Grocery Spending Question

zone_8grandmaMarch 8, 2007

I'm interested in what others spend on groceries (not liquor or cleaning supplies, or other non food items)..

I cook mostly from scratch. I cook for two people. I use a planned leftover strategy. We eat beef no more than once or twice a week. (When I do buy beef, I buy organic, high quality meat). We eat vegetarian meals once or twice a week. The rest of the time it's chicken or fish.

But, to my chagrin, I've added up my grocery receipts going back the last year and discovered that I spend over $700/mo for two people! That seems very high to someone who prides herself in being frugal.

So...what do you spend? For how many people? What area of the country?

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we average around 200.00 week at the store. if we subtract out non-food items, the food is probably around 140 or so of that. this feeds a family of 4.

you buy "organic, high quality meat). We eat vegetarian meals once or twice a week" both of these are usually costlier than regular meals. veggies are cheap, IF you buy the veggies and make an all vegetable meal. but if you buy the vegetarian MEALS, they cost way too much. ORGANIC anything will cost you more.

if that is the type food you wish to eat, then you may need to just shop around and buy in bulk when different stores have sales. We buy 20-30 pounds of beef at a time, then vacuum seal and freeze it in portions for different meals. we buy canned veggies on sale and stock up on them as well. before we started doing this, we spent close to 300.00 a WEEK at the grocery store.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 1:04PM
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We spend between $800-1,000 per month for five of us. My oldest is no longer living at home, but somehow I don't purchase any less. We live in Alaska and food is expensive. It is also an area which I don't spend a great deal of time/effort trying to reduce the cost.

I prefer to buy from local butchers and bakers, so that ups the cost. I cook almost every meal, so we don't have much in the way of eating out costs. We never purchase things like bottled water. My kids usually take lunches to school and DH works out of the home, so we pretty much have all meals from home.

DH and I are having enough trouble with the middle age spread, so I don't routinely serve us heavy (cheaper) meals with lots of pasta, noodles or rice. I'm ok with our food spending and we just spend less on other items like clothing and vehicles.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 1:32PM
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About $200/month for one in the DC suburbs. I don't consider myself to be particularly frugal grocery-wise (shop mainly at Whole Foods, although they aren't necessarily that much pricier than regular supermarkets as long as you don't buy emu eggs and morel mushrooms), and have a bad habit of buying more fruits/veggies/bread/cheese than I can eat before they go bad/stale/moldy, so I'm kind of wasteful that way, too.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 1:47PM
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We spend around $100 per week for two adults, plus we eat out once or twice a week (at inexpensive restaurants -- c. $30 or less for both of us). We don't eat meat at all, just occasionally some fish, and the only prepared foods we buy are basics like condiments, dairy products, peanut butter, and bread. We cook everything else from scratch and eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, and beans. We use up almost everything we buy -- we carefully save leftovers and eat them for subsequent meals, we keep bread in the freezer so it doesn't get moldy, and so on. The two things we splurge on are fair trade coffee and good olive oil.

I've noticed that the cost of groceries has definitely gone up over the past couple of years. I think it's related to higher fuel prices, which affects everything else.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 2:26PM
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I'm atypical (as a family of one since the end of October '06), but thought I'd weigh in anyway. Was a caregiver for my Mom for the last five years, but she's in LTC now; however, over those five years, I was shopper and cook for the two of us and for my brother who would come up from The Cities to visit for two days every week.
Though we didn't have to budget then and I don't now, I seem to be a little frugal by nature. A lot of grocery trips were to pick up ingredients needed to augment what I already had on hand as well as keeping up the supply of milk, bread, juice, eggs, fruit, etc. - the staples.

I was averaging spending @ $100 - $125 a week. Now, it's much less. My February grocery tally was $92.80.

Am a scratch cooker and fond of leftovers. But tag ends of vegetables and cheese would go into omelets or casseroles; veggies, bones, etc. would became soup; a pound of ground beef became chili...

I took advantage of "stock up" sales and didn't spend the extra on organics. I use cloth napkins since I have to do laundry anyway and rarely use paper towels. An elderly aunt passed away and had a cache of cleaning supplies I'll be using up for the rest of my life.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 2:44PM
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I spend approx $325 a month for 2 people. That does include lunch supplies (bags) and laundry supplies. It does not include another $500/year for beef or the fact I raise hens for eggs or the 500 jars of canned goods that I preserve during the summer.

We eat out one evening a week --- we eat a lot of fresh veggies and fresh fruit. We love artisan cheeses so that is included.

