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Around the Internet => Antimustachian Wall of Shame and Comedy => Topic started by: CmFtns on July 07, 2015, 01:51:00 PM

Title: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: CmFtns on July 07, 2015, 01:51:00 PM
I randomly ran across this chart from the USDA. To me the thrifty column is just maybe barely on the edge of mustacianism. I cant believe how much their food estimates are for home cooking because I spend probably around 60% of the "thrifty" column and I could definitely do better if I needed to.

What do you all think of this chart?

http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/CostofFoodMay2015.pdf
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: KCM5 on July 07, 2015, 01:57:40 PM
Their thrifty plan is almost exactly what we spend on food (two adults and one two year old). But that's with alcohol and eating out included. And yes, we could definitely do better.

That said, I think it's probably not that bad of a chart, but I could be wrong. I'm not really sure what sort of diet they're assuming here - mostly cooking veggie meals from scratch? A fair amount of packaged food? Meat and two veg for every meal?
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: justajane on July 07, 2015, 02:01:55 PM
Considering what our boys eat now (aged 7, 5, 1), the average for when they will be 17, 15 and 11 didn't seem far off the mark honestly. Right now we spend around $600 a month for a family of five, but I know that number will go up as they eat more. I've already told them they should expect a lot of meals with lots of potatoes and pasta.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: CmFtns on July 07, 2015, 02:10:47 PM
yea I guess It's not too bad maybe i'm just extremely thrifty in my food plan. I don't usually buy many meats besides chicken breast and no organic stuff.

I just couldn't imagine spending the moderate plan of $619 a month for me and my GF when we spend slightly over $200 now.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Alenzia on July 07, 2015, 02:23:46 PM
We're right between the "thrifty" and "low-cost" for a couple, including alcohol. Lots of meat/animal protein, organic, not much processed food. I'd like to get it down, but given the husbands health issues when he doesn't get enough animal protein, it doesn't seem likely.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on July 07, 2015, 02:24:40 PM
It says $14/day for us, and over the last 12 months we've spent about $12/day. Not too far off, but we're not working that hard at it either.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: FIPurpose on July 07, 2015, 02:30:06 PM
Around the Low-Cost side. Though I don't buy very many packaged foods. Lots of fats in my diet, though I am starting to reintroduce tubers into my diet, we'll see how that affects the grocery budget.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: FIPurpose on July 07, 2015, 02:32:29 PM
Though now that I think about it more:

I eat meat at almost every meal. That should put me much higher than Low-Cost. Perhaps USDA is assuming a high amount of meat consumption in their thrift plan?
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: beltim on July 07, 2015, 02:39:02 PM
You can see what goes into the basket at: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_plans_cost_of_food/FoodPlans2007AdminReport.pdf

particularly starting at page ES-1
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Chris22 on July 07, 2015, 02:39:20 PM
I go to the grocery weekly and spend between $120 and $150, with very little effort spent on trying to drive it down (no coupons, buy brand names, etc.)  for a family of 2 adults and a 3y/o.  It's mostly just fruit/veggies and meat/cheese/eggs, etc.  We do eat out a fair bit (every Friday we do pizza, plus 1-2 lunches/week, and MAYBE 1 other time a week) so that offsets it some. 
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Jakejake on July 07, 2015, 02:46:19 PM
That chart always blows my mind when I see it. Their thrifty plan for one week is what we spend for the entire month.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Bob W on July 07, 2015, 02:52:05 PM
The amazing thing was the difference between the thrifty family and the spendy family ---  $650 vs.  1,292 per month!   .   My guess is the 1,292 folks are a tad overweight?    Shit that is like $8,000 per year difference.   I like to think we are far, far below the thrifty level with an imaginary target of $3 per day per person or around $300 for our family of 3.25.    We don't eat out often either.    Hell no wonder people are up to their eyeballs in debt with these kind of numbers.

Imagine spending $1,300 per month at the grocery and then another $800 eating out.   Dumbasses!
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: 4alpacas on July 07, 2015, 02:56:18 PM
You can see what goes into the basket at: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_plans_cost_of_food/FoodPlans2007AdminReport.pdf

particularly starting at page ES-1
Thanks.  I'm a little confused why the low cost food plan for men and women ages 19-50 includes so much yogurt.  Does everyone eat more yogurt than me?!

I think the difference in our spending can be broken down by avoiding expensive beverages (fruit juice and soft drinks) and yogurt.  I thought I was spendy because I buy a large container of Fage every few weeks, but it looks like everyone is eating a lot more yogurt than us. 
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: 2Birds1Stone on July 07, 2015, 02:58:38 PM
We are well below the thrifty plan for two. Average ~250/month
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: midweststache on July 07, 2015, 03:00:02 PM
We're just under the thrifty plan for two people, while still buying what we want--but for us that does NOT include dining out (our weak spot).

We're really working on getting that aspect of our spending under control--part of that is being OK spending a little more on nice groceries (fine cheeses, wine that is more than $3 at TJs, etc.) to "treat" ourselves at home (rather than treating ourselves by dining out).

I was astounded by these numbers, until I realized that my mother regularly spent $150 a week at Wal-Mart to feed a family of three: my parents and my sister (lots of pre-packaged food, name brand, etc.). I would just smile when I accompanied her grocery shopping during visits home...
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: forummm on July 07, 2015, 03:18:22 PM
We're about 40% less than thrifty plan.

Quote
The Thrifty Food Plan serves as a national standard for a nutritious diet at a minimal cost and is used as the basis for maximum food stamp allotments.

Good to know that people on food stamps can eat really well--like we do.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: RWD on July 07, 2015, 03:37:09 PM
We are also spending less than the Thrifty column (around 70%).
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: beltim on July 07, 2015, 04:00:29 PM
The amazing thing was the difference between the thrifty family and the spendy family ---  $650 vs.  1,292 per month!   .   My guess is the 1,292 folks are a tad overweight?    Shit that is like $8,000 per year difference.   I like to think we are far, far below the thrifty level with an imaginary target of $3 per day per person or around $300 for our family of 3.25.    We don't eat out often either.    Hell no wonder people are up to their eyeballs in debt with these kind of numbers.

Imagine spending $1,300 per month at the grocery and then another $800 eating out.   Dumbasses!

I don't think you understand the numbers.  These numbers are not descriptive - that is, they don't indicate what people are actually spending.  They illustrate how much it costs to pay for food using national averages with four different sample diets.  All are nutritious and represent the proper number of calories for a person of median height and weight, and moderate activity level.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: beltim on July 07, 2015, 04:04:20 PM
You can see what goes into the basket at: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_plans_cost_of_food/FoodPlans2007AdminReport.pdf

particularly starting at page ES-1
Thanks.  I'm a little confused why the low cost food plan for men and women ages 19-50 includes so much yogurt.  Does everyone eat more yogurt than me?!

I think the difference in our spending can be broken down by avoiding expensive beverages (fruit juice and soft drinks) and yogurt.  I thought I was spendy because I buy a large container of Fage every few weeks, but it looks like everyone is eating a lot more yogurt than us.

See my response to Bob - these aren't averages nor are they descriptive.  They actually don't include a significant amount of soft drinks - fruit juice and soft drinks combined are less than 2% of the amounts shown.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: 4alpacas on July 07, 2015, 04:25:43 PM
You can see what goes into the basket at: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_plans_cost_of_food/FoodPlans2007AdminReport.pdf

particularly starting at page ES-1
Thanks.  I'm a little confused why the low cost food plan for men and women ages 19-50 includes so much yogurt.  Does everyone eat more yogurt than me?!

I think the difference in our spending can be broken down by avoiding expensive beverages (fruit juice and soft drinks) and yogurt.  I thought I was spendy because I buy a large container of Fage every few weeks, but it looks like everyone is eating a lot more yogurt than us.

See my response to Bob - these aren't averages nor are they descriptive.  They actually don't include a significant amount of soft drinks - fruit juice and soft drinks combined are less than 2% of the amounts shown.
According to Table A-4a on page A4-2, for Men 19-50 the soft drinks are 4.23% of the total cost and fruit juices are 2.62% of the total cost. Since we spend 0% of our budget on those items, I think it is worth it to note the difference. 
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: beltim on July 07, 2015, 04:49:14 PM
You can see what goes into the basket at: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_plans_cost_of_food/FoodPlans2007AdminReport.pdf

particularly starting at page ES-1
Thanks.  I'm a little confused why the low cost food plan for men and women ages 19-50 includes so much yogurt.  Does everyone eat more yogurt than me?!

I think the difference in our spending can be broken down by avoiding expensive beverages (fruit juice and soft drinks) and yogurt.  I thought I was spendy because I buy a large container of Fage every few weeks, but it looks like everyone is eating a lot more yogurt than us.

See my response to Bob - these aren't averages nor are they descriptive.  They actually don't include a significant amount of soft drinks - fruit juice and soft drinks combined are less than 2% of the amounts shown.
According to Table A-4a on page A4-2, for Men 19-50 the soft drinks are 4.23% of the total cost and fruit juices are 2.62% of the total cost. Since we spend 0% of our budget on those items, I think it is worth it to note the difference.

Your quoted numbers are right - I was looking at the moderate plan for my numbers.  My larger point though, is that these are example baskets, not actual spending patterns.

Interestingly, the soda amount is just 3 12 ounce cans per week, which is way below average consumption levels.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: mm1970 on July 07, 2015, 05:09:17 PM
It would be easy to spend more money - just depends on where you shop.  If you live in an expensive area, or shop local/ farmer's markets/ organic, or just...shop...without looking at prices and sales, it's easy to spend the big bucks  (I have friends who spend $2k a month on food eating almost completely organic).

That said - last year I was focused entirely on weight loss, not so much on price (though I had some ingrained good habits), and we came in at $10,500 for the year, which is slightly above the "low cost" plan for our family size.

This year I'm focused on price (and my weight loss is TOTALLY stalled, but that may be a coincidence), and we are due to come in below the thrifty plan. But people, for me and my location, this is a CRAP-TON of work.

We are probably going to come in at 75% of the thrifty plan, unless you count my protein powder, then it's about 90%.  Yeah, I know.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: 4alpacas on July 07, 2015, 05:11:35 PM
You can see what goes into the basket at: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_plans_cost_of_food/FoodPlans2007AdminReport.pdf

particularly starting at page ES-1
Thanks.  I'm a little confused why the low cost food plan for men and women ages 19-50 includes so much yogurt.  Does everyone eat more yogurt than me?!

I think the difference in our spending can be broken down by avoiding expensive beverages (fruit juice and soft drinks) and yogurt.  I thought I was spendy because I buy a large container of Fage every few weeks, but it looks like everyone is eating a lot more yogurt than us.

See my response to Bob - these aren't averages nor are they descriptive.  They actually don't include a significant amount of soft drinks - fruit juice and soft drinks combined are less than 2% of the amounts shown.
According to Table A-4a on page A4-2, for Men 19-50 the soft drinks are 4.23% of the total cost and fruit juices are 2.62% of the total cost. Since we spend 0% of our budget on those items, I think it is worth it to note the difference.

Your quoted numbers are right - I was looking at the moderate plan for my numbers.  My larger point though, is that these are example baskets, not actual spending patterns.
I was using the numbers to figure out how our spending compared to the lowest plan.  Our spending aligns very well except yogurt and beverages. I'm not making any larger comments about actual spending patterns or soda consumption.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: beltim on July 07, 2015, 05:16:02 PM
You can see what goes into the basket at: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_plans_cost_of_food/FoodPlans2007AdminReport.pdf

particularly starting at page ES-1
Thanks.  I'm a little confused why the low cost food plan for men and women ages 19-50 includes so much yogurt.  Does everyone eat more yogurt than me?!

I think the difference in our spending can be broken down by avoiding expensive beverages (fruit juice and soft drinks) and yogurt.  I thought I was spendy because I buy a large container of Fage every few weeks, but it looks like everyone is eating a lot more yogurt than us.

