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How much do you spend on groceries each month?

c
Croissant Jun 22, 2012 12:39 PM

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 couponmom.com) 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 :-(

  1. b
    BrightRedMud Jun 22, 2012 10:51 PM

    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. cbjones1943 Jun 23, 2012 12:31 AM

      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. t
        thimes Jun 23, 2012 06:04 AM

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

        2 Replies
        1. re: thimes
          mcf Jun 24, 2012 10:25 AM

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

          1. re: thimes
            Njchicaa Jun 26, 2012 06:31 AM

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

          2. j
            Janet from Richmond Jun 23, 2012 06:22 AM

            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
              r
              Rick Dec 15, 2012 11:28 AM

              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
                j
                Janet from Richmond Dec 18, 2012 06:19 AM

                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
                k
                kyrn80 Dec 15, 2012 03:26 PM

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

                1. re: kyrn80
                  t
                  thimes Dec 15, 2012 03:56 PM

                  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
                    mcf Dec 16, 2012 03:04 PM

                    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
                    j
                    Janet from Richmond Dec 18, 2012 06:21 AM

                    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. TeRReT Jun 23, 2012 06:31 AM

                  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
                    mrbigshotno.1 Jun 23, 2012 01:02 PM

                    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
                      pdxgastro Jun 24, 2012 02:15 AM

                      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..

                    2. d
                      DeLobstah Jun 23, 2012 02:03 PM

                      1k per month. 4 people. two are teenagers and one is a weightlifter. I plan all my meals with sale prices in mind. Teen boy eats a frightening amount of food and is as thin as a whippet. Forget saving for college, save for the teen eating years.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: DeLobstah
                        q
                        Querencia Jun 23, 2012 07:14 PM

                        My sympathies. I often wonder what people with teenage boys are doing in these days of astronomically high food prices. I remember, for example, a time in the 1970s when my two teenage sons had two out-of-town cousins visiting (count: four teenage boys) so I fixed a large roast turkey with all the trimmings, mashed potatoes and gravy et al, hot rolls, plus corn on the cob and coleslaw as it was summer then homemade pie and also strawberry shortcake. There were NO leftovers, not even turkey, just bones and corn cobs and bare dishes. Right after dinner they all disappeared and I was still cleaning up when they came back. "Where did you go?" I asked. "We went to McDonald's for hamburgers," came the answer.

                        1. re: Querencia
                          d
                          DeLobstah Jun 23, 2012 07:29 PM

                          That's hilarious, if financially frightening. My son's amuse boche is either a one lb burrito or a big PB&J

                          1. re: Querencia
                            viperlush Jun 23, 2012 08:23 PM

                            And those with daughters. I spent months only eating swordfish and shark for dinner. I'm sure my mom didn't enjoy those bills.

                            1. re: viperlush
                              c
                              Chowrin Jun 25, 2012 07:34 PM

                              dare i ask why?

                              1. re: Chowrin
                                viperlush Jun 25, 2012 07:44 PM

                                Had some stomach/eating issues and they were the only "proteins" that I could really stomach. Broiled w/lemon juice.

                                1. re: viperlush
                                  coll Jun 28, 2012 04:57 AM

                                  I had stomach problems when I was younger (mostly nerves I think), and ended up eating only rice, bananas, peas and Nacho Doritos for six months. Thank goodness for the Doritos! I was desperate and those were the only things that I could digest. It's a great weight loss diet anyway.

                                  1. re: coll
                                    viperlush Jun 28, 2012 02:41 PM

                                    Yeah, I didn't really have an appetite for real food in hs. I always had a 1 lb bg of assorted candy/gum on me, a box of blow pops in locker and a lb of peanut mms on me. Between not really eating and horseback riding I had issues keeping weight on.

                            2. re: Querencia
                              k
                              kengk Jun 24, 2012 02:03 PM

                              When us three boys were teenagers my dad sent a 1,000-1,200 pound beef to the slaughter house twice a year.

                              I can still remember me and my older brother being left "home alone" for a night or two and cooking a four pound roast on the grill and demolishing it in one sitting. A normal portion of hamburgers was three each and it seems like mom got two meals out of a five pound bag of frozen french fries. Of course we had a half acre garden so the burgers and fries were a special treat.

                              Sorry for the reminiscences.

                              More on topic; my wife does most of the grocery shopping and complains about how much we spend. But, a huge portion of the "grocery" bill is for not food items; all manner of paper products, toiletries, cleaners, laundry items, etc. etc.

                            3. re: DeLobstah
                              vil Jun 24, 2012 07:05 PM

                              Thank you for the heads up. One thing for sure too, is the price of food will continue shooting up.

                              1. re: DeLobstah
                                s
                                Sherri Jun 27, 2012 03:30 PM

                                I'm smiling as I reminisce about having 6 boys at the beach for a week - 2 HS seniors and the other four were in college. $250-$400 every other day grocery shopping; I was surprised the store didn't send a limo for me! One day, while I was out walking on the beach, my aunt dropped by with a whole honeybaked ham thinking it would be nice for us to have on hand.

                                HA! By the time I returned, less than 40 minues later, there was nothing left but a bone. 5 pounds of bacon for breakfast + 5 pounds of potatoes + God only knows how many eggs. We should have kept a cow because no matter how much milk I bought, we were quickly out. Fruit, OMG the fruit they ate! It is a very fond memory and one that was repeated many times. There's nothing like feeding growing boys to make you a believer in white collar crime!

                                1. re: Sherri
                                  Veggo Jun 27, 2012 04:20 PM

                                  They would have eaten the cow, also.

                              2. Bacardi1 Jun 23, 2012 04:45 PM

                                I spend between $600-$800/month for just the two of us, but being just the two of us allows us a lot more $$ to spend on food - especially since I LOVE to cook. And that includes miscellaneous goods like pet food, paper goods (foil, cling wrap, ziploc bags, etc., etc.).

                                Keep in mind, no children means no extra mouths except for entertaining, no "college fund", etc., etc., & we can pretty much do what we want with our $$. And food & good meals are a major part of that.

                                But I'm not a squandering idiot - I do shop sales, & since my husband doesn't eat red meat, much of our $$ goes to quality seafood, which is expensive. You can only eat so much poultry & vegetarian meals (although we eat plenty of those too).

                                In addition, I do shop for veggies from my favorite organic farmer at the local farmers market when in season, & his prices are high, but the quality & confirmed provenence is worth it.

                                I also grow a number of veggies at home. There's nothing like picking your own eggplant, squash, etc., coating them in herb-scented olive oil, & tossing them on the grill.

                                13 Replies
                                1. re: Bacardi1
                                  chefathome Jun 24, 2012 09:46 AM

                                  Exactly the same with us. Two of us, no children, more money to spend on what we love which is food. We bring back tons of ingredients from our travels such as aceto balsamico tradizionale aged 25 years gold label from Italy to buying freshly-dug white truffles in Croatia. So, if you factor that in, some months our grocery bills are outrageous. We also buy free-range lamb (a whole one) each year, duck, geese and so on which are also pricy. We do, however, grow many of our own vegetables and herbs which I preserve for our long winters. I cook everything from scratch so use the best of what I can.

                                  However, we are always careful with what we buy and are not spontaneous shoppers. We are thankful and grateful for what we have and try to be as good stewards as we can. We are both analytical and planners so we shop sales, purchase things such as toothe paste in bulk and often if we have an expensive meal one night the next night may be braised lentils with local sausage.

                                  As I also have celiac disease, purchasing varoius flours is FAR more expensive than regular wheat flour. Some flours are up to $15 per pound and I have about 20 kinds of flour in my freezer so I can bake my own breads and such.

                                  1. re: chefathome
                                    biondanonima Jun 26, 2012 10:00 AM

                                    Ditto. Our $700ish per month includes wine/beer and some paper products/household supplies as well. We live in NYC, where food costs are high, but I try to do most of my shopping at Costco and neighborhood produce markets in Queens to avoid paying out the nose. When my husband's two teenage daughters visit, the bills go up somewhat but not as much as one would think - they eat differently than we do, preferring starch and junk to meat, fresh fruits and veg. I try to be a positive influence on their eating, but you can only throw so much food away before you just let them eat what they want.

                                  2. re: Bacardi1
                                    Crockett67 Jun 25, 2012 08:11 AM

                                    I'm gald to see I'm not that far off. I kept reading articles where families of four were making it work on like $400 a month. I'm like how!?! I have a 7 cu ft freezer, shop sales, and while not skimping on the food, I'm not buying weekly ribeyes or lobster.

                                    With paper products, wine, and cleaning supplies, we (just 2) spend about $500-600 a month.

                                    1. re: Crockett67
                                      c
                                      Chowrin Jun 25, 2012 07:35 PM

                                      aldi's, trader joes, and costco. also, many meals of bread, made yourself (get a bread machine). And no more paper towels, use microfiber cloths like they do in europe.

                                      1. re: Chowrin
                                        Crockett67 Jun 26, 2012 06:17 AM

                                        Sorry but Aldi's vegetables really do suck. I'll pay extra for better vegetables at Meijers that I will actually eat. Trader Joes' too limited and too far away,. Costco is a big no, I've played that game and just lost! I don't use four pineapples at a time. Tub of hummus would go bad, ect. As for bread, I'll stick to beans and rice. Bread just isn't my thing any more. As for paper products it's only towels and T.P. Sure I can switch to microfiber but between more laundry and then having to purchase napkins... nah.

                                        What works for you, doesn't always work for others.

                                        1. re: Crockett67
                                          c
                                          Clams047 Jun 26, 2012 03:24 PM

                                          "Sorry but Aldi's vegetables really do suck."

                                          It's obvious you've never been to a Stop & Shop. Unfortunately, they tend to dominate in New England. Talk about poor quality fruits & vegetables......

                                          Granted, Aldies offers a very limited selection, but we've found their basic lettuce, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, strawberries, onions, potatoes, pineapples, cantaloupes, watermelons, bananas, etc to be comparable to Whole Foods & Trader Joes, at a fraction of the price and without a doubt typically better than Walmart and Stop & Shop (biggest competitors here).

                                          1. re: Crockett67
                                            c
                                            Chowrin Jun 27, 2012 04:13 PM

                                            i buy my produce at costco. carrots never go bad, garlic keeps in the fridge, onion works fine. potatoes keep reasonable like, so long as you buy them in season.
                                            I mention I'm running on $100ish a month for two people? Doesn't buy a lot of fresh tomatoes, but the canned are better mostof the year anyhow.

                                            1. re: Crockett67
                                              k
                                              kyrn80 Dec 15, 2012 03:32 PM

                                              Aldi owns Trader Joe's....

                                              1. re: kyrn80
                                                juliejulez Dec 15, 2012 03:49 PM

                                                Not entirely. Aldi is owned by one brother, Karl Albrecht. TJ's is owned by another brother, Theo Albrecht. They were originally the same company but were divided back in 1960, and still operate as totally separate companies.

                                            2. re: Chowrin
                                              h
                                              happybaker Mar 30, 2013 08:41 PM

                                              Chowrin -

                                              I totally get that microfiber cloths are cheaper and probably better for the environment.

                                              But when a cat has thrown up in the middle of the night, I don't want to scoop it up, dump, rinse, rinse again, hang to dry then wash. I want to scoop and throw out. So, as long as I have cats, paper towels are my friend!

                                              1. re: happybaker
                                                Kris in Beijing Mar 30, 2013 08:45 PM

                                                The bottom drawer in my kitchen is reserved for "leftover" takeout napkins -- exclusively because of cat urp.

                                                1. re: Kris in Beijing
                                                  h
                                                  happybaker Mar 31, 2013 09:58 AM

                                                  Love that idea!

                                                  1. re: Kris in Beijing
                                                    v
                                                    Violatp Apr 3, 2013 06:48 PM

                                                    Heh. Urp.

                                          2. twyst Jun 23, 2012 07:31 PM

                                            If you consider yourself out of control, Im so far past the point of no return its hopeless. I spend $600+ for ONE, but If I cut down on steaks and seafood I guess I could get down to about 400 a month comfortably.

                                            1. EWSflash Jun 24, 2012 11:03 AM

                                              I'm afraid to check. We eat pretty well.

                                              1. n
                                                nuttynursem Jun 24, 2012 02:48 PM

                                                If you think you are shocked feeding a family of 4 wait till I tell you what we spend for 2 people and a toddler. Not far off from you we spend about 250-300 dollars every 2 weeks. I do shopat wholesale clubs BJ's/ Costco and use their coupons. I do clip other coupons but don't go crazy , if I see it is something we use, I will clip the coupon, but won't clip the coupon if it is something we usually don't get. We eat a lot of fish, meat occasionally and I would say that 50-60 dollars of my grocery bill goes towards produce, vegetables and fruit. I buy fruits and vegetables in season and try to buy local and organic. We don't go out to eat except for an occasional chinese take-out night. The amount of money we spend on food aggravates me but when I look at the quality I put on the table it is worth it. I am always looking for new things to cook and hoard cookbooks:)

                                                1. c
                                                  Croissant Jun 24, 2012 04:33 PM

                                                  Wow... So I guess we're not as bad off as I thought we were. Still just seems like a lot of money to spend. How I wish we could eat all organic produce and high quality meat :(. For those of you living the high life for two - I am envious!! In our pre-child days, i remember my husband and I spending $800 on just dining out every month! How things change :)

                                                  BTW I didn't mention that we are in the US and while the grocery spending does include paper towels, toilet paper and things like aluminum foil, it doesn't include any toiletries or pet food... That stuff is all budgeted separately.

                                                  Do any of you have any favorite low budget yet really delicious dinner recipes?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Croissant
                                                    j
                                                    Janet from Richmond Jun 25, 2012 06:27 AM

                                                    Back in the money saving days of my 20's, beans and rice was my go-to budget meal. You can fancy it up with peppers, great seasonings and relishes, such as chow-chow. It's still one of my go-to comfort meals.

                                                  2. vil Jun 24, 2012 06:56 PM

                                                    I did a quick check and also shocked myself that for the last two months, my family of two spent an average of $480 a month on groceries. Granted, we live in Canada (where BrightRedMud already pointed out that everything is that much more expensive) and my bill includes some household items, and the odd health supplement or medication. I also try to tell myself there is the lack of economies of scale that a bigger household may enjoy.

                                                    We eat reasonably well, although we are not eating that much. And I thought I was already cutting all the corners I could think of. Saving trimmings and fat for reuse, near zero waste, cooking mostly from scratch, with only some selective limited snacks and crackers, no off-season/hype produce at outrageous prices, absolutely quality over quantity on meat (about 1-2 meat focused dishes a week), even growing some of my produce and making my own breakfast cereal...

                                                    Thank you for the revelation. And please do not let your situation discourage you from perusing all the great ideas from CH. I see so many possibilities of enjoying good food, while being on any budget, here on CH!

                                                    1. Novelli Jun 25, 2012 11:09 AM

                                                      I live alone and spend from $100-120 per month, paper products, cleaning solutions, etc included. Every other week I blow $20 at the farmer's market for fruit, but I do grow my own vegetables year round, so I don't purchase much of those at the market. I make just abouot everything from scratch to help with expences.

                                                      Some of the monthly expenses posted here are absolutely unphathomable to me. $1800 a month on going out to eat? plus hundreds of dollars a week in groceries??? I don't even make that much money in a month!!! Some people are sure living the good life!

                                                      8 Replies
                                                      1. re: Novelli
                                                        linguafood Jun 25, 2012 11:26 AM

                                                        Yeah, that number stumped me, too.

                                                        We (two of us) easily spend $600/month on groceries, don't tend to eat out a lot in the US unless we're in a city (duh), as I cook better than most of the places in our hometown.

                                                        That doesn't even factor in the wine & spirits store bill, which is likely about $200-300/month.

                                                        While in Berlin, we eat out a hell of a lot more, and I don't really want to think about all the money we spend. Aí!

                                                        1. re: linguafood
                                                          k
                                                          kengk Jun 25, 2012 02:56 PM

                                                          The two of us have spent around $1,800 on a week's dining out when we are on vacation so I could see how that would be easy to do if you lived somewhere with good restaurants. We couldn't do it indefinitely though and I'm happy that we can afford it for our vacations.

                                                        2. re: Novelli
                                                          f
                                                          foodFlustered Jun 26, 2012 04:02 AM

                                                          I spend about the same $90-100,and am struggling - like yourself. It is difficult since I am on a highly restricted renal and diabetic diet. I sometimes run out of food by the 3rd week of the month being on a fixed disability income. I often think of how wonderful it would be to have anoher $100 each month for some really good meals. I would be able to purchase herbs and spices to season my food. Getting bored with the bland!! And the food pantry mostly give out unhealthy canned and boxed food items. So I am at a loss as to live healthier on next to nothing!

                                                          1. re: foodFlustered
                                                            mcf Jun 26, 2012 07:29 AM

                                                            I'm a diet controlled diabetic, and maybe you want to start a thread on the special diets board? You may need ideas for inexpensive ways to provide the adequate protein portion of your diet, I'd guess, since all the cheapest food is what fuels diabetic complications. I'm thinking of making your own homemade Greek style yogurt, buying whole chickens and large cans of tuna on special or at Costco, and eggs, eggs, eggs... cheap cuts of meat home ground or cut up... And black soybeans for really cheap.

                                                            1. re: foodFlustered
                                                              juliejulez Jun 26, 2012 08:35 PM

                                                              What about growing your own herbs? I grow my own rosemary, parsley, and thyme in a pot that sits on the my porch (you could easily do it inside if you have no outdoor space, as long as they get some sun). Saves a lot of money and the whole project cost me about $20-25 to get started.

                                                              1. re: foodFlustered
                                                                c
                                                                Chowrin Jun 27, 2012 04:14 PM

                                                                give up cable? ;-)

                                                              2. re: Novelli
                                                                c
                                                                causeimhungry Dec 15, 2012 11:58 AM

                                                                We're two students who have zero time to cook and end up spending +1000$ a month on takeout and wine.

                                                                1. re: causeimhungry
                                                                  Crockett67 Dec 15, 2012 05:44 PM

                                                                  And that's why I don't mind that I spend what I do on groceries. Because if I ate out all the time, the $500 I spend now would be like over $1000 easy.

                                                                  It's limiting the meals out that has really helped my budget.

                                                              3. g
                                                                Goatjunky Jun 25, 2012 03:18 PM

                                                                I am in southern california. I shop at cardenas for my produce because the prices are ridiculously good and i will spend for fresh i tryto use what meat is on sale and if its a good sale i bulk up. But im still paying 800 a mmonth for groceries (family of four three large dogs and paper included) i used to feel bad about this because my coworkers spend a LOT less but you all made me feel better

                                                                1. arktos Jun 25, 2012 04:04 PM

                                                                  As someone who lives alone, I set $280.00 as my monthly limit on food. This includes going out (almost always alone) to eat, groceries, etc. I pretty much make my target. Problem is with social occasions such as BBQs and potlucks, they can run me $50- to $100; but fortunately those are few-and-far-between.

                                                                  1. BubblyOne Jun 25, 2012 04:20 PM

                                                                    2 adults, $1500 a month, unless it's some kind of holiday and then more. That includes a semi-decent bottle of wine most nights and all kitchen supplies. OTOH, that is our entertainment as well. We both love cooking and trying new recipes.

                                                                    1. s
                                                                      sedimental Jun 25, 2012 04:35 PM

                                                                      <<<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.>>>

                                                                      According to the USDA, you are pretty average in spending: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodPlan...

                                                                      I many ways, I think being a "foodie" can less expensive than not being one. I think it depends on your cooking style as well. My costs are actually going down as I embrace a more creative but simple approach to cooking.

                                                                      I am working on perfecting certain techniques- and using specialty items that last for months. I spend more money on imported or specialty condiments or items, then use them as a focus point...or make my own specialty item. Great, interesting, condiments like harissa, rose water, oelek sambal, a small jar of caviar, grains of paradise spice, fennel pollen, etc or make your own fresh butter or creme fraiche.

                                                                      I bet if you focused a few great dishes highlighting an interesting "foodie" item, you would not feel so bored with your food. I would be bored with a standard American breakfast for dinner once per week too (not to mention ....it is not the healthiest meal). Just pick one specialty item and buy it, then create something great around it. If your children are picky, then it might be that you use the item in a dish that is just for you and your spouse (like in a special side dish) to a general family meal. Or maybe in a grown up appetizer?

                                                                      I would not be happy to be spending $800 per month on food and feel bored with my choices too! Good luck!

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: sedimental
                                                                        h
                                                                        happybaker Mar 30, 2013 08:46 PM

                                                                        Wow, your USDA link was mighty interesting! Thank you!

