Author Topic: Normal monthly spending on Groceries  (Read 9464 times)

Swish

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Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« on: September 09, 2019, 05:01:12 PM »
I apologize if there is a good thread on this already started but my searching has proved frustrating so far. I have found several great tips on meal planning but I am wondering if there is a good resource someone is using or post I have missed that has a nutritious monthly meal plan on a budget. We have been experimenting with the food budget but find a lot of the best meal plans online are made up of mostly unicorn meat. It seems as soon as you tap nutritious or balanced into the search engine the plans explode in cost. We have averaged a food budget of approx $350/mo (2 adults 3 children) for a few years but last year it has crept upwards of $500/mo for six people (three adults three children with the extra adult I would expect approx $420). This summer we strayed from planning and already had a few months in $650-750 range pulling our ytd avg. up to $578/mo which feels way too high. I know as the kids get bigger they eat more and more so I expected it to go up and would like to try and adjust the budget accordingly. 

So the questions for those of you who meal plan is:

What works for you to provide a low cost meal plan that provides a balanced/nutritious diet?

What is the avg cost per person?

What is a normal % increase per year to apply to food budget as a family ages?


Again if anyone has a great link to an alternative post or resource I do not mind doing my own reading as I do not want to reinvent the wheel.

Thanks in advance!

KBCB

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2019, 05:06:52 PM »
Following thread. My spending on food is outrageous!

Dogastrophe

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2019, 06:02:39 PM »
You are going to get a wide range of answers.  The folks in the US have access to less expensive food than we have in Canada.  Groceries in Halifax are more expensive than in Quebec and Ontario, etc.

We average ~$125/week, 2 adults - this includes all paper towel, TP, dish detergent, etc.  Lot of produce, fruits, eggs, chicken, fish and if on sale, red meat.  We bake muffins and biscuits weekly and I've started making bread (not to save money ... I just really like fresh baked bread).  My wife scours the recipe books, I review and sort into good weekend or weeknight meals depending on time to prepare.  We try to cook enough to have left overs for lunch the next day.

ender

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2019, 06:53:02 PM »
How old are your children?

My wife and I eat homecooked meals of fresh vegetables/fruit and some meat and are below $400/month consistently.

APowers

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2019, 08:51:15 PM »
I'm guessing here is a good place to plug my thread? :P

There's also @acorn 's Ultimate Mustachian Food Guide which is a really great index for a lot of food-related threads.

Freedomin5

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2019, 03:57:12 AM »
I've found that www.budgetbytes.com consistently offers relatively healthy meals with cost breakdown.

ctuser1

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2019, 05:13:06 AM »
Did you mean to ask just about groceries? Or total food budget?

It varies wildly. If you do what folks here call ‘spendypants’, ‘mindless’ spending then >$1000 food budget is very common. Heck even >>$2000 food budget is common if you get a taste of frequently eating out at James beard award winning restaurants.

On the other hand, APowers (who just posted upthread) is a legend around here for posting extremely detailed breakdown how he keeps his food budget <$200/month.

I am a little too embarrassed to post our actual numbers from the old mindless-grocery-spending and frequent-eating-our days.

Last month we spent $300 on groceries, and $65 on eating out (for an occasion, we no longer eat out just because).

Had we kept out food spending to this level (@<400/month), and invested the difference in an sp500 fund since when I started working, then I’d have an extra $650k seating in my brokerage account.

So, you have a choice! I personally find the frugal ways give me more happiness than spendypants ways. My wife is not yet 100% convinced, but she is playing along with me nevertheless. You need to decide what’s the right spending pattern/level for you.

fell-like-rain

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2019, 06:01:47 AM »
I spend about $100/month for one adult, which includes some minor luxuries (nice ice cream, occasional prepared food from the deli section, etc). If I put some thought into trimming the fat and couponing, etc, I think that would be more like $80.

Stashing Swiss-style

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2019, 06:52:50 AM »
You guys are so lucky!  Food costs in Switzerland are very different.  For my family of 5 (and we don't eat out much and, anyway, that's not included in my average monthly spend) i would consider a good month to be around CHF1800 (90% groceries but also incl cleaning products and basic toiletries).  And I shop at Aldi for the majority of my food.  And that does not include school lunches - CHF8.50 for the school canteen lunch.....

BUT - I used to spend SIGNIFICANTLY more before discovering MMM - CHF600-700 a week was my "norm" for a long time.  Switzerland is just a very HCOL country (but we also earn a lot).

