Food Costs

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Re: Food Costs

Postby Mudpuppy » Thu Apr 25, 2013 11:56 pm

Clearly_Irrational wrote:
frugaltype wrote:
Clearly_Irrational wrote:We're well aware that a vegetarian lifestyle is cheaper, thanks to all who recommended that but we're not going to switch to a meatless diet.


You might try one dinner a month meatless. I think you will be surprised at how good this can taste.


Well, I'd rather eat more than just a large bowl of vegetables and I'm not interested in increasing my empty carb calorie count so I'm not seeing how that's going to end up very well but thanks for the suggestion. I freely acknowledge that if we consumed a lot more pasta and rice our bill would go down. Given that we both have metabolisms that love carbs our waistlines would also expand to match. If it was just me I'd probably eat more rice but she hates the stuff since they had a ton of it growing up. That said we eat some pretty hefty portions of vegetables now, which is part of the reason our bill is higher than average. (healthy vegetables are more expensive than wheat or corn based carbs)

There's far more than just a bowl of veg or a plate of pasta/rice to go meatless. Soups are a great way to have a meatless meal, and the broth is part of making you feel full instead of just filling up with carbs or meat. And of course, not all carbs are made equal. A complex carb like beans and legumes and a veg like squash will have less impact on your waistline than the simple carbs like rice and corn. So a great way to try having a meatless meal every now and again is a soup like minestrone (without pasta if you want to avoid that), mixed bean soup, lentil soup, split pea soup, and so on.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Cunobelinus » Fri Apr 26, 2013 1:10 am

Clearly_Irrational wrote: Well, I'd rather eat more than just a large bowl of vegetables and I'm not interested in increasing my empty carb calorie count so I'm not seeing how that's going to end up very well but thanks for the suggestion.


I have never heard anyone refer to vegetables as empty carb calories.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby roymeo » Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:43 am

Cunobelinus wrote:
Clearly_Irrational wrote: Well, I'd rather eat more than just a large bowl of vegetables and I'm not interested in increasing my empty carb calorie count so I'm not seeing how that's going to end up very well but thanks for the suggestion.


I have never heard anyone refer to vegetables as empty carb calories.


He's deathly afraid of pasta, grains, or really any carbs...too much time spent around the free-weights, IMHO.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby dm200 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:02 am

Clearly_Irrational wrote:
frugaltype wrote:
Clearly_Irrational wrote:We're well aware that a vegetarian lifestyle is cheaper, thanks to all who recommended that but we're not going to switch to a meatless diet.


You might try one dinner a month meatless. I think you will be surprised at how good this can taste.


Well, I'd rather eat more than just a large bowl of vegetables and I'm not interested in increasing my empty carb calorie count so I'm not seeing how that's going to end up very well but thanks for the suggestion. I freely acknowledge that if we consumed a lot more pasta and rice our bill would go down. Given that we both have metabolisms that love carbs our waistlines would also expand to match. If it was just me I'd probably eat more rice but she hates the stuff since they had a ton of it growing up. That said we eat some pretty hefty portions of vegetables now, which is part of the reason our bill is higher than average. (healthy vegetables are more expensive than wheat or corn based carbs)


Unless I am reading this incorrectly, I think you may have "empty carbs" backwards. Fruits and vegetables tend to be low in carbohydrates, yet high in nutritional value. [the opposite of empty carbs]. Whole grains, beans, etc. (that have not been processed heavily to remove fiber and nutrients) are also not empty carbs. My understanding of empty carbs include things like white potatoes, white bread, white rice, sugared low fiber cereal, grits, cakes, pies, etc.)

Things like regular oatmeal, sweet potatoes (baked plain), Quinoa, barley, beans (black, kidney, etc.), chickpeas, plain shredded wheat, bran flakes, AllBran, etc. are high fiber, nutritious and moderate/low cost. Frozen vegetables (broccoli, corn, lima bens, collards, peas, etc.) are moderate cost and very healthful. Fresh vegetables, such as green peppers, celery, onions, carrots, summer squash, winter squash, etc. are also highly nutritious and moderate cost.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby mlipps » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:05 am

I think you guys are reading it wrong. I think OP meant that there are two ways to have a vegetarian meal: one would be something like a plate full of pasta, the empty carbs; the other would be a "bowl full of vegetables". I don't think OP meant to imply that a bowl full of vegetables would be empty carbs.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby protagonist » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:22 am

This part struck me:

Clearly_Irrational wrote:
The eating out costs and splurging seems to be reasonable considering our income level


If it seems to be reasonable consdering your income level and you can afford it, and if you are doing what you want to do, isn't worrying about it Clearly Irrational? Why not just keep doing what you are doing?