                                                                      2. b
                                                                        BrightRedMud Jun 25, 2012 05:22 PM

                                                                        It's interesting that there are all types here, some budget-conscious and some really big spenders. Some of the amounts are so high that I can't imagine spending that much, even if I won the lottery! Ha ha.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: BrightRedMud
                                                                          k
                                                                          kengk Jun 25, 2012 06:51 PM

                                                                          Prince or pauper, we can all get pleasure from food.

                                                                        2. caseyjo Jun 25, 2012 07:18 PM

                                                                          I live alone, and spend about $200 a month (that's including wine). Sometimes it gets to be a little bit more, sometimes a bit less. I bring lunch to work with me everyday, which adds a bit to my grocery bill but saves me money overall. I feel like I've hit a good balance between saving money and eating well. I've tried to really save by eating beans, rice, and very little meat. At the lowest, I got my grocery bill down to $80 a month, but I felt like crap. I feel better when I'm able to have fish, quality meat and dairy, and some luxury items like imported parmesan.

                                                                          Like many here, I love to cook, and I make most of my foods from scratch. I've found that I save the most by keeping my fridge supplies pretty low, and going to the grocery store more frequently. This might not sound like a good idea, but it does keep me from buying tons of food and then having it go bad in the fridge. I usually go to the grocery store two or three times a week. Luckily, I live within walking distance from three grocery stores and two farmers markets, and my work is a couple blocks from Whole Foods. I imagine this strategy would not work in suburban areas, or for larger families.

                                                                          1. c
                                                                            Chowrin Jun 25, 2012 07:39 PM

                                                                            ~$100 a month, buying for 2 adults.
                                                                            Just had a homemade pizza with garden cilantro for dinner tonight (ate buttered rice for breakfast/lunch)

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Chowrin
                                                                              Crockett67 Jun 26, 2012 06:21 AM

                                                                              Buttered rice for breakfast/lunch? My SO would revolt against me! Sure I can cook a lot cheaper when my man is not around but that's too hard core for me.

                                                                              I'd rather put my money in the food we eat than for other things.

                                                                              1. re: Crockett67
                                                                                c
                                                                                Chowrin Jun 27, 2012 04:14 PM

                                                                                it's good butter, and top-shelf basmati.

                                                                                1. re: Crockett67
                                                                                  c
                                                                                  Chowrin Jun 27, 2012 04:14 PM

                                                                                  my husband gets miso ramen.

                                                                              2. h
                                                                                Hecetamom Jun 25, 2012 07:44 PM

                                                                                Average $185/mo for one 66 yo person. I eat mostly organic, free range etc... Very little eating out and no processed food. I am a foodie and like to cook from scratch. No desserts.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Hecetamom
                                                                                  vil Jun 26, 2012 05:44 AM

                                                                                  Hecetamom, you sound similar to my eating style, but manage to do better with the budget. Care to share any tips?

                                                                                  The difference is, I like cooking from scratch but cannot find enough time for it and so have to fill in with some processed food here and there. And my daughter probably guzzles down more milk than you and I combined.

                                                                                  Also, where I am, I have to pay through the nose for free-range (eggs and meat) and organic produce, to a point where only 20-40% of my food is so. It will be interesting to learn about how much it costs for these things in different cities.

                                                                                  1. re: vil
                                                                                    h
                                                                                    Hecetamom Jun 26, 2012 07:03 AM

                                                                                    Not sure if these are tips or not. I am lucky to be able to buy marked down local beef, lamb and chicken by diligently scouring that section of my good local food store (like whole Foods but cheaper). I cook or freeze this the same day I buy it and repackage for the freezer in portions for one. I work hard not to let food spoil so I actually get to eat everything I buy. I shop for cheese, coffee, produce and bulk foods at a local natural food store near where I live. And finally I track food costs separate from non food items and wine.
                                                                                    Sometimes I would like to throw caution to the wind and go the the best grocery store and buy whatever I want at full price but I never seem to be able to do that.

                                                                                    1. re: Hecetamom
                                                                                      vil Jun 28, 2012 11:00 AM

                                                                                      Thanks, I am just hoping to compare notes, to see where I can do better.

                                                                                      Good you can find a source for bargain, quality meat where you are. Very rarely do I come across marked down meat deals at my local grocers and I suspect my fellow bargain hunters usually beat me to them.

                                                                                      The two nearby grocers where I shop used to have assorted deli ends for $1-2 each that would last me for a week or two, but I do not see them around anymore.

                                                                                      Throwing caution to the wind for a dream trip to the grocery store is my fantasy too.

                                                                                2. s
                                                                                  shell22 Jun 26, 2012 07:46 AM

                                                                                  Wow, I guess I do okay. Our family of four (2 boys) spends about $400 per month on groceries (food only). I shop at numerous stores every week to get the best deals. Produce and Deli come from a local Italian market, groceries come from a variety of stores (including Trader Joes and Aldi) I check the flyers for sales. The majority of my meat is sale items purchased at local discount supermarket and a monthly trip to Costco. I don't buy a lot of prepared foods other than frozen pizza because they don't like it. They eat a lot of cereal (on sale) and this includes alot of snack foods, cookies, chips, etc. Adults pack a lunch 3-4 times per week. We eat out as a family 1-2 x per week. My oldest does buys fast food meals for himself a couple of times per week as he works and goes to school and has his own schedule.

                                                                                  1. c
                                                                                    Clams047 Jun 26, 2012 03:14 PM

                                                                                    We've spent just under $400 ave/mo for the past 10 years (two - mid 60's), typically eating out perhaps an average of 2-3 meals / week. That includes everything one might purchase at a large grocer (food, paper products, cleaning supplies, only Boars Head cold cuts, over-the counter medicines, personal products, etc) where we do purchase most of the staple products at Walmart (no fresh items) and tend to favor local stands for fresh fruits & vegetables.

                                                                                    In recent years, we've found a monthly stop at Aldies to be an effective way to keep our costs in line for such items as eggs, milk & basic fruits & vegetables. We buy very few prepared, canned or frozen items and eat relatively little meat, but are fortunate to live in an area where fresh seafood is abundant and relatively affordable.

                                                                                    1. juliejulez Jun 26, 2012 08:52 PM

                                                                                      Around $350-400 for my boyfriend and I for food only (no toiletries or paper products), live in a suburb of Denver, I do all the shopping w/ my money. I shop solely at King Soopers and Costco. This also does not include alcohol, the BF buys that with his own money on an as needed basis most of the time. I rarely drink at home, but I do have a bottle of Ketel One and a few bottles of wine on hand if I feel like it :) I just moved in a month ago so a lot of my budget has been spent on stocking up on pantry essentials like seasonings, various vinegars, condiments, and canned stuff that I use often (like chicken broth and tomatoes), since he had pretty much nothing when I moved in. I think I'm pretty stocked up now so hopefully my bill will go down to closer to $300/mo.

                                                                                      I cook dinner 5-6 nights a week and 2-3 of those nights I cook extra so BF can eat leftovers for lunch (he works from home). I eat Healthy Choice meals usually for lunch (I'm working on weight loss) or sometimes I'll bring leftovers too. We also don't buy a lot of bread (that gets expensive for the good stuff), neither of us are sandwich fans. Every weekend I sit down and go through the King Sooper's ad and see whats' on sale, then take a mental inventory of what's in the freezer. Then I plan my week's meals that way, then create my shopping list. I only go to the store once a week and only buy what's on my list, so I think that helps keep costs down. I generally buy meats (Pork Chops, chicken thighs, chicken breasts, and tri-tips) and drinks at Costco so that saves some money too. So far, we've yet to eat the same meal twice, and I have 100+ more recipes from Pinterest to try :) Taking that extra hour or so to plan everything out really helps to save money and we still eat very well!

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                        juliejulez Mar 26, 2013 03:47 PM

                                                                                        I would like to amend my answer here. I spend $300/mo or less now, including some organic and also including some household products. I've gotten to know my area since my previous post and am a much more savvy shopper now. I very rarely eat frozen meals now too, for the record :)

                                                                                      2. m
                                                                                        MonMauler Jun 27, 2012 07:24 AM

                                                                                        If dining out and alcohol purchases are included, then I shudder at the thought of what I spend on food monthly. I'm single and live alone, and we're talking $K's, not hundreds. Sure, I treat people often, but still...

                                                                                        1. d
                                                                                          dijohn Jun 27, 2012 09:26 AM

                                                                                          $450 on average for groceries not including restaurants. That's for two people and being very conservative, storing up at meat sales etc. Although this seems low comparatively, I think the cost of groceries is outrageous.
                                                                                          I want to get better at freezing/canning surplus foods, summer fruits and veggies and so forth.

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: dijohn
                                                                                            k
                                                                                            kengk Jun 27, 2012 03:09 PM

                                                                                            "I think the cost of groceries is outrageous."

                                                                                            $450 a month for two people comes out to $7.50/day for each. That is slightly more than one hours wage for each at minimum wage. That doesn't seem outrageous to me but it's ok by me if you think so.

                                                                                            1. re: kengk
                                                                                              c
                                                                                              Clams047 Jun 28, 2012 04:46 AM

                                                                                              Agreed. If one thinks cost of groceries is outrageous, one should try growing their own fruits & vegetables or raising their own chickens, etc. Quality can obviously be far superior, but their cost will truly be "outrageous".

                                                                                              1. re: Clams047
                                                                                                Novelli Jun 28, 2012 07:46 AM

                                                                                                "If one thinks cost of groceries is outrageous, one should try growing their own fruits & vegetables or raising their own chickens, etc. Quality can obviously be far superior, but their cost will truly be "outrageous"."

                                                                                                I couldn't disagree more. With the right knowlegde and practices a couple bucks in vegetable seeds can provide a lifetime of fresh food.
                                                                                                Most of the outrageous prices of groceries come from the packaging and shipping costs...i.e. cost of fuel, since so much of it is grown thousands of miles away.

                                                                                          2. deet13 Jun 27, 2012 05:47 PM

                                                                                            I spend about $350 per month for groceries for my wife, son, and me.

                                                                                            We supplement our grocery bill by tending a garden, raising chickens and goats, and with hunting and fishing.

                                                                                            1. j
                                                                                              Jenny Ondioline Jun 27, 2012 09:57 PM

                                                                                              Erring on the side of generosity in my back-of-the-envelope calculations just now, I figured that my household of two adults spends a titch over $400 a month on food. In reality, I suspect that runs closer to about $375 a month. And we eat extremely well.

                                                                                              How we manage that:

                                                                                              1. We shop judiciously, stocking up on ingredients we use when they come on sale. (A large walk-in pantry and a basement freezer help a lot.) Living on Boston, we have a Star Market, a Stop&Shop, a Trader Joe's, a Whole Foods, an Asian supermarket, three Russian supermarkets, and a variety of small bodegas and specialty shops within walking distance, and we know who has the best prices on what.

                                                                                              2. This time of year, we shop the farmers markets. I know there's a whole long thread about insane farmers market prices, but -- again within walking distance -- the Brookline Farmers Market supplies me with more fruits and vegetables than I can carry in both hands for under $30. (The trick is that there are three major farms there in direct competition, which keeps prices in check. Hello, $1/lb. summer squash! Get in my bag and bring your 2 bunches of chard for $3 pals with you!)

                                                                                              3. When the farmers markets aren't in season, the greengrocer A. Russo and Sons in Watertown is a weekly stop. Again, it's not uncommon for me to stroll out of there with two bulging canvas bags of produce, eggs, cheeses, deli meats and dry goods for well under $30.

                                                                                              4. Nearly within sight of Russo's is a BJs. We actually don't spend much on food there, though their prices for cat litter and most of our usual HBA purchases more than make up for the $50 yearly member fee. (Actually, their house brand generic version of my daily antihistamine ALONE makes up for that $50/year.) But their price on our preferred coffee beans, frozen mixed berries for the half-gallon of homemade yogurt I make every week, and a few other random items can't be beat.

                                                                                              5. Every Tuesday morning, Crescent Ridge Dairy delivers a half-gallon of 2%, a half-gallon of 1% (for the aforementioned yogurt) and a pint of half-and-half for my wife's coffee into the cooler on our stoop for about $11. A bit spendy, yeah, but fresh, local milk in proper glass bottles delivered directly to my door, as it should be? Yeah, I'm willing to pay for that.

                                                                                              6. About three times a year, we drive over to Blood Farm in Groton, a slaughterhouse with a small retail front. About $120-150 worth of various meats (bacon, hamburger, pork chops, chicken, pork shoulder, beef chuck, ground pork for various Chinese dishes, ground lamb for kofte, etc.) comes home with us per trip.

                                                                                              1. j
                                                                                                jljohn Jun 28, 2012 09:24 AM

                                                                                                I think some parameters are in order here, if my answer is to be helpful. First, when I figure how much I spend on (or budget for) groceries, I am dealing with food and non-alcoholic beverages only (so coffee is included in my grocery budget). And I am calculating only what I prepare at home. Going out for food or coffee is separate from the grocery budget. I figure we go out for one meal a week (fairly evenly divided among the three meal times) and one round of coffee's a week, but that is all separately funded. Alcohol is also separately funded. There are five of us in the house--two adults, a 6.5 year old, a 4.5 year old, and a 1.5 year old. We love meat but try to keep it limited to a couple of meals a week (figure 2 on average), and in at least one of those it is not the key player (So one meal a week might feature a fish fillet or a steak, while the other is something like beans and greens with crumbled sausage or pancetta cooked in.) The rest of the meals major on fresh veggies with a lot of fruit on the side. Other than a couple of boxes of Cheerios a month for snacks for the baby, we don't really eat cold cereal, and generally we do not buy meat from the deli. Lunches are generally previous supper left-overs or PB & honey wraps or hummus wraps, etc. We rarely have desserts and snacks are limited to a few boxes of crackers or pretzels (or the like) each month. We rarely buy any kind of juice.

                                                                                                With these parameters in mind, I budget $700 for groceries. Now, if I did all my shopping at our local big grocery store (weekly trips), I think that number would feel like plenty. But, we're trying to shop more locally and organically, seeking out fresh, in-season ingredients. So we do small trips every few days to the farmers market, to whole foods, and to one of our two CSA's. We do a stock up trip for staples about every 6 weeks to the big store, and, shopping like this, $700 is tough to hit. We are usually a little over but not too much over. I suspect that by the time I have three teenagers, I'll need three times this amount, but for now they still eat less than I do. I wish I had an equation to figure out how much this will increase each year, but I'd be shocked if I didn't need this to increase about $100 per year for each of the next 10 years. (i.e. $1,800 a month when I have a 17.5, 15.5, and 12.5 year-olds.)

                                                                                                1. ladooShoppe Jun 28, 2012 09:26 AM

                                                                                                  We live in Toronto and spend about $350/month on groceries for my husband and I. We shop at the more "expensive" grocery store (or so our friends tell us) but they have the nicest produce and stock as much local stuff as they can. We like that.

                                                                                                  We are also very anal about planning our meals for the week and that helps a lot. We usually only buy what we need for the week. Once every couple months we make a run to Walmart for things like paper towels, toilet paper, and dry and canned goods.

                                                                                                  Oh and my hubby is allowed 1 treat per week from the grocery store. He is a crazy impulsive shopper and would lose his mind if he didn't have a grocery list. Sometimes he picks ice cream and sometimes popsicles or a special kind of cheese, but lately he has been buying a slicing up a watermelon or pineapple every week.

                                                                                                  1. vil Jun 28, 2012 11:05 AM

                                                                                                    Plenty of notes to compare and learn from in here. I suppose the topic is more on "How much you spend on groceries.. when on a budget".

                                                                                                    1. k
                                                                                                      kathryn_dayle Nov 12, 2012 10:37 PM

                                                                                                      I am also shocked how much most people spend on here. My husband and I split our time with living in Australia and Canada. On average we spend $50 week for food. We make most of our meals from scratch, but have no issue with buying something for "convenience". The cost is generally comparable. Each country seems to have better sales/reduced food discounts, but if do the best with what you have attitude, you can't go wrong. If something we want isn't on sale, and we still want it, we buy it. We deny ourselves nothing.. We are lucky that we both like the simple, comfort food type recipes. When traveling we will often buy cooked chickens, and make several meals from that, but if we were home, we probably would have cooked the chicken. In general it will be roast chicken the first night, chicken and a "simmer sauce" with rice, the second night, chicken sandwiches for a lunch, and finally a homemade chicken soup with the carcass.
                                                                                                      Breakfast are usually a rotation of: homemade pancakes w/fruit, bacon and eggs,cooked porridge w/fruit.
                                                                                                      Lunch is usually leftovers or a sandwich.
                                                                                                      Supper could be a stew, chili, soup or a casserole. Vegetables are usually on sale or discounted somewhere.
                                                                                                      I love desserts, and can usually find something on sale. Otherwise I like a simple cake with a hot lemon sauce.Pavlovas are my absolute favorite.Cheap to make and expensive to buy.
                                                                                                      I generally do not consider how much the meat is a lb/kg but rather how many meals I can get out of that pkg.
                                                                                                      We make our bread in a bread machine, but will also buy it when it is very cheap. Most store/ generic brands are fine.If you don't like it, then try the next least expensive.
                                                                                                      I look for discounted shampoo, and many times buy a childrens brand which will come in a super hero bottle.Cheap bubble bath makes a great shower gel.
                                                                                                      We only have a small fridge, with the attached freezer, but it really holds a lot. We don't really need to stockpile, but always have enough to get thru another week in case the sales are a bit slack

                                                                                                      1. b
                                                                                                        BobbyGeneric Dec 14, 2012 06:23 PM

                                                                                                        I had to join this website specifically to comment on this because my mind is blown. I cannot even fathom spending what most of you seem to spend on groceries. I spend less than $300 per month for a family of four! If I wanted to spend what some of you spend, I would have to buy a preposterous amount of superfluous food and throw much of it away every month, or, buy MUCH more expensive ingredients. Both seem silly.

                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: BobbyGeneric
                                                                                                          t
                                                                                                          thimes Dec 14, 2012 06:47 PM

                                                                                                          I'm one of the people that spend crazy amounts. I can't imagine spending 300 for a family of 4 per month.

                                                                                                          That said, this post had me much more conscious of what I spend. But it is still a lot and I throw very little away.

                                                                                                          That said I also wonder if others track their spending differently than I do. I can't parse out wine, liquor, paper goods, etc with how I track my spending. I look at dollars spent at the grocery store as a whole.

                                                                                                          1. re: thimes
                                                                                                            coll Dec 15, 2012 02:47 AM

                                                                                                            I track all my grocery store purchases too (except cat stuff, that's a separate column) and I include splurges at Trader Joes, Whole Foods and other specialty stores; but luckily they don't sell liquor or wine here except at the liquor store. If I added that to my monthly total, it would go from $400-500 to $700 or more. That's for two people. The prices are really going up on groceries in the last year or so though, I've been tracking for years and lately just the food is getting close to $600 or even more if we have company. It's not me, I still cook the same!

                                                                                                            1. re: thimes
                                                                                                              p
                                                                                                              Pietime Dec 15, 2012 03:25 AM

                                                                                                              We're a family of 3-including a teenage boy-and spend $300/month at the grocery store. We rarely dine out, but cook a lot and eat well. It takes some planning-knowing when stores mark down meat, etc., and some time-we throw very little away-the bones from last night's chicken thighs will go for broth, and the skin will be rendered for fat (yummy). That being said, I think the main reason we get by on $300/month is that we live in the South where groceries are reasonable-whenever we travel, I'm always surprised at the higher food prices.

                                                                                                              1. re: Pietime
                                                                                                                coll Dec 15, 2012 03:37 AM

                                                                                                                Has to be, because I never throw anything away either. I put every leftover scrap in the freezer for later use and maybe one out of 100 things I buy isn't on sale. The cost just keeps rising overall, next step is lots of whole grains and beans, doctored with the scraps from the freezer. That's my plan anyway.

                                                                                                            2. re: BobbyGeneric
                                                                                                              deet13 Dec 14, 2012 09:12 PM

                                                                                                              Well Bobby I spend $300 to $350 per month on groceries, and your point is what?

                                                                                                              After spending 20 years in the Army at an enlisted mans salary, a few years finishing up my degree (and various certifications), another few years busting my hump in the corporate rat race, I'm not only entitled to spend my money taking care of my family and my property in any manner I choose, I'm proud of the fact that I can provide them with a better life than they've ever had.

                                                                                                              IMO, the people on this forum have the right to spend their money as they choose.

                                                                                                              1. re: BobbyGeneric
                                                                                                                h
                                                                                                                Harters Dec 15, 2012 09:59 AM

                                                                                                                We rarely throw food away - but certainly are happy to buy premium ingredients - say, high welfare raised meat. Now we are both retired, our income is obviously considerably reduced from what it was when we both worked. We have not compromised on our food and savings come from elsewhere in the budget.

                                                                                                                That said, I doubt whether we have any family or friends who "get" why we are happy to spend the amount we can spend on a restaurant meal.

