Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

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davos8923
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Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by davos8923 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:58 am

Hi,

My wife and I spend ~$1,200 or so each month for groceries, and there's only two of us. It's the only large item on our budget except for rent.

Our predicament is we desire to eat extremely healthy (organic, non-GMO, top of the line sourced food) but see nowhere to cut our bill. We shop exclusively at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. Every time we tell someone our monthly grocery bill, their jaw hits the floor. Now granted, most people don't eat very healthy. Easy to have low budget when you just eat cereal, sandwiches, cheap meat, and spaghetti.

We buy a lot of Whole Foods store brand to save where we can, and also utilize the AMEX 6% cash back at grocery store card. Also important to note we don't really eat out except for the occasional random dinner maybe once per week, so given we're cooking every meal (3 per day), makes sense we would need to buy more.

Question is this -- do those of you very health conscious folks spend this much? I'm worried to already be at this level and not even yet have kids.

Keepcalm
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by Keepcalm » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:03 am

Very curious on the responses to come on this post. I am also one who is on the verge of making quality of foods one of the highest priorities on my budget.

Right now I buy supermarket meats etc and often grab what is there and of normal market price. However now I'm looking into going direct to a local farm or at least a known reputable organic market.

Jags4186
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by Jags4186 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:05 am

Depends how much you make. If you bring home $5000/mo and are spending $1200 on groceries you’re spending too much. If you bring home $50,000 a month and spend $1200 on groceries you’re spending too much but it doesn’t matter. Just because you eat organic non gmo doesn’t mean you need to spend $1200 a month. It means you need to change your diet. Add healthful, inexpensive items like rice, beans, wheatberries, etc. as bases for your meals which will fill you up but don’t cost a fortune. If you’re eating organic chicken and steaks every night and $5 organic mangoes for breakfast every morning...well there’s your $1200.

TheDDC
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by TheDDC » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:06 am

davos8923 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:58 am
Hi,

My wife and I spend ~$1,200 or so each month for groceries, and there's only two of us. It's the only large item on our budget except for rent.

Our predicament is we desire to eat extremely healthy (organic, non-GMO, top of the line sourced food) but see nowhere to cut our bill. We shop exclusively at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. Every time we tell someone our monthly grocery bill, their jaw hits the floor. Now granted, most people don't eat very healthy. Easy to have low budget when you just eat cereal, sandwiches, cheap meat, and spaghetti.

We buy a lot of Whole Foods store brand to save where we can, and also utilize the AMEX 6% cash back at grocery store card. Also important to note we don't really eat out except for the occasional random dinner maybe once per week, so given we're cooking every meal (3 per day), makes sense we would need to buy more.

Question is this -- do those of you very health conscious folks spend this much? I'm worried to already be at this level and not even yet have kids.
We also have the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred. Be aware that the limit for grocery rebates is $6000 annually, so max of $360 in rebates in that spend category, which you would blow through in roughly 6 months. Anything past that is 1% rebates. They also just raised the annual fee to $95 (from $75). I am considering cancelling.

That budget number seems high. My wife and I and two kids (one nursing) eat for about $500-600 per month. That is all non-GMO (when possible), gluten-free (my wife is celiac), organic, mostly locally sourced.

-TheDDC
Rules to wealth building: 90-100% VTSAX piled high and deep, 0-10% VIGAX tilt, 0% given away to banks, minimize amount given to medical-industrial complex

Topic Author
davos8923
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by davos8923 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:07 am

Keepcalm wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:03 am
Very curious on the responses to come on this post. I am also one who is on the verge of making quality of foods one of the highest priorities on my budget.

Right now I buy supermarket meats etc and often grab what is there and of normal market price. However now I'm looking into going direct to a local farm or at least a known reputable organic market.
Local farm is interesting idea and perhaps we could find one. One nice thing about the grocery store is it is convenient, but you pay for it, given my post. Another issue for us is we live in an apartment and don't have a ton of freezer space (no second fridge/freezer anywhere) so we can't really 'stock up' to save.

Hillview
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by Hillview » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:10 am

You will find almost everyone will say that is way too high. That said, we are in that ballpark -- there are 4 of us. I have decided it comes down to priorities and interest/need to not spend that amount (as a pp said it depends on what % of your take home this is). I am working to get our budget down. For context we cook for/feed 4 people 3 meals a day except once a week we go out for dinner.

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davos8923
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by davos8923 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:10 am

TheDDC wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:06 am
davos8923 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:58 am
Hi,

My wife and I spend ~$1,200 or so each month for groceries, and there's only two of us. It's the only large item on our budget except for rent.

