my regular grocery stops (I think they call me a barnacle?) and never pay more than $3.99/lb for any type of meat. Once or twice a year maybe I'll spend less than $400 a month, due to no sales or what's left around from last month in the freezer. Approx. once a month we get a pizza, just a pie, for about $10, and not much else for take out. Unfortunately, my husband's idea of a balanced diet includes meat at least a couple of times a week, well he'd like it every day but I've put a stop to that. These are my top prices I'd pay: $3.99 for PSMO, ribeye or porterhouse, $2.99 for top round or brisket, $1 for chicken, $3.99 for deli. Fish I'd go a little higher as long as it's fresh. So meat's not really that much of a splurge, you just have to shop around and freeze what's on sale. If I cut back anymore, I'd have to eat frozen junk food too I guess.

                                1. re: coll

                                  But frozen junk food is actually MORE expensive than cooking from scratch!

                                  I think I figured out once that making my own pizza cost me like 85c per pie. That was like 15 years ago though. Maybe it'd be about $1.25 now, LOL!

                                  I don't know. I just know our food bill isn't all that awful.

                                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                                    If my husband ate what I told him to, I'd be a lot richer! But I try to keep him happy, and myself healthy, so there's a bit of an overlap.

                          2. Single person in New England -- spend about $270 a month total including groceries, alcohol, CSA, farmer's market, take out (including $37 a month just on coffee to go) and eating out.

                            Does not include non-food household supplies.

                            1. I keep it to about $100/wk for food. This theoretically includes pet food but I don't freak if I go over a little if it's a week where I have to buy a bag of food. This is for 2 adults and 1 16 year old football player (aka black hole that consumes everything in sight). This covers most meals-I bring leftovers for my lunch, and the weekly total includes sandwich stuff or hot dogs for my husband to keep at work for his. We're not really drinkers, so that does cut it down, although I do cook with alcohol so it's not nothing.

                              I actually just graduated and got a reasonable job, so we were on a total lockdown budget and now have a little more wiggle room. I'm currently trying to figure out what might be worth splurging on. I can't go nuts but I'm trying to think about what is worth the extra expense now that I'm not forced to keep it to a minimum or not eat. I've determined that decent olive oil and even a wee little wedge of respectable cheese are worth the cost. I would eventually like to up the quality of our meat but I'm still working on stabilizing the finances enough for that. I eat veg at least 3-4 nights a week but my husband is not good with that and will happily take a crappy steak I got for 99 cents/pound and tossed on the George Foreman over a pretty respectable lentil dish. My stepson is a little more adventurous but he is partial to Top Ramen (with hoisin) and Cup O'Noodles. It's so hard to step away from those since he loves them and they're ridiculously cheap.

                              1. For my family of 4 (2 very hungry adults, 2 small children that eat fine)- we spend $825/ month on groceries, CSA (summer & winter shares, including some meat, all eggs), milk delivery, farmer's market, beer & wine (thank goodness for Costco!), and household goods. Eating out we are working on decreasing as we were spending way more than we realized- between my husband's lunches out & the occasional dinner or lunch out, we were spending about $400 dining out. And we weren't going full on fancy out, either. We have a goal to cut that in half, so we can have some money around to host a Christmas party this year. So far this month, we've only spent $50 dining out.

                                I have a good friend that claims they (2 adults & 2 kiddos) only spend $500 max on their groceries & beer. I call bullsh*t, but won't ruin a good friendship to argue about it :)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: tall sarah

                                  Ditto. In this area, I'd call BS too, unless the kids are very young and don't eat much. Or maybe the kids get lunch at school or qualify for free/reduced lunch? I'm shocked at how little school lunch costs...but then I look at the menu and can see why. I mean, on some days kids can get PB and marshmallow fluff sandwiches (WTF is up with that?! that's basically whipped HFCS!) if they don't want the hot entree.

                                  For my family of 5 (2 hungry adults and 3 very hungry children), we spend $900-$1000/month on groceries (just food, no household goods), and around $150 on meals out (one meal for the family all together, a couple work lunches for DH, after 8 take out for DH and I once in a while).

                                  Aaaaah...this thread makes me feel soooo much better. On another board I frequent (not food related), I was too chicken to answer because our numbers were so high in comparison to others.

