Author Topic: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?  (Read 8263 times)

Alex in Virginia

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How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« on: March 25, 2013, 07:27:09 PM »
I just calculated how much I spend per day on "all things eatable and drinkable" -- that is, everything from my morning cup of coffee to my late night snack (all eaten at home).  It comes out to just about $6.50 a day ($200 a month +/-) for one person.  That is a lot higher than I had previously guesstimated, and it has caused me to jack up my annual living expenses budget by a cool $1000.

By the meal, I'm spending around $1.00 per breakfast including coffee, $1.50 per lunch, $2.00 per dinner, and about $2.00 or so a day on snacks (fruit, yogurt, cheese) and drinks (store-brand soda pop, occasional Beck's beer).

My diet includes lots of fruit and fresh vegetables, and not much in the way of starches so that I can keep the calories and the blood sugar down.  I've had to cut out rice, beans and eggs. :(  And let's not even think about potatoes or pasta.  I've substituted cabbage, which is a good value at 0.42 per pound, for the rice or potatoes.  I can eat LOTS of cabbage and salad  (which I actually like) and barely move the calorie needle.  But I get my protein from meats and dairy products, which does increase costs.  And my "dirty little pleasure" is my daily single-cup Kuerig coffee at 50+ cents a throw.

Maybe I can tweak the costs down.  I'm open to any suggestions.

Thanks!

Alex in Virginia

needmyfi

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2013, 07:37:00 PM »
......drinks (store-brand soda pop). And my "dirty little pleasure" is my daily single-cup Kuerig coffee at 50+ cents a throw.


Alex in Virginia

These are the things that stand out to me.  Otherwise your spending isn't too bad.  Also, why eliminate eggs?  I don't think they have a  high glycemic index and they are mightly cheap.

mushroom

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2013, 07:59:13 PM »
Why not at least use a reusable K cup and your own ground coffee if you want to use your Keurig?

Alex in Virginia

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2013, 08:04:37 PM »
......drinks (store-brand soda pop). And my "dirty little pleasure" is my daily single-cup Kuerig coffee at 50+ cents a throw.


Alex in Virginia

These are the things that stand out to me.  Otherwise your spending isn't too bad.  Also, why eliminate eggs?  I don't think they have a  high glycemic index and they are mightly cheap.

Oh, boy... I guess one needs to save pennies to build up dollars.  Cutting out the soda and going to the pack-it-yourself Keurig cup would save me 50 cents a day or more.  Doesn't sound like much, until you realize doing those 2 things would cut my food-and-drink budget by 9%.  Will definitely take it under advisement.   (I've got a call in to the doc about the eggs, since I've also been having my doubts about excluding them from the menu.)

Thanks...

Alex in Virginia

Kriegsspiel

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2013, 08:11:03 PM »
You want to "keep blood sugar down" but you are eating lots of fruit?  Just eat some fats with your carbs and the glycemic index is kind of irrelevant.

Alex in Virginia

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2013, 08:23:36 PM »
Just eat some fats with your carbs and the glycemic index is kind of irrelevant.

Can you elaborate?  Or provide a link to somewhere I can get informed?

Thanks!

Alex in Virginia

blueeyetea

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2013, 01:30:01 PM »
$200 a month sounds completely reasonable with the diet you're keeping.   Spending any less and then you'd have to start relying on starches like pasta and bread, which down the road might increase your health care costs.  Considering your current diet an investment. 

Only other suggestion I would have is to start building a stockpile of the most expensive stuff by buying them on sale.  For example, if you eat chicken breasts, buy multiple packs when they're at the rock bottom price of $2.99/pound (YMMV) instead of buying one pack one week at $2.99, then another the following week at $5.99, etc.    It may be a bit more expensive at the beginning, but you bring your costs down further in the long run.   Start a price book and start keeping track of sales.  This method of buying food is also called "cooking from the pantry".  You base your meal plan on using up what you already have then be at the mercy of weekly shopping. 

One book I can suggest is "Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family: Includes So Many Innovative Strategies You Won't Have to Cut Coupons" by Steve and Annette Economides.  They go into more detail on what I've explained above.



kudy

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2013, 01:45:15 PM »
My goal for this year is an average of $7.50/day, but that does not include alcohol. It does include a budget for restaurants as well as the occasional lunch out with coworkers. I think $6.50 is great/reasonable, but as you've noted there's always easy ways to keep optimizing and reducing cost (usually by avoiding any kind of "convenience" cost). Keep us updated on your changes!

arebelspy

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2013, 04:15:27 PM »
The wife and I spent about $264/mo. for both of us in 2012 on food and drink (that's all groceries and eating out - Groceries 227, Fast Food 16, Restaurants 21), which comes out to about $4.40/person/day.