                                                                                                                1. re: BobbyGeneric
                                                                                                                  juliejulez Dec 15, 2012 03:20 PM

                                                                                                                  I shop sales, and now I shop at 3 different stores to get the best deals, and only go to Costco every few months. I still spend at least $300 a month for 2 people. I don't shop at butcher shops or any other speciality shops. It's all chain grocery stores. I don't see how I can get it lower unless I started relying more on processed foods like rice a roni or boxed mac n cheese. I don't even live in that expensive of an area (Denver suburbs). So that's great that you can spend less than $300 for a family of 4, but unless you live in a very inexpensive area or have access to cheap farmers markets (like I did when I lived in Central CA), I would assume you're not eating that healthy of food.

                                                                                                                  But really, did you read the rest of the message boards on this site? It's a "foodie" site for the most part, so most of folks here tend to place a high value on good food.... not just "eating to live".

                                                                                                                  1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                    linguafood Dec 16, 2012 09:49 AM

                                                                                                                    Funny -- that's pretty much exactly what I said, yet it got yanked. Probably because *I* said it '-)

                                                                                                                  2. re: BobbyGeneric
                                                                                                                    mcf Dec 16, 2012 03:11 PM

                                                                                                                    I spent more than that on a family of three two decades ago when we were on a VERY tight budget. I don't know what you're eating and I certainly understand what it is to have to live within stringent means, but don't make assumptions.

                                                                                                                    Because I'm diabetic and we low carb, there are no inexpensive starches or pasta meals or pizza here, and I don't buy feedlot beef or other factory farmed animal products. I use everything, including my leftovers, don't waste. I buy whole chickens, cut them up myself and save the parts we don't eat at meals to make home made stock which is much better than store bought.

                                                                                                                    Fine cheeses, organic produce and non factory farmed animal proteins cost a lot more than pasta, rice, etc. I don't buy organic, non factory farmed stuff only because I prefer to eat it (I do!) but also because doing so helps reduce pollution and antibiotic resistance, which contributes in ways beyond my plate and my home.

                                                                                                                  3. b
                                                                                                                    Bryan Pepperseed Dec 15, 2012 05:38 AM

                                                                                                                    Back when this thread started we (2 adults) were averaging about $200 a month. Now, it's getting closer to $300 and the quality/nutritional value of our meals has declined a lot. Not to worry though - I'm sure that if the price of gas comes back down the price of food that went up due to "rising fuel costs" will come back down too. Not.

                                                                                                                    1. h
                                                                                                                      Harters Dec 15, 2012 06:21 AM

                                                                                                                      About £350 a month for the two of us.

                                                                                                                      Almost needless to say, we are fairly serious foodies so are happy to buy premium ingredients when needed. On the other side of that same coin, we are fairly serious foodies so cook a lot from scratch without using premium enhanced ingredients.

                                                                                                                      1. v
                                                                                                                        Violatp Dec 15, 2012 10:55 AM

                                                                                                                        If I had my druthers, I'd spend $600 - $700 a month - grass fed beef and dairy, pastured eggs & chicken, organic vegetables, weekly bottle of wine (or two) monthly bottle of Hangar One, etc. And that would be just for me. If I had people over, the price would go up.

                                                                                                                        That being said, I'm on a tighter budget these days and do about $150 - $200 a month. I still do Kerrygold or Kalona butter, but everything else is reined in.

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Violatp
                                                                                                                          Crockett67 Dec 15, 2012 11:58 AM

                                                                                                                          Wow, that's a huge change! Was it hard to go from a $600 budget to like $200?

                                                                                                                          1. re: Crockett67
                                                                                                                            v
                                                                                                                            Violatp Dec 15, 2012 03:00 PM

                                                                                                                            Yes! It was more like, I didn't need to have a budget - I'd just buy really good stuff and it added up. For example, in San Francisco, I'd go buy meats from Golden Gate or from my local butcher. If I was in the Mission, I'd swing by Bi Rite and get some organic Strauss cream, but usually forget to bring back the bottles for the bottle deposit. That kind of thing.

                                                                                                                            It was nice while it lasted! :-)

                                                                                                                        2. k
                                                                                                                          kyrn80 Dec 15, 2012 03:23 PM

                                                                                                                          It's just my husband and me, and we have a $300/month grocery budget + $200/month eating out budget.

                                                                                                                          ETA: We buy half a cow once a year and have 2 huge freezers in the garage. All other meats are bought only when on sale. So when I grocery shop, I rarely have to buy meat.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: kyrn80
                                                                                                                            mcf Dec 16, 2012 03:14 PM

                                                                                                                            I need to do that... buy a half cow and have it cut the way I want. Huge savings and I get the cuts I want to use the way I like them.

                                                                                                                          2. h
                                                                                                                            hetook Dec 15, 2012 04:15 PM

                                                                                                                            I am single and on a fixed income. I spend $20 or less on groceries a day. It can be done.

                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: hetook
                                                                                                                              v
                                                                                                                              Violatp Dec 15, 2012 04:22 PM

                                                                                                                              Wait - a day? Do you maybe mean a week? $20 a day is $600 a month so I'm thinking you meant week...

                                                                                                                              1. re: Violatp
                                                                                                                                h
                                                                                                                                hetook Dec 15, 2012 05:07 PM

                                                                                                                                $20 a day is $140 a week... but some weeks I can do it @ around $80-90/
                                                                                                                                week.It's pretty fun and I eat really well. I even ate lobster one time.

                                                                                                                                1. re: hetook
                                                                                                                                  v
                                                                                                                                  Violatp Dec 15, 2012 05:11 PM

                                                                                                                                  Oh, I apologize. Just from the way you phrased it - "single on a fixed income" sounded like maybe you kept things lean and mean!

                                                                                                                                  Agree that $20 a day is a lovely budget for groceries.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Violatp
                                                                                                                                    d
                                                                                                                                    debbypo Dec 15, 2012 07:53 PM

                                                                                                                                    Most of the time it's just my husband and I... younger daughter away at school. I shop produce stands, farmer's market (in season), Costco and some at different supermarkets (per the ads). We don't buy much liquor at all (maybe 2 bottles of $10 wine/month) but I do buy tons of produce. We both bring lunch to work most days. Eat out at local ethnic (inexpensive) about once a week. Total for grocery-food is about $400 monthly. I feel neither indulgent nor deprived... basically fine. Going to Whole Foods is the only time I feel poor so, unless I need something from their bulk, I stay away.

                                                                                                                            2. Veggo Dec 15, 2012 08:26 PM

                                                                                                                              As fastidious as I am with my budgeting and spending, I confess this is my blind spot. I have no idea what I spend on food. But I eat a lot of good stuff.

                                                                                                                              1. a
                                                                                                                                angel_face0145 Dec 30, 2012 11:10 AM

                                                                                                                                Me and my boyfriend spend a little over 200 a month! That's not counting paper products or others non food items. We sometimes even feed his nephew which is a teen (thats tricky), but good for us he is not that picky of a eater, he just seems to eat a lot more then us. I normally shop sales, we are on a low budget but we do eat very well. I live in the US, and I'm looking forward to spring, going to start up a garden, I grew up with one, but never had the time like I do now for my own. I'm also looking into getting some chickens for eggs and for meat. We are chicken lovers here, we eat pork and beef maybe once a week. We eat fish as well, but nothing compares to our use of chicken lol. I try to put veggies into our dinner every night, though my boyfriend is not much on them or fruit!

                                                                                                                                1. s
                                                                                                                                  selador Jan 1, 2013 06:31 PM

                                                                                                                                  I spend about $80 a month on food. I eat all my meals at work during the weekdays, so mostly take-outs during weekends.

                                                                                                                                  1. h
                                                                                                                                    heathrbabes Jan 4, 2013 07:33 AM

                                                                                                                                    I have a family of four--two growing boys aged 11 and 14. Three of us are diabetics (i am not). And so some things I have to spend a little extra on to get the non-sugary stuffs or low-carb options for them. My husband is also on a heart healthy diet, which means low-sodium stuffs.

                                                                                                                                    On average, I spend $300/every 2 months at Aldi's on vegetables, etc. and $150/mo on those months I don't buy veggies but everything else. I buy milk there, butter, and cheese, and other "stuff"... junk stuff for me :)

                                                                                                                                    I spend about $20 a month on TP from Big Lots (and never run out again!)

                                                                                                                                    I spend $120 at a local grocery store on meats for the month (usually good for 46 meals with meats). So, once in awhile (every 3 months or so) I don't buy any meats that month because we have leftover meat from the previous months to get through. We only eat meat really once a day. We use other high-iron foods and other high-protein foods instead :)

                                                                                                                                    and then I spend about $30/week at Walmart for bread/milk/butter/eggs, etc the fresh stuff because Aldi's is too far away to do more than once a month.

                                                                                                                                    So however much that is :) It's roughly $600/month, depending on what I'm buying that month--and it's not always groceries that comes out of that money either--my boy's allowance, fun stuff at Micahel's, etc.

                                                                                                                                    1. h
                                                                                                                                      hippioflov Jan 18, 2013 09:25 AM

                                                                                                                                      Food is so expensive! I feel so lucky to be in a position to have a garden, chickens, and ocassionally pigs. We average around $200 a month at the store during school months. That's for milk, sugar, some meats, and stuff to put in the our lunches. My husband and I take leftovers, but the kids don't have a place to warm them up so they take the usual sandwich and chips. I can do less than $100 in the summer. I've found it to be worth the upfront cost to buy 1/2 a cow for the freezer once a year.

                                                                                                                                      I also learned a lot from my mom about how to stretch food dollars. She bought meat on sale and froze it. That meant that sometimes we spent a lot on meat one month, but didn't need to buy meat for three months. She made lots of combo kinds of dishes - soups, casseroles. We ate beans at least one day a week. Not every meal had meat. I remember lots of green bean, creamed corn, and cornbread meals. If there was a sale on rice, she stocked up. If milk was on sale, she stocked up and froze it too. And she planned every meal. My dad was in the military, so money was tight. Sometimes at the end of the month we had SOS - a little browned hamburger in milk gravy over toast. I loved it and didn't realize to later how cheap that meal was. I didn't love every meal we had, but we were never hungry. Mom also kept a bag in the freezer for small bits of leftover veggies. We had veggie soup at least one or two days a month.

                                                                                                                                      Another advantage she had was that her parents raised a huge garden. We spent most summers canning produce. If you're able, finding a local pick your own place and freezing or canning may help.

                                                                                                                                      I also use Hillbilly Housewife's site. Not always the leanest and modern meals, but good basic, cheap food ideas. Also I try to make pasta and bread from scratch. I'm a big advocate of growing whatever you can. Even when we lived in subdivision, I was able to grow green beans, green onions, hot and mild peppers, and herbs mixed in with the flowers in the flower beds. This would give your grocery bill a bit of a break too.

                                                                                                                                      1. Perilagu Khan Jan 18, 2013 10:13 AM

                                                                                                                                        Between five and six hundred samolians, and that does not include most of our beer, wine and booze, but does include all non-food items. This sum is for two adults, six cats and a dawg. We probably spend close to another two hundred per month dining out.

                                                                                                                                        I would also point out that expenditures are relative to location. $550 monthly is fine for groceries in west Texas. In Princeton, New Jersey that would be a diet of fish sticks and Chef Boyardee. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I hasten to add!

                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Perilagu Khan
                                                                                                                                          j
                                                                                                                                          Jenny Ondioline Jan 18, 2013 12:30 PM

                                                                                                                                          Not necessarily: our household of two adults, three cats and a dog located inside the city limits of Boston pays far less than $550 per month for groceries and non-food items, and we eat like kings. (Yesterday, I achieved a personal best by walking out of Russo's, a greengrocer in nearby Watertown, with two bulging Tyvex shopping bags plus a 10 lb bag of potatoes, for only $17.50.)

                                                                                                                                          Admittedly, I haven't lived in Lubbock or the environs since 1995, but I don't think our supermarket prices here in Boston are significantly higher than they would be there. If anything, the competition (I can walk to two full-service supermarkets, a Whole Foods, a Trader Joes, an Asian supermarket, three Russian markets, a kosher supermarket, a butcher shop, and several bakeries, one of which is the best in town, from my house) tends to keep things down if you know how to shop right.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                                                                                                            Perilagu Khan Jan 18, 2013 01:05 PM

                                                                                                                                            Well, I certainly can't speak to Boston's grocery costs--judging by your info, they're not that bad, which I must admit, surprises me. But I can speak to those costs in Princeton and environs, and they were probably a good 25 percent higher than what we pay in Lubbock.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                                                                                                              juliejulez Jan 18, 2013 01:11 PM

                                                                                                                                              I think the note about competition is a good one. My BF's family is from Rock Springs, Wyoming, which is a town of about 25,000 people in SW Wyoming. They only have 3 grocery stores, and a Wal-Mart. No produce markets, no ethnic groceries, and it looks like one of the 3 grocery stores is going to close. So, the stores don't have much competition at all, especially for things like produce, so there's no reason for them to have really great prices.

                                                                                                                                              I used to live in Chicago and when I did cook at home, I could usually do it for pretty cheap because of the wide variety of markets, butchers, bakeries etc I had access to.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                                                Jenny Ondioline Jan 18, 2013 10:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                Exactly: when you have multiple companies both large and small jockeying for your dollars, nobody can get too out of line on their profit margins. Locals on the Boston board complain constantly about how horrible and wickedly expensive the local supermarkets and other stores are, and I always think "Live in a small town in west Texas where the only options within 35 miles are an IGA and an Allsup's mini-mart, then come back to me with how terrible it is to shop for groceries in Boston."

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                                                                                                                  Crockett67 Jan 19, 2013 05:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                  True dat! Almost accepted a job where the only shopping in town was Wal-mart and nothing else for over an hour drive away.

                                                                                                                                                  I know it sounds silly, but saying good bye to sushi or any ethnic food plus lack luster produce did play in a part of why I turned it down. (Poor quality of life.)

                                                                                                                                                  Glad I did, because I have it all. Good job and three grocers less than a 1/4 mile away. 12 in 10 mile radius.

                                                                                                                                          2. q
                                                                                                                                            Querencia Jan 18, 2013 04:10 PM

                                                                                                                                            Another feeding-teenage-boys story: I had two of my own plus a visiting cousin and two friends, age range about 14-17. I served them a roast turkey with all the trimmings plus corn on the cob (it was summer) and homemade pies. When nothing was left but bones and cobs, they promptly disappeared. I hadn't finished cleaning up when they came back."Where did you go?" I asked. "McDonald's," they said. "We went for hamburgers." This was 40 years ago; with today's prices I can't even imagine how people are feeding boys. They eat like killer whales.

                                                                                                                                            1. s
                                                                                                                                              Sal Vanilla Jan 18, 2013 04:19 PM

                                                                                                                                              During Winter hubs and I spend about $800 per month on food, liquor and paper prods. We eat almost every meal at home (B/L/D, coffee, snacks...). We eat very well and drink well. We stock up on sale items, have a huge freezer and I can summer garden things. Hardly anything gets wasted.

                                                                                                                                              In the Summer and Fall the bill probably tallies to $500 (we have a huge garden and orchard). We occasionally entertain, but I would call that a wash since we go to their homes as well.

                                                                                                                                              We also have a dog. She is a piggy little princess.

                                                                                                                                              1. LMAshton Jan 18, 2013 06:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                The two of us live in Singapore, where pretty much all food is imported - it's a tiny island with around 6 million people and no room for farms.

                                                                                                                                                We spend around $1000 a month on food. We don't skimp, but we don't go extravagant either. We eat a fair bit of local vegetables, which are cheaper than imported veggies. Coupons don't exist here and sales are near nonexistent. You pay what you pay.

                                                                                                                                                Because the country is so crowded, a LOT of people flatshare, including married couples and families who'll rent out a room or two. Many of these flatsharing people don't have access to kitchens, so must eat all their meals outside. That makes it even more expensive for those of us who do cook at home.

                                                                                                                                                1. m
                                                                                                                                                  meerastvargo Jan 27, 2013 08:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                  We spend $600/month on all farmers market, grocery, dry goods type items (paper towels, toilet paper, laundry and dish soaps, plastic wrap, etc.), and restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                  There are two of us. I make almost everything from scratch (james, jellies, most pickled items, bread, mayo, mustard, salad dressings, pizza dough), we grow all of our own herbs (except cilantro, we use too much to grown), and some of of our own veggies (but we mostly buy our veggies, our veggie garden is not that big). We don't eat red meat but we buy our chickens from a local farmer and they are not cheap ($3.70/lb for whole birds).

                                                                                                                                                  My total also includes some fancy mail order ingredients (cheeses, brown sugars, Red Boat fish sauce, Rancho Gordo beans) we buy, as well as the u-pick and farmstand produce we buy in quantity depending on the season (blueberries, blackberries, peaches, etc).

                                                                                                                                                  When we go out, we usually go out to inexpensive restaurants. The food total does not include food purchased at restaurants on vacations. For example, for the week after Christmas we went to Montreal and Quebec City. While we didn't splurge too much on expensive meals, the cost for those meals came out of a separate travel budget we keep.

                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: meerastvargo
                                                                                                                                                    Crockett67 Jan 27, 2013 01:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                    Yeah that whole Christmas/New Year traveling really did a number on my wallet. Yikes! But it's only once a year.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Crockett67
                                                                                                                                                      fldhkybnva Jan 29, 2013 09:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                      +1 we spent a fortune over the holidays but we don't really indulge in much else so food is the one thing that we usually don't hold back with especially at the holidays.

                                                                                                                                                  2. m
                                                                                                                                                    musicmaiden Jan 28, 2013 07:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                    what a relief! Our 2012 average was about $600 / mo for our household of 4 ( our boys are young adults in college) for food , cleaning products, vitamins, OTC, personal care and paper products. I was shocked as the previous year was almost $100 less / mo. On my income this is a huge percentage and these "super couponers" on TV make it sound you can live just on just $80 a month. Although we are not able to afford a good steak too often ( and fresh seafood is not even available close by) I have been trying to add new recipes and vary my menu as much as possible. My main focus in my grocery budget will be not to waste food (veggies or lunchmeat gone bad in the fridge, moldy bread, etc).

                                                                                                                                                    1. m
                                                                                                                                                      meberts Mar 26, 2013 03:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                      Ok, so I had to chime in here. My Fiance and I are professionals and are health conscience as well as train very hard for general fitness. We eat from the nature store only and spend about $1,900 per month! Is there anyone else on here that spends close to that much for high quality/organic food?

                                                                                                                                                      The food makes us feel so much better and tastes sooo much better as well. It's such a pitty that we have to spend more money in this society to eat healthier. Should be the other way around!!!

                                                                                                                                                      29 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: meberts
                                                                                                                                                        juliejulez Mar 26, 2013 03:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                        I think you can eat quality healthy food for way less than $1900/mo. $1900/mo is insane... that's more than our mortgage.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                          juliejulez Mar 26, 2013 04:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                          By the way, I don't care if meberts spends $1900 on food, that's their choice. I'm just tired of hearing people say "it's too expensive to eat healthy". I hear it a lot on my weight loss board... basically I see it as an excuse for some people, saying they can't afford to buy healthy food. So, I get annoyed when I hear people say that...especially coming from someone who only buys the very highest quality that's available. You can still be eating healthy without buying the highest quality thing available... I don't, and I still think the food I make and eat tastes darn good, and I've lost over 50lbs by eating it.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                            fldhkybnva Mar 26, 2013 04:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                            Yea, I often hear people comment that they can't eat healthy like me because it's too expensive and I point out the fact that you just did that you can eat very healthy and not necessarily demand grass-fed and wild caught food and that that is an additional personal preference. Thanks for making that point as I think it's very important and I really encourage others who think it's too expensive to reconsider. In fact, I've had a few grocery store trips and cooking lessons with friends who are interested to eat healthier but think that it's impossible to afford and have asked for help.

                                                                                                                                                            Congratulations on your weight loss, that is fantastic!!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                                                                                                              m
                                                                                                                                                              meberts Mar 27, 2013 03:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                              Agreed, you can definitely eat relatively healthy without getting organic food and spending the premium as long as you stay on the outside aisles ;).

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                                                                            Curryus Mar 29, 2013 09:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                            Have to agree with juliejulez!! The 2 of us eat totally healthy 4 3 to 4 hundred a month. Live in Idaho & have great Farmers Markets in the summer.