Cutting $200/month off your food shopping bill might save you $2400/year, but at what personal cost, considering the effort of meticulously analyzing and monitoring your shopping habits and the things you like that you will be giving up..... and the fact that you can afford your current lifestyle without issue?
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Hikes_With_Dogs » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:24 am

I'm always amazed by other people's choices in threads like these.... from cereal every night to vegetarianism to people saying you eat too much. It's always interesting to peek over the fence, so to speak.

So, here's what my backyard looks like:

We have probably what many would consider a very high food budget. We buy mostly organic, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. I cook a lot, and want to use good quality ingredients. So we probably push ~$600-800 a month including alcohol for a family of 3. That's ok. I chose to vote with my dollars and buy more expensive items in the store or to support local organic farmers. We rarely go out to eat - maybe 2x a month for dinner. Sometimes we grab lunch in the cafeteria at work but in general we pack our lunches in. We probably eat vegetarian/meatless 75% of the time. I don't like American "classic" dinner of a giant chunk of meat, vegetable, carb.

If people want to reduce their food costs, my suggestion is too cook at home and cook in bulk. Soup is very cheap and easy on the budget. It can be stretched and you can throw just about anything in it and it'll taste ok. So if you want to shop what's on sale and seasonal, just make soup. Beans are also a cheap and excellent source of protein, especially if you buy dried and soak them yourself. It's hard to get much cheaper than that. Even if you want to eat some meat in a meal, you can usually substitute a lot of vegetable for the meat and you won't notice. For example, if a lasagna calls for a pound of meat, I'd use half a pound and then slice up a zucchini or something instead to add bulk without calories/cost. Also having a freezer full of food can cut down on last minute pizza orders, etc. when you're strapped for time which cost a lot and aren't healthy.

Some things I'd like to do in the future:
plant some herbs and vegetables (I just moved, so need to start on this)
start making my own yogurt (cut down on sugar from store bought)
cook more in bulk and replenish my freezer stash (emptied after moving)
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Clearly_Irrational » Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:29 pm

roymeo wrote:
Cunobelinus wrote:
Clearly_Irrational wrote: Well, I'd rather eat more than just a large bowl of vegetables and I'm not interested in increasing my empty carb calorie count so I'm not seeing how that's going to end up very well but thanks for the suggestion.


I have never heard anyone refer to vegetables as empty carb calories.


He's deathly afraid of pasta, grains, or really any carbs...too much time spent around the free-weights, IMHO.


Vegetables are great, grains somewhat less so. I'm not afraid of carbs, I'm just aware that my particular metabolism tends to pack on the pounds the more of them I eat, especially if they're low quality insulin provoking ones like white flour.

Carrots for example have intrinsic value due to the fact that they contain vitamins and micronutrients. Pasta is basically just filler, cheap of course but with low nutritional value. All of this is straying off topic however.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Clearly_Irrational » Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:32 pm

dm200 wrote:Things like regular oatmeal, sweet potatoes (baked plain), Quinoa, barley, beans (black, kidney, etc.), chickpeas, plain shredded wheat, bran flakes, AllBran, etc. are high fiber, nutritious and moderate/low cost. Frozen vegetables (broccoli, corn, lima bens, collards, peas, etc.) are moderate cost and very healthful. Fresh vegetables, such as green peppers, celery, onions, carrots, summer squash, winter squash, etc. are also highly nutritious and moderate cost.


Agreed, which is why we include those things in our diet. It's not like we're doing Atkins or the Primal diet here folks. We regularly eat Oatmeal, Sweet Potatoes, Beans, Whole Wheat, tons of non-grain vegetables, etc. We just don't buy anything that has white flour or sugars in the first three ingredients. (Which is a surprising amount of products I will admit)
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Clearly_Irrational » Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:36 pm

protagonist wrote:If it seems to be reasonable consdering your income level and you can afford it, and if you are doing what you want to do, isn't worrying about it Clearly Irrational? Why not just keep doing what you are doing?

Cutting $200/month off your food shopping bill might save you $2400/year, but at what personal cost, considering the effort of meticulously analyzing and monitoring your shopping habits and the things you like that you will be giving up..... and the fact that you can afford your current lifestyle without issue?


Which is why we're not trying to cut that part, heh.

Actually, we can afford all of it no problem, it's not like we're strapped for cash. I'm just trying to make sure that we're making the most efficient use of our food dollars. When comparing to others it seemed the grocery portion of our bill was higher than I expected and so I've been working to bring that in line. We don't want to compromise quality, but we're willing to make changes if it saves money without doing that. As usual, many of the suggestions on here have been helpful, though of course some are not.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby protagonist » Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:22 pm

Clearly_Irrational wrote:
protagonist wrote:If it seems to be reasonable consdering your income level and you can afford it, and if you are doing what you want to do, isn't worrying about it Clearly Irrational? Why not just keep doing what you are doing?