Our predicament is we desire to eat extremely healthy (organic, non-GMO, top of the line sourced food) but see nowhere to cut our bill. We shop exclusively at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. Every time we tell someone our monthly grocery bill, their jaw hits the floor. Now granted, most people don't eat very healthy. Easy to have low budget when you just eat cereal, sandwiches, cheap meat, and spaghetti.

We buy a lot of Whole Foods store brand to save where we can, and also utilize the AMEX 6% cash back at grocery store card. Also important to note we don't really eat out except for the occasional random dinner maybe once per week, so given we're cooking every meal (3 per day), makes sense we would need to buy more.

Question is this -- do those of you very health conscious folks spend this much? I'm worried to already be at this level and not even yet have kids.
We also have the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred. Be aware that the limit for grocery rebates is $6000 annually, so max of $360 in rebates in that spend category, which you would blow through in roughly 6 months. Anything past that is 1% rebates. They also just raised the annual fee to $95 (from $75). I am considering cancelling.

That budget number seems high. My wife and I and two kids (one nursing) eat for about $500-600 per month. That is all non-GMO (when possible), gluten-free (my wife is celiac), organic, mostly locally sourced.

-TheDDC
Thanks for tip on AMEX; we actually have two of them, one for me, one for wife. This allows us the full 6% year round.

Which grocery store(s) do you go to for only $500-$600? Do you eat meat?

BogleMelon
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by BogleMelon » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:12 am

I think there is a difference between junk food and non organic food (same thing applies to Junk vs GMO). We eat mostly healthy food, our food budget average $380/mo per 2 adults. We don't live on cereals and crab, my wife is a good chief actually and makes good meals from scratch with very low salt and oil amount.

Whether organic and non-GMO is more healthier, I guess is scientifically debatable, and also different from one product to another. For example, it is important for apples to be organic but it doesn't matter much when it comes to avocados.
"One of the funny things about stock market, every time one is buying another is selling, and both think they are astute" - William Feather

onourway
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by onourway » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:14 am

I would say we eat very healthy although we don't splurge on most fancy organic products. We strive for whole, natural foods. We eat mostly vegetarian with a little bit of fish for the kids. I'm an active runner doing 40-100 miles per week on average so I eat plenty. We spend $800-1000/month for a family of 5 with minimal thought to the budget, so yes, I'd say your budget is quite generous.

Whole Foods has wonderful products, but you have to be careful what you buy there. It's easy to spend $8 on a tiny bit of fruit, $3 for a single vegetable, or $20+ for a cut of meat if you don't watch their prices. As others have noted though, whether this matters depends on what $1200/month in spending means to you. If you are hitting all your other financial goals and this is excess spending, and you're happy, go with it.

I would suggest you add the Amazon Prime Visa to your rotation however. You have to pay the $99/year fee for Amazon Prime, but you then get 5% off unlimited at Whole Foods. Keep the Amex for TJ's (but do the math on if you'd be better off going to the 3% back version with no annual fee).

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dm200
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by dm200 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:19 am

davos8923 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:58 am
Hi,
My wife and I spend ~$1,200 or so each month for groceries, and there's only two of us. It's the only large item on our budget except for rent.
Our predicament is we desire to eat extremely healthy (organic, non-GMO, top of the line sourced food) but see nowhere to cut our bill. We shop exclusively at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. Every time we tell someone our monthly grocery bill, their jaw hits the floor. Now granted, most people don't eat very healthy. Easy to have low budget when you just eat cereal, sandwiches, cheap meat, and spaghetti.
We buy a lot of Whole Foods store brand to save where we can, and also utilize the AMEX 6% cash back at grocery store card. Also important to note we don't really eat out except for the occasional random dinner maybe once per week, so given we're cooking every meal (3 per day), makes sense we would need to buy more.
Question is this -- do those of you very health conscious folks spend this much? I'm worried to already be at this level and not even yet have kids.
I have a somewhat different "philospohy" about such matters. My current (changed a lot over the years) "philosophy" based overwhelimnly on health and budget:

1. I do not have concerns (health) about GMO and many regular type things I buy are not GMO
2. Whole grain cereal is very healthful and low cost (including Oatmeal)
3. I do not believe Whole Foods or Trader Joe's are generally more healthful than Costco or neighborhood grocery store
4. I eat zero cured meat (no bacon, ham, hot dogs, cold cuts, etc.) and very low animal products (for health reasons)
5. Just two examples - cabbage is one of the lowest cost foods as well as one of the healthiest (raw or cooked). Oatmeal is 80 cents a pound at Costco and one of the healthiest breakfasts (with fruit)

Check out this site (several thousand videos) for science based conclusions about health, food, organic, GMO - www.nutritionfacts.org

MnyGrl
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by MnyGrl » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:20 am

Definitely not normal. The three of us eat very healthy foods but get them from Trader Joe’s and Aldis. Monthly bill is under 300/month. We probably spend an additional 100 on restaurants and takeout.