                                                                                                                                                          3. re: meberts
                                                                                                                                                            fldhkybnva Mar 26, 2013 04:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                            I'm glad that you spoke up, we don't spend $1900 but we spend quite a bit more than many people who have posted here particularly for 2 people. The expense is mostly my penchant for fish and grass-fed products, but I have made the compromise that yummy food outweighs shopping for clothes or shoes though it helps that I spend most of my life in scrubs and have never been a big shopper. I kind of agree with juliejuliez that I wouldn't think that organic/high quality food would have to cost so much and I my basket is not necessarily filled with all of that but more so as a meat eater I consume large quantities of meat and fish which gets quite expensive. However, similar to you, I only really want to eat meat and fish that I enjoy and so that means hunting down and paying for fresh, wild caught, etc. I guess if it works for you and you're not having to cut strings elsewhere that you don't want to that it is what it is :) I have no interest in spending really any money on other things that my family and friends devote more funds to so I'm a happy clam to pay $20/lb for fish.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                                                                                                              s
                                                                                                                                                              selador Mar 29, 2013 10:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                              I wonder how those vegetarian weightlifters and mixed martial arts guys do it.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: selador
                                                                                                                                                                v
                                                                                                                                                                Violatp Mar 29, 2013 12:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                I think everyone's system is different, you know? Some people thrive as vegans and some as, well, meatatarians!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Violatp
                                                                                                                                                                  mcf Mar 29, 2013 02:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  Yep.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: selador
                                                                                                                                                                  1
                                                                                                                                                                  1MunchieMonster Mar 31, 2013 04:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  Gobs of rice & pasta plus some meat & veggies works fine on a student-ish budget. Sure the muscle makes you more hungry for meat, but it doesn't have to be ALL meat. There are some tricks, like draining the fat off of 80% lean ground beef sometimes ends up cheaper than the 95% lean.

                                                                                                                                                                  Also, maybe if you're working out all the time, you don't have time to spend money on fancy cars or gadgets so your budget balances that way. :-)

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: meberts
                                                                                                                                                                v
                                                                                                                                                                Violatp Mar 26, 2013 04:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                Do you eat a LOT? I'm just saying it that way because if you train that hard, you really do need a whole lot of calories to build and maintain muscle.

                                                                                                                                                                If between the two of you, you eat one to two pounds of super high quality, say, protein, daily - well, that's $25 to $30 a day just for that. You could easily, easily spend $1000 a month on meat and fish, alone.

                                                                                                                                                                So, yeah, I can see it. If you can afford it and that's what you choose to spend your money on, well, no need to feel weird about it.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Violatp
                                                                                                                                                                  fldhkybnva Mar 26, 2013 04:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  I'm not sure if meberts eats a lot, but SO and I are also big fitneess enthusiasts and eat a lot! I chuckled when I read 1 to 2 lbs of protein a day. It's usually 2 lbs a day and often more so yea it really adds up which is exactly why my bill is so high. Yea, we can afford it because we have prioritized it as fitness is really important to us so I think that's important. I don't think it'd be possible to do it if we had big interests in more than a couple other activities which required money. We are also big homebodies so we don't have to spend a lot on going out or drinks, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                                                                                                                    v
                                                                                                                                                                    Violatp Mar 26, 2013 05:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    Heh. If I was to buy all my meats at this very cool local butcher shop here in Chicago, I'd spend $1000 a month just on myself! I walked in once and walked right back out. Prices began at $30 a pound!

                                                                                                                                                                    Oh, and I admit to lowballing that meat amount out of a bit of embarrassment at how much protein I myself can eat in a day. Last night was a big salad topped with 1.5 pounds of (pre-cooked weight) boneless pork country ribs. Just for me.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Violatp
                                                                                                                                                                      fldhkybnva Mar 26, 2013 07:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      We are kismet! I low-balled my description as well so as not to seem like a glutton. I don't think I eat less than 1lb of meat in any sitting!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                                                                                                                        biondanonima Mar 28, 2013 09:11 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        This kind of meat consumption is totally normal for those on a low-carb lifestyle, but it tends to sound insane to those who are not. Every time someone tells me I should be eating a 3-4oz portion of meat twice a day and no more, I'm thinking "that's maybe 400 calories, depending on how fatty the meat is - what the hell else am I going to eat to make up the 1,800 or so calories I need?" I'm sure as hell not going to do it with processed carbs like most of those meat naysayers do!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                                                                                                          fldhkybnva Mar 28, 2013 09:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          Yea, I downplay my meat consumption here as I know that most people would find it insane but I'm a meatatarian and always have been.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                                                                                                            mcf Mar 28, 2013 09:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            I eat very low carb, but I'm pretty sure I don't eat 1 lb per meal.... I replace starches with lots of veggies, which may be roasted in EVOO or gratin with cream and cheese and herbs.

                                                                                                                                                                            My proteins are certainly more than the size of a deck of cards, though...

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                              biondanonima Mar 28, 2013 09:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              Yeah, I don't eat a pound per meal usually either, but my husband generally does. I usually estimate 8-12 oz. for me and a pound for him at dinnertime, somewhat less for lunch. Calorically speaking, and considering that the rest of the meal consists of low-carb vegetables, it's not really that much food for a man who's 6'3.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                                                                                                                mcf Mar 28, 2013 10:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                Absolutely. And if that's the raw weight, it's actually much lower after cooking. Lots of water weight in meat.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Violatp
                                                                                                                                                                          LMAshton Mar 28, 2013 04:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          Our meat prices in Singapore are pretty high, I thought, until I realized I was thinking per kg when you're talking per pound. Makes me feel better. :P

                                                                                                                                                                          Thing about high protein consumption - some people just need it, and not just those who are working out.

                                                                                                                                                                          I have a genetic protein defect. The more protein I take it, the better I feel, theoretically because my protein synthesis is working better with better quality starting materials. When I was a social meat eater many many years ago, things went very very badly for me very very fast. I had no choice at the time - my gallbladder was failing and it took quite a while to get that diagnosed and then removed.

                                                                                                                                                                          I usually eat around 150 grams of eggs for breakfast and around 250 grams of meat for lunch and dinner, so just over a pound and a quarter a day.

                                                                                                                                                                          And for the record? LOVE meat salads. :)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LMAshton
                                                                                                                                                                            v
                                                                                                                                                                            Violatp Mar 28, 2013 04:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            I just had another meat salad for dinner. The combination of a fatty meat (plain broiled skinless chicken breast doesn't cut it) and a pile of salad, all topped with dressing is an ideal meal for me. A bowl of whole grains topped with legumes, though touted by many, just does not sit well!

                                                                                                                                                                            Damn shame too, considering how much money I would save!

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Violatp
                                                                                                                                                                        m
                                                                                                                                                                        meberts Mar 27, 2013 03:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        Hi Violatp, yes although we are not very large people, we eat a lot of food. That $1,900 included some supplements as well such as protein powder, etc. We really do eat the best quality out there. Oh, and we live in Canada too. I don't know if that means anything but whenever we visit the US, we love how cheap and great Whole Foods is!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: meberts
                                                                                                                                                                          v
                                                                                                                                                                          Violatp Mar 27, 2013 04:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          Ah, that makes even more sense. Food prices in Canada are definitely much higher and it seems like there are fewer sales, too.

                                                                                                                                                                          Large or not, doesn't matter. If you're very fit and have muscle mass to maintain, and you work out a LOT, ya gotta eat! :-)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: meberts
                                                                                                                                                                            d
                                                                                                                                                                            DelishDi Mar 29, 2013 10:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            I know the supplements and powders alone can cost a lot. And quality meat can be very expensive. I guess if I had the money, I would spend more on food, but I don't make a lot. However, I do buy organic whenever possible, and I find that I tend to buy way more vegetables, etc. than I can possibly eat in a week anyway! I spent $50/week eating organically/wild/raw.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: meberts
                                                                                                                                                                          mcf Mar 26, 2013 04:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          Are you buying food made by the store, or ingredients and cooking at home for that much?

                                                                                                                                                                          I don't post what two of us spend because I'm embarrassed in light of what others spend (though Janet of Richmond has us BEAT. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                          But I mostly cook, due to food quality concerns, instead of buying prepared stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                            fldhkybnva Mar 26, 2013 07:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            I rarely if ever buy prepared food, it just doesn't appeal to me. In fact, my friends joke that my fridge looks like a farm.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                              m
                                                                                                                                                                              meberts Mar 27, 2013 03:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              We purchase from the Deli frequently too but primarily groceries. That cost included both. Too busy to cook most of the time. Either that or we need to prioritize/plan our cook sessions better. At least I feel like I'm driving a sports car with my body and the bill is proof, lol.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: meberts
                                                                                                                                                                                mcf Mar 27, 2013 06:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                Because you said you were professionals, I figured you might be working a lot and maybe getting not only good foods, but not making it yourselves, hence a high bill.

                                                                                                                                                                                I make our food, but because I buy grass fed meat exclusively, and grass fed dairy when I can, and organic veggies, etc... and eat very low carb, so costly proteins... we tend to run a high monthly bill even without buying prepared food or eating out a ton.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                  fldhkybnva Mar 28, 2013 09:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  This is the situation in our house as well. I think the only carbs we eat regularly are veggies which are usually organic and eat a lot of meat which is usually grass fed.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. s
                                                                                                                                                                            sparky403 Mar 26, 2013 04:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            Interesting topic - I've been somewhat $$ challenged the last couple of years - knowing how to cook is a god send that save's lots of $$. These times won't last but many of the habits I have picked up will.

                                                                                                                                                                            I for one can't belive how much the cost of food has shot up in San Francisco. That said, the pact I made with myself - I WILL NOT buy anything not on sale- period. Most of my meat comes from the discount Bin. Funny, you pay huge $$ for an aged steak but after 5 days at the super market they market it down 30 - 50% When it turns dark red with some patches of grey - the taste is far better IMHO>

                                                                                                                                                                            I eat lots of chicken on the bone, some read meat (when I can find it in the discount bin). A big pot of bean soup that feeds me for at least a couple of days (this is one thing that I've grown to love - it won't change when my economic situation does).

                                                                                                                                                                            Lot's of stir fry's, I figured out how to cook chicken, pork etc many different ways and frankly I love the challenge of living as close to the bone as I can (I have pretty good amount of savings - but trying not to touch it).

                                                                                                                                                                            I'm very fortunate to have a great cheap farmers market local to me (in San Francisco) - $1.00 bags of everything seasonal at the end of the day.

                                                                                                                                                                            With Booze and everything I spend roughly $35.00 per week for me. I do miss being able to splurge on good Parm and - nice cheese in General - but on balance I don't feel deprived at all.

                                                                                                                                                                            I eat out perhaps every once two weeks - usually a burrito or some Asian food (which I also love).

                                                                                                                                                                            Between the price of gas, and the drought here in the U.S last summer - I look for prices to continue to rise.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. h
                                                                                                                                                                              HillJ Mar 27, 2013 05:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              Strictly grocery shopping (meaning, not counting meals out of any kind or non food items) $200/week for 2....$350 when the HillJ gang shows up.

                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                Njchicaa Mar 28, 2013 09:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                That's about where we are. I can and have done it for $50 a week but when the budget isn't restricted I find that the weekly grocery trip is in the $150-$200 range.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. t
                                                                                                                                                                                TulsaWife Mar 29, 2013 08:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                I do grocery shopping for only my husband and I. We have no children as of yet, so we don't have to spend a lot on groceries for the two of us. He is the only one working and makes decent money, but I try to stick to a budget more often than not. I feel that when I stick to a budget and get good deals then I am doing my job. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                We shop for groceries every two weeks and we spend between $100-$150, so that adds up to around $200-$300 per month.
                                                                                                                                                                                I like the challenge of sticking to a budget. I grew up not really having to worry about money or budgeting, so after I got married I had no clue what to do. My mother offered advice because when she first married my dad they were in the same boat. My husband didn't make the sort of money that he does now, so it was harder. We used to spend about $60 at the grocery store every two weeks.

                                                                                                                                                                                We buy the staples and I look for sales and have even started clipping coupons. I've recently gotten coupons for free products in the mail that we use frequently which will save a good amount on our bill.

                                                                                                                                                                                We usually buy chicken, ground beef, pork chops or pork roast, bacon, potatoes, eggs, milk, pasta, and fresh veggies and fruits. We also buy the necessities like laundry soap and personal items like shampoo and such.

                                                                                                                                                                                I see all of these people spending about $800 on their families and I see potential for saving so much more while still being able to eat healthy and provide meals and snacks that their families would love. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                I am not such a fancy cook, but I do know my way around the kitchen. I can thank being from the south for that! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: TulsaWife
                                                                                                                                                                                  mcf Mar 29, 2013 08:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  "I see all of these people spending about $800 on their families and I see potential for saving so much more while still being able to eat healthy and provide meals and snacks that their families would love."

                                                                                                                                                                                  Some of us spend more because we don't eat rice and pasta or the foods that coupons are for, or we care more about where our food comes from than how cheap it is, and how it's produced and have the luxury of spending more for it, a luxury not everyone can afford, I know.

                                                                                                                                                                                  When I want to cut back on spending, I reduce the amount of an item I buy, but not the quality and price.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                    h
                                                                                                                                                                                    HillJ Mar 29, 2013 08:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    I think where you live and what foods you have access to year round plays a big role. I commute btwn east and west coasts and I've quickly learned how diff pricing is on fresh, local, ethnic, sales. My identical monetary budget for both coasts yields different purchases.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                      mcf Mar 29, 2013 09:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm sure you're right. If I lived near grass fed meat producers with a regional slaughtering facility and some organic farms, I'd save a bundle.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                      fldhkybnva Mar 29, 2013 09:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      I hate that there are rarely coupons for meat :)

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                                                                                                                                        h
                                                                                                                                                                                        HillJ Mar 29, 2013 09:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        Don't they usually refer to meat coupons as a Manager's Special or just reduce the price per lb that week though? Or are you referring to another type of discount? Our butcher emails us the sales list for his specials.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                          fldhkybnva Mar 29, 2013 09:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                          Yea, though this rarely seems to apply to fish or meats other than simple chicken breasts/thighs or roasts. It's hard to find a grass fed steak or wild Salmon on sale. I think mcf and I were both referring to the fact that many boxed products are the majority of the products advertised in coupons and these products also have Manager's Specials or store specials so it's a double discount sometimes. My store is nice in that there is often a card holder discount for meat but then again this usually only allows me to stock up on chicken parts.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                                                                                                                                          mcf Mar 29, 2013 09:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                          Actually, heritagefoodsusa.com issues coupons, but the prices are so high to begin with that they still don't compete with CAFO/factory farm meats.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                                                                                                                                            juliejulez Mar 29, 2013 10:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            Do you shop at Safeway? They often will do digital coupons that you load to your shopper card online for their Rancher's Reserve meats. Not sure if that's the kind of meat you buy since I know you're a grass-fed enthusiast, but thought I'd give you the heads up in case you didn't know :)

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                                                                                                                                              LMAshton Mar 30, 2013 02:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                              There are *no* coupons where I live.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: TulsaWife
                                                                                                                                                                                            LMAshton Mar 30, 2013 02:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            "I see all of these people spending about $800 on their families and I see potential for saving so much more while still being able to eat healthy and provide meals and snacks that their families would love. :) "

                                                                                                                                                                                            Yeah, where you live plays a big part in this, and so do dietary requirements.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I have a long long list of foods that neither the husband nor I can eat, although I'm the bigger offender here. I have too many food allergies and intolerances to be able to eat on the cheap, which, here, means eating out at the cheap food places and hawker stalls.

                                                                                                                                                                                            So, no, actually.

                                                                                                                                                                                          3. rockandroller1 Mar 29, 2013 09:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            Without going through all the responses so far, we are a family of three (child who is 4) and I spend about $300-400 a month. We buy almost all organic but I shop the "clean 15," are in a CSA for the winter months and we do not buy ANY factory farmed meat. We also buy a lot of "green" products such as the few paper products we need and natural shampoos and such, but as others have said, this is a priority for spending for us. We rarely go out to eat and when we do, it's usually takeout which is cheaper and easier with a small fry. We eat a lot more beans and vegetarian meals than we used to in order to afford the pastured eggs ($4/dozen) and pastured meats that we buy from local farms, and we've cut down on boozing to weekends only so that would free up more money for food. I can't think of anything we buy that ever has a coupon for it, though some of the frozen organics we buy do go on sale occasionally. I meal plan and shop from a list as well, which helps avoid impulse purchases. We also don't buy any canned goods unless they are from BPA-free cans (Amy's soups, Eden beans, Muir Glen tomatoes).

                                                                                                                                                                                            30 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: rockandroller1
                                                                                                                                                                                              mcf Mar 29, 2013 09:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                              Not drinking much at all really frees up money. But we pay for sparkling water bottled in glass, albeit at Costco coupon prices.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Because we eat so low carb, things cost more, especially to get the variety we want. It's a luxury we would not have been able to afford years ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                linguafood Mar 29, 2013 10:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Whoa! Bottled sparkling water? Get thee a sodastream and a huge Britta filter to always have cold, filtered, bubbly water in the fridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Seriously -- we used to have a bad Pellegrino habit (2 cases a week, easily, at {now} a whopping $16 per case) and never buy it anymore. Apart from saving money, our recycling is WAY less weekly, too. Win-win :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                  mcf Mar 29, 2013 02:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've done the math, and the SodaStream would be nut much of a savings and too inconvenient given how much of it we drink. We buy Pellegrino for $12 per case with Costco coupons. Had a lengthy discussion about cost, convenience with another poster who uses it but doesn't feel like the savings are much. We just don't want to drink out of plastic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                    linguafood Mar 29, 2013 02:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Well, then you know the shpeel already, and I won't try to convince you otherwise. There was a time when the Pellegrino was around $12 as well, but the price has really shot up in the last half year or so, so we're saving boatloads. Especially since we only need to get a new carbonation thingee once a month or so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    As for "too inconvenient give how much it we drink" -- we have 5 bottles of bubbly water in the fridge at any given time. I easily go through 3-4 in one evening. Making a new bottle takes about, oh, dunno, 10 secs?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't have a problem with plastic bottles, especially since you're supposed to replace them after a certain date.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    And lastly, Pellegrino has the highest percentage of uranium of all European bottled waters tested, so I've lost a bit of my love for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now, if Gerolsteiner were readily available here *and* affordable.... nah. Still way too much recycling. Not to speak of the whole importing water thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                      mcf Mar 29, 2013 02:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Believe, I wanted to be convinced that it would be a savings, hence my repeated discussion and investigation of it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      We're not storing foods or buying drinks in plastics or cans any more (BPA plastic lining in all of them) where we can avoid it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                        linguafood Mar 29, 2013 02:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Huh. All of our bottles have "BPA free" printed on them. Are you implying that is not the case?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                          mcf Mar 29, 2013 02:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Nope. I'm just saying that I don't think there's anything else in there that I want my food and drink steeped in, either. We bought cans for while til someone on CH alerted me to the BPA lining they all have. I only buy canned beans without it now, from EdenFoods.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                            h
                                                                                                                                                                                                            HeBrew Mar 31, 2013 01:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Have you considered reusing your Pellegrino bottles with the SodaStream? I'm not trying to convince you one way or another, just another alternative.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: HeBrew
                                                                                                                                                                                                              mcf Mar 31, 2013 02:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, I've considered it, and I don't mind helpful suggestions at all. :-) I think between the purchase of the machine, the number of bottles per cartridge, so far, the savings are just not adequately rewarding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I may change my mind at a later date.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Kris in Beijing Mar 31, 2013 02:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Please, mcf-- ask around. See if you have a pal who would loan you a SodaStream -- offer to buy a cartridge/ pay for a refill.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                I did the math and found that at 1.5 - 2 quarts a day, I'd have to wait almost 365 days to "break even."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                However, I had the opportunity to play around with one for a few days and I was hooked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Kris in Beijing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  mcf Mar 31, 2013 02:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There's another poster on these boards who uses one daily to make several bottles and doesn't think her family is saving money. That's kind of where I got my feelings confirmed. That and I really like the taste of mineral water. So if there's no big diff...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sounds like you really like yours, though...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Kris in Beijing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    linguafood Mar 31, 2013 02:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Not to mention the countless glass bottles we don't have to recycle :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      mcf Mar 31, 2013 03:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To us, that's just not any more inconvenient than having to go out and exchange/buy cartridges. And much closer to home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        linguafood Mar 31, 2013 04:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thankfully, Wegmans recently added the Sodastream & cartridges to their assortment of goods, so it's one-stop shopping for us. Not everyone can be that lucky '-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          mcf Mar 31, 2013 04:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It would certainly be more convenient than Bed Bath and Beyond, the only place around here that also exchanges them. And while Mr. MCF returns deposit bottles, I'd be the only one setting food in BBB...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Momma din raise no stoopid. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            linguafood Mar 31, 2013 04:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yep, BBB used to be the only place for us as well. Still, not to be contributing to the insane amount of empty water bottles on a regular basis made it worth my while.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Kris in Beijing Mar 31, 2013 05:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The cartridges have lasted a lot longer than I expected, so the exchange rate vs. recycle rate would be pretty good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And you COULD do exchange by mail with SS themselves, if paying a little more is worth avoiding BB&B.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Kris in Beijing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            mcf Mar 31, 2013 05:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It's been hard to match up the actual cost comparison ideally, because the SS glass carafes are smaller. How many of those, vs. a Pellegrino 750ml bottle do you get (SS is 620ml) per cartridge? How fizzy?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Then there's the whole absence of minerality thing, though I'd just add a citrus slice from the freezer to give it taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              linguafood Mar 31, 2013 05:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Roughly 8-10 bottles a day, fairly fizzy. Cartridge lasts about a month, I'd say, sometimes just 3 weeks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                mcf Mar 31, 2013 05:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You saying you average close to 270 charges out of a cartridge? http://www.sodastreamusa.com/carbonat...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That size carbonator costs $50... Can't be used with the Crystal system.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And you can no longer exchange carbonators by mail with SS, must go to a retailer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  linguafood Mar 31, 2013 06:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "You saying you average close to 270 charges out of a cartridge?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I guess. Maybe a little less. I honestly haven't counted. The soda stream was a birthday present, so I suppose there was no initial "investment" on our part.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That said, yeah, I believe we save a buttload of money. And the environment, which seems to be important to you, too (at least I get that impression from many of your other posts).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Perhaps think it over again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    mcf Mar 31, 2013 06:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But they say "up to 130" charges for the large cartridge, and when I was reading a lot of reviews, folks were getting fewer, not more, as I recall, than the maximum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't think of recycling glass as harmful to the environment, though there is trucking involved in getting them to Costco, I suppose. Still, I'm not filling the landfills with plastics that will practically never decompose.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Kris in Beijing Mar 31, 2013 06:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Another thought--

