Author Topic: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill  (Read 11675 times)

GreenSheep

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #50 on: December 09, 2019, 08:58:08 AM »
We certainly hope to grow more produce in future. I'm impressed by your setup! Husband has started experimenting with indoor herb gardening, and we've had a couple of gorgeous batches of pesto.

What's your secret for successfully growing basil inside? Or outside, for that matter! It grew like a weed in our garden in the Southwest (US), but now that we've moved to the NW, we can only get a cup or so of leaves per season, even in our greenhouse.

(For anyone in the SW who might be struggling with growing basil, ours didn't take off until a coworker advised us to pick off the flowers regularly. I'm sure there's a name for this, but I still have a lot to learn!)

OtherJen

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #51 on: December 09, 2019, 09:41:27 AM »
We certainly hope to grow more produce in future. I'm impressed by your setup! Husband has started experimenting with indoor herb gardening, and we've had a couple of gorgeous batches of pesto.

What's your secret for successfully growing basil inside? Or outside, for that matter! It grew like a weed in our garden in the Southwest (US), but now that we've moved to the NW, we can only get a cup or so of leaves per season, even in our greenhouse.

(For anyone in the SW who might be struggling with growing basil, ours didn't take off until a coworker advised us to pick off the flowers regularly. I'm sure there's a name for this, but I still have a lot to learn!)

He actually set up a small hydroponic system in the house (based on a plastic storage tub). The basil grew like weeds and was bright green and flavorful. He grew a few plants in pots outside for comparison and the hydroponic plants were far superior.

That was his pet project, so I'll see if I can get some info from him. His biggest issue was making sure that the growth solution maintained an appropriate pH balance.

OtherJen

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #52 on: December 09, 2019, 09:44:10 AM »
Thanks for the awesome question!

There are definitely feed costs...but some can definitely be mitigated.

For instance: Our rabbits eat rabbits pellets but we also offset their diet with hay, weeds from the garden, kitchen produce scraps.  I also sell rabbits and especially in the spring/early summer sell a couple hundred worth of dollars of rabbits per year which easily pay for our feed for the rest of the year...netting a small profit and giving us free rabbit meat.  With the laying hens we just about break even for the roughly 4-5 dozen eggs we eat per week by selling a couple dozen eggs at work.   Similarly with goats, there is a ready market for young kids that last year made us just shy of $2000 after covering feed costs.    We can further reduce feed costs by sprouting barley fodder for all of livestock and feeding our chickens red wriggler worms from our composting system.   The biggest costs are the initial infrastructure costs.

Kudos to you for doing what you can in the burbs.  I have heard of people bending the rules in the burbs and getting away with raising quail and meat rabbits very successfully.

Thanks! I do think I've seen a couple of small meat rabbit setups in our neighborhood. We have pet rabbits so I'm not sure I could handle that right now (I'm not offended at all by the idea of rabbits by food, but I think we would have a hard time with it). If we had more space, birds would be great. And I would love a couple of goats.

PoutineLover

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #53 on: December 09, 2019, 09:52:49 AM »
We spend about $400/month on groceries for two adults, one who has a very large appetite. This includes lots of fresh veggies, dairy, meat, baking supplies, and very little processed food. It doesn't include eating out (another 200/month) or alcohol (140/month, including gifts of alcohol) (we'd also like to decrease this).

We probably could spend less if we tried, but we don't have a lot of space to store bulk purchases and we walk to do our groceries so there's only so much we can carry. We try to buy things on sale and in season, but living in a cold place means many vegetables get more expensive in the winter. We also host big family dinners a couple times a year which bumps the average up a bit, especially for the alcohol.

In total, it works out to $370 each per month for everything we eat and drink, in and out of the home. Getting it down to 300 would be doable with better planning and saying no to some impulses, but a bigger reduction would require changing some habits significantly. I would love to be able to grow food and have room for a chest freezer and a real pantry space. That would likely make a big difference, but in my current apartment it's just not possible.

Edit to address some stuff from the OP after rereading it:
I don't buy organic, GMO free or any other bullshit marketing. I wash my fruits and veggies, and those products are geared to people who don't understand what those terms even mean. Luckily I don't have any allergies or food intolerances. I try to buy local when I can, but if it's a lot more expensive I won't pay extra. I do try to avoid extra packaging and I have my own reusable produce bags and shopping bags.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2019, 11:48:04 AM by PoutineLover »

Malcat

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #54 on: December 09, 2019, 11:38:59 AM »
Just made vegetarian pot pie because I had a ton of carrots and celery that were getting old.

Fried up onions and garlic, threw in a few pounds of chopped carrot and celery, a bit of flour, a splash of wine, a few cans of white beans, a bunch of thyme, and some broth, reduced it to a delicious mush. Put it in a casserole dish, made a "crust" just for the top from flour and butter.

The entire 8 servings can't have cost more than a handful of dollars to make, as all of the ingredients were dirt cheap except for the butter, of which I used about $1 worth.

Just tried it, it's fantastic.
God I love thyme and red wine together. It's aromatic perfection.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #55 on: December 09, 2019, 12:14:42 PM »
I have similar questions as OP. My wife and I are very budget conscious, shop at Aldi, eat limited meat, etc.  We also meal prep on Sundays and generally don't have too many leftovers.  All that said, our "grocery" bill averages to about $700 per month.

Now, we include all our household items here as well.  Paper towels, cleaning supplies, kid's diapers, etc. I simply don't have the time or the energy to go through receipts and separate all this crap.

Do you guys only include food in your budget? And if so, what's your "household expenses" budget?

Malcat

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #56 on: December 09, 2019, 12:26:40 PM »
I have similar questions as OP. My wife and I are very budget conscious, shop at Aldi, eat limited meat, etc.  We also meal prep on Sundays and generally don't have too many leftovers.  All that said, our "grocery" bill averages to about $700 per month.

Now, we include all our household items here as well.  Paper towels, cleaning supplies, kid's diapers, etc. I simply don't have the time or the energy to go through receipts and separate all this crap.

Do you guys only include food in your budget? And if so, what's your "household expenses" budget?

Mine is only food, I buy household supplies at Costco.
-No kids, so no diapers.
-I use reusable bamboo towels instead of paper towels.
-I bought large size laundry detergent, dish soap, and all purpose cleaner at Costco a few years ago and I'm just starting to run low. I also clean a lot with vinegar.

mm1970

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #57 on: December 09, 2019, 12:36:35 PM »
My family spends a lot on food. i have read the how to kill your $1k grocery bill post (here for a refresher https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/29/killing-your-1000-grocery-bill/) and several other posts about it here in the forums. i am having a hard time reconciling how healthy (or unhealthy) food options are when so little money is being spent. Not that quality food has to be expensive but quality has a price. Food is medicine, and i want to be healthy now, ensuring a long and happy life not just retirement.