See my response to Bob - these aren't averages nor are they descriptive.  They actually don't include a significant amount of soft drinks - fruit juice and soft drinks combined are less than 2% of the amounts shown.
According to Table A-4a on page A4-2, for Men 19-50 the soft drinks are 4.23% of the total cost and fruit juices are 2.62% of the total cost. Since we spend 0% of our budget on those items, I think it is worth it to note the difference.

Your quoted numbers are right - I was looking at the moderate plan for my numbers.  My larger point though, is that these are example baskets, not actual spending patterns.
I was using the numbers to figure out how our spending compared to the lowest plan.  Our spending aligns very well except yogurt and beverages. I'm not making any larger comments about actual spending patterns or soda consumption.

Okay.  I was responding to the other part of your post, where you compared your spending to other people.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: 4alpacas on July 07, 2015, 05:20:36 PM
You can see what goes into the basket at: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_plans_cost_of_food/FoodPlans2007AdminReport.pdf

particularly starting at page ES-1
Thanks.  I'm a little confused why the low cost food plan for men and women ages 19-50 includes so much yogurt.  Does everyone eat more yogurt than me?!

I think the difference in our spending can be broken down by avoiding expensive beverages (fruit juice and soft drinks) and yogurt.  I thought I was spendy because I buy a large container of Fage every few weeks, but it looks like everyone is eating a lot more yogurt than us.

See my response to Bob - these aren't averages nor are they descriptive.  They actually don't include a significant amount of soft drinks - fruit juice and soft drinks combined are less than 2% of the amounts shown.
According to Table A-4a on page A4-2, for Men 19-50 the soft drinks are 4.23% of the total cost and fruit juices are 2.62% of the total cost. Since we spend 0% of our budget on those items, I think it is worth it to note the difference.

Your quoted numbers are right - I was looking at the moderate plan for my numbers.  My larger point though, is that these are example baskets, not actual spending patterns.
I was using the numbers to figure out how our spending compared to the lowest plan.  Our spending aligns very well except yogurt and beverages. I'm not making any larger comments about actual spending patterns or soda consumption.

Okay.  I was responding to the other part of your post, where you compared your spending to other people.
The yogurt part was a joke. I actually don't break out yogurt separately from milk when I do our category breakdowns, but the thought of  ~9 pounds of yogurt/person/week (Table ES-1a) made me laugh.*

*I realize that category includes other things.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: beltim on July 07, 2015, 05:27:00 PM
The yogurt part was a joke. I actually don't break out yogurt separately from milk when I do our category breakdowns, but the thought of  ~9 pounds of yogurt/person/week (Table ES-1a) made me laugh.*

*I realize that category includes other things.

Oh, I missed that it was a joke.  Never mind then.

Actually, speaking of jokes, look two lines down: "cheese soup"
what the..
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: 4alpacas on July 07, 2015, 07:43:41 PM
The yogurt part was a joke. I actually don't break out yogurt separately from milk when I do our category breakdowns, but the thought of  ~9 pounds of yogurt/person/week (Table ES-1a) made me laugh.*

*I realize that category includes other things.

Oh, I missed that it was a joke.  Never mind then.

Actually, speaking of jokes, look two lines down: "cheese soup"
what the..
Haha!  Cheese soup and yogurt are food groups worthy of being separated out.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: kimmarg on July 07, 2015, 08:59:41 PM
I use the thrifty budget for our food budget. I think it depends a lot where you live. I moved cross country and now spend about 25% more than my old location. I find the thrifty is about right for us, not too hard to stay under while getting everything we need. I could certainly cut it with more effort but I find the thrifty plan is a good midpoint for us.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: RWD on July 07, 2015, 10:29:19 PM
I use the thrifty budget for our food budget. I think it depends a lot where you live. I moved cross country and now spend about 25% more than my old location. I find the thrifty is about right for us, not too hard to stay under while getting everything we need. I could certainly cut it with more effort but I find the thrifty plan is a good midpoint for us.

We are also moving across the country soon. Unfortunately our new city does not have a Costco, so I'm expecting our grocery budget to increase.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: horsepoor on July 07, 2015, 10:32:50 PM
We're right between the "thrifty" and "low-cost" for a couple, including alcohol. Lots of meat/animal protein, organic, not much processed food. I'd like to get it down, but given the husbands health issues when he doesn't get enough animal protein, it doesn't seem likely.

Ditto this.  We eat ridiculously well and stay to the low end of that chart.  I can't imagine what we'd buy to get up to the Liberal Plan side.  Lots of prepared foods, I imagine, and/or buying everything at Whole Foods.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Mrs.LC on July 07, 2015, 11:00:32 PM
We are way below the thrifty plan for two adults. Tons of fresh vegetables come from our garden and that has a big impact on dollars spent. We buy when the price is right and utilize the freezer. Just this week we purchased 32 pints of yummy blueberries for $0.99 a pint. Can't beat that price! Most of them will be mixed with raspberries from the garden and turned into smoothies. We cook from scratch, eat leftovers and waste very little food.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: FrugalToque on July 08, 2015, 07:15:39 AM
Well, I feel good that I'm $80 below the Thrifty Plan, for a family with two kids, age 7 and 9.  We're living in Ottawa, which is relatively expensive for Canada, so I guess we're doing well.

Toque.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Kitsune on July 08, 2015, 08:44:11 AM
Wow. We're right on the Thrifty plan numbers, with two adults and a kid.

And, um... that includes steak, scallops, craft cocktails, fresh salads at least daily, the expensive (and tasty) feta cheese, organic local meats, etc. Like, we're not deprived on that budget, not at all. (Also, we're in Quebec. Prices are much higher. It's not actually legal to sell a gallon of milk for under 6$, for example... which definitely affects the food budget).

Disclaimer: we work to keep our food budget down. We shop sales, we save up and buy whole animals from the farmer or butcher in the fall and have an efficient chest freezer to store it in, we buy all our pantry goods in HUGE bulk, we make some meals ridiculously cheap (curry! chili! etc) to compensate for the more expensive meals, etc. We also have the privilege of having money set aside so that we CAN stock up on sales and buy meat directly from the farmer in the fall, which not everyone has.

We're just finishing building out house, but as of next year, there will be chickens, sheep, rabbits, and a big garden, which should also affect some of those costs.

Seriously, though. What would we have to do to spend on the liberal side of that plan?
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on July 08, 2015, 08:51:45 AM
Wow, I thought Pennsylvania was outrageous for requiring milk to be sold at a minimum of $3.60/gallon, or something like that. (Seriously, where did they get that idea, Venezuela? Ridiculous.) $6 would hopefully cause people to burn down the state capitol.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: midweststache on July 08, 2015, 08:59:55 AM
Wow, I thought Pennsylvania was outrageous for requiring milk to be sold at a minimum of $3.60/gallon, or something like that. (Seriously, where did they get that idea, Venezuela? Ridiculous.) $6 would hopefully cause people to burn down the state capitol.

Is there a large dairy lobby in PA--something that promotes local dairy farmers or the like? I can get a gallon at Aldi for $1.50 or less...
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: forummm on July 08, 2015, 09:06:04 AM
I thought it was interesting that "orange vegetables" is a separate category. I could only think of carrots, pumpkin, and maybe yams and squash might qualify for that.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: DCKatie09 on July 08, 2015, 09:09:53 AM
Yeah, like most of you, we're right at the thrifty level for our entire food budget (incl. alcohol and eating out, groceries run about 70% of total). Shopping sales, not eating much meat, and cutting out soda a few years back definitely help, but it's not like we are eating gruel every day...
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Money Mouse on July 08, 2015, 09:11:03 AM
We're right at the "Moderate" level for our family size (two adults and a toddler) but that's for a few reasons:

- DH has a highly physical job and legitimately needs more calories than the average desk jockey
- I buy mainly organic foods, including pasture raised meats from a local farm
- I can't get DH to kick his processed foods habit (note: anything I buy just for DH to eat I buy conventional, since he doesn't care about organic I don't see any reason to pay extra for it).

Still, reading the chart makes me feel a little better about averaging $150 a week, given how good we eat. I bet if I could get DH to drop a lot of the processed crap he insists that I buy I could get it down to "Low Cost" levels, "Thrifty" is probably too much of a stretch though, unless we went back to conventional meats from the grocery store (shudder).
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: EllieStan on July 08, 2015, 09:15:48 AM
Also in Québec.

Our groceries budget for 2 adults is $500/month, so we'd fit into the low-cost category. However, this amount also includes misc. household items, litter boxes for the cats. We also budget eating out based on what we've spent on groceries (or we adjust the remaining groceries budget if we spent more on restaurant or on a fancy at-home meal). Our groceries actually cost closer to $90-$100/week, which puts us right in the middle between thrifty and low-cost.

I still think it's a lot or money, though. I'm always impressed when people say they spend $50 a week on groceries for 2 adults. We eat meat almost everyday so that might be why I can't really lower my groceries spending that much, even if I shop on sales.

We both pack our lunches for work, so that helps a lot !
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: MoneyCat on July 08, 2015, 09:16:53 AM
We're below the "thrifty" level when you don't count household grocery purchases that aren't food.  *pats self on back*
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: neil on July 08, 2015, 10:36:12 AM
I know in college my grocery bill was closer to ~$75/month though with a $20/month pizza bill, and I was much gaudier with purchases.  This is one thing I wonder about the usefulness of our inflation indicators.

Obviously the bigger problem is our own personal lifestyle inflation.  When things like espresso drinks and fruit smoothies become part of the standard food budget, it basically blows anything resembling the "fancypants" $350 budget out the window.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: AH013 on July 08, 2015, 11:15:58 AM
I didn't think it was too out of line.  $43.20 for a thrift guy.  Then I noticed that was a weekly figure and not a monthly figure.

Anyone else find it strange that families are more expensive than the sum of their parts?  A single guy & single girl should be $81.40 combined, but when they are a 2 person family it's $89.60.  I would have through the advantages of buying in bulk and less spoilage would have actually lowered the cost the larger the family.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Jakejake on July 08, 2015, 01:50:06 PM
Anyone else find it strange that families are more expensive than the sum of their parts?
When my husband's out of town, we both eat cheaper. He gets an allowance (per diem) for food when he's traveling for work, but he pockets most of it and gets a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and some jelly for most of his meals. And I, left alone in the house, tend to eat super easy repetitive meals, or skip some if I'm not hungry. My usual routine when we're both home though is bike home, wolf down a giant snack, then feel obligated to serve (and eat) a balanced dinner. On my own, I'll come home, do a large homemade smoothie, and then I'm done eating.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: neophyte on July 08, 2015, 02:37:30 PM
Bummer.  I'm between thrifty and low cost most of the time and I hit moderate some months. I'm struggling to bring down costs more without dramatically changing the way I eat. I seldom eat meat, and almost never eat packaged foods, don't eat organic, and I've cut back on cheese. I guess my downfall is I also don't eat much rice or potatoes or grains. I do eat a lot of dairy, but if I cut back on that I'd want to increase my meat consumption.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Rural on July 08, 2015, 07:26:55 PM
We're well below the thrifty plan without trying hard and without separating out alcohol, household supplies, and food for three cats and two Great Danes.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Helvegen on July 09, 2015, 10:03:53 AM
Thrifty plan is pretty accurate for my family in a high MCOL area, but I buy a lot of vices like soda and alcohol and will spend more money for a comparable item with a lower calorie count/better macronutrient profile.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Eric on July 09, 2015, 12:30:05 PM
I didn't think it was too out of line.  $43.20 for a thrift guy.  Then I noticed that was a weekly figure and not a monthly figure.

Anyone else find it strange that families are more expensive than the sum of their parts?  A single guy & single girl should be $81.40 combined, but when they are a 2 person family it's $89.60.  I would have through the advantages of buying in bulk and less spoilage would have actually lowered the cost the larger the family.