But we use no processed products at all. We do buy whole grain breads and good olive oil. And like harriethomeowner, I noticed that prices have gone up a lot in the last couple of years.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 2:51PM
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Zone 8 grandma,

We buy all organic/sustainably harvested vegetables, dairy and meat. Just about everything we buy is organic even packaged cereal. We do almost all our shopping at a food co-op which sells almost all organic and at Trader Joes and at Whole Foods for meats. Every now and then, I will buy food at Costco, if they have organic stuff, ie butter, chicken stock, canned food etc. We will buy bulk whenever we can, ie flour, granola, spices etc. I do not use frozen meats at all. I use frozen fish occassionally.

Eating sustainably harvested organic food is a very expensive committment.

We are in Seattle, two adults and two small childrens. We spend about $1200 to 1500 per month in groceries. I would say our meal plans are similar to your. We typically eat out one night a week with the kids.

If you include beer and wine in your food budget, separate that out and see what the true food cost is. Mine includes minimal to moderate amount of beer, wine and bottled soda water.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 2:52PM
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We average $500 a month on groceries for a family of four. Lots of veggies and fruits... and a very hungry 6'7" son.

That's groceries only.... no booze (can't buy that in the grocery store here in PA anyways!), no paper/cleaning products, etc.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 4:12PM
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Zone 8 grandma,

Very, very similar to your spending and we are also 2 here. We only eat out a couple times a year, and I work from home so I always have lunch here as well. Food is my one indulgence and I don't skimp on quality fruit, vegetables and protein. We eat a ton of fresh produce. Almost nothing from packages or cans.

I budget $800/month but that includes wine, beer and other alcohol, entertaining (I cook for people a lot), dog food, cleaning supplies and personal care products. The grocery literally next door went upscale last year and there's another specialty grocer just down the hill - meats at both places are prime and pricey. (and very good) I'll also shop the ethnic, organic and specialty produce places. Generic grocery for bulk items. Hit the Target or Kmart or Walgreen's sales for non food stuff.

My budget feels high unless I remind myself how well we eat and how little we spend eating out. We are very healthy. 'You are what you eat' and all. I'm fine getting my clothes at Goodwill (seriously), but I won't give up my blueberries.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 4:17PM
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I also am a family of one (* waves to duluthinbloomz4 from St. Paul *) and probably spend about $600 a month or so at the co-op. That includes health & beauty (!) aids and non-food items like laundry soap. Most weekdays I do eat lunch out (it's networking time for me). I don't have much opportunity to cook a lot from scratch, but I am good for lots of soups and stews in the colder months and salads in the other two :-p. I also dry a fair amount of food (fruit, tomatoes, herbs) in August and September for the rest of the year, mostly because, even dried, it's of higher quality than whatever of it I can find at the co-op during the winter. I think my food bill is kind of high, but that's just not a battle I care to fight right now. :-)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 9:38AM
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Minnesotans must like this question (waves to duluthinbloomz4 and steve o! And BTW, steve o, I did buy my new Rabbit that we had discussed on the car forum last November :). I am single and spend about $50-$60 on food items alone per week. I don't eat red meat, although I do eat chicken and fish. Most meals are vegetarian--crock pot soups and chilis with beans, stir frys, etc. Biggest expense are fresh fruits and veggies.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 11:42AM
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It's the two of use and we usually spend about $350-400 a month on groceries, about $450-500 if you include alcohol and household products. We are vegetarians at home, but like organic and "natural" foods which can be expensive.

One way I try to stretch our money is to make big batches of things. If I make a big pot of veggie chili, we can have it for at least one dinner and then for a lunch or two. I've been trying to consciously do that a few times a month and it seems to help.

I'm also trying to make a few bigger well-planned trips rather than having my husband stop by the the store nearly EVERY DAY. Daily stops add up quickly! This is a new idea for us and I nearly died when our last grocery trip was $200. But we've been going for several weeks on the food and eating well, so I guess it was worth it.

I also looked at the store flyer the other day (what a novel idea) and saw they had some good sales, like 10/$10 items. So I might actually start paying attention to what's on sale, especially for items like canned beans that can keep for a while.

But ultimately I try not to spoil the fun of food too much. It's one of the joys in life so I think there's a happy medium between constant coupon clipping and buying absolutely everything you want.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 4:23PM
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My husband and I are vegetarian, and we spend about $350-$400 at the grocery store per month (I count it a good weekly shopping trip if we only spend $60; I frown if we spend $100+). That includes our cleaning supplies and personal products as well. We do eat out once or twice during the weekend, though, which adds up! We've been dieting for the past several months, too, which cuts down on buying expensive stuff that you don't really need.

