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What is your budget

So, I am reading all these threads about eating on a budget, and I really am wondering what is your budget and where are you located?
I see people quoting some prices here that I would never believe were even real. And while my budget for some might look huge, it actually isn't at all.

So, I budget $125 for groceries for week. 2 people, well eaters. We eat organic, non GMO only and we try and eat healthy. My husband also has issues with gluten, so we eat limited amounts of gluten.

My $125 EXCLUDES all meat. I buy meat in bulk on the farms couple times a year. For side of beef, I believe I paid $6.45 / lb actual weight, and something like $340 for side a pig, and $5.50 / lb of chickens.

To explain why I find this budget hard, here are examples of some of the prices from our Alberta stores:
Dozen Organic eggs – ~$6.75
Organic Butter – ~$10 a stick
Organic apples - $2.50 / lb (cheapest)
2 small sea bream fish - $20 (I remember as I bought it last Saturday)
Organic gluten free bread -$8-10
Organic cucumber - $3-$6 (depending which store has it in stock)

I find fruits and vegetables here (especially organic ones) are ridiculously expensive and our $125 / week budget does not go very far.

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  1. 'Organic' food costs a fortune compared to non-organic... I went to the local farmer's market and there was a chicken farmer selling his frozen direct-from-his-organic-chicken-farm birds specially processed and packaged for his customers... how good can you get? Then the lady in front of me bought two nice juicy birds and I found out that it was $7 a pound! Ack! Our food budget totally excludes anything 'organic' for price reasons.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Kajikit

      What is your food budget and where do you live?
      I find that non organic stuff here costs almost as much. For instance, the organic produce at safeway often is comparable in prices to non organic and sometimes some items are actually cheaper organic. Meat I buy in bulk, as that way it’s cheaper than non organic meat in the stores. Last I checked, chicken at the store here was $5 or so for a whole bird…I think prices in Canada have increased significantly over last 6 months or so. My sister in law was telling me on the weekend that cheapest beef at Costco is $5 / lb…that is the cheapest…

      1. re: Allenkii

        A whole non organic chicken in Montreal is 9-12 dollars

        1. re: kpaxonite

          really? where? i mean which store?
          its more like $20 here :(

          1. re: Allenkii

            At a small chain called PA but also at Provigo.

            I was commenting because you wrote: Last I checked, chicken at the store here was $5 or so for a whole bird.... which I found strange for out west...i guess you meant 15

            1. re: kpaxonite

              oh, sorry, I meant $5 per lb if you buy a whole chicken. Prices go up if you buy parts

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  non organic, depending on the chain, but on average $5/ lb
                  legs are cheaper, everything else is more expensive. Organic I believe is closer to $10/ lb at Costco and co-op IF they have it (which is rare). Stores like Planet Organic is much more expensive. I will check when I go grocery shopping on the weekend

    2. There are a lot of old threads on this topic, you might try a search to find more ideas before others reply. Here's one with many replies http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/855272.

      Also I think to compare prices you should compare organic vs. organic or non-organic vs. non-organic. The prices here are often vastly different as Kajikit mentioned.

      1 Reply
      1. ~125 dollars a month for two people. Obvs not doing organic.

        Organic gluten free bread seems like... a really poor idea. Why not just eat rice??

        5 Replies
        1. re: Chowrin

          A bit difficult to do sandwiches with rice ;)
          sorry, your budget is $125 a month for 2?

            1. re: Chowrin

              You mean rice balls? I make those some times, but hubby often asks for a sandwich, so i just ordered a bread maker. He likes caramel spread on his "bread" and strawberries on top :)

              1. re: Allenkii

                yup, rice balls with a bit of a filling.
                and strawberries are really expensive!

                1. re: Chowrin

                  organic strawberries here are $5.99 / lb and he only needs one thingy sliced on his toast :)

        2. Budgets depend on how you eat and where you live.

          I made the mistake of starting a grocery budget thread on another board I belong to, and got ripped apart from people who said there was no way I could spend what I spent unless I was buying sub-par quality food and/or not including X, Y, or Z. What I did learn was that produce in other parts of the country is very expensive compared to what I pay in So. CA. That's where a big difference in cost lay.

          30 Replies
          1. re: boogiebaby

            Yes, I believe that your cost of produce is a fraction of what I pay in always snowed in Canada. LOL. Just this morning I was telling to my husband how I cannot wait till eggplant is in season. Now, it costs as much as meat, and when you cook it, it shrinks in half...for that reason, last time I bought eggplant was early last fall and I love eggplant :(
            If you don't mind me asking - what is your budget and what are your eating preferences? I swear I won't tear you to pieces lol

            1. re: Allenkii

              I'm in NY, and tomorrow I'm buying eggplant at 79 cents/lb and red pepper at 99. Always comes down that low at least once a month, so I wait, then roast and use or store. I can't imagine what I'd do if my prices were that high. But I don't worry about organic, are they really that close in price where you are?

              My budget is $75 a week for two. I don't feel like I have to scrimp, but I seldom buy anything that's not on sale.

              1. re: coll

                In ny also, bought eggplants for 69 cents/lb. broiled two of them whole and will use as a side dish for dinner tomorrow night.

                I typically don't buy organic, unless it's the only way the item is available. (Like kale)

                1. re: coll

                  Yes, I find organic at Safeway costs almost the same as conventional, but choices can be limited. If you go to organic store - its way more pricy.

                  1. re: Allenkii

                    I've never been to an organic store, maybe someday when I win the lottery ;-)

                    1. re: coll

                      I keep reminding myself that health is the MOST important "thing" I posses. without it, all $$$ saved won't matter...

                      1. re: Allenkii

                        I eat healthy but not hung up on labels like organic. Sort of old school I guess. There are no guarantees, that much I can tell you.

                        1. re: coll

                          I know there are no guarantees, but at least I feel I am doing my best. I am scared sh*tless by GMO (pardon my language)...