Rosy

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2019, 07:02:53 AM »
In the gauntlet - challenge thread section @APowers kept a food diary for one year 2018/2019 - goal $200mo

For the two of us in Florida, we waver around $300/350+mo incl sundries like TP, ldry detergent, shampoo, lotion...
I am retired and enjoy cooking, he takes his lunches. We do buy mostly organic and do not scrimp on food.
We have several Aldi's nearby and on the way home from Mr. R's workplace, we use coupons, keep about 1-3 mo worth of food (partially to be prepared for a hurricane and because some of our preferred food and sundry items only go on sale in three-month cycles)

We live in grocery store mecca - Asian, European, Arab food stores. I have a military ID so we make a couple of trips a year to the Base to save about 30% on meat etc, tax-free too. We have fresh markets everywhere incl. a flea market where individuals sell organic produce from their gardens.

If I needed to, we could get by on $200mo but we like our fresh seafood and other indulgences like expensive coffee.

We spent very little on spices since I grow everything from bay leaf to basil and herbs for tea in my all-organic garden. In the fall and in the spring we grow peppers, swiss chard, celery, tomatoes - not enough to make a huge impact but it's nice to be able to make a fresh salad whenever. We have a huge avocado tree and a lime tree, we'll be adding two more fruit trees.

Personally I think that over the past ten years grocery store prices have gone up significantly, at least in our area, in some cases 30%.

Philociraptor

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2019, 07:10:20 AM »
We are probably pretty unmustachian when it comes to groceries, averaging $473/mo for the past 2 years according to Mint. Even so, I can provide our answers to the above questions.

What works for you to provide a low cost meal plan that provides a balanced/nutritious diet?
 - Think in pounds and shop the sales. I need about a pound of cooked meat per day, wife about 12 ounces. We each eat about a pound of vegetables per day. We buy rice and potatoes as needed for carbs. When we go to the store we only buy meat and vegetables that are on sale, and if the sale is really good we'll buy a couple weeks' worth if it can be frozen.

What is the avg cost per person?
 - $237 per adult per month in our house. We are both athletes competing in weightlifting, so we carefully weigh and track our food for every meal. "Groceries" for us includes everything purchased at grocery/warehouse stores (including PT, TP, cleaning supplies, dish pods, the occasional 6-pack, etc.) plus supplements like whey protein and fish oil.

What is a normal % increase per year to apply to food budget as a family ages?
 - Our costs are relatively flat, and have actually been slowly decreasing over the past few years as we optimize.

FI45RE

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2019, 07:38:34 AM »
In the U.S. here...Our food budget for 2 adults and now two teenagers (was three until oldest went to university last month) is $550 per month, and will continue to drop as kids age out of the house. One thing that really helped us out was ensuring that we weren't wasting food. Incorporate leftovers into subsequent meals if you can. I'd say once we tackled the food waste problem, we were able to lower our weekly budget by at least 25%. We also make a menu and grocery list every Saturday morning with breakfast (family time), and tend to cook M, W, F and have leftovers on T, Th.

This is compared to pre-MMM, where we would easily spend $1000 per month in groceries, so we've cut that roughly in half.

habaneroNorway

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2019, 07:55:55 AM »
What works for you to provide a low cost meal plan that provides a balanced/nutritious diet?
- cook your own food
- don't waste anything
- learn how to make soups (where leftover veggies go just before they die)
- get a large freezer
- don't eat more than you need
- buy stuff in bulk when it's cheap. Freeze or batch-cook if necessary
- eat less fancy meat / other pricey proteins
- eat according to the seasons
- learn how to use a wide range of spices. They are close to free and can turn almost anything into something tasteful
- learn how to use non-standard cuts of meat
- have ready-made meals in the freezer for when you need something in a hurry

I don't budget, but spend way less than the national average on groceries and we eat very well every day. 

Meal planning and keeping costs down is - in my opinion - not primarily a question of shopping skills or where you shop.

It's about cooking skills.

Having a decent reportoire of varied and tasty stuff to cook, plan meals ahead so you know what to buy, know how to store foodstuffs so they don't go bad.

Know how to use everything you buy (if you roast a whole chicken you don't throw the carcass in the junk. You put it in the freezer, when you have a few you make a big pot of chicken stock. This stock then makes your sauces and soups and riottos and whatever a lot yummier).

You don't buy artisan bread. If you like fancypants bread, you teach yourself how to bake it yourself (it's easy).

You know how much your family eats so you cook the right amount of food. If there are leftovers, its lunch for the next day for yourself of the kid's lunchbox. 



StarBright

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2019, 08:16:20 AM »
We average about $650 a month for two adults, two kids, and two pets.

All of our toiletries, pet food, and food are rolled up into that number, as is some charity. We maintain a little free pantry with some other families so $10-20 of our weekly grocery budget is actually given away.

We menu plan like crazy. Our menu is written on the google calendar every week and I have this info going back several years. If I'm ever out of ideas I just go back to the same week a year or two ago and copy that menu.

