Author Topic: Groceries for a family of 3  (Read 6397 times)

resy

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Groceries for a family of 3
« on: October 21, 2014, 04:32:08 PM »
I find I am spending an average of $600 per month for groceries and toiletries on my family of 3.
Its DH, me and our 10 year old boy.
We live on Oregon. Does this sound about right?
Ive been cooking only the past few years (taught myself through youtube mainly) so Im not quite sure if I am overspending or not.
Out of that, $150ish is for household goods which includes:
-Toilet paper (coatco)
-Paper towels (have been trying to swittch to cloth but I really am having a hard time doing so)
-body wash (costco)
-shampoo (costco liquid dove)
-dish soap, spinges, dishwasher soap (costco)
-laundry detergent (costco)
-razors (mens gillet from costco for both hubs and I)
-toothpaste(costco)
obviously since I buy these items at costco they last more than a month, I broke down the cost of everything per month and got $150
Groceries:
- buy my fruits and veggies at a local produce store, usually spend $40ish a week on fruits and veggies.
-buy milk, meat and other stuff from various stores and comes out to $50-$80 weekly for these items depending on how good I shop sales..

Trying to change the structure of our diet. Currently a lot of red meat and dairy. (About 2 to 3 gallons of milk per week alone!) Meat has been traditionally 4 to 5 times a week.
new diet has me cooking fish/seafood about 3 times a week, meat about 2 times and the other two days are left over and/or vegetarian dish.

I think the budget is pretty good for the nutrition we arr gettimg but for some reason I feel guilty and like I am over spending. My husband is a big snacker and likes sweets and soft drinks so that adds to the bill and also makes me feel bad.
Any other families of 3 that can share their grocery budget?

MOC

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Re: Groceries for a family of 3
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2014, 08:51:21 PM »
Good detail! I think you could save at least a couple hundred dollars at least.

We are a family of 2 adults and 1 baby and live in Washington, so similar I suppose. Our budget is about 250-300 + 30ish for household goods.

First - it seems like you're spending a lot on household items. Use less and go generic, but mostly use less:)

On food: we buy organic for certain things (leafy greens, peppers, apples, milk etc...) but not everything. We also do a lot of shopping at a local Winco. I'm not sure if you have those in Oregon, but there is a lot of stuff you can buy in the  bulk bins. If there isn't a Winco, find a store that has bulk bins - they have saved us lots.

We also don't buy much pre-packaged goods. For example, I get oatmeal, raisins, nuts, and the like from bulk bins and make oatmeal in the morning. We do a similar thing to make granola like snacks. More nutrition and less money.

Learn to make more things from scratch that you don't usually make (for example hummus and salad dressing) you'll save a lot of money and will be more satisfied too. Plus they tend to be surprisingly easy!

Try not to waste anything - if you see some stuff going bad, find a fun way to mix it all up (chilli, stir fry, stew, put it in eggs)

Beans like lentils, split peas, and garbonzos can go a long way for cheap too. Lots of nutrition and the fiber keeps you full longer.

Three final things:

Find some staple meals you enjoy that don't cost much and eat them frequently- you'll become more efficient and reduce waste. For me, I make a salad for lunch probably 4x/week that consists of spinach, kale, lentils, random colorful veggies and homemade  dressing. This costs me about $1.

Grow veggies if you can. Satisfaction + savings

Eat less meat and dairy. Look at a typical receipt and see how much you'd save if you didn't buy those things.

Lkxe

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Re: Groceries for a family of 3
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2014, 09:07:28 PM »
We are a family of 3 mostly also with a 10 yr old( also out of state college student). Our grocery budget in Colorado is 500, but we don't buy for a month. This month I am doing my best to cook/plan 3 a day so I don't have to for the next two and both sets of parents were here for a week -one gluten free so some specialty items-Bank says we spent 548 this month. With 15 meals in the freezer, 3 more pork shoulders, 15 lbs of chicken and some odds and ends (pork chops, kielbasa,2lbs of shrimp)

-Toilet paper (coatco) - yes one a day
-Paper towels (have been trying to swittch to cloth but I really am having a hard time doing so)- you have to just stop, my husband has a roll in his car(for about a year)Napkins and towels will do you
-body wash (costco) yes dove
-shampoo (costco liquid dove) usually I get this at the grocery sales and usually suave
-dish soap, spinges, dishwasher soap (costco) yes though we have crochet dishrag from his mother, so the sponges are for select chores
-laundry detergent (costco) also
-razors (mens gillet from costco for both hubs and I)Hubs is electric and I'm not to hairy- so just me about 8 months
-toothpaste(costco)Pepsodent 99 cents at the grocer- I don't like minty