James Kiff
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by James Kiff » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:24 am

Really just a personal preference how much you want to spend. You could easily cut that bill, just buy more dry beans, brown rice, what's on sale, etc. You could find a local co-op and buy large bags of organic non-gmo quality food in bulk. You can buy quality flash frozen fruits and veggies on sale instead of fresh. You can eat less meat and other expensive forms of protein, eating more beans and lentils, which is both healthier and cheaper.

If you want more specifics just post more info. If you are happy with your spending then ignore everyone else. If you want to spend less, there are lots of ways to eat healthy and spending half what you are spending, just need to figure out what works for you.

(not to derail into conversation about healthy diet, but recently read this and found it to be great http://www.grubstreet.com/2018/03/ultim ... ition.html )
Last edited by James Kiff on Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Top99%
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by Top99% » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:27 am

My wife and I spend nearly that much as well. We eat a LOT of fish which we generally buy from Whole Foods or from HEB when they offer sustainably fished product. We do keep our costs down a little by eating the fruits, vegetables and fish that are in season. We enjoy really good food and are trying to make up for the questionable things we ate from our college years through our 20s. When times get tough we could trim quite a bit from our bill if needed but in reality our dining out budget is a very big crumple zone in our spending.
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SQRT
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by SQRT » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:31 am

I wouldn’t worry about it as long as you can afford it. People spend their money where they find the most utility. Presumably you find a lot of “utility” in these purchases. Why would you care what others think?

SCV_Lawyer
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by SCV_Lawyer » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:36 am

We also like to eat very healthy, and our monthly "grocery" bill is $1850 for four of us. I put it in quotes because it is more than just food. It includes everything we spend at a grocery store (so includes non-food consumables and occasional purchases of food storage, utensils, etc.), everything we spend at drug stores (very little of which is medical related -- more like make-up and other sundries), dog food (3 docs) and other food items bought elsewhere (e.g., protein powder from Amazon).

We buy a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, and higher quality meats and fish. Yes, we could spend less if we bought more grain/processed food, but we try to minimize those kinds of foods and always have some sort of protein in every meal. Fortunately, we have a very good income so this doesn't put much of a dent in our savings.

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Dendritic Tree
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by Dendritic Tree » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:40 am

Our family of 4 places a high value on eating healthy food that is organic, non-processed, local when possible. We are pretty budget constrained though, and while we love Whole Foods (and its local alternative Earth Fare), we can’t afford to shop there exclusively.

Our solution has been to use the ever-expanding and -improving organic offering at our local grocery store. The store brand organic stuff is super cheap and generally pretty high quality. You can pay less than half what you’d pay at Whole Foods. Of course we still go to Whole Foods sometimes, and there are certain items we only get at Whole Foods/Earth Fare, but it’s so much cheaper to get the bulk of our organic and all-natural stuff from the local supermarket. We’ve also found that we’re more likely to get local stuff there than Whole Foods.

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by livesoft » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:43 am

I shop for a few items at Trader Joe's and I eat extremely healthily (think Dr. Michael Greger). I spend about $300 a month on food, so $600 a month per person is outrageous to me. I gotta go find my jaw on the floor now.

I have not eaten spaghetti, cheap meat, nor sandwiches in a long time.
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thegoodlife
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by thegoodlife » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:43 am

Never tried it but heard good things about Thrive.
https://thrivemarket.com/landing/thrivehome/

pmj78910
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by pmj78910 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:44 am

We are a family of four and spend a little more than that per month. We also shop almost exclusively at Whole Foods and TJs. We use the new Amazon Prime Visa Signature (5% back at WF) and Amex Blue Cash Preferred (6% at all other grocery stores).

For what it's worth, I was never raised with this level of "healthy eating" and seem to be doing just fine. However, this organic/non-GMO/gluten-free food seems to be the rage in our circle of friends, and my DW prefers it, so I'm on board.

daheld
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by daheld » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:45 am

I am a Registered Dietitian and (obviously) relatively mindful of finances and trying to be thrifty. I think I can offer a unique perspective.