                                2. Interesting thread. Having just taken a closer look at our monthly spending, I can actually answer. This month we spent about $1600 on dining out (restaurants and takeout, which probably doesn't include a fair number of my lunches during the week). We spent about $700 on groceries and $450 on beer/wine. We are two overworked lawyers with a toddler in nyc, who enjoy eating out, particularly on the weekends. This month also included one special occasion dinner -- extravagant tasting menu, wine pairings, etc. ($400+). Average weekend night dinners are usually $150 or so. This month we actually made an effort to cook at home much more during the week than the month before when the restaurant/delivery total was about $2700.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: MAH

                                    I'm glad to see we're not the only over worked NYers on this thread. We're a family of three. Typical groceries run a minimum of $800 a month. But the wife and I buy lunch everyday and I don't even think about that as part of our food bill. More like petty cash expenditures but its probably $75-100 a week each so lets add $750 a month for lunches. Then we eat out a least once each weekend and then add an extra dinner, two or three a month when we got out just because so at about $150+/- a dinner that adds at least another $1000 a month. Then there's the a least once a week delivery b/c we're too tired to cook at $50 so add another $200. Finally we have the once a month delivery of wine from the local shop at about $250. So all in we're around $3000 a month without including special occasions or times that I or the wife go out with friends. I know this total will seem outrageous to many, but I don't think it’s atypical for a busy professional couple in NYC with kids.

                                  2. i'm single & i live alone, and i prepare the majority of my meals from scratch and only eat out about once a month...and since i have maybe one glass of wine every 6 months, i don't factor in the cost of alcohol. my grocery bill traditionally runs anywhere from $100-$200 per week depending on what i'm making and how many staples i need to replenish.

                                    since i'm no longer shopping at Whole Paycheck, i'll be curious to see if it changes over the next few months...

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      "Whole Paycheck"


                                      I bet you will see a difference, for the better. Just walking in to that place frightened me out of a years growth.

                                      And I don't have a year's growth to spare - I'm not even 5'2"

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        Heh. Whole Foods is the grocery store most convenient for me, since I have no car, so I get most of my food from there with a bus trip to a Target/huge supermarket maybe once or twice a month to supplement...

                                        Single and live alone, so I spend around $50ish every week? Some weeks are more (especially when I'm stocking up on staples or at stores where I don't go to often, such as Trader Joe's...with a car!) and some weeks are less, but everything sort of evens out to $50ish a week. I don't find Whole Foods that much more expensive than Trader Joe's, and I definitely buy FAR less junk at Whole Foods than I do at TJ's. I could never rely on TJ's for produce alone like I can with Whole Foods, for instance. And WF isn't as reliant on their special, high-caloric offerings as TJ's is. Some staple items are the same price or only 10 cents or so more if you stick with the 365 brand or the weekly sales at WF. If you shop there enough, you can learn to weed out the great values from the splurges.

                                        Eating out...maybe once a week, on average. I usually spend around $25ish per week on eating out, but splurge every once in a while. It's really hard to measure for me, but never more than say...$150/month.

                                        And I still waste so much food and have plenty of stuff in the pantry/freezer. I always try to use up the stuff I have, but also always seem to keep accruing stuff on the shelves!

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          We're in the Boston area and after I quit my job, Whole Foods just wasn't feasible for the majority of our shopping anymore. The killer? Produce. They actually are quite reasonably priced for staples and carry a lot of ingredients that are difficult to get anywhere else.

                                          We have to get a lot of produce because we have rabbits and paying $3/tiny bunch of kale at Whole Foods was destroying us. We now go to Russo's once every two weeks and never pay more than $40 for a gigantic shopping cart full of fruits and veggies. We figured out once that we would have spent >$30 on kale at Whole Foods that cost $3.74 at Russos. We love our bunnies, but seriously Whole Foods? That's absurd.

                                          It's a shame because I was happy shopping at Whole Foods for everything.

                                          1. re: tazia

                                            I spent the majority of last year helping my friend raise rabbits and pigs on a farm in northern California. We would go to Whole Foods almost everyday to pick up produce for the animals. They keep it in big, wooden pallets in the rear of the store, outside, where the deliveries are taken.
                                            You have to go through and pick and choose what you want (gloves are advised for this), but most days the produce was in pretty good shape and the animals loved it.
                                            Not sure if all WF do this, the workers were fine with people coming to take cast-off produce for their chickens, rabbits, gerbils, whatever. As long as we left it as clean and orderly as we found it.
                                            The fruit in the summertime made the pigs go crAzy. And it was all free.
                                            I live up here now, not on the farm, and still think about the almost pristine herbs, onions and squash we used to come across. Yes, we sometimes ate it too. Hey, farmers are poor!