If our spending is higher I also have a "cheap week" meal plan that I use. That menu is more carb heavy than I'd like, so I don't repeat it often. But it is a good reminder that we can eat quite cheaply if we really need to.

mistymoney

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2019, 08:22:04 AM »
My little odyssey was successfully trimming $200 or so off the monthly food budget, and gaining about 5 pounds :P

Trying to balance that out now, but I am putting myself into the "fail" category here.




habaneroNorway

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2019, 08:35:27 AM »
If our spending is higher I also have a "cheap week" meal plan that I use. That menu is more carb heavy than I'd like, so I don't repeat it often. But it is a good reminder that we can eat quite cheaply if we really need to.

You can get your proteins on the cheap as well. Beans, lentils and quinoa, for example. Cooking vegetarian can be dirt cheap and quite yummy as well.

Im a sucker for meat myself, but frankly most people in the western world eat way too much (red) meat for their own good. The actual recommendation is in the range of 350-500g (12-18 oz) per adult per week.

ontheway2

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #16 on: September 10, 2019, 08:52:57 AM »
Because adults cost more than little kids in regards to food, I reference the USDA food charts. It is not a meal plan to really help you get costs under control, but I try to keep our spending around the thrifty level or slightly above for our family size.  It looks like you are well below the thrifty plan, but it could give you a basis for increase comparisons.
Make sure you read the notes on the bottom to add or subtract a certain percentage based on overall family size

https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/media/file/CostofFoodJul2019.pdf

minimustache1985

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #17 on: September 10, 2019, 09:11:07 AM »
I do our grocery shopping, we are on the higher end around here at around $500 a month for a family of three.  Granted that includes sundries (and that category includes diapers for DS), but it also includes plenty of luxury items like high quality ice cream that are certainly not necessities or could be substituted for lower cost items (ie we prefer red peppers but green are cheaper, avocado isn’t a necessary taco/fajita topping but delicious, etc).

I will second budgetbytes, several of her recipes are in my rotation including the oven baked fajitas that my spendy self adds avocado too ;)

Zikoris

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2019, 10:14:11 AM »
We've historically spent about $230/month here in Vancouver, though this year we're trending a little higher (~$250) because for some reason we developed a taste for a lot of expensive stuff this year, and also have been slacking as far as getting to the right stores for different items. Our groceries includes household stuff and some personal care (toothpaste), but not cat stuff since I order his food and litter online.

JSMustachian

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #19 on: September 10, 2019, 02:31:24 PM »
My family averages $250 a month for 2 adults and a 1 year old child.

Some tips or guidelines we go by:

-Do not buy fruits or vegetables unless they are on sale under $1 a pound.
-Find out when the meat department at the grocery store puts their meat on sale once it gets closer to the expiration date. For us its Saturday mornings. We go early in the morning and buy a months supply at 25% off and put it in the freezer.
-Avoid pre-packaged or processed foods because they are more expensive in general


honeybbq

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #20 on: September 10, 2019, 04:21:52 PM »
My family of 3 in a HCOLA... we average at least $600/month; probably more and could be up to $800/month.

I cook every night, we pack leftovers for lunch.
Probably only eat out 1-2 times a month.
We don't eat a lot of meat.
I try to only shop at one grocery store (ie I don't chase sales).
We do enjoy beer and wine every night at dinner and that's included.
We also garden and grow herbs that we enjoy in the summer months.

jamesbond007

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2019, 05:03:11 PM »
Me, DW and DD. $300-$350/month. Our restaurant budget is $50/month. My lunch budget for eating at work during the work days is $65/month. Outside of these, we eat all of our meals at home. We have a zero waste policy and no food goes waste ever. DW does grocery shopping and she brought it down to a science. BTW, things like paper towels, dish soap etc are included in the budget. The only thing I must say we "splurge" on are indian savory snacks that they sell at indian grocery stores. we stock them. If I were to cut down those will be the first to go and that would save another $20 or so per month.

APowers

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #22 on: September 10, 2019, 06:18:24 PM »
What works for you to provide a low cost meal plan that provides a balanced/nutritious diet?
- cook your own food
- don't waste anything
- learn how to make soups (where leftover veggies go just before they die)
- get a large freezer
- don't eat more than you need
- buy stuff in bulk when it's cheap. Freeze or batch-cook if necessary
- eat less fancy meat / other pricey proteins
- eat according to the seasons
- learn how to use a wide range of spices. They are close to free and can turn almost anything into something tasteful
- learn how to use non-standard cuts of meat
- have ready-made meals in the freezer for when you need something in a hurry

I don't budget, but spend way less than the national average on groceries and we eat very well every day. 

Meal planning and keeping costs down is - in my opinion - not primarily a question of shopping skills or where you shop.

It's about cooking skills.

Having a decent reportoire of varied and tasty stuff to cook, plan meals ahead so you know what to buy, know how to store foodstuffs so they don't go bad.

