What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
nathawkins
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2015 12:12 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by nathawkins » Wed Aug 05, 2015 2:25 pm

A few tips I have learned keeping my family (3 kids 1,3,5 yrs) budget for groceries and all household items (including diapers) under $1,000 per month. Eating out maybe $150 per month
- Weekday Breakfast is certainly the place to save money. I eat all the eggs with cheese I want, bananas, oatmeal (not at once, these are alternates), toast, during the week. These meals cost pennies.
- Weekend breakfast one day I make pancakes/waffles and 1 lb of bacon for the kids to eat all week. So the bacon is the most expensive at $5/lb. CostCo. Worth the splurge...
- Lunches I brown bag to work. Almost always leftovers. We'll cook extra large dinners and use that. It's better than a sandwich and cost effective.
- Work Lunch/Snack, I also store food at work to supplement: peanuts, raisins, yogurt, hummus, pretzel chips, carrots. Almost all from CostCo.
- Generally I buy everything at CostCo and Walmart (for groceries, food). I hate Walmart but sadly their food ends up costing you 50%!!! of what any other grocer will cost you, so there is no way around it...
- Going out to eat will KILL YOUR BUDGET. So I manage this more closely. We'll treat ourselves usually with takeout or a lunch. If you can avoid paying for tips and drinks, or even the kids that's a huge help. Do you think my 5 year old cares what he eats? Certainly not the 1 yr old, so I'm spending that budget on me.
- I use the "SPENDING" budget app on the iPhone because it syncs with my wife's and I make her enter all expenses, as do I. Maybe there are better apps out there....
- I also budget and track Liquor/Beer/Wine separately. Living in Oregon Wine country can cause me to have to high spends some months. If anyone wants my liquor cost spreadsheet, you will clearly see that Hard Liquor (mixed drinks) at home anyway is by far the cheapest. Then beer then wine, of course depending on your brand. So I stock up on Kirkland liquor in Washington for standard drinks.

Johno
Posts: 1883
Joined: Sat May 24, 2014 4:14 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by Johno » Wed Aug 05, 2015 4:32 pm

TheTimeLord wrote:
EnjoyIt wrote:
TheTimeLord wrote:
market timer wrote:To make you feel better, here is our daily food budget for two adults:

Afternoon coffees: $5 (Starbucks)
Preach it brother. By myself, I am around $250-$300/mo. at Starbucks alone. Luckily the wife doesn't share my habit.
These will end up on MMM wall of shame.

a $5 a day Starbucks habit over 30 years invested with a 5% return will yield $125K real.
Not to mention the coffee is crap. They use sweeteners and creamers to hide the rancid flavor.
Get a decent espresso machine and grinder, then learn to make a cup of coffee much much better than Starbucks at a fraction of the cost.
And, it takes less time to make your own cup than to stand/sit in line at Starbucks.

I care less how you spend your money. I just hate Starbucks.
Personally I enjoy Starbucks, the Starbucks experience and buying friends a cup. On cold days I enjoy holding the cup as much as drinking it. It brings back fond memories of great conversations with friends over a drink at Starbucks. Not much of an MMM fan but that shouldn't surprise you.
I'm more of a Dunkin Donuts guy, though not the donuts so much, I limit that to very infrequently to avoid health/weight problems. But I don't even go there for coffee more than a couple of times a week. I don't like Starbucks' actual coffee but I love those cold frappucino things, which oddly they often don't have at their stores nowadays, but convenience stores have them and I buy them from Costco at <$1 a bottle with coupon. But I also limit those to a couple a week for health not money reasons. I'm not claiming my eating is very healthy btw, I just limit certain things that it not be even more unhealthy. :D

The thread is *food*/groceries, not just groceries so it's completely on topic, and not really separable. I don't worry about our 'grocery' (all supermarket type items food or not, but not eat out/take out) spending of ~$1000/mo for 2 adults and time to time feeding of 3 college or grown-and-sort -of-gone kids, not including restaurants (which I don't break out of 'entertainment' but probably avgs around $400/mo). I track it because I track all our spending, but I don't 'budget' it, my wife won't hear of it for relatively small expenditures like that, and it really doesn't move the needle for us. The level of spending which is significant for our kids is lower, but still cutting out coffees wouldn't be the priority. It would be taking a machete to social outings at bars and restaurants. I tabulate that for two of them because I do their taxes, for free, and some of the outings are business deductions, so we have to discuss which were or weren't from the bank statement. The low hanging fruit to raise their savings rate, which they should do, is the social aspect. I think this is true for a lot of young busy singles with good incomes. But it is part of 'food'.

User avatar
PaddyMac
Posts: 1472
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:29 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by PaddyMac » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:15 am

We live in a LCOL area and for the two of us, I budget $950 a month for groceries (toiletries included) and eating out. I do track groceries & eating out separately, out of curiosity, but then lump them together.

I eat gluten free, and we eat mostly fresh foods (lots of salads and salmon) with a few packaged foods from Costco (like roast chickens, cooked ribs, etc. that I can't be bothered cooking from scratch). We have a farmer's market in the summer months and that is expensive, but worth it when you taste their heirloom tomatoes...and farm-fresh eggs...so not giving that up!