I guess my question is how do folks with small grocery budgets feel about the food they eat?  Do foods with labels saying organic, grass fed, pasture raised appear on the foods you buy? Are some foods eliminated from your diets like wheat, white potatoes, white rice, pasta, industrial and processed meats and dairy? Are you following a specific diet like Keto, Mediterranean, Low Carb, Gluten Free, Vegetarian or Vegan, how does that affect your grocery bill?
 
Personally we buy organic grass fed meats, free range organic eggs, grass fed milk, lots of salads, and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds and fruit. i tend toward the lower carb  and gluten free diets. i think our average monthly grocery bill is nearly $900 (from personal capital) for a family of 4 - 2 adults and two small kids. 

i am not trying to kick the hornets nest with this post, just wondering how others think about food

well - this is awkward.......

When I first joined the forum, I got a lot of grief for my finances in general and food budget in particular. I made some changes saved a good percentage of the food budget.....and quickly gained about 5 pounds in one month. I did a complain thread and was essentially poopooed!

I secretly went back to my usual eating/budget, and I never fessed up to that. :|     I have not lost those 5 pounds, but I haven't gained any more either.

Being a busy professional who is a middle-aged woman with a stable weight that I don't have to do anything about is a really important, quality of life issue for me. I don't currently have time or money for any real exercise routine - which is super bad, I know, but I am super busy and don't have any extra money floating around either! I'll have some down time (hopefully!) at year's end and I can try to figure out something better/exercise routine, plan to lose those 5 pounds, etc.

But! I'm never giving up my organic produce again!
Boy can I relate to so much of this!  I remember when I first started getting frugal, in 2001.  I realized that 2 adults were spending $460/month on groceries, and $400/month eating out, and we were fat.

I spent time and energy losing weight and learning to cook and saving money.  It was basically like having a part time job - it's a lot of mental load.  Fast forward 18 years and two kids...when I went to lose baby weight, both times, I basically had to throw the budget out the window.  There was NO WAY I could work a full time job, take care of babies/kids, count calories, AND keep my budget ultra low.

While I still keep an "eye" on the budget, we spend about $165/week on food ($715/month).  I could totally decrease that if I really wanted to, but why?  I have managed to maintain a stable, healthy weight (except maybe an extra 5 lbs right now). I am middle aged.  I have limitations in my life.  My husband could stand to lose about 10, but he's an adult, and I'm not his mother, and I cannot take on that mental load either.

We don't eat much meat - the bulk of our budget goes to produce.  I have two CSA/produce delivery services each week.  It's important to me.  It's local, mostly organic.  I can afford to support local farmers and get great produce.  It also does not come wrapped in plastic, so win/win!

Even though my kids get free lunch at school, it's a struggle to get the budget any lower.  I eat gluten free (not celiac, but 2 years ago I started having terrible digestive reactions to gluten/ wheat.  Horrible.  Ugh.  Maybe it's the glyphosate, but whatever.)   I don't eat paleo but I also don't each many carbs each day, prioritizing produce, some fat, some protein.

I do like occasional (2x a month) wild salmon, plenty of healthy nuts, real, actual olive oil - these things are not cheap.  I'm okay with that.

Also: my budget is food only.  No paper products (I don't track those), no alcohol, no dog food.  Just food.

Remember, it's not just WHAT you eat (more meat/ more produce/ organic/ local), it's HOW MUCH you eat (I have two boys, and I exercise an hour a day), it's HOW YOU SHOP (to really save money, start with a price book and you may very well have to look at flyers and shop at multiple stores, which takes time), and WHERE YOU LIVE.  This is huge, depending on if you have multiple stores near you or not, or if you live in an expensive city/ Hawaii/ Canada, if you have access to cheaper or Mexican or Asian grocery stores, etc.

@Malkynn  I will have to try a version of that pot pie with a gluten free topping, or maybe a cornmeal topping.  It sounds delish.

Zikoris

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #58 on: December 09, 2019, 12:38:54 PM »
I have similar questions as OP. My wife and I are very budget conscious, shop at Aldi, eat limited meat, etc.  We also meal prep on Sundays and generally don't have too many leftovers.  All that said, our "grocery" bill averages to about $700 per month.

Now, we include all our household items here as well.  Paper towels, cleaning supplies, kid's diapers, etc. I simply don't have the time or the energy to go through receipts and separate all this crap.

Do you guys only include food in your budget? And if so, what's your "household expenses" budget?

Our $250/month includes most household stuff like cleaning supplies, etc. It doesn't include toiletries (not that we buy a ton of shampoo anyways), or cat stuff (we bulk order special food and litter).

Given how much you spend, you really should try to split out receipts at least for a little while to get a handle on things. Make a chart and categorize everything you buy for a month, and you might uncover some surprises.

Malcat

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #59 on: December 09, 2019, 01:13:53 PM »
Just to weigh in on the topic of weight loss, sorry for the pun, bit I wanted to share my perspective just as a counter point so it doesn't sound like cutting food costs is a always a risk for weight gain.

I graduated obese and lost the first half of the weight eating an extremely expensive diet of small portions of meat, usually fish, and huge portions of fresh produce.

Our food alone was $800-1000/mo. We're in Canada, and were living in a very high end neighbourhood and my attitude was "if I'm losing the weight, then fuck the cost".

Then once I got down to a healthy BMI, I started paying attention, plus we moved to a cheaper neighbourhood with a discount grocer. We switched to mostly vegetarian, and started cooking a lot from Budget Bytes.

I cut the cost down to a fourth and lost another 20lbs, down to the thinnest I've ever been in my life. Last year I wore a dress to a gala that I bought when I was 15. I was so thin that I struggled to find clothes in stores that were even small enough for me. I maintained that thin weight on my low-cost diet for a few years.

I've since gained back those 20lbs in the past 6 months due to a medication that typically makes people gain 40-60, but now that I'm off it, I'm actively trying to eat more to maintain this weight because I can fit cheaper clothes again, and my face looks better with some fat. I was too thin, I live in Canada, I was freezing.

I got so thin because I found the dishes so rich, flavourful, and filling that I really didn't need to eat much to be satisfied. My iron levels stabilized for the first time in my life too, so there was no question about the health benefits.

I get my protein from eggs and legumes, and my veggies are carrots, celery, frozen spinach and canned tomatoes more often now as opposed to always being red peppers, avocados, and fresh tomatoes with every meal the way it was before.

Apparently, I find legumes and eggs much more filling than meat, so my overall calorie intake dropped by about 200 calories a day, which amounts to a loss of close to 2lbs a month, hence how I lost an additional 20lbs that year.
DH also lost 20 lbs, and he wasn't overweight.

I also started bulk cooking just a few recipes a week instead of cooking every night. Fresh produce chopped salads didn't keep well, so I was prepping every day twice a day before. Now I cook for the entire week in about 3 hours and it's done.

Casseroles, chili, curries, soups, etc, they all get better in the fridge/freezer and when reheated. So it's infinitely less mental load than it used to be. I have my recipes organized on Paprika, so it's super easy.