I'm looking into using less processed food as much as possible. I've just started making my own yogurt, which is fun :) Making my own bread is fun, too. Tends to be a little bit cheaper, too, and I like that I can control what goes into it.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 6:37PM
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My husband and I are both carnivores and spend about $300 per month on food items at the grocery store. (this includes cat food for 3 kitties) We could cut back on spending that much, but we are at the age where we eat what we love and love what we eat. We raise a totally organic veggie bed every year and put up lots of produce in the freezer. We buy most of our items at WalMart super center and use the store brands of most everything.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 9:43AM
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I have a $50 a week budget amount for groceries ONLY, for two adults - 3 meals a day at home.

That includes purchases of higher-priced meat (grass-fed beef, buffalo, and locally raised poultry and pork), and the purchase of organic grains in large quantities once or twice a year. I mill my own flour and make all our breads. There are all kinds of great dishes and homemade cereals one can make from a large variety of grains, seeds, and beans. Add to that a small garden for enough fresh produce to last from April to December, and in the freezer during the winter months.

On my $50 a week budget I also have about 6-months worth of food that I rotate from, as well as about a years worth of basic "survival" foods (grain, sweetener, fat, milk), on hand.

Everyone can experience an emergency... Will it be loss of income, medical expenses, or even a natural or man-made disaster? Having a food storage program is a good idea for most people. You can invest as little as $5 a week in food for storage for that "rainy day".

We eat 3 meals a day at home, and eat out occasionally on the weekends.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 8:38AM
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I honestly don't know. Besides food, we buy a lot of other things at the grocery store - catfood, litter, paper products, some beer and wine. I buy some things in bulk, and intend to start buying more this way. I tend to stock up when things are on sale, so I'll spend more some months than others.

I prefer to buy organic, but don't drive 40 minutes to get to a Whole Foods, so much of my food is non-organic. I also won't pay out the wazoo for organic. I realize it will be more expensive, but not exorbitantly so. I buy from an organic poultry co-op, but they order somewhat irregularly so I've also bought more non-organic at the grocery store. I dropped out of our produce co-op for the past few months because with all of the hoopla over the house, we just weren't eating at home enough and were eating a lot more frozen food even then. With the co-op, I paid about the price of regular produce for my organic stuff. But even the half share I bought was a lot for 2 people.

One of my goals for this year is to start keeping better records of where our money is going. I do use Quicken, but don't break down a lot of purchases, just the payee and amount.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 10:40PM
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For two of us, we probably spend about $70 a week. I cook six nights a week and try to make at least two meals a week that will provide another night's meal (I do freeze as we are not fond of having leftovers the same week). I serve no fish as my husband just does not like it. I alternate with chicken, beef, pork, ground turkey, etc. I buy my meats from an upscale meat market. I use no packaged foods; i.e., pasta or rice mixes, etc. I purchase some organic items--mainly dairy and eggs. We have vegetables every night but never a vegetarian meal.

I have found that I save a tremendous amount of money by writing all menus out for each night and then on the reverse side, is my grocery list. I do this on Saturday or Sunday and also do my grocery shopping then. When I return home, the menus go on the side of the fridge so I know what to pull from the freezer the day before. If I see something at the supermarket that entices me, I have my menus on the reverse side to adjust. I've been doing this for 13 years and it is mainly because I HATE going to the store on the way home from work. It is an incredible waste of time (which is money) and I always end up spending more.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 9:55PM
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Thanks for all of the good ideas, folks.

I don't know how much I spend - maybe about $50. or less a week.

I buy a few things for a neighbour, as well, and sometimes break out the costs, sometimes not.

I usually have juice, cooked porridge, an egg, toast, jam, milk/coffee for breakfast.

Often two meals a day, plus snacks.

Stew, or potat/rice/pasta, perhaps meat/cheese, (frozen) veg (some from last summer's garden), sometimes applesauce/cherries/pie, milk, etc. for second meal. PB/cheese on home-made bread or cookies, milk/coffee for snack.

I didn't used to think that I was much overweight - but it appears that I am.

Have a toothsome weekend, everyone.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 11:51PM
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I've enjoyed reading all of the responses - thank you. I've come to realize a couple of things. Before I started keeping careful records (using Quicken), I thought I was spending about $500/mo on groceries. The reality was about $200 more. For those of you who say you are probably spending about $xx, I'd take that with a grain of salt.

Secondly, I do realize that there are areas where I choose to spend more (wild blueberries, good coffee, wild salmon, good bread) and I know I spend a lot on the convenience of bagged salad (we have salad nearly every night). So I'm OK with that.

Thanks, Harriet, for pointing out that food prices have risen steeply the last few years. I had not been paying attention - now I am.

Teresa, your's is a great system. I'm going to try something similar. You are absolutely correct about the number of trips to the store. Even when I think I'm just going to get milk, salad and some fresh fruit, I end up spending more than planned...

