Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Sep 22, 2011 09:13 AM

Monthly healthy food grocery bill?

My question is how much do people spend on healthy eating grocery bills for 2 adults? This includes vitamins, protein powders, and other healthy supplements. Me and my husband and our two dogs have a heck of a time trying to stay under $2000 a month, and we feel we are being very conservative. We never even eat out, brown bag lunches everyday, never a fancy dinner, hardly any snacks. But we purchase organic produce and we don't buy processed foods, no grains anymore because we don't tolerate any grain well. This way of living sounds reasonable, but we are trying to save money for a home and the cost of our grocery bill seems so high. And I'm a savvy shopper! We use Costco wherever it makes sense to. But they don't have high quality organic grass fed meats, so I have to get that from Whole Foods. I know some cannot afford it, BUT assuming you DO have the money and have chosen to live this lifestyle, how much do YOU spend on this sort of lifestyle? I'd really like to know I am not going crazy here and this really costs this much. Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I might also add that the cost above does not cover the dog food. Being that we are health nuts, we really wish we could feed our dog a raw diet. I shopped around for the best value, and Darwin natural raw dog food is the best. But we have had to stop raw food for the dogs and simply purchase a decent dry food. For our two large dogs, this costs us $150 a month (Raw would cost us $350 a month or so). I feel like we have to constantly make more compromises for what we eat and what the dogs eat, just to keep our average bill under $2300 a month. Anyway, any thoughts and advice, or stories of your own with this lifestyle would be very appreciated. Thank you!

    1. My husband and I spend about $550 per month for the two of us and a dog and cat. That doesn't include his lunches (he eats at the hospital cafe). We spend another 250 on dinner out twice a week. We too eat grass fed/pastured meat, eggs, high quality cheeses, local dairy (Shatto!), lots of vegetables and fruit.

      regarding your grass fed meat purchases, you may want to find a local rancher who will sell you a quarter or half side of grass fed/finished beef, for substantially less than you are paying at Whole Foods. We're in Kansas and can get a half for about $4 a pound, with the cuts we want.

      We also shop at the farmer's market for fruits and vegetables.

      I'm not sure what your location is, but $2000 a month sounds a bit on the high side, even for eating only grass-fed and organic.

      1. Claranie, I'm flabbergasted! Where do you live, if you don't mind my asking?

        I did a report where I ate only from the farmers market, only organic food, only sustainably raised meat and eggs, and no eating out, and I spent $100 for a week. I live in Orange County, California.

        We do eat a lot of grains, and we try to limit our meat eating, but honestly, even doubling the amount we spent, that would still be under $1000 a month. I wrote about it for a blog and didn't post it on Chowhound, so I feel inappropriate posting it here, but if you Google "$100 a week farmers market" you'll see the details.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          Wow, I live in the Denver Colorado area. Gosh, I spend $60-$80 every couple days, but that includes buying every meals meat at whole foods. Dinner for us both of Salmon and asparagus can cost $14 for the salmon for two (wild caught), and $4.99 for the asparagus for two, plus the butter (raw). That is $20 already for one meal! Granted that is a more pricey meal anyway, we usually do chicken or something cheaper, but still never below $15 for two for dinner. Lunch is usually less meat and more veggie-based. But I see what you mean. I will definitely read your other article "$100 a week farmers market". Thanks again!

          1. re: Claranie30

            No worries. In Colorado I'm assuming you don't have year-round farmers markets, but Whole Foods has earned their sarcastic moniker "Whole Paycheck"... I once did a week's shopping there and spent $250!

            Instead of Costco, may I suggest finding the local Latino markets? Here in California we've been stunned by the cost-effectiveness of it. I don't know if they'll mark organic produce there, but I also don't know what the State of Colorado has in the way of organic inspections. The California Department of Food and Agriculture inspects organic growers here (some go with CCOF, which is nationwide and respected by CDFA).

            Also, may I make a suggestion? Probiotics are relatively easy to do at home—home-fermented vegetables will help you with a great deal of your probiotic needs. Even if you purchase a yoghurt maker and a wine fridge for low-and-slow fermentation of things like pickles and sauerkraut, you still will save money even in the first month.

            You can see the wonders of probiotics by buying a box of non-iodized fine salt (Diamond Crystal kosher is fine, but don't use Morton's kosher salt as it's far too coarse) and an organic cabbage. Core and shred the cabbage as finely as you want, toss with a quarter cup of salt, let it sit for an hour in a bowl, and then put it into very clean glass Ball jars (quart size, you'll need two). Press it down—I use a small lid from a Gladware container that I bend to get in the jar, and a small pill bag filled with beans—cover with a piece of cloth and a rubber band, and wait. If it isn't submerged in brine the next day, add brine (1 Tbsp. salt dissolved in 2 cups water) to submerge it, then wait a week before tasting. It's normal for there to be mold on top—it won't hurt you even if some slips into the brine—but try to remove it with a clean spoon. Taste a piece daily until it tastes like sauerkraut, usually no longer than 2-3 weeks. Don't forget to drink the liquid—it's hugely probiotic.

            Also, make your own butter—it's very easy to do. If you just want regular butter, buy cream and whip it past the whipped cream stage. If you want European-style cultured butter, put a third of a cup of yoghurt or buttermilk in a pint of cream, cover, and let stand overnight on the counter (no, not in the fridge!) In the morning it'll be crème fraîche, and if you whip that past the whipped cream stage, you'll have cultured butter. Don't forget to keep the buttermilk that drains out—also very probiotic—and make sure you rinse your butter under cool running water to get pockets of remaining buttermilk out (otherwise it'll go rancid in no time at all).

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              Holy cow Ubergeek, This is some really awesome information. Very insightful! I didn't even consider making butter at home, i figure it would be really complicated, but as described above it sounds do-able and better in the long run. Thank you for taking the time to put such detailed instructions in this reply!