                        2. re: Allenkii

                          Many studies have shown that organic doesn't always equate to "healthier" however you're defining that.

                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            Organic is always healthier for farmworkers.

                            1. re: JudiAU

                              figure it depends on what the pesticides are designed to protect against, and on how effective the sulfur or other "organic" pesticides are.

                            2. re: fldhkybnva

                              I am wondering what studies showed GMO as safe that were not sponsored by major food producers...

                              1. re: Allenkii

                                Organic is not always equivalent to non-GMO. I'm not criticizing just pointing out because some confuse organic and assume it's always necessarily better. I've had friends get down on themselves that they can't afford organic but not buying organic doesn't always mean you're not buying the best you can.

                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                  All organic is non-GMO but not all non-GMO is organic.

                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                    Actually, if its organic, it has to be GMO free. This is the main reason I am buying organic. If the products here were labelled so I could see which (if any) of conventional products were GMO free, I would not be shopping all organic. GMO scares me a lot. There is a reason that its banned in many countries across the world... So, for me, for that reason alone organic is necessarily better. I don't rule out contamination of produce when it comes to chemical and pesticides, but I am still hoping that my diet more than 80% GMO free (i travel a lot for work and forced to eat out)

                                    1. re: Allenkii

                                      I meant to write it in the opposite order since you referred to "GMO as safe" (non-GMO is not necessarily organic) but either way the distinction is important and I totally understand your shopping practices.

                                      1. re: Allenkii

                                        *blink* have you looked at all the laws everywhere? Maybe this is true in America.
                                        In Peru, Whole foods used to buy "organic" -- which was basically "burn down the rainforests, then in two years burn more"

                                        1. re: Chowrin

                                          No, i haven't looked at the laws in all countries, but I have looked at some that I know ban GMO and try to buy products from those countries. While burning down the rainforest is very unethical and wrong, it won't give us cancer...

                                    2. re: Allenkii

                                      google for golden rice. Monstersanto isn't the only one running studies.

                        3. re: boogiebaby

                          Produce is a killer. I'm outside DC and when I visit my sister in central FL, we hit the farmer's market on the last day so I can stock up. An example- a red pepper here costs me $2.50-$3; there, you can buy 3 or 4 for $1! Amazing.

                          1. re: Hobbert

                            try costco? I can get six there for ~6 bucks (I'm not near dc though)

                            1. re: Chowrin

                              Costco has cheap salad mix and sometimes cheap organic strawberries, the rest is very much comparable to other stores here :(

                              1. re: Chowrin

                                I had a Costco membership for awhile but couldn't seem to justify the savings with only 2 of us. Plus we just moved out to the boondocks. I do hit up the Asian grocery store when I'm nearby. The prices on produce and spices can't be beat.

                                1. re: Hobbert

                                  We shop at costco so much that this year we got $300 back! Now, last year was a bit of an abnormality as we had kitchen renos and bought backsplash and some other materials there, but still, in any average year, I find we get our membership for free after the rebate...tires alone worth the fee

                                  1. re: Allenkii

                                    With me and BJs (although Costco opening this month even closer) just the savings on my contact lens are more than double the membership fee. Everything else, gravy!

                                  2. re: Hobbert

                                    Plenty of people from the boondocks drive 90 miles (at least) to shop at my costco, judging by the license plates (they're from a different state).

                                    I think they do it every three months or so, judging by a sign I saw -- "please limit purchases to 10 bags of flour" (these were 50 lb bags!)

                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                      Wow. That's way more baking than I'll probably ever do.

                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                        If you live in the boondocks, you probably don't have a good bakery either. So maybe they are making their own bread and baked goods and won't be back for a year?

                                        1. re: Hobbert

                                          I know. But they were expecting a surge in flour prices, so they were stocking up (being farmers, they watch commodities religiously)

                                  3. re: Hobbert

                                    That sounds like our prices...pepper is not something I buy a lot cause it's like buying a steak lol

                                2. We are in the same boat Allenkii

                                  Eating healthy is way more expensive.

                                  We have a grocery store here callled Publix that has a :GreenWise" section it's usda certified 100 percent organic non gmo. and we are always blessed with some small local orgaganic farms and groves but it is still expensive..

                                  I can make a nice meal for 40 bucks with left overs and beer and wine, cheaper than going out for the same quality but still expensive.

                                  12 Replies
                                  1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                    how much do you figure you spend on food a month excluding alcohol?

                                    1. re: Allenkii

                                      My husband travels for work often. He is out of the country for the next two weeks. I usually spend a lot less then. and when I could for my nana and her diet health restrictions I spend more.

                                      Ground Lamb and Ground Bison at Publix costt about 10 dollars a pound.
                                      If I go for a wild caught halibut at Whole foods its 25 a pound.

                                      when I do crockpot meals I spend a lot less. I would say on average between 80-95 a week when my husband is home and I'm taking my nana a meal once a week. and if its just been more like 60 a week but I always make so much food and share. I'm bad about that.

                                      1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                        Hahaha, I am also bad for sharing and entertaining!

                                        ground bison and lamb is the same price here. I actually just got some ground bison in anticipating the summer. And I got 2 NY bison steaks....I did not realize that they raised the prices to $50 kg and 2 steaks (small) cost me $40...how ridiculous is that? Needless to say, I am not going back to that farm, as in addition to very poor service, they also charge you whatever they feel like without any heads up :(
                                        Where are you located? 80-95 a week is still way less than what I spend

                                        1. re: Allenkii

                                          my Nana needs to eat leaner meats and bison is something she likes. I make her bison meatloaf but its a lot more expensive than the crap ground beef she was used to eating.

                                          1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                            Can't believe I'm saying this, but I made meatloaf last time with ground turkey someone gave me, lots of seasoning, and it not only tasted fine (really couldn't tell the dif) but I also lost a little weight eating it over a few days.