I also have never purposely shopped sales, never opened a flyer, and never really price shopped except to note that the cheapest grocer has really really cheap yogurt, and we go through a ton of yogurt. Also, when we were eating primarily raw produce, it often didn't last all week, so we had to shop twice. Now it's once and done.

Overall for us, low grocery costs have increased our health, lowered our weight, and made shopping and cooking so much less complicated. So depending on where you are starting and what changes you make, it doesn't have to compromise anything.

Cassie

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #60 on: December 09, 2019, 02:21:07 PM »
Ours varies according to how much we entertain. Our 300-400/month includes paper products, cleaning supplies, wine and eating meat daily. We do a big shop once a month at Winco and then buy milk, fruit, etc as needed.  This is for 2 people.

John Galt incarnate!

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #61 on: December 09, 2019, 02:52:29 PM »

My family spends a lot on food. i have read the how to kill your $1k grocery bill post (here for a refresher https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/29/killing-your-1000-grocery-bill/) and several other posts about it here in the forums..

i am not trying to kick the hornets nest with this post, just wondering how others think about food


OP, the title of your post caught my eye because  I've been curious as to how low a food budget could be for 1 adult for 1 month.

I wanted to know if I could eat 3 meals per day for <$1 per day w/o feeling hungry.

I was by myself for about 6 weeks so I had the opportunity to find out.

Over a period of 30 consecutive days I ate homemade lentil soup, bean soup, pea soup w/carrots, fried potatoes w/fried onions, and oat meal. I drank nothing but water. Though I never felt hungry I did tire of my low-cost diet's sameness. I don't know if it met all the requirements  of a healthful diet.

lentils

peas

beans

onions

potatoes

oatmeal

carrots

raisins

sugar

 salt

 cinnamon

canola oil

water

^

The total cost of these ingredients was <$30.


« Last Edit: December 09, 2019, 03:15:15 PM by John Galt incarnate! »

joe189man

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #62 on: December 09, 2019, 03:24:32 PM »
Thanks for all of the replies, its interesting to see where everyone is at on grocery spending and diet limitations. One thing if anyone chimes in again is note if you are FIRE or not working, as i think this may play a role in smaller grocery bills, ie more time = more time to value shop and cook from scratch. My wife and i both work a lot so convenience is king along with trying to eat healthy per the science and our beliefs.

Also if your grocery/household items spending is quite low (some of you are quite impressive with how little you spend) , what's your restaurant bill per month? are you off setting groceries with restaurants?

Malcat

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #63 on: December 09, 2019, 04:20:39 PM »
Thanks for all of the replies, its interesting to see where everyone is at on grocery spending and diet limitations. One thing if anyone chimes in again is note if you are FIRE or not working, as i think this may play a role in smaller grocery bills, ie more time = more time to value shop and cook from scratch. My wife and i both work a lot so convenience is king along with trying to eat healthy per the science and our beliefs.

Also if your grocery/household items spending is quite low (some of you are quite impressive with how little you spend) , what's your restaurant bill per month? are you off setting groceries with restaurants?

We very rarely eat out at restaurants, and as I already indicated, our time spent on shopping and food prep is substantially less than it used to be. Although I do spend about 10-20 minutes a week on meal planning.

Convenience is king for us as well, which is why batch cooking is so beneficial.

Zikoris

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #64 on: December 09, 2019, 04:32:00 PM »
Thanks for all of the replies, its interesting to see where everyone is at on grocery spending and diet limitations. One thing if anyone chimes in again is note if you are FIRE or not working, as i think this may play a role in smaller grocery bills, ie more time = more time to value shop and cook from scratch. My wife and i both work a lot so convenience is king along with trying to eat healthy per the science and our beliefs.

Also if your grocery/household items spending is quite low (some of you are quite impressive with how little you spend) , what's your restaurant bill per month? are you off setting groceries with restaurants?

We both work full time, and typically spend $0 on restaurants in a month since we don't like not-home-cooked food. So there's one data point against your theory.

Malcat

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #65 on: December 09, 2019, 05:03:47 PM »
Thanks for all of the replies, its interesting to see where everyone is at on grocery spending and diet limitations. One thing if anyone chimes in again is note if you are FIRE or not working, as i think this may play a role in smaller grocery bills, ie more time = more time to value shop and cook from scratch. My wife and i both work a lot so convenience is king along with trying to eat healthy per the science and our beliefs.

Also if your grocery/household items spending is quite low (some of you are quite impressive with how little you spend) , what's your restaurant bill per month? are you off setting groceries with restaurants?

We both work full time, and typically spend $0 on restaurants in a month since we don't like not-home-cooked food. So there's one data point against your theory.

Same, the more I cook, the more intolerant I become of paying for restaurant food.

I'll basically only happily pay for specific ethnic foods that I'm not either skilled at, equipped for, or can't easily get the ingredients for: sushi, hunan Chinese, Congolese wood smoked BBQ, Jamaican roti, Mexican recipes like Tamales or anything with mole sauce, which is labour intensive.

If it's not interesting and outside of my skill or equipment set, then why bother?

Oh, and cheap. Thankfully, what I like is cheap.

GreenSheep

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #66 on: December 09, 2019, 05:15:44 PM »
Thanks for all of the replies, its interesting to see where everyone is at on grocery spending and diet limitations. One thing if anyone chimes in again is note if you are FIRE or not working, as i think this may play a role in smaller grocery bills, ie more time = more time to value shop and cook from scratch. My wife and i both work a lot so convenience is king along with trying to eat healthy per the science and our beliefs.

Also if your grocery/household items spending is quite low (some of you are quite impressive with how little you spend) , what's your restaurant bill per month? are you off setting groceries with restaurants?

I FIRED a month ago, and my husband continues to work, but from home. So he can do some from-scratch things like simmering marinara sauce on the stove all afternoon, which he did today. I don't look for sales prior to going shopping, and I pay zero attention to coupons because they're generally for processed food anyway, which I don't buy. I do spend a fair amount of time on super-from-scratch cooking (made soy milk from soy beans this morning) and investigating good online sources of certain things we eat a lot of (oats, for example) or higher-end stuff that seems worth it to us (certain varieties of dates, for example).

We eat out maybe once or twice a month. I would prefer to nix eating out altogether (well, maybe 90%), as I hate the cost and am rarely impressed by the food. (Not to say that I think I'm such a great cook, but I'm not used to all that oil and salt anymore, and it tastes bad to me.) I go about once a month because my husband enjoys it, and inevitably every month there's a friend or family or someone else who wants to meet up and eating out is the easy way to make that happen.

Malcat

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #67 on: December 09, 2019, 05:23:49 PM »
Thanks for all of the replies, its interesting to see where everyone is at on grocery spending and diet limitations. One thing if anyone chimes in again is note if you are FIRE or not working, as i think this may play a role in smaller grocery bills, ie more time = more time to value shop and cook from scratch. My wife and i both work a lot so convenience is king along with trying to eat healthy per the science and our beliefs.

