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What is your grocery budget? - Page 2

post #21 of 68

I wish I had a budget of $800 a month...What could I do...........


Mine is $50 - $100 a week depending if I need to restock my food storage... Family of 5 ... 20yr son, 15yr daughter, 13yr daughter and a hungry Husband and Me.


Breakfast, (Sack) Lunch, Dinner.


We use food storage, and have a large freezer.


I cook from scratch mostly... we do have some frozen meals bought on sale in the freezer for those ... MOM I'M HUNGRY NOW moments.

Crock-pots are the best I have 2.

I "CAN" when fruit and Veggie seconds come my way (that's when they harvest a field and then they allow some to go through and pick the lefts - which is not very often).

Eggs are fresh from our Chickens... and meat from the occasional naughty rooster...

We drink Tap Water ... we fill "water-cooler" bottles (at Home) let them air a few days to get rid of chlorine... and it is just fine... and NO FILTER COST.


(I include household items in this too...Shampoo, Soap, Laundry stuff, Toilet Paper etc... for cleaning: amazing what you can do with Vinegar, Borax, Washing soda)

We do NOT drink Soda ... Water, Coffee, Iced tea, Milk...


I used to go to Farmers Markets but they have become trendy making prices increase.


I shop at


Costco (plus by the time you've sampled...you got a meal)




I shop by a list and I use CASH...

I do NOT coupon...it only caused me to buy stuff I wouldn't normally buy...but that is just me...

If something is forgotten, we do without... no quick stops for one thing...because it is never one thing that comes home.


And we if we eat out...it comes out of the food budget...it is FOOD no matter who cooks it...


Have fun...it can be challenge... try making it a goal type of "game" out of it... it can be really kinda fun to see what you REALLY need and don't need ...


It is especially a good time to DO it when you don't have too. It is not so much fun when you HAVE TO...




post #22 of 68

That was my first thought. It definitely varies by where you live. A $800/month food budget could be outrageous to one family and incredibly cheap to another family the same size in another city/state. I wonder if there's a budget rule of thumb for food like there is with your mortgage payment (not to exceed 31% of income)... I'm just starting to track my spending with Mint.com, focusing first on Food. I'm going to have my DH do the same. We will then add tracking other spending trends (entertainment, dining out, shopping, housewares, etc). One thing at a time to focus on will work best for us.

Originally Posted by CoBabyMaker View Post

I've found that how far your grocery budget will go varies GREATLY depending on where you live.

post #23 of 68

I've done the high grocery budget thing and the low budget and everything in between. We actually got into a fair amount of debt when I was on a traditional foods kick. I wish that I could justify buying all organic/local/fair trade. But it just doesn't work for us right now.  We grow our own organic fruit and veggies and save a lot in the freezer for winter, and we go in and out of having fresh local eggs. I'm hoping to buy a side of beef this year for the freezer.    But the best remedy for our spending has been sales and coupons.   I know, I know.  Coupons get a bad rap. But if you are really smart about it, they work by freeing up money in your budget.   For instance,  in an average trip a week to the store I would spend 160.  This included a pack of diapers (did cloth for a while.....not into it for an older child) a cleaning product a dog food or deoderant or toothpaste...etc...... and some of the same thing every week- chicken, canned tomatoes, canned beans, cereal, bread.....the usuals.


Then I started following a blog that did coupon sale matchups for a local food chain and I started noticing a pattern for sales. I was wasting a TON of money by buying the staples weekly instead of monthly. I have stocked my cupboard full of beans, tomatoes, soups, coconut milks, chicken stock, cereals, boxed snacks, coffee, baking goods.....and on and on on coupons+sales.  There are a LOT of printable coupons that are rounded up by these bloggers and they make it so easy to plan for the week, print your coupons and shop.  I buy cheese, meat, produce, milk, organic yogurt and much more on coupons. Not to mention I have a stockpile of toothpaste, deoderant, floss, toothbrushes, pain relievers, razors, dogfood, diapers that was free or practicly free.  So I rarely ever need to make an impulse buy or a toiletry buy with my grocery budget.  I rarely spend more than $100/week on groceries.


So anyway, just wanted to give an example of how coupons can be easy and convenient and not just junkfood.


post #24 of 68

this is a great thread!  I used to spend between $150-200 a week for just two adults and a toddler.  Few tips for what has really gotten me to stay within my $100/week grocery budget:

1. using a cash only system!  I put $100/week in my grocery envelope....and that's all I get to spend.  If I go over, it's coming out of my other spending money for the week, which there isn't much of, so I rarely do that.

2. I menu plan and clip some coupons (but use only the coupons for things I would buy anyway...and I don't buy two of something if I only need one, even though the coupon is for savings when you buy two...). 

3. I put things that I absolutely need in the main part of my grocery basket, and things that are more luxury items (new flavor of tea, chapstick, etc. when I do have some that will work fine at home) go in the top part of the basket.  I ask the cashier to save those until the end and if I've used my $100..I don't buy those things and put them on the list for the following week in case there's room in the budget.