Know how to use everything you buy (if you roast a whole chicken you don't throw the carcass in the junk. You put it in the freezer, when you have a few you make a big pot of chicken stock. This stock then makes your sauces and soups and riottos and whatever a lot yummier).

You don't buy artisan bread. If you like fancypants bread, you teach yourself how to bake it yourself (it's easy).

You know how much your family eats so you cook the right amount of food. If there are leftovers, its lunch for the next day for yourself of the kid's lunchbox.

This. All of this.

norajean

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #23 on: September 10, 2019, 06:25:56 PM »
$250 per month per adult is about average.  That's what we spend, a bit more if I include the pets - they gotta eat too, ya know.  It's high but we don't splurge much at the grocery, avoid the inside aisles, etc.  Not willing to go to Aldi's or Costco.

calimom

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #24 on: September 10, 2019, 08:41:53 PM »
Separating pet food, household supplies and the occasional bottle of wine, I *feel* my grocery spend for myself and and 2 teenagers should be below $500 per month. Sigh. It never is. This past month alone, MIL visited for over 3 weeks. Out-of-household eldest dropped by after a camping trip with 2 friends. 17 year old is back at swimming practice and often brings one or two of his food-disappearing-machine pals with him. Several nights my friend and his son dropped by around dinnertime and ended up staying. Food that is meant to last a week ends up for 3 meals. It's a sickness of mine that I feel I need to feed everyone who darkens my doorway a delicious and healthy dinner. August grocery spending was just shy of $800. That doesn't even include the several fresh fruit and vegetable hauls MIL made at the farmers' market.  I know I need to get back to some serious batch cooking but have not yet done so.

Help me, MMM.

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #25 on: September 10, 2019, 09:01:12 PM »
We average about $200/mo for groceries for two adults. It's a little higher than some other people on the forum because we eat meat fairly regularly (though we do limit the meat to poultry/pork for health reasons.) We also eat a lot of really high quality homemade desserts like homemade ice cream, brownies with dutch-process cocoa, chocolate chip cookies, apple cinnamon bread, etc. I have learned a lot about gourmet cooking, so we tend to eat a little fancy most of the time. However, I reduce costs with gardening; That helps, particularly when it comes to herbs for cooking.

Dogastrophe

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #26 on: September 11, 2019, 04:49:02 AM »
It's a sickness of mine that I feel I need to feed everyone who darkens my doorway a delicious and healthy dinner.

My Mom had same sickness.  You wouldn't mind sharing your address, would you?  :)

Malkynn

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #27 on: September 11, 2019, 06:30:54 AM »
Your problem is looking for "healthy" recipes, because yes, that kind of search is going to generally produce something expensive because what's sold as "healthy" is nonsense.

As someone already posted above, Budget Bytes is an amazing resource. Also, cut down on your meat and that's a huge savings.

Rice and beans are virtually free and can be made in thousands of different ways. Vegetables like carrots and cabbage are inexpensive, and canned tomatoes or frozen spinach are not only cheaper but easier.
Eggs are infinitely less expensive than meat and just as filling, and extremely versatile for cooking.

It's also pretty easy to make almost any meal nutritious. If it doesn't have enough protein or vegetables, then add protein or vegetables.

One of my favourite comfort dishes is Mac and Cheese. The cheese sauce is made with milk, flour and Parmesan so a lot of flavour but not a lot of cheese needed. And there's a pound of frozen spinach mixed in. DH adds an egg for more protein.

Basically, every meal is going to have something that makes up the bulk. If the bulk of the meal is meat or expensive produce, then the meal is going to be expensive. If the bulk of the meal is legumes, potatoes, rice, pasta, eggs, or cheap vegetables, then the recipe will be cheap.

Lastly, spices are really the cornerstone of delicious and inexpensive meals. Don't bother with the stupid packets or jars from the grocery store, which are basically expensive flavorless dust. Buy bulk supply spices, replace them annually, and learn how to use them to make any meal into a gourmet experience.

Swish

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #28 on: September 11, 2019, 09:56:40 AM »
I'm guessing here is a good place to plug my thread? :P

There's also @acorn 's Ultimate Mustachian Food Guide which is a really great index for a lot of food-related threads.

Thanks for the links. That is quite the undertaking.

To answer some other questions/comments kids are 3,5,7. In red below:

What works for you to provide a low cost meal plan that provides a balanced/nutritious diet?
- cook your own food We do this
- don't waste anything Try to do this
- learn how to make soups (where leftover veggies go just before they die) Soup is a staple for us lots of lentils and beans :)
- get a large freezer YUP!
- don't eat more than you need Good advice, I believe we are on track here
- buy stuff in bulk when it's cheap. Freeze or batch-cook if necessary This needs work. The only real bulk buying we do is a cow from a local farmer approx once a year.
- eat less fancy meat / other pricey proteins Tough one to kick but good point to make our meat go further.
- eat according to the seasons other than fruit I don't pay attention to this at all
- learn how to use a wide range of spices. They are close to free and can turn almost anything into something tasteful Indian dishes have really helped us on this front.
- learn how to use non-standard cuts of meat Great point. Our last cow we sold a lot of the steaks to friends and it paid for 1/3 of the cost for 1/10 of the meat
- have ready-made meals in the freezer for when you need something in a hurry This practice died about a year ago. Need to incorporate

I don't budget, but spend way less than the national average on groceries and we eat very well every day. 

