HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Your food budget

I've always tried to balance healthy eating with fiscally responsible eating whcih can be a challenge when my favorite cookie is on sale 2 for 1. *sigh*

I've been on a budget for the last year or so and have found that this is what works for me. I'm curious if I'm above or below other folks.

Stats: I'm a single guy (40's) in Atlanta, GA. About 40lbs over my ideal weight.

$200 for Groceries for the month ($6-$7 per day)
$150 for Restaurants (that includes having someone go with me so it may only be one or two meals)
$30 Fast food (one or two meals)

What's the verdict? How does your budget work out (try to be honest!)

Note: I just joined CH the other day so play nice with the newbie please!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. That’s pretty good.

    I am feeding me, my husband my daughter who is 12, my step son who is 25 and his girlfriend who is 20 & also lives with us

    I spend about $150 a week on groceries. It varies up and down, depending on weeks that I’m freezer diving for meals, and those weeks where we seemed to have run out of EVERYTHING so I’m giving that as an average over a month’s time

    We eat out once a week for three of us and some weeks we’ll have a second night out for just my hubby and I (date night) that probably averages to another $100 a week if you break it down over a month)

    To be fair, we eat very little prepared foods and I rarely buy snacks and we eat little meat in comparison to vegetables/fruits/grains.

    I plan on leftovers from meals to pack lunches for my husband, my daughter and I

    I buy grains in bulk, I shop the farmers market for produce in season and we utilize the chest freezer. I spend as little as I can on other foods because I don’t buy meat milk or eggs at the super market (well, except for fish), so my “food cost” goes up there. (which is also why we don’t eat much meat)

    1. There are just the 2 of us, and we are retired. I cook; Mr. Sueatmo cleans up. We shop together for the most part. Our weekly budget is $150, but I often spend more because I make a supplemental trip to WF almost every week. I eat low carb, and he eats low fat. (I eat low fat too--mostly.) I try to give us good food, but the cost of protein has become a challenge. I try to give us one or two meatless meals weekly, and I cook some sort of fish for us both, and eat canned fish myself, several times a month. I cook breakfast for one or two every day, and I cook most suppers. We generally get our own lunches.

      I regret paying so much for food, but since we require different things it is hard to keep costs down as much as I would like.

      We have learned to enjoy cheese sandwiches for supper, from time to time!

      1. Welcome, Aabacus! :)

        Two adults full time and two pre-teens half time, we spend $80 to $100 a week on groceries, some kind of animal protein most lunches and dinners, a LOT of fresh produce, and not too many processed or snacky type foods.

        This also includes our toiletries, paper and cleaning products, though, which, if subtracted, might decrease the weekly expenditure about $10.

        *Probably about $100 for alcohol @ home. And another $200 for drinking/dining out.

        1. Hi Aabacus. Of course we'll play nice.
          Here's what I think. $200 sounds pretty restrictive to me. It certainly can be done: I've done it on less and fed more people, but it requires a devotion to cooking your own unprocessed food.
          You mention a weight problem. Soooo...and I totally am NOT trying to be mean here..the Fast Food needs to go, immediately. If you knocked out those calories now, in a year you'll have lost 8-9 lbs. of unhealthiness. Apply the $30 to your grocery budget.
          My budget at home works well. We spend roughly $100 weekly on groceries. I estimate I spend 40-60 bucks on supplemental or impulse purchases. We budget 200-300 bucks for dining out, and are not huge fans of Thee Biggest Best Restaurant Experience, so we eat a lot of ethnic food, and are able to dine out more frequently because of the cost differential. There's a little room to play but I try to avoid that and stick to our planned budget, and I usually do.

          1. $200 per month is, indeed restrictive, but I have been spending around that myself for quite some time. I currently live with my boyfriend, and our total budget is around double that -- it still ends up being around $50 per week, per person, but it's easier to eat well for less when you're pooling your resources. We might go out for a cheap meal once or twice a month if we have a bit of extra cash, but we eat most of our meals in. If we have a little extra, we usually spend it on wine to go with our homemade dinner.