We don't try particularly hard to keep our food costs down, and could probably halve what we spend if we tightened up, but we enjoy eating lavishly.  We just don't eat out much, and we like basic stuff (our "lavishly" includes stuff that would be easy to cut if we wanted to lower costs like steak, chicken, frozen dinners occasionally and frozen pizzas, cheeses and things of that nature).  We also save a lot on beverages, mostly water, sometimes juice.  Neither drink coffee or much alcohol.

Also we live in a low cost of living area.  Our standard chicken price is $1.97/lb., unlike the above blueeyetea's 2.99/lb. (and a very very rare sale price is $0.99/lb.)

Finally, I think it's easier to have low food costs when sharing (similar to a each person's share of rent being lower when together), so while I think 4.40/person/day is reasonable for a couple, $6.50 per day for someone single seems reasonable to me.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2013, 04:19:09 PM by arebelspy »
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Crash87

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2013, 04:32:38 PM »
I'm coming in around $9/day so I think you're doing pretty good.

Alex in Virginia

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2013, 08:36:19 PM »
Thank you, Blueeyetea.  I'll do that. :)

Alex in Virginia

MMMdude

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2013, 08:48:04 PM »
Yet another thread that demonstrates how much cheaper food is in the USA versus up here in Canada.  We are more around $20 per day.  Typical day could be (just a sampling for examples):

Breakfast - Granola and Yogurt or Oatmeal or three egg omelette  + Kirkland coffee
Lunch - tuna sandwhich or rice and beans or omelette
Dinner - chicken/rice or steak/baked potato or pork tenderloin/lentills + veggies in each case
Snacks - popcorn with olive oil or fruit or cheese and crackers

This would also include eating out maybe 4 or 5 times per month and almost always with a GroupOn


Alex in Virginia

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2013, 09:45:20 PM »
This would also include eating out maybe 4 or 5 times per month and almost always with a GroupOn

Wow, as the original poster I don't want to mislead anyone.  My $6.50 a day is for an all-meals-at-home day.  I consider eating out to be totally discretionary and not part of basic living expenses.  Any money I spend on restaurants comes out of my discretionary/surplus/spend-for-fun account and is experienced and enjoyed as such.  :D

Cheers!

Alex in Virginia

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2013, 09:45:33 PM »
Yet another thread that demonstrates how much cheaper food is in the USA versus up here in Canada.  We are more around $20 per day.

Where in Canada are you? Those sound like crazy-remote prices. We eat very well for $100/week, by shopping sales and stocking up.  Are you shopping at superstore now? They are, on average, the best place to shop, with the exception of some meats at Costco (or other places when on sale).

kolorado

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2013, 07:29:19 AM »
I took a Nutrition class through Coursera which focused intently at diets for diabetics. Carbs aren't the enemy and shouldn't spike or drop your blood sugar if you eat them in a balanced way throughout the day. The carbs that you do have should be loaded with fiber since that slows down glycemic response. It sounds like you are doing that with fruits and vegetables. But I think you should try adding whole grains and legumes back into your meals to save some money and fill you up longer.
I have two siblings who are hypoglycemic so I've seen their struggles with diet my entire life. It does require more thought and planning than the average person wants to put into eating.
It might be helpful for you to read the info at : http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diabetes-diet/DA00027
The nutritionist in my class said the recommended balance of nutrients be 55% carb, 25% fat and 20% protein(I don't have blood sugar problems but I am now using this balance with excellent results!)
A breakfast of just pancakes, even whole wheat, will wreck havoc with your blood sugar, as would a breakfast of just bacon or just eggs or just fruit. Every meal and snack should be as balanced as possible. A couple whole wheat pancakes with peanut butter, a couple strips of turkey bacon and piece of whole fruit and yogurt would be an example of an ideal, well-balance meal for stable blood sugar levels.
With your special dietary requirements you should definitely be using a tracker(Sparkpeople , Super Tracker, My fitness pal)until your are able to balance your eating as second nature.
BTW, my family of five eats Flexitarian with the above balanced percentages and I spend $2 per person, per day on food, no eating out or alcohol. We are all slim and healthy.
Since you do rely so heavily on fresh produce, look around for a local co-op group that will buy in bulk and reduce your expense in that area. We have Bountiful Baskets in CO but I'm pretty sure they don't have that in VA yet. But most areas have some groups that do this. Look in your local papers and ads and ask around, especially in health food and natural item stores.

Villanelle

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2013, 11:43:52 AM »
If you insist on the Keurig and don't want to fill your own, look into auto delivery options an Amazon and see if you can shave off a few cents that way.

Also, for your fruits and veggies, if you eat in-season you might be able to find another few cents of savings.  $200 doesn't sound bad, but it isn't amazing, either.  Are you in debt, or just looking to increase savings?

blueeyetea

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #16 on: March 28, 2013, 10:48:50 AM »
We are more around $20 per day.  Typical day could be (just a sampling for examples):

$20 per day per ???

