How much do you spend on groceries?

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investnoob
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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by investnoob » Mon Dec 21, 2015 4:31 pm

Shallowpockets wrote:To all the Bogleheads here and the philosophy of index funds and the low costs of such.
When you see the large amount that some people spend on groceries you have to wonder how that fits in with the philosophy.
Saving percentages per year on index funds verses other funds is contraindicated by the amount one may spend on groceries alone. Only $100 month extra spent on groceries is $1200 annually. Surely an amount significant enough to warrant a low cost fund, yet not enough to save straight up in a budget.
This may be apples to oranges, but is still dollars to dollars.
If you could put another $100 a month into your retirement would you not like that?

I look at my grocery bill as part of the overall financial picture. Anytime I can keep money from leaving my finances is a good thing. Whether on spending or saving on fund fees.
You can flip this a little and ask yourself, if I could put another 100 a month on dining out rather than on investment fees would you not like that? The goal is to keep investments costs low. Everything after that is a value judgement.

red5
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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by red5 » Tue Dec 22, 2015 5:47 am

$325 for a family of four. That's comfortable and healthy for us.

Caduceus
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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by Caduceus » Tue Dec 22, 2015 1:02 pm

To all the Bogleheads here and the philosophy of index funds and the low costs of such.
When you see the large amount that some people spend on groceries you have to wonder how that fits in with the philosophy.
Saving percentages per year on index funds verses other funds is contraindicated by the amount one may spend on groceries alone. Only $100 month extra spent on groceries is $1200 annually. Surely an amount significant enough to warrant a low cost fund, yet not enough to save straight up in a budget. This may be apples to oranges, but is still dollars to dollars.
That's not a particularly good comparison because paying more for fees doesn't add anything (unless you're paying it to the next Warren Buffett), whereas paying for good food more than pays for itself in health and/or enjoyment.

I think the answers would be more informative if people gave some idea of how they were eating. As someone who's tried hard to significantly increase my intake of vegetables/fruits and unprocessed foods, I find some of these numbers quite hard to believe. I think there's a trade-off in terms of 1) more healthy, 2) lower cost, and 3) more variety. The only way I could personally hit some of the numbers on the board would be to give up variety, buy healthy food in bulk and eat roughly the same thing every day.

If I ate cereal for breakfast every day, got a good deal of my calories from soda/sugary drinks, stopped eating as much fresh produce or fresh fish, I'm sure my grocery bill would go down.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by stoptothink » Tue Dec 22, 2015 1:32 pm

Caduceus wrote:
To all the Bogleheads here and the philosophy of index funds and the low costs of such.
When you see the large amount that some people spend on groceries you have to wonder how that fits in with the philosophy.
Saving percentages per year on index funds verses other funds is contraindicated by the amount one may spend on groceries alone. Only $100 month extra spent on groceries is $1200 annually. Surely an amount significant enough to warrant a low cost fund, yet not enough to save straight up in a budget. This may be apples to oranges, but is still dollars to dollars.
That's not a particularly good comparison because paying more for fees doesn't add anything (unless you're paying it to the next Warren Buffett), whereas paying for good food more than pays for itself in health and/or enjoyment.

I think the answers would be more informative if people gave some idea of how they were eating. As someone who's tried hard to significantly increase my intake of vegetables/fruits and unprocessed foods, I find some of these numbers quite hard to believe. I think there's a trade-off in terms of 1) more healthy, 2) lower cost, and 3) more variety. The only way I could personally hit some of the numbers on the board would be to give up variety, buy healthy food in bulk and eat roughly the same thing every day.

If I ate cereal for breakfast every day, got a good deal of my calories from soda/sugary drinks, stopped eating as much fresh produce or fresh fish, I'm sure my grocery bill would go down.
Health and nutrition are a huge part of our lives, and my career. In my previous position I was the health director for a large non-profit, one of my job responsibilities was teaching low-income families to eat healthy on a budget (usually food stamps); this gave me the opportunity to research local costs of pretty much everything and fine tune our own family grocery budget. Our family budget is always among the lowest, if not THE lowest, in these threads yet very few take nutrition as serious as we do. The closest thing to processed food that is consumed in our home is my wife's steel cut oatmeal (she doesn't like oat groats) and our eating out spending is anywhere from $0-$50...a year. So many factors (regional costs differences and eating out being the two huge ones) to just say those that spend very little probably are not eating healthy.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by Caduceus » Tue Dec 22, 2015 1:38 pm

^Yes, but if memory serves, you're the same dude who in previous eating threads confessed to buying chicken/veggies in bulk, cooking on weekends and eating roughly the same thing many meals in a row. This isn't particularly different from my suggestion that people could probably lower their cost and still eat heathily if they are willing to sacrifice variety and put in more effort.

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TNL
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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by TNL » Tue Dec 22, 2015 1:43 pm

About $1000 a month, but can vary from $800-$1200 depending on the time of year and whether we are entertaining. For example, we are hosting Christmas Eve and Christmas Dinner this year on the 24th and 25th, and last night we just dropped almost $400 at Costco JUST for things for this week. But we are doing crab legs, prime rib, chicken wings in the smoker, etc. So more than we would normally spend. We are in Utah, and a family of two adults and two elementary age kids. This includes Costco, Walmart, a local specialty grocery that we frequent, and a grocery delivery service once a week for dairy and produce. Does not include alcohol. We buy a lot of prepared foods from Costco. We rarely eat out. We spend $50-$100 a month on eating out. We are a two career family and we are paying for some convenience but I don't mind. I'd rather pay for grocery convenience than eat out.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by Wellfleet » Tue Dec 22, 2015 1:47 pm

Caduceus wrote:
I think the answers would be more informative if people gave some idea of how they were eating. As someone who's tried hard to significantly increase my intake of vegetables/fruits and unprocessed foods, I find some of these numbers quite hard to believe. I think there's a trade-off in terms of 1) more healthy, 2) lower cost, and 3) more variety. The only way I could personally hit some of the numbers on the board would be to give up variety, buy healthy food in bulk and eat roughly the same thing every day.
I agree with this. My family of 3 spends about $900 per month including food, eating out and paper goods. We live in a HCOL area but purchase mostly private label goods, buy frozen fruits and veggies and cook the vast majority of the time.