Cutting $200/month off your food shopping bill might save you $2400/year, but at what personal cost, considering the effort of meticulously analyzing and monitoring your shopping habits and the things you like that you will be giving up..... and the fact that you can afford your current lifestyle without issue?


Which is why we're not trying to cut that part, heh.

Actually, we can afford all of it no problem, it's not like we're strapped for cash. I'm just trying to make sure that we're making the most efficient use of our food dollars. When comparing to others it seemed the grocery portion of our bill was higher than I expected and so I've been working to bring that in line. We don't want to compromise quality, but we're willing to make changes if it saves money without doing that. As usual, many of the suggestions on here have been helpful, though of course some are not.


My feeling is that it is working for you, Clearly Irrational. Saving money in this case would probably not mean saving A LOT of money cf: your income (given what you implied), and may involve micro-managing your lifestyle and habits, which is an enemy of joy. You are not over-stretched and you are enjoying life. Congratulations!!! My feeling is that if something is not broken, why fix it? But then again, we are all different, so please don't take this as a lecture....just as something to think about.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Clearly_Irrational » Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:04 pm

protagonist wrote:My feeling is that it is working for you, Clearly Irrational. Saving money in this case would probably not mean saving A LOT of money cf: your income (given what you implied), and may involve micro-managing your lifestyle and habits, which is an enemy of joy. You are not over-stretched and you are enjoying life. Congratulations!!! My feeling is that if something is not broken, why fix it? But then again, we are all different, so please don't take this as a lecture....just as something to think about.


Sure, I don't want to cut things I enjoy just to be cutting things, but we've been able to figure out a number of changes that saved us money that frankly we didn't care about. I don't mind spending money, I just like to make sure I'm doing it consciously and with purpose. For example, we started buying a greater assortment of cuts of chicken many of which are significantly cheaper than the one type we were purchasing previously. As long as we rotate them in different dishes we don't feel like we've lost any quality of food and we're saving money.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby fareastwarriors » Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:08 pm

You guys are way more analytical about this than I am or willing to be.
Food cost is such a small part of my overall expense that it doesn't really affect the overall picture.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Clearly_Irrational » Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:17 pm

fareastwarriors wrote:You guys are way more analytical about this than I am or willing to be.
Food cost is such a small part of my overall expense that it doesn't really affect the overall picture.


A grand is still relevant money for me, add a zero to what I'm making and yeah it would be a trivial expense that probably isn't worth the time. I remember when a hundred was a big deal for me, nowadays not so much.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Padlin » Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:19 pm

We're about the same, $815 a month according to Quicken if I add in all money spent on food. I've looked at it and not found anything I care to cut, I do like my peanut butter pretzels. I would think a decent chunk of our goes into the grand kids. Food eats up 18% of our spending.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby moon2 » Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:20 pm

My food budget is also considerably less, but agree with others that it depends so much on one's diet.

I'm ketogenic, my body runs on fat not carbs, so although I don't eat the cheaper carbs, fats are so calorie dense that I eat much less food in general.

I eat very well: fine cheese, organic cream, organic veggies, ribeye ... and no processed foods. I do economize by buying often lesser cuts of meat and giving my crock pot a workout, buying meat on special and freezing, cooking in large quantities and freezing portions, etc.

My grocery bill runs about 400/month and I do a fair amount of entertaining.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby RedBug » Sun Apr 28, 2013 8:38 pm

Start figuring out your price to feed each person at your table each meal. Your money is going somewhere, and I feel like we're hearing a lot of "yeah, but". Your household of 2 is spending more than our family of 5!

When my husband and I married, I thought I was doing incredible at $3/person/meal. Now, I can easily feed our family of 5 for $1/person/meal... and it's much healthier (fewer meat-driven meals, organic produce, natural ingredients).

Soups are very cheap, lean, and easy in a crockpot. I also like to prepare multiple meals at a time and freeze for future use, which gets me a buying in bulk discount and limits going out because we don't know what to eat or we're "too tired".

Spend some time looking at new recipes (allrecipes.com is great), get a simple cookbook (How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman), or swap recipes with others. Invest time learning how to take your cooking up a notch to save buying pre-packaged foods.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby mlewis » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:26 pm

Clearly_Irrational wrote:1) Do nearly all of our grocery and sundry shopping at WinCo, which is the local low price chain. They're cheaper than Walmart, Fred Meyers, Albertsons, Costco and anything else I've checked. It's a warehouse store where you bag your own groceries.


For any thrifty boglehead that has never experienced Winco, you are seriously missing out. It is cheaper than any other store I've ever been to.

Considering that it's hard to understand your relatively high costs.

On a side-note, winco is privately, employee owned. Every year they hire an outside company to value them. Their stock has gone up by something like 20%/year. If you were a cashier working their for a long time and putting money into the company, you'd be sitting pretty right now.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Default User BR » Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:29 am

mlewis wrote:For any thrifty boglehead that has never experienced Winco, you are seriously missing out. It is cheaper than any other store I've ever been to.