That's the first thing that stuck out to me too.  I would also think economies of scale should move it the opposite way.

Some of y'all are super thrifty on the food!  I'm pretty amazed.  I feel like we do pretty well, but I'm just over the thrifty level.  Whatever.  I'm good with it.  We eat pretty darn well.

Also, since this is the Anti-MMM section, let me just add, HOLY SHIT!  That's a "moderate" spending plan?!?  No wonder all of these jerks are broke!
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Scandium on July 09, 2015, 12:37:45 PM
I don't understand what you people eat when you spend less in a month than we do in a week (~$120). We buy no soda, little meat, but tons of veggies and fruits (not organic) that is the largest drag on our budget. But I don't really want to eat less healthy food to save money.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: zephyr911 on July 09, 2015, 12:40:24 PM
I'm pretty careful about shopping for the best price on the foods I buy, but to be honest, I don't care to track total costs. We might be spending up to $200/mo on mostly fresh food for the two of us - lots of chicken, small quantities of other meats, and occasionally some fillers (rice, pasta, potatoes). I snag a lot of deli markdowns (like whole baked chickens) to stash in the freezer, and work them into various fusion dishes. Like MMM, we are huge on eating a nice fresh salad with every meal - usually $1-2 per dinner (total) depending on what kits or whole components were available. And Kroger $3 wine is the best for the price that I've ever had. xD
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Bumbling Bee on July 09, 2015, 01:21:41 PM
I didn't think it was too out of line.  $43.20 for a thrift guy.  Then I noticed that was a weekly figure and not a monthly figure.

Anyone else find it strange that families are more expensive than the sum of their parts?  A single guy & single girl should be $81.40 combined, but when they are a 2 person family it's $89.60.  I would have through the advantages of buying in bulk and less spoilage would have actually lowered the cost the larger the family.

That's the first thing that stuck out to me too.  I would also think economies of scale should move it the opposite way.

Some of y'all are super thrifty on the food!  I'm pretty amazed.  I feel like we do pretty well, but I'm just over the thrifty level.  Whatever.  I'm good with it.  We eat pretty darn well.

Also, since this is the Anti-MMM section, let me just add, HOLY SHIT!  That's a "moderate" spending plan?!?  No wonder all of these jerks are broke!

The economies of scale are there - it's because when they calculate the cost for individuals, they are assuming that he/she is part of a 4-person household. In the footnote, it says to add 20% to the individual figure value in the table if you're looking at a one-person household, 10% and 5% for two- and three-person households, and then subtract for households larger than 4 people. So, for the couple, add together to get $81.40 and multiply by 1.10 to get $89.54 (I'm assuming they round up to the nearest dime). Reading footnotes - my job and my avocation!

Also, man, are groceries expensive in Manhattan. I bought no processed food or meat last week, and I still barely made it in the "moderate" category.

Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: zephyr911 on July 09, 2015, 01:25:32 PM
I don't understand what you people eat when you spend less in a month than we do in a week (~$120). We buy no soda, little meat, but tons of veggies and fruits (not organic) that is the largest drag on our budget. But I don't really want to eat less healthy food to save money.
For how many people?
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: midweststache on July 09, 2015, 01:26:52 PM
I don't understand what you people eat when you spend less in a month than we do in a week (~$120). We buy no soda, little meat, but tons of veggies and fruits (not organic) that is the largest drag on our budget. But I don't really want to eat less healthy food to save money.

Are they in-season? Berries are great for snacks and in oatmeal, but if I'm paying more than $1.50 for a carton, I'm hesitant (I'm willing to pay more for Farmers Market local stuff, FWIW). I can't find non-organic grocery store berries for cheaper than that between October and April. Buying produce out of season can be a HUGE budget drain...
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Cassie on July 09, 2015, 02:46:56 PM
We spend 400-500/month for 2 adults & eat meat every night.  This does not include going out to eat once per week. When I had 3 teen boys at home our food budget was big. They ate a lot because they were so active. My hubby would fill the entire car when he shopped every 2 weeks & he did not buy junk because he was cheap.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: mm1970 on July 09, 2015, 05:06:06 PM
I don't understand what you people eat when you spend less in a month than we do in a week (~$120). We buy no soda, little meat, but tons of veggies and fruits (not organic) that is the largest drag on our budget. But I don't really want to eat less healthy food to save money.
It's so location dependent, and depends on organic, and where you shop.  For example, I've found some GREAT deals at the 99c store, including 1 lb boxes of organic strawberries, but they are hit-or-miss so I have to go there first.

And even living in CA, where much of the food is grown, doesn't help because of overhead costs.

Our CSA is $20 a week, and that's about 1/4 to 1/2 of our produce.  I'd say we eat 35-40 pounds a week (half of that is me alone).  Well, at $1 to $2 a pound, produce really adds up. Sure I buy cheaper stuff like bananas and apples. But sometimes I want peppers and cucumbers and berries.  In order to keep a budget I shop at 5 places (usually 3 in any given week), so not all people are really up for that.  Sometimes I'm not!!
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: NumberJohnny5 on July 09, 2015, 06:30:32 PM
Hrm, I'm actually wondering if we should raise our food budget. USDA says $149.70/wk for a family of four. We're a family of five (youngest is a toddler, so no high food expenses just yet) and we have $110 budgeted, including dining out. Not a good comparison, but as of right now $110 AUD is worth $82.07 USD.

I would think we need to buy more healthy food, but there's currently a chicken thawing in the fridge and veggies often go bad (so we're at least buying 'em). I think if our food budget was raised we'd eat even more junk food. I don't know.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: ender on July 09, 2015, 06:50:39 PM
We are below the "thrifty" budget a fair bit too and I feel have been eating luxuriously.

I kind of want to troll Facebook with this.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Ynari on July 09, 2015, 07:04:57 PM
Living in Chicago, my SO and I spent around $600/mo together on grassfed meat and in-season produce. So, just under the "moderate" in the table. High quality stuff - could have probably brought it down to $500 without the nice meats, but city food isn't cheap.

Now I'm back "home" and my dad is feeding an average of 8 people at any given time. We do not eat awfully, but he doesn't buy grassfed/organic or anything. His food budget is $1000 grocery + 4 meals out per month ($300-$400/mo) so if we're just talking "foot at home", we come in under the calculated, size adjusted thrifty rate ($1180.35) but with meals out it's a bit over.

It's an interesting calculation to do, but putting this in the "antimustachian wall of shame" section is belittling the food price variation across the states, and even from county to county.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Mrs.LC on July 09, 2015, 10:32:09 PM
I don't understand what you people eat when you spend less in a month than we do in a week (~$120). We buy no soda, little meat, but tons of veggies and fruits (not organic) that is the largest drag on our budget. But I don't really want to eat less healthy food to save money.
How many people for the $120? Are you buying seasonal fruits and vegetables? Are you consuming all the food purchased or do you have waste?
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: horsepoor on July 09, 2015, 10:49:17 PM
Holy shit.  We normally cook from scratch, buy a 1/4 cow, stock up and freeze whole chickens on sale, eat tons of veg, much of which comes from the garden, etc.  I feel like we're in the lap of luxury with fancy Kerrygold butter, pastured eggs (when our own hens aren't pulling their weight) and boxes of organic baby greens.

Well, DH's family is coming to visit this weekend, and they are picky and eat total crap.  We went shopping today to cater to their tastes, and ended up doing the walk of shame to the checkout line with a cart full of chips, Snackwells, crackers and other crap.  DH had already bought some icecream and soda for them a few days ago, so as we walked out of the store, he says "well, I've spent about $100 on pure crap now."  I can see how eating this way would really eat up (no pun intended) the grocery budget.  This is just for a weekend, and we already had the meat to barbecue, and will be supplementing with veggies from the garden.  It would have been even worse with frozen pizzas, deli items, etc.  If they would just eat real food, we could have probably put on a great BBQ for them for about $25 out of pocket.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Scandium on July 10, 2015, 03:29:06 AM
Holy shit.  We normally cook from scratch, buy a 1/4 cow, stock up and freeze whole chickens on sale, eat tons of veg, much of which comes from the garden, etc.  I feel like we're in the lap of luxury with fancy Kerrygold butter, pastured eggs (when our own hens aren't pulling their weight) and boxes of organic baby greens.

Well, DH's family is coming to visit this weekend, and they are picky and eat total crap.  We went shopping today to cater to their tastes, and ended up doing the walk of shame to the checkout line with a cart full of chips, Snackwells, crackers and other crap.  DH had already bought some icecream and soda for them a few days ago, so as we walked out of the store, he says "well, I've spent about $100 on pure crap now."  I can see how eating this way would really eat up (no pun intended) the grocery budget.  This is just for a weekend, and we already had the meat to barbecue, and will be supplementing with veggies from the garden.  It would have been even worse with frozen pizzas, deli items, etc.  If they would just eat real food, we could have probably put on a great BBQ for them for about $25 out of pocket.
Eh, healthy food is in general much more expensive than processed stuff. That's one of the reasons poor people are unhealthy.

Are you counting all the gardening supplies, larger land, and your time in your vegetables and egg costs?
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on July 10, 2015, 05:37:45 AM
Eh, healthy food is in general much more expensive than processed stuff. That's one of the reasons poor people are unhealthy.

I don't think this is actually true. Beans are way cheaper than cheeseburgers.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Rufus.T.Firefly on July 10, 2015, 05:54:51 AM
This chart seems skewed to the high side and excessively spendy.  I think its worth noting that this is not actually what the American family does spend, but rather what the USDA is suggesting people should spend based on a particular recommended diet.

My wife and I live in an almost exactly average area (grocery CoL index: 101). We are very close to the thrifty mark of $388 ... if you also include all household supplies, alcohol, holiday meals and cooking for guests, etc.

We used to average closer to $300/month without breaking a sweat (we targeted $275). However, this year we intentionally changed our diet knowing the cost would rise, but we could easily drop back down to $300/mo or lower if necessary.

Even if we went crazy, which we might in retirement, I don't see how we could ever spend remotely as much as shown in the moderate plans.

Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Scandium on July 10, 2015, 06:21:24 AM
Eh, healthy food is in general much more expensive than processed stuff. That's one of the reasons poor people are unhealthy.

I don't think this is actually true. Beans are way cheaper than cheeseburgers.

1) In cost of dollars per calories?
2) If you're talking a McDonalds burger that's totally apples and oranges. You can't compare the cost of a restaurant meal with a can of unheated, unprepared food.
3) Beans is one food item. A cheeseburger contains meat, dairy, vegetables and grains. As supersize me discussed ages ago; the burger isn't really that bad, it's the fries and soda.

Prepared and processed food is cheaper and easier than vegetables and less prepared food. This is a problems as poor people first of all can't afford it, and since they often work several long jobs and/or are single parents don't have time to make healthy food. I didn't think this was up for debate. Good on you (and me) for eating healthy, but it's not so easy for everyone.

ps: i'm not saying there aren't a ton of people who make stupid decisions and have only themselves to blame, but the cost (money and time) of healthy eating for many poor people is definitely a problem.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/eating-healthy-vs-unhealthy_n_4383633.html

Quote
They say that healthful food is simply more expensive than unhealthful food. Now, science backs them up.

The most comprehensive study of its kind indicates that yes, unhealthy food is about $1.50 cheaper per day, or about $550 per year, than healthy food.

http://frugivoremag.com/2012/01/3-reasons-why-the-poor-cant-eat-healthy/

Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Scandium on July 10, 2015, 06:31:05 AM
I don't understand what you people eat when you spend less in a month than we do in a week (~$120). We buy no soda, little meat, but tons of veggies and fruits (not organic) that is the largest drag on our budget. But I don't really want to eat less healthy food to save money.

Are they in-season? Berries are great for snacks and in oatmeal, but if I'm paying more than $1.50 for a carton, I'm hesitant (I'm willing to pay more for Farmers Market local stuff, FWIW). I can't find non-organic grocery store berries for cheaper than that between October and April. Buying produce out of season can be a HUGE budget drain...