My diet is usually non-meat for breakfast and lunch and a standard homemade dinner. I have no idea how people can spend 50+% less [and enjoy it] but I commend you.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by stoptothink » Tue Dec 22, 2015 2:00 pm

Caduceus wrote:^Yes, but if memory serves, you're the same dude who in previous eating threads confessed to buying chicken/veggies in bulk, cooking on weekends and eating roughly the same thing many meals in a row. This isn't particularly different from my suggestion that people could probably lower their cost and still eat heathily if they are willing to sacrifice variety and put in more effort.
Must have misinterpreted the point of your post. I think it is safe to say that pretty much everybody in this thread could cut their grocery budget and eat even healthier, all depends on how much it is a priority to them. Most people I know who spend exorbitant amounts (IMO) on food do so because they eat out a ton or spend a ton more on what is mostly food marketing gimmicks (organic, Paleo, assuming the produce at Whole Foods is somehow better than at the local market...).

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by Elysium » Tue Dec 22, 2015 2:10 pm

I have no idea anymore on exactly how much it costs for our family of four. I know that roughly anywhere from $1600 to $2000 a month including eating out and take outs (actually we don't eat out a lot instead do take outs). The main culprit is Whole Foods who take in a lot of our dough. I don't worry too much these days whether it is hype or not, I too like their stores and the way they treat food. Normal small purchases at WH for a week costs $150, medium ones cost $250, and larger purchases cost $400 or above. We buy paper towels, napkins, cleaning products etc from Costco every two-three months and these probably cost around $200 or more every time. I think $1600 to $2000 is about right.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by BW1985 » Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:24 pm

stoptothink wrote:
Caduceus wrote:or spend a ton more on what is mostly food marketing gimmicks (organic, Paleo, assuming the produce at Whole Foods is somehow better than at the local market...).
Avoiding as many pesticides as I can is not a gimmick, to me anyways. And Whole Foods produce may not be better than your local market but is sure a heck of a lot better than my local grocery chain produce.

IMO quality food fits into the same category as a mattress, it's not the place you want to skimp on. What you put in (and on) your body is the biggest factor in your heath that you can control.

Over the long haul spending more on food, if it causes you to eat better, will likely be worth the investment because we all know heath care ain't cheap. If you can eat well and relatively cheap more power to you!
"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

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by stoptothink » Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:46 pm

BW1985 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
Caduceus wrote:or spend a ton more on what is mostly food marketing gimmicks (organic, Paleo, assuming the produce at Whole Foods is somehow better than at the local market...).
Avoiding as many pesticides as I can is not a gimmick, to me anyways. And Whole Foods produce may not be better than your local market but is sure a heck of a lot better than my local grocery chain produce.

IMO quality food fits into the same category as a mattress, it's not the place you want to skimp on. What you put in (and on) your body is the biggest factor in your heath that you can control.

Over the long haul spending more on food, if it causes you to eat better, will likely be worth the investment because we all know heath care ain't cheap. If you can eat well and relatively cheap more power to you!
Different strokes for different folks. Without the scientific evidence to back up the idea that organic is superior nutritionally or that those pesticides result in increased negative health outcomes, I defer to the more economical method. I 100% agree that nutrition is the one area that you don't want to skrimp on, but I see it in a different perspective than you (probably in part because my specific area of research is obesity and its comorbidities). I don't think spending more on food has any correlation to eating healthier, but if you do, that's great.

...then again we also sleep on a $200 queen size mattress and have zero complaints. People prioritize different things.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by Elysium » Tue Dec 22, 2015 4:06 pm

stoptothink wrote:
BW1985 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
Caduceus wrote:or spend a ton more on what is mostly food marketing gimmicks (organic, Paleo, assuming the produce at Whole Foods is somehow better than at the local market...).
Avoiding as many pesticides as I can is not a gimmick, to me anyways. And Whole Foods produce may not be better than your local market but is sure a heck of a lot better than my local grocery chain produce.

IMO quality food fits into the same category as a mattress, it's not the place you want to skimp on. What you put in (and on) your body is the biggest factor in your heath that you can control.

Over the long haul spending more on food, if it causes you to eat better, will likely be worth the investment because we all know heath care ain't cheap. If you can eat well and relatively cheap more power to you!
Different strokes for different folks. Without the scientific evidence to back up the idea that organic is superior nutritionally or that those pesticides result in increased negative health outcomes, I defer to the more economical method. I 100% agree that nutrition is the one area that you don't want to skrimp on, but I see it in a different perspective than you (probably in part because my specific area of research is obesity and its comorbidities). I don't think spending more on food has any correlation to eating healthier, but if you do, that's great.

...then again we also sleep on a $200 queen size mattress and have zero complaints. People prioritize different things.
I think the food at WHF tastes and feels a whole lot better than my local grocery chain. I like to buy eggs that are from free roaming chickens raised without hormones, and same for milk my children consume. We like meat and sea food same way treated humane and without growth hormones. Fruits and vegetables are whole lot better and fresher. I think they over charge on top of the premium already built in, but I do not like the alternatives.

