Author Topic: Lost in the supermarket  (Read 8907 times)

snickers

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Lost in the supermarket
« on: July 25, 2014, 02:35:13 PM »
Another new guy with a question about food.  Im a widower in his early 50s no dependents and lives alone.  Counting everything up for the month and its looking like I spent close to 400 dollars for food, this includes drive away stuff like coffee and an occasional pizza.  This seems really excessive to me. Can I ask what you all spend a month or budget a month for food? 

Beric01

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2014, 02:50:54 PM »
I can't understand how you can spend $400 a month on food! What are you eating? You should try to be specific for us here.

I, as a single guy, spend ~$100/month. That includes eating fast food 2x on the weekends (which I'm not proud of and am trying to stop), and making sandwiches for lunch every day at work. I have a fair number of "snackables", and granola bars and fruit. I bike a lot, so it's not like I don't eat anything.

Another Reader

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2014, 03:01:16 PM »
You are probably buying a lot of prepared and packaged food.  If you learn to cook, you should be able to eat very well on less than $200 a month.  If you buy what's on sale, freeze a lot of the sale items, cook for multiple meals and freeze individual portions, and stay away from the packaged food and deli products, you should be able to reduce your spending significantly.  The bonus will be better health.

Beric01

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2014, 03:07:48 PM »
You are probably buying a lot of prepared and packaged food.  If you learn to cook, you should be able to eat very well on less than $200 a month.  If you buy what's on sale, freeze a lot of the sale items, cook for multiple meals and freeze individual portions, and stay away from the packaged food and deli products, you should be able to reduce your spending significantly.  The bonus will be better health.

I buy mainly packaged food (though I make my own sandwiches - again from packaged meat/cheese/etc.), and I still don't spend anything near that.

OP, are you buying a ton of organic food, or alcohol, or fruit out of season, or something? $400/month sounds right if you eat out every day, but not if you are buying mainly groceries.

gimp

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2014, 03:08:46 PM »
Start with the six staples. Rice, beans, pasta, bread, eggs, potatoes. Beans include all sorts of beans (red, black, split peas, chili, garbanzo / chick peas, lima, etc). Bread can be made yourself and is the best thing ever. $30 a month.

Next, add your vegetables. Whatever is on sale at the store. Broccoli, peppers, etc. Also, you have your vegetable staples: onions / shallots / garlic, which make everything taste btter. $30 a month.

Next, meat and cheese. You generally want less than the average american... so, let's say $30 a month, which gets you a family pack of pork chops, chicken thighs, chicken breasts, and some cheese.

Finally, your "whatever". Nuts, candy / junk food, cleaning materials, blah blah blah. Let's call that $30.

Let's be generous and add an occasional cheat of eating out, for $30.

Total: $150, or less than half of what you were eating before.

Now, let's make things a bit more hardcore. You might notice that if you actually spend $30 on staples, that's just... way too much food. Way too much. So let's cut that back gradually to $15. $15 buys you, in the bay area (not cheap!): 10 pounds of potatoes, 5 pounds of rice, 3 pounds of beans, 3 pounds of pasta, two dozen eggs, and enough yeast and flour to make a bunch of bread. Next, let's reduce meat and cheese a bit to $20, you'll thank me for it. $30 in vegetables and fruits means something probably rots, so let's cut that a little until everything gets eaten - $25. Now let's add some vegetables like yams, squash, and some frozen mixed veggies for when you're too lazy to dice; this reduces other vegetable cost because you can only eat so much. $20. And reduce your "whatever" category to $20, and your eating out to $20, and you now have $15 + 20 + 20 + 20 + 20 = $95 a month.

By comparison, I live on $30 a month for food, 1400-1600 kcal per day. Priorities are elsewhere, I don't do it out of need. I spend more on liquor than groceries.

kallinan

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2014, 03:16:49 PM »
$750/mo for a family of five, and we do eat pretty extravagantly.