                                            1. re: coll

                                              I think I'm the only person on earth who loves ground turkey breast.

                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                Never used it much, but I have my eyes on it @$1.79/lb tomorrow. If you spice it right you really can't tell what it is.

                                                1. re: coll

                                                  I like to be able to tell what it is :)

                                              2. re: coll

                                                My nana may be old but she is quick mentally and she can smell and taste like no one I know. She'll know it's turkey and won't eat it. but she likes the bison. and she loves ground lamb.

                                                1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                  Will she do ground chicken? I DESPISE ground turkey but I really like ground chicken, especially if it includes at least some dark meat (usually I grind my own, using thighs, but some of the pre-ground brands are good too). My DH feels the same way.

                                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                                    nana hates chicken more than she hates turkey. lol :)

                                            2. re: Allenkii

                                              Have you revieved the other thread's comments re: vegetarian meals and legumes saving $$? Organic no gmo tofu amd veggies and beans worth $40 would feel you both for dayyysssss.....(if in new york city, manhattan, i can get organic tofu for $3/lb, organic beans $2-4/lb, organic carrots (big ones) $2.50/lb..... Then i think that shows something))

                                      2. Two ~ 45 YOs here in the MIdwest USA.

                                        We spend ~$85=90 US per week.


                                        Organic when we can.

                                        Daily home-cookers who venture out to the restaurants ~3-6 times per year.

                                        Small herb/vegetable garden.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: pedalfaster

                                          That's not bad. I believe prices in USA are cheaper than in Canada, so you would probably spend closer to what I spend if you were in Canada

                                        2. My conclusion with these threads is always that I suck at not spending more than everyone else at the grocery store.

                                          18 Replies
                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                            I tend to shop once a month for everything except milk. Makes it easier.

                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                              Wow, I don't think I could ever shop once a month. Once a week is hard enough, BUT we do eat lots of salads, which means I need to buy fresh at least once a week. I also cook a fair bit - I use up 3 lb bag of onions and 3lb bag of carrots per week

                                              1. re: Allenkii

                                                Salad bought from the farm will last a week and a half easy.

                                                1. re: Chowrin

                                                  How do you keep it that it lasts that long?

                                                  1. re: Allenkii

                                                    Wrapped in plastic in the refridgerator. Use a paper towel to get off excess moisture. Also, heads keep better than loose.

                                                    1. re: Allenkii

                                                      wash and spin dry. Store in a glass container, with damp paper towel in the bottom.

                                              2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                Yeah- count me in on that .
                                                2 adults -
                                                (and 2 dogs that eat homemade chicken/turkey/steak/kale/ sweet potato/carrots etc).
                                                Mostly organic omnivores.
                                                Northern California.
                                                Anywhere from $175-$200 a week- NOT including toiletries and household items (cleaners,dish soap,paper towels,etc).
                                                And I shop the sales!

                                                1. re: EAH

                                                  I am not even including my mastiff in this budget...he has his own budget the size of him lol
                                                  But your budget is comparable to mine, so I don't feel all that bad lol

                                                  1. re: EAH

                                                    Ok thanks EAH, that's about my weekly expense for two people and one cat who eats raw food. I will add, if it matters, that I never go out to eat, maybe once every 6 months. The only thing I eat everyday that isn't made or brought from home is coffee.

                                                  2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                    Nope, we average about $700 a month on food for two people (plus my DH's kids occasionally), and we definitely eat out more frequently than you - my office caters lunch every day, so I'm really only doing breakfast and dinner for myself, and lunch and dinner for DH (he usually just has coffee for breakfast). It would definitely be higher if I had to make my own lunches. Low-carbing is the culprit. While you save on not buying processed food, you can't save by switching to beans and rice three times a week.

                                                    That $700 figure includes our alcohol consumption and most paper products too, but as I said, we eat out more - we probably do takeout or dine out twice a month at dinner time, plus the occasional weekend brunch, etc. If I add our dining out bill, we probably spend close to $900 a month on food.

                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                        Location or quantity might be the culprit more than low carb, I eat low carb, too and don't spend near that much.

                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                            Considering how cheap produce is here it probably costs me more to grow some of it than to buy it. We're in a drought, in what is technically desert. Water is not cheap. I garden to get the varieties I want and to know that it is chemical free.

                                                            1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                              I guess my original statement ("My conclusion with these threads is always that I suck at not spending more than everyone else at the grocery store") is still true then :)

                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                I know you have a good handle on nutrition so I'm guessing your protein servings are larger than mine because you power lift. I'm an active person but I don't have the same requirements you do even though we both eat low carb. My servings of salmon, for instance, are 3-4 ounces. You've shown/ mentioned larger servings. More quality protein definitely equals more money.

                                                                1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                  Oh yup, there we go, 3-4 ounces is a snack to me :) For now it works out OK since I'm fine not spending money on other items (e.g. movies, eating out, clothes, etc). Actually recently I made a conscious effort to spend as little as possible and have managed to really cut back on my budget without decreasing protein portions that much. I now feel so silly for spending so much before, but live and learn.

                                                                  1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                    3-4 oz of protein is definitely a snack for me (and DH) as well (we are both big/tall people in addition to working out and lifting weights). I generally eat 8-12 oz of protein at lunch and dinner and DH does the same, more if he's not trying to lose weight. I'm not much of a snacker, though - I usually just eat two or three meals without any grazing in between, so when I do eat I like a sizeable, satisfying meal.