Also if your grocery/household items spending is quite low (some of you are quite impressive with how little you spend) , what's your restaurant bill per month? are you off setting groceries with restaurants?

I FIRED a month ago, and my husband continues to work, but from home. So he can do some from-scratch things like simmering marinara sauce on the stove all afternoon, which he did today. I don't look for sales prior to going shopping, and I pay zero attention to coupons because they're generally for processed food anyway, which I don't buy. I do spend a fair amount of time on super-from-scratch cooking (made soy milk from soy beans this morning) and investigating good online sources of certain things we eat a lot of (oats, for example) or higher-end stuff that seems worth it to us (certain varieties of dates, for example).

We eat out maybe once or twice a month. I would prefer to nix eating out altogether (well, maybe 90%), as I hate the cost and am rarely impressed by the food. (Not to say that I think I'm such a great cook, but I'm not used to all that oil and salt anymore, and it tastes bad to me.) I go about once a month because my husband enjoys it, and inevitably every month there's a friend or family or someone else who wants to meet up and eating out is the easy way to make that happen.

100% agree on the excessive salt in most restaurant food.
Salt is such a lazy cop out for flavour. Might as well be fast food.

Cranky

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #68 on: December 09, 2019, 05:34:51 PM »
We rarely eat out unless we’re travelling, which we are this week, and I’m already kind of tired of restaurant food. It’s too much, it’s too heavy, and my stomach is put out about it. ;-)

We buy random things at Aldi like candles and underwear and face cream, and it easy to separate that out because they have a line that tells you how much you spent on taxable/nontaxable stuff.

My cleaning stuff is pretty basic - dishsoap and vinegar and bleach. I buy cat food and laundry detergent from amazon.

OtherJen

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #69 on: December 09, 2019, 05:53:31 PM »
Husband and I both work, although I work remotely so it's easy to take a break and start dinner. We eat at a restaurant maybe once a month, although husband also grabs lunch with coworkers a couple times per month.

I really need to track spending because recent grocery bills suggest that I've gotten the spending down since the last time I tracked closely. I don't think I spent more than $60 last week at the produce market and Aldi. I'll need to track several months because I tend to wait on things like Costco or pet supply trips and stock up all at once.

Zikoris

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #70 on: December 09, 2019, 05:57:51 PM »
Thanks for all of the replies, its interesting to see where everyone is at on grocery spending and diet limitations. One thing if anyone chimes in again is note if you are FIRE or not working, as i think this may play a role in smaller grocery bills, ie more time = more time to value shop and cook from scratch. My wife and i both work a lot so convenience is king along with trying to eat healthy per the science and our beliefs.

Also if your grocery/household items spending is quite low (some of you are quite impressive with how little you spend) , what's your restaurant bill per month? are you off setting groceries with restaurants?

We both work full time, and typically spend $0 on restaurants in a month since we don't like not-home-cooked food. So there's one data point against your theory.

Same, the more I cook, the more intolerant I become of paying for restaurant food.

I'll basically only happily pay for specific ethnic foods that I'm not either skilled at, equipped for, or can't easily get the ingredients for: sushi, hunan Chinese, Congolese wood smoked BBQ, Jamaican roti, Mexican recipes like Tamales or anything with mole sauce, which is labour intensive.

If it's not interesting and outside of my skill or equipment set, then why bother?

Oh, and cheap. Thankfully, what I like is cheap.

Yeah - in my experience, it seems to me that the people who want to eat all home cooked food, buy in bulk, cook/bake from scratch, etc are for the most part just going to do it regardless. And the people who spend a lot and not cook at home, etc seem to continue spending a lot and not cooking at home, etc regardless. It's good to keep in mind that whatever reason we come up with for why we don't/can't do something, there's someone out there somewhere in the same circumstance just doing the thing anyways.

PoutineLover

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #71 on: December 09, 2019, 06:07:47 PM »
I'm not FIREd and I have activities almost every day but I still make an effort to plan meals and cook at home. The times I go to a restaurant it's usually because we are meeting up with friends, or I have a busy day with no convenient way to bring all my own food. I pretty much always pack lunch for work and eat breakfast at home and don't buy coffee unless it's a social thing. Unfortunately I don't have a great place for entertaining on a regular basis so it's hard to suggest that instead of a restaurant or bar. However I do save a lot on rent so overall the tradeoff is worth it. Once I have a bigger place with more food storage space and a garden I think I'll be able to optimize even more. I used to stock up a lot when I saw good sales on stuff I'd buy anyway but now I have nowhere to put it.

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #72 on: December 09, 2019, 06:47:17 PM »
Yeah - in my experience, it seems to me that the people who want to eat all home cooked food, buy in bulk, cook/bake from scratch, etc are for the most part just going to do it regardless. And the people who spend a lot and not cook at home, etc seem to continue spending a lot and not cooking at home, etc regardless. It's good to keep in mind that whatever reason we come up with for why we don't/can't do something, there's someone out there somewhere in the same circumstance just doing the thing anyways.

This is so true. I don't do anything differently, food-wise, now that I'm FIRED versus when I was working. And I have relatives who have been retired for years and still eat 95% of their meals outside the home. I don't know why they even bother to have a kitchen. Your comment is a good reminder to me to re-evaluate the excuses I may be making for not doing other things that I say I want to do!

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #73 on: December 09, 2019, 07:52:21 PM »
Yeah - in my experience, it seems to me that the people who want to eat all home cooked food, buy in bulk, cook/bake from scratch, etc are for the most part just going to do it regardless. And the people who spend a lot and not cook at home, etc seem to continue spending a lot and not cooking at home, etc regardless. It's good to keep in mind that whatever reason we come up with for why we don't/can't do something, there's someone out there somewhere in the same circumstance just doing the thing anyways.

This is so true. I don't do anything differently, food-wise, now that I'm FIRED versus when I was working. And I have relatives who have been retired for years and still eat 95% of their meals outside the home. I don't know why they even bother to have a kitchen. Your comment is a good reminder to me to re-evaluate the excuses I may be making for not doing other things that I say I want to do!

Condos are now being built without ovens because people who buy small apartments don't cook, so why waste the space?

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #74 on: December 10, 2019, 06:49:05 AM »
I have similar questions as OP. My wife and I are very budget conscious, shop at Aldi, eat limited meat, etc.  We also meal prep on Sundays and generally don't have too many leftovers.  All that said, our "grocery" bill averages to about $700 per month.

Now, we include all our household items here as well.  Paper towels, cleaning supplies, kid's diapers, etc. I simply don't have the time or the energy to go through receipts and separate all this crap.

Do you guys only include food in your budget? And if so, what's your "household expenses" budget?

this is a good point! I also bundle this in - toothpaste, shampoo, lotions, etc. plus the pet food too.

Another factor is COL and taxes - on the non food items you and I have listed, we're paying 10% sales tax.