Thanks again all for some informative reading!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 10:51AM
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I spend about $300 per month for 4 adults, 1 dog and 1 rooster, plus hundreds of wild birds :) this does include household items and toiletries. We grow most of our own food, eat vegan and buy in bulk from two co-ops. we buy groceries, etc in town once a month.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 1:38PM
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We live in So Cal and are a family of 3 and are spending $700-850 a month on grocery items (this include toiletries & paper goods no alcohol) I keep track of my spending with Quicken so I know what I spend ;-0

Yes, grocery prices have been going up lately, especially dairy and eggs. DH still says I spend way to much on groceries. I'm trying to convince him that grocery prices keep rising. Granted I spend just as much now as I did as family of 5 so maybe he's right ;-)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 4:20PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

I spend $400-500 for my family of six per month. I had to increase my budget by about $50-75 to accommodate the rise in food prices. This includes diapers for 2, dog food for 1 Akita, all cleaning products and toiletries. The majority of our baked goods are from scratch. We have been eating somewhat less meat although with the cost of produce, I don't really believe that it has saved us much (if any) money. This will be my first year with a vegetable garden so I hope to bring the costs down this summer.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 4:36PM
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I've enjoyed reading the responses and am pleasantly surprised to see this thread come up after a year.

For the last year, I've been much more careful about tracking expenses. I am making fewer trips to the store as I am planning more. I've also been paying more attention to the "loss leaders" and stocking up whenever they have items I use. I have not switched brands or lowered our standards in any way. I now use a "price book" and can see at a glance the unit price of the things we use the most.

While I'm still not as organized as Teresa (above), I've found that planning is hugely helpful. I plan 5-6 dinners and make sure I have everything on hand. The menus are written on the whiteboard so DH can glance at it and not ask "What's for dinner"? :)

When I'm low on dairy or produce, I get my shopping list and take care of anything else on it (along with picking up the sale items). The pantry is better stocked now and I rarely find that I've run out of something.

Last month I spent $620 (that's down $80 from a year ago). Feb this year I spent $633 and Jan I spent $515. Most of January I decided we would make meals out of what we had in the freezer and pantry and that made a big difference.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 5:09PM
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I budget $8K per year for everything I buy at the grocery store, Walgreen's (not drugs), liquor store, Costco. This includes the 15% higher food costs for a month on Maui. (Land of $5 gallons of milk and loaves of bread.) How much of this is actual FOOD? I sure don't know!

In the past I never spent the whole budget. I probably will in this inflationary year. I just bought a dozen eggs 'on special' for $3. I shop once per 7 - 10 days with a quick stop for milk in between. I do shop the specials at one of two chain stores in our suburb and we probably hit Costco four times a year.

DH and I are retired. We seldom eat 'out'. I'd rather buy 'choice' beef and top quality cheese, etc. than pay a lot for a restaurant entree.

Breakfast is cereal/milk/fruit/toast w/Smart Balance or jam/coffee w/cream. Sundays it's bacon/eggs/muffin or other 'sweetie'/coffee w/ cream.

Lunch is often leftover protein w/canned soup or ham & cheese (no bread)/a cookie.

'Teatime' is tea and a cookie or piece of candy. (And a DVD.)

Dinner is the boring old 'healthy threesome' of chicken/fish/meat, veg., and potato or roll w/Smart Balance. Sometimes salad. Sometimes a stew. Sometimes a frozen pizza. Mid-evening, milk w/cookie or pie or cake, or a cup of ice cream.

We have a mixed drink before dinner and/or a glass of wine with the meal.

'Insomnia Break' is milk. (That would be just me.)

We've lost some weight as Seniors. Most DH (6' 0') ever weighed was 190; 140 for me (5' 6"). Now we are 180 and 115. I lost 30 lbs while we built a house; gained back ten and need a *little* more.

Some excess weight left when I stopped buying pop and salty snacks. There are two whole aisles of the grocery I never use, inlcuding the displays of bottled water. (We have excellent tap water and a refrigerator with water/ice through the door.) We've found that a small portion of a dessert or one piece of candy will satisfy a sweet tooth. I no longer serve huge portions of protein. We also have a Westie who gets walked a fair distance twice a day.

I'm not sure we'd save a lot if I cooked more soups, stews, casseroles -- who wants to eat the same thing three times in one week or pay the higher electric bill for a big freezer for two people? I have never been one who 'lives to eat'. I'm pretty much the 'eat to live' gal.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 3:23PM
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I like to cook, but also like to go out - and since we live in Restaurant Heaven, aka the San Francisco Bay Area, NOT going out is pretty much considered un-American around here, LOL. I believe the latest stats for 2005-2006 (most recent tallied) show Bay Area folks going out a whopping 4.8x a week.