We spend about $20 weekly on bananas(59 lb), apples (which ever is .98 lb this week) box of spinach and bulk buy the special (peppers .99 or onions cheap , zucchini/squash under a buck and slice and freeze), couple bags of baby carrots $1.00 each  I buy most veg organic and frozen from the Costco.
 We only use a gallon and a half of milk but it isn't cheap from the local dairy delivered.
I wish I had my receipts and could be more help but the yearly grocery bill is usually in line with the budget even with random visitors ( about one week a month-Colorado is very popular) and feeding the older boy summers and breaks.  We do stretch everything with peppers and onions, beans, lentils and TVP.

surfhb

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Re: Groceries for a family of 3
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2014, 09:17:07 PM »
You need just a drop of soap, shampoo and toothpaste.....maybe you're using too much at a time?

You can also make your own detergent and use vinegar and distilled water for a cleaner

A razor lasts me 1 month shaving every other day.

Yes cut out youre dairy and meat intake because it's massive

I'm with you on the paper towels though.....I won't do cloth.   They're a breeding ground for germs

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Groceries for a family of 3
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2014, 10:30:36 PM »
It does seem high. Not THAT high, really, but since you're here asking for input...

Shampoo: I use baking soda and vinegar rinse. Cheaper and more natural than shampoo and my hair has never been so clean.
Body wash: Bar soap is cheaper and better for your skin. And you probably don't need that much, especially in winter--my toddlers' ped. said only to use soap on their armpits and privates, for instance. I do not shower every day in the winter as my skin turns into like crocodile scales if I do, and showering every other day seemed cheaper and a better use of time than buying a bunch of fancy lotions! I think Costco has their own brand of Dove bar soap that I plan to invest in.
Paper towels: Got any old flannel? Cut it up, sew around the edges with a zigzag stitch or serger, and keep a stack of them on top of your microwave (as I do) or some other really convenient place. Or baby wash cloths, the kind you get four for a dollar at Walmart, are also handy. Then put your paper towels somewhere inconvenient. A roll of paper towels lasts me months, because I only use it for really oily jobs, cat puke, etc.
Toothpaste: I use  plain old Colgate or Crest paste, no fancy additives. You can't buy that at Costco, but at Walmart it's cheaper than anything at Costco.

$450 for food for three people is not outlandish, but you can definitely do better! Meat should be a treat and/or the flavoring for your beans (eg, a ham hock in some bean soup in your crockpot). The book Everlasting Meal gave me some interesting ideas for using food more efficiently and trying new things. (It's a little intimidating at first, but I started with just adding salt when I make pasta, and that was good, so I went from there.)

jluntp

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Re: Groceries for a family of 3
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2014, 11:29:49 PM »
Since everyone else has already talked about the household goods, I thought I'd ask about your actual grocery bill.

Are you meal planning? I'm assuming you are since you know how many nights a week you're eating your different meats. But if you're not I'd highly suggest it. I've found that when I'm careful with what I buy and at what price I can still hit $500-600/month when not meal planning properly. If I do though, I can easily drop it $100-200/month - big difference!

Keep in mind if you are meal planning whether or not you are using your ingredients in more than one meal. Easy ones to first look at are your complex carbs - potatoes, rice, pastas etc. I usually pick one and use it for the week. Fruits and veggies are ones to look at as well. It may not seem like a lot at when you are buying them - but it can add up fast if you're only using that pepper/avocado/tomato for one meal.