                                                    1. Probably about $150/month give or take for the 2 of us. We can eggs from get local, pasture raised chickens for $3.50/dozen. Butter from local grass fed cows for $4.50/pound. We don't eat much meat ... maybe fish 2-4 times a month at about $15-$20 per meal. Obviously the +/- $100 doesn't include wine or liquor which would up it significantly. It helps that we have 2 garden plots nearby and can freeze, dehydrate and/or can food in the summer.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: gourmanda

                                                        Wow, you spend 4 times less a month than I do - great job! I wish I could do that, but it also sounds that in addition to different eating habits, your groceries also cost less

                                                        1. re: Allenkii

                                                          Oh, my...........did I say a month? Whoops, I meant a week! Maybe closer to $100/week. But yes, different eating habits and having the garden is a huge bonus. While it's not free to grow your own produce, it is less expensive, organic and fun! Though, again, different climate and growing season from Lake Erie to Alberta.

                                                          1. re: gourmanda

                                                            ok, a week makes way more sense! LOL

                                                            1. re: Allenkii

                                                              Indeed! I recently downloaded an app to my phone so I can keep track of expenses. Should be interesting to see the figures in a couple of months.

                                                      2. About $200-250 per month, for two people, and we live in the Midwest. This would include everything but alcohol.

                                                        16 Replies
                                                        1. re: Bunny007

                                                          You either found a great way to save or your prices are magically lower than ours. I would never be able to make it on $250 a month. Even when we were in college and bought nothing but the cheapest conventional food and cooked everything from scratch, we struggled to live on $400 a month...that was also more than 10 years ago now

                                                          1. re: Allenkii

                                                            I make it on 125 a month for two, but do conventional. Chicken's your friend (.99 cents a pound), learn to love rice (pasta is so damn expensive!)...

                                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                                              Wow, $0.99 a pound of chicken is not something I can ever find here...I pay more per lb of chicken necks for my dog...You sure aren't in Canada
                                                              125 a month per 2 is like 6 times less than my budget (125 per week + meat)

                                                              1. re: Allenkii

                                                                .89 per lb here in NY if you're patient, trouble is after that you'll do without rather than pay higher. Which teaches you to do without completely in the end.

                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                  I will take pics of the prices when I go grocery shopping this weekend if I am not completely exhausted so you can see I am not crazy LOL

                                                                  1. re: Allenkii

                                                                    Canadian dollars also don't equal american dollars.
                                                                    What's the exchange rate right now?

                                                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                                                      This was my first thought as well, it's currently 1 US: 1.10 Canadian.

                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                        Its true but last year when CDN was at par with USD, our prices were still sky high! I would love to blame it on FX, but sadly, its not the case

                                                                2. re: Allenkii

                                                                  Chicago, current online ads: Shop & Save, boneless skinless chicken breast $1.49. Tony's Finer Foods, Perdue roasting chicken, $1.49 lb. Not organic. Good stores though. I shop at both.

                                                                  1. re: Querencia

                                                                    WOW! $1.49 for boneless skinless chicken breast is unheard of for us! I was looking through the flyers and safeway has boneless skinless tights for $6.49 lb
                                                                    and chicken breasts for $7.99 lb (or $17.61/kg)
                                                                    drumsticks $2.89 lb, which is very cheap. Must be like 10LB frozen box...
                                                                    Really, for $1.49 lb here i might be able to get chicken necks for my dog, if I am lucky!

                                                                    1. re: Allenkii

                                                                      Those prices are seriously insane lol

                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                        Yes! I know! I did find a whole roasting chicken on special in another store for 2.49 / lb, which is actually very cheap! and ground beef at 4.49 / lb...Ground pork on special 2.49/lb, ham 3.49 / lb and NONE of these are organic or grass fed - these are the prices for mass produces, gassed and packages meat :( I am afraid to even glance at meat prices in Organic stores... this is why I am forced to buy in bulk from farms otherwise I will starve...being a vegetarian here (assuming you eat organic produce is probably even more costly, as we have short growing season and are not located close to any ports or warm places, so transportation costs must be significant

                                                                        1. re: Allenkii

                                                                          I guess I won't be moving to Canada anytime soon :)

                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                            I won't blame you lol
                                                                            so, looking at the price differences, I think my budget of $700 ($125 week + $200 a months for meat) or so a month for 2 is somewhat reasonable, especially since we eat organic.

                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                Well, I will report back in several more month how I am doing on that budget. Summer should be easier as fruits and veggies will be way cheaper

                                                          2. We seem to fall between $150-200 a month for the 2 of us and 2 spoiled cats that eat a fair amount of meat in Southern California. Most is organic and I don't eat wheat and avoid other grains. We are very fortunate to be where great produce grows year round so it's very cheap- even our 99 Cents Only stores have lots of beautiful fresh organic produce. I can garden year round and am expanding my gardens right now so this summer ought to give me a lot to preserve.

                                                            Because I can spend more if I need to I do take advantage of deals- last week wild Keta salmon was a "$5 Friday" special for $5 a pound at Vons so I bought several pounds, divided into 4oz portions and vac sealed and froze it.

                                                            Much of being able to get by so cheap has a lot to do with where I shop. In addition to the 99 Cents Only store, one of my store loyalty cards tracks what you buy and gives you e-coupons for those items so I seem to always get $1-2 a pound off of grass fed ground beef (normally $5.99 a pound,) or lamb (6.99 a pound), organic chicken (price varies by which part and if bones or not), etc. One of the stores (Sprouts,) has double ad Wednesdays where last week and next weeks ads are good so a ton is on sale. I buy a flat of free range eggs directly from the egg ranch for $4.25 (30 eggs to a flat.) I shop Asian and Indian markets, and of course, Trader Joe's.

                                                            Is an organic cucumber really $3 to 6 each? They're 77 cents each here this week which is high but they aren't in season yet. I only buy organic apples since they're so high on the dirty dozen but at $2.50 a pound we would eat something else that week and wait to buy apples until the price was better.

                                                            What we save on food we spend on gas, high mortgage payments and property taxes.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                              Wow, your prices are SO much better!
                                                              Yes, cucumbers here are expensive. In winter, even conventional once can go for more than $3 a cucumber on average, let alone organic. I wanted to buy tomatoes last weekend, but nothing was on sale...the cheapest i found were close to $4 a pound....that is ridiculous.