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://www.ediblegeography.com/how-to...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Kris in Beijing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        mcf Apr 1, 2013 06:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Interesting potential. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                      rockandroller1 Mar 29, 2013 10:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      My GI system does not like low carb but my a** does, so it's a constant battle. I eat too many veg and protein and then I need to eat pizza and pasta for a couple of days to balance it out or I will spend all my time on the toilet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rockandroller1
                                                                                                                                                                                                        mcf Mar 29, 2013 02:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I think you might need a bulking fiber instead of pizza and pasta. Just from what I recall the occasional low carber report years ago on forums. Psyllium husks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                          rockandroller1 Apr 3, 2013 07:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          No, that doesn't work for someone like me. Without trying to gross you or anyone else out, I do not have the same GI tract you all do. I had my entire large intestine and rectum surgically removed due to illness, and my small intestine is reduced in size dramatically. Things just don't work the same for me as they do for other people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: rockandroller1
                                                                                                                                                                                                            mcf Apr 3, 2013 08:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm sorry, of course your situation is completely different and that was a generic recco based upon other low carbers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Not grossed out at all, just sorry you had to deal with the illness and glad you're still around to post!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                              rockandroller1 Apr 8, 2013 12:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              :) No worries. I'm actually lucky it worked out the way it did and that there was a surgery I could have that helped me to get to where I am today. It ain't perfect, but it's a darn sight better than how it was when I was sick. I have to carry a few more extra pounds because of it, but I try my best to deal with that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: rockandroller1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                mcf Apr 8, 2013 01:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Glad to hear it's better. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. p
                                                                                                                                                                                                    pinkpooskie Mar 29, 2013 09:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    We are a household of two. My husband has celiac disease and we both need to eat entirely dairy free.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I can as much food as possible in the summer. Tomatoes, peaches and jam.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I also bake as much as possible at home except for gluten free bread. If a gluten free item is on sale I will splurge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Without alcohol purchases, we spend roughly $160 to $200 a week on groceries in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. The higher cost is due to our purchases at the farmer's market or local butchers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    With the recent meat recalls, I try not to buy any meat from grocery stores. We eat roughly three or four meatless dinners a week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I buy as much in bulk as possible and we eat lots of rice. And we rarely eat out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    This means we spend roughly $800 a month but food is our medicine and one of our principle joys so I wouldn't have it any other way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. d
                                                                                                                                                                                                      DelishDi Mar 29, 2013 10:06 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I know it is soooo hard with a growing family. I wish I had known then what I know now about stretching food dollars and yet eating healthily. Seems like you're on the right track but perhaps live in a higher-cost area? I am in the Midwest, so everything is more reasonable than the coasts, in many ways. Maybe consider getting a membership to Sam's Club or something where you can buy things in bulk. More grains (quinoa, millet, oatmeal, bulgur), veggies, fruits, less meats in your meals. Meats shouldn't take front and center in a meal, but stand to the side! More soups, stews and bean dishes stretch things out. If you do use more rice and pasta, again, they should be complements, not the main part of the meal. Consider investing in another smaller stand alone freezer so you can stockpile. Might pay off in the long run. Lunch meats are a waste of money and are so high in sodium and nitrates. If you have a community/church-run program like Angel Food Ministries, or some such, you can pay like $35 a month, volunteer once every so often, and get probably 3x that back in meats and produce each month! Plan your meals ahead, like maybe a week in advance, so that you're buying things that go into multiple meals, even if you have to freeze them for advance. I usually set aside one day a week to cook and bake for the coming week, so I can make all my homemade pastries, muffins, cookies, breads, soups, stews, casseroles at once and then freeze portions for later reheating. This is a real time and dollar saver! Definitely take advantage of double coupon daze. I shop at 3-4 places each week (all very close together) so I can get the most savings from my dollars. Figure out what flavorings and spices you and your family enjoy in your foods and incorporate them into your baking and cooking regularly. You'll feel like a gourmet and your family will love it, too! Compile a list of healthy sauces, gravies, dressings, marinades etc. to have on hand to look over when you do decide to make a meal. Many can be mixed and matched with different meats. Make your own shake and bake, mix, brownie mix, etc.! I, too, can't afford a lot of the Chowound ideas, but I do take snippets here and there and oh, I feel like I've eaten at a 5-star restaurant when I do find something inexpensive and yet heavenly to eat! Good luck!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. d
                                                                                                                                                                                                        DelishDi Mar 29, 2013 10:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am alone now, eat organically as much as possible, make as much as possible from scratch, and my backyard is going to be one huge garden come spring. I'm tired of mowing it; might as well weed it and feed those less fortunate than me, besides. $50 per week is what I spend, and I set aside $10 per week to either splurge on some fancier food or eat out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. c
                                                                                                                                                                                                          cgarner Mar 29, 2013 10:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I feed: my husband, my 14 year old daughter, adult step son, his girlfriend and their 2 year old child
                                                                                                                                                                                                          I spend about $650/month

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I RARELY buy anything that’s considered junk food (a bag of popcorn kernels to pop ourselves, none of the microwave stuff)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          I get some things in bulk, because it’s less expensive:
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Brown rice, lentils, rolled oats

                                                                                                                                                                                                          We don’t eat a lot of bread, or pasta (consider “lower carb” diet)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          I use coupons for things like frozen veggies
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Every week (in the winter), I look to see which fruits and fresh veggies are on sale
                                                                                                                                                                                                          At the grocery store I basically “shop the perimeter”
                                                                                                                                                                                                          I buy beef/chicken/pork from a local farmer but only buy when they’re having a freezer sale, but not exclusively

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I used to buy milk and eggs from them as well, but I realized that it was just too expensive, so I decided that my ‘splurge’ food wise would be meat
                                                                                                                                                                                                          In the summer, I shop roadside stands and farmers markets because they have the freshest local food… and generally are MUCH cheaper than the grocery store
                                                                                                                                                                                                          We eat what most would consider healthful meals for breakfast lunch and dinner
                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don’t buy “prepared meals” with the exception of the occasional Asian noodle bowls because well, they’re cheap and we LOVE them (not good for you, I know, but they’re damn tasty)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          I scratch cook, but am not much of a baker (luckily we don’t eat much sweets anyway)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          I make yogurt at home (for the grandkid, he loves it with fruit)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I plan my meals every week, based on what I have in the freezer and pantry and make a list to fill in what I need, plus I will buy “freezer stash” or “pantry stash” items if I can get them cheap/nearly free with the coupons

                                                                                                                                                                                                          (coupons for stuff like Pilsbury cinnamon rolls, sugared cereals, candy, soda, snacks, prepared foods, go in the trash… coupons for pasta, flour, sugar, frozen veggies are basically the only ones I keep)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          We eat out about twice a week
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Once during the week, and Saturdays

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. a
                                                                                                                                                                                                            AdamD Mar 29, 2013 12:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Family of four, two kids 5 and 8.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Supermarket/warehouse store weekly tab: $100-150
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Japanese market weekly tab (wife is Japanese) $75
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Fish market weekly tab $65

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. PHREDDY Mar 29, 2013 01:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              $1000 to $1200 / monthTwo adults, and three part time kids, and one MIL/FIL at least once a week....

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PHREDDY
                                                                                                                                                                                                                PHREDDY Mar 30, 2013 05:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                To give you a little light as to how we break it down:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                We buy beans, rice, potatoes and yellow onions at a regional restaurant supply. Pasta, canned tomatoes, chicken or vegetable broth when on sale, at any of the 5 or so markets near us.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Fish at the local fish monger, meats & poultry at the stupidmarket or one of two butchers. (ie: leg of lamb and ham were both on sale @ the stupid market, we needed one for Passover, the other for Easter)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Produce at a local Asian store(s)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Costco/BJ's staples only such as coffee, bread, some cheese, vinegar, honey, hot sauce and other such condiments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                kathryn_dayle Mar 30, 2013 05:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                This is a question about how much a family, on average spends for groceries. It's quite obvious most here do not want suggestions on how to reduce their costs, because they always throw in the "must be organic, they like quality etc"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                So many people equate cost with value or how nutricious the food is.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                All I can say, there is no reason for any family to spend $800 a month unless you are feeding 12 people. Families of 2-4 people spending that much, simply like convenience foods, or expensive foods to impress others.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                For the rest of us, we know a family of 4 can easily be fed for $250-$400 month...and not need to resort to 2 minute noodles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                34 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  HillJ Mar 30, 2013 05:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What an unfortunate overview you've taken.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Njchicaa Mar 30, 2013 06:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    $400 a month to feed a family of 4? Really?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't buy expensive ingredients to show off or otherwise. I definitely don't buy convenience foods. I make all of our meals save for the odd Sat lunch out from scratch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Kris in Beijing Mar 30, 2013 07:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Interesting, Kathryn.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What is your family size, regional/country location, and monthly grocery, restaurant, and alcohol spending?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ME:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      family size-one adult and one teen daughter
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      regional/country location-USA, DC, on the NoVA side
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      alcohol-- zero. I don't drink and I can't afford to cook with wine
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      grocery and restaurant-- I'm only doing consulting, and we are having tremendous "reassimilation" issues, so our budget is all feast-or-famine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Typical month--
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Restaurant 2x a week, ~$200 monthly
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Food Lion [food only] ~$50 monthly
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Aldi's [food only] ~$125 monthly
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Global Foods [ethnic market, not a WF], including a case of Ramen a month ~$75 monthly.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      School lunches $52
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That's about $500 a month. We could swap out the restaurant meals and add in more Aldi/GF and save I guess $120... but we'd be more miserable than we are.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We have the greatest difficulty not needing to have 12¢ Ramen Dinners plus an egg and seasonings at least two meals a week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In Beijing, for 8 years, we ate "out" 17 of 19 meals a week, slept in on Saturdays, and only had two meals on Sunday.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Breakfasts-- from a cart on the way to the subway for work/school
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Lunch-- Chinese cafeteria. Once a week delivery from a rotation of Thai, Japanese, Indian, or Korean.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Evening meals-- 1x Weekly TexMex with friends; Friday night and Sunday after church "expat" meals; 2 evenings a week we had food prepared by our PT Ayi; other dinners street food off the subway.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Every 6 weeks or so plus any holiday I would cook for a large group of friends, which included massive trips to the Restaurateurs Market, the foreign grocery stores, and the egg/veg market on the outer first floor of out apt.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      All that was well encompassed by a food budget that could never top $1000 [since that was my income minus rent!!].

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Kris in Beijing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        kathryn_dayle Mar 30, 2013 08:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hello Kris,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My husband and I have 4 grown children(aged 21-29), so it is now just the 2 of us. We are retired (49 &53) and split our time between Canada (nova scotia) and Australia (we travel around here, in our camper van)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We have found it doesn't really matter where you are, food sales/discounts are everywhere. The trick is to find them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Most supermarkets have discount racks. Take advantage of them. We plan our meals around what is on sale and discounts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We are basically non-alcoholic drinkers.If we want to eat at a restaurant or take away, we do. It's nothing fancy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We generally spend $200 month groceries, $0-$20 month alcohol,$30 on restaurants/take away.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There are many ways to reduce food budgets.Stockpile when a really good sale comes. Store food under beds, if you need to.Buy in larger quanities when feasible. Get a cheap second hand bread machine.It makes pizza dough too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The internet is full of so much useful informaton.How to make yogurt, laundry detergent, preserves, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Most people eat more meat than they need to. Instead of having a big slab of meat on their plates, it should be no larger than the size of your palm.(person eating it)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Reduce the size of the dinner plates.Most people are taking more than an average serving. Have you seen the amount of overweight people..it's no wonder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It you want to make sure there is leftover food for another meal, put it away, before serving the meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Limit milk. Drink water.Dilute juice.Treats in moderation...otherwise it isn't a treat. Whatever your convenience food is, see if you can make it cheaper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Substitute expensive ingredients or omit them. Don't throw away food.If something in the fridge is going to go bad, freeze it. Incorporate it into the next meal. use it in a soup/casserole.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Instead of thinking you can't, start being positive and make it a fun challenge.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Usually the people who have the best luck with thriving (not only surviving) on small budgets, also are frugal in other areas of their lives.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I reuse tin foil, until it falls apart. I wash out ziplock bags.I use orange mesh bags as pot scrubbers. I buy any shampoo on sale.If I don;t like it as a shampoo, it is used as a body wash.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Cleaning products are easily made using vinegar, baking soda, etc. Do a google.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Whatever you find to be expensive, ask for help. I'm sure most of us would be quite happy to give suggestions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Njchicaa Mar 30, 2013 08:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Okay I see where you are coming from.... but I still don't understand your comment about people spending $800/month on food--that they must be buying expensive things to impress people or buying convenience foods.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Njchicaa
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            n
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nayners Apr 3, 2013 01:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It's not about impressing anyone, it's about eating something you like. If I find fresh king crab or lobster tail at a good price, I'll buy it because I want it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Nayners
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              kathryn_dayle Apr 3, 2013 05:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              No one is saying to never buy something you like. You even said you wait for it to be 'at a good price' People trying to impress, would buy it when it wasn't.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Most people if they spurge, would just alter their buying choices for the rest of the week, and pick cheaper products to compensate.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A friend of mine complains about the price of her grocery bill. I asked her what something cost.She said she had no idea,because she never looks at prices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                mcf Apr 4, 2013 06:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Groceries, status symbol for the ages.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Now, if you could only use them as hood ornaments...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Janet from Richmond Apr 4, 2013 06:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  How is buying what I want, when I want it, trying to impress? I think the only person trying to impress on this thread is you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    n
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nayners Apr 4, 2013 08:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Who would someone impress with food? If I wanted to impress someone, I'd take them to an overpriced restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Kris in Beijing Mar 30, 2013 09:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                K_d-- perhaps you need to start a hints/ strategies thread and cut'n'paste your ^ comment to it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "Instead of thinking you can't, start being positive and make it a fun challenge" -- we are experiencing the tectonic shift that is reverse culture shock.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It takes a while to process.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  PHREDDY Mar 31, 2013 08:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  K-D...Are you on a limited income?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I still work real hard @ 58 years old and my kids are grown (27 & 30) and on their own....Why should I spend all of that energy on scrimping and stuffing things under my bed?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Cars as you drive....I still drive a Mercedes sports car (SL500) and a 2012 Audi SUV. Excessive?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I do not buy prepared food or frequent "Mc Donalds"..I do not even buy Trader Joe's prepackaged items...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You are obviously in a different place in life than me, albeit I respect your lifestyle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: PHREDDY
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    kathryn_dayle Mar 31, 2013 05:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    PHREDDY,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My husband and I just do not waste our money. Whether it be food or anything else.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We travel 8 months of the year in Australia, and the other 4 months we work on our 40 rental properties, in Canada.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We own 3 used vehicles,1997 Rav4, 2006 Kia Sportage, 2006 Kia Pragio (2 in canada , and 1 in Australia).We try to impress no one.We are the 'millionaire next door' people.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The ones who live below their means. In this uncertain economic time, many should be paying off their bills/mortgages instead of trying to keep up with the 'Jones'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you aren't one of the ones complaining about how much it costs to eat, you shouldn't be taking any offense to anything I have stated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    mcf,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Quality food? There is nothing wrong with discounted produce at a supermarket. Some people would be more concerned if they ran into friends/co-workers at a supermarket and happened to look into their shopping cart and saw reduced food,or generic brands.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's no different than the same people buying a t-shirt. They can buy the $5, or the brand name $50 one. Unless it has a logo/visible tag, no one knows or cares how much it costs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      mcf Mar 31, 2013 05:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "mcf,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Quality food? There is nothing wrong with discounted produce at a supermarket."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We're working from very different information. I make careful choices with food quality and pay for it because it matters in more ways than one, starting with environmental, public and personal health. People like you will end up beneficiaries of folks demanding food produced with integrity even if you don't know it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There is just no comparison between the quality of the food you're describing and what some of the rest of us buy. Just because you keep saying it doesn't make it so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And my husband and I live way below our means as it happens, so no need for lessons here, thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Missmoo Apr 3, 2013 06:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm right with you mcf. If you only buy organic, or local or farmers markets, you are not going to be able to make it on such a miniscule amount. Plus, you can't take it with you. On the other hand, if money is an issue, there are certainly some good bits of information in Kathryn's post. Cutting down on prepared sweets is one I could use!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Missmoo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          mcf Apr 4, 2013 06:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't buy sweets, period.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Or prepared meals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                v
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Violatp Mar 30, 2013 08:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This isn't a thread to lecture people on how to spend less. You're free to comment as you wish, but don't be surprised when no one is interested in your suggestions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Violatp
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  kathryn_dayle Mar 30, 2013 08:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Maybe.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It just seems some people view spending lots of money on groceries as a badge of honor, while others complain they are having a really difficult time living on a budget.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My 'badge' is not needlessly wasting my money. It just means there is more discounted food at the grocery store for me, and other like minded people.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I like to help people who genuinely want help. If anyone needs some suggestions for living on $100pp, I have a few months worth of ingredient lists/ recipes I can email you, along with frugal ideas. Some I have used, and others I haven't.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Just send me an email at kathryn_dayle@hotmail.com

