Author Topic: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.  (Read 13821 times)

Wesmon

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Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« on: April 16, 2013, 09:40:13 PM »
We are trying to be badass with food. We are a family of four. Two adults, a 4 and a 6 year old.
Before MMM we used to spend 500 dining out and 800 on groceries, monthly! (SLAP) Now we are at 50 and 600, respectively.

Can folks share their grocery budgets and meal plans to help us out?

Thanks

lifejoy

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2013, 09:47:40 PM »
$300/month for two people

-we buy tofu, lentils, canned tuna, and peanut butter for protein, meat about once a month
-we make many meals from scratch
-soup, cereal, and salad are very cheap
-not going to lie, there's a bit of Kraft dinner and ramen noodles in our life!
-when eating out, we go for an appetizer or dessert, instead of a whole meal
-stir fry
-Costco deals

Once you set a budget and start paying attention, it gets easier to cut back! We were spending ~$800/month (face punch) but that was because we paid no mind to our choices.

Since you're a parent, you might not have all the time in the world for cooking from scratch... So make big batches, freeze the remainder so that future you can be happy! I made three shepherd's pies, and froze two :)

I hope this helps! I'm still learning as I go.

expatartist

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2013, 11:59:48 PM »
+1 for Libraryjoy's suggestion on making in batches & freezing. Just started to do this and it's really helping to curb impulsive "let's have Subway tonight because I don't feel like cooking".

We spend way too much and are looking at ways to cut down, just getting started with mustachianism after years of thinking we were frugal (ha!).

For two adults:

Groceries: $200/month
Eating out/drinking: $200-300/month

However this may not be applicable to you at all! We live in Beijing, where while fruit/veg can be cheap, there's not much bulk buying for western foods possible  besides olive oil. Also, getting trustworthy food is more expensive (for a stomach-roiling experience have a look at the top 10 Chinese food scandals:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/8476080/Top-10-Chinese-Food-Scandals.html )

An excuse we've used for years is: western food (which is mostly what The Man will eat, and what I like to eat half the time) is super expensive. Also, we keep finances separate so it can get harder to keep track. We're working on it... ;) No matter where you live, it's a challenge, and good to be aware of what's going where.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 12:27:37 AM by expatartist »

Nudelkopf

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2013, 12:30:18 AM »
Single, 20, Australia: $200/month (no eating out)
  • Oats/Wheatbix + milk + honey for breakfast (aaand snacks, whoops)
  • Meat + veg for lunch & dinner
  • Lots of fruit & yoghurt for snacks
  • I buy too much chocolate :( Like, WAY too much chocolate
  • I don't eat pasta or bread or salad vegetables (they expire too quickly!)
  • The $50/wk includes toiletries, toilet paper, kitchen cleaning stuff, etc.

I think that I spend too much.. But then I talk to other people near me and then I don't feel so bad.

ace1224

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2013, 05:20:40 AM »
Family of 3...we are 33, 30 and 8 and i'm struggling with this as well.   before i found this forum and MMM we spent 796 dollars a month on average.  I am now down to 300 spent so far for the month of april but i shouldn't have to go to the store again, yay sams club, that 300 also includes dining out, we might hit 350 but i hope we don't go over it.
our biggest problem is that we just really really really like going out to eat.  so we get around that by eating at places that let kids eat free certain nights of the week and combine with a coupon that comes in the mail for 10 dollars off 2 entrees....and i always make sure to get one under 10 so mine is free.
i don't mind cooking so i do a lot of batch cooking on sundays and our monster is not very particular so that helps.

tuyop

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2013, 05:38:23 AM »
This month we're on track to spend $500 because we bought a bunch of bulk things but usually we keep it down around $300-$400. That's for two people, 25 and 23.

Bulk veggies whenever possible, plus root vegetables. Frozen if you can fit it into your cooking.
Tuna, some other fish, and fancy local grass-fed organic happy meat.
Dairy fucking everywhere. Cheese with stuff, cottage cheese, yogurts, whey all over the place, recently started buying milk as well. I'm pretty sure this is our #1 cost.
For grains we eat quinoa, oatmeal, rice and occasionally various gluten-free pastas. For some reason the oatmeal doesn't bother the girlfriend, whatever.

chatsc

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2013, 05:50:27 AM »
we are a fam of 5 in Ontario and we spend about 850-900 (probably 1000$ some months) on groceries/personal items a month.  I try to lower it, I really do, but it just doesnt happen.  Things keep coming up.  For example, I have to go to the store again today to get things for my oldest kids bake sale fundraiser.  and then we are having people over for dinner on saturday night. 