Since I only go out 2-3x a week, somebody's not cooking at home to weight that average, that's for sure!

Budget for 3 people is $1300 monthly - but that does include sundries. You could probably take off $100/mo for that stuff. Most of the overall food budget is DH and me; I pack him raw veggies and lunches most weekdays, then make dinner 5-6x weekly. We go out at least once a week for dinner, and 2-3x a month for weekend brunch. I love a good breakfast and don't always want to make it at home.

When my MIL goes off to visit her relatives it might drop to $1K or so.

Anywhere from $50-85/week is spent at the Farmers Market, almost all at the fish vendor who sells nothing but West Coast, wild, sustainable fish and shellfish. Costly but worth it - one Sunday the FM was closed, and for a family potluck I ended up buying the fish, shrimp and crabmeat at the local supermarket. Boy, was it awful in comparison to what we normally eat! Will try never to do that again; besides we like supporting local people. The fruit is more expensive than grocery store prices but so much better quality, so we feel it's worth it.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 10:47PM
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I love this discussion, Zone 8, thanks for posting. I often wonder how much people spend in groceries, and it seems to be all over the board. Like many, I am conscious about the foods we eat, but am not obsessed. I grew up and dinners were a meat, potato and vegetable. That is what I try to make on a daily basis. I love to cook, and sometimes use more expensive ingredients (like a special spice I pay $8 for and only use 1Tbsp). I have tried to get away from this.

There are two of us in our household. I buy the groceries, and we purchase non-food related items separately (usually at Target over the weekend).

I am also unique in that I shop on Mondays for breakfast, lunch snacks and Monday night dinner. This trip usually cost me about $75. I stock up on fruits, lunch meats, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. that will last me the week, plus the items for Monday night's dinner. Then I stop at the store on the way home from work every other night to pick up dinner for that meal. These trips usually cost between $5-$15, and I stop about 3 times a week. So, I would say I spent about $90-$110 a week.

I really try to keep this cost low, without sacrificing quality. A large portion of the bill is buying fresh ingredients. I could (and have) bought hamburger helper and a package of ground turkey for about $6, and if I make something similar it is around $10. But, I try to offset this by making sure I use left over ingredients in other things. We don't eat been or fish, so mostly chicken, pork, turkey.

In some areas I am very good about not wasting, for example, Thursday night is the night we set out our garbage. This is left over night because any food that isn't eaten over the last week we throw out (I am a little concerned about food born illness in foods sitting too long, i.e. more than a week). So on Thursday we pretty much eat anything that wasn't eaten during the week. I also plan for left overs to be used as lunches.

Having said that, I also over buy and throw out a lot of food, which i really hate (and so does my partner). If I don't use a list I just buy a bunch of stuff (especially fruits and vegetables) that I think I need and then a lot of it goes to waste. I do try to minimize that, but sometimes I am not that good at it.

I really believe that I can get our household food bill down while still preparing wonderful meals. This has become something I am more diligent about by having a list and not over buying. I don't think I should pay more than $50 a week for food (although with rising food costs I don't know if that is true anymore).

We also eat out about 2-3x a week, and don't always take out lunches (like we should).

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 9:30AM
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About $300 a month for food only, family of three. This doesn't include eating out. KY.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 5:36PM
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I know I spend a lot for one. Way too much and I'm starting to try to figure out why and what to do about it. I think a single person can probably eat out, not just fast food all the time either, for the same or less. But I think it also tends to lead to overeating and driving all over.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 8:01PM
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Last time I talleyed (2 0r 3 years ago), it was $1200 a month. I'm sure I would flinch to tally it now. Family of five, I feed seven or eight kids total every Friday, usually have sleepover guests or friends dropping in. We have cut our heinous Friday pizza bill by making our own about half the time.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 9:12PM
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We spend about $500 a month for our family of 4. We eat out maybe 2-3X a month, but my kids buy lunch at school. When they still packed lunch, we spent closer to $600 a month. Nonfood items add another $100-$150 to that bill. We cook from scratch pretty much every night and have leftovers for lunch. Prepackaged snacks/desserts and drinks account for under $15 a week.
The cool thing is our grocery store offers gas discounts of .10 a gallon for every $50 you spend. We save about $1 a gallon a month.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 7:27AM
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Somehow my husband and I spend about $450 a month on groceries, even though I'm a frugal shopper. I figure out the per-portion cost of every meal, use coupons, and shop at several stores.

We eat mostly pasta, salads, home-made pizza (dough made from scratch), inexpensive meat, inexpensive vegetables, fruit, home-made soup and chili, oatmeal, and sandwiches.