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  While we are travelling, we have 6 (old) apple trees that go to waste. We offer them to anyone who wants to come get them. Some use the apples for baiting deer, pig/livestock food, and others for personal use.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So many people have trees or garden produce going to waste.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Utilise kijiji/ craigslist/ freecycle type places for free food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    mcf Mar 31, 2013 08:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "It just seems some people view spending lots of money on groceries as a badge of honor, while others complain they are having a really difficult time living on a budget."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have no idea how you get such a negative message from people (like me) who spend extra for quality food, not marked down factory produced food, and spend effort and time making it at home instead of eating out?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Here's the answer to the mystery: different priorities. I want my food raised in a manner and place that's makes it healthy for the environment, doesn't render antibiotics helpless or cause toxic runoff. This food also is more enjoyable to eat for us, with better flavors and textures we appreciate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don' t really give a rat's nuts what anyone thinks of it, or is impressed by. I care about overall quality and sustainability and pure enjoyment of what we eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PHREDDY Mar 31, 2013 08:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      +1....read my post above..MCF...you state it for me to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  LMAshton Mar 31, 2013 01:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "All I can say, there is no reason for any family to spend $800 a month unless you are feeding 12 people. Families of 2-4 people spending that much, simply like convenience foods, or expensive foods to impress others.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  For the rest of us, we know a family of 4 can easily be fed for $250-$400 month...and not need to resort to 2 minute noodles."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Do you get that the entire world is not the same? Do you get that food prices are not the same everywhere? From where I'm sitting, your statements sounds grossly uninformed and arrogant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And no, there are not food sales/discounts/coupons everywhere you go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LMAshton
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    kathryn_dayle Mar 31, 2013 02:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Unless you live in a remote area,or under very unusal circumstances, I stand by my statements.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I personally don't use coupons, because they are rarely for anything that I would buy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My intention is not be arrogant, but to just inform.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'd be interested in where you live (country, state, city)and after I look at local supermarket flyers, I may agree with you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A positive attitude is your biggest asset. Just don't tell others it can't be done, especially when they are doing it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I've been in the middle of Outback Australia, and their one and only supermarket even has sales/discounts/reduced to clear.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You need to buy loss leaders. Use store or generic brands.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If one person in the household is on a special diet, especially if it is expensive, the others in the family don't need to be one it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Many times you read about one person in the family needs to eat gluten free..and they have everyone eating this way. Why?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PHREDDY Mar 31, 2013 09:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      LMAshton is not talking about attitude, she is talking about a void wherein you might not know how people really live!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Have you ever lived on 79th street and York Avenue in Manhattan, NYC, without a car? (I have)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Try it for a couple of months and let's talk about $$$ baby!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        i
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ItalianNana Mar 31, 2013 09:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        kathryn_dayle,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "Many times you read about one person in the family needs to eat gluten free..and they have everyone eating this way. Why?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Clearly you have strong opinions and a need to share them. That's fine, but be prepared to be challenged on your "facts." People with Celiac disease have nothing to do with it. Since I was diagnosed we eat cheaper, but only because I don't like most GF specialty products. Fast food and many processed foods are out, as are bread, pies, cakes, pastry and pasta (speaking only in general,)but meat, vegetables, fruit, rice, potatoes and some grains like quinoa are fine! I don't have wheat flour in my kitchen because the risk of contamination is too great. My husband is happy to be basically GF but will order a pizza or have regular pasta now and then. We've lost a few pounds too. If CHers, who are very intelligent folks, need budget or lifestyle advice it's all over the web.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          mcf Mar 31, 2013 01:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "You need to buy loss leaders. Use store or generic brands."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          No, thankfully, I don't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I care about what we put in our bodies. I cannot and will not eat the loss leaders and packaged crud they offer coupons for. I don't want factory foods, I want fresh, wholesome, foods.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't "need" to be told/instructed to adopt someone else's priorities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Njchicaa Mar 31, 2013 06:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Amen. The only things I look through the coupons for these days are paper towels, toilet paper, and laundry detergent. I don't want to buy, eat, or serve the junk that they offer coupons for nor would I feed the low-quality pet foods that they have coupons for either. No thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Njchicaa
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              mcf Apr 1, 2013 06:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, even our cats have all moved, with great results, to grain free wet foods that are not sold in the supermarket. The obese one has lost about 30% of his body weight and is almost off of insulin, with very low normal glucose levels. Same way it works in humans.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              are cheap, dollar wise, but expensive health wise, too often.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              LMAshton Mar 31, 2013 07:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "I don't "need" to be told/instructed to adopt someone else's priorities." <---- THIS.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Additionally, generic brands do not exist everywhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I do not understand why it's so difficult to understand that the entire world is not the same. Not you, mcf.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              LMAshton Mar 31, 2013 07:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Nope.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This has nothing to do with having a positive attitude. This has everything to do with differences throughout the world and between different people. Just because you've lived in Australia and Canada doesn't mean you're familiar with everywhere and all experiences and everyone's requirements.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Try living on that budget in, oh, the North West Territories. Or Singapore. If you're willing to go through malnutrition, sure, it can be done. Maybe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Singapore. Housing prices are so high that it's common to flat share here. Even married couples and families will flatshare. And many times, not exceptions, but common practice, is that the subletters don't have access to the kitchen or may be only allowed to do light cooking, which translates to being allowed to use the kettle, coffee maker, and microwave, nothing else. Many many people eat out for all meals. At $4 a meal for the cheapest meal (food courts like Banquet or hawker centres), no beverage, you're looking at $12 a day, $360 a month. For one person, no beverages. And the meals are light on meat and vegetables, heavy on noodles and rice, which Make that two people and you're already very close to your $800 limit. Add two kids and you're well above that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Many people here are of the opinion that it's cheaper to eat out than to cook their own food anyway, which adds to the reason why so many people eat out even when they do have kitchen facilities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "If one person in the household is on a special diet, especially if it is expensive, the others in the family don't need to be one it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Many times you read about one person in the family needs to eat gluten free..and they have everyone eating this way. Why?" Cross contamination can be a huge issue, especially for severe allergies or food sensitivities. Or even when one person is a Muslim, for example, and requires Halal food. It makes more sense to NOT keep two sets of pots, pans, dishes and not cook twice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And finally, reduced to clear items don't exist everywhere at all grocery stores, nor do generic brands. Not everywhere is the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                HillJ Mar 31, 2013 07:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                kathryn, what's your perspective on hosting a party; entertaining guests at home as it relates to your food budget? Do you apply the same frugal budgeting to host a party?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've just finished straightening up after a lovely day with family & friends for Easter; 23 guests and a marvelous meal; including three pets. budget was $250.00. I served 7 appetizers, 4 entrees, cocktails & beer, finger foods and 6 desserts; including some tasty cheeses. I thought I did pretty well! But my budget for one party is your entire month. So, I'm wondering if you entertain or have pets to feed. When your adult children visit, do you adjust your budget? (I have 4 adult children).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                What tips do you use when the food budget includes more than just you and your husband.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  kathryn_dayle Mar 31, 2013 10:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I wouldn't consider hosting a dinner party as part of your grocery budget. That would be considered entertainment, because it is not a normal occurance.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you did this monthly, with extra 23 people +3 pets. you will need to account for them in your budget. You probably 'splash out' a bit more when entertaining, and would probably need to increase your budget..unless it is common for you to have 7 appetizers, 4 entrees, cocktails & beer, finger foods and 6 desserts; including some tasty cheeses at every meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We are away from from family, for another month, then we return to Canada. However, since turkeys were on sale last week, I asked my daughter to pick up a large turkey, 10kg flour and 2-5lbs sugar that were on sale for me. When we have our children for a get together meal, this will be incorporated into the meal.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If we have family barbeques, we generally have a 'potluck' type meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I would say living in North West Territories or Singapore as a bit unusual. The wages are higher, so you would need to adjust the fugures. For the most part, I was under the impression, this site was mostly North American. Since many of my Australian counterparts try to inform me, it also is impossible to eat for $100pp...I tell them we do it all the time.(where the minimum wage is $18)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I just returned from the food market.I bought a 2 kg generic bag of white sugar for $1.86. The store brand was $2.56, and a brand name (1 kg) was $4.26. Obviously there are some people willing to pay for higher priced brand names...why? it's all the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              i
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ItalianNana Mar 31, 2013 08:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              kathryn-dayle,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "All I can say, there is no reason for any family to spend $800 a month unless you are feeding 12 people. Families of 2-4 people spending that much, simply like convenience foods, or expensive foods to impress others."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              YIKES! Off hand I can think of lots of reasons. First, because they can...and want to. It's not like the money gets flushed. We're supporting growers, and a dozen other groups up the chain. We are total homebodies. No one to impress. We spend that amount on two people and we're retired. It's a choice. Ain't America great?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ItalianNana
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                LMAshton Mar 31, 2013 07:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Not even America. Members of this forum come from, quite literally, all over the world. I'm a Canadian in Singapore, and I've also lived in Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LMAshton
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  PHREDDY Apr 2, 2013 07:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  +1!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5. morninglemon Mar 31, 2013 08:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm one person, I spend about $25-30 a week on food, sometimes I try to combine two weeks' worth of grocery shopping and will spend up to $55 for those two weeks of food.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I make almost all of my meals from scratch; I eat out maybe once every 2 weeks. I always eat 3 meals a day, along with at least 2-3 snacks of fresh fruits and cottage cheese.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - I generally don't buy meat, and when I do, buy a large portion that I separate and freeze into single servings.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - When I cook, I try to make enough for 2-3 meals. I love soups, and usually make enough for several meals and I don't get tired of eating it for days.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - I don't clip coupons, but I try to buy only items that are on sale or are seasonal.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - I limit myself to buying only one pre-made item a week, such ice cream, bread, fried snacks, canned meat or soups, or baked goods. Not really for money reasons, but it forces me to buy and eat fresh food and not rely on junk as sustenance.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Even on this budget, I host game nights or dinners with my friends and feed them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I used to spend about $50 a week on food, but I challenged myself to halve that about a year and a half ago, and it worked out so well that I stuck to it. That said, I grew up in NYC and my family didn't have much money (between rent and the 2 kids in our family and our education), and my mom had us on a $5-a-meal budget. Somehow it worked; we never starved and we always had family-style meals with at least 3-4 freshly cooked dishes a night - and every dinner began with a homemade soup and ended with fruit. But my mom stockpiled canned foods and frozen meats like a war was coming. We were not allowed to eat junk food, baked goods or ramen, and things like candy, ice cream or sweetened juices like fruit punch were considered rewards for good behavior.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              25 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: morninglemon
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                PHREDDY Apr 2, 2013 07:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Questions?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Where in NYC did you grow up?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                What year are you talking about
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                About how much was your rent where you lived?...was it public housing? Rent Controlled? Rent Stabilizied? Did you rent or own?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                did you attend public or private school?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                5 bucks to feed a family of 3 or 4, not sure if there were a mom dad and 2 kids, could have only been in the early 60's or 1950's.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: PHREDDY
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  kathryn_dayle Apr 2, 2013 08:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Phreddy,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What difference would it make what she was spending on rent?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Does that change the amount you spend on food?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hmmm...never heard that before.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Just simply say, YOU choose to spend more money on food than is necessary, because it makes you happy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Morninglemon..you are an inspiration.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    HillJ Apr 2, 2013 09:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This debate is like reading smokers and non smokers duke it out. Smokers like to smoke and non smokers have seen the light! Meanwhile, it's obvious companies are making $$ off you both. One continues to see more of your hard earned dollars than the other. That's what life is all about-choices. And, like smokers and non smokers you won't tolerate the other's habits.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you can't respect the fine points you both have for how you spend your money on food, trust me more comments won't change the habit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      n
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nayners Apr 3, 2013 01:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ok, did this make sense to you when you were writing it? Somehow you missed the point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Nayners
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        HillJ Apr 3, 2013 02:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Enlighten me Nayners. I can take it :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When two opposing sides can't agree because their fundamental shopping habits differ, yeah to me it's like watching smokers and non smokers justify their standards. Neither is going to budge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          n
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Nayners Apr 4, 2013 07:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          One problem I've had all of my life is skimming when I read. As a result, I've missed due dates on bills, ruined recipes, missed appointments, etc. lol. After I read your post again, I got your point! Sorry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Nayners
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            HillJ Apr 4, 2013 08:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh np. Happens to all of us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PHREDDY Apr 3, 2013 07:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I you took the time to read Morninglemon's comment, I hope you would be able to digest her words. Obviously you did not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        juliejulez Apr 3, 2013 09:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Cost of living DOES affect how much my food budget is. In many areas of the country, the income stays the same, but rents vary. So, $50,000 a year in one location might be pretty good, but in others, it's very little, so yes, the rent amount can affect how much you spend on food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          kathryn_dayle Apr 3, 2013 05:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          When someone decides how much they want their food budget to be, I think it has very little to do with how much their rent is.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Would someone spend overspend, just because they could, or would they buy what they normally would and use the 'saved' money for something else,such as debt repayment, saving for a house, vacation or retirement?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't care how much money I have, I'm not spending $5 for a bunch of bananas, when across the street I can get them for $1.00.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            HillJ Apr 3, 2013 05:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            When you say you'd spend $1.00 even if you have $5.00 you're still working with a choice. So, if my budget is based on income of $400.00 a week as opposed to $4,000.00 a week my options vary but how I choose to spend my weekly wages is still a choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If I'm following this at all, kathyrn, you are focused on shopping based on spending less than your weekly income while others contributing to this thread are focused on buying based entirely on what their income is for the week and shopping based on what they can buy not what they can necessarily save for the same money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So, it still comes down to choices. If you don't food shop based on spending less money then you have to spend naturally you have less money leftover.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nothing earth shattering about this. Not everyone subscribes to a frugal lifestyle or a live below your means budget.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              kathryn_dayle Apr 3, 2013 05:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hillj,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My food budget has nothing to do with how much money I make. Our budget of $50 a week for my husband and I is not even set in stone. Some weeks we may spend more, because the sales are there, and we stock up.However, it does average out to be $50 a week.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Some people get their 'thrill' from buying. I get my 'thrill' from getting what I want, at a reduced price.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Even better than reduced, is free. When we bought the clementines the other day, they scanned in wrong. FREE :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I know not everyone subscribes to living below their means. Imagine how much better the economy would be if we all did.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm sure there are lots of people who are one paycheque away from poverty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                HillJ Apr 3, 2013 05:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Since I don't have any issues saving money and enjoy food shopping at dozens of places in a given week I'm not struggling with the concept of being a smart shopper, making your food dollar stretch or even realizing that you can buy terrific foods of all sorts within a certain dollar limit. That you can save money and still eat well. No issue at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                What I'm struggling with is your mantra to turn the others who don't care or don't wish to follow this idea around. I mean we have very smart people contributing here and they are making their own choices. They can figure out what works for them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Addressing poverty is a big topic and not the topic of this thread. How much you spend on food is. But if you want to share the gospel of frugality or discuss food shopping tips, I'd welcome a new post on these subjects. You obviously have something special to share. Just frame it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  kathryn_dayle Apr 3, 2013 06:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is the perfect thread to have a conversation about the price of groceries, as the OP was SHOCKED (her words) at the cost of them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Someone who is a spendthrift in one area, will many times be the same in other areas of their life.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  They will think that having a $20-$30k car is normal, when a $6-&k vehicle will suffice.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you want to start a new thread, I'll happily contibute to it as well.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    HillJ Apr 3, 2013 07:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was referring to your statement:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Imagine how much better the economy would be if we all did. I'm sure there are lots of people who are one paycheque away from poverty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you start a new OP yourself, I'll be happy to read what you have to contribute on the subject of frugal lifestyles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      kathryn_dayle Apr 3, 2013 08:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ok..I'll give it a try :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      HillJ Apr 3, 2013 07:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You aren't just talking about the price of groceries. You've made a good deal of general statements about why you believe people over spend in other areas of their life. Buying cars, over spending to brag, keeping up with the Jones..etc. The impression you've left me with is a) more people should live like you and b) most people are too stupid to know better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If you're doing so well, why isn't that enough? Does it make you feel justified to judge others so harshly? That's the part about your contribution that I don't want to understand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So I'll end here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        kathryn_dayle Apr 3, 2013 08:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sometimes it is hard to actually get across what you mean to say, and how you say it, online.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What I actually have is a passion to help people, and I am trying to inspire, but sometimes it is misconstrued.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't think people are too stupid to know better, I think many have never been raised with the opportunity to learn from their family.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There are many families where the parents never actually cooked anything, they just heat up stuff, they have purchased.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The problem with a lot of people, they don't realise it is their attitude towards money, that affects all aspects of their life.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They want to get ahead, but just can't understand why they can't.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If you can show them how to get control of their food budget, then clothing budget, vehicles,furnishings etc...their lives will be so much better.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Usually if you overspend in one area, it is also a problem in other areas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          v
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Violatp Apr 3, 2013 08:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Wow. Okay, bottom of my heart, just stop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I honestly think you don't understand that you are coming across as extremely patronizing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You are. You really are. And, it's especially not cool coming from someone who is "the millionaire next door."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Better, in my opinion, to have said you spend $200 a month, prefer to spend your money on other things and moved on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This was a fun thread, along the lines of that old photo essay illustrating what people across the world bought for a week's groceries and, really...time and place. Time and place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Violatp
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            kathryn_dayle Apr 3, 2013 10:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ok..I started a new thread, even though I don;t think it is warranted.It is called

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Spending too much on groceries? ..and how to embrace the frugal lifestyle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Janet from Richmond Apr 4, 2013 06:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I always wondered what happened to my my former MIL and now I know. After 5 years married to Mr. Frugal, I said never again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am happy it works for you and makes your world a better place, but no thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            PHREDDY Apr 5, 2013 12:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            KD...you are so off topic here I don't know why you have not received a jolt to think about what you have written...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            OK a challenge...give me specific statistics or some real academic factual response about the last four sentences of your response above...Can you do that for all of us,??? I will humbly applaud you...and will send you a $10 gift certificate to WholeFoods...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  juliejulez Apr 3, 2013 09:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I dunno, most people I know base their food budget on their overall budget, which includes their rent. If someone has $2000 a month in discretionary income, they are likely to spend more on stuff like food, than someone who has $500 in discretionary income. I know once I get some of my bills paid off I plan on spending more on food to get better quality products, especially meats and produce. It wouldn't be to "show off" either... it would be because I want to put better quality food into my body.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: PHREDDY
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              juliejulez Apr 3, 2013 09:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              They did say $5/per meal, not per day. I could do that even now if I had to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                n
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Nayners Apr 3, 2013 01:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So could I.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. n
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            needcoffee Apr 1, 2013 12:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We average $700-$800 per month for two people. That includes all household supplies, toiletries, dog food and supplies for one dog, and occasional family dinners for 10-20 people. We both try to follow a fairly low carb diet. Because of our diet we spend a lot of the grocery budget on good proteins which have gotten so expensive. We rarely buy convenience foods, so maybe it should be less since almost all of the cooking is from scratch. I'm sure I could bring it down with more serious commitment to following sales cycles and using coupons. I've done that with successful results in the past, but it doesn't seem like enough of a payoff for the time it takes. It is also more difficult with the low carb diet because we mainly buy fresh proteins, fresh vegetables or plain frozen ones, and very basic staples to make meals. Coupons for those aren't as easy to find as they are for what I consider to be convenience foods. I still try to take advantage of sale prices and use coupons that are convenient to get and happen to match what I already plan to use, but I probably spend no more than 20 minutes a week clipping coupons and adjusting the list according to sales.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I should also add that we eat out less than once a month, so that greatly affects how much we spend on groceries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Kosmonaut Apr 2, 2013 07:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am a single person in the SF Bay Area on the paleo diet, and I spend around $275 a month.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                fara Apr 2, 2013 07:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                For 2 adults and one child, we spend about $200/week. I am sure that if I had unlimited time I could shave another $20-$50 off but that's just not realistic. As it is we shop at 3 stores. We eat meat a few times a week and it's from a local butcher. I will not eat mass "supermarket" meat and I can taste and see the difference. We eat frozen fish to save money. Most of the money goes towards fresh fruits and vegetables and a few expensive cheeses, as well as organic dairy. I probably should make my own yoghurt...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I also tend to try new recipes and so am often buying seasoning for that thing- for example, date syrup. Somewhat frivolous but as they say food is the entertainment of the poor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. law_doc89 Apr 2, 2013 08:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It is a shame that courses like home ec are discontinued or taught badly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you roast a chicken with carrots, peas, beans, potatoes, you get a meal for 4 for less than $10. Use extra veggies and carcass to make soup that is a meal or two more. Add a salad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Reserve stock and then use it as a base with onions, peppers, tomatoes to make sauce. A few cups of flour, two eggs, some oil. Mix and roll, fold and re-roll several times. Cut into pasta to make with the sauce, and you have another meal for under $10 for four. Add a salad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ignore recipes and focus on techniques, and you can live well on whatever is available on sale. I have taught people on food stamps how to live on less than their monthly allowance. Trick is to avoid all prepared food at the store and buy wisely on sale while always knowing how to use leftovers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And don't buy discount garbage, or poor ingredients like swai. Wise shopping for quality on sale will make for satisfying meals. Garbage ingredients make unsatisfying meals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: law_doc89
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    linguafood Apr 3, 2013 10:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "Garbage ingredients make unsatisfying meals."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No shit!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      law_doc89 Apr 3, 2013 12:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Unforetuantely, not everyone seems to know that. Isn't obesity, in part, a result of eating less than satisfying food, so wanting more?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        PHREDDY Apr 5, 2013 12:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Shit ingredients make garbage meals!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        No crap!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: law_doc89
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        JudiAU Apr 3, 2013 06:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am a good cook and there is no way I can make a "roast chicken with carrots, peans, beans, potatoes" for $10. The chicken alone would cost twice that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JudiAU
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Missmoo Apr 3, 2013 06:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Same for me JudiAU! I just bought my organic airchilled Mary's chicken and it was 16 dollars. Worth it though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JudiAU
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            kathryn_dayle Apr 3, 2013 06:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            JudiAU,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            From your name, you are from Australia? If so, Aldi sell frozen chickens for around $6.99 (regular price)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Coles and Wollies have lots of reduced chickens, and we have gotten them for $4-6 on many many occassions.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If chicken wasn't on sale/reduced that week..you just change the menu