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #75 on: December 10, 2019, 07:51:04 AM »
Yeah - in my experience, it seems to me that the people who want to eat all home cooked food, buy in bulk, cook/bake from scratch, etc are for the most part just going to do it regardless. And the people who spend a lot and not cook at home, etc seem to continue spending a lot and not cooking at home, etc regardless. It's good to keep in mind that whatever reason we come up with for why we don't/can't do something, there's someone out there somewhere in the same circumstance just doing the thing anyways.

This rings true to me.  While I do eat out a lot (for social purposes mostly), I hate *having* to go somewhere to get food, and really prefer eating at home when I can.

I'll chime in as a single person with a ridiculous amount of food spending.  When I first joined MMM, I was spending over $1100 on food per month (groceries and dining out).  I'm now down to $750 per month (part of that was dropping a BF who wasn't pulling his weight when we ate together, and part was being just slightly more price-conscious).

The split between groceries and dining out was about even last year, $375 on groceries, $375 dining out.  I do drink, so alcohol is included in those totals.  HBA items that I buy at the grocery store or Target are included (cleaning supplies, toilet paper, toothpaste), but not pet food or larger household-specific items like air filters.

I don't buy organic, but I have been buying almost all of my meat from local farmers, and most of my spring/summer veggies from a CSA (and fancy-pants beans from Rancho Gordo).  I do plan to change this next year to see if I can get my food costs lower - I'll go back to conventional grocery store produce and meats when I've used up what's in my freezer/pantry now.

Also, my state taxes EVERYTHING including all groceries.  So my food totals are 9% sales tax.

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #76 on: December 10, 2019, 08:51:56 AM »
Chiming in as a high grocery spender, here.

Our grocery bill including household items, but not alcohol or pet supplies (whole different expensive category, yikes!) averages about 600$/month for two adults, one of whom (me) only eats 2 meals per day.

It is astonishing, but true.   Part of the cost is due to the fact that I have a ton of food restrictions. My husband has some as well, but polar opposite to mine. :sigh:  I can't rely as much on cheap carbs for health reasons (though I am chronically underweight and wish to hell I could eat more b/c it would make gaining weight so much easier); whereas, he tends to love carbs, gravitates straight to them, and then gains weight.  So we try to keep them limited. 

We end up spending a ton of money on lean meat (no fatty, cheaper cuts) and nuts...so many nuts.  During some years, we have venison and other game meat, which cuts down a bit on grocery bills.  I never used to eat much red meat (maybe once per month), but recently am on a medication that causes poor B12 absorption and find myself absolutely craving red meat, which is super annoying for ethical reasons on top of being expensive. Ugh.

Also, I find many bulk-sold nuts to be rancid, so we often buy prepackaged, refrigerated nuts from our local health food store (big $).  Lots of fresh produce, of course, and my husband is obsessed with fruit and buys tons of it, in season or out (more $).

I've found that the effort/changes required to cut our grocery bill dramatically usually isn't worth it to us.  I worked at it pretty hard for about 2 years.  The biggest change we made was first finding discounted alcohol sources, which cut about 50$ per month. Then later I gave up drinking (I was technically a 'heavy' drinker at 2 glasses of wine/day, and even at a discount it added up) and my husband has reduced his consumption somewhat as well. So booze bill came way down.

But in terms of groceries, the main things that run/ran it up besides the lean meat and nuts were expensive dark chocolate (which we dramatically reduced), tons of salmon (which we slightly reduced), and a reliance on a small number of consistently bought prepackaged goods.  I did learn to shop meat sales, so we cut our bill somewhat there.

I also found a list on some fitness training site that broke down produce by nutrient density per dollar cost, and I noted that a fair number of our staples (e.g., dried cranberries) fell low on that list.  I made an effort to just start eating more produce that was high on the list... we cut down some of our staples (berries, salmon, olives, etc) and increased e.g., carrots, broccoli, apples, tuna that had equal or more nutrient density per dollar.

We already make most dinners from scratch, and we have pretty set meal rotations.  So although we were able to reduce our bill, it's never going to be super frugal unless I suddenly in middle age develop a love for cooking/baking and focusing tons of attention on meal planning.  This is not super likely, though I do dabble every year during the brief window of autumn when I feel a flicker of interest in e.g., stew making, hoping someday the 'cooking bug' will truly bite me.  But at this point, we've mostly hit the low-hanging stuff.   There's a few things I could improve that could shave another 20-30$/month off, but when you combine our complicated food needs with my aversion to spending time in the kitchen, I feel ok with $600/month, honestly.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2019, 08:54:53 AM by wenchsenior »

mm1970

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #77 on: December 10, 2019, 11:28:24 AM »
Thanks for all of the replies, its interesting to see where everyone is at on grocery spending and diet limitations. One thing if anyone chimes in again is note if you are FIRE or not working, as i think this may play a role in smaller grocery bills, ie more time = more time to value shop and cook from scratch. My wife and i both work a lot so convenience is king along with trying to eat healthy per the science and our beliefs.

Also if your grocery/household items spending is quite low (some of you are quite impressive with how little you spend) , what's your restaurant bill per month? are you off setting groceries with restaurants?
Eh it's really going to depend. Some married or single people work full time and "don't have time to cook" because they spend two hours at the gym every night or don't have a stocked kitchen or are taking night classes, or are just kinda tired and lazy. Learning to cook and meal plan takes work. I remember a friend who didn't have time to do laundry or cook because she was always out with friends.

Some people don't have time to cook because they are working not 40 hours, but working 50-60 on top of a two hour commute. Time away from the house matters, it really does.

We cook from scratch. We both work full time. And we have two kids at two different schools. Kids are great. Eating out with them sucks like nobody's business, so you learn to cook at home fast if you know what's good for you.

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #78 on: December 10, 2019, 07:19:37 PM »

MicroRN

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #79 on: December 10, 2019, 07:48:19 PM »
Thanks for all of the replies, its interesting to see where everyone is at on grocery spending and diet limitations. One thing if anyone chimes in again is note if you are FIRE or not working, as i think this may play a role in smaller grocery bills, ie more time = more time to value shop and cook from scratch. My wife and i both work a lot so convenience is king along with trying to eat healthy per the science and our beliefs.

Also if your grocery/household items spending is quite low (some of you are quite impressive with how little you spend) , what's your restaurant bill per month? are you off setting groceries with restaurants?

I feel like you're asking a question about time, when it's really about priorities. I don't have time.  My husband is currently deployed, I'm working full time with 2+ hours a day spent commuting, I've got 2 kids, dogs, cats, chickens, horses, and I have to handle all the housework & maintenance for a 10 acre hobby farm.  I carefully weigh how much each task matters, because I can't physically do everything that I feel I should.   

I still cook from scratch, because I specifically make it a top priority.  And really, I enjoy cooking.  It's relaxing and it's a creative outlet.  I don't spend a bunch of time planning and shopping, I just know the kinds of things we eat and pick them up when we run low.  There are plenty of other things I choose not to prioritize, like after school activities or folding laundry.  Or matching socks.  Or vacuuming more than once a week.