And I sleep on a $2000 mattress for the last couple of years and I think it makes a huge difference to my body and sleep compared to the $200 mattress I used to before then :D

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by BW1985 » Tue Dec 22, 2015 4:45 pm

stoptothink wrote:
BW1985 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
Caduceus wrote:or spend a ton more on what is mostly food marketing gimmicks (organic, Paleo, assuming the produce at Whole Foods is somehow better than at the local market...).
I don't think spending more on food has any correlation to eating healthier, but if you do, that's great.
I most definitely do, especially when it comes to animals / animal products. E.g. pasture raised vs. factory farmed
"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

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by Elysium » Tue Dec 22, 2015 5:23 pm

BW1985 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
BW1985 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
Caduceus wrote:or spend a ton more on what is mostly food marketing gimmicks (organic, Paleo, assuming the produce at Whole Foods is somehow better than at the local market...).
I don't think spending more on food has any correlation to eating healthier, but if you do, that's great.
I most definitely do, especially when it comes to animals / animal products. E.g. pasture raised vs. factory farmed
+1

I have never understood the argument some people make that organic is hype and the extra cost is not worth it. How can anyone make a case that factory farmed animal products raised on growth hormones, antibiotics, and inhumane conditions are equal to animals products that are from free roaming, pasture raised, non gmo, non growth hormones, no antibiotics fed animals.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by FreeAtLast » Tue Dec 22, 2015 5:34 pm

I will bet that this thread will soon be shut down if everybody starts proselytizing about how their diet is the absolute healthiest for humanity (FWIW, I eat whatever I want within reason and moderation). Anyways, I am only willing to spend so much time and effort looking for the best bargains in foodstuffs. Maximizing my free time and the convenient availability of what I want to purchase counteracts any obsession to save a few more dollars. If this makes me only an 80% Boglehead, so be it.
Illegitimi non carborundum.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Dec 22, 2015 5:58 pm

FreeAtLast wrote:I will bet that this thread will soon be shut down if everybody starts proselytizing about how their diet is the absolute healthiest for humanity.
Answers to "How much do you spend on groceries?" must be qualified by:
- How many people consume these groceries
- To what extent store-purchased groceries are offset by restaurant meals
and
- The type of these groceries.

A number without qualifications is meaningless. And when someone reports that he spends unusually little, this brings up follow up questions challenging the healthfulness of his diet. With respect to stoptothink, I have no doubt that he combines low cost with healthy meals. The mileage of others varies.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by TRC » Tue Dec 22, 2015 6:14 pm

Shallowpockets wrote:How much do you spend or budget on groceries? We are two adults here. Our budget for groceries is $250 a month.
Can you give us a sample month of what this looks like and a typical day's food in take? I really can't fathom how this is even remotely possible.

We are a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids ages 5 and 8). Our monthly average for groceries (not including any home care products like cleaning supplies, etc) is between $1,000 - $1,200 a month. It's a struggle to get this to $1,000. We live in Mass.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by Volkdancer » Tue Dec 22, 2015 6:20 pm

Over the past five years, my total expenditures for groceries, which includes everything that I buy at a grocery store, food as well as toilet paper et cetera, and eating out, has averaged $451.56 per month of which the grocery shopping itself averages $249.16. I do not try to control my spending and buy what I want to eat, primarily pescatarian, and will enjoy eating with an eye towards M. F. K. Fisher.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by TRC » Tue Dec 22, 2015 6:30 pm

stoptothink wrote:
BW1985 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
Caduceus wrote:or spend a ton more on what is mostly food marketing gimmicks (organic, Paleo, assuming the produce at Whole Foods is somehow better than at the local market...).
Avoiding as many pesticides as I can is not a gimmick, to me anyways. And Whole Foods produce may not be better than your local market but is sure a heck of a lot better than my local grocery chain produce.

IMO quality food fits into the same category as a mattress, it's not the place you want to skimp on. What you put in (and on) your body is the biggest factor in your heath that you can control.

Over the long haul spending more on food, if it causes you to eat better, will likely be worth the investment because we all know heath care ain't cheap. If you can eat well and relatively cheap more power to you!
Different strokes for different folks. Without the scientific evidence to back up the idea that organic is superior nutritionally or that those pesticides result in increased negative health outcomes, I defer to the more economical method.
So basically until a "study" is produced, you're willing to risk your family's health by eating foods treated with toxins? I'd rather play it safe and spend a few extra dollars to eat food that is grown the way our ancestors grew it before they started to tinker with food in a lab. Besides, it tastes much better.

You should read this: http://www.panna.org/gmos-pesticides-pr ... ience-spin

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by surfstar » Tue Dec 22, 2015 6:44 pm

[As this thread has been covered at least twice since I've been here]

Define "organic".

"Besides, it tastes much better"
please watch Penn & Teller's Bull__it episode on organic foods. They don't taste better. That's bias you're tasting.
And listen to Bill Nye change his stance on GMOs. I like his viewpoints.

I'm always amazed at how much money some people spend on food. Working to eat, I guess.
Last edited by surfstar on Tue Dec 22, 2015 6:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by surfstar » Tue Dec 22, 2015 6:47 pm

TRC wrote: I'd rather play it safe and spend a few extra dollars to eat food that is grown the way our ancestors grew it before they started to tinker with food in a lab.
They had labs. They were called "fields" back then. There is no such thing as organic or non-GMO if you buy something that was planted for human consumption. Everything has been genetically modified, going back thousands of years. If something can flourish without pesticide use, then that genetic strain of plant has been selected for, artificially by farmers. Its perfectly possible that the "organic" version of a food has worse nutrient qualities vs one that needs pesticides to help flourish.