Meal planning and keeping costs down is - in my opinion - not primarily a question of shopping skills or where you shop.

It's about cooking skills.

Having a decent reportoire of varied and tasty stuff to cook, plan meals ahead so you know what to buy, know how to store foodstuffs so they don't go bad.

Know how to use everything you buy (if you roast a whole chicken you don't throw the carcass in the junk. You put it in the freezer, when you have a few you make a big pot of chicken stock. This stock then makes your sauces and soups and riottos and whatever a lot yummier).

You don't buy artisan bread. If you like fancypants bread, you teach yourself how to bake it yourself (it's easy).

You know how much your family eats so you cook the right amount of food. If there are leftovers, its lunch for the next day for yourself of the kid's lunchbox.

This. All of this.

Thanks for the resources and tips. From the posts I am seeing it does not appear our current costs are absurd for the size of our family. Will keep working to get it lower per person. It is amazing how quickly the costs spiral out of control once you stop following the plan.

Swish

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #29 on: September 11, 2019, 10:02:56 AM »
Separating pet food, household supplies and the occasional bottle of wine, I *feel* my grocery spend for myself and and 2 teenagers should be below $500 per month. Sigh. It never is. This past month alone, MIL visited for over 3 weeks.

I feel your pain on this one. Whenever the inlaws stop in they do help buy groceries but the bill runs through the roof. Typically they come down for 1-2 weeks. They do help out but it never comes close to covering the actual costs. We often scrimp a fair bit on food the weeks before because we know the added cost is coming.

Swish

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #30 on: September 11, 2019, 10:05:48 AM »
Lastly, spices are really the cornerstone of delicious and inexpensive meals. Don't bother with the stupid packets or jars from the grocery store, which are basically expensive flavorless dust. Buy bulk supply spices, replace them annually, and learn how to use them to make any meal into a gourmet experience.

Where do you usually buy spices bulk?

We don't have a Cosco so typically it is at one of the loblaws chains. Might be worth making the trip to the town down the road tho. 

Malkynn

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #31 on: September 11, 2019, 10:13:07 AM »
Lastly, spices are really the cornerstone of delicious and inexpensive meals. Don't bother with the stupid packets or jars from the grocery store, which are basically expensive flavorless dust. Buy bulk supply spices, replace them annually, and learn how to use them to make any meal into a gourmet experience.

Where do you usually buy spices bulk?

We don't have a Cosco so typically it is at one of the loblaws chains. Might be worth making the trip to the town down the road tho.

Ack! Neither.

By "bulk spices" I mean places where you can go and buy however much spice you want from a bulk bin. Hopefully you have something like this near you. Here I get my spices from Bulk Barn and from ethnic grocers.

The cost is a fraction and the flavour is infinitely more robust.

Swish

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #32 on: September 11, 2019, 10:17:26 AM »
Lastly, spices are really the cornerstone of delicious and inexpensive meals. Don't bother with the stupid packets or jars from the grocery store, which are basically expensive flavorless dust. Buy bulk supply spices, replace them annually, and learn how to use them to make any meal into a gourmet experience.

Where do you usually buy spices bulk?

We don't have a Cosco so typically it is at one of the loblaws chains. Might be worth making the trip to the town down the road tho.

Ack! Neither.

By "bulk spices" I mean places where you can go and buy however much spice you want from a bulk bin. Hopefully you have something like this near you. Here I get my spices from Bulk Barn and from ethnic grocers.

The cost is a fraction and the flavour is infinitely more robust.

We have a bulk barn! I have never stepped foot in there. I will check it out.

Malkynn

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #33 on: September 11, 2019, 10:25:24 AM »
Lastly, spices are really the cornerstone of delicious and inexpensive meals. Don't bother with the stupid packets or jars from the grocery store, which are basically expensive flavorless dust. Buy bulk supply spices, replace them annually, and learn how to use them to make any meal into a gourmet experience.

Where do you usually buy spices bulk?

We don't have a Cosco so typically it is at one of the loblaws chains. Might be worth making the trip to the town down the road tho.

Ack! Neither.

By "bulk spices" I mean places where you can go and buy however much spice you want from a bulk bin. Hopefully you have something like this near you. Here I get my spices from Bulk Barn and from ethnic grocers.

The cost is a fraction and the flavour is infinitely more robust.

We have a bulk barn! I have never stepped foot in there. I will check it out.