                                                              Calgary prices for real estate are next to Vancouver only, I believe. Parking in down town is next to NY and will cost you close to $40 a day in the core, income taxes run at over 30% plus other reductions like unemployment insurance...so, I would like to say that while we spend more on food we save in other areas, but I am really struggling to identify those other areas...

                                                              1. re: Allenkii

                                                                Ouch! I wish I could send you cucumbers. For less than $3 I get a 6 pack of cucumber plants and they make so many we share with several neighbors as well as eating as many as we can.

                                                                1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                  I wish I could grow stuff here, but it has been snowing all last week and my backyard is tiny :(

                                                            2. I typically spend $90-100/week. Includes meat, fish, vegetables, pantry items, cleaning supplies/paper goods.
                                                              2 adults + 1 toddler

                                                              (Dinner for all 6-7 nights, lunch for me weekdays, lunch for husband 2-3 days, breakfast for all)

                                                              2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Allenkii

                                                                  I keep kosher also. (Only kosher meat, fish, packaged items)

                                                              1. for only me in the greater seattle, wa area: $400 a month for groceries and $300 a month for dining out. i usually buy whatever strikes my fancy. i hoard food in the freezer and i am ashamed to admit i waste alot of the food i cook and end up throwing out more than i should.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: ritabwh

                                                                  you sound a lot like me! Its the 1st week that i decided to shop once a week (in addition to a cash budget). Well, need less to say i am itching to go shopping! and its only Tuesday. I cooked a lot on Sunday and made some dishes that were not planned so, now I am out of eggs, carrots and yogurt...We shall see if I can make it to Friday without running to grocery store. I thought shopping once a week will give me free time and save, and here I am suffering lol

                                                                2. Hmmmmm.... I'd say maybe $300/mo? There are two of us and we buy no prepared foods. We cook & bake so there's no need. We grow & dry our own spices as well. We buy on sale & in bulk, take advantage of sales & shop certain places for items which vary in price from place to place. For example, there is an 'Amish' farmers market a bit to the south of us where baking ingredients are half the price of the grocery store. Dairy, eggs & coffee come from COSTCO because of their prices.

                                                                  The dog (an adult Siberian) costs &50 per month & we make his food. The $50 does NOT include toys & cheweys.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: JoeBabbitt

                                                                    We have two to three cats at any given time, and they also average about $50 a month. I keep it separate but still consider it as a food cost.

                                                                    1. re: JoeBabbitt

                                                                      Which spices do you grow? What would be your ras el hanout?

                                                                      1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                                                        Actually I should have said herbs not spices. We grow basil, thyme, dill, tarragon. I wish I could grow cardamoam, cinnamon etc.

                                                                    2. Shopping primarily at Trader Joe's in and around Pasadena, CA, I'm spending about $150/week. This does include wine, which is our only principal beverage besides water, which we get from the tap. This is for two AARP-eligible adults and three cats, two of whom eat the canned stuff. Mrs. O is a vegetarian unless we're at a Chinese or Taiwanese place with no viable veggie options, so we use a lot of beans, tofu and eggs, those being the organic brown jumbos @ $4-something a dozen. When we get back into warm-weather stir-fries I'll be hitting the Asian markets for produce and bring that daily total down quite a lot, the downside being more driving in a not particularly frugal car.

                                                                      1. Once you factor in my Costco trips, I would say around $300/mo tops for the 2 of us. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I try to keep my weekly grocery trip to under $50 (which does include non-food items like shampoo or whatever) My SO travels during the week so it's just me on weekdays. I also don't eat a lot for breakfast. I live in Colorado near Denver. I buy organic produce when it fits into my budget, but I pretty much never get organic meats.

                                                                        I think it helps that I don't buy a lot of snack foods like chips, crackers, nuts, cookies etc. I also don't buy a lot of bread since I don't eat sandwiches really. The biggest splurge is soda, which I buy at Costco.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. Ok, everyone who spends less than $500 a month on two people - hats off to you!

                                                                          Just to clarify, I never buy cookies, chips, trial mixes, other snacks or prepared foods. I very seldom buy soda.

                                                                          Cookies I prepare at home and freeze dough, same goes for zucchini / banana loafs - i bake and freeze. I make home made jams, canned goodies, stocks, etc and I still struggle with my budget...we either eat as pigs or cost of groceries here is significantly higher...neither option makes me happy :(

                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Allenkii

                                                                            I am in Vancouver, BC, living in the city core. This week, organic strawberries, from Cali, are about the same price as conventionally grown, at $4.50/lb The organic navel oranges are only slightly higher than conventional, at $1.69/lb. And a 1 lb bag of organic limes was $4. ONE red bell pepper is $4 or $5, so they are rarely used in winter.
                                                                            Our weekly spend on food groceries is approx. $150, but we usually only eat breakfast a couple of days a week, and eat out at least one lunch and one dinner per week. Also, I cook for a living, and so eat at work at least once a week :) Our weekly wine spend, is approx. $60 if I buy, and $45 if DH shops, for three bottles/week. Liquor here is pretty expensive.
                                                                            "good" meat, i.e., organic beef or lamb, is about $15/lb for roasts/steaks; $10/lb for ground. Farmer direct eggs are $5/dozen.
                                                                            I actually find it cheaper & healthier to purchase the occasional good cookie ($3) than to make a batch of 4 dozen, eat 3 dozen in 3 days, and then throw away the rest :) Also, some of my grocery purchase ends up as R&D for my business, and well, not every experiment is successful. I am not willing to expend serious energy trying to rehabilitate a bad recipe! Into the compost it goes.
                                                                            I can and dry my own tomatoes and other fruits, and make as much use of my freezer, as is practical, for stocks, soups and stews.