They also recently found out that by bottling water, you can charge a lot more for it.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by Church Lady » Tue Dec 22, 2015 6:59 pm

Single person, $400/month, includes groceries, food at work (cafeteria, coffee, sodas), restaurant meals. This excludes non grocery items you might buy at the grocery such as paper products and hygiene items. This does not include alcohol :beer because I never partake :wink: I buy a lot of stuff in the health food store and in the produce section.
He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. Ecclesiastes 1:8

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by stainlessworks » Tue Dec 22, 2015 7:13 pm

Sometimes $150-$250 a month - varies depending on when my wife is in the mood to cook. :( If we factor in eating out, add $200.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by stoptothink » Tue Dec 22, 2015 7:23 pm

TRC wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
BW1985 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
Caduceus wrote:or spend a ton more on what is mostly food marketing gimmicks (organic, Paleo, assuming the produce at Whole Foods is somehow better than at the local market...).
Avoiding as many pesticides as I can is not a gimmick, to me anyways. And Whole Foods produce may not be better than your local market but is sure a heck of a lot better than my local grocery chain produce.

IMO quality food fits into the same category as a mattress, it's not the place you want to skimp on. What you put in (and on) your body is the biggest factor in your heath that you can control.

Over the long haul spending more on food, if it causes you to eat better, will likely be worth the investment because we all know heath care ain't cheap. If you can eat well and relatively cheap more power to you!
Different strokes for different folks. Without the scientific evidence to back up the idea that organic is superior nutritionally or that those pesticides result in increased negative health outcomes, I defer to the more economical method.
So basically until a "study" is produced, you're willing to risk your family's health by eating foods treated with toxins? I'd rather play it safe and spend a few extra dollars to eat food that is grown the way our ancestors grew it before they started to tinker with food in a lab. Besides, it tastes much better.

You should read this: http://www.panna.org/gmos-pesticides-pr ... ience-spin
I feel fairly confident in my previous reading and understanding of the topic, I work for a health company that makes a lot of money off numerous marketing gimmicks including the organic label. The real issue is, unless you grow it yourself or at the very least personally know the grower, you have no idea what the "organic" label even means. If you believe a marketing term with regulations which change by the week and are hardly overseen allows you to know more about the produce or meat you buy than what I buy at our local grocer, more power to you. If you like the taste better, that's great. If it somehow gives you some peace of mind, that's great as well. I don't agree and there isn't any accepted scientific data to prove my position wrong, but I respect your opinion.

Yeah, I'm willing to "risk my family's health" by not eating organic food, just like I am by not buying a brand new luxury vehicle which is apparently safer (another common statement on this board I find odd). I personally feel we practice more effective means to significantly decrease risk for negative outcomes. As far as our health, we eat almost no processed food, don't eat out, don't consume any alcohol, and are extremely physically active. Similarly, we don't feel that we are putting the lives of our children in danger because we do not buy a new luxury vehicle every few years with the latest safety gizmos, instead we bought a home which allows us to walk almost everywhere. I feel OK about the decisions I've made to protect my family's health and safety, but thanks for your concerns.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by BW1985 » Tue Dec 22, 2015 8:53 pm

Organic & non-GMO aside, can we agree that products from animals which were raised on smaller farms, eating grass with outside access would cost more than products from factory farmed animals? Cost of production is higher therefore cost to consumer is higher. I don't see how that one is debatable.

Organic & non-GMO all comes down to values and what you choose to believe. Personally I choose to err on the side of caution and if I'm wrong oh well, cost me more money. It's not going to make or break me.
"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

Elysium
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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by Elysium » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:48 pm

stoptothink wrote: I feel fairly confident in my previous reading and understanding of the topic, I work for a health company that makes a lot of money off numerous marketing gimmicks including the organic label. The real issue is, unless you grow it yourself or at the very least personally know the grower, you have no idea what the "organic" label even means.
Would you care to be more specific and elaborate on what it really means to have gimmicks with organic label and regulations that change on a weekly basis?

My family spends a considerable amount in purchasing foods labeled organic and we would like to understand what kind of gimmicks goes on into the label.

Specifically, lets talk about products such as eggs, milk, chicken, wild caught fish, vegetables, and fruits. These are what we think we are getting good value in purchasing free roaming, no antibiotics, no growth hormones, less pesticides. What kind of marketing and labeling gimmicks goes on here. Please share your thoughts since you said you have knowledge in this area.
Last edited by Elysium on Tue Dec 22, 2015 11:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by dsmil » Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:12 pm

$600 for everything that we buy at the grocery store for 2 of us and a baby, another $150 for dining out.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by stoptothink » Wed Dec 23, 2015 11:46 am

Dieharder wrote:
stoptothink wrote: I feel fairly confident in my previous reading and understanding of the topic, I work for a health company that makes a lot of money off numerous marketing gimmicks including the organic label. The real issue is, unless you grow it yourself or at the very least personally know the grower, you have no idea what the "organic" label even means.
Would you care to be more specific and elaborate on what it really means to have gimmicks with organic label and regulations that change on a weekly basis?
The standards which must be met for something to be labeled certified organic change extremely regularly and aren't exactly strictly monitored. People tend to think that when they are buying organic, that it is from the local farmer, when in fact 99% of the time it is product from Big Food subsidiary and grown on the same megafarm as everything else. My own employer does this, for no other reason than many of our customers will not buy something unless it is labeled organic. There is a mountain of information out there, just a snippet:

http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/20 ... 08701.html
"organic products do not meet stringent standards. Usually, all that is required for organic certification is paperwork. The USDA itself does not conduct any field inspections, but instead hires third party contractors (who make their money by collecting fees from the farmers they inspect). Second, organic farms use "natural" pesticides, some of which could be considered toxic. Further, these "natural" pesticides aren't nearly as regulated or understood as their synthetic counterparts. (In reality, the amount of pesticides used by both conventional and organic farms fall well below what is considered unsafe.)"