I telecommute, so $90/mo of that is lunches/coffee shops for me or I'd go crazy by never getting outside.  Another $30 for a once a month family outing, and $630/mo in groceries.  We don't have a Costco nearby.  :(

We buy a ton of produce.  At farmer's markets, if we can help it.  Weight problems are rampant on both sides of the family, so we're trying to change our family tree and raise our children on fruits & vegetables - but it's not cheap.  Grains are (and even some processed foods) are cheaper, but we're hoping our children can grow up without the same risk of heart disease & diabetes that our parents have.  We also buy a lot of club pack chicken breasts from the store, other odd meats (beef, the odd steak, sausage), a fair bit of milk (young children, yo), and eggs.  We do have a significant portion that trickles out into a couple bulk chocolate miniatures or a pint of ice cream to share after we hit the gym & the kids are in bed - hey, no one's perfect.

LouisPritchard

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2014, 03:19:27 PM »
What part of the country do you live in? This can play a huge part. We went from spending $300 a month or so for me and my wife to $700 for the same amount of groceries just because we moved from a large city in the southeast to a small town on the western slope of colorado not far from aspen. So $400 might not be too terrible if there's a few steaks and what not tossed in.

Eric

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2014, 03:25:02 PM »
This probably varies by area, but I almost never buy produce from my actual supermarket.  I go to the specialty "produce only" store down the street.  My supermarket prices are up to 3 times more than the produce market.  Otherwise, shop what's on sale.  Learn how to cook.  Soups are great, in that they're cheap and last a while so you only have to cook once and can eat for days.

For reference, I spend about $200/mo for myself, and it's pretty spendy and luxurious.

Zikoris

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2014, 04:04:04 PM »
$230 for two, includes toilet paper and cleaning supplies. Gets us everything we like best. The biggest categories are produce (29% of spending), soy milk/non-dairy cheese/almond yoghurt (17%), baking supplies (15%) and veggie meat/tofu/lentils (14%).

snickers

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2014, 05:03:57 PM »
Im in the southeast way out in the country.

 Gimp, ya know I just realized that the market that I usually shop at does not sell family packs of chicken or beef. 

There are definetly a few steaks thrown in there..  I love to cook, and am pretty good at it.

I went through the bags and pulled out the receipts,  Im paying a lot...   3.99lb ground beef
1.99lb peaches  2.50lb plums   

There is a Sams Club or price club a hour away, are the prices worth the drive?

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2014, 05:04:44 PM »
A good range for a single adult is $100-$200 including personal care items and any alcohol.

I spend $600 for a family of 5, and that's a bit on the high side for us historically. I've been experimenting with more grass-fed/ethical/etc animal products and that runs the prices up. We used to easily fit within $500 including alcohol and personal care.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2014, 05:10:14 PM »
Is there anything closer than Sam's Club that is not your regular store? What about a regular Walmart with a grocery section? Or Target? Aldi? Even just an alternate grocery store where you can compare prices?

robotclown

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2014, 05:24:52 PM »
I just lump groceries into my discretionary spending, (because I'm lazy) but it's in the 100-200 range.  I eat a ton of eggs, pasta, rice, and potatoes.  I was going to add beans to the rotation until I realized how much prep work is involved. 

Eggs are good for you again, right?



Rural

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2014, 06:10:15 PM »

Im in the southeast way out in the country.

 Gimp, ya know I just realized that the market that I usually shop at does not sell family packs of chicken or beef. 

There are definetly a few steaks thrown in there..  I love to cook, and am pretty good at it.

I went through the bags and pulled out the receipts,  Im paying a lot...   3.99lb ground beef
1.99lb peaches  2.50lb plums   

There is a Sams Club or price club a hour away, are the prices worth the drive?

Also southeast way out in the country. We run under $200 a month for two adults for groceries (when we're out of venison, less when we have it). We eat out once a week, and that cost is not in the total. So it can be done for much less in this area.

I don't shop much at the local mom and pop, though I know and like the owners; the prices are too high, and the produce, other than the part that comes from the owners' own garden, is terrible. I stop in fairly regularly for the newspaper and a local brand not available elsewhere, so the peace is kept.

Most of my grocery shopping is Wal-Mart, and if you have a market with grocery near you, it's worth a look -- i consistently beat Costco prices there. When we lived closer in to town in a rental, I bought most of my groceries at Sav-A-Lot, a chain that is common in the Deep South and that usually beats Aldi's prices, which are better than Costco. As a rule, their produce also sucks, but there are exceptions, and everything else is fine (all store brands).

Speaking of which, are you buying name brand anything? If so, you're financing advertising campaigns on top of food production costs, and you should stop.