Ugh, berries. We definitely don't buy berries out of season, but even in season it's at least $3-4 for pretty small box. Yeah I run away from those organic, free range berries for $7 for five of them.

We just get lots of vegetables and fruit. We both have smoothies for breakfast and my wife makes lunch salad every day. And now we buy veggies to feed the baby. Other than that we only eat chicken, no red meat and no junk. Few bucks on yogurt and eggs and that's it. So yeah, tons of money spent on greenery, but like I said I'm ok with that. I'd rather save elsewhere. We also live in one of the most expensive areas in the country, except NYC and SF I guess. Oh, and our grocery cost is all other household supplies too, those not bought at target at least.

And to whoever said they shop at 3 stores every week; holycrap that's crazy! Making it to one is a chore!
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: TravelJunkyQC on July 10, 2015, 07:46:05 AM
We're a family of two adults in their twenties, and it tends to float between the thrifty and low-cost... however, that includes alcohol (not a lot), and meals and drinks out (even less), and it is also in CAD as opposed to USD (and the price increase that comes with living in an area where food is more expensive). So all that means that... theoretically, we would be below the thrifty line if in the US. Woot woot!
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: golden1 on July 10, 2015, 08:23:24 AM
For just food, we are a little above the low cost level for a family of 4.  I could totally see spending the liberal plan around here if you wanted to shop at Whole foods or get a ton of processed and pre-prepared stuff. 
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: horsepoor on July 10, 2015, 08:43:54 AM
Holy shit.  We normally cook from scratch, buy a 1/4 cow, stock up and freeze whole chickens on sale, eat tons of veg, much of which comes from the garden, etc.  I feel like we're in the lap of luxury with fancy Kerrygold butter, pastured eggs (when our own hens aren't pulling their weight) and boxes of organic baby greens.

Well, DH's family is coming to visit this weekend, and they are picky and eat total crap.  We went shopping today to cater to their tastes, and ended up doing the walk of shame to the checkout line with a cart full of chips, Snackwells, crackers and other crap.  DH had already bought some icecream and soda for them a few days ago, so as we walked out of the store, he says "well, I've spent about $100 on pure crap now."  I can see how eating this way would really eat up (no pun intended) the grocery budget.  This is just for a weekend, and we already had the meat to barbecue, and will be supplementing with veggies from the garden.  It would have been even worse with frozen pizzas, deli items, etc.  If they would just eat real food, we could have probably put on a great BBQ for them for about $25 out of pocket.
Eh, healthy food is in general much more expensive than processed stuff. That's one of the reasons poor people are unhealthy.

Are you counting all the gardening supplies, larger land, and your time in your vegetables and egg costs?

It's still cheaper during winter when we're eating very little garden produce.  If I didn't grow a garden, and but downgraded from organics/grass fed/blahblah to conventional stuff, it would still be cheaper to scratch cook healthier stuff.  If we bought all our veg/eggs, we might tick over to the moderate.  We were poor when I was a kid, but we ate fairly healthy - vegetarian spaghetti, eggs, potatoes, bean burritos, peanut butter and so on.  Always had some fruit and veg.  I feel like this conversation has been had on here many, many times.  When it comes to my relatives, they are not poor, but the typical cash-strapped middle-class parents who could be much healthier, and save probably hundreds of dollars a month if they would just make scratch cooking a daily habit instead of eating processed food and going out to eat all the time.  They have a well-equipped normal kitchen and haven't had their power go out, don't live in a food desert, or any of the other arguments/excusitis that get thrown out all the time around this conversation.  I'm sure their "situation" could be multiplied by 50 million, all across the country, but since it's hard for some people, everyone should get a pass to keep doing what they're doing.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Scandium on July 10, 2015, 08:59:00 AM
Holy shit.  We normally cook from scratch, buy a 1/4 cow, stock up and freeze whole chickens on sale, eat tons of veg, much of which comes from the garden, etc.  I feel like we're in the lap of luxury with fancy Kerrygold butter, pastured eggs (when our own hens aren't pulling their weight) and boxes of organic baby greens.

Well, DH's family is coming to visit this weekend, and they are picky and eat total crap.  We went shopping today to cater to their tastes, and ended up doing the walk of shame to the checkout line with a cart full of chips, Snackwells, crackers and other crap.  DH had already bought some icecream and soda for them a few days ago, so as we walked out of the store, he says "well, I've spent about $100 on pure crap now."  I can see how eating this way would really eat up (no pun intended) the grocery budget.  This is just for a weekend, and we already had the meat to barbecue, and will be supplementing with veggies from the garden.  It would have been even worse with frozen pizzas, deli items, etc.  If they would just eat real food, we could have probably put on a great BBQ for them for about $25 out of pocket.
Eh, healthy food is in general much more expensive than processed stuff. That's one of the reasons poor people are unhealthy.

Are you counting all the gardening supplies, larger land, and your time in your vegetables and egg costs?

It's still cheaper during winter when we're eating very little garden produce.  If I didn't grow a garden, and but downgraded from organics/grass fed/blahblah to conventional stuff, it would still be cheaper to scratch cook healthier stuff.  If we bought all our veg/eggs, we might tick over to the moderate.  We were poor when I was a kid, but we ate fairly healthy - vegetarian spaghetti, eggs, potatoes, bean burritos, peanut butter and so on.  Always had some fruit and veg.  I feel like this conversation has been had on here many, many times.  When it comes to my relatives, they are not poor, but the typical cash-strapped middle-class parents who could be much healthier, and save probably hundreds of dollars a month if they would just make scratch cooking a daily habit instead of eating processed food and going out to eat all the time.  They have a well-equipped normal kitchen and haven't had their power go out, don't live in a food desert, or any of the other arguments/excusitis that get thrown out all the time around this conversation.  I'm sure their "situation" could be multiplied by 50 million, all across the country, but since it's hard for some people, everyone should get a pass to keep doing what they're doing.


For the middle class no. Anyone at my grocery store with a cart full of pepsi, chips and eggo is a moron and I would laugh if there was a way I wouldn't have to pay for their insurance/medicare costs. (BMI tax anyone?)

I just took issue with the implied "poor people would eat better if they just bought a house on 2 acres, gardened their own tomatoes and cooked everything from scratch, after the single mom come home to screaming kids after a day of two minimum wage jobs"

Scratch cook every day? Are you insane? After we get the kid to bed we have about an hour to eat, clean up the house and get ready for the next day. We cook once a week and heat up leftovers the rest. Maybe some luxurious 50s life where dad makes $200k and mom can stay home and cook every day, but we at least can't do that. 
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: mm1970 on July 10, 2015, 09:17:15 AM
Eh, healthy food is in general much more expensive than processed stuff. That's one of the reasons poor people are unhealthy.

I don't think this is actually true. Beans are way cheaper than cheeseburgers.

It sort of depends on what you are eating.  You can compare per nutrient, or per calorie.  For example, a 10-lb bag of potatoes is cheaper per calorie than a bag of chips.  And beans are cheaper than cheeseburgers.

But per calorie, fruits and vegetables are often very expensive, but you need the nutrients.  Let's say you get a gallon of ice cream for $5, or a 5-lb bag of apples for $5.  Per calorie, the ice cream is a MUCH better deal.

I also know that carbohydrates, in general, are cheaper than other foods like healthy fats, proteins, and fruits and vegetables.  Yes, beans and rice are cheap, but I cannot eat that many of them anymore for weight reasons.

So I can eat 1/2 cup of beans a day, and 1/2 cup of rice.  But I still need to eat about 4 servings of protein in the form of meat, yogurt, fish, eggs, etc.  Which are more expensive than the carbs.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: mm1970 on July 10, 2015, 09:26:01 AM
I don't understand what you people eat when you spend less in a month than we do in a week (~$120). We buy no soda, little meat, but tons of veggies and fruits (not organic) that is the largest drag on our budget. But I don't really want to eat less healthy food to save money.

Are they in-season? Berries are great for snacks and in oatmeal, but if I'm paying more than $1.50 for a carton, I'm hesitant (I'm willing to pay more for Farmers Market local stuff, FWIW). I can't find non-organic grocery store berries for cheaper than that between October and April. Buying produce out of season can be a HUGE budget drain...

Ugh, berries. We definitely don't buy berries out of season, but even in season it's at least $3-4 for pretty small box. Yeah I run away from those organic, free range berries for $7 for five of them.

We just get lots of vegetables and fruit. We both have smoothies for breakfast and my wife makes lunch salad every day. And now we buy veggies to feed the baby. Other than that we only eat chicken, no red meat and no junk. Few bucks on yogurt and eggs and that's it. So yeah, tons of money spent on greenery, but like I said I'm ok with that. I'd rather save elsewhere. We also live in one of the most expensive areas in the country, except NYC and SF I guess. Oh, and our grocery cost is all other household supplies too, those not bought at target at least.

And to whoever said they shop at 3 stores every week; holycrap that's crazy! Making it to one is a chore!
Ha ha, that was me.  Yeah, so last year I was focused only on health and weight loss, and didn't consider price at all (after years of frugal cooking and shopping).  And our grocery bill was $10,500 for four.  Not terribly bad by local standards but still higher than I'd like.  So this year I'm trying to cut that down by 1/3 to 1/2.  And unfortunately it requires shopping at multiple places.

I eat so many veggies that when I check the grocery fliers every week, I mostly just look at fruit/veg.  At most, of the 4 major chains, I will pick *one* to go to, to get the 1 or 2 loss leaders.

Then each week it is 99c store, Costco, Smart and Final, Trader Joes, Whole Foods - usually only two of those.  Costco is regular.  Smart & Final is only about once a month for certain things we get there.  Trader Joe's is my regular store.  99c store I go to about 2-3 times a month.

Generally my Saturday morning shop is first 99c store for whatever produce is there and looks good, because it's 1/2 the price of everywhere else.  (If not even less.)  Then Trader Joe's for everything else.

Costco is mid-week, and usually the husband does that run because it's near where we work.

Regular store for loss leaders might be Sunday.  It has been almost always the store 1.25 miles up the hill from us, so I often just walk up there for exercise.  But that store just changed hands, so time will tell - their prices are quite a bit higher than the old store, but I hear they have good sales.

By adding the "extra" stops this year (2 extra ones per week), I have cut our grocery bills in about 1/2 so far this year.  It does come at the expense of time, however.  Not only just the extra hour of shopping, but also the prep.  Instead of buying already cut veggies at Trader Joe's, I am buying a full head of cauliflower and a bag of peppers and a head of lettuce and I'm washing and chopping them myself.  At 35-40 pounds of produce a week, that's some time invested.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: mm1970 on July 10, 2015, 09:40:45 AM
Quote
Scratch cook every day? Are you insane? After we get the kid to bed we have about an hour to eat, clean up the house and get ready for the next day. We cook once a week and heat up leftovers the rest. Maybe some luxurious 50s life where dad makes $200k and mom can stay home and cook every day, but we at least can't do that.

This is also something that  struggle with.  I have two kids (3 and 9) and a full time job.  I'm the shopper and the cook.

I used to be in this great habit of cooking 3 big meals on the weekend and eating leftovers all week, then using Weds as a crock pot day.

I'm out of that habit because of the types of food I am eating now.  Plus my kids eat more, and leftovers don't last as long.

One of my coworkers (who is Chinese) asked me yesterday what Americans cook.  I didn't know how to answer him.  When I was working part time (30-32 hrs a week), I cooked often.  I had extra time.  I'd make lasagna, or various kinds of pasta.  Risotto, spanish rice, macaroni and cheese.  Spaghetti and meatballs.  Roasted chicken and veggies, meat loaf, baked salmon.  Homemade hummus, falafel.  Stir-fries and curries.  Pad thai.  Soups.

But now I'm in health mode and fast mode.  I eat protein and produce, with some beans and a few carbs thrown in.  I am trying to eliminate wheat and reduce grains.  So pasta, sandwiches, rice are mostly out.