                                          2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            I'm also single and live alone. Additionally, I'm a vegetarian. On average, I spend about $70 per week on groceries, $15 per week on coffee, and $15 on eating out (as in, I eat out every other week and spend $30). My average weekly alcohol spending is probably $10; most weeks I don't drink, sometimes I go out and have five cocktails. I have a weird habit: when I'm home from grocery shopping I usually go over my bill with a highlighter and highlight anything that cost $4 or more. Seeing that it's usually the processed or packaged things that cost more (except for the odd large bag of rice, beans, nuts, etc.) always reminds me to make good choices the next time.

                                          3. Today I went "really crazy" and spent $40 at Sprouts. They had all their freshmade chicken sausages as well as boneless, skinless chicken thighs on sale for $1.99/lb. I eat very little meat (chicken) but I figured it was time to stock up. That was probably half, and then the other $20 was a case of sparkling water, some cheese, and lots of veggies.

                                            All the chicken will be frozen in individual portions and will last me for months. I stuff the freezer at work with my food that won't fit in my home freezer. A full freezer is an efficient freezer, right?

                                            This may sound silly, but I'd like to eat out more. There are a lot of things I'd like to try, but as a single diner it is tough. I can only eat so much!

                                            Right now I probably spend less than $200/month for me. I also have to feed my cat and my two horses, but shockingly enough my horses have been on pasture for the past 2 1/2 years and I haven't had to feed them. I've just moved them closer to me but I still don't think they will cost more than $200/month this winter to feed them.

                                            1. I'm with Peg: "Does that include alcohol?" LOL. That's easily the most expensive thing I buy. I'm single, so I don't have to buy all that much, but it really varies.

                                              I'd say from $30-60 per week, and that varies if I'm including wine in that, even cheap box wine, LOL. Going out is so, SO expensive. I have a non-foodie who eats out EVERY day, because she'll do anything to avoid cooking. I don't know how she affords it. Even at just $5 per day times thirty, that's still $150, and not with any ofl the benefits of cooking like left overs, ingredients being purchased that last for a long time and build up your larder, etc.

                                              1. I spend about $400 per month on food and paper products, for 2 people. I freeze alot so very little goes to waste, buy bulk a few times each month. I also buy local meat (1/4beef) for the chest freezer.
                                                I probably spend about 50 bucks per month for happy hour drinks and snacks (I find great places that have 5 dollar drinks). I rarely eat meals at resto's with regularity anymore.
                                                I have an extensive wine collection that I am trying to decrease by selling some and drinking more, so I shop at home for that :)

                                                1. Hmm, tough to be exact, sometimes I buy groceries at Super Target, and there's cleaning supplies, etc, thrown in. But mostly shop at Central Market, a nice store here in Texas. So in November (I did go back and tally, haha) it was $1331 on groceries and $980 on dining out.
                                                  There is alcohol in there, but we also go to the liquor store. 2 adults, 1 income, mid 30's. One person is very health concious with the food (not beer, lol), costing a bit more. I have a pretty deep pantry with spices and such, so I think that helps save. When we hosted a teen last year for a period of time or grocery bill was noticeably higher, maybe by about $500 a month.

                                                  1. Intriguing question! The two of us in Alberta spend about $400 -500 per month on groceries and very little on eating out usually. NO restaurants or specialty food shops where we live - we have to drive 3 hours to good ones. Thankfully I love to cook! However, we do travel to Europe lots and go wild on meals. When we do eat out we do tend to splurge. So, if you factor in trips the amounts really do add up! Some months are definitely well over the above amounts. Some are also less. We grow most of our own veggies and herbs and our own freezing/preserving/canning. Heck - I make most of our condiments from ketchups to mustards to vinegars to Thai chile pastes to seasoning mixes to jams. But when we do get to the city, watch out! We buy truffles and other decadent yummies.

                                                    We also know hunters so get elk, moose, pheasant, venison, wild boar regularly. My brother also raises varoius free range livestock including poultry.

                                                    1. Currently, I think I'm spending too much dining out, but the holidays and long work hours are to blame.

                                                      Groceries: $50 per week
                                                      Dining out: $150 to $300 per week

                                                      For the new year, my goal is to shoot for $100/$100 with the hopes of saving money.