                                                                            1. re: KarenDW

                                                                              What I've started doing with red peppers is buying them when they are 99 cents/lb (or whatever is rock bottom where you are), roasting them and freezing on wax paper in a ziplock. Then when I need some I can either defrost a sheet of them for antipasta, or just break off a few hunks if needed in a stir fry or rice dish. The price here can go from 99 cents to $2.50 in a weeks time!

                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                wow, that's a great idea about peppers! I will definitely do it this summer - thank you

                                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                                  I do the same, they seem to always shrivel up before I've used them so I'll just roast instead.

                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                    I only just started doing this the last few years, and could kick myself for not doing it sooner.

                                                                                2. re: KarenDW

                                                                                  Karen, your prices are slightly lower than ours but very close and looks like you spend pretty much what we spend a week

                                                                                3. re: Allenkii

                                                                                  Well look at it this way, I pay $165/mo for crappy high deductible health insurance. You get yours free. There's trade offs everywhere :)

                                                                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                    LOL, I get $500 a month deducted for unemployment insurance and some other crap, in addition to taxes :( health care here is "free" though...

                                                                                4. We are 2 adults and a 2 1/2 year old in the Twin Citties MN

                                                                                  I don't have a budget exactly, but I would estimate we spend around 150/week on food. It's hard to say for sure, partially because I'm a big sales shopper. Last week Cheerios were on sale for 1.88 per box. Kiddo loves cheerios, so over several trips (a 4 box limit on the sale price) I had 12 boxes. Won't need to buy them again for awhile, but it drove the final bill upwards.

                                                                                  We also do a 20 week summer CSA. We eat around 25% organic, and I have my own fresh herb garden in the summer. I try to buy the "dirty dozen" organic, plus my daughter's milk.

                                                                                  1. oh, and to answer the OP, I don't have a budget. I rarely even track spending, but not because I have a lot of money. haha. Mostly because I'm afraid of what the real numbers would be.
                                                                                    Our prices here in YVR are about the same as your in YYC

                                                                                    1. My budget is about $189 for the month, but I am on food stamps. I'm in Upstate New York. That includes everything covered by food stamps. I'm lucky though the farmer's market vendors almost all take food stamps and I have lovely local butcher's shop that takes it as well.
                                                                                      I mostly buy produce, meats, frozen vegetables and staples such as rice, canned beans and soy sauce. I can't afford supermarket organic stuff but I can afford the stuff at the Farmer's market which includes meat and high quality fresh seafood.

                                                                                      1. Wow...I live in northern NJ but I've never seen crazy prices like that ever. Almost 7 dollars for eggs? ??? $10 for butter?? I'd go broke in 3 days with prices like that.

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Monica

                                                                                          well, the prices I quoted are for organic items, but for the life of me, I cannot eat conventional eggs - the smell is making me sick

                                                                                          1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                            Are you implying that organic eggs smell different?

                                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                              Organic eggs smell like the eggs I ate growing up from chickens my parents had. Conventional eggs in Canada smell differently. If my husband fries conventional eggs, I have to leave the kitchen and no, I am not high maintenance or picky. Not even close. I grew up in USSR till I was 14 so everything we ate was organic pretty much

                                                                                              1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                I'd love to see a blind test on this :)

                                                                                        2. I don't have a budget. MY WIFE HANDLES ALL THE MONEY AND I DON'T ASK ANY QUESTIONS. That way I do not have STICKER SHOCK, and I DO NOT HAVE A HEART ATTACK.

                                                                                          1. I don't have a budget per se but I don't think I spend more than $500 a month on food. I have a husband and 2 girls, 6 and 21 months old.
                                                                                            I shop mainly at Trader Joe's, Costco, Shop rite, local H mart, local French bakery and Italian specialty shop.
                                                                                            I don't know how big or small this budget is compare to other people in my area(Northern NJ) but we eat very well with lots of organic options. Maybe the key is not to shop at Wholefood. I buy milk, yogurt and eggs exclusively from Costco and they are all organic. I buy most of my meat from Costco. For others, I shop more than 50% of groceries from Trader Joe's including organic sliced bread and some produces.
                                                                                            our main source of protein is chicken ..i guess that saves some money as beef can be pretty expensive.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: Monica

                                                                                              Monica, I didn't think I was spending that much either till I started looking...

                                                                                            2. My old grocery budget was $250/month, but my rent went up, so now it's $200/month max. I also keep $100/month on hand for eating out, but these days I go out about once a month and always bring my lunch to work, so I usually underspend in that category.

                                                                                              Per week varies. 2 weeks ago I spent $70 because I'd been on vacation, followed by $12 the next week.

                                                                                              I'm a single person living in NYC, btw. I'm an almost-vegetarian and rarely buy meat. I eat a lot of rice, beans, lentils, tortillas, eggs, and yogurt. I've recently discovered how great powdered milk can be and buy those industrial-sized cans of Bustelo when coffee money is tight.

                                                                                              1. Family of 4 - 2 adults, 2 teens, living in So. Cal. We eat only organic (if available) and we try to eat pastured meats. We probably eat out 1-3 nights per week. Husband eats breakfast and lunch at office M-F, kids eat breakfast at home and take sack lunch to school. We do not have any processed or pre made food in our cupboards, save things like dried fruits or toasted nuts or condiments. We do allow exceptions for things like TJs brand cereal, larabars, and salsas. Any snack items are from Farmer's market or Whole Foods. Nothing with preservatives if another option exists. We are also gluten free and limit our dairy. I would say we live paleo adjacent. Boy that is a lot of info!

                                                                                                Weekly grocery budget is $160 for groceries only and I pay in cash to keep me honest and not deceive myself about how much I am really spending. We have a separate budget for wine, paper goods and meat. Our whole house has filtered water so we don't pay for that. Oh, and we have a separate budget for coffee- I have a nasty Nespresso habit!