I'm not sure where the idea came from that organic farming doesn't use pesticides (as has been mentioned a few times in this thread).

Believe me, I love the idea of organic as it is a fact that the nutrient density of our food has dwindled the past century, but fact of the matter is I know first hand through my own work that I don't know the first thing about any food unless I grow it myself.
Last edited by stoptothink on Wed Dec 23, 2015 12:08 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Dec 23, 2015 11:55 am

stoptothink wrote:People tend to think that when they are buying organic, that it is from the local farmer, when in fact 99% of the time it is product from Big Food subsidiary and grown on the same megafarm as everything else.
I buy much of my organic groceries at Costco including organic chicken, organic eggs, organic olive oil, and organic salads packaged in 1-lb containers. I realize that these products are not local, but I rely on Costco's reputation to provide quality products. For my purchases, the difference in price between organic and inorganic is not large, and I am paying it as a form of Pascal's wager.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by stoptothink » Wed Dec 23, 2015 12:01 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
stoptothink wrote:People tend to think that when they are buying organic, that it is from the local farmer, when in fact 99% of the time it is product from Big Food subsidiary and grown on the same megafarm as everything else.
I buy much of my organic groceries at Costco including organic chicken, organic eggs, organic olive oil, and organic salads packaged in 1-lb containers. I realize that these products are not local, but I rely on Costco's reputation to provide quality products. For my purchases, the difference in price between organic and inorganic is not large, and I am paying it as a form of Pascal's wager.

Victoria
That's great, Costco is widely known for only selling quality goods and from my experience that reputation was earned. I don't know their policies and I am sure they do as much due diligence as possible (because that is how they run their business), but I doubt they are inspecting the farms of their growers. If buying your food from them gives you peace of mind, for you it is worth it. I might buy a lot of my food from Costco too, but in my particular area Costco tends to be more expensive than alternatives and I haven't noticed a quality (taste or freshness) difference. My price threshold for peace of mind is probably a lot less than yours.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by corysold » Wed Dec 23, 2015 12:31 pm

This thread has been an eyeopener for me. I really have been trying to figure out how to reduce our grocery bill, but now I see that it isn't really out of line at all and probably well below average. That is encouraging.

For those who have an Aldi nearby, they are slowly getting a very nice organic and produce section. Plenty of seasonal choices for usually less than you can buy conventional at Walmart, Jewel, Target etc. Same with grass fed beef, naturally raised chickens, etc. When we first started shopping there, the choices left a lot to be desired. But now I feel for ~$750/mo for 7 we are making plenty of healthy selections with the occasional junk food thrown in.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Dec 23, 2015 12:42 pm

stoptothink wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
stoptothink wrote:People tend to think that when they are buying organic, that it is from the local farmer, when in fact 99% of the time it is product from Big Food subsidiary and grown on the same megafarm as everything else.
I buy much of my organic groceries at Costco including organic chicken, organic eggs, organic olive oil, and organic salads packaged in 1-lb containers. I realize that these products are not local, but I rely on Costco's reputation to provide quality products. For my purchases, the difference in price between organic and inorganic is not large, and I am paying it as a form of Pascal's wager.

Victoria
That's great, Costco is widely known for only selling quality goods and from my experience that reputation was earned. I don't know their policies and I am sure they do as much due diligence as possible (because that is how they run their business), but I doubt they are inspecting the farms of their growers. If buying your food from them gives you peace of mind, for you it is worth it. I might buy a lot of my food from Costco too, but in my particular area Costco tends to be more expensive than alternatives and I haven't noticed a quality (taste or freshness) difference. My price threshold for peace of mind is probably a lot less than yours.
That's fair.

I make some trade-offs. For example, I don't buy low-fat products, but my Costco carries only low-fat organic plain yogurt and whole inorganic plain yogurt. I buy the latter.

Even if Costco does not inspect the farms it's buying from, there probably taking place some volunteer reporting. I am guessing that if an organic farm gets Costco's business undeservingly, the neighboring farmers might bring it up to Costco's attention. I am further guessing that Costco has better resources to investigate such reports than the FDA.

Ultimately, I agree that I have my price for peace of mind, which I am readily paying.

Victoria
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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by LadyGeek » Wed Dec 23, 2015 5:01 pm

With reference to some earlier posts, please stay focused on the cost of groceries. "Gimmicks with organic label and regulations" are off-topic.
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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by Castanea_d. » Wed Dec 23, 2015 10:38 pm

Two adults: $350/month groceries (including paper products, cleaning supplies, etc.)
plus $65/month beer and hard cider, $65/month eating out, $60/month food and supplies for three cats. Total for all of this: $540/month.