Good food is important to us, but we know we could cut back a bit if needed when we retire.

dsmil
Posts: 562
Joined: Tue Sep 08, 2009 10:51 am

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by dsmil » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:42 am

2 adults here and we spend $500 per month at the grocery store (including random toiletries, detergent, etc.) and $250 per month eating out (usually go out for dinner and breakfast once a week, and a lot of Starbucks).

Rodc
Posts: 13601
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:46 am

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by Rodc » Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:21 pm

Clearly_Irrational wrote:
Turme wrote:An example of a meal-plan that can be done for less than $5/day per person, involves minimal prep, and meets all nutritional requirements while minimizing all nutritional risks:

https://www.drmcdougall.com/forums/view ... 07#p445707
Well, any diet based mostly on bulk carbs is going to be pretty cheap. Calories & protein are low for anyone but a couch potato, fat & cholesterol are so low you're going to have testosterone problems, completely lacking in vitamin D and the E & K won't be absorbed properly at that fat level, sodium is below the RDA, zero iodine so you're going to have thyroid problems, I didn't have time to break out the amino acids but there is a fair chance you'll be deficient in at least one considering there are no animal products. (the beans and rice combo helps but probably won't be sufficient on it's own) On a positive note his carb and vegetable choices are decent and there is sufficient omega 3 intake. You won't die on this diet but you're not going to be particularly healthy.
Not too mention the concern about high carb and issues with too much insulin over time. I'm no doctor and I do not play on on the internet, but at least being worth a look and possible discussion with your doctor if you have a high carb diet.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

Cindyjrn
Posts: 395
Joined: Mon Oct 27, 2014 5:40 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by Cindyjrn » Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:28 pm

nathawkins wrote: - Generally I buy everything at CostCo and Walmart (for groceries, food). I hate Walmart but sadly their food ends up costing you 50%!!! of what any other grocer will cost you, so there is no way around it...
50%? Are you sure about that number? That seems totally made up.

yosef
Posts: 337
Joined: Tue May 24, 2011 2:10 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by yosef » Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:28 pm

Depends on what you consider "Food/Groceries". Our family of 4 spends around $1k. But I categorize anything bought from a grocery store as groceries, including household items like laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, etc. I also tend to categorize mega-mart trips consisting primarily of groceries as all groceries. So my numbers are probably artificially high. Oh well, I gave up splitting transactions for budgeting purposes long ago. Nowadays I value my time too much.

NateInCT
Posts: 59
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:37 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by NateInCT » Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:43 pm

We have been much more conscious lately about where our food comes from and have been buying a lot more fresh food from farmers markets and organics wherever we can find them. For a family of 3 up in the Quiet Corner of CT it costs $600 to $700 a month. We save some money because my father in law is a farmer so we get things like eggs, potatoes and squash free most months.

Given that i would say that spending $1000 a month on organic food in NYC is not unreasonable.

as a side note, I have not consciously been counting carbs or calories or changing the quantity of food i eat in any way, but as a bi-product of eating whole foods instead of processed junk i have lost 10 pounds without even trying.

Turme
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:58 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by Turme » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:56 pm

As I believe discussions of diet and health are typically considered beyond the scope of the Bogleheads forums, I had presented the template merely as a way to meet the topic's goals of a sensible food budget while also meeting our dietary needs.

(My belief was confirmed at the forum rules:
"Questions on medical issues are beyond the scope of the forum." (rules) )

Thus, based on my desire to not challenge the goals of our forums, I would highly recommend anyone interested in more deeply evaluating the health aspects of Novick's programs to his work, which he provides to us entirely free. The McDougall forums, particularly Jeff Novick's, would be a great place to start, I think.

Here's the link to Jeff Novick's forum:
https://www.drmcdougall.com/forums/view ... 1b86317a2b

His 6200+ posts since 2008 are all searchable, and he is very responsive to questions and concerns, especially if they have not been covered yet by him on the forums, which is typically unlikely.

As I believe you would find if you reviewed his work, none of the issues that have been mentioned cause any problems for the vast majority of people who follow Novick's guidelines, including his SNAP (Simple, Nutritious, Affordable Program), which is expressed in my original link. This corresponds well with the preponderance of peer-reviewed, scientific evidence that Novick uses to establish his guidelines and perspective, which have been consistent, and consistently evidence-based, for at least the past 25 years.

I hope you find the resources at least as worthwhile as I have, and I would definitely defer you to Novick for his expertise in the health field for any further insight you might desire. I have found Novick to be one of the most evidence-based health professionals I have encountered, which seems to correspond well to the Bogleheads' desire to stay as evidence-based as possible :)
Rodc wrote:
Clearly_Irrational wrote:
Turme wrote:An example of a meal-plan that can be done for less than $5/day per person, involves minimal prep, and meets all nutritional requirements while minimizing all nutritional risks:

https://www.drmcdougall.com/forums/view ... 07#p445707
Well, any diet based mostly on bulk carbs is going to be pretty cheap. Calories & protein are low for anyone but a couch potato, fat & cholesterol are so low you're going to have testosterone problems, completely lacking in vitamin D and the E & K won't be absorbed properly at that fat level, sodium is below the RDA, zero iodine so you're going to have thyroid problems, I didn't have time to break out the amino acids but there is a fair chance you'll be deficient in at least one considering there are no animal products. (the beans and rice combo helps but probably won't be sufficient on it's own) On a positive note his carb and vegetable choices are decent and there is sufficient omega 3 intake. You won't die on this diet but you're not going to be particularly healthy.
Not too mention the concern about high carb and issues with too much insulin over time. I'm no doctor and I do not play on on the internet, but at least being worth a look and possible discussion with your doctor if you have a high carb diet.