Finally, given the "way out in the country" part, it will pay off for you to shop only every week or two, if you aren't already.

snickers

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2014, 08:18:02 AM »
Thanks for the help everyone.  At least I have some realistic numbers to play with, now.

Will plan out a menu for the month, and give it a shot.

Found a couple of IGA stores and Aldis in Kentucky which is a little north of me.  I will take a ride there next weekend when I get paid.  LMAO Im actually looking forward to it.

Thank you again,  I really appreciate the help and advice.

hexdexorex

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2014, 09:09:52 AM »
Gf and I spend appox 100 a month. We dont eat meat, we go out to eat about once a week (but we usually share a plate because portion size in america is &%&#*$ huge. We goto the farmers market at the end of the day when everything is on sale etc.

None of this is hard to do. Our food spikes to 150-200 a month if we eat out with friends more/goto birthday parties.

Noodle

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2014, 09:42:29 AM »
Most of the advice so far is focusing on what comes into your house in terms of grocery spending; there is another part to this which focuses on what goes out in terms of trashcan waste.

Ie, you mention you are a widower...is there anything you are buying because it's a habit from your former life even though it's not something you use now? I recently realized there are a few things I keep around the house because my mom did, even though I personally seldom use them...and I'm in my 40s and haven't lived at home for over 20 years!  Also, are you using up everything that you buy? As a single person I admit I struggle with this. It's hard not to buy the 5 for a dollar apples even when realistically I should just buy 2 at 25 cents each.

Also, some of the above posters are mentioning using inexpensive groceries like pasta, rice, bread, etc to bulk up your meals. If you want to go that route, would your dr. be OK with it? My doctor recently discovered that I shouldn't eat tons of carbs anymore because of pre-diabetes concerns which is not uncommon as people get older. It was a surprise to me since I used to eat that way without problems when I was younger.

RootofGood

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2014, 09:51:01 AM »
We're in the city, so we have Superwalmart, Supertarget, costco, sam's club, trader joe's and a half dozen grocery stores (including a few aldi's) within 1-3 miles.  And a dozen or so ethnic grocery stores (a few of which we frequent at least monthly).  I imagine living out in the country means much longer drives and fewer options, but make the most of what you have if you're in town where there are grocery options. 

We spend about $500-550 per month for a family of 5 (including alcohol, paper products, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene, and toiletries).  I have a $1/$2/$3 rule of thumb for shopping. 

Red meat, relatively lean and boneless falls in the $3/lb category.  Cheese also fits in the $3/lb category (but I'm paying a tiny bit more recently).

$2/lb includes boneless chicken and boneless pork

$1/lb includes pretty much all fresh fruits and vegetables.  Also includes bone-in pork and chicken. 

Some of the things I buy are cheaper than those price targets, but that's what I'm aiming for at the most.  This means buying what's on sale each week or picking up clearance items marked down for quick sale. 

Aldi's are great for single people since you can buy in smaller quantities than costco/sam's club.  They have incredible staple products in their private labels, and you can get 80% of the way to smart grocery shopping by shopping there.  We fill in at superwalmart, and shop the sales at the grocery store in our neighborhood. 

In your situation being far away from grocery stores, I'd try to stock up on non-perishables (canned, frozen, dry goods, fresh meat that can be frozen) when on sale or clearance, and buy fresh stuff (fruits/vegs, milk) on your shopping trips every week or two.  Just keep in mind that gas isn't cheap, so driving 30 minutes to save a few bucks on something doesn't make sense. 

iampatriciag

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2014, 11:19:10 AM »
These numbers are helpful for me too - I'm still trying to bring our monthly grocery spending down under $500 - for the two of us!  It's nuts, but the numbers don't lie!

I think weekly meal planning is the key, here.

SnackDog

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2014, 02:32:42 PM »
We basically follow the advice to avoid all the interior aisles of the grocery and just take a spin around the periphery for produce and cheap cuts of meat.  We try not to buy anything frozen (except chicken breasts), boxed (except grains like rice, cereal, occasional pasta), canned (never) or in a jar (except pickeled vegetables).  It helps that the groceries where we live suck and have little to offer aside from fresh raw ingredients.