Other people have other top priorities - maybe they'd rather go do activities, or just spend time relaxing together, or go to the gym, or vacuum daily.  You need to objectively look at your schedule and budget, decide what matters the most to you, and then go with it.  If it's really important to cut your grocery bill, then you have to buckle down and make the time.  If you'd rather have a higher grocery bill but more time & emotional energy to do other things, that's ok too. 

wellactually

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #80 on: December 11, 2019, 08:11:13 AM »
You seem to not believe that this is possible. Several of us have described how it is possible for us. You come across as very skeptical that we are actually eating healthy food or actually have limits on our time comparable to you.

  • Both work full time and have other regular volunteer responsibilities.
  • Spend $430 on all grocery store purchases (we even take our dollar shave club subscription out of this, but save money on it by sharing the same razor base!).
  • We have $80 for date nights, usually eat dinner out once a month and then get take-out 1-2 times a month.
  • We each have $80 in cash for free spending. I usually grab lunch out with a coworker or friend 2 times a month with this. Spouse spends his on golf mostly because his employer has tons of free, healthy snacks in the office.
  • Our commutes are 20 min. We have no pets and are expecting our first child. We don't drink much, spouse gets maybe one six pack a month.

I know the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours thing is kind of debunked, but I do feel like the longer I go at cooking nutritious meals, the easier it gets to do so affordably and efficiently. I anticipate our bill going up with diaper/wipe costs next year and also the survival mode adjustments.


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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #81 on: December 11, 2019, 09:06:48 AM »
(we even take our dollar shave club subscription out of this, but save money on it by sharing the same razor base!)

So you know, DSC is just selling you Dorco Pace blades and handles at a markup. All of their Pace blades are compatible with all their other Pace handles, excuse the Comfort Thin II. You can get 16 cartridges for around $20.

Cassie

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #82 on: December 11, 2019, 09:29:04 AM »
Unlike many here we love eating out but it’s expensive and unhealthy so only go out once or twice a week. I have never enjoyed cooking but I do it.

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #83 on: December 11, 2019, 09:55:24 AM »
@Daley - thanks for the tip! Unfortunately it looks like you can only buy on amazon which we really try to avoid. We also only get one set of four cartridges every other month. So it's currently a $42/year cost for us.

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #84 on: December 11, 2019, 10:31:17 AM »
Unlike many here we love eating out but it’s expensive and unhealthy so only go out once or twice a week. I have never enjoyed cooking but I do it.

I enjoy eating food MUCH more than cooking it.

My best friend wishes that everything the body needs from food could be simply  met by  taking one pill every day.

joe189man

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #85 on: December 11, 2019, 10:38:40 AM »
Thanks for all of the replies, its interesting to see where everyone is at on grocery spending and diet limitations. One thing if anyone chimes in again is note if you are FIRE or not working, as i think this may play a role in smaller grocery bills, ie more time = more time to value shop and cook from scratch. My wife and i both work a lot so convenience is king along with trying to eat healthy per the science and our beliefs.

Also if your grocery/household items spending is quite low (some of you are quite impressive with how little you spend) , what's your restaurant bill per month? are you off setting groceries with restaurants?

I feel like you're asking a question about time, when it's really about priorities. I don't have time.  My husband is currently deployed, I'm working full time with 2+ hours a day spent commuting, I've got 2 kids, dogs, cats, chickens, horses, and I have to handle all the housework & maintenance for a 10 acre hobby farm.  I carefully weigh how much each task matters, because I can't physically do everything that I feel I should.   

I still cook from scratch, because I specifically make it a top priority.  And really, I enjoy cooking.  It's relaxing and it's a creative outlet.  I don't spend a bunch of time planning and shopping, I just know the kinds of things we eat and pick them up when we run low.  There are plenty of other things I choose not to prioritize, like after school activities or folding laundry.  Or matching socks.  Or vacuuming more than once a week.

Other people have other top priorities - maybe they'd rather go do activities, or just spend time relaxing together, or go to the gym, or vacuum daily.  You need to objectively look at your schedule and budget, decide what matters the most to you, and then go with it.  If it's really important to cut your grocery bill, then you have to buckle down and make the time.  If you'd rather have a higher grocery bill but more time & emotional energy to do other things, that's ok too.

I agree with the above,
i think my goal with the post was to see how folks are eating and cooking with whatever their grocery budget is. It appears lower grocery budgets coincide with it being a priority (and meal planning and cooking at home from scratch). Other things are higher priorities at the moment in our household and it shows in our food/restaurant budgets, and thats ok with me for the current circumstances. 

joe189man

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #86 on: December 11, 2019, 11:02:22 AM »
You seem to not believe that this is possible. Several of us have described how it is possible for us. You come across as very skeptical that we are actually eating healthy food or actually have limits on our time comparable to you.

  • Both work full time and have other regular volunteer responsibilities.
  • Spend $430 on all grocery store purchases (we even take our dollar shave club subscription out of this, but save money on it by sharing the same razor base!).
  • We have $80 for date nights, usually eat dinner out once a month and then get take-out 1-2 times a month.
  • We each have $80 in cash for free spending. I usually grab lunch out with a coworker or friend 2 times a month with this. Spouse spends his on golf mostly because his employer has tons of free, healthy snacks in the office.
  • Our commutes are 20 min. We have no pets and are expecting our first child. We don't drink much, spouse gets maybe one six pack a month.

I know the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours thing is kind of debunked, but I do feel like the longer I go at cooking nutritious meals, the easier it gets to do so affordably and efficiently. I anticipate our bill going up with diaper/wipe costs next year and also the survival mode adjustments.

i originally didn't believe it was possible (at least in our circumstances and with our priorities) but have been proven wrong. 

kudos to everyone who proved me wrong,

Our priorities are surviving a 2 & 4 year old, getting them to eat anything and not throw away half of what we make for them, not getting fat, clean the house sometime, work extra when work requires, and spend time together as a family. We have about 1.5 hours together each night to cook, eat, play and take a bath before the 2 y/o starts stories before bed. Then the 4 y/o starts bed time routine 30-1 hr later.  we arent as busy as MicroRN but every minute is precious and convenience in the form of spending extra on food is the trade off and that's ok with us for right now

Malcat

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #87 on: December 11, 2019, 11:20:09 AM »
Thanks for all of the replies, its interesting to see where everyone is at on grocery spending and diet limitations. One thing if anyone chimes in again is note if you are FIRE or not working, as i think this may play a role in smaller grocery bills, ie more time = more time to value shop and cook from scratch. My wife and i both work a lot so convenience is king along with trying to eat healthy per the science and our beliefs.

Also if your grocery/household items spending is quite low (some of you are quite impressive with how little you spend) , what's your restaurant bill per month? are you off setting groceries with restaurants?

I feel like you're asking a question about time, when it's really about priorities. I don't have time.  My husband is currently deployed, I'm working full time with 2+ hours a day spent commuting, I've got 2 kids, dogs, cats, chickens, horses, and I have to handle all the housework & maintenance for a 10 acre hobby farm.  I carefully weigh how much each task matters, because I can't physically do everything that I feel I should.   