A new wrench in my life is that I now have to work until 6 pm 3x a week.  Previously, I worked 7:30 to 4:30, picked up the kids and got home at 5:30, with dinner at 6 or 6:15.  (Note, our kids go to bed at 9 or 9:30 pm, no matter how hard I try to get them to sleep earlier.)  I still do that 2x a week.  The other days I go to work at 9 and work till 6.  That means my husband has to do the cooking.  Or, it means I have to have food for him to heat up.  (Not that he cannot cook, he used to cook.  But I've been doing the cooking since 2002.  And his cooking made me fat.)

So, I do cook almost every day. Of course I have to pack lunch for my 9 year old.  Ugh. 

An example would be that I'd make beans and rice and chicken on Saturday, and boil a bunch of eggs on Sunday.
So lunches would be beans and rice for my husband, and salad for me (with some beans and eggs).

Monday, husband would do dinner:  Chicken fingers (premade from TJ's) for the kids, leftover chicken for us, plus a steamed veggie.
Tuesday, my dinner:  I might make turkey tacos, but a double batch.  Sauteed turkey and veg, shred cheese, make guac.  Plus maybe roasted cauliflower.
Weds, hubby would reheat the taco meat and make a salad or wash, peel, cut up carrot sticks.
Thursday, hubby dinner: soup and sandwiches or veggie burgers
Friday: used to be leftovers, but ha!  None anymore.  I would probably do a stir-fry or something here, with kale chips on the side
Saturday: actually make something
Sunday: neighborhood potluck, I usually make a vegetable side

What you see in this list is that mid-week, I am always making SOMETHING.  I aim to make one thing every day, but make 2-3 days worth.  So I might cook up a bunch of chicken in the oven or crockpot, but 3 days worth.  The next day I'll roast enough veggies for 2 nights.

What you *don't* see in this list is the 30-45 minutes I spend after dinner to prep lunches for the next day.  I eat 2.5-3 lbs of fruits and veggies a day.  So that's a lot of washing and chopping.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: wenchsenior on July 10, 2015, 10:27:46 AM
This is an area of mustachianism that has been giving me fits. We are 2 adults and 3 cats. I eat 2 meals/day, though I'm actually trying to increase the number of calories I eat (trying to add small third meal).  My husband eats ~1.5 meals at home (unless on weekends) and usually 1 meal out most days at work. Meals out and booze are entirely separate line-items that we're trying to address. Yet we still spend 500-600$ per month on average for regular food/cleaning supplies/pet stuff.

Up until very recently, it had been bafffling to me how we've been spending so much; therefore, I don't find these USDA charts at all surprising. If anything, they seem modest. Below are some reasons for our huge bill:

I was never raised to track grocery costs, only to think of health and freshness, and I grew up around foodies for whom price was way down the list of priorities.  My husband grew up poor, and being 'cheap' when it comes to food brings up bad childhood memories. So we barely register prices at all, and when we do, we immediately forget them. I mean, I automatically grab for the generic product, but I don't actually know how much cheaper it is, if that makes sense. Though I recently started keeping a price book, I still couldn't tell you the price of a gallon of milk ($2? $5?...no clue). My brain refuses to hold that info. So I've just started training myself: "cat litter, salmon, chocolate bars, are cheapest at Target"; "pork is cheapest at the store down the street" etc, and trying to structure my shopping lists that way.

We don't have access to Aldis or decent farmer's markets. Also, I just dislike grocery shopping generally and both of us hate warehouse-type stores particularly. I went once into a Walmart to price things, and got so depressed just being in it that I gave up, knowing I'd never shop there as long as there were other options. I have now compromised at the cheapest store at which I don't dread shopping: Super Target.

I have endocrine/glycemic issues, so we rarely use bread, potatoes, white pasta, or white rice as meal extenders.  We have very set eating patterns, e.g., salads of fresh veggies all year long, regardless of seasonality. We eat a ton of nuts and dried fruit. My husband is obsessed with fresh fruit and just buys whatever he sees, even if out of season and insanely expensive. We eat Lindt chocolate for dessert every day, and find cheaper chocolate bars gross, etc.

Although we only eat meat once a day, we eat relatively few kinds, very lean, and therefore not usually cheap. Very little pork (husband has to inspect farm facilities sometimes, and gets upset every time), very little dark meat (chicken breast, not wings or drumsticks), only very good cuts of lean red meat on the rare occasions we buy it (not hamburger). We eat a lot of salmon, which I only recently realized is close to 10$/meal for the two of us (that alone accounts for about 50$ of our monthly bill!!

I dislike cooking except in rare moods. Since we don't eat much preprepared food, I just set up a few recipes and rotateed them so I wouldn't have to think about it. The problem is those recipes have never (until recently) taken cost into account.

We do a lot right in terms of eating very healthy. And we don't tend to waste a lot of food. But I am so envious of you guys' super awesome food-budgeting skillz that it's really become a project for me to bring our costs down by at least 100$/month. For the first time in my life I am tracking costs and noting sales...I didn't realize that the midweek newspaper flyers that came in the mail were about grocery prices until recently. You guys kept on talking about mid-week 'loss leaders' and I had no idea what that was until a couple months ago LOL. We've made some adjustments (more brown rice, more beans (for my breakfasts, anyway), more pork, more sweet potatoes) and now trying to learn new no-brainer staple recipes that are lower-cost. Next project will be tracking produce costs and trying to eat more seasonally.

It's funny how some mustachian traits come so easily, and others have been such a surprising struggle and have taken up amazing amounts of mental energy!
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: wenchsenior on July 10, 2015, 10:29:54 AM
Holy shit.  We normally cook from scratch, buy a 1/4 cow, stock up and freeze whole chickens on sale, eat tons of veg, much of which comes from the garden, etc.  I feel like we're in the lap of luxury with fancy Kerrygold butter, pastured eggs (when our own hens aren't pulling their weight) and boxes of organic baby greens.

Well, DH's family is coming to visit this weekend, and they are picky and eat total crap.  We went shopping today to cater to their tastes, and ended up doing the walk of shame to the checkout line with a cart full of chips, Snackwells, crackers and other crap.  DH had already bought some icecream and soda for them a few days ago, so as we walked out of the store, he says "well, I've spent about $100 on pure crap now."  I can see how eating this way would really eat up (no pun intended) the grocery budget.  This is just for a weekend, and we already had the meat to barbecue, and will be supplementing with veggies from the garden.  It would have been even worse with frozen pizzas, deli items, etc.  If they would just eat real food, we could have probably put on a great BBQ for them for about $25 out of pocket.
Eh, healthy food is in general much more expensive than processed stuff. That's one of the reasons poor people are unhealthy.

Are you counting all the gardening supplies, larger land, and your time in your vegetables and egg costs?

It's still cheaper during winter when we're eating very little garden produce.  If I didn't grow a garden, and but downgraded from organics/grass fed/blahblah to conventional stuff, it would still be cheaper to scratch cook healthier stuff.  If we bought all our veg/eggs, we might tick over to the moderate.  We were poor when I was a kid, but we ate fairly healthy - vegetarian spaghetti, eggs, potatoes, bean burritos, peanut butter and so on.  Always had some fruit and veg.  I feel like this conversation has been had on here many, many times.  When it comes to my relatives, they are not poor, but the typical cash-strapped middle-class parents who could be much healthier, and save probably hundreds of dollars a month if they would just make scratch cooking a daily habit instead of eating processed food and going out to eat all the time.  They have a well-equipped normal kitchen and haven't had their power go out, don't live in a food desert, or any of the other arguments/excusitis that get thrown out all the time around this conversation.  I'm sure their "situation" could be multiplied by 50 million, all across the country, but since it's hard for some people, everyone should get a pass to keep doing what they're doing.


For the middle class no. Anyone at my grocery store with a cart full of pepsi, chips and eggo is a moron and I would laugh if there was a way I wouldn't have to pay for their insurance/medicare costs. (BMI tax anyone?)

I just took issue with the implied "poor people would eat better if they just bought a house on 2 acres, gardened their own tomatoes and cooked everything from scratch, after the single mom come home to screaming kids after a day of two minimum wage jobs"

Scratch cook every day? Are you insane? After we get the kid to bed we have about an hour to eat, clean up the house and get ready for the next day. We cook once a week and heat up leftovers the rest. Maybe some luxurious 50s life where dad makes $200k and mom can stay home and cook every day, but we at least can't do that.

I feel you. See my post for similar hair-pulling over how people on this board manage it. Getting a handle on this is a huge focus for me right now, but I am not finding it easy.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: 4alpacas on July 10, 2015, 10:42:59 AM
This is an area of mustachianism that has been giving me fits. We are 2 adults and 3 cats. I eat 2 meals/day, though I'm actually trying to increase the number of calories I eat (trying to add small third meal).  My husband eats ~1.5 meals at home (unless on weekends) and usually 1 meal out most days at work. Meals out and booze are entirely separate line-items that we're trying to address. Yet we still spend 500-600$ per month on average for regular food/cleaning supplies/pet stuff.

Up until very recently, it had been bafffling to me how we've been spending so much; therefore, I don't find these USDA charts at all surprising. If anything, they seem modest. Below are some reasons for our huge bill:

I was never raised to track grocery costs, only to think of health and freshness, and I grew up around foodies for whom price was way down the list of priorities.  My husband grew up poor, and being 'cheap' when it comes to food brings up bad childhood memories. So we barely register prices at all, and when we do, we immediately forget them. I mean, I automatically grab for the generic product, but I don't actually know how much cheaper it is, if that makes sense. Though I recently started keeping a price book, I still couldn't tell you the price of a gallon of milk ($2? $5?...no clue). My brain refuses to hold that info. So I've just started training myself: "cat litter, salmon, chocolate bars, are cheapest at Target"; "pork is cheapest at the store down the street" etc, and trying to structure my shopping lists that way.

We don't have access to Aldis or decent farmer's markets. Also, I just dislike grocery shopping generally and both of us hate warehouse-type stores particularly. I went once into a Walmart to price things, and got so depressed just being in it that I gave up, knowing I'd never shop there as long as there were other options. I have now compromised at the cheapest store at which I don't dread shopping: Super Target.

I have endocrine/glycemic issues, so we rarely use bread, potatoes, white pasta, or white rice as meal extenders.  We have very set eating patterns, e.g., salads of fresh veggies all year long, regardless of seasonality. We eat a ton of nuts and dried fruit. My husband is obsessed with fresh fruit and just buys whatever he sees, even if out of season and insanely expensive. We eat Lindt chocolate for dessert every day, and find cheaper chocolate bars gross, etc.

Although we only eat meat once a day, we eat relatively few kinds, very lean, and therefore not usually cheap. Very little pork (husband has to inspect farm facilities sometimes, and gets upset every time), very little dark meat (chicken breast, not wings or drumsticks), only very good cuts of lean red meat on the rare occasions we buy it (not hamburger). We eat a lot of salmon, which I only recently realized is close to 10$/meal for the two of us (that alone accounts for about 50$ of our monthly bill!!

I dislike cooking except in rare moods. Since we don't eat much preprepared food, I just set up a few recipes and rotateed them so I wouldn't have to think about it. The problem is those recipes have never (until recently) taken cost into account.

We do a lot right in terms of eating very healthy. And we don't tend to waste a lot of food. But I am so envious of you guys' super awesome food-budgeting skillz that it's really become a project for me to bring our costs down by at least 100$/month. For the first time in my life I am tracking costs and noting sales...I didn't realize that the midweek newspaper flyers that came in the mail were about grocery prices until recently. You guys kept on talking about mid-week 'loss leaders' and I had no idea what that was until a couple months ago LOL. We've made some adjustments (more brown rice, more beans (for my breakfasts, anyway), more pork, more sweet potatoes) and now trying to learn new no-brainer staple recipes that are lower-cost. Next project will be tracking produce costs and trying to eat more seasonally.