BW1985
Posts: 1749
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:12 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by BW1985 » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:59 pm

I spend $400 a month for myself at the grocery store. (Whole Foods and Trader Joe's)

I also juice 4-5x a week so I buy a lot of organic produce.
"Squirrels figured out how to save eons ago. They buried acorns. Some, they dug up, for food. Others, they let to sprout, in new oak trees. We could learn from squirrels." -john94549

Tamales
Posts: 1232
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2014 10:47 am

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by Tamales » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:06 pm

I didn't read the whole thread so maybe this was already posted. This website allows you to pick your city (fairly large list) and get daily and monthly "recommended minimum" food prices for a western or Asian diet, per person.
http://www.numbeo.com/food-prices/count ... ted+States

I'm not sure food costs scale linearly with number of persons but it's a ballpark figure anyway.

User avatar
Clearly_Irrational
Posts: 3087
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:43 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by Clearly_Irrational » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:10 pm

Turme wrote:As I believe discussions of diet and health are typically considered beyond the scope of the Bogleheads forums, I had presented the template merely as a way to meet the topic's goals of a sensible food budget while also meeting our dietary needs.
I agreed on the sensible budget part and disagreed on the dietary needs part but felt that just saying "diet insufficient" would have been a poor rejoinder. You're right though that in general it's outside the scope of this forum. I'll just mention that "avoiding horrible deficiency" and "optimal health" are very different dietary goals with different costs attached. Obviously there is plenty of room for debate about what "optimal health" means and that's probably best discussed elsewhere.

Turme
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:58 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by Turme » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:23 pm

Fantastic resource. Thanks for that.
Tamales wrote:I didn't read the whole thread so maybe this was already posted. This website allows you to pick your city (fairly large list) and get daily and monthly "recommended minimum" food prices for a western or Asian diet, per person.
http://www.numbeo.com/food-prices/count ... ted+States

I'm not sure food costs scale linearly with number of persons but it's a ballpark figure anyway.

User avatar
Clearly_Irrational
Posts: 3087
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:43 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by Clearly_Irrational » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:35 pm

Pretty cool site. According to them we're right on target. Anyone else have feedback on their accuracy?

User avatar
backpacker
Posts: 1620
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 2:17 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by backpacker » Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:12 pm

A certain amount of food spending is necessary for eating a nutritionally complete diet. The rest is a luxury purchase, like going to the opera or buying a sports car. There's nothing wrong with luxury purchases. Just don't confuse yourself by thinking that buying opera tickets or a sports car is "necessary" in any interest sense. Bad things happen financially when luxuries and necessities get run together.

The question of how much a healthy diet costs has a scientific answer, one that I found surprising. A team at Harvard medical school did a meta-analysis making use of price data from 10 wealthy countries. They found that the healthiest diets (something like the Mediterranean diet) cost about $1.50 a day more per person than the most unhealthy diets.* That's really cheap, about $45 extra per person per month.

Now of course, you may find yourself in the grip of one of the many foodie religions. Your foodie religion dictates that you eat an entire live chicken every day or eat nothing but free-range organic artesian carrots. That's fine. Live and let live I say. But there's a difference between what it takes to eat a controversially "healthy" diet and what it takes to eat the sort of healthy diet routinely recommended by actual nutritionists. Turns out a normal healthy diet doesn't cost much more than an unhealthy diet.

*This is using price-parity US dollars and assuming that you eat 2,000 calories a day. If you're an ultra-marathon runner and need 4,000 calories a day just to survive, you need to spend an extra $3 a day to eat a healthy diet.

User avatar
Clearly_Irrational
Posts: 3087
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:43 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by Clearly_Irrational » Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:50 pm

backpacker wrote:eat an entire live chicken every day or eat nothing but free-range organic artesian carrots.
I would like to buy your diet plan and/or subscribe to your newsletter.

denovo
Posts: 4254
Joined: Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:04 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by denovo » Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:07 pm

Clearly_Irrational wrote:
Pretty cool site. According to them we're right on target. Anyone else have feedback on their accuracy?
Numbers seem to high. $400 for one person in Metro DC.
"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

john94549
Posts: 4638
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:50 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by john94549 » Thu Aug 06, 2015 8:34 pm

As noted in another thread, we are giving "Blue Apron" a try. For us empty nesters, a menu for two fits well, with no waste. While roughly $60 for three days for two folks might seem excessive, one really must compare it to ordinary grocery shopping with all its waste. Mind you, my wife is a gourmet chef, but in order to purchase the correct ingredients, a certain amount of waste must be expected. My wife raves on "Blue Apron", as it provides just the exact amount of ingredients.

I've had mixed reactions to some of their offerings (the yogurt burger was a dud), but the concept is worthy.

TradingPlaces
Posts: 1245
Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2014 1:19 pm
Location: 30.286029, -97.530011

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by TradingPlaces » Fri Aug 07, 2015 12:53 am

$1-1.5K a month. That's a broad range, but it varies.

We eat out probably at $200 / week, anywhere from cheap tacos to $150 / 2 dinners.