First off, kudos on doing what you can to eat healthy. We often think of investing in mutual funds and bonds and startups as investments, but spending a little extra to fuel your body with wholesome, nutritious foods is also an investment. Doing what you can to ward off chronic disease, if successful, will absolutely save you time and money throughout your life.

All that said, yes, I think $1200 a month in food is a pretty astronomical figure for two people. As I said, I'm an RD, and my wife and I don't eat exclusively GMO/organic. My opinion is that if you read unbiased scientific reviews, there's, at this point, no justification in doing so. This is not to demonize those who do choose that route; it's absolutely a personal decision each person should make. As another poster pointed out, if you're making $50,000 a month then it really doesn't matter. If you make $5000 a month, then I think you should re-analyze the reasons you've chosen to eat the types of foods you do.

I'm not going to try and change your mind about the foods you eat. Rather, here are some suggestions. These all depend vastly on what part of the country you live in and the cost of living. If you're in the Bay Area or NYC, these are probably not realistic.

1. Buy your meat in bulk. Find a local farm that raises organic, non-GMO meat (or whatever you're looking for) and buy a lot of it. If you don't have a deep freeze, buy one. You should be able to choose from different options with varying amounts of different cuts. If you're buying 50 or 75 or 100 lbs of meat at a time, that's going to be a LOT cheaper per pound than buying a couple 8 ounce fillets at Whole Foods.

2. I don't know what particular diet, if any, you and your partner adhere to. First, I'd strongly discourage the demonization of any entire food group. Second, if you eat things like beans, lentils, and legumes, try to incorporate more of these into your diet. They are, without a doubt, the cheapest source of great nutrition available. Packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Prep lunches ahead of time. You can do a cut of meat along with roasted veggies and beans for relatively cheap (obviously depends on the quality of foods), and those beans/lentils/legumes will pack a lot of nutrition for almost nothing.

3. Consider joining a CSA (community supported agriculture). There are pros and cons to this and I'm not going to list them all here. But if you and your partner like to cook, this can be a fun, interesting way to try new produce and is generally cheaper than buying from Whole Foods or TJ's.

4. Start gardening. Again, no idea if this is remotely feasible for you. If not, ignore this. If it is, it's self explanatory. You can plant a half dozen lettuce plants and have more greens than you know what to do with.

Hope this helps.

TheDDC
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by TheDDC » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:46 am

davos8923 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:10 am
TheDDC wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:06 am
davos8923 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:58 am
Hi,

My wife and I spend ~$1,200 or so each month for groceries, and there's only two of us. It's the only large item on our budget except for rent.

Our predicament is we desire to eat extremely healthy (organic, non-GMO, top of the line sourced food) but see nowhere to cut our bill. We shop exclusively at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. Every time we tell someone our monthly grocery bill, their jaw hits the floor. Now granted, most people don't eat very healthy. Easy to have low budget when you just eat cereal, sandwiches, cheap meat, and spaghetti.

We buy a lot of Whole Foods store brand to save where we can, and also utilize the AMEX 6% cash back at grocery store card. Also important to note we don't really eat out except for the occasional random dinner maybe once per week, so given we're cooking every meal (3 per day), makes sense we would need to buy more.

Question is this -- do those of you very health conscious folks spend this much? I'm worried to already be at this level and not even yet have kids.
We also have the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred. Be aware that the limit for grocery rebates is $6000 annually, so max of $360 in rebates in that spend category, which you would blow through in roughly 6 months. Anything past that is 1% rebates. They also just raised the annual fee to $95 (from $75). I am considering cancelling.

That budget number seems high. My wife and I and two kids (one nursing) eat for about $500-600 per month. That is all non-GMO (when possible), gluten-free (my wife is celiac), organic, mostly locally sourced.

-TheDDC
Thanks for tip on AMEX; we actually have two of them, one for me, one for wife. This allows us the full 6% year round.

Which grocery store(s) do you go to for only $500-$600? Do you eat meat?
I see. The annual fee increase is really making me think. Once Amazon Fresh is available in my area I may consider dumping the Amex and going with the Amazon 5% VISA.