Not wanting to get off-topic, but we are vegetarians, which (aside from any other aspects) is probably less expensive. Others have mentioned the Aldi grocery chain; one of their stores opened in our town recently and I think it is going to noticeably reduce our costs. For us, it is going to mostly replace Hy-Vee, which is a perfectly good store but a bit more expensive.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by ConcernedKid » Wed Dec 23, 2015 11:27 pm

I average $60/month on groceries. A sample breakdown is:

$2.50 - steel cut oats (bulk bin) $.69 per pound
$5 - whole chicken purchases when either $5/whole fryer or less than $1/lb.
The actual meat last for several meals (i.e. 2 breasts, 2 legs, 2 wings, etc.). The bones are used to make chicken stock which then becomes the base of soup or is used to cook quinoa/rice/etc.
$10 - fresh vegetables. There are several ethnic grocery stores where fresh vegetables can be purchased at a steep discount. I generally by kale and chard at $1.00/bunch, 2 lbs of carrots for $2, red onions, tomatoes around $1.50/lb) and avocados at $.69/each.
$5 - 6 lbs of black beans (bulk bin) for regular black beans - organic or turtle beans are usually around $2/lb in the bulk bins
$10 - whole grains. This is usually a 4 lb bag of organic quinoa from Costco or different types of grains (rice, barley, etc.) from the bulk bins
$10- 5 lb bag of frozen blueberries from Costco (lasts 6-8 weeks). The blueberries go in the oatmeal for breakfast or are used in breakfast smoothies
$5 - one gallon of almond milk (used to make breakfast smoothies with the fresh veggies, and blueberries) I alternate between oatmeal and smoothies for breakfast
$15 - Box of quality wine (not an oxymoron)
$5 - random purchases - $1 pack of corn tortillas, 1 lb box of pasta at < $1, Dark chocolate bars at over 75% cacao, discount bananas, apples, etc...
Non-monthly purchases - 3 lb bag of almonds from Costco - broken up into serving size snack bags to have on hand; seasonings and spices from Costco and ethnic grocery stores; 2 liter jar of olive oil from Costco.

Typical daily menu

Breakfast:
Steel cut oatmeal (1/2 cup dry) with 1/2 cup frozen blueberries or loss leader fruit; or
breakfast smoothie - 2 cups Almondmilk, 1 cup frozen blueberries or frozen loss leader fruit, 1 cup kale or loss leader veggie

Lunch

pasta with grilled red onions, kale or loss leader veggie(s) and chicken breast/black beans tossed in olive oil
quinoa with red onions, kale or loss leader veggies and black beans/chicken
soup made from the chicken stock with onions, black beans, and carrots
chicken or black beans with red onion and carrots on a bed of chard or kale tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Dinner

black bean or chicken soft tacos (tortillas with either black beans or chicken with onion, tomato and avocado)
chicken, rice and loss leader vegetable
Any of the lunch items

I tend to eat semi-healthy. The bulk bins provide cheap grains and beans. Ethnic grocery stores in the area provide the cheap veggies and a table that usually has deeply discounted bulk fruits and vegetables that I either freeze for later use or use immediately in soups. The meat generally comes from regular grocery stores that have sales on average of once per month. The grocery stores near me have clearance bins with meat that has reached the "sell by" date. Better quality meats will be eaten after they are baked or grilled. Lower quality meats are cooked in the slow cooker as part of a stew or soup. In a pinch, it is very easy to make hummus in a food processor from a $1 can of garbanzo beans (takes about 2 minutes). Food is prepared in bulk on the weekends so that something is always ready to eat. This prevents me from eating out unless it's a planned outing with friends, etc.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by Caduceus » Thu Dec 24, 2015 12:31 pm

Hmm, I'm not sure why things I didn't say have been attributed to me. I am guessing someone misquoted and put my handle in front of someone else's words!

I actually practice a mixture; I eat organic when there is some evidence to support it (berries, peaches, some vegetables), and eat conventional when there doesn't seem to be too much more of a benefit (bananas, for instance).

This is actually what the EWG recommends.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by steadyeddy » Thu Dec 24, 2015 1:07 pm

Groceries have averaged $352/mo for my spouse and me over the last 12 months, and that number includes alcohol, toiletries, cleaning supplies, paper products, etc. Restaurant meals have averaged an additional $349/mo over the same time period. We like good food and good friends to share it with! :sharebeer

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by BW1985 » Thu Dec 24, 2015 2:47 pm

ConcernedKid wrote:I average $60/month on groceries. A sample breakdown is:

$2.50 - steel cut oats (bulk bin) $.69 per pound
$5 - whole chicken purchases when either $5/whole fryer or less than $1/lb.
The actual meat last for several meals (i.e. 2 breasts, 2 legs, 2 wings, etc.). The bones are used to make chicken stock which then becomes the base of soup or is used to cook quinoa/rice/etc.
$10 - fresh vegetables. There are several ethnic grocery stores where fresh vegetables can be purchased at a steep discount. I generally by kale and chard at $1.00/bunch, 2 lbs of carrots for $2, red onions, tomatoes around $1.50/lb) and avocados at $.69/each.
$5 - 6 lbs of black beans (bulk bin) for regular black beans - organic or turtle beans are usually around $2/lb in the bulk bins
$10 - whole grains. This is usually a 4 lb bag of organic quinoa from Costco or different types of grains (rice, barley, etc.) from the bulk bins
$10- 5 lb bag of frozen blueberries from Costco (lasts 6-8 weeks). The blueberries go in the oatmeal for breakfast or are used in breakfast smoothies
$5 - one gallon of almond milk (used to make breakfast smoothies with the fresh veggies, and blueberries) I alternate between oatmeal and smoothies for breakfast
$15 - Box of quality wine (not an oxymoron)
$5 - random purchases - $1 pack of corn tortillas, 1 lb box of pasta at < $1, Dark chocolate bars at over 75% cacao, discount bananas, apples, etc...
Non-monthly purchases - 3 lb bag of almonds from Costco - broken up into serving size snack bags to have on hand; seasonings and spices from Costco and ethnic grocery stores; 2 liter jar of olive oil from Costco.