Also if you're looking for tips on using less meat I'd suggest start using more fruits and veggies. You're probably getting most of your flavoring right now from the meats, but you'd be surprised what amazing flavoring you can get with the right fruit or vegetable. It just takes some practice figuring out how to best bring those out.

resy

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Re: Groceries for a family of 3
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2014, 11:43:45 PM »
Thanks guys for all the replies :) I felt a little silly with my post but it has been eating at me for months (no pun intended ;) )

Great tips, it really surprised me that my household supplies were so lavish in comparison... the items do last me a while and I estimated the cost from memory but I will actually take a look at my next trip at costco because I suspect you guys are right in me overspending on body wash, shampoo and toothpaste buying there.
Does suave shampoo dry out your hair? I have considered ot but I have long hair that is oil prone so I get scared to mess with it. Although I do think the hubs and son will be fine using suave for their short boy hair :)
I do cook from scratch. I LOVE leftovers but my husband doesnt. I havent yet mastered cooking for the portions we need (I usually end up making 6-8 portions). I do eat for lunch and stuff but it does contribute to a significant amount of waste. This post made me realize this and that I need to also develop discipline in freezing any leftovers I do have that dont get eaten promptly.
I am getting better though and this post and replies are helping me along, thanks!

sfsellin

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Re: Groceries for a family of 3
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2014, 12:02:20 AM »
re: the razors, I recommend http://www.dorcousa.com/ . These are generic brand razors that are pretty excellent, and super cheap in bulk. It's the brand that www.dollarshaveclub.com sells as a matter of fact!

resy

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Re: Groceries for a family of 3
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2014, 12:06:14 AM »
Since everyone else has already talked about the household goods, I thought I'd ask about your actual grocery bill.

Are you meal planning? I'm assuming you are since you know how many nights a week you're eating your different meats. But if you're not I'd highly suggest it. I've found that when I'm careful with what I buy and at what price I can still hit $500-600/month when not meal planning properly. If I do though, I can easily drop it $100-200/month - big difference!

Keep in mind if you are meal planning whether or not you are using your ingredients in more than one meal. Easy ones to first look at are your complex carbs - potatoes, rice, pastas etc. I usually pick one and use it for the week. Fruits and veggies are ones to look at as well. It may not seem like a lot at when you are buying them - but it can add up fast if you're only using that pepper/avocado/tomato for one meal.


Also if you're looking for tips on using less meat I'd suggest start using more fruits and veggies. You're probably getting most of your flavoring right now from the meats, but you'd be surprised what amazing flavoring you can get with the right fruit or vegetable. It just takes some practice figuring out how to best bring those out.
Wow that is a HUGE cost difference!
So to answer your question, I do meal plan...sorta.
At first I would create elaborate weekly meal plans that, as you said, would use either a lot of ingredients per meal or used a single ingredient once and mot again for any other meal. Very poor planning indeed. Nowadays I do "plan" in the sense that I make a general outline of main dishes that are simple and healthy and I whip up whatever side dishes with what I have (rice, garlic spinach, steamed broccoli, roasted potatoes, etc general side dishes thay can be mixed nd matched). I have found this strategy the least stressful and expensive (as I buy all my food ahead of time and then each night just pick what I will make- big difference from what I tried for a while too, running every night to the store for dinner stuff. Very expensive and tiring).
The latest light bulb that went off in my head is that if I wanted to make say pork chops on a given week but they were too expensive...wait for it... I just dont make them and replace that meal with another choice. Makes me sound slow, I know, but this has only been available to me as I have gained experience cooking and knowing/remembering dishes/recipes.
lol to think there was once a time when ai would aimlessly wonder into the store, put random items in the cart because they were either familiar or looked good only to end up with not enough ingredients to pull together more than 2 meals at a time...

resy

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Re: Groceries for a family of 3
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2014, 12:16:26 AM »
Good detail! I think you could save at least a couple hundred dollars at least.

We are a family of 2 adults and 1 baby and live in Washington, so similar I suppose. Our budget is about 250-300 + 30ish for household goods.

First - it seems like you're spending a lot on household items. Use less and go generic, but mostly use less:)

On food: we buy organic for certain things (leafy greens, peppers, apples, milk etc...) but not everything. We also do a lot of shopping at a local Winco. I'm not sure if you have those in Oregon, but there is a lot of stuff you can buy in the  bulk bins. If there isn't a Winco, find a store that has bulk bins - they have saved us lots.

We also don't buy much pre-packaged goods. For example, I get oatmeal, raisins, nuts, and the like from bulk bins and make oatmeal in the morning. We do a similar thing to make granola like snacks. More nutrition and less money.

Learn to make more things from scratch that you don't usually make (for example hummus and salad dressing) you'll save a lot of money and will be more satisfied too. Plus they tend to be surprisingly easy!

Try not to waste anything - if you see some stuff going bad, find a fun way to mix it all up (chilli, stir fry, stew, put it in eggs)

Beans like lentils, split peas, and garbonzos can go a long way for cheap too. Lots of nutrition and the fiber keeps you full longer.