I still cook from scratch, because I specifically make it a top priority.  And really, I enjoy cooking.  It's relaxing and it's a creative outlet.  I don't spend a bunch of time planning and shopping, I just know the kinds of things we eat and pick them up when we run low.  There are plenty of other things I choose not to prioritize, like after school activities or folding laundry.  Or matching socks.  Or vacuuming more than once a week.

Other people have other top priorities - maybe they'd rather go do activities, or just spend time relaxing together, or go to the gym, or vacuum daily.  You need to objectively look at your schedule and budget, decide what matters the most to you, and then go with it.  If it's really important to cut your grocery bill, then you have to buckle down and make the time.  If you'd rather have a higher grocery bill but more time & emotional energy to do other things, that's ok too.

I agree with the above,
i think my goal with the post was to see how folks are eating and cooking with whatever their grocery budget is. It appears lower grocery budgets coincide with it being a priority (and meal planning and cooking at home from scratch). Other things are higher priorities at the moment in our household and it shows in our food/restaurant budgets, and thats ok with me for the current circumstances.

Sort of...

I mean, yeah, anything you choose to do is because you've prioritized doing it, but for me, meal planning and cooking from scratch isn't some onerous task that I'm willing to slave for.

I cook the way I do because it's easy and efficient. I'm known for my astronomical efficiency, it's my thing.

It's cool if learning how to do that is not a priority for you, but I think what a lot of us are pushing back against is that you seem to want to perceive low budget cooking as some kind of burden or sacrifice.

It's not, it really isn't. It's a skill for sure, and like any other skill, there are barriers and effort to mastering it, but once it's mastered, people like me see producing a delicious and healthy meal for $1.25/serving as a hell of a lot less tedious than dragging myself to a restaurant and having to put up with that nonsense.

I'm not trying to tell you what your priorities should be. Hell, if you want to hire a personal chef instead of cooking, go nuts, do what's right for your family.

You just won't find a consensus here that low budget cooking is burdensome, time consuming, or unhealthy as arguments against it.

mm1970

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #88 on: December 11, 2019, 01:45:28 PM »
You seem to not believe that this is possible. Several of us have described how it is possible for us. You come across as very skeptical that we are actually eating healthy food or actually have limits on our time comparable to you.

  • Both work full time and have other regular volunteer responsibilities.
  • Spend $430 on all grocery store purchases (we even take our dollar shave club subscription out of this, but save money on it by sharing the same razor base!).
  • We have $80 for date nights, usually eat dinner out once a month and then get take-out 1-2 times a month.
  • We each have $80 in cash for free spending. I usually grab lunch out with a coworker or friend 2 times a month with this. Spouse spends his on golf mostly because his employer has tons of free, healthy snacks in the office.
  • Our commutes are 20 min. We have no pets and are expecting our first child. We don't drink much, spouse gets maybe one six pack a month.

I know the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours thing is kind of debunked, but I do feel like the longer I go at cooking nutritious meals, the easier it gets to do so affordably and efficiently. I anticipate our bill going up with diaper/wipe costs next year and also the survival mode adjustments.

i originally didn't believe it was possible (at least in our circumstances and with our priorities) but have been proven wrong. 

kudos to everyone who proved me wrong,

Our priorities are surviving a 2 & 4 year old, getting them to eat anything and not throw away half of what we make for them, not getting fat, clean the house sometime, work extra when work requires, and spend time together as a family. We have about 1.5 hours together each night to cook, eat, play and take a bath before the 2 y/o starts stories before bed. Then the 4 y/o starts bed time routine 30-1 hr later.  we arent as busy as MicroRN but every minute is precious and convenience in the form of spending extra on food is the trade off and that's ok with us for right now
Ah I remember those days.

My best tips?
1. Prep after the kids are in bed or in the morning.
2. Crockpot or instant pot
3. Automation

When my kids were that age I relentlessly prepped meals after they were in bed. It took 10-30 minutes. That meant chopping fruit and veg, maybe mixing spices.

Example, chopping all the veg for the next nights dinner, so no prep needed after work. Or prepping fruit and veg for snacks.

Instant pot or crockpot... For crockpot, all ingredients in the pot and in the fridge so morning before work, just plug it in and turn on.

Automate... Monday night is always leftovers and kale chips, Tuesday chicken fingers, Thursday instant pot pasta. Pasta, sauce, water, and prepped veg. Fast and easy and you don't have to baby sit it.

I used to have issues with trying to get dinner ready by 6 when we got home at 5:30. I stopped trying to do that. Kids hungry at 5:30, have some carrots and cucumbers.  Dinner at 6:30.

Also we are a lot of frozen veggies back then.

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #89 on: December 11, 2019, 04:04:49 PM »
Well said, Malkynn. Frugal cooking/food choice is a priority, yes, but it isn't an onerous task I just decided to put up with.

As far as kids go, I don't have them myself, so insert "you're the parent and you know way better than I do" disclaimer here, but in the past I spent a lot of time taking care of other people's kids, for whatever that's worth...

The suggestion above to put out raw vegetables for the kids to munch on if they're hungry before dinner is one I've also heard on a podcast, and the two parents (from different families) discussing it there seemed very happy with it. Less whining, more healthy eating, more time to get dinner on the table. And if the adults decide to partake, then so much the better for their health!

Also, just a rhetorical question so as not to derail the thread. Most likely there's a very good reason your 2yo and your 4yo have separate bedtime routines, but if there isn't, then maybe that would be something to consider, in order to free up more time in the evenings.

robartsd

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #90 on: December 12, 2019, 09:06:51 AM »
@Daley - thanks for the tip! Unfortunately it looks like you can only buy on amazon which we really try to avoid. We also only get one set of four cartridges every other month. So it's currently a $42/year cost for us.
Looks like you use the 4 blade cartridges. Through DSC they are $1.75/cartridge ($7 for a 4-pack). A 16-pack on Amazon is $1.375/cartridge (free shipping on orders of $25 or more). If you're just buying the one item, the price per cartridge is nearly the same as DSC after standard shipping. DSC's markup looks pretty reasonable for providing a 4-pack shipped.

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #91 on: December 13, 2019, 01:05:54 PM »
One more tip that ANYONE on ANY diet can do to control costs.  This one time has cut my grocery spend by about 20%.

Don't go to the grocery store more than once a week.

Even longer if possible....  this makes you use up all your leftovers, put veggy scraps into a soup or stew, etc.   Don't compensate by buying a lot of frozen heat and eat meals, either.

This works because you will eat up most of the pricey and yummiest items in the first 4 days, (avocado, grapes, baked goods, chips) and stretches a normal eating pattern out a few days.  It works because you GAIN time, LOWER costs, and you still get to eat everything you choose.

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #92 on: December 13, 2019, 01:57:41 PM »
One more tip that ANYONE on ANY diet can do to control costs.  This one time has cut my grocery spend by about 20%.

Don't go to the grocery store more than once a week.