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              law_doc89 Apr 3, 2013 07:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Precisely, you buy on sale, and sometimes you realize that the premium price isn't the same as good quality. I recently bought premium "organic" chickens for $1.50/lb on sale, so I think you need to look at your shopping habits.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kathryn_dayle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                JudiAU Apr 8, 2013 11:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I live in Los Angeles. The options for my family are pastured chickens or no chickens. We do not support abusive animal farming. Our base cost is quite high but we don't eat huge portions of meat. I can sometimes get chickens on sale but rarely. Expensive meat is balanced by other meals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We almost always eat whole chickens roasted and then finish them throughout the week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: JudiAU
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                juliejulez Apr 3, 2013 09:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Not sure where you live, but my store this week has whole chickens for 98 cents a pound. Are they organic, free range etc etc? No, but they're still perfectly good chickens. Someone on an extreme budget could definitely make a great meal with one of those chickens and some veggies and potatoes for under $10.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  law_doc89 Apr 4, 2013 04:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I became curious and found this web site

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  www.befrugal.com

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  which compiles weekly sales fliers from major chains.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A superficial can found boneless chicken breasts at $2/lb, London broil $4/lb, pork butt $1/lb etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There is simply no reason one cannot eat well if one knows how to cook and doesn't waste ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you are really pinched, then you shouldn't buy luncheon meats, but make your own. Even for a special meal, you should be able to do well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I made a very straight forward Easter dinner, and I add up the costs:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Boneless butterfly lamb leg $16
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Carrots, peas, potatoes $3
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Lettuce/tomato salad $3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A Colomba cake from Italy $10

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Total $32!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Does anyone eat lamb every day? Buy imported cakes every day?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And some of the lamb went for sandwiches the next day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: law_doc89
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    juliejulez Apr 4, 2013 09:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There's a number of sites like that... I use couponmom.com sometimes... she has lists of store sale ad items, and combines them with available coupons. I don't coupon much anymore, but it's helpful to have it all listed in one place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I volunteer with a program called Cooking Matters (it's part of the Share our Strength non-profit), and we teach classes to low-income folks, and sometimes their children to, about how to eat well on a budget. The cost basis for all recipes is what a family of 4 would receive for food stamps. There's also a class for home day care providers where the recipes are based on what they can get reimbursed for from the USDA. I wish more cities had this program, it seems to only be in major ones. And, I wish the classes could be made available to everyone, not just the low-income folks. I have plenty of friends who are middle class who can't even figure out how to cook healthy cheap meals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: law_doc89
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PHREDDY Apr 5, 2013 12:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      How many people did you feed with that meal?...ie: cost per person...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: law_doc89
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  cgarner Apr 4, 2013 10:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I remembered reading articles a while ago and did some googling about how Americans spend a smaller percentage of their income on food than any other country… which I found through googling is partially true

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I found an interesting article (from last year) that kind of puts things into perspective

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Maybe we should worry less about how MUCH we’re spending at the grocery store and focus more on the actual FOOD we’re buying

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marbl...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cgarner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    PHREDDY Apr 5, 2013 12:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Very good point!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. pinehurst Apr 3, 2013 09:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chiming in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I spend **a lot** more since my H's stroke last summer, and I'd spend even more if I could get him to love fish (esp salmon) as much as I do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  After the economy tanked, H lost his job and we started eating frugally...lots oatmeal at breakfast, lots of pasta with veg, beans with veg, rice with veg, basically vegetarian diets...starches augmented with lots of stuff we grew in our garden at home or bought in bulk at the store.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Well, at the time of his stroke, H was diagnosed as Type II diabetic so shazaam, buh bye starches.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Does it cost more to buy good meat and fish instead of 2/$1 pasta? Yeah. But it costs more NOT to for us, you know?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Our food bill runs us $50-$100 a week, depending on if we're stocking up, or having company...that's for two adults and one spoiled hound. It used to be 20-30 bucks a week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  PS Edited to add, I LOVE breakfast for dinner. We're having it tonight, omelets I'll make when I get home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pinehurst
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    coll Apr 3, 2013 01:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    pinehurst, I have the same issues. Unfortunately my husband has lost his appetite completely, so if that means buying Entenmanns for breakfast and ice cream for dinner, so be it. Luckily no diabetes issues! But one size does not fit all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: coll
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      pinehurst Apr 3, 2013 02:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Coll, you do what you have to do! My grandmother lived to 86 on ice cream, coffee, and aspirin. Hugs to you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pinehurst
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        coll Apr 3, 2013 02:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        People won't believe it but it works! And back at you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pinehurst
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          westsidegal Apr 5, 2013 09:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          pinehurst:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          what? no wine? no chocolate?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          i FIRMLY believe that longevity is tied to chocolate and wine consumption. that's my story and i'm sticking with it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: westsidegal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            mcf Apr 5, 2013 03:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They're not just for breakfast any more!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              sedimental Apr 5, 2013 03:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yeah they are! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: pinehurst
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            PHREDDY Apr 5, 2013 12:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            both you guys...my dad just turned 90 , just had his second pacemaker recharged , and still has Happy Hour @6:15 every night , with crackers and cheese, nuts, pretzels veges and sourcream dip, etc!...ya think I'm gona make a change?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh Yea ...includes a double Dewar's on the rocks!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pinehurst
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              l
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              latindancer Apr 6, 2013 09:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              <My grandmother lived to 86 on ice cream, coffee, and aspirin>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Good for her! My uncle's still going strong @ 93, eating bacon and eggs and buttered toast with strong coffee every morning and continues eating the same throughout the day and he's in great physical shape. There've got to be some *good genes* thrown in there somewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. p
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          pinkpooskie Apr 3, 2013 01:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Croissant,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What do you mean when you say you eat pretty boring?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pinkpooskie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Croissant Apr 3, 2013 02:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Good question - I guess I feel as though we rotate through the same meals... that's partly because I have picky kids to consider, partly because I have a really hard time finding time to do any sort of meal planning, and partly because I feel restricted from a budget perspective.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Croissant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              law_doc89 Apr 3, 2013 02:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You don't have to do that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Croissant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                p
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                pinkpooskie Apr 3, 2013 07:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I do meal plan and although I spend what some might consider exorbitant sums on food I have a budget. I have additional constraints of food intolerances, luckily we are both adventurous eaters, which doesn't mean we always like our adventures. For example, last year we tried a beef heart because the cut is very cheap and leaner than steak as mentioned on Chow. It was a terrible experience, we both felt miserable eating it, even though it smelled delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hmmm, I am not sure what to suggest for the picky eaters as I have no kids myself. I know when my niece is around I try to cater to her likes, which are chicken, rice and some fruits and veggies but nothing exotic. She would just eat rice if nothing else was to her liking. My husband detests that I cater to her but he doesn't cook for guests that often so I get away with it. If your kids are picky eaters (I know your kids aren't that old yet) get them to help make meals or help meal plan. It might encourage them to try new things.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If you want more exciting food in your life, you'll just have to take the plunge without hurting your purse. You can make some really tasty things on the cheap. French onion soup without the cheese and bread is amazing and cheap, although time consuming. Some salads can be really jazzed up with new dressings, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But really seeing your weekly menu would be great to start working from or getting a sense of what you might be able to squeeze into your household meals. (We know that one night you have breakfast for dinner, which I love. Too bad your hubby doesn't.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I try to use Chow as a springboard for ideas but I find loads of substitutions or creative ideas on food blogs or searching with ingredients in mind, which helps with our food intolerances. Your library will also have some great cookbooks and magazines that you could peruse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And I can totally understand going to the store and spending so much money with very little to show for it. This happens less often now that I have to stay to the outside perimetre of the grocery store. I still have a large bill but I have tonnes more produce. Also are there any community food box programs in your area, either through a farmer, farm collective or charitable organization(the YMCA has one in my town)? Those are interesting services but it would also force you to be more adventurous as well as your kids.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I hope everyone sharing their thoughts has been helpful for you but I'd really like you to be excited about the meals you make. Life's meant to be enjoyed. If I can do anything to help, let me know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: pinkpooskie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  westsidegal Apr 5, 2013 09:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  <<French onion soup without the cheese and bread is amazing and cheap, although time consuming.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  it may be amazing, but it provides very little nutrition.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  it would be mostly a fatty form of salt water and onions that requires a lot of time to prepare and involves a lot of clean up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: westsidegal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    law_doc89 Apr 5, 2013 09:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, it is right on the money. There are some incredibly inefficient ways to buy nutrition. My original point was this used to be taught in schools, and it isn't anymore.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: law_doc89
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PHREDDY Apr 5, 2013 12:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      L D89 you make a good point here about what is being taught...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For instance when I went to college in the early 1970's we had "requirements" for our degrees...a prescribed course of subjects, for a specific course of study..I am speaking about undergraduate studies...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In primary and middle school , in the 1960's we all were subjected to the same courses, with a slight variation in high school...Also I am only speaking about the USA...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nonetheless times have changed , methods in education have evolved...I do not say for better or worse...but what is available to study now is different from when I was educated by the system..
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I took "Home Ec", when I was 12 years old, and metal shop about the same time..(I am a guy)...was that better than what my kids studied/, which was seriously geared to AP rigors in preparation for college?...I don't know...both my daughters are very happy in what they do, and as a result: "I say they are successful.."(one is a attorney , the other an architect)..
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      One cooks the other makes reservations, but that does not mean they cannot with the absence of being students of nutrition, reach a plateau of getting as you mention "efficient nutrition..."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: PHREDDY
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        law_doc89 Apr 7, 2013 08:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And, what we are speaking about is over specialization too rapidly at the expense of some basics of living.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: law_doc89
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          PHREDDY Apr 8, 2013 05:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That's correct.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: westsidegal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      happybaker Apr 6, 2013 09:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Go to Michael Ruhlmans website and he has a recipe for vegetarian onion soup that is STUNNING.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I prep/precook the onions in a crock pot all day (or night), then the day I want soup, I dot he final cook/caramelize in 15 mins. Add water, bring to a boil and all that's left to do is the toast/cheese portion and broil. And yes, you can use store brand swiss and it will still be awfully nice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Not much work. darn nice nutrition and not pricey.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. law_doc89 Apr 3, 2013 07:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "I recently went to the store to buy lunchmeats and produce and left spending $45 with barely nothing to show for it"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                can you give more details? I suspect this sentence is the key to your problem.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: law_doc89
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Croissant Apr 6, 2013 12:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So sorry - I completely missed your question! ... I got overwhelmed by all of the back and forth "banter" (read: arguing! ) on this thread ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So I honestly don't remember what I bought, since I originally posted this in June of last year, but I would assume:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -$10 on lunch meats (I generally buy nitrate free Boar's Head options)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - and the rest $35 on fruits and maybe some lettuce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I live in the North East and the only grocery stores close to us are Shaw's, which I find to be really expensive, and Stop & Shop, which we refer to as Stop & Rip Off. I find the latter to be cheaper than the former, but I still feel like produce is a rip-off, even on sale.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The other thing that I should have mentioned is that I try my best to feed my family "real" food, i.e. as little processed food as possible. I can't afford grass fed meats and organic produce, but I still try to stick to the outside perimeter of the store.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Croissant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    juliejulez Apr 6, 2013 04:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    One thing I would do is ditch the "lunch meats" altogether. It's much more economical to roast your own meats and thinly slice them to use in sandwiches, and that way you know exactly what's going into them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. westsidegal Apr 5, 2013 09:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  processed meat is tremendously expensive when you look at the nutrition you are buying with your buck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  legumes of all sorts are the least expensive way to get protein.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. jpr54_1 Apr 5, 2013 02:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am retired and live alone in Florida.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I need to look at my spending habits for food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jpr54_1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      jpr54_1 Apr 6, 2013 08:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Would I benefit from shopping from Costco, BJ etc?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have never been to either-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jpr54_1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        law_doc89 Apr 6, 2013 08:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When you go to better stores and buy on sale, you often do better than buying at "discount" stores.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: law_doc89
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          fara Jul 21, 2013 05:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This could be my mantra for shopping. I picked up 3 pints of strawberries at when foods, of perfect ripeness, for $2 each. Strangely whole foods in this area is cheaper for produce than anywhere except tj's. and at tj's the produce is generally about to go bad, certainly the strawberries. Also tj's has had do many E. coli scares in good items I like that its hard even to run out for milk there.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also as a side note picked up some great dresses at anthro for about$30 each. Sales at at a better store!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: jpr54_1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          PHREDDY Apr 6, 2013 09:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes you would...go with a friend, even cleaning products in large quantities are too much for one person, perhaps splitting them, as they are often packaged in two units, would be a bargain for you..
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Same goes for meat, poultry, even cheeses, refrigerated or frozen items...if you can find someone to split or share, you will definitely effect a savings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jpr54_1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            mcf Apr 6, 2013 09:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think we'd need more information about your cooking and household merchandise habits/frequency, etc... to say.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It's quite possible for a single person to benefit, yes. But that will depend upon what you will use, and how often.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. law_doc89 Apr 6, 2013 07:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          check out:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/897303

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            eatinman Apr 6, 2013 09:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Funny - my wife and I were discussing this about a month ago. My estimate was way off - her's was closer - and we decided to keep a record
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We live in N.J.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We - just my wife and I - spend about $1000. month on groceries, we eat mainly a vegetarian diet with fish once or twice a week and chicken once every two weeks. quite a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hmmm, I'm so happy that the gov't decided to take food and energy out of the cost of living equation!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: eatinman
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              mcf Apr 6, 2013 09:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Does that include cleaning supplies/household goods, or just food?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: eatinman
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Chemicalkinetics Apr 6, 2013 11:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                <I'm so happy that the gov't decided to take food and energy out of the cost of living equation!>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ??? I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about, but I sure think there is something interesting that I am missing here. :D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  HillJ Apr 6, 2013 11:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.n...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    mcf Apr 6, 2013 11:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And this, proposed for future Social Security COLA calculations: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/c...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chemicalkinetics Apr 6, 2013 11:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "The CPIs are based on prices of food, clothing, shelter, and fuels, transportation fares, charges for doctors' and dentists' services, drugs, and other goods and services that people buy for day-to-day living."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Based on the above statement in the link, I would think the government does include these for calculating CPI. I am sure it also makes another calculation without food and gas as well, but that is for deeper analysis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Chemicalkinetics Apr 6, 2013 11:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  How much I spend on grocery depends largely on how much I want to spend on extra things. The core cooking ingredients are not so expensive, but if I start to buy things like Greek yogurts or rare fruits or pastry or fancy ice cream, then it will shoot up. Even the cost difference of buying Breyer's ice cream vs fancy ice cream can add up. Of course, buying organic eggs vs normal eggs too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ironically, it heavily depends on the frequency I eat out too. The more I eat out, the less I spend on my grocery -- simple math, but it is worth noting that lower grocery cost does not equal to lower total expense. I can spend nothing on grocery when I travel, but that is misleading.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ok. With all that said, I say I spend about $40-70 per month for myself in grocery. $40 when I cook simple things. $70 when I buy extra stuffs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have a feeling that this post was resurrected yesterday because I cited it in another thread -- one which is locked now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    HillJ Apr 6, 2013 11:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No, the conversation on how what we spend on food shopping began a day before and ran while the other thread about frugality began & ended.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I agree with you about extras. And often I find it's the extra that take a okay meal to a better place. I spend more on extras than I do on basic ingredients all the time-put it's the extras that get me interested in spending time in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chemicalkinetics Apr 6, 2013 11:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <I find it's the extra that take a okay meal to a better place>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Definitely, but sometime I just buy random stuffs, like Greek yogurts. I love Greek yogurts, but they are not for my meals. Or sometime I buy organic eggs which I personally cannot tell the difference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Other times, I do spend a bit more on stuffs which I can tell the difference, like higher quality condiments. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Veggo Apr 6, 2013 04:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Groceries only? Just edible items? Plus meat, fish, and cheese markets, and bakeries? No booze? Excluding restaurants? I honestly have no idea. I have a monthly F&B budget which I acknowledge is more than one person requires to subsist.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. law_doc89 Apr 10, 2013 04:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I invite you to this thread I started in response to this one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/897303

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There is no reason not to eat well, and you will find the cooking part of CH has come forward with 100's of recipes that will get you under $400 per month.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You cannot, however buy processed food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      20 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: law_doc89
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        v
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Violatp Apr 11, 2013 06:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Law, do you think it's actually just under $400 a month for dinners? Ok, maybe $300-ish. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Violatp
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          law_doc89 Apr 11, 2013 04:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Remember, breakfasts are cheap and leftovers can be used for lunches, but you have to know how to cook (and shop) and not use expensive processed junk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: law_doc89
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            v
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Violatp Apr 11, 2013 05:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And be equally as hungry each and every day!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm not mocking you; I'm speaking from experience. My best laid budgeted menu plans have been derailed by being extra hungry on some days! A couple weeks ago, I cooked up a ton of pulled pork and froze in individual serving baggies, intending it to be used for a good 15 meals. Well, between it being tasty and my being hungry, it's been half that!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: law_doc89
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Chemicalkinetics Apr 11, 2013 05:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              <and not use expensive processed junk.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              That is only one of the many kind of things you cannot use. Yes, you cannot use expensive junk foods like soft drinks or ice cream or potato chips, but you also cannot use anything semi-expensive quality foods, like a lot high to medium grade of meat and fish neither. You buy one piece of salmon or tuna, and 1/3rd of your weekly budget is gone. You buy a durian, and your entire weekly budget is gone. You buy a few pieces of conpoy, and two weeks of budget is gone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                juliejulez Apr 11, 2013 06:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                See, I'm perfectly fine not being able to buy fish or durian. I don't like fish too much, and well, no desire to try durian. Maybe things will change 20 years from now, who knows. That's why I said to eat like a "chowhound" would be very difficult. While I love food and cooking, I'm perfectly fine eating meat from Costco and the grocery store and whatever vegetables and fruits happen to be on sale that week. I look at as a challenge... like "how can I make broccoli in a new and interesting way, since it's on sale for $1/lb". I almost think it yields more creative results than someone who will buy what they feel like buying with no regard to finances. But maybe I'm weird that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sure, someday when finances are better I'd like to be able to buy higher quality stuff.... I love visiting the butcher and perusing specialty food stores. But if it never gets to that point, it's fine, life will not be over. I guess it just goes to show that personal preferences dictate how "doable" it is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chemicalkinetics Apr 11, 2013 07:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  < I don't like fish too much, and well, no desire to try durian. >

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  They are just my examples. There are plenty other examples.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  <That's why I said to eat like a "chowhound" would be very difficult.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think that is understating it. Most people, with or without wanting to be a chowhoud/foodie, would like to spend more than this. In fact, many people who have little appreciation of culinary art are spending more than this. Just think of the millions of people who eat fast food, drive by, take out everyday. Many people do a take out once a day for lunch from work cafeteria, McDonald or Subway. This alone costs $4-10 per day and $20-50 per week. If your friend invite you to have a beer an pizza after work, forget it. That will cost $10-25. If a coworker got layoff and the group organized a farewell lunch in a local restaurant, forget that too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Part of the reason I am spending more now than before is that I earn more, but much of it has to do with my lifestyle and career. I cannot just say no to every lunch or dinner invitations -- and I am not even in the business of sale.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  These are common situations, and you don't have to be a chowhound to encounter these.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  <someone who will buy what they feel like buying with no regard to finances.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That part is overstating. I don't think a person who want to spend more than $1 per meal is having " no regard to finances". To me, no regard to fiances mean the person is living above his/her mean. If the person can pay for it, then he/she is fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    juliejulez Apr 11, 2013 08:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    By "no regard to finances" I meant someone who puts food and all that goes with it above everything else. There are a lot of people who do that, even some on this board. Some folks have stated they'd rather buy grass fed beef than buy new clothes. That's what I was talking about. I even have "in real life" friends who live in hovels, but spend A LOT on food and eating out in great restaurants. Nothing wrong with that really, everyone has different priorities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And I completely agree that many non-food folks spend a lot on food. A lot of it is due to ignorance, they just don't know that with a little bit of effort, they can eat well for way less. Also, I used to be one of those people, and not because I couldn't cook, I just didn't have time. Working 90-100 hours a week doesn't afford much free time to cook. Thankfully at the time, my income could support my eating out habits :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chemicalkinetics Apr 11, 2013 08:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      < Some folks have stated they'd rather buy grass fed beef than buy new clothes. That's what I was talking about. >

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You are correct. I think it has to do with priority. As for grass fed beef vs new clothes. I suppose it depends what kind of new clothes and if they need them. I put food kind of high on my list. I don't know about grass fed beef. Maybe some people believe it is healthier like organic beef? In which case, the person may think "I rather eat healthy than dress nicely". Of course, I have no real idea what they think. Just a guess.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <A lot of it is due to ignorance, they just don't know that with a little bit of effort, they can eat well for way less. >

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      While I do enjoy cooking, I won't say it is due to igornance. I would just put it under priority difference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      < I just didn't have time. Working 90-100 hours a week doesn't afford much free time to cook. >