How do other people handle things that keep coming up?  I feel like we never get ahead (in the grocery war and the rest of our spending) because little things (like a school fundraiser, like friends coming to town, like having to buy a new shovel, the kids eating a weeks worth of fruit in 3 days, having to re-shingle our shed, my rubber boots ripped....i find it goes on and on like this every week.  maybe i should start another thread about this....

tuyop

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2013, 06:00:41 AM »
we are a fam of 5 in Ontario and we spend about 850-900 (probably 1000$ some months) on groceries/personal items a month.  I try to lower it, I really do, but it just doesnt happen.  Things keep coming up.  For example, I have to go to the store again today to get things for my oldest kids bake sale fundraiser.  and then we are having people over for dinner on saturday night. 

How do other people handle things that keep coming up?  I feel like we never get ahead (in the grocery war and the rest of our spending) because little things (like a school fundraiser, like friends coming to town, like having to buy a new shovel, the kids eating a weeks worth of fruit in 3 days, having to re-shingle our shed, my rubber boots ripped....i find it goes on and on like this every week.  maybe i should start another thread about this....

The key is flexible, conservative budgeting. You need to track and analyze those expenses over time and you'll come to an average across all time periods.

So given your example you'd have like three rainy day categories:

Kid clothes
Home repairs
Home goods

So this month (month 1) you had a bad go with those ones and spent like this:

Kid clothes: 65
Home repairs 350
Home goods 35

Next month (month 2) you have another average month:

Kid clothes 45
Home repairs 30 (new shower head or something)
Home goods 10 (let's say you break a can opener)

So how much should you budget for month 3 to stay on top of it? Either take the average in each category, or conservatively budget for the most that any one category has historically cost.

This is basically how you should budget everything. You'll have months where you spend below your average and months when you spend over, but budgeting the average amount will allow you to carry over the balance in low months so that you don't have to scramble in expensive months.

Edit: If you're good with excel, you can achieve the rollover average budgeting with some spreadsheet skills, or you could just try a programlike YNAB which kind of turns everything into a virtual envelope and makes it very simple and pretty to do zero-based budgeting and build up rainy day funds while not worrying about maintaining 45 savings accounts.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 06:03:07 AM by tuyop »

Rural

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2013, 06:07:08 AM »
we are a fam of 5 in Ontario and we spend about 850-900 (probably 1000$ some months) on groceries/personal items a month.  I try to lower it, I really do, but it just doesnt happen.  Things keep coming up.  For example, I have to go to the store again today to get things for my oldest kids bake sale fundraiser.  and then we are having people over for dinner on saturday night. 

How do other people handle things that keep coming up?

Do you keep a pantry? It's a longer-term solution, but if you'll keep your eyes open and buy flour when it's on a good sale, you'll have it on hand the next time  there's an unplanned bake sale (freeze white flour overnight to kill off any bug larvae and it will keep longer; keep whole wheat in the freezer). Do the same with cocoa powder, sugar, butter (also store in the freezer), etc, and you'll be ready next time without a store trip. You can apply the same principle to dinner guests; think of something you feel good about serving to guests that will keep well, and start watching for a good sale on the ingredients.

plainjane

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2013, 06:43:22 AM »
I think we're at about 440/month for two people in Toronto.  This covers food & personal care, but not any nice lunches or dinners out (those are in the entertainment budget and seem to happen 2x/month on average based on a quick scan of recent credit card statements).  I'm not sure exactly because that is part of our 'cash' budget, so from a tracking perspective is undifferentiated from public transit, brunch out, and some work lunches out.

We could obviously do much better from an outlay perspective, but I think it's a good balance right now for things we enjoy (parmesan cheese, salsa from the market, the aforementioned brunches), green things I feel we should include, and a budget we are comfortable with. 

Or I did until I just ran those numbers.  $7/person/day?  Perhaps I need to rethink those Bolthouse drinks we get whenever they're on sale.  :)

DocCyane

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2013, 07:06:09 AM »
$300/month, $10/day for two adults, ages 44 and 49
$0 for eating out

We make a lot of meals with brown rice, fresh veggies and a protein like salmon, eggs, beans, lentils or chicken. Red meat is rare.

The trick is to have a lot of basics already cooked. We'll take dry beans, soak them, boil them and be set for the week. Make up a big thing of rice. Hard boil some eggs. Keep fresh fruit around. We have a big container of almonds for quick snacking.

Leftovers serve as lunch for me at work the next day.

We don't eat any pre-packaged food; no chips, soda, frozen meals, Hamburger Helper type stuff.

And we shop at the ethnic markets which have better quality produce and meat at lower prices.

Eat real food, not food-like products and you will not only save money, but you will be the proper weight and have tremendous health.