Typical daily menu

Breakfast:
Steel cut oatmeal (1/2 cup dry) with 1/2 cup frozen blueberries or loss leader fruit; or
breakfast smoothie - 2 cups Almondmilk, 1 cup frozen blueberries or frozen loss leader fruit, 1 cup kale or loss leader veggie

Lunch

pasta with grilled red onions, kale or loss leader veggie(s) and chicken breast/black beans tossed in olive oil
quinoa with red onions, kale or loss leader veggies and black beans/chicken
soup made from the chicken stock with onions, black beans, and carrots
chicken or black beans with red onion and carrots on a bed of chard or kale tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Dinner

black bean or chicken soft tacos (tortillas with either black beans or chicken with onion, tomato and avocado)
chicken, rice and loss leader vegetable
Any of the lunch items

I tend to eat semi-healthy. The bulk bins provide cheap grains and beans. Ethnic grocery stores in the area provide the cheap veggies and a table that usually has deeply discounted bulk fruits and vegetables that I either freeze for later use or use immediately in soups. The meat generally comes from regular grocery stores that have sales on average of once per month. The grocery stores near me have clearance bins with meat that has reached the "sell by" date. Better quality meats will be eaten after they are baked or grilled. Lower quality meats are cooked in the slow cooker as part of a stew or soup. In a pinch, it is very easy to make hummus in a food processor from a $1 can of garbanzo beans (takes about 2 minutes). Food is prepared in bulk on the weekends so that something is always ready to eat. This prevents me from eating out unless it's a planned outing with friends, etc.
$60 a month or $60 a week?

You have a whole chicken listed for $5. I'm assuming one chicken does not last you a whole month.
"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

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by LynnC » Thu Dec 24, 2015 3:39 pm

CABob wrote:I don't keep track of expenses to this level of detail, but I can tell you that weekly trips to the super market typically run $100 to $120. Plus a monthly trip to Costco for typically $400 but both of these shopping trips include things other than groceries. I would estimate that groceries for a family of two run about $600 each month.
Right, Bob! I quit looking at the bill, but I would guess around $600 - $800 per month for two of us and that includes a Costco run where I can really stock up. We eat out at least once per week. I am in California also.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by ConcernedKid » Thu Dec 24, 2015 3:59 pm

It's $60 a month. The meat from the chicken will last a bit over a week. You can make quite a few meals with two chicken breasts, two chicken thighs, two wings, and two legs. The chicken bones are saved to make chicken stock which becomes the base of soup that lasts about another week (i.e. dump the bones into a crock pot, fill with water, turn it on and go to work). Once you have the chicken stock, you can dump any combo of veggies, beans and/or meat in it to make soup. The rest of the meals are some combination of beans, grains, vegetables, meat and fish. I buy organic for the "dirty dozen" (usually at Costco, WinCo or Fred Meyer), the rest is just "regular." You can "doctor up" the food so that it does not seem monotonous. Add guacamole or pico de gallo for a more southwestern take, add soy sauce and grated ginger for a more Asian spin, use potatoes for a heartier dish, pasta for a more "Italian" meal.

Grains and beans are always very cheap. Fruits and vegetables can be purchased in bulk when they are on sale. Frozen fruits and vegetables can be used for the times when the fresh produce is not on sale. Spices are easy to buy in bulk at Costco or at ethnic grocery stores. I go to an Indian grocery store for bulk amounts of turmeric, red pepper, and garam masala. I go to Costco for more generic spices like garlic powder, sea salt, pepper, etc. These spices do wonders for what would otherwise be a boring dish. I go with the flow of whatever grocery stores are getting rid of. I've found that the regular grocery stores will recognize your shopping patterns and start sending you digital coupons for items you would buy anyway (for me that's the organic dirty dozen, frozen fruits and vegetables and whole fryer chickens). It's not that hard to keep costs down if: 1) you don't buy packaged or processed foods; 2) you are not wed to any particular food; 3) you don't mind eating similar things on a regular basis.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by Barefootgirl » Thu Dec 24, 2015 4:45 pm

I probably average between $150-$250/mo for one, but am frequently cooking for 2 or more as I like to entertain...and when I do, they bring the wine so who really knows lol. Does not include meals away from home, which is probably between 5 and 10 per month.

My purchases are all over the map - Trader Joes and a local CSA, most frequently, sometimes Wegmans for food and Walmart for non perishables.

While I pay a premium for prepared fresh vegetables and other unprocesssed foods, I see my costs are offset by my habit of intermittent fasting, which is of course, very economical. 8-)

I see Costco mentioned here frequently. I believe Costco has a generous return policy and is known for treating their employers better than other retailers, but I find their unprocessed foods to be sold in too large of quantities for me to get any substantial savings. I'm not a big fan of food spoiling or eating the same thing several days in a row and my freezer is small.

Also, I don't believe the Kirkland brand has any particular benefits over other brands in terms of quality or healthfulness. They are a mega chain following the usual corporate farming practices.

They did not rate very highly in this dairy survey which I use as a personal guideline for purchasing:

http://www.cornucopia.org/dairysurvey/index.html
Last edited by Barefootgirl on Thu Dec 24, 2015 5:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by cricket49 » Thu Dec 24, 2015 4:55 pm

For two people groceries including toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc. 591.00/month

Restaurants = 352.00/month

This is one area of our budget that should go down when we retire.
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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by kazper » Thu Dec 24, 2015 9:09 pm

FreddieG wrote:Our annual grocery expenses for the last 8 years for 4 people. So, about $550/mo.

Code: Select all

6,339.91	5,969.80	5,485.35	7,389.71	6,500.20	6,470.69	7,526.37	7,065.98
Most of these expenses were in the DC area, but the last 5 months are in Colorado Springs. My wife says that groceries are not cheaper here, and maybe more expensive than DC.
I find that hard to believe.