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I was just going to say that. Some people think that it is more worthwhile to put that extra time into working than into cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        law_doc89 Apr 12, 2013 04:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Somewhere, OP, I think, complained about the cost of organic, free range chicken. You cannot buy luxury brands and be cheap, but if you can't afford luxuries, that doesn't mean you can't still eat well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What? No caviar?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: law_doc89
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chemicalkinetics Apr 12, 2013 07:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          <You cannot buy luxury brands and be cheap, but if you can't afford luxuries, that doesn't mean you can't still eat well.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I agree to that, but it also comes down to the definitions of "luxuries" and "eat well". It appears to me that the definitions are very different from one person to another. Some may say eating any form of meats is luxuries, and that is pretty accurate during ancient time. Meat used to be much more expensive. Other may say only caviar or above is consider luxuries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is the same issue of "spending too much on grocery". What is too much? Is spending more than $40 per person per month consider too much? Or is spending more than $120 per person per month consider too much?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          <doesn't mean you can't still eat well.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          There is also a problem with this too. I know some people believe that anything which is not organic (organic chicken organic vegetables..etc) is also unhealthy. If you believe that, then you cannot eat well by eating cheap. I remember watching an episode of Jon and Kate Plus 8, where Kate said that she will only use organic ingredients due to health reasons -- that was before they got really wealthy from the TV show I think.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    mcf Apr 27, 2013 01:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't think finances have much at all to do with being a chowhound, just having the best meals you can find and make on whatever budget or eating plan you're on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: law_doc89
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Chemicalkinetics Apr 11, 2013 07:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Your thread was about $10 per meal if I am correct. If it is $10 per meal per person, and we eat 3 meals a day, then it comes to $900 a month.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              $400 per month per person comes to $4 a meal per person.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Both are very achievable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Now for a family of 4, to keep the budget under $400 per month means $1 per meal. This is still possible, but tough. You will need to get most of the calories from grains and other cheaper energy sources. Forget about potato chips, soft drink, chocolate candies...etc. Needless to say, eating out in restaurants will be tough. Don't get me wrong. This budge is possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One last thing I want to reiterate. It is one thing to live on a $1 per meal per person budget for a week. It is another thing to live on this budget for 5-10 years. Like any diet (let's it be low fat diet or low cal diet or low money diet), it is meaningless for plans which cannot be sustained.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                HillJ Apr 11, 2013 07:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I will freely admit right now I cannot live on a $1.00 a meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chemicalkinetics Apr 11, 2013 07:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It is tough especially for someone like me who eat out once or twice a week. On average, I eat out about 2 times a week and I do 2 takes-out. The eating-out are costing me about $40 total. The 2 takes-out are costing about $15 total. Right there, I am spending $55 per week just on eating out and taking out, or $220 per month per person, and this does not even including my money for gas and parking fee to get me to these restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    HillJ Apr 11, 2013 08:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So true but being realistic about food budgeting is #1 to follow thru so even if I was super diligent at a few bucks only per meal my own home cooking wouldn't be as enjoyable or varied. Last time I priced a basic fresh tossed salad for my family it exceeded $5.00.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If the point of budgeting food is to stretch your buck or expand your horizons on individual meal choices-I'm on board. If the idea is to go hungry, deflate your meal enjoyment or never ever enjoy any form of take away-I'm not ever going to pass the course!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  juliejulez Apr 11, 2013 11:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I posted this blog somewhere else, not sure if it was this thread or one of the others.... but this woman feeds her family, which is her, her husband, and 4 kids... one pre-teen and 3 teens, for $125/week for all 3 meals since they're homeschooled. One is gluten-free. http://thepeacefulmom.com/category/12... While her meals aren't mind blowing, they seem perfectly fine and include fruits & veggies. So, it can be done, and lots of people do it. I believe she lives somewhere in the south, so that could play into it, perhaps food is cheaper there, but most of her pricing she gives lines up with what I see here in CO. She also posts her shopping trips and how much she spent. She shops multiple stores, and uses WalMart's price matching policy often.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Now, can you eat like a chowhound for that little? Probably not. But you can eat perfectly good meals for that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chemicalkinetics Apr 11, 2013 01:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Absolutely, it can be done. As mentioned above and in other threads, I used to live on a very small budget -- less than $15 per person per week on grocery, that is including toilet paper, detergent, soap...etc, not just food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Because I used to live like that I know it can be done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    <While her meals aren't mind blowing, they seem perfectly fine and include fruits & veggies.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Veggies are not problem. It gets into trouble if you start to buy meat and fish. I think salmon is about $6-8 per pound these days. So you can see how one pound of salmon can really affect a "$15 per person per week" budget. It almost takes half of it out. A small pint size Ben's and Jerry's is about $5. Eating out in a med price restaurant will be $15-25. Even eating out at McDonald will be $5-6. So we can see how tough "$15 per week per person" budget is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It seems some people think it is easy. It isn't easy. I think a lot of people who think it can be easily done probably have not actually lived like this for prolonged period of time. I had to constantly look very carefully at the budget. I had to deny myself a lot of things which I would otherwise wanted to try.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      daeira Apr 11, 2013 07:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree that it's not easy. While my budget isn't exactly "tight", it's still substantially less than I'd like to spend. And I have to be very mindful of where that money is going and how it's being spent. Sometimes (usually oftentimes), that means I can't arbitrarily buy something.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I stick to lists, use coupons all the time and only buy what's on sale to feed myself. It's definitely helped by cutting out meat to once a week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: daeira
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chemicalkinetics Apr 11, 2013 08:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        <that means I can't arbitrarily buy something. >

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Of course not. One has to live within his/her mean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        <I stick to lists, use coupons all the time and only buy what's on sale to feed myself. It's definitely helped by cutting out meat to once a week.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yep, these are all great tactics. I used to limit meat/fish. In fact, I don't think I have ever cooked fish during my college years, and half of the meat I bought are on sale -- manager's choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          law_doc89 Apr 12, 2013 04:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Or, decide what to do according to what looks good that day at the store.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                daeira Apr 11, 2013 07:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I spent no more than $150 a month on food, but typically is around the $110-120 mark. That includes groceries purchased (including toilet paper, tissues, dishwashing detergent etc), and dinners out. Since I'm on such a tight budget, I do most of my cooking at home, portion out meats that I buy on sale, and eat a lot of veggies and fruits. I used to feed two people on $150/month and thought I was doing a decent budgeting job.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I make most of my cereals and snacks, use coupons when i can, and still go out to eat every now and then. I just have to be really budget conscious. So if I've spent $50 or $60 on a meal, that leaves me only $50-100 for the rest of the month and I eat accordingly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I actually do use a jar system where I place the month's budget in a jar in cash.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. jpr54_1 Apr 11, 2013 08:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I need to read all the posts and to look at my spending for food, wine, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    acssss Apr 27, 2013 12:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We spend about $300 per month on groceries (including seasonings, condiments, food, eggs, coffee, meat, etc). I cook every day and leftovers are used for lunches. We don't eat out - and what for? I love to cook and haven't found a restaurant that cooks better, tastier, cheaper, healthier than I can do myself. However, I make homemade everything. Pasta, Pizza, Bread, cookies. I make everything from scratch (even couscous). Also, we are all thin. I don't mean to offend anyone, but I think that makes a big difference with regards to the price we spend a month - the quantities of our meals are much less (therefore cost less) than the average person.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. jfrommel Apr 30, 2013 08:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My wife and I spend $850 a month, and that's not counting going out to eat. I do a lot of cooking, and I cook some cool stuff, though nothing truly extravagant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My wife is gluten free, which costs us more, and I'm hypoglycemic, so cheap food just doesn't work with our systems. We just had twin boys and once they start eating real food I know our food bill will skyrocket. Since my wife is breastfeeding, she's eating a lot right now, and hopefully her appetite will trail off a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        kyleknowseverything Jun 18, 2013 10:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        um just saying but my family of 5 (we make good money) we spend i think about 2300 month....... no including the cost of going out to eat (not fast food)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bugginbeth Jun 18, 2013 05:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I am according to the BMI chart a morbidly obese female. I am 5'5" and weigh 287 lbs. I am single and I eat out multiple times a month. I cook about twice a month in bulk. By bulk I mean soup or something similar that can be eaten for at least 3 meals. I am a meat and potatoes type of girl. I wanted to be sure you had enough background. I took my average from the past 5 months of grocery stores and fast food places which came to $322/month not including going to the bar which would be an additional $80/month.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            cutipie721 Jun 18, 2013 11:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I can tell you my number, but it is kind of pointless to compare yourself to the rest of the country, it's like comparing income.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            After reading some of the posts here, I am definitely a high spender. The soft shell crabs in recent weeks are killing me. I do have friends who are living pretty frugally, yet they always buy bags pre-cut veggies and gourmet snacks, and I can never bring myself to do that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have completely lost track of the "real world" to say what the right amount is to spend on food. I think $6 for a dozen of pasture raised chicken eggs is reasonable. I spend close to $110 per month on 12 pounds of pasture raised chickens and 2 dozen of eggs through my CSA. Deep down I know I can get a carton of regular eggs for $1.29. That is the figure I remember from many, many years ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'd say be comfortable to spend what you can afford. If you want more bang for the buck, try your best to make things from scratch, utilize every single bit, and don't throw anything out is the way to go. If you want to spend less in general, you'd have to make sacrifices somewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The equation time vs money stands.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cutipie721
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              JudiAU Jul 12, 2013 09:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am curious how many people you feed with 12 pounds of chicken a month. Seems a lot but I admit we don't eat as much chickens as others.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JudiAU
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                coll Jul 13, 2013 06:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm wondering not about the poundage consumed, but over $9 a lb for chicken? Even if they were cutlets, that's ourtrageous. I would buy my own flock first. Just kidding, I could never kill them myself, unfortunately.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                $6 for a carton of eggs is also NOT reasonable, around here I can get farm eggs from many sources, right at the farm, and was highly annoyed when it went from $2 to $3 a year or so ago. The grocery store price IS a little higher than you remember though, I'd say $1.69 if you shop around. But hey, if you can afford it, more power to you!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: coll
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  mcf Jul 19, 2013 12:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Coll, Goodale is about that price for medium sized eggs. I pay about that much for larger pastured eggs at WBN. The pastured chickens from out east (Farm2Kitchen) are about that high per lb, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  To JudyAU, that's just 3-5 chickens per month, why would that seem like a lot to you? Two of us do that often.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    coll Jul 19, 2013 12:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Well Farm2Kitchen I can understand since they deliver direct to you! That's a different story. Guess I'm spoiled, a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: coll
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      mcf Jul 19, 2013 12:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The delivery fee is a separate charge, but they do package them. They're small eggs, too. I buy Nest Fresh large pastured eggs at WBN for $6, though, volume purchase. Organic chicken at Costco or Trader Joe's for slightly less than $3 per lb. The fully pastured is always closer to $10, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        coll Jul 19, 2013 01:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hopefully someday I will return to that playing field! Or raise my own? I keep saying I will!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: coll
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          mcf Jul 19, 2013 01:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I can't bring myself to pay $10 per chicken, either. I buy the incredibly perfectly brined organic chicken at TJ's for under $3 per lb, or the Coleman's organic at Costco for $2.79 in a twin pack. The quality, freshness, color and taste of these eggs elevates the experience of eating them a LOT, we have a new passion for egg salad around here, now, and that's cheaper meal than much of what we always eat. I want to support LI farmers, but the prices are so high on so many things, like the delicious Mecox and Catapano cheeses I got teensy bits of for mucho dinero. :-/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            coll Jul 19, 2013 01:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The recession is officially over!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: coll
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              mcf Jul 19, 2013 02:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yabbut, I am allergic to retail. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: coll
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        cutipie721 Aug 21, 2013 02:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My quote includes delivery charge. Price of things is probably lower as you get closer to the source. WholeFoods price tag made it even worse (that's where I used to buy $6/doz eggs). I could have gone to a farmer's market and get my good farm eggs there for $4 doz (I think?), but I have to spend time and gas on doing separate trips.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        time vs money. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: JudiAU
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    cutipie721 Aug 21, 2013 02:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    12lbs of bone-in chicken is really not that much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ChrisfromCT Jul 11, 2013 08:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We don't have a set amount allotted to grocery shopping, although we try to make good choices in the store. To see where we stand, I went through the checkbook and added up what we spent over a 3 month period; April - June. It was more than I thought - about $120 per week. There are just 2 adults in the household & pets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That amount includes food and non food items, such as health and beauty aids, paper products, cleaners, pet supplies(reptile food, cat litter, pet vitamins) etc. It does not include cat food, however - which we must buy at the vet's($55 every 6 weeks). It also doesn't include our prescriptions(approx. $50 in copays per month). Including those things would raise the weekly figure to approx. $142.50

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This was an eye-opening exercise, to figure out how much we are actually spending on "groceries."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My husband and I are middle-aged adults, living in southeastern CT, USA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. girloftheworld Jul 11, 2013 08:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am not sure how much my parents actually spend, but I did hear her quip to another mom at the pool once " Ya I really don't wanna hear it you spend over 800 dollars a month so your kid can pretend to be a professional dancer at least my kid's hobby feeds us"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      janetinLA Jul 19, 2013 11:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My husband and I have been spending $150 or less a month at the grocery store for the last SEVERAL years!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We eat very well: No processed food, little pasta or rice. Though we only eat meat a couple times a week, when we do it is always Choice or the equivalent. Lots of fresh produce is the key.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We both work and are out of the house 50+ hrs a wk. That being said, I take 3-4 hours on Sunday and 2-3 hrs throughout the week to prepare our meals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We shop at the Farmers Market, a local produce market, Sprouts and Ralphs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We do not use coupons but we do plan our menus around what is on sale.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We spend $75 a month going out and about $50 on wine. These expenses are not included in the $150 budget.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We make over $100,000 annually but I enjoy being able to save and invest as much possible so this is a good way to free up money to do so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Anyone can do this. It just isn't that difficult but it does require self discipline.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      37 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: janetinLA
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Croissant Jul 19, 2013 12:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's been so long since I originally posted this, but one thing I should have asked is where all of the responders live. Some offered that information up, and for you I can guess that you just live in one of maybe 5 or 6 states since you shop at Sprouts. I only recently learned about Sprouts (we live in the Northeast), and I can tell you that Sprouts is at least 50% cheaper than our local Stop N Shop (or Stop 'n ripoff, as we call it). My friend recently sent me a Sprouts flyer and I couldn't believe the prices. As an example, Strawberries were $1 for a 1lb container where we pay 2 for $5 if they're on sale. Red peppers at Sprouts were 3 for $1 - we have to pay nearly $4.99/lb and they rarely go on sale! Cantaloupe at Sprouts was $0.48/each and avocados were $0.88/ each! That's crazy! Wish a Sprouts would come up this way. We'd save a lot of money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Croissant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          coll Jul 19, 2013 12:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We're on Long Island so there's lots to choose from. My closest store is Stop N Shop but I rarely go there, due to the high prices. Even their sales are higher than normal anywhere else. I have another chain directly across the street from them, and their sales are good but otherwise no way. Then we have an ethnic chain that beats everyone hands down. I do almost all our shopping there, even though it's not all bright and shiny. Their prices are in line with what you are quoting from Sprouts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We also have an ALDIs opening in a few months, and I will be checking them out too. I have no idea but I hear good things.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Croissant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            mcf Jul 19, 2013 12:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I understand buying the most affordable food you can find. However, I make a priority of buying foods that are not factory and chemically farmed and that are raised in sustainable, humane ways that do not create public health problems via antibiotic resistance and chemical fertizlizer and pesticide runoff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It costs a lot more, but I'm more frugal than most in other ways, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              janetinLA Jul 19, 2013 02:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I agree with what you are saying. We must be good stewards of the planet. I try to buy the organic versions of The Dirty Dozen Produce from the Farmers Market whenever possible. Inexpensive food does no good if it leads to other issues.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Also, by eliminating prepackaged goods we can reduce the amount of money that goes out of our wallets and the trash that goes into the landfill.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Croissant
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              janetinLA Jul 19, 2013 01:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We live in Los Angeles. Though the cost of living is high, we are blessed to have good produce most of the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sprouts has super specials (like those you highlighted!). Other than the specials, however, the overall prices are high. I usually only get the "deals" or product from the bulk section. The casheirs laugh and say I use Sprouts as my version of the 99 Cent Only stores as I usually get $1 worth of whatever I'm buying :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: janetinLA
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                coll Jul 19, 2013 01:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I always shop the sales too, one time a grocery store manager who was "working the crowd" told me to my face, I'm not making a penny on you today! High praise indeed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: coll
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  janetinLA Jul 19, 2013 02:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Indeed it is!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The "loss leaders" placed on special are there to draw people in because the retailers know that the VAST majority of people will buy lots of other things while they are there. People like you and I really mess w/ their sales projections :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: janetinLA
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              goodfoodgoodlivin Mar 17, 2014 09:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Did you mean $150 a week? If not, how is this possible? Seems improbable to spend $5 a day on food for two people and eat healthy....or more than one meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: goodfoodgoodlivin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                janetinLA Mar 17, 2014 11:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I understand your disbelief! I have heard it from people since we started doing this back in 2007.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                $150 a month on food (not cleaning products, foil..) is what we spend ( we don't eat out much nor do people feed us nor are we on food stamps).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The key is to not buy any processed food or over buy what you won't eat before it spoils (No food goes bad at our house).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We eat whole, good quality produce, meat and little dairy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Anyone can do this, it isn't hard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have spent the last several years speaking to groups and families on this subject.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                No need for coupons, no need to drive all over town.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Mostly it takes discipline.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm happy to share more details if you like.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: janetinLA
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  coll Mar 17, 2014 12:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I do everything you are recommending and my grocery bills are $350 or more over a 30 day period. Cook mostly everything from scratch and consume very little meat anymore. Feel free to share so we can compare notes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: coll
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chowrin Mar 17, 2014 12:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's highly dependent on area -- cali is way cheaper for veggies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1) Shop at Costco. 10lbs of carrots for around 7 dollars.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2) Don't buy expensive produce. Broccoli, carrots, onions are good for most of what you need. Buy canned tomatoes (tomato paste is generally cheap)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3) Cook in bulk, eat leftovers for a while (every oven cooked meal costs me $1.00, it's less than fifty cents if I cook on the stove an equiv amount of food.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      coll Mar 17, 2014 12:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I only buy on sale. Pretty much everything, there might be one non sale item on the occasional bill. I get my produce from a Hispanic market here in NY and the prices are half or less than the regular supermarkets. So what if you have to wash the dirt off? The carrots are usually $1 for 3 one pound bags, although they're the skinny ones. What other produce is on sale for around a dollar is what's for dinner. Canned tomatoes, check. I only buy at $1 or less per can, and stock up. The paste I get at bjs, the little case of 12, not cheap but a bit cheaper than by the piece. Around 50 cents?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I am the queen of cooking in bulk, the last week of every month I don't even cook anything new, just harvest leftover "TV dinners" from the downstairs freezer. It's a little vacation for me but we eat very well. I call it "smorgasbord" dining. But I'm always pulling out a quart of soup or a tray of leftover lasagna all month long.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Keep going! There must be something I'm missing here....shoot, I just realized I had this exact same conversation with janetinLA last year. See just above. Guess it's all been said before.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: coll
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chowrin Mar 17, 2014 01:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1) Pasta is expensive if you don't make it yourself (make bread instead!). Avoid ramen, noodles of any sort. Way overprocessed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2) Costco has great mozarella for just a bit over $2/lb (you buy 5 lbs at once). Learn to make things with mozarella, and you're golden!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3) What are your goto meals? Maybe I can help on how to stretch 'em?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4) avoid chips, premade ice cream, soda. Everything that's junk generally is.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        5) Bulk spices from penzeys (or Trader Joe's)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6) I tend to avoid nuts, except as a treat -- ditto with olives, and a lot of the "seasonings"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        7) Generic olive oil works well for most things (EVOO only in limited quantities, generally on breads), or use generic vegetable oil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          coll Mar 17, 2014 01:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I make my own pasta, but also have a ridiculous amount of Barilla stored in my garage, bought on deep sale over the last year or two. Probably enough to last a lifetime. Ramen I've never bought, ever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I get mozz at the regular store during holidays for $1.99 a lb and freeze. With Easter coming up, I'll stock up on that and ricotta (which surprisingly freezes very well). But we do enjoy other cheeses too, whatever's on sale at (again) my ethnic place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My go to meals are whatever I can make with whatever's on sale, or something from the freezer. Recipes from all over the globe, I am well stocked on spices so no problem there. I buy the giant containers of herbs and spices packed for restaurants since we go through them fast enough. I also have a garden in the summer, mostly from saved seeds (that I should be potting right now!) and things that pop back up in the spring. I look forward to all my minty, lemony summer flavorings for the grill.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chips, ice cream, soda. We're a little too old for that kind of diet. Nuts, I can't control myself so I don't keep around either. Ditto chocolate which used to be a bugaboo for me.