Only has stores in these states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.


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Re: Food Costs

Postby kramer » Mon Apr 29, 2013 2:10 am

livesoft wrote:Portion size. You are simply eating too much at each meal.

Here's what I ate in the last few days.

Today:
Breakfast: bowl of cereal and milk. Probably a dollars worth.
Lunch: Homemade spinach salad with a few grape tomatoes, carrots, blueberries, walnuts. Probably $2 worth
Dinner: 2 slices of leftover pizza: That's $1.25

Yesterday:
Dinner: 2 slices of fresh Domino's pizza. It was $10 for 2 pies, so about 1/8 of $10 is $1.25
Lunch: Leftover Mexican food: $5
Breakfast: Bowl of cereal and milk.

shmidds wrote:I agree with Livesoft, portion size is important.

My typical three meals a day, no snacks, nothing after 6 pm:

Breakfast - one cup of cereal, one cup of milk, one ounce of orange juice.
Lunch - six potato chips, a very, very, small portion of chicken salad on lettuce, two pickles, a small piece of chocolate.
Dinner - Whatever I feel like until I feel full (my wife is a wonderful cook).

I'm 6', 175 lbs. If I gain or lose weight I adjust my dinner portion accordingly. If we go out to eat, I usually can get two more dinners from the meal since restaurant portions are so big.

Wow, that is amazing. I eat more than both of you combined at 6 feet tall and 170 pounds.

My most typical dinner might be 40-50% of a roasted whole chicken, large portion of asparagus or broccoli, baked potato, and a cucumber/tomato salad in olive-oil/wine-vinegar with a bit of mozarella cheese on the side. I typically eat a couple of hours after working out (running or lifting, never both). Although I really only eat about 2.5 meals per day. My breakfast today was about 6 ounces of some German nutty Muesli eaten as a cereal with 2 bananas and milk but I was still hungry so I had a side of leftover tuna. Two nights ago I went out for Mexican and had 2 burritos, 1 taco, large portions of rice and beans and bowl of chili although that was just a 2 meal day due to busy-ness.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby frugaltype » Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:46 am

kramer wrote:
livesoft wrote:Portion size. You are simply eating too much at each meal.

Here's what I ate in the last few days.

Today:
Breakfast: bowl of cereal and milk. Probably a dollars worth.
Lunch: Homemade spinach salad with a few grape tomatoes, carrots, blueberries, walnuts. Probably $2 worth
Dinner: 2 slices of leftover pizza: That's $1.25

Yesterday:
Dinner: 2 slices of fresh Domino's pizza. It was $10 for 2 pies, so about 1/8 of $10 is $1.25
Lunch: Leftover Mexican food: $5
Breakfast: Bowl of cereal and milk.

shmidds wrote:I agree with Livesoft, portion size is important.

My typical three meals a day, no snacks, nothing after 6 pm:

Breakfast - one cup of cereal, one cup of milk, one ounce of orange juice.
Lunch - six potato chips, a very, very, small portion of chicken salad on lettuce, two pickles, a small piece of chocolate.
Dinner - Whatever I feel like until I feel full (my wife is a wonderful cook).

I'm 6', 175 lbs. If I gain or lose weight I adjust my dinner portion accordingly. If we go out to eat, I usually can get two more dinners from the meal since restaurant portions are so big.

Wow, that is amazing. I eat more than both of you combined at 6 feet tall and 170 pounds.

My most typical dinner might be 40-50% of a roasted whole chicken, large portion of asparagus or broccoli, baked potato, and a cucumber/tomato salad in olive-oil/wine-vinegar with a bit of mozarella cheese on the side. I typically eat a couple of hours after working out (running or lifting, never both). Although I really only eat about 2.5 meals per day. My breakfast today was about 6 ounces of some German nutty Muesli eaten as a cereal with 2 bananas and milk but I was still hungry so I had a side of leftover tuna. Two nights ago I went out for Mexican and had 2 burritos, 1 taco, large portions of rice and beans and bowl of chili although that was just a 2 meal day due to busy-ness.


I'm more in line with livesoft. If I ate as much as kramer, I'd weigh 300 pounds. Activity level is moderate. So, activity or metabolism, I don't know. I suspect kramer's activity level is very high.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby gkaplan » Mon Apr 29, 2013 7:24 am

Default User BR wrote:
mlewis wrote:For any thrifty boglehead that has never experienced Winco, you are seriously missing out. It is cheaper than any other store I've ever been to.

Only has stores in these states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.