              1. re: Claranie30

                Glad to help! These are things our grandparents knew how to do because there was no opportunity to purchase pre-prepared products—but our generation has this "if it's made in a factory it can't be made at home" mindset.

                One additional note about making butter at home. I use a stand mixer, but no matter what you do, throw a clean dishtowel over the bowl while mixing. Otherwise, when the milkfat separates into butter and buttermilk, you will throw buttermilk all over the kitchen. It happens to everyone once. :)

                The big secret of lactofermentation at home is that you can take slices of fresh chile pepper and do the same fermentation as with the cabbage—when they pickle, purée them, brine and all, with vinegar and you have homemade hot sauce!

        2. The easiest way to cut that bill is to cut down on the amount of meat you eat since that is surely the most expensive of your purchases. Pastured eggs are organic and make a great meal for much less cost. You also might look at the lists of which fruits and vegetables it makes sense to buy organic--potatoes and strawberries are two I can think of right away--versus those where it really doesn't matter--avocados and bananas come to mind. I don't know if you have a Farmers' Market nearby, but that can sometimes be a good source of seasonal produce. And whatever produce you buy should be as local and seasonal as possible since those generally are the least expensive. Good luck.

          4 Replies
          1. re: escondido123

            Thanks! I like the idea of shopping with local ranchers for meats and cheese, eggs and such. We are in Colorado. I will research local farms and ranchers and see what i can buy direct. Meat is one of the most expensive grocery items in our diet right now. Farmers markets are also a great idea for fruit and veggies.

            1. re: Claranie30

              Claranie, you can go here to search for local ranchers. I'm sure you'll be able to find someone selling pastured and grass-fed beef, pastured pork, lamb, chickens, etc.

                1. re: Claranie30

                  Our local Costo has had wild salmon for $6.99/lb for the past few weeks, you could stock up on that as it freezes very well.

          2. I think an important question Claranie is do you have any idea what percentage of that $2,000 is spent on vitamins, supplements and protein powders? Your numbers may not be that high if that is a huge part of your budget.

            6 Replies
            1. re: andieb

              Sorry I forgot to say. We spend about $150 or so a month on the supplements, usually a high quality probiotic, and a multi from whole foods, plus a quality protein powder, and both of us use a scoop each morning. We also purchase assorted yogi teas from the grocery store for the occasional after dinner tea. The protein powder is a little pricey but high quality, Miracle Whey from I think that is mostly it, besides the occasional supplement if we get sick.

              1. re: Claranie30

                So it sounds like protein is not lacking in your diet. That said, cutting back on the amount of meat could go a long way toward cutting that food bill.

                1. re: escondido123

                  Yeah, I agree, protein is definitely not something we are deficient in, lol. Nutritionally speaking, we can probably eliminate the protein powder all together even some of the meats for dinners, and still be okay. We do use it after workouts, but perhaps we don't need to. One of the biggest issue we have without this much meat, especially at dinner, is that my husband never feels full without a big main meat dish. He eats so much in general. When he was more unhealthy, he could eat a massive bowl of raviolli and that was about the only thing that filled him up. But since then, we stopped grains and pastas all together. Neither of us tolerate any form of grain well. We are not overweight and we eat sensible portions for the most part. But he is a tall lean guy, about 6'2 or so. I'll admit, dinner is where it gets crazy. He has to have a big meat main-dish, plus a bunch of veggies. When I say a bunch of veggies, I mean I actually use 1 whole bell pepper, an entire red onion, a huge handful of mushrooms, and 1 entire squash chopped just for HIM as his side dish to the main meat. I steam or stir fry it all with olive oil and seasonings. If he eats this way he is full for the night and says he is content. But anything less than this, or if we don't do a meat, he says he is still hungry and raids the fridge all evening for snacks. It is frustrating because we don't purchase much snacks, so he eats things I bought for lunch or dinner the next day. he eats plenty the rest of the day too. The guy eats a lot. With an organic veggie diet, and expensive meat, his eating needs are costly. He feels bad, and I feel bad for him, not sure what the best answer is to that issue. I can eat 1/3rd what he does and feel great! So we are really different. Someone else had mentioned farmers markets and local ranchers for meats, and this may be the best bet for him to be able to keep eating that way for less. Maybe I can stop the meats myself or cut back.

                  1. re: Claranie30

                    Give him more fat. LOTS more fat. Fat is satiating. Make sure it's natural fats like butter (yes, butter) and olive oil, not canola. Encourage him to eat the fat off meat, chicken skin, etc. My husband's also a huge eater and we eat much the same as you do and he also had the issue of feeling like he had to eat a ton to be satisfied. I upped the fats and he started being satisfied on a lot less food.

                    If you're in Colorado you should probably have a load of ranchers willing to sell meat to the public for reasonable prices. Unless your husband is eating whole sides of cow at a sitting your grocery bill should be nowhere near $2000 even with organic stuff.

                    1. re: Claranie30

                      If you're not eating grains, maybe beans of some kind might be a good addition. Cheap if you buy them dry and cook them yourself and there are many varieties to choose from. By the way, that amount of vegetable for him does not sound excessive to me, especially since you are cooking them. I also ditto on some more fat--olive oil is great. Fat makes us full.

                  2. re: Claranie30

                    The multi-vitamin lasts us 3 month or so, we take them once every few days. The vitamin costs $20, so that is lowest cost of our supplements. But the probiotic is $34.99 and lasts a month and a half. The protein powder is the higher cost of the supplements. But our primary costs in the food budget go to meat, then veggie, and cooking oils like coconut oil and olive oil, then the eggs and raw cheese. The food is the bulk of the cost.