                                                                                                I primarily shop at the farmer's market, whole foods and TJs, with occasional excursions to the gluten free bakery, fish, and ethnic markets. Gluten free bakery items are also excluded from the cash only budget. Otherwise, we would starve as GF is insanely expensive!

                                                                                                I garden and so seldom have to buy fresh herbs as I grow everything I typically use except for cilantro and dill.

                                                                                                In terms of our budget, we eat pretty well. When I make steaks it is either a rib eye or Wagu. The wagu is grain finished so I am trying to break this habit. I make a lot of long cooked dishes, such as braises, soups, etc. If I make meatballs or meat loaf, it is with Berkshire pork. I by wild boar and have it shipped. Fish is always sustainable and from the Fish Market. We always have seasonable fruit and veggies and dinner is often a main course salad, or at least veggie centric. I don't feel deprived in any way. Having said that, in order to make our budget work, I have to say no a lot. No to things like extra cartons of blueberries (my husband would eat a container a day, if we had it), etc. etc.

                                                                                                I don't think my budget is terribly out of line with other people with two teens. We just choose to spend our money differently.

                                                                                                I recently went on a trip with some girlfriends for a girls' weekend. We stocked the fridge at Ralphs and it became clear within 10 minutes in the store that I was the only one amongst us who did not regularly shop at a main stream grocery chain, and who only shopped the perimeter of the store. When I went over to the organic section to pick out our produce, the rest of them looked at me like I was crazy. Meanwhile, the price tag for all the prepared items they were picking up made my eyes bulge out. I would never spend what Ralph's charges for the processed crap they were buying! As a result, we ended up having a conversation back at the condo about how much we all spend on groceries. Mine was around the same as theirs, just a lot healthier.

                                                                                                24 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                  Thank you for such a detailed response. I do all pasture raised local meat as well, this is why its not included in my budget as I buy it in bulk from farms. no wild boar, but lamb, beef, berkshire pork, chickens and buffalo. We don't have access to good fresh fish, so I buy frozen wild caught from Costco. just like you, I don't buy processed or pre-cooked stuff. To me, its insanely unhealthy and expensive. And we also eat salads / greens / veggies most of the weak along with meat and grains.

                                                                                                  Coffee - we have an espresso machine, so make organic latte, and if you calculate per cup, its more expensive than Starbucks, but its organic and fair trade.

                                                                                                  Gluten free product prices drives me crazy. Cannot wait to get and test my breadmaker that suppose to bake gluten free varieties. And I think I am going to try and make home made butter this weekend! Just need to find some good cheap Organic cream :)

                                                                                                  1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                    How can you not include meat in your budget particularly pasture raised local meat? It's still a part of your budget, no?

                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                      I do include it in my budget, just not in $125 weekly. I buy side a beef, side a pork, bunch of chickens, side a lamb, and it lasts longer than a year for sure, so its hard to say what its per months. We approximate somewhere between $100 and $200 a months in meat, depending on how much we are entertaining. Buying in bulk is way cheaper when it comes to meat

                                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                        Should be a MAJOR part of the budget.

                                                                                                        1. re: coll

                                                                                                          Well, its a one time payment for us and we treat it as a large item purchase. and again, its real hard to say how much we eat a week or a month. I think side a beef lasts us 18 months or so whereas pork is 6 month before we need to re-order. Considering rest of my budget is $500 a month ($125x4 weeks), $100-200 extra per month is 20-30% so not that major, imo of course

                                                                                                        2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                          I keep a separate line item budget for target, wine, and meat. It is all paid for on credit card and comes out of a different mental pocket. I tried to buy my meat out of the weekly pocket for a while but found I was always living outside my means. Now, we track how much we spend on meat and wine and when it starts to become a problem, we eat less meat or eat from our freezer and drink what we have in storage until we catch up. I can't do that with groceries. I don't have a viable grocery pantry to go to so I separate the two. Make sense? Re my budget (not sure if that was directed at me or someone else), it is posted in my response, above.

                                                                                                          1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                            You should look into buying sides of animals, it will save you a TON of money ;) Took me a while to convince my husband but now we will never go back. We love the meat and you cannot beat the price and convenience of having a "store" in your freezer

                                                                                                            1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                              I am actually in the process of educating myself about that right now. I just bought The Ginger Pig Meat book and I have Good Meat out on loan from the library. I live in fear of my freezer breaking, and loosing all that inventory. But I am sure I could split it with some like minded CH in the neighborhood.

                                                                                                              1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                Oh God, my freezer DID break once! we made a mistake of buying cheaper freezer from kijiji (Canadian equivalent of craig's list). I went downstairs to take my meat out and it was mostly thawed but still very cold (some still frozen). I quickly plugged in my old smaller freezer and moved what I could. It was half year after we ordered so most of it fit into old small freezer... BTW, your home insurance probably covers such events. after that, we got rid of a bargain find and went and bought brand new largest chest freezer available with all the departments. I love it!

                                                                                                                Since you will be at your freezer probably every couple days, even if it does break - you will catch it in time to save the meat.

                                                                                                                I spend hours and hours learning about cuts as they custom cut and package the animals. Which was actually very helpful when my tenderloin and another expensive cut mysteriously vanished from my side a beef and more than should ground appeared... I could be a butcher by now, so if you have any questions - let me know :)

                                                                                                                1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                                  Thank you, I may take you up on that offer some day very soon. In the meantime, enjoying the reading. The other thing that is holding me back is my family is having a hard time adjusting to the taste of grass fed beef (goat, pork, lamb they are ok with). We currently eat Wagu and it is hard to beat, taste and texture wise. So I don't think I could buy in until they are 100% on board.

                                                                                                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                    Not all grass finished beef is the same. We buy ours from a farm that caters to some of the top local restaurants and has a specific imported breed of animals (I forgot the name but can find out). They also DNA test all their breeding stock and they ultrasound before butchering to see the fat content. I always ask for as fat as possible and its always best to buy here end of summer as this is when they had 3 month or so of eating fresh grass.