Anyway, we do eat lots of meat! My wife is a SAHM and shops mainly at ALDI's where quality food can be had at a substantially lower price. She also shops at Giant and Weis Markets and one of our local independent grocery chains as well. We just got a new Whole Foods and Wegmans which are both in the stages of being built, so I expect the competition to keep prices the same or lower in our area. We are in an area that has a large agricultural base so we also have farm stores where we try to get most of our seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Before our latest one was born my wife shopped a lot and prepared things for the deep freeze which drove the bills up a little bit over a few months, but over FY 2017 we averaged $500-600 per month and we are still eating that food today. :)

-TheDDC
Rules to wealth building: 90-100% VTSAX piled high and deep, 0-10% VIGAX tilt, 0% given away to banks, minimize amount given to medical-industrial complex

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dm200
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by dm200 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:59 am

Anyway, we do eat lots of meat!
OK - that may be the key to your higher costs. "The science says" high consumption of meat is very unhealthy - so you are paying a premium to harm your health. Your choice - but no longer mine.

fposte
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by fposte » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:00 am

BogleMelon wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:12 am
I think there is a difference between junk food and non organic food.
Yes. I live in a rural area, and lots of the local farms farm sustainably and thoughtfully but without organic certification. On the other hand, there's this about the rift in the meaning of "organic." Labels are limited.

However, the OP is making me feel much better about my own food budget :happy .

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by Silk McCue » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:04 am

davos8923 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:58 am
Question is this -- do those of you very health conscious folks spend this much? I'm worried to already be at this level and not even yet have kids.
I think it is wise to be concerned about this spending. From your first post here your are looking to buy a house within the next year+ and that seems like a great financial priority along with your investing.

I believe that you are overly lavish in your spending. At $13.33 per meal ($1200/90 meals ) you are spending out of proportion to what is necessary to achieve your health minded goals. You can eat healthy without spending this much money. Some people waste money by overspending money on clothes, cars, jewelry ... your spending is this first time I ever heard of someone doing that with groceries.

The financial future you will appreciate the toning down of spending in any area that is out of whack.

My comments are not intended to be harsh, just direct.

Cheers

MrBeaver
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by MrBeaver » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:11 am

Ah, this should be interesting.

Opinions are wide and entrenched. I'm not trying to change anyone's mind. But in the spirit of Bogleheads, I'll point out one thing that saddens me about recent opinion trends on what constitutes a healthy diet:

Assuming the budget constrains how much can be spent, the question then becomes how to get the most health and enjoyment out of your food for a given budget. As the budget constraints loosen due to a large income, this becomes less important and it becomes easier to do everything you can think of to eat healthy, by taking no chances on foods which you hold some concern.

The problem comes when healthy eating opinions are discussed devoid of budgetary constraints. I know multiple people who are very budget constrained, but are simultaneously very influenced by the healthy food opinions of those who are not very budget constrained. As a result, many budget-constrained people cut back on things which are very settled science as important to health (balanced diet with more vegetables and fruits, increasing the ratio of whole grains to refined products, etc.), in order to maintain goals which are more controversial on their long-term effects (non-GMO, eating a gluten-free diet for those without celiac disease, organic, etc.).

Ultimately, I would treat this challenge as a prioritization. List out the goals you desire for your diet, and prioritize them. Then attempt to estimate the delta cost of achieving each individual goal. Then you can more clearly see whether significant cost savings could be had by cutting back on goals which are a low priority to you, instead of treating it like an 'everything is an equal priority' problem. Some goals like 'I want to buy produce at a farmers market so my children have a greater appreciation of where our food comes from' are perfectly defensible, even from a non-health perspective. But we must prioritize them to know what to change if we want to reduce a food budget in order to allocate that income to something else.

Also potentially helpful, is that while we eat many fruits and vegetables, I make it a point to always buy produce that is 'in season' rather than choosing what to eat and then buying it regardless of the cost. It usually costs less and is frequently on sale (larger supply) and is higher quality than out-of-season produce that is often harvested earlier and shipped farther. The local area (HCOL/LCOL) will have a big impact on food prices and it will vary widely based on the particular food product. I remember when I was in California, dairy and eggs were easily 2-4x the cost in the midwest, while other food items were barely more.
davos8923 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:58 am
Also important to note we don't really eat out except for the occasional random dinner maybe once per week
Finally, in my opinion this statement you made has the biggest impact to the health of your diet of any decisions you could make. Along with the monetary cost of groceries, the time cost of cooking your own food is frequently overlooked but a huge factor in maintaining a healthy diet. I also think this is the biggest challenge for the poor in our society, as they frequently work multiple jobs and simply don't have time to cook their own food, so they opt for the cheapest source of prepared food calories, which is often the least healthy. It sounds like you are doing a great job. My opinion is that since you are willing and able to spend time preparing your own food instead of picking convenience, choosing to make some changes on the groceries purchased if you choose to reduce your grocery budget will have a small impact to your overall health, especially if you prioritize your goals and reduce your lower priority goals accordingly.