It's funny how some mustachian traits come so easily, and others have been such a surprising struggle and have taken up amazing amounts of mental energy!
Our old grocery bill makes your spending look like peanuts, so I completely understand.  My recommendation would be to look at your receipt after every trip and think about what you could improve.

Then keep your receipt on the fridge and cross out items as you prepare/eat them.  I noticed that we weren't finishing certain things, but we were running out of others. 

I've also opted for more in season produce.  It tastes so much better and costs less!  We do buy frozen fruit and vegetables frequently for out of season produce. 

Calculate the cost per weight for every item.  We found it was cheaper to buy two smaller containers of Fage instead of one larger container.  Carry around a little calculator or use the app on your phone. 

Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: wenchsenior on July 10, 2015, 10:53:41 AM
So, question I've been meaning to ask everyone, and I swear I'm not trying to be offensive and this is not trolling:


Do you find any correlation between struggle with being overweight/healthy, and cheapness of groceries? (Setting aside the fact that weight is a very complex and individual thing not completely dictated by food). But still, generally speaking, eating crap leads to weight gain. Some crappy foods are relatively cheap (corn and sugar being subsidized the way they are) and some prepackaged foods (deli foods, etc) are more expensive than cooking whole foods from scratch.

My impression is that you have to spend bigger bucks to eat nutrient dense foods (which generally also seem to be lower calorie). If we ate a lot more pasta, rice, and potatoes (like we did as poor college students), we could def cut our food budget. If we ate more hamburger in place of salmon, we could cut our budget. But I suspect our butts would grow and health deteriorate in correlation as our bill shrank.

Do you guys find that a challenge? I am actually currently underweight, but suspect that 15 years of eating expensive lean meat and produce, and very little in the way of sugar and cheap carbs, is part of the reason. For health reasons, I can't eat a lot of cheap carbs anyway, so my cost-cutting solution currently is to shift to more whole grains and beans...cheap and nutrient dense. But that is one of the only ways I can think of to deal with what I perceive to be this challenge.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: RWD on July 10, 2015, 11:19:53 AM
This is an area of mustachianism that has been giving me fits. We are 2 adults and 3 cats. I eat 2 meals/day, though I'm actually trying to increase the number of calories I eat (trying to add small third meal).  My husband eats ~1.5 meals at home (unless on weekends) and usually 1 meal out most days at work. Meals out and booze are entirely separate line-items that we're trying to address. Yet we still spend 500-600$ per month on average for regular food/cleaning supplies/pet stuff.

If you aren't already, you might want to consider tracking supplies and pet stuff in two separate categories from groceries to get a more accurate picture. For reference, last year we spent about $45/month on supplies, $20/month on our two cats, and $255/month on food groceries for two adults. The cost of living grocery category in my city is 99.3% of the national average. We spent an additional $45/month on dining out and $15/month on alcohol.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: mm1970 on July 10, 2015, 11:31:38 AM
So, question I've been meaning to ask everyone, and I swear I'm not trying to be offensive and this is not trolling:


Do you find any correlation between struggle with being overweight/healthy, and cheapness of groceries? (Setting aside the fact that weight is a very complex and individual thing not completely dictated by food). But still, generally speaking, eating crap leads to weight gain. Some crappy foods are relatively cheap (corn and sugar being subsidized the way they are) and some prepackaged foods (deli foods, etc) are more expensive than cooking whole foods from scratch.

My impression is that you have to spend bigger bucks to eat nutrient dense foods (which generally also seem to be lower calorie). If we ate a lot more pasta, rice, and potatoes (like we did as poor college students), we could def cut our food budget. If we ate more hamburger in place of salmon, we could cut our budget. But I suspect our butts would grow and health deteriorate in correlation as our bill shrank.

Do you guys find that a challenge? I am actually currently underweight, but suspect that 15 years of eating expensive lean meat and produce, and very little in the way of sugar and cheap carbs, is part of the reason. For health reasons, I can't eat a lot of cheap carbs anyway, so my cost-cutting solution currently is to shift to more whole grains and beans...cheap and nutrient dense. But that is one of the only ways I can think of to deal with what I perceive to be this challenge.
Yes.

In my early 30's, I lost 57 pounds, and my weight and grocery bill went down.  But you know, it's because I was eating 1/3 less.

Now in my mid-40's, they are directly related.  To lose/ maintain weight, I need to focus on protein and produce.  I have to limit grains/ breads/ carbs to no more than two 1/2 cup servings per day.  So more of the foods I eat are the expensive foods.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: libertarian4321 on July 10, 2015, 11:46:04 AM
Like everything else the government does, this is a FAIL!

Good God, I'm a big guy, bigger than I should be, and, as a multimillionaire, I don't try all that hard to "skimp" on food.  But we spend far less than the "moderate" level.  And with minimal effort, we could spend significantly less than the "Thrifty" plan.

This is probably government propaganda to provide rationale for an increase the payments for welfare/food stamps rather than an attempt to accurately portray food costs.





Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Hall11235 on July 10, 2015, 12:08:18 PM
Well, I'm ready to get annihilated for this, but I spend around $400 dollars a month for myself.
To me MMM is about spending on things that you are passionate on and optimizing everything else. I buy organic, grass-fed everything. I get most of my calories from from fat and protein and eat a ton of vegetables. I also love Fage yogurt, so bite me lol... 9 lbs a week might be stretching it, though. 
Is this slowing my journey to FIRE? Sure. Am I totally ok with that? Yep.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: 4alpacas on July 10, 2015, 12:15:05 PM
Well, I'm ready to get annihilated for this, but I spend around $400 dollars a month for myself.
To me MMM is about spending on things that you are passionate on and optimizing everything else. I buy organic, grass-fed everything. I get most of my calories from from fat and protein and eat a ton of vegetables. I also love Fage yogurt, so bite me lol... 9 lbs a week might be stretching it, though. 
Is this slowing my journey to FIRE? Sure. Am I totally ok with that? Yep.
The whole point of MMM is to spend money on what you value.  If you value food, then go for it.  I spend face punching amounts of money on my dog. 

But really, how much yogurt do you eat/week?  I eat about 2 pounds/week (of Fage), which doesn't include fruit.  I might have to start a poll to figure out how much yogurt everyone is eating because I thought I ate a lot. 
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: wenchsenior on July 10, 2015, 12:29:31 PM
Well, I'm ready to get annihilated for this, but I spend around $400 dollars a month for myself.
To me MMM is about spending on things that you are passionate on and optimizing everything else. I buy organic, grass-fed everything. I get most of my calories from from fat and protein and eat a ton of vegetables. I also love Fage yogurt, so bite me lol... 9 lbs a week might be stretching it, though. 
Is this slowing my journey to FIRE? Sure. Am I totally ok with that? Yep.

Yeah...I'm  not going to start eating fattier meat. I'm not going to stop spending 50$/month on salmon. I'm not going to stop eating Lindt chocolate in favor of Ghirardelli. I'm not going to drive to 4 different stores on Saturday to shop...too time consuming.

So I think it's going to be about finding the cheapest places to buy the things we like, substituting foods in a few places where feasible (more beans for breakfast in place of, say, eggs), and learning how to eat a little more seasonally than we have. I'm aiming to cut 100-150$ on average from the bill without changing the actual way we eat that much. Beyond that, I think I would find it not worth it. We'll see.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Hall11235 on July 10, 2015, 12:37:35 PM
For 4alpacas:
I do one tub of 2% Fage plain a week. I savor each spoonful as if Zeus himself placed it there. I won't allow myself to buy more because I would eat it too damn fast. That plus blueberries and almonds is a treat like none other.

For Wenchsenior:
I have Celiac's disease and a minor dairy intolerance (Though, for some reason, plain yogurt doesn't bother me too much - maybe the fermentation process?), and legumes wreak havoc on my digestion (Think nuclear bombs). I try to focus on the cheaper veggies no one else buys, like radishes, onions and cabbage. I usually buy one bag of frozen fruit every two weeks. I think I might try diversifying where I shop for groceries; there are two grocery stores on my way home from work, and I usually only go to one. Maybe I should try the other these next few weeks until I get familiar with prices between the two.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Helvegen on July 10, 2015, 12:58:39 PM
For the middle class no. Anyone at my grocery store with a cart full of pepsi, chips and eggo is a moron and I would laugh if there was a way I wouldn't have to pay for their insurance/medicare costs. (BMI tax anyone?)

You wouldn't want to see me on a Fred Meyer run then. That is where I buy all my junk - diet soda, beer, candy, chips, gelato. My BMI is 20.8 and my RHR is in the 40s.  *trolololol* But really, I row 3.5km during my morning break and either row 7km more or jog between 5-6km during my lunch pretty much every workday in addition to watching my calories.

I generally buy the vast majority of fresh fruits, veggies, herbs, lean meats, dairy, bulk grains and spices at either Costco or Winco because either the quality or pricing is better. If you just looked at what I bought in one shop though at FM, you'd probably be very confused.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Eric on July 10, 2015, 01:25:29 PM
And to whoever said they shop at 3 stores every week; holycrap that's crazy! Making it to one is a chore!

It probably depends on your area.  I shop at 3-4 stores per week to get the best deals.  But they're all within 3 miles (2 main stores less than a mile), so I do all of this by bike too.

For the middle class no. Anyone at my grocery store with a cart full of pepsi, chips and eggo is a moron and I would laugh if there was a way I wouldn't have to pay for their insurance/medicare costs. (BMI tax anyone?)
I agree with Helvegen above.  My basket at the grocery store is completely barren of fruit and vegetables, yet that's what I mostly eat.  Those are just cheaper and better at the dedicated produce markets around me.  You can't judge based on this.

Scratch cook every day? Are you insane? After we get the kid to bed we have about an hour to eat, clean up the house and get ready for the next day. We cook once a week and heat up leftovers the rest. Maybe some luxurious 50s life where dad makes $200k and mom can stay home and cook every day, but we at least can't do that.

My wife and I also cook from scratch (almost) everyday.  We certainly don't plan to batch cook, although sometimes we end up with leftovers that can stretch for a second day.  Cooking is fun, and a source of entertainment for us, so it's not a chore.  I'm sure both of us being great cooks and having no kids helps a lot though.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: wenchsenior on July 10, 2015, 01:30:09 PM
For 4alpacas:
I do one tub of 2% Fage plain a week. I savor each spoonful as if Zeus himself placed it there. I won't allow myself to buy more because I would eat it too damn fast. That plus blueberries and almonds is a treat like none other.

For Wenchsenior:
I have Celiac's disease and a minor dairy intolerance (Though, for some reason, plain yogurt doesn't bother me too much - maybe the fermentation process?), and legumes wreak havoc on my digestion (Think nuclear bombs). I try to focus on the cheaper veggies no one else buys, like radishes, onions and cabbage. I usually buy one bag of frozen fruit every two weeks. I think I might try diversifying where I shop for groceries; there are two grocery stores on my way home from work, and I usually only go to one. Maybe I should try the other these next few weeks until I get familiar with prices between the two.

I can't digest lactose well, either. I'm trying to work Greek yogurt back in, because it doesn't bother me as much either. I also seem to tolerate lactose-free milk, as long as it's cooked into rice, oatmeal or whatever.  Definitely try the price comparison thing; it does make a difference. That's one area I HAVE made progress on. I focused on the dozen or so most expensive single items in my list (meat, chocolate, etc.) and checked four different stores and followed the weekly sales flyers. After about 2 months of this, I think I have a pretty good idea of where things are cheapest. Haven't done this for produce yet, but I plan to.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: ender on July 10, 2015, 02:10:46 PM
So, question I've been meaning to ask everyone, and I swear I'm not trying to be offensive and this is not trolling:


Do you find any correlation between struggle with being overweight/healthy, and cheapness of groceries? (Setting aside the fact that weight is a very complex and individual thing not completely dictated by food). But still, generally speaking, eating crap leads to weight gain. Some crappy foods are relatively cheap (corn and sugar being subsidized the way they are) and some prepackaged foods (deli foods, etc) are more expensive than cooking whole foods from scratch.