I eat roughly 12 meals at work: breakfast, lunch, and dinners provided. Spouse buys lunches and snacks while at work, probably $300 a month.

I only buy excellent groceries, mostly fish and fresh produce. Basically don't buy any processed food. Typical grocery bill is $40-60 that is food for 1-2 meals, possibly with some leftovers, plus fruits, veggies, and nuts. Typical meal is freshly cooked: baked grilled, etc, with salads.

Occasionally buy stuff from Trader Joes that is fast and easy to prepare. This is what I call fast food.

We don't eat legitimate fast food, like McDonalds, etc.

TradingPlaces
Posts: 1245
Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2014 1:19 pm
Location: 30.286029, -97.530011

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by TradingPlaces » Fri Aug 07, 2015 12:56 am

john94549 wrote: While roughly $60 for three days for two folks might seem excessive
$60 for 3 meals for 2 is an extremely good price!

That's $10 a cooked meal, which is very very good. Anything less than that, and you are eating meal which is low in nutrition, made fast, or both.

Sure, I like to eat a $3 soup, but while not overly unhealthy, the fact that: (a) it is canned or whatever, and (b) high in sodium, is bad already.

TradingPlaces
Posts: 1245
Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2014 1:19 pm
Location: 30.286029, -97.530011

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by TradingPlaces » Fri Aug 07, 2015 12:58 am

backpacker wrote:A certain amount of food spending is necessary for eating a nutritionally complete diet. The rest is a luxury purchase, like going to the opera or buying a sports car. There's nothing wrong with luxury purchases. Just don't confuse yourself by thinking that buying opera tickets or a sports car is "necessary" in any interest sense. Bad things happen financially when luxuries and necessities get run together.

The question of how much a healthy diet costs has a scientific answer, one that I found surprising. A team at Harvard medical school did a meta-analysis making use of price data from 10 wealthy countries. They found that the healthiest diets (something like the Mediterranean diet) cost about $1.50 a day more per person than the most unhealthy diets.* That's really cheap, about $45 extra per person per month.

Now of course, you may find yourself in the grip of one of the many foodie religions. Your foodie religion dictates that you eat an entire live chicken every day or eat nothing but free-range organic artesian carrots. That's fine. Live and let live I say. But there's a difference between what it takes to eat a controversially "healthy" diet and what it takes to eat the sort of healthy diet routinely recommended by actual nutritionists. Turns out a normal healthy diet doesn't cost much more than an unhealthy diet.

*This is using price-parity US dollars and assuming that you eat 2,000 calories a day. If you're an ultra-marathon runner and need 4,000 calories a day just to survive, you need to spend an extra $3 a day to eat a healthy diet.
I can totally believe this. My parents are poor immigrants who grew up close enough to the mediterranean, and they eat equally healthy, but probably spend 2-3x less than we do.

However, I would say that the effort they spend (time to shop and cook) on achieving that balance: cost and nutrition, is much higher than that for us.

User avatar
Hexdump
Posts: 1615
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 7:28 am
Location: Houston, Texas

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by Hexdump » Fri Aug 07, 2015 6:02 am

Sounds high to me.
We are a retired couple living in Houston and budget $500.00 per month which we rarely exceed.
We do not buy organics as they are a lot more expensive.
The grocery spending also includes anything that can be bought from a supermarket, like cosmetics, paper products, cat food, etc.so there is more than groceries in the $500.00.

Caduceus
Posts: 1647
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:47 am

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by Caduceus » Fri Aug 07, 2015 11:05 am

Are the low end of the answers all from retired folks who cook all their meals? As a working professional, I don't really understand how it is doable. It would be helpful to have an example of what folks actually eat throughout the day and only spend $250 a person a month!

Here's what I ate yesterday:

Breakfast: Greek Yogurt with Fresh Mango ($3)
Lunch and Dinner: Chinese Takeout (portions were big enough for two meals - $14)
Snack: One box of Mixed Greens salad, pre-washed and pre-packaged ($4)

Here's what I ate on Wednesday:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with honey, and three fresh tangerines ($2)
Lunch: Sushi takeout ($8)
Dinner: Indian takeout ($7)
Snack: One box of arugula/kale salad ($4)


I spend less on weekends and occasionally don't get a chance to eat lunch due to work, so I average out at $450 a month for food. How do working professionals get much lower than this?

User avatar
backpacker
Posts: 1620
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 2:17 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by backpacker » Fri Aug 07, 2015 11:14 am

TradingPlaces wrote:
backpacker wrote:A certain amount of food spending is necessary for eating a nutritionally complete diet. The rest is a luxury purchase, like going to the opera or buying a sports car. There's nothing wrong with luxury purchases. Just don't confuse yourself by thinking that buying opera tickets or a sports car is "necessary" in any interest sense. Bad things happen financially when luxuries and necessities get run together.

The question of how much a healthy diet costs has a scientific answer, one that I found surprising. A team at Harvard medical school did a meta-analysis making use of price data from 10 wealthy countries. They found that the healthiest diets (something like the Mediterranean diet) cost about $1.50 a day more per person than the most unhealthy diets.* That's really cheap, about $45 extra per person per month.