Starstuff

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2013, 07:42:11 AM »
If you're in the US, check out localharvet.org to find a local Community Supported Agriculture program. You get fresh veggies (and sometimes eggs and meat), support local farms, and usually save money. I just put down $350 to get $400 worth of fruits/veggies/eggs at a discounted price. Some farms offer a work options (I'm sure they could come up with something for the kids) to earn extra credit too.

kolorado

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2013, 07:52:54 AM »
$300 for a family of 5, just food. All of my kids eat more than I do so even thought they aren't teenagers yet, they aren't by any means "cheap" to feed. Here is my April menu:

spaghetti, meatballs, garlic breadsticks
turkey filling, pastry, stuffing
bacon pepper jack burgers, bbq beans, cheesy cauliflower
minestrone soup, popovers
pizza
LO
beef hash, garlic green beans
felafel, wheat pitas, couscous, cucumber salad
LO
chicken nuggets, mac&cheese, broccoli
cheddar beer soup, soft pretzels, crudites
pizza
LO
baked ham, au gratin potatoes, asparagus, fruit relish, rolls
LO
spaghetti, meat sauce, garlic bread
corned beef, steamed cabbage, carrot salad, soda bread
LO
pizza
turkey rice soup, biscuits
fish & chips, sausage rolls, salad
LO
grilled chicken sandwiches, pasta salad, cucumber salad
hamburgers, onion petals, salad
ham steaks, lemon almond couscous, cheesy cauliflower, dinner rolls
pizza
black bean soup, tortilla crisps
spinach lasagna, meat sauce, french bread, salad
LO
veggie stir fry, brown rice

My system is to have a variety of meals that cost about $5 or less and we eat those most nights. Twice a week, on Wednesday and Sunday, I prepare a meal that is more in the $5-10 range. Those dinners always have a nice dessert too like cake/cookies. Sunday morning also has a nice breakfast which I don't plan but always happens. One of my family's favorites is copycat Cinnabons.  LO is leftovers. I often add salad to a meal even when it isn't listed. I like to see what greens and veggies I have on hand or can pick up cheap to use. I make so much from scratch, no box mixes, kits or cans of this and that. I even make maple syrup from scratch. I keep a well stocked pantry of staples to do this. I always have a good supply of oil, butter, brown sugar, sugar, flour, wheat flour, oats, eggs, milk, baking powder and bulk yeast. I never plan shopping trips and menus around what I "feel" like eating. I pick up low priced ingredients and then use my freezer and pantry contents to plan meals. I use less of many ingredients in my recipes than called for, mainly oils(replace some with fruit puree, fat-free milk or water) and sugar(no replacement necessary), even eggs(replace with water or milk). It may be only $.10 savings each recipe but with how many things I make, it adds up to big savings over time and it's better for us. I save the heels of bread in the freezer to make stuffing and bread crumbs. I save the ends of vegetables in the freezer to roast and make vegetable broth. I save the cores of apples(not bitten apples, I cut off the apple flesh for the kids)in the freezer to cook down and process for applesauce. I learned to cook in my own family of 7, 4 of whom were young men/grown men so I got used to preparing a lot which works out for leftovers in my smaller family. We eat Flexitarian. Breakfasts are homemade wheat waffles/pancake/quick breads/muffins. Lunches are leftovers, natural peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, quesadillas, hot dogs, nuggets, eggs and veg. Snacks are air-popped corn, fruit and veg, plain bulk yogurt or cottage cheese with any desired toppings from the fridge, and anything from the standard breakfast or lunch menu. I have a huge freezer(costs $4 a month to run) to stock up on sale meat, cheese, milk, fruit and veg. We don't drink our calories. I do buy Coke a few times a year and we all split two cans on Friday pizza night. I do buy coffee beans and tea bags. We use a French press for coffee. Hubby makes his regular coffee first and transfers it to a thermal pitcher(thrift store $.25). Then I add a scoop of decaf grounds to his grounds and fill the press again. I like my coffee light. Not weak, just light so this works great for us to save $5 a month on coffee.
The Complete Tightwad Gazette, a good basic cookbook like the Better Homes and Garden red & white book and user reviewed recipe sites like Allrecipes help me to stay interested and inspired.

Zikoris

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2013, 08:08:45 AM »
$230 for two adults(26 and 24) in Vancouver, but it includes non-food stuff like toilet paper, so closer to $215 for food alone. We don't eat out, make everything from scratch, and would kill ourselves before we ate ramen or processed shit. We're also vegans, which is dirt cheap in and of itself.

twinge

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2013, 08:40:55 AM »
$400/mo food for family of 4: 2 adults, 1 ravenous just entering adolescent boy and 1 hearty eating preschooler.  Mainly vegetarian==dried beans, tofu, rice, quinoa, oats are staples.  Whatever fresh veggies/fruits are in season, liked, and reasonably priced.  organic eggs, yogurt, etc.  Some fish. 

Virtually no eating out, limited processed foods (though there are some kid compromises occasionally here), and we bake our own breads/doughs/desserts.  That latter point makes a big difference when it comes to lunches/snacks for kids as our son has a habit of eating a sandwich for lunch, after-school snack, after-dinner snack etc.  He makes a high protein loaf out of cottage cheese, eggs, oats and flour.

mustachecat

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2013, 08:42:59 AM »
Right now, we're at $400/month for two people, down from... um, a lot more. We definitely have a ways to go! A big part of our spending is that we eat meat basically everyday--and a big part of our savings is focusing on reducing the cost and consumption of meat (buying in bulk, going for cheap cuts, limiting portions to 3oz.).

jpo

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2013, 09:27:59 AM »
$270/mo for two adults, including toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc.