My impression is that you have to spend bigger bucks to eat nutrient dense foods (which generally also seem to be lower calorie). If we ate a lot more pasta, rice, and potatoes (like we did as poor college students), we could def cut our food budget. If we ate more hamburger in place of salmon, we could cut our budget. But I suspect our butts would grow and health deteriorate in correlation as our bill shrank.

Do you guys find that a challenge? I am actually currently underweight, but suspect that 15 years of eating expensive lean meat and produce, and very little in the way of sugar and cheap carbs, is part of the reason. For health reasons, I can't eat a lot of cheap carbs anyway, so my cost-cutting solution currently is to shift to more whole grains and beans...cheap and nutrient dense. But that is one of the only ways I can think of to deal with what I perceive to be this challenge.

Yes, absolutely.

When I lived with a few guys before we would frequently be under $300 for groceries/household supplies (for 3 guys in their 20s) so we were KILLING it in terms of what we spent.

But carb heavy meals (pasta, bread, rice, etc) are so easy to overeat. It makes it a lot more difficult to moderate what I eat and frankly my self control is only so good. Having access to "easy to overeat" things meant that even if I am 90% awesome at self control, 10% of the time I still fell short.

My wife and I recently did a pseudo Paleo diet which I actually really liked a lot. Much easier to eat healthy (since you only buy healthy stuff...) but it is more expensive.

I've thought on and off about this issue and realize that for me, eating healthy is going to increase the grocery budget but keep me a healthier weight. That's just how it is for the next few years - I've been slowly transitioning my mindset to a more healthy mindset, including what I eat/exercise/etc.

Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: neophyte on July 10, 2015, 03:05:19 PM
So, question I've been meaning to ask everyone, and I swear I'm not trying to be offensive and this is not trolling:

Do you find any correlation between struggle with being overweight/healthy, and cheapness of groceries? (Setting aside the fact that weight is a very complex and individual thing not completely dictated by food). But still, generally speaking, eating crap leads to weight gain. Some crappy foods are relatively cheap (corn and sugar being subsidized the way they are) and some prepackaged foods (deli foods, etc) are more expensive than cooking whole foods from scratch.

For me they are aniticorrelated. My weight has been going down. My grocery bill has been going up.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Jakejake on July 10, 2015, 03:23:28 PM
You wouldn't want to see me on a Fred Meyer run then. That is where I buy all my junk - diet soda, beer, candy, chips, gelato. My BMI is 20.8 and my RHR is in the 40s.  ...

I generally buy the vast majority of fresh fruits, veggies, herbs, lean meats, dairy, bulk grains and spices at either Costco or Winco because either the quality or pricing is better. If you just looked at what I bought in one shop though at FM, you'd probably be very confused.
This sounds so much like me! If you saw me at one store, you'd think I only eat onions, maybe 20 onions a day. See me in a different store, and you'd be thinking "Really? 54 protein bars??" But my BMI is just over 21 (5'5", 127 lbs) which is pretty good for a 51 year old woman. I used to weigh more - at one point I was nearly 170 pounds. For me, mindless shopping was the problem. Now I'm actually thinking about each thing that goes in my cart - everything gets the cost benefit analysis.

I'm posting up photos of a recent dinner - the ingredients with prices showing, and how it looked going into the oven. (Sadly my onions were freakishly unphotogenic on the way out of the oven!)

What you can't see there is how huge the original bag of spinach was before I had used most of it. The whole bag was $3. And you can't see that the ingredients were actually a bit cheaper, because I used a dollar coupon on one item, and had a $1.25 rebate on the same item (the fresh mozzarella was a tiny money maker). With the amount of the ingredients I used it cost 75¢ per person, including a homemade plum sorbet that was so good it almost made me weep.

The next night I did a variation on a theme, a spinach quiche. The last of the spinach is in my ice cream maker right now, mixed with yams, a can of coconut creme and a splash of cranberry juice. I'm taking breaks as I type to crank it.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: mm1970 on July 10, 2015, 04:17:06 PM
Well, I'm ready to get annihilated for this, but I spend around $400 dollars a month for myself.
To me MMM is about spending on things that you are passionate on and optimizing everything else. I buy organic, grass-fed everything. I get most of my calories from from fat and protein and eat a ton of vegetables. I also love Fage yogurt, so bite me lol... 9 lbs a week might be stretching it, though. 
Is this slowing my journey to FIRE? Sure. Am I totally ok with that? Yep.

Yeah...I'm  not going to start eating fattier meat. I'm not going to stop spending 50$/month on salmon. I'm not going to stop eating Lindt chocolate in favor of Ghirardelli. I'm not going to drive to 4 different stores on Saturday to shop...too time consuming.

So I think it's going to be about finding the cheapest places to buy the things we like, substituting foods in a few places where feasible (more beans for breakfast in place of, say, eggs), and learning how to eat a little more seasonally than we have. I'm aiming to cut 100-150$ on average from the bill without changing the actual way we eat that much. Beyond that, I think I would find it not worth it. We'll see.
Lindt? Really.  Everyone has their own tastes...I'm a See's girl myself.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: wenchsenior on July 10, 2015, 04:59:55 PM
So, question I've been meaning to ask everyone, and I swear I'm not trying to be offensive and this is not trolling:

Do you find any correlation between struggle with being overweight/healthy, and cheapness of groceries? (Setting aside the fact that weight is a very complex and individual thing not completely dictated by food). But still, generally speaking, eating crap leads to weight gain. Some crappy foods are relatively cheap (corn and sugar being subsidized the way they are) and some prepackaged foods (deli foods, etc) are more expensive than cooking whole foods from scratch.

For me they are aniticorrelated. My weight has been going down. My grocery bill has been going up.

Right, that's actually what I meant, too. I think our weight would increase, and our health would get worse, with a significant decrease in grocery bill.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: wenchsenior on July 10, 2015, 05:03:41 PM
Well, I'm ready to get annihilated for this, but I spend around $400 dollars a month for myself.
To me MMM is about spending on things that you are passionate on and optimizing everything else. I buy organic, grass-fed everything. I get most of my calories from from fat and protein and eat a ton of vegetables. I also love Fage yogurt, so bite me lol... 9 lbs a week might be stretching it, though. 
Is this slowing my journey to FIRE? Sure. Am I totally ok with that? Yep.

Yeah...I'm  not going to start eating fattier meat. I'm not going to stop spending 50$/month on salmon. I'm not going to stop eating Lindt chocolate in favor of Ghirardelli. I'm not going to drive to 4 different stores on Saturday to shop...too time consuming.

So I think it's going to be about finding the cheapest places to buy the things we like, substituting foods in a few places where feasible (more beans for breakfast in place of, say, eggs), and learning how to eat a little more seasonally than we have. I'm aiming to cut 100-150$ on average from the bill without changing the actual way we eat that much. Beyond that, I think I would find it not worth it. We'll see.
Lindt? Really.  Everyone has their own tastes...I'm a See's girl myself.

Well....I've never tried See's. Dove is also pretty good. However, the only kind I've liked as much as Lindt 70% dark is that one brand that puts weird mixes, like pretzels, or s'mores, in the form of chocolate bars. Can't remember the brand, but those were amazing. Will have to try See's though!

ETA: it was Chuao Company bars....omg amazing. I need to go hunting for some again.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: sstants on July 20, 2015, 08:25:15 AM
We're right between the "thrifty" and "low-cost" for a couple, including alcohol. Lots of meat/animal protein, organic, not much processed food. I'd like to get it down, but given the husbands health issues when he doesn't get enough animal protein, it doesn't seem likely.

Ditto this.  We eat ridiculously well and stay to the low end of that chart.  I can't imagine what we'd buy to get up to the Liberal Plan side.  Lots of prepared foods, I imagine, and/or buying everything at Whole Foods.

I'm right around "thrifty" and buy everything at the Whole Foods besides what I can snag at the farmers market!! It is definitely doable, just no prepacked crap! I almost feel like I can't be thrifty now at "cheaper" grocery stores because the options are all pre-packed.

The charts are absolutely insane. There are just entire categories that don't need to exist or should be viewed exclusively as treats. Fruit juice??
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: bb11 on July 20, 2015, 08:58:37 AM
I'm right at the low-cost level for a single male age 19-50. Feels about right, I think I am very conscious of my grocery spending. How some of you end up below the thrifty level on a healthy diet I don't understand, although I'm sure it's partially reflected by the fact I pay NYC grocery prices.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Sylly on July 20, 2015, 09:08:15 AM
And here I was thinking we're spending too much eating out. It's not helping my motivation to know that our total food spending is under the low cost plan for two adults even with our face-punch worthy eating out spending. :-/

Well....I've never tried See's. Dove is also pretty good. However, the only kind I've liked as much as Lindt 70% dark is that one brand that puts weird mixes, like pretzels, or s'mores, in the form of chocolate bars. Can't remember the brand, but those were amazing. Will have to try See's though!

ETA: it was Chuao Company bars....omg amazing. I need to go hunting for some again.

If you like dark, I doubt you'd like See's over Lindt. I prefer dark and See's is generally way too sweet for me. The only See's I like is the dark chocolate covered marshmallow & caramel. But I'm not buying  a whole box of random stuff for 1 or 2 of those pieces.

I typically scrounge for Dove's Dark Chocolate after holidays for my regular chocolate fix. I've had Chuao's and they're pretty good too, but way too expensive for my blood. For my treat chocolate, these (http://chocolatebar.com/) are pretty good and tend to go on sale much more often than Chuao's.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: 4alpacas on July 20, 2015, 09:23:16 AM
And here I was thinking we're spending too much eating out. It's not helping my motivation to know that our total food spending is under the low cost plan for two adults even with our face-punch worthy eating out spending. :-/

Well....I've never tried See's. Dove is also pretty good. However, the only kind I've liked as much as Lindt 70% dark is that one brand that puts weird mixes, like pretzels, or s'mores, in the form of chocolate bars. Can't remember the brand, but those were amazing. Will have to try See's though!

ETA: it was Chuao Company bars....omg amazing. I need to go hunting for some again.

If you like dark, I doubt you'd like See's over Lindt. I prefer dark and See's is generally way too sweet for me. The only See's I like is the dark chocolate covered marshmallow & caramel. But I'm not buying  a whole box of random stuff for 1 or 2 of those pieces.

I typically scrounge for Dove's Dark Chocolate after holidays for my regular chocolate fix. I've had Chuao's and they're pretty good too, but way too expensive for my blood. For my treat chocolate, these (http://chocolatebar.com/) are pretty good and tend to go on sale much more often than Chuao's.
I'm a Green & Black's 85% fan. 

I've had a few things from See's, but I haven't had the dark chocolate.  I might have to search some out. 
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Kitsune on July 20, 2015, 11:43:16 AM
I'm right at the low-cost level for a single male age 19-50. Feels about right, I think I am very conscious of my grocery spending. How some of you end up below the thrifty level on a healthy diet I don't understand, although I'm sure it's partially reflected by the fact I pay NYC grocery prices.

I've been to NYC, lived in Montreal, and now live in a small town. In NYC, if you're shopping at chains, you'll be paying a HUGE premium. Try smaller ethnic grocery stores... in Montreal, I found that smaller places in Chinatown had really interesting vegetable options for super cheap, Mexican places have tortillas and beans and spices, and middle-eastern places tend to have interesting spices and staples... You kinda have to look outside the box.