                                                                                                                    So, given all that, you can guess that our beef is not the cheapest out there. So, this year I decided to shop around and found another farm that sounded great and was cheaper. I went and bought 2 steaks from them to sample...well, what can I say - my dog enjoyed his dinner tremendously! It was so tough, chewy and gamy tasting that i could not get down a NY strip. I ran back to my farm and ordered without second thoughts despite the tag price. The meat tasted better than expensive steakhouse steak (i have those occasionally at work events)

                                                                                                                    My suggestion is find several farms and taste their meat. Ask if any of them can get you beef close to AAA or whatever the USA equivalent rating is. It won't be quite as marbled, but it will be close with an excellent added taste

                                                                                                                    1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                                      Yes, that is what I am doing right now. The taste test cook off. So much to think about.

                                                                                                              2. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                                I'm really interested in a side of meat, it's only two of us but we eat a good amount of meat.

                                                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                  Just find a farm that has smaller, younger animals :) Its only the 2 of us here as well and a dog that occasionally gets spoiled

                                                                                                          2. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                            Thank you for starting this thread.

                                                                                                            Please report back when you have mastered your bread maker for GF varietals. As I said, we are trying to eat vey little bread (paelo adjacent) but that is really me and my husband, not my kids. They still want their daily sandwich. And pasta. And muffins.

                                                                                                            If your butter comes out the way you like, report back.

                                                                                                            I buy my grass fed unsweetened butter at TJs. I think it is $4.99 a bar. But it could be $6.99. I think that is where I would have drawn the line and said, no. Either way, this is more than organic grain fed dairy, but I only use it sparingly. I probably go through a stick a month. If I am baking, I still buy the regular organic. But the homespun butter is a great idea for cream that is about to go past it's date...I could freeze it! I'd love to hear your results.

                                                                                                            1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                              I also buy Kerrygold at TJs, I think it's $2.99

                                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                I am pretty sure it is more that that here. I'll check when I go shopping.

                                                                                                              2. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                Yes, I will definitely report back! I use a stick of butter (500gr) every 2 weeks, so that's $5 a week just for butter...And if I bake or have company over, you can safely double or triple that

                                                                                                                Same here, we try to eat little gluten, i hope my machine works well. I need to buy some gluten free flour now :)

                                                                                                            2. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                              What is your budget? I've also been amazed at the price my colleagues pay for processed food or when I buy it for others who request it...outrageous!

                                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                I have a friend who had a very busy schedule this past year and was on a super tight budget. She spent 2 Sundays a month driving to target to buy Amy's frozen meals and pizzas for her family to eat while she went to night school.
                                                                                                                Then complained about the price....

                                                                                                                1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                  While I think I spend more on food than most, I have no idea how my colleagues afford eating out and buying mostly boxed food three times a day.

                                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                    It's a trade off. If you eat boxed food you probably aren't paying for organic milk, produce and meat. So your perimeter shopping dollars go much further.

                                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                      I can tell you from my former colleagues, 3 boxed meals is pretty much all they ate. Besides for snacks, soda and beer, they all said their refrigerators were empty. It's either a box or dinner out

                                                                                                              2. Of general interest: stores everywhere are putting their weekly ad fliers online so it's easy to see what costs are in other places, and there are huge differentials. Example--- I shop in Chicago but visit family in the Washington DC area where I see food costs running 30% higher than in Chicago. And here at home I can buy an excellent loaf of Seven Grain Bread for $2 at the Shop & Save or $8 at (posh) Plum Market.

                                                                                                                1. If you want to make the budget go far, then go for the beans and grains. Particularly in bulk, they're absurdly cheap for the amount of nourishment you get out of them, and making them the major component of any dish maxmises the budget like nothing else. Potatoes are also in the same category.

                                                                                                                  With an insignificant fraction of the total budget you have (probably much, much less than 10%, you can meet most of your food needs - and then use meats, fish, vegetables etc. a bit like condiments. Think of the Italian pizza/pasta model (not gluten free of course, but it illustrates the point) Both use large amounts of a basic starch backed with small amounts of vegetables and meats. And are very satisfying without having any feeling of austerity attached. So it goes in many cultures, e.g. rice pilaf, tortillas, injera with stew, etc. etc.

                                                                                                                  1. I don't have a food budget. Generally I plan to spend about $150 each week for consumables (things that are used up and need to be repurchased, including not only food, but gas, toothpaste, paper towels, laundry and cleaning products, etc.). This also includes basic meals that I purchase (say, under $30), but not "nice" restaurant meals, which go under "special expenses/entertainment" in my unofficial budget. Usually I find that if I feel like I've been overspending for a week or two I'll cut back to balance it out (uh, you bought lunch every day last week, maybe you should make a big pot of soup for lunch this week). Of course it's just me -- I don't have to account for my spending to anyone else or take into account someone else's spending.

                                                                                                                    1. We do not eat strictly organic. Our CSA is organic and is the majority of my produce from May- December.

                                                                                                                      A dozen eggs is less than $4 even if it is organic.

                                                                                                                      I used to belong to an organic meat CSA but with some job changes we have opted out for a year or two. Once some of our houses start to be rented I hope we can start again.

                                                                                                                      I will not spend over $15 a pound on fish.

                                                                                                                      Is a stick of butter more than a 1/4 of a lb? That is like $40 per pound and seems exorbinant.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                        I believe that's the one I normally buy - its 454 gr, so approximately a pound.

                                                                                                                        Your organic eggs are $4 / dozen in the store or from farm? and where are you located?

                                                                                                                        I signed up for Organic CSA this summer - we shall see how that goes, but the fact that it is snowing NOW (April 3 2014), makes me rather skeptical of what I will actually receive.