We eat meat just about every night of the week and generally avoid processed foods.

ghatko

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2013, 09:30:22 AM »
This is one area that we have been working on for the last few months. For the year prior we were consistently averaging $650/month (groceries only: eating out, toiletries, etc are in separate categories). By making only a few changes, including shopping more at Costco, only picking up items on the list (instead of what looked appealing), soaking and cooking our own beans, occasionally making our own bread, and cutting down the little processed food we did buy we have cut that budget to about $400-450/month. We keep trying for $400, and sometimes we go a bit over. This is for 2 adults and 1 toddler in Gatineau (Ottawa).

lifejoy

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2013, 09:39:37 AM »
@Nudelkopf

- bread does expire quickly. I put my pre-sliced bread in the freezer, and toast it or let it thaw when I need to eat it. It works really well!

I buy a lot of chocolate too... haha. Hard to resist!! Did you get any wicked post-Easter deals?

snellbert

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2013, 10:02:04 AM »
Us:

-4 people:  two adults, a toddler and infant
-about $500 a month
-includes husband's packed lunches for work
-we're vegetarian (husband eats fish) and buy pretty much exclusively organic food and rarely eat out
-i'm nursing my littlest right now, which increases food requirements
-the toddler eats like a small cow
-Right now have an unusually high amount of convenience foods around right now-- ie. canned beans instead of dried, store-bought hummus instead of homemade, various crackers/snack foods-- because we're still figuring out how to take care of 2 small kids simultaneously and it ensures that we're not eating crap. We've also got a lot of easily-portable snacks around to take on walks/outings with the toddler. This will likely go down in time.

Cecil

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2013, 12:34:35 PM »
$230 for two adults(26 and 24) in Vancouver, but it includes non-food stuff like toilet paper, so closer to $215 for food alone. We don't eat out, make everything from scratch, and would kill ourselves before we ate ramen or processed shit. We're also vegans, which is dirt cheap in and of itself.

Where do you shop and what do you eat?

Our grocery bill is more like $500/month, and we eat tons of fruit/veggies, always make dinner from scratch and eat leftovers for lunch. We do eat a fair amount of meat, but it's always the best deals we can find (chicken breasts at $3/lb, ground beef at $2/lb).

chatsc

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #21 on: April 17, 2013, 12:46:17 PM »
Here is a question for those of us who eat meat/diary or who feed meat/dairy to our families:  are you OK with buying the cheapest meat/dairy available?  i am not, and I find that impacts our grocery bill.  and I am ok with it.....

Our food bill would probably be about 100-150$ (25-40$ per week, on average) cheaper if we bought the cheapest ground beef/meat/cheese available from a discount grocery store.

I whined about the cost of my groceries in another thread, then I realized that I buy what I buy and I am ok with it.  (but I wish i was more organized like kolorado...she sounds amazingly organized)

ace1224

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2013, 12:54:19 PM »
i don't buy organic or grass fed or humane beef, but i don't buy the cheapest simply because its full of fat.  i probably go for a combination of cheap/relatively lean.

but this also fluctuates on how much money i have that month.  for example i usually don't buy organic free range eggs from our CSA guy because they are 4 dollars a dozen, when i can get them at food lion with a coupon for 1 dollar a dozen.  when i haven't spent all of our "mad" money sometimes i order a dozen eggs just because i can.

Mickijune

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #23 on: April 17, 2013, 01:54:25 PM »
For three people (the husband, 6 year old growing like a weed daughter and myself), we recently went from $400/mo to $320 a month. It sometimes goes higher when we have to restock on snacks for lunches or booze when we feel like it.

I have been finding healthy, easy recipes online then using a meal planning website to plan out meals while at the same time trying to use up what we already have. We have cleared out all the boxed, processed food and I make almost all meals from scratch.

Sometimes I double recipes so there are leftovers for lunch the next day or two. If there are no leftovers, it's either a sandwich or ramen.

psychomoustache

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #24 on: April 17, 2013, 02:21:01 PM »
We are trying really hard too to bring things down from our former 800 a month budget for five (includes two teenage boys and a hungry husband, an 11 year old boy and me)

I have been going to the tiny local grocery on our street where he will mark down food half price when it's expired. I get a lot of our meat this way which I just freeze anyway, and dairy. My kids eat a ton of yogurt, and it will keep for up to three weeks after the sell- by date.

We too love our chocolate, but I'm glad I finally weaned the kids from their Nutella addiction. If they want it, they use their own money. That stuff is 5 a jar and they can eat a kilo jar in 2 days. Scary stuff.

Zikoris

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #25 on: April 17, 2013, 05:24:58 PM »
Quote
Where do you shop and what do you eat?