Even longer if possible....  this makes you use up all your leftovers, put veggy scraps into a soup or stew, etc.   Don't compensate by buying a lot of frozen heat and eat meals, either.

This works because you will eat up most of the pricey and yummiest items in the first 4 days, (avocado, grapes, baked goods, chips) and stretches a normal eating pattern out a few days.  It works because you GAIN time, LOWER costs, and you still get to eat everything you choose.

On "Til Debt Do Us Part," this is exactly the challenge that Gail Vaz-Oxlade gives shopaholic couples. Every one, without fail, has been shocked that they still had cash left over in their food budget at the end of the week.

(Plus, it saves time as well as money.)

ysette9

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #93 on: December 13, 2019, 02:20:13 PM »
I love binge watching that show :)

slappy

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #94 on: December 13, 2019, 02:28:47 PM »
My family spends a lot on food. i have read the how to kill your $1k grocery bill post (here for a refresher https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/29/killing-your-1000-grocery-bill/) and several other posts about it here in the forums. i am having a hard time reconciling how healthy (or unhealthy) food options are when so little money is being spent. Not that quality food has to be expensive but quality has a price. Food is medicine, and i want to be healthy now, ensuring a long and happy life not just retirement.

I guess my question is how do folks with small grocery budgets feel about the food they eat?  Do foods with labels saying organic, grass fed, pasture raised appear on the foods you buy? Are some foods eliminated from your diets like wheat, white potatoes, white rice, pasta, industrial and processed meats and dairy? Are you following a specific diet like Keto, Mediterranean, Low Carb, Gluten Free, Vegetarian or Vegan, how does that affect your grocery bill?
 
Personally we buy organic grass fed meats, free range organic eggs, grass fed milk, lots of salads, and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds and fruit. i tend toward the lower carb  and gluten free diets. i think our average monthly grocery bill is nearly $900 (from personal capital) for a family of 4 - 2 adults and two small kids. 

i am not trying to kick the hornets nest with this post, just wondering how others think about food

well - this is awkward.......

When I first joined the forum, I got a lot of grief for my finances in general and food budget in particular. I made some changes saved a good percentage of the food budget.....and quickly gained about 5 pounds in one month. I did a complain thread and was essentially poopooed!

I secretly went back to my usual eating/budget, and I never fessed up to that. :|     I have not lost those 5 pounds, but I haven't gained any more either.

Being a busy professional who is a middle-aged woman with a stable weight that I don't have to do anything about is a really important, quality of life issue for me. I don't currently have time or money for any real exercise routine - which is super bad, I know, but I am super busy and don't have any extra money floating around either! I'll have some down time (hopefully!) at year's end and I can try to figure out something better/exercise routine, plan to lose those 5 pounds, etc.

But! I'm never giving up my organic produce again!

What does organic produce have to do with losing weight?

partgypsy

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #95 on: December 13, 2019, 02:33:29 PM »
I don't claim to have the best diet. But after splitting from ex grocery is the one area I have been able to consistently spend less on, even though I'm eating out less (both grocery and restaurant expenses have gone down). For one I try not to waste so much. A lot of food was being thrown out. Now we try to eat the leftovers, and maybe wait and eat from the pantry for a day instead of running out for things. I don't buy too much booze or meat but I do try to have each meal have fruits and veggies so I don't mind spending on those. Try to make our own desserts. I'm sure I could do better in that I do like having some convenience foods at home like frozen pizza, some frozen foods, things for the kids lunches. At least right now it helps prevent me from doing take out or fast food.
For me it was also getting out of the mindset that a) every meal has to be a grand culinary experience, and b) it's OK not to be the "cool" parent going out to eat or doing take out all the time, we still do it enough it is fun and a treat when it does happen.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2019, 02:35:01 PM by partgypsy »

partgypsy

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #96 on: December 13, 2019, 02:36:36 PM »
Well said, Malkynn. Frugal cooking/food choice is a priority, yes, but it isn't an onerous task I just decided to put up with.

As far as kids go, I don't have them myself, so insert "you're the parent and you know way better than I do" disclaimer here, but in the past I spent a lot of time taking care of other people's kids, for whatever that's worth...

The suggestion above to put out raw vegetables for the kids to munch on if they're hungry before dinner is one I've also heard on a podcast, and the two parents (from different families) discussing it there seemed very happy with it. Less whining, more healthy eating, more time to get dinner on the table. And if the adults decide to partake, then so much the better for their health!

Also, just a rhetorical question so as not to derail the thread. Most likely there's a very good reason your 2yo and your 4yo have separate bedtime routines, but if there isn't, then maybe that would be something to consider, in order to free up more time in the evenings.

I totally do this veggie trick. I cook or have the veggies raw and give to kids to eat Before the meal. I put them in cute little bowls and they are great about eating them. In the same way when I bring a frozen entrée to work I bring a cup of veggies to throw in the entrée to both fill it out and making it more nutritional.

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #97 on: December 13, 2019, 07:24:29 PM »
One more tip that ANYONE on ANY diet can do to control costs.  This one time has cut my grocery spend by about 20%.

Don't go to the grocery store more than once a week.
I like that idea in theory, but some of the items I like to eat on a regular basis don't stay fresh for a week.  Twice a week might work, though.

Zikoris

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #98 on: December 13, 2019, 08:14:23 PM »
I would add to "shop once a week" - after shopping, cook everything for the week over the next day or two. Then boom, done, you don't have to rely on "discipline" or "willpower" or any of that other shit when you get home from work hungry on a Tuesday, everything is just there and ready to eat. Also prepare any snacks or baked good you need.

Our routine with regards to that is normally to go shopping Friday after work, then cook double portions of all our meals on the weekend, which gives us five or six different things to rotate through during the week for lots of variety. I also bake bread and muffins, which takes care of breakfast and snacks. So all of our food during the week is 100% zero effort, zero thinking required. My boyfriend has to do a shit ton of dishes on the weekend though, lol.

Malcat

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Re: The $1,000 Monthly Grocery Bill
« Reply #99 on: December 14, 2019, 06:15:49 AM »
I would add to "shop once a week" - after shopping, cook everything for the week over the next day or two. Then boom, done, you don't have to rely on "discipline" or "willpower" or any of that other shit when you get home from work hungry on a Tuesday, everything is just there and ready to eat. Also prepare any snacks or baked good you need.

Our routine with regards to that is normally to go shopping Friday after work, then cook double portions of all our meals on the weekend, which gives us five or six different things to rotate through during the week for lots of variety. I also bake bread and muffins, which takes care of breakfast and snacks. So all of our food during the week is 100% zero effort, zero thinking required. My boyfriend has to do a shit ton of dishes on the weekend though, lol.

This is exactly what we do.
That way there's no work or thinking about food after a work day beyond "which delicious meal do I want?"

People often hear about how I cook and think it's a lot of work. Well, yeah, it is, for about 3 hours of my entire week. I look at people making entire meals every evening and the concept sounds exhausting.