Now of course, you may find yourself in the grip of one of the many foodie religions. Your foodie religion dictates that you eat an entire live chicken every day or eat nothing but free-range organic artesian carrots. That's fine. Live and let live I say. But there's a difference between what it takes to eat a controversially "healthy" diet and what it takes to eat the sort of healthy diet routinely recommended by actual nutritionists. Turns out a normal healthy diet doesn't cost much more than an unhealthy diet.

*This is using price-parity US dollars and assuming that you eat 2,000 calories a day. If you're an ultra-marathon runner and need 4,000 calories a day just to survive, you need to spend an extra $3 a day to eat a healthy diet.
I can totally believe this. My parents are poor immigrants who grew up close enough to the mediterranean, and they eat equally healthy, but probably spend 2-3x less than we do.

However, I would say that the effort they spend (time to shop and cook) on achieving that balance: cost and nutrition, is much higher than that for us.
Maybe this is one way to put it? The ideal food plan would have four features. It would be cheap, it would be healthy, it would take little time to prepare, and it would have a wide variety of fairly complex dishes. The ideal food plan doesn't exist because you have to pick three of the four. You can have cheap and health meals that are easy to prepare, but the dishes will tend to be pretty simple. Green smoothies. Raw nuts. Sardines on whole wheat toast. That kind of thing. You can have complex health meals without paying more money, but you will have to spend more time cooking and shopping and such. You can have complex healthy meals without spending much time, but that requires going to restaurants or hiring a private chef. You get the idea.

I'm on the simple and healthy and cheap plan myself. But there are definitely other ways.

stoptothink
Posts: 4298
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by stoptothink » Fri Aug 07, 2015 11:46 am

Caduceus wrote:Are the low end of the answers all from retired folks who cook all their meals? As a working professional, I don't really understand how it is doable.

I spend less on weekends and occasionally don't get a chance to eat lunch due to work, so I average out at $450 a month for food. How do working professionals get much lower than this?
30yrs from retirement, both working professionals, and we have a pair of young children. 90% of our food is cooked on Sunday afternoon and then put in tupperware for the entire week. It takes me all of ~5min total per day to prepare all of my food. If you plan and don't mind eating the same things very often (we pretty much eat the exact same things every single day), it is very simple.

letsgobobby
Posts: 11415
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:10 am

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by letsgobobby » Fri Aug 07, 2015 12:13 pm

backpacker wrote:
Maybe this is one way to put it? The ideal food plan would have four features. It would be cheap, it would be healthy, it would take little time to prepare, and it would have a wide variety of fairly complex dishes. The ideal food plan doesn't exist because you have to pick three of the four. You can have cheap and health meals that are easy to prepare, but the dishes will tend to be pretty simple. Green smoothies. Raw nuts. Sardines on whole wheat toast. That kind of thing.
Since when are raw nuts cheap? I went to the bulk store yesterday and hazelnuts are $13.99 per pound! Not one raw nut currently costs less than raw chicken breasts, which on sale are $2.49 per pound.

like stoptothink says, it's easy to eat cheap if you find something extremely cheap that you like to eat, and that's all you eat. That sounds worse than death to me, since good food and drink are one of my life's greatest pleasures. From our simple, traditional home cooked meals like beef and broccoli, shrimp and tofu in fermented black bean sauce, and pan fried tofu with green beans and lime-soy-pepper sauce, all with rice. Yummy! But then the next night we'll do our Indian meal, with a chicken dish, a shrimp dish, a legumes dish, and 2 vegetables. Eating the same thing every day sounds really, really sad (to me), not something I would ever do on a long term basis unless I was desperately poor and literally had no choice. Of course from time to time we'll settle into eating the same thing for 3-4 days, or the same sandwich at lunch every day, and it's fine, but not week after week after week.

User avatar
Clearly_Irrational
Posts: 3087
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:43 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by Clearly_Irrational » Fri Aug 07, 2015 12:28 pm

Caduceus wrote:I spend less on weekends and occasionally don't get a chance to eat lunch due to work, so I average out at $450 a month for food. How do working professionals get much lower than this?
Less pre-packaged food, you pay a premium for the convenience.

User avatar
backpacker
Posts: 1620
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 2:17 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by backpacker » Fri Aug 07, 2015 1:02 pm

letsgobobby wrote: Since when are raw nuts cheap? I went to the bulk store yesterday and hazelnuts are $13.99 per pound! Not one raw nut currently costs less than raw chicken breasts, which on sale are $2.49 per pound.
Well, nuts are expensive if you eat a pound of nuts every day. Daily recommendations are usually in the 1.5 ounce range. Bulk nut butter can be one of the cheapest forms of "raw" nuts (though you have to watch out for "natural" nut butters with palm oil and other weird stuff in it). My natural PB is $2.50 a pound and is nothing but ground peanuts.
letsgobobby wrote:
backpacker wrote:
Maybe this is one way to put it? The ideal food plan would have four features. It would be cheap, it would be healthy, it would take little time to prepare, and it would have a wide variety of fairly complex dishes. The ideal food plan doesn't exist because you have to pick three of the four. You can have cheap and health meals that are easy to prepare, but the dishes will tend to be pretty simple. Green smoothies. Raw nuts. Sardines on whole wheat toast. That kind of thing.
like stoptothink says, it's easy to eat cheap if you find something extremely cheap that you like to eat, and that's all you eat. That sounds worse than death to me, since good food and drink are one of my life's greatest pleasures. From our simple, traditional home cooked meals like beef and broccoli, shrimp and tofu in fermented black bean sauce, and pan fried tofu with green beans and lime-soy-pepper sauce, all with rice. Yummy! But then the next night we'll do our Indian meal, with a chicken dish, a shrimp dish, a legumes dish, and 2 vegetables. Eating the same thing every day sounds really, really sad (to me), not something I would ever do on a long term basis unless I was desperately poor and literally had no choice. Of course from time to time we'll settle into eating the same thing for 3-4 days, or the same sandwich at lunch every day, and it's fine, but not week after week after week.
If you're going to the work of actually cooking, then there's no barrier to having a wide variety of cheap and healthy food. Because much of it is vegetarian or uses chicken, Indian food is incredibly cheap to prepare and one of my favorites. Leanne Brown has a wonderful free cookbook with healthy and delicious meals for $4 a day. Her meals tend to go easy on the meat but, if you're a rabid carnivore, $6 a day is still pretty easy. :beer
Last edited by backpacker on Fri Aug 07, 2015 1:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