Our grocery bill is more like $500/month, and we eat tons of fruit/veggies, always make dinner from scratch and eat leftovers for lunch. We do eat a fair amount of meat, but it's always the best deals we can find (chicken breasts at $3/lb, ground beef at $2/lb).

I'm not sure if you're local to Vancouver and recognize any of the stores I'm listing, but I'll assume you are! We have a routine that gets us to a pile of stores so we always get the best price on everything.

We do a weekly run to No Frills with a cat stroller(no car here) for heavy, bulky stuff - cooking oil, cat litter, juice, pasta, canned stuff(tomatoes in various forms, coconut milk, and chickpeas mostly), spices, couscous, frozen vegan chicken strips, potatoes, and fruit and vegetables if there's a good price(raspberries and blueberries often go on sale for $1.50-ish), as well as most of our household supplies like toilet paper or cleaning stuff. Sometimes this trip is combined with Whole Foods for veggie bacon and the healthy brand of margarine we like, sometimes not.

We have a Costco membership and use it for sacks of flour(for bread, etc), soy milk, peanut butter, other baking supplies(chocolate chips, sugar, dried cranberries), sacks of onions, and vegetarian ground round.

The local Asian supermarket, T and T, supplies 90% of our produce, as well as tofu, some sauces, rice, soba and lo mein noodles, fresh herbs, and some spices No Frills doesn't have. We go here a few times a week.

Once I month, we go out to Famous Foods, a specialty foods store is East Van. They supply most of our grains and legumes(bulgur, millet, lentils, TVP, barley, teff), as well as maple butter, my boyfriend's weakness.

There's also a super expensive Nesters across the street for when I'm an idiot and realize I'm missing a critical ingredient in the middle of cooking, that charges about double the price of any of the others. We end up there more often than I'd like.

That's about it, six regular stores we go to.

mm1970

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #26 on: April 17, 2013, 06:37:53 PM »
Two adults, a 7 year old and 9 month old.

For this year so far we are at about $600/month groceries and $140/month eating out. These are higher than last year.  We've been dealing with some stuff (surgery on the baby) that has thrown us of our game.  I've been buying baby food instead of making it (at least I buy it by the case!) and we just started him on formula which adds to the total.

Plus some of the eating out looks like it's from my hubby's business trips, so it is miscategorized (we recently switched to having Quicken auto do that for us because we just weren't getting to it ourselves).

I think last year we were at $550 /month groceries (including our organic weekly CSA and a lot of organic meats and dairy) and about $100/month eating out.  I'd like to get back to that.

kkbmustang

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #27 on: April 17, 2013, 08:50:14 PM »
Here is a question for those of us who eat meat/diary or who feed meat/dairy to our families:  are you OK with buying the cheapest meat/dairy available?  i am not, and I find that impacts our grocery bill.  and I am ok with it.....

Our food bill would probably be about 100-150$ (25-40$ per week, on average) cheaper if we bought the cheapest ground beef/meat/cheese available from a discount grocery store.

I whined about the cost of my groceries in another thread, then I realized that I buy what I buy and I am ok with it.  (but I wish i was more organized like kolorado...she sounds amazingly organized)

When we first found MMM, we slashed our grocery budget to $400/mo for two adults, an 8 year old and a 10 year old that eats more than I do. In order to do this, we stopped buying organic. I hated not eating the grass fed and organic meat and the mostly organic produce. So, we increased the budget. It's now around $650-700/mo for groceries and household products (this includes lunches 4-5 days per week for the whole family). The kids get hot lunch at school once per week ($8/kid average - it's not a public school so lunches aren't subsidized). The hubs eats out lunch on average 1-2 times per month and spends about $10 each time. I have networking lunches about 1-2 times per month, but they come out of the business budget. I spend about $15-20 each time as they tend to be real restaurants, not fast food. We splurge on eating out for dinner about twice per month, $80 per month.

We eat the following:
Meat or Fish (chicken, beef, pork, tilapia, salmon), 1-2 vegetables/salad and fruit
Tacos with homemade guacamole
Spaghetti with marinara, salad, sometimes garlic bread
Stir fry chicken or shrimp and vegetables with brown rice
Soup and sandwiches
Quesadillas with homemade guacamole
Homemade stew, soup or chili

kolorado

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #28 on: April 17, 2013, 09:13:27 PM »
Here is a question for those of us who eat meat/diary or who feed meat/dairy to our families:  are you OK with buying the cheapest meat/dairy available?  i am not, and I find that impacts our grocery bill.  and I am ok with it.....