We spend 300/mo, mostly at aldi with some others at weis and sams to supplement.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by BW1985 » Fri Dec 25, 2015 9:41 pm

ConcernedKid wrote:It's $60 a month. The meat from the chicken will last a bit over a week. You can make quite a few meals with two chicken breasts, two chicken thighs, two wings, and two legs. The chicken bones are saved to make chicken stock which becomes the base of soup that lasts about another week (i.e. dump the bones into a crock pot, fill with water, turn it on and go to work). Once you have the chicken stock, you can dump any combo of veggies, beans and/or meat in it to make soup. The rest of the meals are some combination of beans, grains, vegetables, meat and fish. I buy organic for the "dirty dozen" (usually at Costco, WinCo or Fred Meyer), the rest is just "regular." You can "doctor up" the food so that it does not seem monotonous. Add guacamole or pico de gallo for a more southwestern take, add soy sauce and grated ginger for a more Asian spin, use potatoes for a heartier dish, pasta for a more "Italian" meal.

Grains and beans are always very cheap. Fruits and vegetables can be purchased in bulk when they are on sale. Frozen fruits and vegetables can be used for the times when the fresh produce is not on sale. Spices are easy to buy in bulk at Costco or at ethnic grocery stores. I go to an Indian grocery store for bulk amounts of turmeric, red pepper, and garam masala. I go to Costco for more generic spices like garlic powder, sea salt, pepper, etc. These spices do wonders for what would otherwise be a boring dish. I go with the flow of whatever grocery stores are getting rid of. I've found that the regular grocery stores will recognize your shopping patterns and start sending you digital coupons for items you would buy anyway (for me that's the organic dirty dozen, frozen fruits and vegetables and whole fryer chickens). It's not that hard to keep costs down if: 1) you don't buy packaged or processed foods; 2) you are not wed to any particular food; 3) you don't mind eating similar things on a regular basis.
$2 a day is pretty darn impressive I have to say.
"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

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by VictoriaF » Sat Dec 26, 2015 8:42 am

kazper wrote:
FreddieG wrote:Our annual grocery expenses for the last 8 years for 4 people. So, about $550/mo.

Code: Select all

6,339.91	5,969.80	5,485.35	7,389.71	6,500.20	6,470.69	7,526.37	7,065.98
Most of these expenses were in the DC area, but the last 5 months are in Colorado Springs. My wife says that groceries are not cheaper here, and maybe more expensive than DC.
I find that hard to believe.

We spend 300/mo, mostly at aldi with some others at weis and sams to supplement.
As I noted above, I spend about $300/month, or $10/day, for one person, and to me it's normal. However, I can also understand how one can have a very low food budget.

In 1996 and 1997, I trekked in Nepal where all my meals were Dal bhat, the main local dish comprising rice, lentils, and optional spices. I ate Dal bhat for weeks straight, and I was not "bored" because my excitement is not related to food, and I had plenty of natural and human sources of excitement. Dal bhat together with other foods, such as yak butter tea, provides complete nutrition as evidenced by the strength of the Sherpas. The Nepalese high-altitude diet is very easy to replicate in the U.S. at a very low cost.

Victoria
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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by Caduceus » Sat Dec 26, 2015 11:05 am

^Now that's a good idea. I would like to try that out actually. I don't have any sense of how much spices would go into making the lentils as the spices seem expensive (at least the ones I've come across), but this would be something I could actually eat every day, so I will go do some research!

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by Shallowpockets » Sat Dec 26, 2015 11:57 am

To BW1985
$60 a month spent on groceries.
I admire your use of food and the low costs you manage. I did put together a typical day of food for you as per your post.

B - Oatmeal 1/2 cup with blueberries - 200 calories
L - 3.2 oz black beans in one tortilla - 352 calories. I divided the total you say you buy by the possible allotment per day from that total. Your $1 worst of tortillas would not be 30. But I figure this would be OK for now.
D - 2.13 ozs quinoa uncooked. 250 calories. Plus some veggies as you state. Maybe some chicken in the beginning of the month, so 3 ozs chicken too, 190 calories. Total D - 440 calories.
Daily total above - 992 calories.

That is a starvation diet. And this is your diet more or less over a period of time, not just intermittent.
I do not see how this is possible.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by VictoriaF » Sat Dec 26, 2015 12:01 pm

Shallowpockets wrote:That is a starvation diet. And this is your diet more or less over a period of time, not just intermittent. I do not see how this is possible.
I have seen some studies that mice live much longer on starvation diets.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by randomguy » Sat Dec 26, 2015 1:22 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Shallowpockets wrote:That is a starvation diet. And this is your diet more or less over a period of time, not just intermittent. I do not see how this is possible.
I have seen some studies that mice live much longer on starvation diets.

Victoria

Yeah but are they happier?:)

You can get a ton of calories cheap for 2 bucks/day. A 1 lb bag of pasta give you ~1500 calories and costs like 1 buck. 50lbs of rice is 16 bucks at sams club. Potatoes are also dirt cheap. Beans are not going to break the bank either. Obviously you need to mix in some other things but you can get things like 1/lb of chicken for .99 on sale so that it .50/day to pretty much meet your protein needs.

Would you want to live like this? That is a personal choice. I know I could cut my food budget by 50%+. I don't because it would adversely effect my life. The point of having money is to spend it (either now or in the future). It is up to you to decide where spending money will max out your happiness. I am willing to work another 8 weeks over 20 years to eat the way I do. You might rather retire those 8 weeks early.

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Re: How much do you spend on groceries?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sat Dec 26, 2015 1:36 pm

Family of four: $300-$310/month. We eat healthy, very little processed food.
We do use quite a bit of generic brand products, same quality, cheaper boglehead price. We use those savings on the more appetizing selections - fish and meat.
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