No prepared food, other than ravioli and mac and cheese boxes. No purchased desserts, very few snacks, no soda.

We brown-bag lunch and hardly ever eat at restaurants anymore (once every two months).

That $450 figure does include cat food, paper goods, and detergents, but it still seems like too much to me.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 5:18PM
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DH and I stopped eating big portions of proteins and sweets. I never buy bottled water or anything in the 'aisle of salt' (chips, crackers, pretzels). Rarely do I buy soda pop. I never buy anything from the deli counter; I buy a hunk of ham at half the deli price. I don't buy flavored 'creamers'; I buy ultra-pasturized half and half, which keeps a long time.

Our salads are lettuce (never zero-nutrition iceberg) and whatever is on sale in the way of tomatoes or avacados, along with store brand dressing. No croutons. Do you know how much lettuce you can buy for the cost of one bag of pre-washed stuff? Tons. It takes one minute to wash a head of lettuce and spin-dry it. What you don't wash/use will keep much longer, too.

Only when produce is in season and looks really GOOD, do I buy fresh instead of frozen. I do not buy 'organic' since there's no way to KNOW that's what it is.

Stores love shoppers who shop OFTEN. I shop every week or ten days -- only milk in between as needed. Never shop when you are hungry! STAY OUT OF THE POISON FOOD AISLES! LOL

Bread, rolls, muffins, whatever -- baked goods all go into the freezer. We have found excellent frozen deep dish pizzas that are only $7 for a big pie. (Uno's and Gino's are two, here in Chicago.)

If I buy something and a lot of it ends up in the garbage, I don't buy it again or I buy less of it. I don't have a garbage disposal. Our weekly garbage is two kitchen waste can bags full -- mostly wrappers and paper. Very little food waste -- banana skins?

Look at the grocery store layout. You know how it is when you enter a department store and the cosmetics and perfumes are up front? Those are the profit-makers. In the grocery, the deli is a money-maker along with the sugary stuff at the check-out. When you know the game, you can sometimes beat it!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 6:16PM
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"No cookin', no kids", that's my motto.

I don't cook and I don't do the marketting, either (I just clean up after him). But I can tell you we spend between $100-150./wk. for grocercies, wine, pet food (3 cats, one large dog), and all other household necessities. So, we spend $500/mo.. We eat at home, we eat leftovers, and the helpmeet is a great cook! We spend less in the gardening months because we have produce from our garden.

We buy organic produce and we buy meats from local sources. We have been long time members of MOFGA and we understand that "organic" and sustainable agriculture reauires more labor or years of "fallow" to attain certification. We buy much of our food from local growers/farmers. Con-Agra, Beatrice? no thanks. We prefer to pay our neighbors and fellow tax-payers for our food.

Here is a link that might be useful: MOFGA

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 5:27PM
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Gosh, I want to have my head bowed as I type this, but.. I'm an Elk, and I volunteer a lot. We get a couple of drinks and a meal for volunteering. I don't cook, go to the grocery store 2x a month for salad fixings. Buy brakfast foods from Sam's,,, Probably buy less than $80 a month

Volunteering can be good for the soul as well as the pantry.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 2:39AM
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Wow, Gina, that's great! I turn and bow in your direction.

There is little doubt we could shave dollars from our budget. We are OK with paying local people top dollar for the food they raise and provide us. I think it's important to make that commitment to your neighbors.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 4:31PM
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My hat goes off to those who can feed a family of four on $500 a month. The U.S. government needs your skills to help manage the national debt. Anyway, I spend approx $280 per month one person but that includes non grocery items and since I hate to cook, a lot of almost prepared foods.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 4:43AM
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We are a family of 7 - 2 adults and 5 kids (9,8,5,4 and 3) and I shop every two weeks and spend around $180 - $200. And then I shop for perishables such as milk and bread about once a week. So we can feed a family of 7 for around $500.00 a month.

We are not huge red meat eaters - we lean more towards ground turkey and chicken meals so this helps some. And I write down my meals for those two weeks and everything I need to make those meals.

Oh and we live close to Portland, Oregon.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 3:19PM
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I have a $50/week grocery budget for 2 adults (central Kansas). I have a separate budget for all other weekly non-grocery household purchases.

So far this YEAR I've spent $736.41 out of $800 - which includes a large amount of grain purchased for storage, a years worth of agave nectar (we don't use white sugar), and a years worth of Morning Moo's (a whey-based milk substitute that is a fraction of the price of store-bought milk).

When the garden is in full swing and I don't need many groceries, I'll use the extra grocery money to purchase grass-fed beef from a friend. I also regularly purchase local bison and locally-grown whole/processed chickens. I get some pork from a cousin who raises a few hogs for slaughter.