To answer your actual question on relative budgets though, we are a family of 4 (two 1-year olds) in a midwest metropolitan area and spend about $300 per month not including paper products (diapers, toilet paper, tissues, etc.). I buy organic occasionally when the produce looks much higher quality, but I make no effort to buy non-GMO or gluten free. We do eat a ton of fruits and vegetables though, and mostly whole-grain carb products (whole wheat bread, brown rice, etc.) with the exception of a few treats (cookies, pretzels).

Good luck!

Wellfleet
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by Wellfleet » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:14 am

We average $800 a month in groceries for 2 adults and one not-too-finicky toddler. Plus $200 a month in dining out. HCOL area.

We eat like royalty. Generally include meat for one meal (lunch or dinner) 4-5 days per week.

We shop at Costco where organic is often default because I wouldn't choose to buy organic tortilla chips, etc., local discount grocer, and heavy spending at local farm stands, CSA share for veggies in season.

Emphasis on local/regional versus organic. If it happens to be organic, great.

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by FPS_dapdap » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:15 am

davos8923 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:58 am
Hi,

My wife and I spend ~$1,200 or so each month for groceries, and there's only two of us. It's the only large item on our budget except for rent.

Our predicament is we desire to eat extremely healthy (organic, non-GMO, top of the line sourced food) but see nowhere to cut our bill. We shop exclusively at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. Every time we tell someone our monthly grocery bill, their jaw hits the floor. Now granted, most people don't eat very healthy. Easy to have low budget when you just eat cereal, sandwiches, cheap meat, and spaghetti.

We buy a lot of Whole Foods store brand to save where we can, and also utilize the AMEX 6% cash back at grocery store card. Also important to note we don't really eat out except for the occasional random dinner maybe once per week, so given we're cooking every meal (3 per day), makes sense we would need to buy more.

Question is this -- do those of you very health conscious folks spend this much? I'm worried to already be at this level and not even yet have kids.
I dont have a wife yet so I only budget for myself for groceries. I eat pretty healthy and meal prep every week. I eat small meals throughout the day (7am, 11am, 3pm, and 7pm) with snacks here and there (carrots, almonds, avocados, etc). My monthly budget is $300.

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fishandgolf
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by fishandgolf » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:18 am

Jags4186 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:05 am
Depends how much you make. If you bring home $5000/mo and are spending $1200 on groceries you’re spending too much. If you bring home $50,000 a month and spend $1200 on groceries you’re spending too much but it doesn’t matter. Just because you eat organic non gmo doesn’t mean you need to spend $1200 a month. It means you need to change your diet. Add healthful, inexpensive items like rice, beans, wheatberries, etc. as bases for your meals which will fill you up but don’t cost a fortune. If you’re eating organic chicken and steaks every night and $5 organic mangoes for breakfast every morning...well there’s your $1200.
+1000..........well said :sharebeer

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by FPS_dapdap » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:19 am

dm200 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:59 am
Anyway, we do eat lots of meat!
OK - that may be the key to your higher costs. "The science says" high consumption of meat is very unhealthy - so you are paying a premium to harm your health. Your choice - but no longer mine.
What science says this? I eat 3 lbs of lean ground turkey, 2.5 lbs of chicken, and 2.5 lbs of lean ground beef every week.................

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by MrBeaver » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:23 am

dm200 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:19 am
2. Whole grain cereal is very healthful and low cost (including Oatmeal)
This is totally true. But it's also really easy to have regular healthy (even organic) oatmeal at really low cost that is the best tasting oatmeal you have ever had. Just spend $100 on one of these (or similar) up front, and you will never look back. Oats will be fresher, much better tasting, and cheaper (long term):
https://www.amazon.com/All-Steel-Oat-Mi ... dpSrc=srch

I get my oat groats (that's what the unrolled form is called) from Winco for less than a dollar a pound, which is about 70% less than buying rolled or steel-cut oats at any store. Organic oat groats can be had for not too much more as well.

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by barnaclebob » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:24 am

You could probably save money by dropping the organic and non-gmo requirement and there is no evidence to support that this is healthier.

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by Marmot » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:25 am

We are vegan , that is a lot. I would estimate $300 a month for two of us. And we eat very well.

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by NextMil » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:31 am

$1200 seems extraordinarily high for two people. How much waste do you have? Maybe give us a weekly shopping list and prices to get a sense of what you are spending. Are you in a HCOL area? Does this include restaurants or is it just home cooking?