Brian



I live in California. I have never seen a Winco.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Default User BR » Mon Apr 29, 2013 10:39 am

gkaplan wrote:
Default User BR wrote:
mlewis wrote:For any thrifty boglehead that has never experienced Winco, you are seriously missing out. It is cheaper than any other store I've ever been to.

Only has stores in these states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

I live in California. I have never seen a Winco.

According to the store finder, the nearest to Ventura is:

WinCo #35
740 West K4 Ave, Lancaster CA 93534
91.96 Miles

A mere hop, skip, and jump from you (assuming each of those is about 30 miles).


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Re: Food Costs

Postby protagonist » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:51 am

kramer wrote: I eat more than both of you combined at 6 feet tall and 170 pounds.


I do too, at 6'1" and 162. In fact I eat more than my best friend who has a serious weight problem. A lot of metabolism is genetic, Kramer. What works for one person does not work for the next.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby dm200 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:32 pm

protagonist wrote:
kramer wrote: I eat more than both of you combined at 6 feet tall and 170 pounds.


I do too, at 6'1" and 162. In fact I eat more than my best friend who has a serious weight problem. A lot of metabolism is genetic, Kramer. What works for one person does not work for the next.


While I agree that factors like metabolism may be "genetic", it is, I believe, impossible that the significant increase in Americans' average weight in the last 10 -30 years can be due to "genetics". Genes do not change in any significant or measurable way in a population in one or two generations. My "genetics" are pretty near those of my parents and grandparents -- as are all Diehards here.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby protagonist » Wed May 01, 2013 12:01 pm

dm200 wrote:
protagonist wrote:
kramer wrote: I eat more than both of you combined at 6 feet tall and 170 pounds.


I do too, at 6'1" and 162. In fact I eat more than my best friend who has a serious weight problem. A lot of metabolism is genetic, Kramer. What works for one person does not work for the next.


While I agree that factors like metabolism may be "genetic", it is, I believe, impossible that the significant increase in Americans' average weight in the last 10 -30 years can be due to "genetics". Genes do not change in any significant or measurable way in a population in one or two generations. My "genetics" are pretty near those of my parents and grandparents -- as are all Diehards here.


Of course this is true. There is a genetic and a behavioral component, and behavior (as well as the food industry) has changed in the last 30 years which accounts for the change in obesity rates. I think that is pretty obvious. The only point I was making here is that losing weight, or maintaining weight, is MUCH more difficult for some than it is for others, and some of us are fortunate because we can eat like pigs and not worry about it because of genetics. Others have to be very careful. So comparing diets and caloric intake between individuals is ultimately not helpful .
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Cunobelinus » Wed May 01, 2013 12:52 pm

protagonist wrote:
dm200 wrote:
protagonist wrote:
kramer wrote: I eat more than both of you combined at 6 feet tall and 170 pounds.


I do too, at 6'1" and 162. In fact I eat more than my best friend who has a serious weight problem. A lot of metabolism is genetic, Kramer. What works for one person does not work for the next.


While I agree that factors like metabolism may be "genetic", it is, I believe, impossible that the significant increase in Americans' average weight in the last 10 -30 years can be due to "genetics". Genes do not change in any significant or measurable way in a population in one or two generations. My "genetics" are pretty near those of my parents and grandparents -- as are all Diehards here.


Of course this is true. There is a genetic and a behavioral component, and behavior (as well as the food industry) has changed in the last 30 years which accounts for the change in obesity rates. I think that is pretty obvious. The only point I was making here is that losing weight, or maintaining weight, is MUCH more difficult for some than it is for others, and some of us are fortunate because we can eat like pigs and not worry about it because of genetics. Others have to be very careful. So comparing diets and caloric intake between individuals is ultimately not helpful .


Be careful with genetics. Not many years ago, we thought that the noncoding DNA, maybe 80% of our total genetic makeup, was "junk" and didn't matter. While the genes themselves may only be 20% of the genetic material, the "junk" around it has a significant impact on the organism with its ability to switch genes on and off. Look up epigenetics if you're interested. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetics

It may not be the kid's fault for being obese at 8 years old; rather, this could in time be traced back to the significant damage their parents did to their own bodies by starting to smoke at age 12 that "switched on" genes that predispose their offspring to degenerative diseases.

Though we have sequenced the human genome, there is still much that we do not know.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby LadyGeek » Wed May 01, 2013 4:44 pm

Please stay on-topic, which is the cost of food.