For example, today's menu:
- Breakfast (for my husband, my daughter, me): a parfait of oatmeal (bought in bulk; we use about 1/2 cup each, so 0.12$), frozen blueberries (bought in 2kg bags; breakfast portion works out to 1.25$) and yogurt (1$, either bought in bulk at Costco when I'm lazy or made at home when I'm feeling it). Total cost for 2: 3.25$
- Lunch: For me: greek salad: tomatoes (about 1$ worth, Costco), 1/2 cucumber (0.50$, Costco), and feta cheese (the good stuff, because I'm spoiled: 2$). Made with homemade vinaigrette (lemon juice, dijon olive oil. I make it in bulk ever few weeks. Maybe 0.20$ for the ingredients?) My busband isn't a fan of the salad, so he had spinach salad (1/6 of the bag of spinach, 0.50$), vinaigrette, and eggs on toast (homemade bread and store-bought eggs, roughly 0.75$, and I'm estimating high). My daughter isn't home, but add an egg and a bit of pan-fried spinach and toast and she's happy. Another 0.50$, max, if she's there. Total cost: 4.85$
- Dinner (my husband, myself, and our child) pork and green bean stir-fry on rice. The green beans are from the garden, but would cost roughly 1$ at the grocery store. The pork loin was bought on sale and sliced into stir-fry slices and frozen (3$). Rice, and fixings for the stir-fry sauce... maybe another dollar? Max? Note that we get another meal for 3 out of that stir-fry. Total cost: 5$

Total bill for the day: 13.10$, with leftovers for another meal later this week.

If you assume that that represents our everyday food budget, we're hitting 390$/month. Add an extra 110$ for "extras": coffee, tea, fruity teas (they're decaf and make great iced teas that replace juice and are much healthier...), milk (for the kid, and for my morning latte: 2 gallons/week. 6.50$/gallon, because we're in Quebec. Enough said.), drinks (wine, beer, cocktail ingredients, etc)... You're still not hitting the thrifty budget. Add another kid, and we would, though.

In all honesty, though, this is a big food day. Thee greek salad is a once-a-week luxury. Usually, I'll have a salad with some hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes (and avocado, if I'm feeling luxurious). Or leftovers from dinner. Or soups and fresh bread. The parfait happens maybe once or twice a week... usually, we'll have toast and fruit (blueberries... both my daughter and I are big fans, and in bulk and frozen they're quite affordable), or oatmeal and fruit (dirt cheap, especially if your fruit is apples and cinnamon). Also if you make oatmeal from scratch it's so much cheaper, takes 5 minutes, and you can control the amount of sugar that goes into it.

For dinners: we have a lot of omelettes (with chives and cheese) and salads. Chickpea and peach curry from A Girl Called Jack is one of our standard meals, and tastes GREAT for dirt cheap. Chilli and cornbread, soups, tacos, etc... all cheaper or as cheap as that stir-fry, and you can make them pretty healthy.

(Of course, for us, the 2$ dinners are balanced out by 10$ dinners: salmon, roast duck, steak, etc. We're not deprived. We just balance out the money over multiple meals).

Hope that helps clarify things! :)
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: bb11 on July 21, 2015, 06:25:21 AM
I'm right at the low-cost level for a single male age 19-50. Feels about right, I think I am very conscious of my grocery spending. How some of you end up below the thrifty level on a healthy diet I don't understand, although I'm sure it's partially reflected by the fact I pay NYC grocery prices.

Where are you in the city? Queens is pretty good for grocery shopping. I do a combination of Chinese, European and Indian markets, plus BJ's Wholesale and a limited number of Amazon Subscribe and Save items. Oh, and Trader Joe's for the odd specialty food.

Williamsburg, and shopping quite a bit with my girlfriend in the Upper East  Side. In Manhattan things are so crazy that Whole Foods is the cheapest place we can find. By my apartnent Key Foods is the best, and I've looked at lots of different stores.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: bb11 on July 21, 2015, 10:44:35 AM
I'm right at the low-cost level for a single male age 19-50. Feels about right, I think I am very conscious of my grocery spending. How some of you end up below the thrifty level on a healthy diet I don't understand, although I'm sure it's partially reflected by the fact I pay NYC grocery prices.

Where are you in the city? Queens is pretty good for grocery shopping. I do a combination of Chinese, European and Indian markets, plus BJ's Wholesale and a limited number of Amazon Subscribe and Save items. Oh, and Trader Joe's for the odd specialty food.

Williamsburg, and shopping quite a bit with my girlfriend in the Upper East  Side. In Manhattan things are so crazy that Whole Foods is the cheapest place we can find. By my apartnent Key Foods is the best, and I've looked at lots of different stores.

You might try Trader Joe's in Manhattan (is there one on the UES?) and Peapod, if they deliver. Peapod matches the grocery store near me in price and if I order over $100 in a go and have some flexibility with delivery time, I get free delivery.

If you can be organized enough to do warehouse club shopping, you may find that a cab home from Costco or BJ's more than pays for itself in savings.

The problem is lack of storage. I can't really imagine spending more than $100 at the grocery store (most trips are $20-35). I'm moving to a new apartment in September so maybe there will be a bit more room there, but I doubt it.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Scubanewbie on July 21, 2015, 08:21:27 PM
We're right at the thrifty level for a family of four which does include our yearly CSA but does not include eating out.  Although food is there when we eat out, I categorize it with our other "social/entertainment" categories.  I think of it like a movie, we don't need it to survive but we do enjoy it.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Dollar Slice on July 22, 2015, 12:17:46 AM
Williamsburg, and shopping quite a bit with my girlfriend in the Upper East  Side. In Manhattan things are so crazy that Whole Foods is the cheapest place we can find. By my apartnent Key Foods is the best, and I've looked at lots of different stores.
Yeah, I live in Manhattan (Harlem specifically) and I'm about to give up trying to find cheap groceries. I'm going to make one last-ditch attempt at a grocery spreadsheet to see if one of my neighborhood groceries is workable, or if I can come up with some reasonable shopping rotation, and if not - I'm going to say "fuck it" and start going to Whole Foods every week. Several things I buy regularly are dramatically cheaper there. It would annoy me because it's not that close to me, but if the alternative is taking trips every week to each of three different stores in my neighborhood to try and shop the sales, I honestly don't have the time or energy for that. (And I don't have the space to take occasional trips to Costco or similar and stock up.)

It's depressing to pay so much for such lousy quality, too... it would be one thing if all I could get was fancy stuff (like Whole Foods) at fancy prices, but I'm paying top dollar for cauliflower that's already turning a little bit brown and potatoes that are getting soft and etc.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Hall11235 on July 22, 2015, 07:20:28 AM
Tried a local Market Basket last week and saved around 30 dollars on my usual groceries! I felt like I discovered El Dorado after that! The only thing they don't have that my local Shaws has is the nitrite free bacon.
Kudos to all you fine folks who are teaching me to optimize! Still new to the whole living on my own thing (21, just graduated college and moved to a new town 1800 miles from any family) and I love all you people! Seriously, this forum is like my second family.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: 4alpacas on July 22, 2015, 09:21:38 AM
Williamsburg, and shopping quite a bit with my girlfriend in the Upper East  Side. In Manhattan things are so crazy that Whole Foods is the cheapest place we can find. By my apartnent Key Foods is the best, and I've looked at lots of different stores.
Yeah, I live in Manhattan (Harlem specifically) and I'm about to give up trying to find cheap groceries. I'm going to make one last-ditch attempt at a grocery spreadsheet to see if one of my neighborhood groceries is workable, or if I can come up with some reasonable shopping rotation, and if not - I'm going to say "fuck it" and start going to Whole Foods every week. Several things I buy regularly are dramatically cheaper there. It would annoy me because it's not that close to me, but if the alternative is taking trips every week to each of three different stores in my neighborhood to try and shop the sales, I honestly don't have the time or energy for that. (And I don't have the space to take occasional trips to Costco or similar and stock up.)

It's depressing to pay so much for such lousy quality, too... it would be one thing if all I could get was fancy stuff (like Whole Foods) at fancy prices, but I'm paying top dollar for cauliflower that's already turning a little bit brown and potatoes that are getting soft and etc.
If you're fed up with trying to get the best price on items, try to cut down your grocery bill in other ways.  Less food waste.  Less expensive ingredients.  Eating less.  Frozen fruits and vegetables that are out of season. 
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Dollar Slice on July 22, 2015, 09:42:44 AM
If you're fed up with trying to get the best price on items, try to cut down your grocery bill in other ways.  Less food waste.  Less expensive ingredients.  Eating less.  Frozen fruits and vegetables that are out of season.
Believe me, I try! I waste virtually nothing (except when I get something from a crappy neighborhood grocery store that unexpectedly starts going bad almost immediately). No red meat or fish. No snacks at work. Nothing to drink except filtered tap water. Every time I go to the store I check the receipt for the 2-3 most expensive things and ask myself if I really need to buy that item in the future.

The unfortunate side effect is that I'm eating a carb-heavy diet that's not good for me...
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Dollar Slice on July 22, 2015, 11:45:59 AM
You might try Peapod, if they deliver by you. I use them in Queens and the quality is solid and the prices are better than the NYC chain grocery stores, though not the ethnic market. And you can order from a phone app.
I have looked at Fresh Direct since they have a much lower minimum order ($30 as opposed to $60) and IIRC a lower delivery fee. Still seemed quite expensive. Is Peapod significantly different?

(I also remember reading that some of the online delivery services charge higher grocery prices in more expensive neighborhoods, so Manhattan might still be more expensive than Queens using Peapod or FreshDirect :-( )  ETA: Just checked with two different NY zip codes... yes, they charge more in Manhattan. MOFOS!
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Dollar Slice on July 22, 2015, 12:54:08 PM
For my area, Peapod was significantly cheaper. If you dig around, you should find a $50 off your first 2 order of $125 or more coupon from FreshDirect, so it may be worth doing two orders, just to stock up.
I would struggle with $125 grocery orders, I live alone and have zero storage space in the kitchen (my mom said it's the only kitchen she's ever seen that doesn't have even one drawer!). But I'll check it out, and I'll add Peapod to my spreadsheet for some price comparisons...
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: 4alpacas on July 22, 2015, 05:27:22 PM
If you're fed up with trying to get the best price on items, try to cut down your grocery bill in other ways.  Less food waste.  Less expensive ingredients.  Eating less.  Frozen fruits and vegetables that are out of season.
Believe me, I try! I waste virtually nothing (except when I get something from a crappy neighborhood grocery store that unexpectedly starts going bad almost immediately). No red meat or fish. No snacks at work. Nothing to drink except filtered tap water. Every time I go to the store I check the receipt for the 2-3 most expensive things and ask myself if I really need to buy that item in the future.

The unfortunate side effect is that I'm eating a carb-heavy diet that's not good for me...
Frozen vegetables (especially peas, which I use in everything) are really cheap too.
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Dollar Slice on July 22, 2015, 05:36:44 PM
Frozen vegetables (especially peas, which I use in everything) are really cheap too.
Seriously, nothing is cheap at these grocery stores. This weekend I picked up a bag of frozen veg (unseasoned, not organic, not premium, just plain ol' broccoli) and didn't see a price tag... figured, well, how bad could it be? $4.99 at the register. The cheaper store has the same brand for $3.50. I think it's $1.49 at Whole Foods...
Title: Re: USDA Average Cost of Food at Home
Post by: Bumbling Bee on July 22, 2015, 05:59:03 PM
Yeah, I live in Manhattan (Harlem specifically) and I'm about to give up trying to find cheap groceries. I'm going to make one last-ditch attempt at a grocery spreadsheet to see if one of my neighborhood groceries is workable, or if I can come up with some reasonable shopping rotation, and if not - I'm going to say "fuck it" and start going to Whole Foods every week. Several things I buy regularly are dramatically cheaper there. It would annoy me because it's not that close to me, but if the alternative is taking trips every week to each of three different stores in my neighborhood to try and shop the sales, I honestly don't have the time or energy for that. (And I don't have the space to take occasional trips to Costco or similar and stock up.)

There's an Aldi (http://www.yelp.com/biz/aldi-new-york-3) in East Harlem. I think they have the cheapest prices going.