(but I wish i was more organized like kolorado...she sounds amazingly organized)

~Absolute cheapest? Absolutely not. Personally, I don't eat much meat but since I have to prepare it I don't want to deal with a bunch of fat, skin and bone. What I buy for the hubby and kids is lean meat on loss leader sales. So 90% lean or better ground turkey and beef, boneless pork loin, skinless chicken breast or split chicken breast(never thighs or wings), eye round roast beef, Hebrew National hot dogs, and whole turkey and ham are the main meat items I buy. I think I'm very particular actually, especially with ground meats and beef roasts. I will only buy that one cut of beef roast because I like how lean and tender it is and that there is little to no waste on it. Cheap meat just isn't worth it when you cook it, separate out all the waste and weigh out how many servings of meat you actually get for the money. Chicken breast at $2lb costs more than $.70lb thighs but you get more meat for your buck with the breast.
But many of you will consider my choices to be the cheapest since they aren't grass fed, free range, organic selections. When I see solid research on the clear benefits of spending more on those things I'll get on board with it.
As far as dairy products go, I will buy the cheapest, which is usually the store brand in a large container/bag. But we also don't eat much dairy. I use a little butter in baking, milk in cooking with a couple glasses a day for the older kids, a container of yogurt and cottage cheese every month and cheese a couple times a week. I prefer we get our nutrients from fruits and veg, nuts and legumes instead of calf food. It doesn't make any sense to me for humans and especially adults to depend on bovine dairy for nutrition. As a tasty supplement though, sure. ;)
And thanks for the compliment. I tend to think of myself as a micro-manager but "organized" sounds so much better!:P ~

Nudelkopf

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #29 on: April 17, 2013, 09:29:13 PM »
@Nudelkopf

- bread does expire quickly. I put my pre-sliced bread in the freezer, and toast it or let it thaw when I need to eat it. It works really well!

I buy a lot of chocolate too... haha. Hard to resist!! Did you get any wicked post-Easter deals?
A few post-Easter deals :P Om nom nom. And I'm not worried about bread going off, but rather salad vegetables (lettuce, capsicum, etc).

N

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #30 on: April 17, 2013, 10:35:57 PM »
I dont have a real handle on the average. The last two months before xmas, it was really high, like 800-1000$ for our family of four, including eating out, and probably household purchases (before I got better at categorizing). then I got it down to 600 ish. This month will end up around 750 I think.

We do eat a lot of meat, and I do buy free range sometimes, but not always. We've cut back, but we do like to eat out, its hard.

I wish I could get it to 500 total. dont know if thats really practical.

Crash87

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #31 on: April 18, 2013, 08:53:24 AM »
I eat for about $10/day. When I eat out I consider it entertainment instead of part of my food budget since I only eat out to spend time with friends.

I live off of brown rice, beans, eggs, milk, chicken, oatmeal, protein powder, salsa, and a few other misc things. Brown rice, beans, salsa, cheese, and a few fried eggs on top with runny yolks is a delicious cheap meal.

If I didn't exercise as much and wasn't trying to gain weight I think my food costs would be about $6/day since I would eat far less and probably not have any protein powder.

tmac

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #32 on: April 18, 2013, 09:01:14 AM »
[Sorry -- This turned into a longer post than I'd intended. I hope it's useful information.]

We started at $800 groceries (people and pet food + all household consumables) and $800 eating out, and we're down to $500-600 groceries and $400 eating out. Still not awesome, but a $700-800 monthly improvement. We are 2 adults, 1 older teen, 2 school-aged kids, 2 dogs, and a cat in a small town in the southeastern US.

I shop on the first weekday of the month at Costco, Aldi (discount generics), and Wal-Mart. I made a price book (a big spreadsheet) so I know which places have the best prices. I usually have to make a couple of trips to the bike-able grocery during the month to pick up something I've forgotten. There are a few items that I can only buy at the whole foods market, but they're used in tiny amounts, so that's just a couple of times a year.

My big grocery money savers:

1. Make as much at home as I can, especially expensive things -- bread and rolls, granola bars and cereal, stock and soup, dried beans, etc. -- and use everything (casseroles, soup, and smoothies are great ways to use stuff up).

2. Make a monthly menu that has enough people-pleasers in it to keep the whining to a minimum. For example, Monday is "People's Choice," in which we take turns selecting and helping to make the meal. Wednesday is always homemade pizza and Sunday is always take-out, so that keeps them from begging for take-out the rest of the week. Our menu is on the family calendar on the fridge, so the everyone can see what's coming up, effectively eliminating the daily "What's for dinner?" question.

3. Keep the processed stuff and dairy to a minimum. They know that when it's gone, it's gone.

4. Eat meatless several times a week, and always smaller portions of meat. I often will serve myself just the grain, veg, and fruit, and only make enough meat for the others, if they want it.

5. Buy generic when the quality is good enough. Don't be brand-loyal unless its truly necessary.

6. Buy in bulk only when it makes sense to do so. Bulk fresh fruit and veg can be tricky. Bulk convenience foods are still a waste of money. Go for the bulk ingredients instead.

7. Never buy pre-prepped, non-frozen veg and fruit. It's expensive and just goes bad faster. Prep it yourself in quantities you're likely to use. I buy fresh Romaine, then lop off the bottom and rinse. After it drips mostly dry, I put it in a Ziploc bag with a paper towel. It lasts a couple of weeks that way, if we haven't scarfed it down before then.