Annually, I spend about $10 a week for meat (on average).

I stick primarily to whole foods and cook from scratch. I also mill all my own flour and make our breads and baked goods. "Convenience" foods are ones I make from scratch like a wholegrain Bisquick Substitute, a wholegrain pancake mix, "instant" refried bean mix made from pinto bean flour I mill, dried soup mixes from dehydrated foods, pudding mixes made with dried milk powder, etc.

Commercial cereal is unknown round our house. It's cheaper to make granola and mill our cooked cereal products since whole grains are still relatively cheap compared to commercial cereal (which might have 17 cents worth of grain in a $4 box of cereal). I mill flakes or chopped multi-grain cereal mixes, or finely milled farina/cream of wheat or rice. They are made for pennies from whole grains/seeds/beans we keep in large amounts in storage. I also make my own bulgur.

Breakfast is some kind of a homemade bread or cooked cereal, homemade kefir and 100% fruit juice smoothie, and a small amount of meat.

Lunch is often leftovers, sandwiches or wraps, or frozen soup/stew/chili, eggs (made every which way). A favorite lunch is a chunk of cheese, some almonds, celery and an apple.

Snacks are usually air-popped popcorn, nuts, dehydrated (at home) zucchini chips (a good potato chip replacer), and dehydrated (at home) apple slices or other fruit.

Our daily food intake is based on the old Basic-Four:
4-servings Bread/Cereal
4-servings Fruit/Vegetables
2-servings Meat or Meat Alternative
2-servings Dairy

This is how I vaguely plan menus.... It's also easy to switch days around when necessary.

Monday - Big Meal - A large cut of meat that can be used for several meals; added to the soup pot; ground, sliced or shredded for sandwich meat - this includes roast beef, turkey, or chicken, meat loaf, etc., and all the fixins.

Tuesday - Leftovers from Monday

Wednesday - Stir-fry and brown rice - may or may not include meat

Thursday - International (Italian, Mexican, etc.)

Friday - Vegetarian (once a month dinner out with friends)

Saturday - Soup/Salad/Sandwich (depends on leftovers, what's growing in the garden, and the time of the year) When the kids were home it was called "Every Man for Themselves" and was a good way to clean out the refrigerator or use small amounts of things in the freezer.

Sunday - Homemade Pizza and a tossed salad, or a Dinner Salad (including meat, beans or cheese), grilled something-er-other


    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 2:05PM
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Just DH and I in Atlanta. Generally about $325-350/month for groceries; more during the holidays and when we decide to entertain. I beat myself (and DH!) up quite a bit because I always think we can do better.

I shop sales and stock up on staples. Have just started to try to do some meal planning (similar to Theresa's post above).

I feel like everything I do to reduce the bill doesn't work. But I also know that the price of groceries has gone up so much. So I probably have been successful with my saving efforts. When did eggs get so expensive???!!!! If I could have chickens, I would!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 10:14PM
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Michelle ---

The chickens would cost you more. I am currently selling eggs for $2.50/doz and I only break even when someone recycles an egg carton.

I had recently had a customer that wanted to contract 20 doz eggs a week --- my flock only lays 10 doz a week so I would have to increase the flock. It was going to cost me $1260 to get them to laying age. It would take 5 months of egg sales to "pay back" that cost (and that doesn't include feed for those 5 months)

So if you think the egg producers are getting rich -- not a chance!

Now -- I won't give up my beautiful fresh eggs for anything but it is very discouraging.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 8:06AM
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My wife and I spend $500 per month on groceries. We generally eat out 8-10 times per month, at an additional cost of $200 - $400, depending on the types of restaurants.
Instead of looking at your monthly cost, why not look at the average cost per meal? For example if you cook three meals per day in a 30-day month, that is 180 meals for 2 people, or an average meal cost just under $4.00 per person if you spend $700 per month. That is not bad if you are eating satisfying, high quality meals. Think of what restaurant meals cost.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 3:08PM
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we are a family of four in indiana. we spend 350.00 to 400.00 on food and anither 100.00 to 150.00 on non food, including animal feed. i use cupons and buy in bulk when in can. we have to drive 25 minutes on way to the store. i am going to try and start once a month shopping because of gas prices. food and gas are killing us. my poor husband works two jobs. it stinks.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 7:17PM
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Instead of looking at your monthly cost, why not look at the average cost per meal? For example if you cook three meals per day in a 30-day month, that is 180 meals for 2 people, or an average meal cost just under $4.00 per person if you spend $700 per month.

I like this idea, but I'm sure I don't spend the same amount for each meal. Breakfast is very predictable as is lunch, I could probably estimate those amounts pretty accurately.