            There are certainly times (this week, for example) when I spend too much, too early and have to eat whatever's in the back of the cupboards to make it through to payday. I figure this sharpens my cooking skills, though, and forces me to search out new and interesting recipes that can be made with what's on hand.

            2 Replies
            1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

              I like your attitude, BBL. And always remember: when you have that odd collection of random ingredients, post it on WFD and ask for help making something out of it. I guarantee you'll get it.

              1. re: mamachef

                Yes! I've been loving the WFD thread since I started posting here (only a couple weeks ago).

                Another good strategy when you're low in food is to google the ingredients you have and see what comes up.

            2. Hmm. Two adults here, just outside of Chicago, and it really varies greatly, but I would say we spend between one hundred to two hundred a week.

              The higher average is, as cgarner said, those weeks where, every time I turn around, I'm using the last little squeeze or bit of something that I either buy in bulk (catfood, bar soap, olive oil, etc), or that lasts a good while before it needs replenishing (vinegars, mustard, dried peppers, baking supplies, etc). We eat a mainly vegetarian diet here, and I would estimate our food costs (excluding toiletries and liquor), to average out to sixty bucks a week.

              We've drastically cut back on dining out within the last few months, but I have no idea what the man spends outside of the house on random drive-thru's and such. I'm quite good at making use of what is on sale, or just plain cheap in the first place. Being frugal this way can be fun, especially if you like beans and eggs, and enjoy making the most of the spice cabinet. Which I *do*. Welcome to CH. :)

              1. Wow, so many great folks. I wish I had the time to reply to each one of you. I agree that I'm running things a little tight and do roll in to that $200 things like paper towels and the old bit of brass polish or Christmas card. However, I try very hard to only buy what I need and will use. My waste has gone down as well as my spend, so that's a nice bennie.

                Yeah, I wish I could cut that last $30 of fast food out of my budget but Arby's is a guilty pleasure. However, I recently found the recipe for their Bronco Berry sauce and already make my own poppers so Arby's "could" be history.

                I've truly enjoyed floating around the board and sticking my head in various places. Great folks and the fussy ones are easily ignored. Thanks for the warm welcome.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Aabacus

                  What a great attitude to bring with you. Look forward to more of your contributions!

                  1. re: Aabacus

                    Aababus, if you MUST have that fast food flava? Google the word "copycat recipes" or just the name of the recipe. You'll be astounded at what comes up. KFC, Arby's, Denny's, Benihana, Red Rooster; the list goes on and on. Surely, you can make it at home. I've done it and been amazed at the results.. It will be better for you as well as cheaper.

                  2. Without reference to good or bad, if you're spending almost as much eating out as on groceries you haven't truly started worrying about it yet.

                    1. I live alone, and live in a smallish city area. I spend about 35-40 dollars per week on groceries. I've managed to live on about 15-20 dollars a week as well (I am a cheapskate, and even though I have the money to spend more, I choose to spend as little as possible!).

                      I love to use B/S chicken thighs (I can usually get between 6 and 8 for about 3-4 bucks a pack), pork butt steaks (have to be cooked long and slow, but once done, are tender and delicious), and sausage when it's on sale. I also buy a lot of shrimp (frozen and cheap on sale...can usually get it for 5 bucks a package), and pasta. With veggies, I eat mostly frozen (fresh goes bad too quickly sadly...living alone, I just can't eat it fast enough). I prefer fruit though, so that's where I splurge!

                      1. I'm a single girl in my late twenties in Canada. Things around here are on the expensive side, but I'm a vegetarian and I count calories (1200-1350 per day, about thirteen out of every fourteen days). I eat very, very, very few processed or packaged foods, which saves money in that I don't have to pay taxes on anything, but it's almost impossible to get coupons or other types of savings for the food I buy. I choose generic over brand-name almost all the time, and I will buy whatever brand is on sale if I've got options.

                        I spend about sixty or seventy dollars per week at grocery and health food stores, or about $275 per month. That includes a small amount on random stuff like dish soap or personal care products (if they happen to be on sale at the grocery store). I do hit up Starbucks once or twice a week, and I spend about $100 on restaurant food and drinks at bars each month.