Oh, then yeah, it's going to change your life if you like cooking. I too never had any interest in Bulk Barn because people only ever talked about it for candy and baking.

Then I got into reducing plastic waste and found it was the best source for package-free spices, plus an enormous selection of pasta, rice, beans, lentils, quinoa, millet, nuts, etc, etc.

SM2

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #34 on: September 11, 2019, 10:41:54 AM »
In my previous life, groceries would be $1200-$1500/month. There would be other stuff in there but it was high. Not as much thought to price matching,etc.

I'm now a single mom of 2 kids. They eat the same amount I do. I have them 50% of the time.

My grocery spend this year (January-August) averaged: $335/month. I have budgeted $350/month.

I now shop sales, do more pasta dishes, price match. Stock up my freezer.

Dining out used to be at least once a week. I am now at: $65/month. UGH...that is still high because we don't really go 'out' much. But seeing that is an additional 20% to my groceries seems CRAZY to me! I had budgeted $50/month but totally figured I would probably be at half that.

calimom

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #35 on: September 11, 2019, 05:59:39 PM »
It's a sickness of mine that I feel I need to feed everyone who darkens my doorway a delicious and healthy dinner.

My Mom had same sickness.  You wouldn't mind sharing your address, would you?  :)

Yes I would mind! :) I already have too many mouths to feed.

And @Malkynn great tips. I do my primary shops at Grocery Outlet and Winco (folks in the western US will know this store) has bulk items including spices. This morning I powered down and made a couscous/feta/cucumber/tomato salad and also a spiced lentil dish. Both can be sides for gifted salmon that can go on the grill. I like the mac and cheese with spinach recipe, will work on that over the weekend along with making a vat of spaghetti sauce that can be frozen in various portion sizes. Autumn is rumored to be arriving so will make more vegetarian chili and different soups and stews that can be stretched to accommodate more people as needed. I'll be seriously working on knocking my food spend down while still keeping my open door policy.

Malkynn

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #36 on: September 11, 2019, 06:17:01 PM »
^yep, I feed literally any human that walks near my doorway, so I understand that habit well. It's a lot easier when your cost per serving is under $1 though.

calimom

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #37 on: September 11, 2019, 06:28:47 PM »
^^ Completely agree. I know of budgetbytes.com and a deeper dive for ideas will be in the near future.

APowers

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #38 on: September 11, 2019, 06:42:26 PM »
Winco is amazing, and I am envious that you have one close to you.

Two of my staple batch-cooking foods are spaghetti sauce (I portion and freeze, so it's an easy dinner on pasta nights) and chili (again, portioned and frozen which makes dinner as easy as throwing together a side dish).

Also, RE buying in bulk-- this doesn't necessarily mean "shopping at Costco", or "buying a whole cow", or even "scooping stuff from a bulk bin". It just means that when a staple food is at a low price, you buy a lot of it (general rule is "enough to last you until the next time it goes on sale"). So when tuna is in the Safeway ad for 49˘/can, I buy 24 cans or more, because that's about what will last me for the six-eight months until it goes on sale again; when ground beef is on sale for $1.99/lb, I buy 10lbs and portion it into the freezer. Then, when I need ground beef, I can use what's on hand, instead of being forced to buy it when it's $3/lb or more. Etc, etc.

singpolyma

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #39 on: September 11, 2019, 08:40:08 PM »
 I expect it will vary a lot by region.  For us in Southern Ontario (Canada) we spend 200 CAD / month (~150 USD / month) for 2 adults, 1 toddler on groceries.  We barely eat out (max 50 CAD / month for all entertainment including eating out) and the grocery amount includes soap, toilet paper, shampoo, etc.  We don't use paper towels or paper napkins or parchment paper or anything like that, which helps a bit.

Some months are a bit higher, when a staple goes on sale especially, we've actually been under this every month all summer and are on track to be way under for this month to help balance out some spendier / bulk purchases in the spring.

I think our spending is a bit high, could be lower, but our current level is fairly sustainable so we don't sweat it much.  Biggest change in recent years was when our cheap bread store closed, so we got a $13 bread machine at thrift store and make 100% of our own bread now rather than pay the highway robbery at the grocery stores.

Knapptyme

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #40 on: September 11, 2019, 09:13:34 PM »
2 adults, 2 young kids, 1 infant, 2 50+ lb. dogs

All inclusive of pet food, eating out, toiletries, and groceries, our budget regularly comes in around $550/month. We don't really buy or eat meat, but we enjoy other luxuries. If it was strictly a human food, cook-at-home budget, I think we're below $400/month.

We're not setting a standard by any means, but we spend less on food than we do the mortgage ($650/month P&I only). Yay! I say unless you have no mortgage or you are in some ridiculous HCOL area, using the mortgage as a high water mark for groceries is a justifiable rule of thumb to avoid eating yourself out of house and home.