Three final things:

Find some staple meals you enjoy that don't cost much and eat them frequently- you'll become more efficient and reduce waste. For me, I make a salad for lunch probably 4x/week that consists of spinach, kale, lentils, random colorful veggies and homemade  dressing. This costs me about $1.

Grow veggies if you can. Satisfaction + savings

Eat less meat and dairy. Look at a typical receipt and see how much you'd save if you didn't buy those things.
We do have Winco! Im ashamed to admit though that I have been avoiding it in favor of Fred Meyers. What a fancy pants schmuck I feel. The produce place beats winco becausr prices are very similiar yet much fresher yet I have done my non bulk shopping at freddy's because, honestly, Winco is so darn big and inconvinient. However, this week I was a very mindful shopper and I took a big gulp when my total hit $60 for 1lb of fish, 2 packs of chicken wings&legs, gallon of milk, oj juice, and some other minor stuff. I realized had I gone to winco my total for my 3 little bags would have been considerably less.
No more complainy pants here! I will just organize myself to do my shopping on days winco is less frequented....

MOC

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Re: Groceries for a family of 3
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2014, 08:09:10 AM »
You're right about the produce at Winco - it's really hit and miss. I buy some select produce at another store (basically a local whole foods). Also - if it makes you feel al  little better about Winco - I know someone that worked there and apparently it's good, fair waged, employee owned, Northwest Company

Lkxe

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Re: Groceries for a family of 3
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2014, 08:27:20 AM »

Does suave shampoo dry out your hair? I have considered ot but I have long hair that is oil prone so I get scared to mess with it. Although I do think the hubs and son will be fine using suave for their short boy hair :)


 I live in Colorado so everything dries out your hair, skin ect. (standard procedure is to greet guests at the door with a personal water bottle and a tub of lotion) but I think the suave works fine and (I hope) my hair is fairly decent but I don't wash it daily.  Hubs hair is short but the boys both have hair (one longer than mine) Little uses the kid stuff older a 3 in 1.  If leftovers are an issue don't have them, have planned overs- burritos, quesdillas, chili, tortilla soup,  paninis, meatball subs, potato pancakes, broccoli soup ect. 

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Groceries for a family of 3
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2014, 11:10:20 AM »
Wow, it sounds like you are making really great progress from where you were not to long ago! You should be proud of that and of wanting to do better. I'm having trouble sticking to my grocery budget, too, because I'm not really used to shopping and meal planning. (We moved to a boarding school when our kids were babies and ate in the dining hall for two years... now we're on our own again and those babies turned into hungry BOYS!)

socaso

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Re: Groceries for a family of 3
« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2014, 11:54:04 AM »
I do my meal planning a month in advance and it really helps save. I do 2 weeks worth of menus and repeat them to cover the whole month. So week one and two also become week 3 and 4. That way I only make the same dish twice in a month. Then I make the grocery lists for the month so I don't have to do it every week, I just copy and paste it into the evernote app on my phone then go through the list and often cross things off because I have them around the house. This saves me money because often I will buy a specialty ingredient for something and then have that item on hand for the next time I make the recipe that month. For instance this month I made a black bean casserole and the although the recipe said it made 1 casserole it would have been huge for my family of three so I split it into 2 and froze one for the next time the casserole comes up in my meal plan. I also had a recipe that called for a jar of condensed milk but only used half so I froze the other half for the next time I make it.

bythesea

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Re: Groceries for a family of 3
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2014, 12:26:16 PM »
We are a family of 3, dd is 14, and we spend $600 a month for groceries and household items.  It used to be much higher, around $800, but I've managed to cut down our snacks quite a bit by making them from scratch and reducing the amount of meat per meal.  Both my daughter and myself have food allergies and we do not eat pork or shellfish.  My husband and daughter are meat and potato type eaters, so that limits our menu as well.  Most dinners consist of rice, a meat (chicken or beef), and two vegetables or one vegetable and 1 fruit.  I feel I've cut enough and yet still am making everyone fairly happy, so it will have to do for now.

MDM

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Re: Groceries for a family of 3
« Reply #15 on: October 22, 2014, 01:04:43 PM »
I find I am spending an average of $600 per month for groceries and toiletries on my family of 3.
Its DH, me and our 10 year old boy.
We live on Oregon. Does this sound about right?