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Re: Food Costs

Postby Clearly_Irrational » Wed May 01, 2013 4:54 pm

I need another few weeks tracking to pin it down more exactly but so far it's looking like sundries are going to be running about 15% or so. That makes our actual grocery cost on a monthly basis probably about $615 or so. I think we can still do better but that doesn't seem insanely high given our preference for non-junkfood.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby dm200 » Wed May 01, 2013 7:56 pm

Since, for various reasons, I have been doing more food shopping in the last 2 years (I let my wife do it for many, may years), I notice that (as my wife says she has told me over and over) different "ordinary" type food products, that I eat, have very different prices at different grocery stores in this area. Whole Foods, which has higher prices for most things, has the best deal on unsweetened Soy Milk, as well as on canned, low salt beans (not "organic") of various kinds. Trader Joes seems to have a better price than most on basic cold cereal (Bran Flakes, store brand "Cherios", shredded wheat) and very inexpensive wine. Costco is great for some things (as long as you can deal with the sizes), and not so great on others. With the different stores, it then becomes a tradeoff of time/travel vs. checkout prices.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Clearly_Irrational » Thu May 02, 2013 5:47 pm

USDA numbers for two adults for one month worth of grocery costs:

$379.28
$484.66
$603.67
$753.06

Portland has a food cost index of 112 according to http://www.areavibes.com which sounds about right to me.

We eat out on average once a week for dinner (together) and once a week for lunch (separately). I'll make up some numbers here and say that the ratio between meals is 8/10/12 for cost. That means groceries comprise 0.888 of our food budget. Some quick math and we get:

$377.22 Thrifty
$482.02 Low Cost
$600.39 Moderate
$748.96 Liberal

So we're slightly above moderate after adjusting for sundries. Basically our frugalness is being canceled out by our healthy food requirements. I'd like to be a bit closer to the mid range there between low cost and moderate so I'll have to dig a bit deeper and see what I can come up with.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby gkaplan » Thu May 09, 2013 9:48 pm

Default User BR wrote:
gkaplan wrote:
Default User BR wrote:
mlewis wrote:For any thrifty boglehead that has never experienced Winco, you are seriously missing out. It is cheaper than any other store I've ever been to.

Only has stores in these states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

I live in California. I have never seen a Winco.

According to the store finder, the nearest to Ventura is:

WinCo #35
740 West K4 Ave, Lancaster CA 93534
91.96 Miles

A mere hop, skip, and jump from you (assuming each of those is about 30 miles).


Brian


A new Winco opened today about five miles from where I live.

http://www.vcstar.com/news/2013/may/09/winco-grocery-store-opens-in-ventura/
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Default User BR » Fri May 10, 2013 1:40 am

gkaplan wrote:
Default User BR wrote:A mere hop, skip, and jump from you (assuming each of those is about 30 miles).

A new Winco opened today about five miles from where I live.

There you go!


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Re: Food Costs

Postby investingdad » Fri May 10, 2013 8:33 am

Quicken is great for this stuff. I pulled last year's data just now. We're a family of four. My kids are 8 and almost 6.

In 2012:

Groceries - $807 /month
Beer / Wine - $85 /month
Restaraunt / Fast Food - $133 /month

Interesting thing about that last one. In 2012, the three biggest 'Restaraunt' entries were Domino's at $215 for the year (12 visits), Shula's at $162 for the year (one visit) and McD's at $110 (9 visits). Funny that a single dining experience for my wife and I was the second largest entry in the category over the entire year.

The beer budget is what it is. I don't drink cheap beer. Least expensive was $35 a case, highest was $70 a case.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby LadyGeek » Fri May 10, 2013 10:14 am

Have you tried homebrew beer? It's top-notch quality - yours. From a cost perspective, you have fixed start-up costs for the equipment. The recurring cost is for the ingredients and bottle caps; labor costs are zero (it's a hobby...).

A standard 5 gallon batch size will yield 2-1/2 cases of 12 oz. bottles. So, a kit cost of $50 runs you down to $20/case. It's not chump change, but you have controlled costs at the low end of your budget.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby investingdad » Fri May 10, 2013 10:21 am

LadyGeek wrote:Have you tried homebrew beer? It's top-notch quality - yours. From a cost perspective, you have fixed start-up costs for the equipment. The recurring cost is for the ingredients and bottle caps; labor costs are zero (it's a hobby...).

A standard 5 gallon batch size will yield 2-1/2 cases of 12 oz. bottles. So, a kit cost of $50 runs you down to $20/case. It's not chump change, but you have controlled costs at the low end of your budget.


I did homebrew for a little while. It was fun, but here are my observations:

- I gradually lost interest in the process
- I got as far as partial mash brewing, never all grain
- I had difficulty with a recurring solvent off flavor that I could never get rid of regardless of what I was brewing


Ultimately, I decided that it was highly unlikely I could produce a beer that competes with what I routinely drink, namely:

- Wiehenstephaner or Franziskaner Heffeweiss
- Leffe Brown Belgian
- Victory Hop Wallop
- Dogfish 60 Minute (sometimes 90)
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Re: Food Costs

Postby rixer » Fri May 10, 2013 10:31 am

We spend from $100 to $150 each week on food and toiletries and eat well. We do our shopping at 3 places usually. Costco, Raley's ( an upscale store with great fruit and veggies, angus beef), and Walmart for toiletries and some food things. That's for me, the wife and her elderly father. I don't feel we scrimp.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Grt2bOutdoors » Fri May 10, 2013 10:32 am

How about Heineken? $24 a case - that's a very reasonable Bogglehead price of a $1 including tax for a nice lager.