MyAlterEgoIsTaller

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #41 on: September 12, 2019, 02:54:47 PM »
1 person, 1 80-pound dog, 1 cat

Average monthly groceries expenditures, including pet food and household products:  $170.55.  I've been tracking this for 3 years.

I'm mostly vegetarian except for occasional fish and seafood.  And pepperoni on pizza.  I eat a lot of beans, lentils, split peas, and rice.
Because there's only one human we don't have to satisfy a lot of different picky food preferences, and personality-wise we're all creatures of habit who don't mind pretty much the same things week after week, so we can buy what we like in bulk and not need many new, exotic ingredients that we might end up not liking or using up.
I have a 7-month long winter CSA at a farm 5 miles from home.  It costs $42 per month and supplies most of my beans, onions, potatoes, carrots, eggs, and assorted other stuff for those months.  The other assorted stuff is always a mystery, so it keeps some variety in my eating.
Grocery stores are all far away from me, so I only shop at them once or twice per month.
I made a master list of every food item that I regularly buy, and every single other type of product in my house that needs replenishment ever. I update the list before and after every shopping trip, so I know what I need and never end up with unintentional duplicates.
I plan out my shopping trips, and look for coupons online after I make my list.  I never look for coupons first or change the list to fit available coupons - I always make the shopping list and then see if there are any coupons that happen to fit the list.
I always check out the Land of Misfit Groceries (aka sale rack) at the back of the grocery store - but I only buy any of that stuff if it's real food that I would ordinarily buy or that can substitute for something I ordinarily buy.  No buying junk food just because it's 75% off.
I check the whole receipt before I leave the parking lot.  At least 50% of the time there's some expensive mistake that I get customer service to fix.  This week the cashier rang in beets as avocados.
I don't believe the printed expiration dates for most things.  If it smells and looks ok then it's still food.  I think risks are lessened because of it being mostly vegetarian food.   
I live in a tiny house.  I've noticed that many people keep multiples of things like cleaning products in several places in their house, and multiple bathrooms' worth of shampoo and toilet paper.  I don't have 2 bathrooms and I keep all my cleaning junk in one container and carry it around so I don't need multiples of anything.
I bake breakfast bars on the weekend and eat them all week.
I work in a profession where people want to sell us things and educate us about products, so I can count on someone bringing lunch for my whole office at least a couple times per week. Sometimes free lunch isn't worth listening to them, but sometimes it is.
I cook the rest of my lunches on the weekend, and bring them to work.
There are a lot of things I just don't need so I never buy:  soda (bad for me), paper towels (bad for the world), greeting cards (can be created myself, out of things I have that would otherwise go in the recycling)... Anything that breaks one or more of those rules doesn't get on the list.

SmileAllDay

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #42 on: September 12, 2019, 03:10:01 PM »
Following

max924

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #43 on: September 13, 2019, 06:43:54 AM »
We are in Ontario, Canada. 2 adults, 2 kids age 3 and 5. We spend on avg about $125/week. Includes toiletries/dishsoap etc. Our costs are slowly going up since we are trying to reduce plastic usage and I find that that can incur extra cost. Also a fan of bulk barn here for that reason, although certain things can be pricey there.

Something to note about Bulk Barn, not all their stuff comes in 'bulk', they just empty a million small packages of stuff into the bin. I was a little appalled when I was getting coffee beans, the bin was empty so the lady went to the back with me to get more and it was a giant pallet of grocery store size bags of beans... So I found I was paying a premium for nothing in that case (back to grocery store beans for me). This does not apply to most of their products of course but may be worth asking.

Our local discount grocer is No Frills which we love.

We also try to limit meat intake and only purchase meat on clearance (30-50% off). We do all home cooked meals and do stuff like bake bread/buns, make yogourt, other fun things that save some money and the planet!

Mrsweisass

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #44 on: September 13, 2019, 09:46:49 AM »
Separating pet food, household supplies and the occasional bottle of wine, I *feel* my grocery spend for myself and and 2 teenagers should be below $500 per month. Sigh. It never is. This past month alone, MIL visited for over 3 weeks. Out-of-household eldest dropped by after a camping trip with 2 friends. 17 year old is back at swimming practice and often brings one or two of his food-disappearing-machine pals with him. Several nights my friend and his son dropped by around dinnertime and ended up staying. Food that is meant to last a week ends up for 3 meals. It's a sickness of mine that I feel I need to feed everyone who darkens my doorway a delicious and healthy dinner. August grocery spending was just shy of $800. That doesn't even include the several fresh fruit and vegetable hauls MIL made at the farmers' market.  I know I need to get back to some serious batch cooking but have not yet done so.

Help me, MMM.