stoptothink
Posts: 4298
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by stoptothink » Fri Aug 07, 2015 1:02 pm

letsgobobby wrote: Eating the same thing every day sounds really, really sad (to me), not something I would ever do on a long term basis unless I was desperately poor and literally had no choice.
Therein lies the answer to the question as to how people do it. It's definitely possible for the vast majority of people to significantly cut their food budgets, but to most people food is one of the primary sources of pleasure. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy food, but for the most part it is a source of nourishment - I enjoy my health and financial stability WAY more than I do fine food, and a variety of it. Same reason I actually dislike eating in restaurants, that source of pleasure (from both the food and social aspect) is very limited and not worth the time and financial cost to me. Everybody has different things which they value - this is a biggie for me, and was actually a dealbreaker when looking for a spouse.

User avatar
backpacker
Posts: 1620
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 2:17 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by backpacker » Fri Aug 07, 2015 1:09 pm

stoptothink wrote:
letsgobobby wrote: Eating the same thing every day sounds really, really sad (to me), not something I would ever do on a long term basis unless I was desperately poor and literally had no choice.
Therein lies the answer to the question as to how people do it. It's definitely possible for the vast majority of people to significantly cut their food budgets, but to most people food is one of the primary sources of pleasure. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy food, but for the most part it is a source of nourishment - I enjoy my health and financial stability WAY more than I do fine food, and a variety of it. Same reason I actually dislike eating in restaurants, that source of pleasure (from both the food and social aspect) is very limited and not worth the time and financial cost to me. Everybody has different things which they value - this is a biggie for me, and was actually a dealbreaker when looking for a spouse.
There's also a general assumption that good food needs complex preparation. I was home for a few weeks and we dug carrots out of my dad's garden. Because most people only buy the monstrous wooden carrots sold in the grocery store, they have no idea what real carrots look like or taste like. The carrots we dug were all different colors. Orange, white, purple, and red. They were longer and thinner and juicier than the carrots you get in the store. I must have eaten half a pound of carrots before even getting back to the house. One of the best things I've eaten all year!

Caduceus
Posts: 1647
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:47 am

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by Caduceus » Fri Aug 07, 2015 2:12 pm

Less pre-packaged food, you pay a premium for the convenience.
I understand I'm paying a premium for pre-packaged veggies and takeout, but I don't have the time to cook usually. The idea to cook lots of meals over the weekend and freeze them is interesting. It's not just cooking; it's the dishes and driving to the grocery store and food wastage, etc. I am spending $450-$500 now without cooking a single meal, and if my total savings is $200 (assuming I can lower the cost down to $250) before subtracting the cost of gas and utilities, I think it is not worth my time. I would gladly pay $200 a month not to have to cook :D

User avatar
Clearly_Irrational
Posts: 3087
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:43 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by Clearly_Irrational » Fri Aug 07, 2015 2:23 pm

Caduceus wrote:I would gladly pay $200 a month not to have to cook :D
Honestly I doubt your savings would be that high, probably more in the neighborhood of $100, so if you're happy with your routine then don't worry about it.

2tall4economy
Posts: 386
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2015 7:55 am
Location: Global

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by 2tall4economy » Fri Aug 07, 2015 4:55 pm

I've spent more or less $1,000 per month for groceries (Excludes restaurants but includes wine) living in nyc, Seoul, Shanghai, and pretty much everywhere else I've lived since I started tracking spending.

I would love to figure out how so many are able to do it for only a few hundred per month...
You can do anything you want in life. The rub is that there are consequences.

User avatar
Clearly_Irrational
Posts: 3087
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:43 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by Clearly_Irrational » Fri Aug 07, 2015 4:59 pm

2tall4economy wrote:I've spent more or less $1,000 per month for groceries (Excludes restaurants but includes wine) living in nyc, Seoul, Shanghai, and pretty much everywhere else I've lived since I started tracking spending.

I would love to figure out how so many are able to do it for only a few hundred per month...
For one person?

truenorth418
Posts: 386
Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:38 am

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by truenorth418 » Fri Aug 07, 2015 5:02 pm

$400/month in NYC. That's for just me and maybe 2X/week also my girlfriend. I am retired, eat 3 meals/day at home, and rarely eat out.

letsgobobby
Posts: 11415
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:10 am

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by letsgobobby » Fri Aug 07, 2015 5:05 pm

A $200 and $600 budget simply aren't comparable and don't let anyone tell you they are. We could not eat for $400 per month without a major investment in time and major changes in our dietary habits that would deprive us of a great deal of pleasure.