Getting back to food costs - they are definitely up since I last posted, think we're averaging closer to $450-$500 a month these days.
The biggest culprits - meat,chicken and fresh produce.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby LadyGeek » Fri May 10, 2013 10:38 am

investingdad wrote:...Ultimately, I decided that it was highly unlikely I could produce a beer that competes with what I routinely drink, namely:
- Wiehenstephaner or Franziskaner Heffeweiss
- Leffe Brown Belgian
- Victory Hop Wallop
- Dogfish 60 Minute (sometimes 90)

I completely understand your perspective, and know 2 of those brands. To get more ideas on beer (and better sympathy for your plight), feel free to resurrect: Boglehead Beer
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Clearly_Irrational » Fri May 10, 2013 12:52 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:Getting back to food costs - they are definitely up since I last posted, think we're averaging closer to $450-$500 a month these days.
The biggest culprits - meat,chicken and fresh produce.


Beef is starting to get a bit ridiculous and I'm starting to wonder if I want to spend the kind of money they're asking for bacon. We're getting great prices on chicken, but who wants to eat that all the time?
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Re: Food Costs

Postby ryuns » Fri May 10, 2013 1:00 pm

Clearly_Irrational wrote:
Grt2bOutdoors wrote:Getting back to food costs - they are definitely up since I last posted, think we're averaging closer to $450-$500 a month these days.
The biggest culprits - meat,chicken and fresh produce.


Beef is starting to get a bit ridiculous and I'm starting to wonder if I want to spend the kind of money they're asking for bacon. We're getting great prices on chicken, but who wants to eat that all the time?


Do you have a chest freezer? It seems almost mandatory for anyone doing paleo :) We'll be in the market soon, because between what our garden produces and what my vegetable breeder fiancee gets for free from work, there's a lot we want to freeze (smoked anchos, various chopped veggies, lots of tomato products, etc). Once we do that, we're probably going to be looking at quarter cows. Still expensive but better quality, especially if you're to the whole grass-fed part of the paleo gospel.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Clearly_Irrational » Fri May 10, 2013 1:08 pm

ryuns wrote:Do you have a chest freezer? It seems almost mandatory for anyone doing paleo :) We'll be in the market soon, because between what our garden produces and what my vegetable breeder fiancee gets for free from work, there's a lot we want to freeze (smoked anchos, various chopped veggies, lots of tomato products, etc). Once we do that, we're probably going to be looking at quarter cows. Still expensive but better quality, especially if you're to the whole grass-fed part of the paleo gospel.


We do have a chest freezer, we're not doing paleo, although we do try to keep our carb intake moderate and high quality. We're buying a half cow in august, it won't really save us much money but we'll get better cuts of meat for the same price.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Mudpuppy » Fri May 10, 2013 1:13 pm

Clearly_Irrational wrote:
Grt2bOutdoors wrote:Getting back to food costs - they are definitely up since I last posted, think we're averaging closer to $450-$500 a month these days.
The biggest culprits - meat,chicken and fresh produce.


Beef is starting to get a bit ridiculous and I'm starting to wonder if I want to spend the kind of money they're asking for bacon. We're getting great prices on chicken, but who wants to eat that all the time?

The drought last year in the Midwest put a significant dent in the production of feed corn and hay, and in the quality of free-range pastures. That will have an indirect effect on the cost of meat, since it will cost more to raise the animal with higher feed prices. Beef has a pretty high impact given the combined effect of higher feed prices and less available "free" pasture vegetation. Many ranchers preemptively culled their herds last fall to minimize costs and the drought (and associated heat waves) also had a direct impact on cattle herd sizes. All in all, there are fewer animals and it's more costly to raise them to slaughter size, so meat prices are going to jump up.

Here's the USDA's summary of the impact of the drought and heat waves: http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/in-the-n ... pacts.aspx
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Re: Food Costs

Postby momar » Fri May 10, 2013 1:15 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:How about Heineken? $24 a case - that's a very reasonable Bogglehead price of a $1 including tax for a nice lager.

Getting back to food costs - they are definitely up since I last posted, think we're averaging closer to $450-$500 a month these days.
The biggest culprits - meat,chicken and fresh produce.