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by stan1 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:31 am

We use a pretty simple rule which is if it looks and tastes good we eat it in moderation so that includes meat, eggs, butter, salt, coffee, alcohol, olive oil BUT with one big caveat: we avoid everything with added natural or artificial sweeteners (including sugar). My mom is an awful cook and would pick up on the latest dietary fads but somehow even in the 1970s she got the notion in her head to avoid sugar and that has stuck with me for all of my life. No amount of butter and salt makes a bad steak taste good. No reason to buy a tasteless strawberry or tomato. It is absolutely possible to enjoy food and be healthy on less than $1200/month but if you can afford it why not do what you enjoy? Personally I would not defer needed medical care or even a nice vacation in order to eat exclusively organic, gluten free, and non-GMO. I would have zero issue with spending what would otherwise be my kids inheritance on eating what I enjoy.

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by jebmke » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:35 am

Ours is about half that. We are not big eaters (in the sense of a lot of calories). A typical dinner might be a bowl of soup and a salad or 4oz of protein (beef, fish, chicken ..) plus a salad. We are pretty active -- maybe we just live off air; I don't know.
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by phisher4 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:35 am

The one item no one has mentioned in this thread is that food costs increase with exercise.

I am a runner/marathoner and can burn 800-2000 calories extra per day, and my wife is as well. That means we eat (on average) an extra 1-2 meals worth of calories/day.

Our food costs are also ~$1200/month, which is frustrating, but we are essentially feeding an extra person. Full disclosure: we do eat out at restaurants a few times/month at a cost of ~$2-300.

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by dsmil » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:37 am

That's double what we were paying at Wegmans before we had kids. Whole Foods is on the expensive side but Trader Joe's is usually well priced. Are you buying a lot of expensive meat? Substituting expensive meats for things like eggs, rice, beans, or plain greek yogurt is a way to keep the foods healthy and less expensive.

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by sjt » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:40 am

FPS_dapdap wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:19 am
dm200 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:59 am
Anyway, we do eat lots of meat!
OK - that may be the key to your higher costs. "The science says" high consumption of meat is very unhealthy - so you are paying a premium to harm your health. Your choice - but no longer mine.
What science says this? I eat 3 lbs of lean ground turkey, 2.5 lbs of chicken, and 2.5 lbs of lean ground beef every week.................
http://www.who.int/features/qa/cancer-red-meat/en/

The world health organization, for one.
"The one who covets is the poorer man, | For he would have that which he never can; | But he who doesn't have and doesn't crave | Is rich, though you may hold him but a knave." - Wife of Bath tale

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by lthenderson » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:46 am

We eat very healthy but don't single out GMO or organic foods. Our food costs run about a third to half your budget per month for a family of five.

We don't often shop at Trader Joes because everything is about twice the price as the same thing in other stores.

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by Jon H » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:49 am

MnyGrl wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:20 am
Definitely not normal. The three of us eat very healthy foods but get them from Trader Joe’s and Aldis. Monthly bill is under 300/month. We probably spend an additional 100 on restaurants and takeout.
Same here. Two of us are pescatarian annd one of us is a vegan, so we purchase organic veggies.
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by onourway » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:49 am

phisher4 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:35 am
The one item no one has mentioned in this thread is that food costs increase with exercise.

I am a runner/marathoner and can burn 800-2000 calories extra per day, and my wife is as well. That means we eat (on average) an extra 1-2 meals worth of calories/day.

Our food costs are also ~$1200/month, which is frustrating, but we are essentially feeding an extra person. Full disclosure: we do eat out at restaurants a few times/month at a cost of ~$2-300.
I mentioned it earlier. Our family of 5 is still under $1000 even accounting for my mileage. :D

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by Pajamas » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:50 am

davos8923 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:58 am
we desire to eat extremely healthy (organic, non-GMO, top of the line sourced food)
It appears that you are confusing a "healthy diet" with certain attributes of individual foods such as organic, non-GMO, and "top of the line sourced food" (whatever that means). There is a lot of strange and distracting misinformation about food and diet and what people should eat for good health.

If you buy groceries with certain adjectives applied to them and produced with particular production methods and from certain sources, you can easily end up spending a lot more than $150 a week on food, but it does not follow that such a diet will support good health. You also could certainly eat a diet that would support good health for much less than you are spending now.

You didn't say exactly what you eat or how healthy you actually are, so it is difficult to give you any specific suggestions.

I find it amusing and very revealing that you imply that "cereal, sandwiches, cheap meat, and spaghetti" should be avoided because they are inexpensive. You have created this "healthy food is expensive" problem yourself.
Last edited by Pajamas on Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by MI_bogle » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:57 am

FPS_dapdap wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:19 am
dm200 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:59 am
Anyway, we do eat lots of meat!
OK - that may be the key to your higher costs. "The science says" high consumption of meat is very unhealthy - so you are paying a premium to harm your health. Your choice - but no longer mine.
What science says this? I eat 3 lbs of lean ground turkey, 2.5 lbs of chicken, and 2.5 lbs of lean ground beef every week.................
You eat more than a pound of meat per day?

