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How much do you spend on groceries each month?

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

On average, our family of four spends $800/month!!! Is this a lot compared to everyone else?!
A few things to note:
-Our family of 4 includes 2 kids under 5 years old....SO, while they are good eaters and breakfast and lunch, they don't eat a whole lot at dinner.
-We are mostly eating at home... we dine out maybe once or twice a month.
-I generally buy meat that is on sale. I can't really stockpile since we don't have the freezer space, but I will try to buy larger cuts of meat that can be used for several meals
-I do clip coupons (I use 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 :-(

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

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

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

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

        2 Replies
        1. re: thimes

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

          1. re: thimes

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

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

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

            6 Replies
            1. re: Janet from Richmond

              Hi Janet,

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

              1. re: Rick

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

              2. re: Janet from Richmond

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

                1. re: kyrn80

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  1. re: thimes

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

                  2. re: kyrn80

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: TeRReT

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

                    1. re: TeRReT

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

                    2. 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

                        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

                          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

                            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: Chowrin

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

                                1. re: viperlush

                                  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

                                    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.

                            1. re: Querencia

                              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.

                            2. re: DeLobstah

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

                              1. re: DeLobstah

                                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

                                  They would have eaten the cow, also.

                              2. 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.

                                14 Replies
                                1. re: Bacardi1

                                  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

                                    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

                                    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

                                      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

                                        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

                                          "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

                                            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: kyrn80

                                                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.

                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                              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

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

                                                  1. re: happybaker

                                                    Chowrin, for things like cat throw-up I like shop towels as they aren't likely to split and fill up your hand with nasty, as some paper towels do. So I went online and bought a quantity (a dozen rolls I think) of disposable paper shop towels at a decent price. They are much tougher than regular paper towels and survive anything. Just saying.

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

                                                1. 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. 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

                                                      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. 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. 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

                                                          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

                                                            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

                                                            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

                                                              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

                                                                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: Novelli

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

                                                                  1. re: causeimhungry

                                                                    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.

                                                                2. 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. 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. 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. <<<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

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

                                                                        2. 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

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

                                                                          2. 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. ~$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

                                                                                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

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

                                                                                2. 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

                                                                                    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

                                                                                      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

                                                                                        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. 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. 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. 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

                                                                                          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. 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. $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

                                                                                              "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

                                                                                                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

                                                                                                  "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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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

                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                    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

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

                                                                                                                    2. re: BobbyGeneric

                                                                                                                      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. 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. 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. 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

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

                                                                                                                            1. re: Crockett67

                                                                                                                              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. 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

                                                                                                                              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. 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

                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                  $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

                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                      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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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!

                                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                    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.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                                                                                      Small town in North Texas here, and I know exactly what you mean. I refuse to shop here & drive the 35 miles for all my shopping. Makes you prepare a detailed shopping list since you definitely don't want to forget anything!

                                                                                                                                              2. 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. 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. 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. 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

                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                          +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. 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. 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

                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                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

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

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: selador

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

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: selador

                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                  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

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

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                      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. 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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                    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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                      "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

                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                          I hate that there are rarely coupons for meat :)

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                  There are *no* coupons where I live.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: TulsaWife

                                                                                                                                                                                                "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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  :) 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.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. $1000 to $1200 / monthTwo adults, and three part time kids, and one MIL/FIL at least once a week....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: PHREDDY

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        $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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Groceries, status symbol for the ages.

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't buy sweets, period.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Or prepared meals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: 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.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "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


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                5. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Nayners

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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: kathryn_dayle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "Garbage ingredients make unsatisfying meals."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        No shit!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Shit ingredients make garbage meals!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            No crap!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I became curious and found this web site


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                They're not just for breakfast any more!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  <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. Croissant,

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: pinkpooskie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <<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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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. "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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jpr54_1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Would I benefit from shopping from Costco, BJ etc?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have never been to either-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jpr54_1

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Does that include cleaning supplies/household goods, or just food?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: eatinman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    <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: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And this, proposed for future Social Security COLA calculations: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/c...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "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.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          <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. 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. I invite you to this thread I started in response to this one.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Law, do you think it's actually just under $400 a month for dinners? Ok, maybe $300-ish. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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 hung