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Jun 22, 2012 12:39 PM

How much do you spend on groceries each month?

I am SHOCKED by the amount of money we spend at the grocery store and I'm wondering how this amount compares to the rest of you??

On average, our family of four spends $800/month!!! Is this a lot compared to everyone else?!
A few things to note:
-Our family of 4 includes 2 kids under 5 years old....SO, while they are good eaters and breakfast and lunch, they don't eat a whole lot at dinner.
-We are mostly eating at home... we dine out maybe once or twice a month.
-I generally buy meat that is on sale. I can't really stockpile since we don't have the freezer space, but I will try to buy larger cuts of meat that can be used for several meals
-I do clip coupons (I use but we don't eat any frozen meals or store bought cookies, etc.
-I generally buy frozen veggies with the exception of salad, sweet potatoes, white potatoes
-my kids & i LOVE fruit, so I do buy quite a bit of fruit, but generally not out of season. We've been eating a lot of strawberries and blueberries lately because they are on sale. I recently went to the store to buy lunchmeats and produce and left spending $45 with barely nothing to show for it
-We eat a pasta dish at least once a week (and sometimes more)
-As much as my husband hates it, we eat "breakfast for dinner" maybe once every other week

So... all in all, as much as I LOVE to cook and peruse all the great chowhound recipes and ideas, I know that we can't afford to be real foodies. I feel like we're spending all of this money, yet have nothing to show for it and, in general, eat pretty boring :-(

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  1. I spend on average $160.00 a month on food for one person. I also shop for sales and eat a pretty natural diet. I assume you're in the U.S.; I'm in Canada where food is probably a bit more expensive than it would be for you. From your post it seems that you use lots of money-saving tips.

    There's one possibility for the higher cost. I subtract all of the non-food items from the grocery bill when I"m calculating my monthly spending on food. Perhaps a lot of your bill comes from paper towels or other non-food items. Those may be necessities, but if you want to get a totally accurate picture of your food spending, try subtracting those items.

    1. 1. i am a single female, "senior citizen"...
      2. i am a foodie and a serious home cook...
      3. until a few months ago, i spent ~$700/mo on food...
      4. i have cut my market costs [including "non-food (market) items"] to ~$300/mo...
      5. i could eat for much less; however, i eat out from time to time...and, also, splurge occasionally on other select items [cheese, olive oil, etc.]...
      6. if you are seriously interested in cutting costs significantly, feel free to contact me via e-mail...[available upon request]...
      7. however, most of my strategies for cutting food & household costs would probably not appeal to the average US homemaker [e.g., no paper towels, no paper napkins, no "quick" products, no cold cereals, the rare magazine, baking soda &/or white vinegar as substitutes for a zillion products]...
      8. my first suggestion is to decide upon how much you want to spend/mo, keep a record of all of your purchases, substitute or eliminate most of items, etc....
      9. you can, also, find lots of information, including food lists, online...

      1. I spend that for two but am cutting back. So you're not that out of control at all.

        2 Replies
        1. re: thimes

          So do I, more if we're eating out, but I prefer to cook most dinners.

          1. re: thimes

            Same here. We do a lot of entertaining, though, so we are feeding more than just the 2 of us.

          2. You are not out of control IMO. Does this include paper products, etc.?

            There are just two of us and we spend roughly $600/month at the grocery store, another $250 or so at the butcher, about $450 on wine/beer/liquor and about $1800/month dining out.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Janet from Richmond

              Hi Janet,

              Just curious what you spend $250/mo on at the butcher. We eat out infrequently and are at about $1,000/mo for two including alcohol. We buy just about anything we want but I don't think we could spend $250/mo at the butcher for just the two of us. Please note this is NOT a personal attack trying to say you are spending too much!! I'm just curious what you're buying for $250 as it seems I may be missing out on some things!

              1. re: Rick

                We mainly buy local steaks (cowboy rib-eye and NY Strip) along with local bone-in pork chops, various sausages, lamb chops, perhaps Shepherd's Pie or other prepared offerings and crab and shrimp as well.

              2. re: Janet from Richmond

                That's over $37,000 a year on food/liquor for two people. What in the world are you buying?!

                1. re: kyrn80

                  It is about what we spend - I buy food ;)

                  There is virtually no prepared food in our house (ketchup, mustard, some jelly, etc), so I buy everything. I buy primarily organics, grass fed beef, fresh fish, we target wine between $12-20 - a few bottles a week . . . King Arthur flour . . . . it all adds up quickly.