Heineken [is inferior --admin LadyGeek]. Sorry.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Grt2bOutdoors » Fri May 10, 2013 1:17 pm

I had heard that and in todays WSJ there's an article about farmers having to delay the spring planting of corn due to heavy rains in the Midwest.
Maybe if we shut down the ethanol plants and stop selling grain overseas, we wouldn't have a supply issue.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby Grt2bOutdoors » Fri May 10, 2013 1:17 pm

momar wrote:
Grt2bOutdoors wrote:How about Heineken? $24 a case - that's a very reasonable Bogglehead price of a $1 including tax for a nice lager.

Getting back to food costs - they are definitely up since I last posted, think we're averaging closer to $450-$500 a month these days.
The biggest culprits - meat,chicken and fresh produce.

Heineken [is inferior --admin LadyGeek]. Sorry.


Well, what's your choice of brewskis?
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Re: Food Costs

Postby investingdad » Fri May 10, 2013 1:34 pm

There are some good choices of quality beer at lower costs. Taste is personal, though. It just offends me that so many people think the Big Brewers are what good beer is all about. I'd encourage people who like beer to try a local brewery and see what else is out there.

This is one of those things that I don't skimp on or pretend to have a budget for. If I decide I'm going to spend $70, $80 for a case of outstanding beer...I'm going to do it. It's part of that Balance thing. Same with cheese and some good wine. If we're in the mood for a block of cheese that runs $6 for 3 ounces, [I don't care --admin LadyGeek]...I'm getting it. Good wine is easy to come by as there's a winery 3 minutes from my house that makes a fine Pino Grigio, I can even see the vineyard from my deck when the leaves are off the trees.

Making a good income and having financial security in the bank needs to buy some stuff guilt free or there's litte point to it.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby RebusCannébus » Fri May 10, 2013 2:07 pm

Have you checked out the Cash and Carry in Portland ? Some items at mine in Santa Rosa, CA:

50 lbs russets $12 (they also have 10's and 20's for not-too-much more/lb.)
40 lbs yams $28
10 lbs frozen blackberries $28 (also have frozen raspberries, peaches, blueberries, and mango)
4 lbs fresh strawberres $5
head of cauliflower $1
head of green/red cabbage $1
huge produce fridge contains the above and quite a bit more
huge meat fridge (which I know nothing about, since I eat plants (and no, no self-righteousness intended))
huge dairy fridge with cow and soy milk; yogurt, half-and-half
20-50 sacks of legumes/grains/Bob's Red Mill cereals for dirt cheap
5 lb bag of shredded cabbage/cole slaw $3
6 heads of romaine lettuce $2.86
Double tub of Earthbound Farms greens (price escapes me, but less than half of supermarket prices)

And so on. With skillful timing, I can buy in bulk for two people and not lose anything to waste, despite the large sizes. And, as you can see, not everything comes in huge bulk sizes (cf., cruciferous veggies above). When I go in there, there's always a mix of retail and wholesale customers, so it looks like their business model accounts for both types of customer. And yes, a lot of this stuff can be had in Costco, but I find myself getting stupid when I go in there (85 inch LSD screen TV with radar detector and CAT scanner? Must have. :oops: )

Sidebar: I'm toying with idea of trying the LiveBelowTheLine challenge. It gives one pause.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby momar » Fri May 10, 2013 4:20 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
momar wrote:
Grt2bOutdoors wrote:How about Heineken? $24 a case - that's a very reasonable Bogglehead price of a $1 including tax for a nice lager.

Getting back to food costs - they are definitely up since I last posted, think we're averaging closer to $450-$500 a month these days.
The biggest culprits - meat,chicken and fresh produce.

Heineken [is inferior --admin LadyGeek]. Sorry.


Well, what's your choice of brewskis?

My go-to is Brew Free or Die by 21st Ammendment.

For a lager/pils, try Lagunitas Pils if it's in your area.

For cheap beer on a hot summer day doing yard work, I might have a six pack of Simpler Times Pilsner (Trader Joe's). That is some cheap stuff.

For a mass market, I'm originally from PA so Yuengling is solid.
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Re: Food Costs

Postby ryuns » Fri May 10, 2013 4:29 pm

Excellent choices. Trader Joe's is a good source for affordable beers. Simpler Times is nice to have around, and I'll occassionally buy their dark Mexican beer, which is essentially Dos Equis Amber. Some of their other contract brewed beer is good too, like Mission Street IPA. Anything they carry that Unibroue makes for them is an instant purchase. They do the Anniversary Ale and a Belgian Golden that are both delish. .

For cases, Costco is my best source, but Costco seems surprisingly geographically specific. Our closest, most "urban" Costco always has Lagunitas IPA and the Deschutes seasonal for around $20, as well as some other decent craft in cases, and a selection of probably 40 different 22 oz/750 ml bottles from $4 to $20. The suburban ones, maybe a good case or two, but few, if any, individual bottles.

I also fill an unfortunate number of growlers, which is rarely the way to save money, unless the only other option is drinking pints at the brewery.
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