It is good to be aware of spending, another thing entirely to diminish your short period on earth with a dull, repetitive, displeasing diet.

donfairplay
Posts: 130
Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:16 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by donfairplay » Fri Aug 07, 2015 6:36 pm

I like cooking ahead for the next 3-4 days because I can just pop it into the microwave. :D I can see how it is repetitive though.

Groceries are $170 a month for one person + my brother eats some of it + a tiny dog (who eats people food, don't judge me!). Dining out $60 a month.

I coupon and follow a regional coupon thread on slickdeals. If something isn't a deal I don't buy it that week. I'm fortunate to live in socal with a grocery store every quarter-mile, each offering crazy loss-leaders like:
Smart & Final's $1.99/lb. hamburger in a 5 pound chub
Ralph's $3.99/lb. chuck roasts that are even cheaper after a $5 off $15 meat coupon, I cube it for vegetable beef stew.
Stater Bros has new yorks and rib eyes for $6 or $7/lb.

It does take more time to follow coupon threads and cook, but I enjoy cooking new recipes from the 'net. Some recipes turn out great, some turn out not so great. I think of it as an adventure.

john94549
Posts: 4638
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:50 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by john94549 » Fri Aug 07, 2015 7:18 pm

donfairplay, my Mom "couponed" every week until she died (age 98 1/2). You're right, it becomes a sport. Problem was, she's buy stuff and stick it in the pantry freezer, then forget about it. After she died, we found a "rump roast" from 1998 in the bottom of the freezer (she died in December, 2013). Among other goodies.

2tall4economy
Posts: 386
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2015 7:55 am
Location: Global

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by 2tall4economy » Sat Aug 08, 2015 2:08 am

Clearly_Irrational wrote:
2tall4economy wrote:I've spent more or less $1,000 per month for groceries (Excludes restaurants but includes wine) living in nyc, Seoul, Shanghai, and pretty much everywhere else I've lived since I started tracking spending.

I would love to figure out how so many are able to do it for only a few hundred per month...
For one person?
Two. Son is three now and the cost has gone up about 10% this year, so I'm guessing he is the driver. Or maybe inflation.
You can do anything you want in life. The rub is that there are consequences.

stoptothink
Posts: 4298
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by stoptothink » Sat Aug 08, 2015 8:20 am

letsgobobby wrote: It is good to be aware of spending, another thing entirely to diminish your short period on earth with a dull, repetitive, displeasing diet.
Some people (I admit that my wife and I are outliers) do not derive the same pleasure as you do from food. For those of us in that category, financial cost isn't necessarily the primary factor in the food-buying decisions, but it is quite easy to spend significantly less than most here on food, so why not do it cost-effective? It really is as simple as that.

kolea
Posts: 1234
Joined: Fri Jul 11, 2014 5:30 pm
Location: Maui and Columbia River Gorge

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by kolea » Sat Aug 08, 2015 9:13 am

livesoft wrote:I just cooked and ate my breakfast. Gluten-free. Probably organic. It cost less than 50 cents. Oatmeal, water, a few dried cranberries, a few walnuts (already shelled, but crushed in my hand for the exercise) and a small glass of milk.
Sounds like our house except the milk is organic and oatmeal is certified gluten-free. While oatmeal itself has no gluten, it is often milled in plants that process wheat which introduces traces amounts of wheat. My wife has Celiac disease which means being very picky about food.

We tend to eat organic and tend to eat well. Lots of fresh fish, not much meat. Lot of imported cheeses. Our food budget (which includes wine/beer) is about $900/month for two people. That includes dog food since we make our own.
Kolea (pron. ko-lay-uh). Golden plover.

saladdin
Posts: 535
Joined: Wed May 05, 2010 5:45 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by saladdin » Sat Aug 08, 2015 1:22 pm

jridger2011 wrote:I don't think $1,000 a month for 3 people in NYC is a lot at all. To give a baseline of what I am saying, a half gallon carton of organic milk in NYC, can be anywhere between $4.79 to $5.79. Things like fresh produce are expensive, like $3.99 for a pound of on the vine tomatoes.

2 hours ago I spent $1 a lb for tomatoes at the local farmer's market. I live in TN.

jim234
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2015 9:52 am

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by jim234 » Sat Aug 08, 2015 5:38 pm

I spend about $225 a month, single person, not eating out.

john94549
Posts: 4638
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:50 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by john94549 » Sat Aug 08, 2015 8:26 pm

My wife has been tracking our food expenditures since we began with Blue Apron, and it was enlightening (I'm not shilling for Blue Apron, many other services offer similar alternatives). Three dinners a week are covered. The other four are generally favorites which my wife buys at the store, which offer leftovers. Which leaves but brunch (when you're retired, every day qualifies for brunch), usually an omelette, a club sandwich, or similar.