According to http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_plans_cost_of_food/CostofFoodJul2014.pdf, you are somewhere between "thrifty" and "low cost".  Of course that's the average for the entire US - don't know whether you "should" be spending more or less.  And while one can always do better, you are doing well so quash the guilt, keep up the good work, and best wishes for the future!

NCGal

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Re: Groceries for a family of 3
« Reply #16 on: October 22, 2014, 06:17:46 PM »
About the comment regarding the price of pork chops (sorry I`m terrible with quotes)- several frugal experts recommend creating a price book. You can start with 10 or 15 items you buy frequently. Make a page for each one. Over the course of a month or two watch the prices in 3 or 4 stores you shop in to determine the lowest price of that item in each store. Make columns on the page with headings for each store and mark down the lowest price you found. Do not buy it again until it`s selling at one of those prices, preferably the lowest one, but it depends on where you shop, how far the store is, etc. Stock up when prices are at rock bottom. Then plan meals according to what food you have on hand.
 

WESTOFTHEHUDSON

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Re: Groceries for a family of 3
« Reply #17 on: October 22, 2014, 06:23:14 PM »
One tactic that helps me keep the bills down (even though I enjoy cooking) is the concept of Once a week or Once a month cooking. There are a ton of websites and cookbooks out there on the topic.

Essnetially, I plan in advance our meals for a month or three months and buy everything in advance and do all my prep in about 3 hours. I'll place everything for a meal in one ziploc bag or tupperware container and place in freezer labeled. Then each day, I take something out and let it defrost in fridge and then the next day in the slow cooker or frypan,etc.

I find the time savings huge for me as well. I've got a few pre-schoolers and it's much easier to do that and chop up a salad or roast veggies as a side dish than to make a lasagne or big batch of stew regularly. I find it costs me around $240-$270 for 24 meals which feed 4-6 people. these 24 meals get stretched over about 3 months.

If you have some time, experiment with making your own products. For example, we make our own laundry and dishwasher detergent for pennies a load as well as cleaning supplies ( bleach/baking soda and Vinegar and just about all we use).

I find the biggest key to saving money on these items is a bit of planning. If I keep a decent pantry of certain items, it's easier to toss together a few sides to stretch out leftovers and not be tempted to run to the store and make a lot of impulse buys.

If you're husband likes to snack, can he experiment with using less of these items (mixing juice with seltzer or diluting soda) to stretch it or finding snacks that can be prepped in advance and frozen or bought in bulk and then portioned out in bags (ensuring less calories consumed and the items lasting longer in pantry)?

mm1970

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Re: Groceries for a family of 3
« Reply #18 on: October 22, 2014, 06:47:53 PM »
One tactic that helps me keep the bills down (even though I enjoy cooking) is the concept of Once a week or Once a month cooking. There are a ton of websites and cookbooks out there on the topic.

Essnetially, I plan in advance our meals for a month or three months and buy everything in advance and do all my prep in about 3 hours. I'll place everything for a meal in one ziploc bag or tupperware container and place in freezer labeled. Then each day, I take something out and let it defrost in fridge and then the next day in the slow cooker or frypan,etc.

I find the time savings huge for me as well. I've got a few pre-schoolers and it's much easier to do that and chop up a salad or roast veggies as a side dish than to make a lasagne or big batch of stew regularly. I find it costs me around $240-$270 for 24 meals which feed 4-6 people. these 24 meals get stretched over about 3 months.

If you have some time, experiment with making your own products. For example, we make our own laundry and dishwasher detergent for pennies a load as well as cleaning supplies ( bleach/baking soda and Vinegar and just about all we use).

I find the biggest key to saving money on these items is a bit of planning. If I keep a decent pantry of certain items, it's easier to toss together a few sides to stretch out leftovers and not be tempted to run to the store and make a lot of impulse buys.

If you're husband likes to snack, can he experiment with using less of these items (mixing juice with seltzer or diluting soda) to stretch it or finding snacks that can be prepped in advance and frozen or bought in bulk and then portioned out in bags (ensuring less calories consumed and the items lasting longer in pantry)?
Yes, this is big!

If you figure you are spending $450 on actual food for 3, that is not too terribly bad, in my opinion.

One of the things that I like to do is calculate the cost of 5-10 of my favorite meals, and increase the frequency of the cheap ones.