8. Finally, teach the kids to cook. It helps them a) feel comfortable making their own food when they're hungry and there are no packaged snacks, b) understand the work that goes into food preparation so they complain less, and c) of course it's an important life skill.

cerebus

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #33 on: June 22, 2015, 02:01:30 AM »
I'm just going to resurrect this because I'm trying to get a  handle on what I can expect budget wise in the US relative to here.

Currently we spend around $500 (R6000) for a family of 5 with 3 small children, including all toiletries and cleaning goods. We eat out rarely and sporadically so I can't pinpoint a number (this month I think around $25) but I'm pretty happy with our levels of spending because it's comfortable and we eat well, and it's still low in comparison with most people we know.

- We eat plenty of meat, maybe once a week have a vegetarian meal but otherwise it's normally something meat based. We shop around to keep prices down, but a lot of stewing meat, bulk chicken (good quality organic), whole roasting chicken (and make stock from the bones), pork, etc. We slow cook or oven cook the tougher meat and do a lot of stews and pies.

- We use good quality oils like butter (one of our biggest and unrepentant expenses), olive oil, sesame oil and sometimes coconut oil. We try to shop for the lowest cost stuff but there's always a balance between getting rubbish and overpaying. Also we drink a lot of milk, and buy yogurt (I want to look into making my own), cream, buttermilk, sour cream, cheese etc as needed.

- We cook practically everything from scratch which I firmly believe is where the majority of our cost savings come from. I never get bottled sauces or easy cook packets. Our spices and herbs are full and constantly restocked when we run out. It's one of the most important parts of the kitchen. I also grow some herbs like coriander and thyme and would like to grow an entire garden of herbs and vegetables when we move over to the US. Also there's always bits and bobs like coconut milk, worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, garam masala, saffron, lemongrass, parmesan cheese, masa harina, canned beans (can look at using dried beans rather). Cooking from scratch is also why I don't sweat the small expenses because in the bigger picture we're always coming out ahead.

- We restock our vegetables once a week roughly, and buy from a local market stall lady who has very good prices on veggies and fruit. We go through a ton of fruit and veg in the house as it's our main food source and snack. Also eggs, we love our eggs, and they have to be good quality organic or the yolk just dissolves and you can't do anything with them.

- We bake a lot eg our own bread, muffins, cookies etc. So good quality stone ground flour is important. Also, we love coffee. Ideally we'd get whole beans and grind them ourselves. And then there's chocolate - we love it and I can't eat the cheap stuff.

Rural

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #34 on: June 22, 2015, 05:03:40 AM »
Cerebus, it depends very much on where you're going to live in the US, but I think you're can continue as you are without a budget increase in most areas, and in some you'd find you could do it for less.


You may find some availability issues, especially in more rural areas; you'lol definitely have to experiment with brands, etc.


As an aside, have you considered mixing your own garam masala? I started because of not being able to buy it in my rural area, but I found it was much cheaper, too.


http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-garam-masala/

cerebus

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #35 on: June 22, 2015, 05:54:25 AM »
Cerebus, it depends very much on where you're going to live in the US, but I think you're can continue as you are without a budget increase in most areas, and in some you'd find you could do it for less.

Wow that's a surprise. I always figured at least food was cheaper here. Looks like basically nothing in SA is cheaper than the States (except housing, but that's offset by the 9-10% interest rates).

Quote
As an aside, have you considered mixing your own garam masala? I started because of not being able to buy it in my rural area, but I found it was much cheaper, too.


http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-garam-masala/

Well, here in the Cape there's a very large Indian community and they often sell these mixes at pretty much cost price or so close that it's hardly worth the trouble to do it myself. I'd probably do it if I lived in a more remote type of area.

Rural

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #36 on: June 22, 2015, 06:26:42 AM »
Cerebus, it depends very much on where you're going to live in the US, but I think you're can continue as you are without a budget increase in most areas, and in some you'd find you could do it for less.

Wow that's a surprise. I always figured at least food was cheaper here. Looks like basically nothing in SA is cheaper than the States (except housing, but that's offset by the 9-10% interest rates).


Well, let's see what folks in more expensive areas have to say, too. I'm definitely in a cheap food area. Do you know what region you'll be moving to?

cerebus

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #37 on: June 22, 2015, 07:18:06 AM »
Cerebus, it depends very much on where you're going to live in the US, but I think you're can continue as you are without a budget increase in most areas, and in some you'd find you could do it for less.

Wow that's a surprise. I always figured at least food was cheaper here. Looks like basically nothing in SA is cheaper than the States (except housing, but that's offset by the 9-10% interest rates).


Well, let's see what folks in more expensive areas have to say, too. I'm definitely in a cheap food area. Do you know what region you'll be moving to?