Davids

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2014, 03:31:56 PM »
My wife and I are around $250 - $300 per month for food, that includes groceries, alcohol, us going out to dinner every Saturday night and me going out to lunch every Friday (I have to get out of the office).

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2014, 04:12:25 PM »
If you wanna see how hard-core you can be, check out the Prudent Homemaker, who feeds a family of 9 on $100 a month (not counting gardening expenses, where most of their fresh fruits and veggies come from). She always makes me a little ashamed of myself!

Dee

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2014, 04:37:16 PM »
I, too, spend about $400 a month (at least I did last time I checked, which was quite a while ago). I just asked my boyfriend how much he spends -- he figures about $200 a month. He attributes the difference between us to a couple of things -- he eats over at my place a few times a week, and I like to keep a stock of things, so I am buying more than I am consuming. I'm sure I could do better but it's not a focus or a priority -- not eating out is a bigger focus, so I cut myself a lot more slack on what I spend on eating in. At $400/month, you're looking at basically $100/week (21 meals plus snacks, if you agree with the 3 meals a day model), so a little less than $5/meal on average (again, if you're actually consuming as much as you are buying). Definitely, room to optimize but likely a lot less than lots of eating out.

zataks

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2014, 04:58:42 PM »
I'd guess together we spend probably $500/month on groceries.  Pretty much every dinner (and most lunches) have at least some meat in them though.  And we buy cheeses too (although they are from Costco).  But I think the primary expense is fruit.  I eat more fruit that just about anything else and we typically buy organic. 

Silverwood

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #24 on: July 30, 2014, 03:00:17 PM »
So I thought I could do better as well. Maybe it's cause I'm in Canada or that I don't eat potatoes or beans. I'm mostly gluten free so no sandwiches for me. I don't eat a lot of packaged food. I stick with a lot of stir fry with rice. I'm still at around 400. I don't drink either. So that's not including that. I do eat a lot of meat but try to stick to cheaper cuts. 

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #25 on: July 30, 2014, 06:00:24 PM »
snickers, you mentioned an Aldi near by.  I'm a huge fan of Aldi and try to make it my primary grocery.  I've found they have great quality but the cost is a lot lower due to unique marketing/supply chain efficiency.

As for meat and produce, you may want to also try shopping the front and back page of the weekly grocery flyer in your area.  Supermarkets put the loss-leaders in these areas, hoping that 1.99 ground beef will bring you in and that you'll fill your cart with a bunch of regular stuff while you're there.  But, if you only shop the loss-leaders and ignore everything else, you'll almost always get the best deals of the week.

snickers

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #26 on: August 04, 2014, 11:02:15 AM »
ok think Im getting the hang of this..  :)   Thanks so much for the advice,  did a little shopping today had all the basics just needed the entrees.  2 stores within a mile of each other. 

6 chicken thighs - pack of american cheese- 1lb ground beef - 5 thin center cut pork chops- 1-chuck steak - can of manwhich - 2 bottles of marinade.     =  29.93

cycopathicrunna

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #27 on: August 04, 2014, 06:47:40 PM »
Check out an app called Big Oven.  You can tell it what items you have and it selects dishes to help use items before they go bad.

Fresh is best learn to cook 1 new dish a week.  It will make all your co workers jealous when you heat up left overs in the microwave.

Generally shopping the outer perimeter of a store is where all the healthy stuff is.

MBot

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #28 on: August 04, 2014, 07:15:12 PM »
I like meat. So my biggest cost-saver is stocking up when there a great  sale. Then: Freezing individual portions for later. Store brand ziploc bags are 2-3 cents each.

Most things freeze better and thaw easier if they're cut up into strips/chunks. Ground beef I just squish till the bag is completely flat and it stacks to freeze. Chicken breasts can also freeze whole and go right into the oven from the freezer.

Having a freezer full of 20 dinners worth of ground beef, 10 of steak and 30 chicken breasts is a great time and money saver.

When you need it, rip off the ziploc bag, put it in a bowl and nuke it till you can break apart the chunks to fry or bake or whatever.

geekette

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Re: Lost in the supermarket
« Reply #29 on: August 04, 2014, 07:23:01 PM »
You can also thaw meats in water, still in their ziplock bags. 

I swear by my vacuum sealer, though. Much less chance of freezer burn.