And almost all science says that high meat consumption is bad for you, and the environment. Especially red meat, and processed meats (including deli meat). I don't want to debate it and I am sure that it could lead to getting the thread locked, but go to Google Scholar and type in "meat consumption and cancer"

Or, view this page and click thru all the linked studies https://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers- ... ption.html


Please don't take this as an attack - I eat plenty of meat and enjoy BBQ. Diet is a personal choice. Much like many people choose to smoke, despite knowing that it is bad for you. But the science is pretty clear about high meat consumption being bad for you

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by MikeWillRetire » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:59 am

Since you eat top of the line organic foods, including meats, and shop at Whole Foods, then your groceries cost makes sense.

Last year, my wife and I averaged $850 per month at the grocery store, and $450 eating out. That includes paper products, cleaning products, hygiene products, etc. We live in a high cost of living area, we don't bargain shop, but we don't shop at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's.

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by Wellfleet » Wed Mar 28, 2018 9:03 am

Jon H wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:49 am
MnyGrl wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:20 am
Definitely not normal. The three of us eat very healthy foods but get them from Trader Joe’s and Aldis. Monthly bill is under 300/month. We probably spend an additional 100 on restaurants and takeout.
Same here. Two of us are pescatarian annd one of us is a vegan, so we purchase organic veggies.
I am genuinely impressed. Can you share an outline of your grocery list? I think we get whacked on kiddie snacks like trail mix and packaged apple sauce.

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goingup
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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by goingup » Wed Mar 28, 2018 9:09 am

That's a big monthly spend. Pay attention. Make lists. Buy what's on sale. I bet you could lop 30% off that bill without breaking a sweat.

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by dm200 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 9:10 am

I find it amusing and very revealing that you imply that "cereal, sandwiches, cheap meat, and spaghetti" should be avoided because they are inexpensive. You have created this "healthy food is expensive" problem yourself.
Right.. What is described is an expensive and unhealthy diet.

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by LiterallyIronic » Wed Mar 28, 2018 9:25 am

davos8923 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:58 am
My wife and I spend ~$1,200 or so each month for groceries, and there's only two of us. It's the only large item on our budget except for rent.

Our predicament is we desire to eat extremely healthy (organic, non-GMO, top of the line sourced food) but see nowhere to cut our bill.
I'm very curious to know what kind of food you're getting for that price.
davos8923 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:58 am
Easy to have low budget when you just eat cereal, sandwiches, cheap meat, and spaghetti.
That's what we do, so we spend $225/month for two adults and a one-year-old, and the food my wife cooks tastes great. I also clock in at 5'7" 128 pounds, so it's not like it's turned me into a big fat guy. So I'm curious what you're getting for $1,200. Sounds like caviar or steaks or something. I'd love to see a picture of a receipt from a grocery shopping trip.
davos8923 wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:58 am
Also important to note we don't really eat out except for the occasional random dinner maybe once per week
That part made me laugh. Eating out once per week is "not really eating out" and "occasional"? :shock:

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by getthatmarshmallow » Wed Mar 28, 2018 9:26 am

If you're just eating for health, you're overpaying and could probably pay a fourth of what you're paying with no cost to your health. Once you're leaving behind heavily processed convenience foods, there's very little health benefits to organic, and IIRC only slightly better for grass-fed/pastured animals. No proven health benefits for non-GMO foods, minimal for gluten-free for most non-diagnosed people, and none at all for single origin/fair trade. That's not to say that there aren't other reasons for choosing higher-end products, but if health is your main concern you could buy flash frozen veggies and organic chicken, berries and brown rice at Costco or the equivalent. You don't need free-range gluten free coconut aminos :twisted: to be healthy!

But I suspect it's less health and more "healthy lifestyle" consumption and taste preferences. Nothing (much) wrong with that, if it's not getting in the way of your other goals. But if you're sitting there wondering whether you could still be healthy without spending the equivalent of a mortgage + car payment (LCOL, but still) every month, yes, you could be, and if you need to free up some cash, you have a lot of room to cut without compromising your health.

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Re: Healthy eaters -- is this grocery budget normal to you?

Post by mhadden1 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 9:28 am

I suspect there are $4 apples in this mix. $11/lb asparagus. $29/lb almonds. Not necessary for me.
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