                  I don't plan ahead well, so buying meats on sale rarely happens plus I find that hardly ever is what I want (brands, quality, etc) on sale.

                  We don't eat out much because I find that I can make most things better than we get in restaurants - but that also means that we have more expensive left-overs, which we don't mind either.

                  I don't mind paying more for what I want when it comes to ingredients.

                  In fact, I think really good cheese may make up more of my yearly check than animal proteins, but they could be close to even.

                  It shocks me every time I sit down with the year end credit card statement and actually see the total. I know I could eat on much less but right now food isn't where I want to cut the budget.

                  Last year I spent over $100 dollars on turkey alone for Thanksgiving (and if I'm being honest that was for 1 of 4 turkeys I cooked last year). Was it worth it - objectively no, it was for a heritage turkey (24 lbs), but I wanted it. I cooked it along side an heirloom turkey (damn marketing words) which was still $70 dollars I think. This year I scaled back to 2 turkeys (heirloom and a kosher) both of which were around $3.50 a lb and each about 20 lbs. So it isn't hard for "party" type meals to really skew my budget as well.

                  1. re: thimes

                    Except for the flour, I could have written this... and I know I spend more on animal proteins than cheeses, but not for lack of trying.

                  2. re: kyrn80

                    We like good meat, wines and cheeses. We eat out 2-3 times a week. At home we generally have a bottle of wine each night and often use some in cooking. And that's before produce.

                2. Am at a very low income time of my life right now, my fiancee and I try to do >$400 a month for the 2 of us. We are mostly successful but I do splurge on things sometimes, I am a chef so I can't give up quality ingredients.

                  I am living in Japan right now so some prices may be different, but our strategy is pretty simple. We don't plan meals too often. We grocery shop or at least top up shop every other day. We have no children so have time and enjoy the exercise of biking or walking to the store. We have 3-4 grocery stores within a 15 minute bike and know what to buy where. Meat is always cheapest in one store, produce in another. We often buy meat when its 20-50% off when short dated and throw it in the freezer. If there is no discounted meat we'll buy in bulk. 1kg of sliced pork and then wrap it into usable portions and then freeze it. We've always got portions of frozen pork, beef and chicken in the freezer so we can always make a healthy dinner at home and don't need to eat out.

                  For produce, we go to the store closest which often has deals. We know the prices since we go often, and if mushrooms are on for $1.28 we know not to buy them as they are often usually 98cents and sometimes even 78 cents. We buy whats cheap at the time, and then figure out what to do with it for dinner later. We go to markets when we can and again, buy whats well priced.

                  We eat a lot of rice, almost every night (again, I'm in Japan), and generally sautee some meat and vegetables. We stock things when they are cheap. A store was renovating so had many things 50% off, so bought extra oil and soy sauce at that time. We make extras of dishes when it makes sense, when we make curry we use a full package of the curry mix and make a pot which gives us 2-3 meals.

                  Its pretty common in Japan to shop at 2-3 different grocery stores, not necessarily on the same day, but we know the best price of each item and at what store. We'll buy it where its cheapest unless its a very good buy elsewhere.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: TeRReT

                    I'm about the same as you $3-400/mo for 2 but have the kid's and their kids over for a big meal around 3 times a month. I'm a retired chef 35+ years in the biz. I shop sales, I still get a discount and get some things at SYSCO & FSA, anyone who shops at just one supermarket is wasting alot of money. We grow a big garden and freeze alot (pick off all the green tomatoes before the first freeze and have tomatoes until christmas). Years ago with the exception of chicken we ate all game for meat, deer, antelope, elk, but that get's old (hear me Ted!) now I shoot just one deer a year and a few birds. I have alot of time to do all this and enjoy it. The key is knowing how to cook and get multiple meals from one main item. Not too many big $ restaruant gigs, maybe twice a year but I do hit fast food once a month or so. I do spend some $ in Mexican joints when I go to Arizona about 3 months out of the year but I make it up on the food I buy because it's so cheap there (once again if you shop the sales).

                    1. re: TeRReT

                      My friend just got on food stamps and he gets $200/mo (he's single). Paper, cleaning, and personal items aside, $50/week seems like a dream to me. I spend a lot less. I have a set menu for breakfast/lunch and I know where to get sales. When Foster Farms whole chickens go on sale for .79/lb, I buy 2 and freeze them. I go thru a half gallon of milk a week. And a loaf of bread (.99) lasts me 1-2 weeks. So..