Per person, it's high.  For 2, then $10 per person doesn't sound so bad.  Like Self-Employed_Swami says, your costs will be different if you live in Halifax than it would in Toronto.    Where I live, Easter Ontario, we average $6 per day, per person, but I cook 90% of what we eat from scratch. 

Jack

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #17 on: March 28, 2013, 05:01:32 PM »
I suggest swapping the store-brand soda for homemade sweet tea. It isn't any healthier (I drink way too much of the stuff myself), but it sure is cheaper!

Only other suggestion I would have is to start building a stockpile of the most expensive stuff by buying them on sale.  For example, if you eat chicken breasts, buy multiple packs when they're at the rock bottom price of $2.99/pound (YMMV) instead of buying one pack one week at $2.99, then another the following week at $5.99, etc.    It may be a bit more expensive at the beginning, but you bring your costs down further in the long run.

First of all, I don't care if you're in a high cost of living area; $3/lb for chicken is absurd unless it's hippie-free-range-organic and whatnot.

Second, there's a big savings being missed here: the key is to quit buying (I assume boneless skinless) chicken breasts to begin with. Instead, buy whole chickens (which in my area are normally $0.99/lb, or even cheaper on sale) and cut them up and freeze them yourself. Not only is it cheaper, but it stretches your palate and culinary skills by forcing you to figure out what to do with the other parts (thighs, wings, organs, etc.).

Also, chicken wings in particular are crazy expensive (e.g. $3.50/lb) if you buy a bag of them by themselves, but they're "free" if you just accumulate them in the freezer over time.

For comparison purposes, I'm currently running about $250/month (~$4/day/person) on total food costs (including very little eating out) for a 2-adult household in a low cost-of-living area (Atlanta, GA).
« Last Edit: March 28, 2013, 05:04:33 PM by Jack »

MMMdude

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2013, 11:11:30 AM »
Yet another thread that demonstrates how much cheaper food is in the USA versus up here in Canada.  We are more around $20 per day.

Where in Canada are you? Those sound like crazy-remote prices. We eat very well for $100/week, by shopping sales and stocking up.  Are you shopping at superstore now? They are, on average, the best place to shop, with the exception of some meats at Costco (or other places when on sale).

Edmonton.  Sorry guys, the $20 per day is for two of us.  I assume OP is talking for just one person. Anyways, there is no doubt groceries are cheaper in US - looks like about 30% whenever comparisons are done

Self-employed-swami

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2013, 03:09:10 PM »
Ah.  Where are you shopping?  (I'm just a few hours south)

mpbaker22

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #20 on: March 30, 2013, 05:45:30 PM »
To the OP - I usually end up about $10/day for one person, but that includes maybe 5 meals eaten at restaurants/bars that cost the equivalent of 20 other meals.

Quote
First of all, I don't care if you're in a high cost of living area; $3/lb for chicken is absurd unless it's hippie-free-range-organic and whatnot.
Second, there's a big savings being missed here: the key is to quit buying (I assume boneless skinless) chicken breasts to begin with. Instead, buy whole chickens (which in my area are normally $0.99/lb, or even cheaper on sale) and cut them up and freeze them yourself. Not only is it cheaper, but it stretches your palate and culinary skills by forcing you to figure out what to do with the other parts (thighs, wings, organs, etc.).
The store here was ~$4.50 today.  I didn't buy because it's the highest I've EVER seen it.  But certainly over $3.  Every month or two it goes down to $1.00/lb for boneless/skinless.  In that case, buying the whole chicken is WAY worse.  You have to pay the same, but also for all the bones and crappy meat.  I have bought wings before at $.50/lb.  It's nice to just through it in the oven and bake.

happy

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #21 on: March 30, 2013, 06:29:36 PM »
On another thread someone posted a map of the relative cost of groceries/food, which I now can't find.. We spend $10/day/person down under....a kind of max/min mix eg I make my own washing powder and bake my own bread, but buy good quality protein and vege/fruit.  Looking at this map the US number is around 6 and the Australian around 10, so my $10 a day in Australia equates to about $6 in US.  So I reckon $6 a day is respectable, but not yet Badass!

mpbaker22

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Re: How does $6.50 a day for food and drink sound?
« Reply #22 on: April 01, 2013, 07:09:19 AM »
I think it's probably better for the original poster to ask if $6.5 is reasonable for what he gets and needs.  I spent $343 in March on one person.  But that includes a stock up on some items that will last me many months, and it includes a purchase of a lot of things for Easter parties.  It also includes $97 in restaurant expenditures which account for something like 7% of my meals. 
So, it's reasonably that it would be a bit higher, but I need to watch my restaurant spending.  I don't think it's appropriate that 8% of my entire budget was being spent on restaurants!