This is me. Two adults, four kids, and everything is always getting mowed down faster than I expect.

wenchsenior

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #45 on: September 13, 2019, 10:05:49 AM »
Just chiming in as one of the spendiest people on groceries that seems to populate this board b/c I note that the super-frugal people tend to respond to these threads, but there is a subsample of us that can't fathom getting our grocery bills that low LOL. (ETA: I should clarify, I can easily see how hypothetically we could get our bills that low, but not eating the way we like to/need to).

We are two adults, generally eating 2 meals per day. We spend 500-700$ per month on groceries, NOT including substantial $ on pet care products.  It used to be that we spent even MORE on groceries, but I did take steps a few years ago to closely track prices at different stores, track meat sales, etc, and reduce spending somewhat. Also, we used to spend about 150$/month on booze, but I quit drinking a while ago and my husband cut way down, so now that's down to 20-30$/month.

We did cut about 100-150$ out of our average spending by cutting a few 'gourmet' items (Lindt chocolate for dessert every night, buying chicken breasts on sale, and cutting down slightly on salmon).  We could cut it a bit more with a few further changes (particularly making a big run to Target where we hate the experience of shopping, rather than buying regularly at the grocery store half a block from us).  But for the most part, several years of tracking showed me that if we want to eat the meals we like, this is generally speaking just how much it is going to cost (esp since I also have some complex food issues that require somewhat higher spending).

Depressingly, my doctor has just instructed that I should attempt to gain and hold 5-10 lbs of weight (which has been tough for me the past b/c of food restrictions, etc.), and I'm wondering if I'm now going to have to also start forking over the big $ for those meal-shake things...sigh.

« Last Edit: September 13, 2019, 10:11:13 AM by wenchsenior »

v8rx7guy

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #46 on: September 13, 2019, 10:14:23 AM »
$600/mo for our family of 4.  Kids are 2 & 4.  This includes TP, Paper Towels, Laundry & dish detergent, all soap.

SquashingDebt

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #47 on: September 13, 2019, 11:55:27 AM »
I'm a single person who eats a lot of local/seasonal/organic food, little meat (but it's from a local farmer when I do), and gets a lot of free vegetables from work in the summer.  One thing that definitely raises my grocery bill is my smoothies I have every morning for breakfast - the frozen fruit and organic protein powder alone cost about $2 per breakfast.  But, my finances are in better shape than my health, so I don't try very hard to keep costs down, especially if it would make it harder to eat healthily.

These are monthly averages from the last 3.5 years:

Grocery store (food only) - $195
CSA & other local food - $79
Restaurants - $135
Alcohol & other fancy drinks - $23

moneymamas

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #48 on: September 13, 2019, 12:07:42 PM »
I’ve actually done a lot of research on this and what we spend on food per month varies, but what we consume is pretty stable at around $1-2 per day per person (2 adults right now).  Now, we are two women on the shorter side so a huge guy who runs marathons every weekend might be spending more. We buy items on sale when they are at their lowest price (this does vary depending on where you live so a price book can be helpful where you right down sale prices of items you usually consume until you figure out the rock bottom rate).  Meals can be planned around these ingredients. I got the idea from Living on a Dime - they’re on YouTube and have livingonadime.com for more info. So when something is at rock bottom price I buy up as much of it as we can consume before it goes bad. It sounds complicated but once you get the hang of it is super easy once you know your prices.  Just look up the flyers for stores around you and buy as much as you can consume before spoiling of the items that are at low rates according to your price book.  Last month we found whole wheat pasta for $0.35 for a 1 lb box so we bought all we could since pasta really never goes bad.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2019, 02:49:25 PM by moneymamas »

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Normal monthly spending on Groceries
« Reply #49 on: September 13, 2019, 01:07:14 PM »
We are by no means on the low side for this, but chiming in for comparison. Our grocery budget is $625/month. We typically eat 1-2 meals out/month, in addition to this. We make most meals from scratch, but aren't afraid of convenience food for crazy nights. Convenience food is more expensive than homemade, but a lot less than takeout or restaurant food. When I travel for work, we stock up on convenience food, as my husband picks up my chores as well as his own, leaving minimal time for food prep.

We eat a tremendous amount of fresh produce. We buy our produce at Costco & a local produce stand (run year round). We rarely waste produce.

General tips:
-Try to have zero waste
-Kids pack lunches vs buying (significantly cheaper)
-Snacks are things we make or fruit/veggies. We try to limit prepackaged snacks to 1-2/month.
-We menu plan. This is particularly huge for us, as we have three different eating preferences (one for allergies, one for weight loss, and then two kids playing a ton of sports). The menu plan allows me to see what can be easily combined
-We stock up & keep an eye out for sales. I've gotten better about this in the last year. Although I don't shop at the grocery store near my house often, I do go there occasionally to see if their meat is discounted. I stock up whenever I find this, as I can get ground beef or ground turkey for $.99/lb.