BTW, since starting this thread, my grocery spending has come down. My food budget is now $600/mo for the two of us. (Haven't changed eating habits or brand loyalties, but plan more and shop less) Also pay a lot more attention to the loss leaders.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 12:27PM
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We recently moved across the country and not only was the move expensive, but the cost of groceries are more expensive here in MN than they were in AZ. I gave all our food, cleaning supplies and staples to my neighbours before we moved, so when we bought our house here, I had to start from scratch.

I started clipping coupons and watching sale ads. No way was I going to completely restock our home in one shop. I spent the first few weeks going from store to store taking advantage of deals and combining with coupons.

I restocked all our laundry, cleaning and health/beauty supplies by taking advantage of CVS Extra Care bucks and rolling them over to buy other necessities for free. Some were even small money makers in combination with coupons. I have paid $75 out of pocket for over $800 worth of items like laundry soap, toothpaste, shampoo, shower gel, shaving cream, lotions, make up, etc.

As for groceries, I was able to restock the pantry over a period of about three months. Watching sales and combining coupons, I saved alot.

The local grocery store here recently had a deal on chicken. - B1G1F. Then, they had $10 off $25 in meat purchases making 4 packages of chicken about $6 total. Each pack usually does three meals for us, so I separate them into ziploc bags, freeze and take out what we need for a meal.

On average, for the two of us, we spend about $300 - $350 per month on groceries. Before coupons it's about $500-$600. I stock up on things when I have coupons and wait for the sales.

We now have a pretty much fully stocked pantry and I only shop for produce, milk, bread when we need it. I can't believe the price of bread these days, so I'm thinking of investing in a bread maker to make my own. It would take some time to pay for itself, but with the rising cost of groceries, it won't be long.

Dh sometimes buys lunch, most of the time he brown bags it. He likes those expensive granola and cereal bars. When there's good coupons and they're on sale, I stock up on them. No way will I buy those things at full price!

We eat out in restaurants frequently. We always have date night once a week and we enjoy wine with our dinner.

With my coupon usage, I get laundry soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste for free. Unless I have a coupon, I don't buy them.

I make my own all purpose cleaner and it's a HUGE money saver, it disinfects and it's effective. All it is is ammonia, rubbing alcohol, water and a couple squirts of Dawn in a spray bottle. I use it on everything but wood. It cuts grease like there's no tomorrow, it works great on mirrors and windows - no streaks! - and it's cheap! No more having the myriad of cleaning supplies taking over the under sink cupboard or those in the bathrooms.

With the price of everything rising so dramatically, we had to do something to curtail our spending so we could still enjoy our lifestyle of eating out frequently and having date night. I have been able to successfully cut down our grocery, cleaning and staples costs so that we have been able to maintain what we enjoy. It takes quite a bit of work, but the rise in prices hasn't been all that painful since I've paid so much attention to when I buy things.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 11:58PM
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We average about 100-120 per week for a family of 4, plus a cat and a dog.
I shop at Aldi and Cub foods for the best deals. We don't eat alot of red meat, mainly chicken and sometimes fish. I watch for buy one get ones and use coupons when I can.
I go to Family Dollar for some things like baggies and cat litter. I also go to the outlets for Hostess.
Do my shopping on Sundays and Mondays.
Go to Costco for some things like trash bags and milk and eggs.
Making my own cleaners and will eventually try my hand at soapmaking.
Will be growing our own veggies, not necessarily keeping costs down, but taste better.
I make alot from scratch, and we do alot of vegan meals, we don't eat out hardly at all.
We take all of our lunches to school/jobs, and once in a while, I'll splurge on a Caribou coffee, my favorite.
It's getting harder for folks to make ends meet, I hope something will change soon, but I don't worry, I just trust that God will supply our needs.
We have learned to make do without alot of extras, it's alright not to keep up with the Jones'.
I'm blessed to have the gifts God has given me, so I can make alot of things myself, which helps alot.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 8:47AM
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My girlfriend and I (20 and 18) spend about $200/mo on groceries. We mainly buy in bulk and combine 'out-of-the-box dinners' with 'from-scratch' dinners. We should be able to cut that cost down, but both of us are horrible with 'from-scratch' dinners. :/

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 2:26AM
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I am skeptical of any comments about grocery spending when it's "about" x amount. I used to think that I spent "about" $500/mo until I started keeping very careful records.

I now know exactly what I spend. For the month of May, I've spent exactly $395 (I rounded off the cents) for the two of us. I still have not changed brands or lowered our eating standards. We only eat out once or twice a month and that figure coveres three meals a day for both (he's retired too now).

I feel pretty good about shaving $300 off our grocery budget without changing what we eat and in spite of rapidly rising food costs. It does take more time in planning.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 11:14AM
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