Suffice it to say these "boxed meals" are a hit in this household. I was a tad skeptical when the kids bought it for us a couple of months ago, but I'm a convert.

physicsgal
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Dec 13, 2013 5:14 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by physicsgal » Tue Aug 11, 2015 5:32 pm

stoptothink wrote:
physicsgal wrote:Personally, I think healthy eating is the best investment for your family's future health. For me, spending a extra to eat well is worth it, in the long run. I personally pretty much only eat organic/grass fed meats, I don't worry so much about organic with produce. And I'm healthy and feel great. I also do Crossfit. To me, those things, though expensive, pay for themselves in my long term health and happiness. I'd rather live in a tiny house and eat really well with good, home made healthy food, than live in a huge house and eat lower quality food. Or drive a beater. Pretty much anything that is living with less but without the long term implications of eating poorly I only get one body this life and I believe in taking care of it so it can last as long as possible and be a body I enjoy "living in". I would feel this even stronger if I had children I was feeding too.
If it came down to it, I totally agree. Health is my career and a huge part of my life overall, I am just not convinced that there is a significant nutritional difference in what is marketed as organic/grass fed and what isn't. If I was growing and raising all our food by myself, different story. Until there is enough evidence out there, I am very fortunate that the area I live in, a great local grocer, and my career allow me to provide these things (food and a place to exercise) for my family for much cheaper than most people.

Along the same lines, having an advanced degree in exercise physiology and every professional certification under the sun (CSCS, CES, PES...), and having pretty amazing corporate gyms at both our offices, has definitely saved us $ on gym memberships and personal training.
If I had to cut my food budget because there wasn't anywhere else to cut, I'm not sure how much conventional meat I could stomach eating. My main reason for eating local grass fed meats is to support agricultural practices that are more humane to animals and to not contribute to the suffering of animals from factory farming. Having spent 15 years as a vegetarian, the treatment of the animals I chose to eat now is important to me. I still eat conventional when I go out to eat, which is rare for me, but if I had to do it all the time, I'm not sure I could chose my health over the suffering of animals. It would be a moral dilemma for me that I would have to really think about. Hopefully it never becomes a problem.

One way I make this affordable is by having a chest freezer and buying my local grass-fed meats in bulk directly from the farmer. It ends up being so much cheaper that way and you know your money is going mostly to the folks who raise the animals and you also get to know those folks in the process. Yay, community. This website is helpful for finding local farms. http://www.eatwild.com/

fatcharlie
Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:25 am

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by fatcharlie » Wed Aug 12, 2015 2:32 pm

1 adult, 1 9-year old child. $230/month on groceries, $220/month on restaurants

User avatar
Meg77
Posts: 2351
Joined: Fri May 22, 2009 1:09 pm
Location: Dallas, TX
Contact:

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by Meg77 » Wed Aug 12, 2015 2:48 pm

Ugh, I hate to admit this...but my husband and I spend around $2000 a month. We eat out regularly, we drink too much, and we travel a lot which encourages both vices. Our tastes and standards have certainly risen though over the years too - organic meats, cheese and produce when possible; higher end beer and wine, etc.

According to Mint, in the last 12 months we have spent on average each month:
$745 on restaurants
$670 on groceries
$359 on alcohol & bars (includes 2 wine club memberships)
$186 on fast food/takeout
$35 at coffee shops

Some of this - maybe $250 a month in restaurants - does end up getting reimbursed by our employers (I'm not good at remembering to break out business transactions on Mint that end up getting expensed). And our "entertianment" budget is minimal. Our socializing involves brunches, having friends over for dinner, dinners out and happy hours - but few movies, concerts, athletic events, etc.

*Sigh* I know I could do so much better though.
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

fourkids
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 9:40 am

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by fourkids » Wed Aug 12, 2015 3:00 pm

Family of 6- we spend $500/month- only a few organic items.
Organic is very expensive, about twice the cost of regular food, and most of it with no proven health benefits. Your bill with regular food would probably be $500/mo. Maybe cut back on the organic. You could save $6,000/year.

autonomy
Posts: 328
Joined: Fri Jan 24, 2014 2:22 pm

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by autonomy » Wed Aug 12, 2015 4:05 pm

About $600-$700 a month between myself and the wife here in the Boston area (HCOL) just on groceries. Then there's booze. We don't splurge like kings, but we eat very nicely - lots of produce, fish, meat, fancy cheeses, salmon/shrimp/scallops/good cut of steak once in a while. We buy almost no preprocessed foods, cook almost every night, and my wife loves trying new recipes as well as baking. There are no coupons for vegetables/meats. Oh, and neither of us pays for lunch, we bag it most of the time.

I never really cared about it. I can afford it, it's delicious, I don't want to eat rice and beans every day, and I don't want to eat crap foods because it's my health in the end. The fine cheeses and wines are worth it. Trader Joe's FTW (and occasional sale items at Whole Foods). It's kind of like - some people want to drive that Corolla for the rest of their lives, but I can afford to and am willing to spend more on a more luxurious, more enjoyable vehicle.

User avatar
siamond
Posts: 4037
Joined: Mon May 28, 2012 5:50 am

Re: What's Your Monthly Food/Groceries Spending? My is through the roof?

Post by siamond » Wed Aug 12, 2015 5:41 pm

Want groceries spending to truly go through the roof? Just wait for the kids to become teenagers... I have three boys... :oops:

Going to Market Basket, using an Amex credit card, and avoiding restaurants, coffee shops and organic food certainly helped mitigate a bit, but just a tiny bit... :shock:

PS. we go to Trader Joe from time to time, just out of convenience, but no doubt this is more expensive.

Post Reply