Nope, it all depends on getting work lined up. I'm kind of enjoying the uncertainty. I'd like to go somewhere that's more LCOL and rural but that also affects the kind of IT job market that there will be especially as I have quite a bit of room to still grow my career which means it's unlikely I'll stick in one job for more than a couple of years.

Kitsune

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #38 on: June 22, 2015, 07:27:39 AM »
I'm in Quebec, where food prices are higher than in the US (note: I'm using Canadian dollars across the board, here), so that might give some idea as to the variations available...

We're a family of 3 (2 adults and a 14-month-old child; the child, quantity-wise, eats about half of what I eat at any given meal, and eats what we eat). We currently have a budget of 600$/month of groceries (includes booze), as well as 50$ in restaurants.

Details:
-   We eat well on this budget, and could cut it down if necessary, but my husband is absolutely not ok with cutting the budget in any way where he notices the results and feels like its a deprivation. I value my marriage more than my budget, and as long as I win the arguments on a smaller house and a reasonable (single) car, the savings there are more than equal the extra 100$/month on groceries. So. Priorities. :)
-   Seriously, though. We eat well. Steak minimum once a month, fresh fish semi-regularly, fresh vegetables and fruits are abundant, lots of dairy products (I adore cheese, and my daughter is still on milk bottles, so... 2+ gallons a week...). Basically: you can absolutely eat a ludicrously luxurious diet on less than 1K/month.
-   My husband likes making cocktails (were talking homemade tonic, infused liquors, burned orange peel, would-be-15$-at-the-local-bar cocktails). On average, we calculated that a cocktail 4-5 nights per week equaled, monthly, about what we used to spend on an evening at the local bar (or 80$ out of the above-mentioned grocery budget).
-   That said: steak, scallops, fresh fruits and veggies, etc... theyre all expensive. So we control costs by having those but, on the other hand, buying them on sale, and enjoying a regular rotation of cheaper meals (vegetarian curry is a regular favorite, as is black bean tacos with mango/peach/pineapple/whatever-was-on-sale salsa, or omelettes...). I bake fresh bread from bulk-bought flour and yeast, we buy all our dried goods in huge bulk (simultaneous savings both in the cost of the bulk goods and in not having to go to the grocery store as often), and, in winter, we buy produce when its affordable and buy lots of frozen berries, which are really decently priced at Costco.
-   We JUST moved to a house in the country, and are starting a garden. Next spring, weve got plans for blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry bushes, as well as some fruit trees (I grew up in the country, so Im terribly pleased at the return of fresh blackberries by the bucketful...) I have hopes that this will lower the overall grocery bill in the future, though obviously it wont have an effect for at least a year or so.

Now, were in Quebec (and outside of Montreal). So, price comparison...
-   A gallon of milk is over 6.50$. Everywhere. Thats actually legislated.
-   A lb of cheap cheese (like, processed grocery-store brand cheap cheese) is 7$, minimum. Good cheese is much more expensive.
-   Cheap, factory-farmed chicken, on HUGE sale (once a year), MIGHT go down to 1.50/lb. Otherwise, any meat under 4$/lb is a bargain.
-   Wine and booze is sold by the province. I have never seen a bottle of wine under 8$. A bottle of vodka (like, plastic bottle, not the good stuff) is over 20$. Tequila starts around 30$, and drinkable tequila hits the 40$ mark more often than not. Drinking is MONEYS. In the plural.

forummm

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #39 on: June 22, 2015, 07:27:58 AM »
We're about $220/mo for the 2 of us. That's only counting the actual food that we buy--not energy to cook it or other non-food purchases. We eat almost no processed food except bread, pasta, and natural peanut butter (crushed nuts and salt). We eat meat every night, milk every morning, and vegetables almost every day. A pretty solid protein intake. Our area is a pretty average COL for the US.

Gyosho

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Re: Please help with our food budget by revealing yours.
« Reply #40 on: June 22, 2015, 09:30:36 AM »
As a single person I spend $50 a week ($200 a month).

In my last relationship, the two of us spent $300 a month each ($600 total) - you would think groceries would be cheaper for two than for one, but that is not the case unless both people are on board.

I plan one main delicious meal a week, from the many fine recipes that are online (Jamie Oliver, bbcgoodfood.com, etc), buy ingredients for JUST THAT MEAL, along with fruit, cereal, sandwich, and salad ingredients. This is incredibly inexpensive and cuts down on waste.

Because I live alone I always have leftovers for the freezer - I can pull previous week's leftovers out of the freezer and heat them up at a moment's notice. For families wanting freezer leftovers, you could just double the original recipe.

I go out once or twice a week with friends for lunch/dinner and do not have to worry about food going bad in my fridge.

One of the best parts of my food budget is that I shop almost exclusively at Whole Foods! When you are mainly buying produce, Whole Foods is the best! Also their staples are quite inexpensive. I love to get to the cash register and see the cashier's face when my total at checkout comes to $30. (Needless to say, this takes quite a lot of discipline).