4. we split 1/4 of a local, organic, grass-fed cow every fall and that's mostly the only meat we eat...I rarely buy chicken or other types of meat.

5. we buy a bushel of fresh roasted green chilis in the fall and use them to flavor EVERYTHING!

6. I make my own cleaning products which saves a TON of money on those types of items.


I used to think grocery shopping was fun when I spent whatever I felt like...but it's so much more fun now...it's like a game to see how far I can stretch my budget.


post #25 of 68

I haven't read the whole thread yet, so I don't know if this has been addressed, but regional cost of living is going to come to play in this. I frequently see people here post prices of things and almost wilt with envy (someone here was recently talking about butter going up to $1.20+ a pound, and I almost fainted - the storebrand, non-organic butter that I buy is $3.89/pound for the first on, and $4.39/pound for the second one).


Anyway, I don't have a precise budget, but our monthly grocery bill is usually coming in at somewhere around $1,300 right now. That does include some non-grocery items, such as dish soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, shampoo, etc., but is mostly food. It's been creeping up over the last year or so, with increasing food prices, and my lack of meal planning. I was doing better on the meal planning before I had dd2, but I just haven't got my mental functioning back. This mean I do too much of the go-to-the-store-and-buy-something-that-looks-good thing. I did chicken last night, and spent too much for it, because I had no other ideas.


In general, I try to keep down the processed foods, although we do eat a lot of dry cereal (I'm not the biggest fan, but the kids eat breakfast before i get up, and I have no other suggestions right now, and dh is all about cereal), which eats quite a bit of our budget. I also have a soft spot for Kashi bars (like to throw a few in the diaper bag, so I have something for the kids if we're out longer than expected or whatever), which I try to only buy when they're on sale. We also eat a lot of dairy (cheese and yogurt are the big ticket items). I go through a lot of fruits and vegetables, many of which I buy on sale, but I also keep certain items - broccoli, cucumber, tomatoes - on hand, no matter how expensive they may be. We eat a lot of potatoes and onions, but they're cheap! We also eat a lot of raw nuts and dried fruit. The dried fruit is mostly raisins and dates, which are cheap - but the nuts are pricey.


This is for a family of six, although the toddler is still breastfeeding a lot. My teenage son is down from his peak consumption years, but we're essentially feeding three adults, two kids and the toddler.



ETA: We don't have coupons here. I mean...we have coupons, but we don't have coupons like you seem to have in the US. We can't combine store coupons with manufacturer's coupons, and there aren't generally the really huge savings to be had. I do use BOGO coupons, occasionally, but most of them are for things we either don't use, or don't have room to store, so I don't use them that often. At my favourite store, coupons are more often for extra "points" (loyalty card system) than for cash savings. We do like the points, and may be getting a "free" Blu-Ray player with them, but they don't take anything off our shopping bill.


I just saw a poster above talking about the rhythm of sales. I have noticed that I almost never pay full price for cheese or coffee. Both pretty consistently go on sale when I'm running low, which saves me anywhere from $4.00-$6.00/pound on coffee.

post #26 of 68

For a family of 4 (2 adults, one is a bottomless pit) and 2 children (4 and <1) we used to spend about $400 a month.  That included packaged foods, beer/wine etc.  

I was able to get that budget down a bit by getting my food delivered (I know!)  There is a local business that buys food from local farmers and then delivers it.  including the delivery charge ($3), it's cheaper than buying produce at the store.  Plus it's local and organic.  With that service we just go to the store for the things they don't sell, like milk and cottage cheese.  

Now we probably do about $350.  I should mention that I live in a small city where things are pretty average priced.  I do menu planning when I'm feeling up to it (though i usually don't end up following the plan) and cook ahead quite a bit - i find that if I know i have a lasagna in the freezer then I won't be so quick to order a pizza or go out to eat. 


I'm blown away by some other's budgets!  $1500!  wow!!  I suppose when my boys get older our budget will start to look like that... guess i'll have to get a job at a catering service or something where I can take home leftovers!!  

post #27 of 68

thank you for asking this question!! I struggle keeping to a $800 /month budget for two adults, a 4 year old and one year old who recently weaned. That includes household items, meat at (almost) each meal and mostly organic. My son can eat his weight in yoghurt and I tried making it at home but wasn't successful...any good tips or recipes for yoghurt? Also, anyone with good farms or coop suggestions for the south denver area?

post #28 of 68

We spend $390/month on 2 adults and a nearly-two-year-old.  We could definitely use more money if we had it to spend.  We also have $50 for "entertainment", which we usually spend on eating out.  We use the envelope system (cash only), so that really helps rein in the budget.  We don't really buy organic stuff, and I wish our fresh fruits and veggies could be more varied.  I'd also like to buy better meats.  As it is, we just buy cheap chicken thighs and ground turkey.  I cook nearly every night and our lunches are boring.  :-)

post #29 of 68
Originally Posted by birthuwant View Post

thank you for asking this question!! I struggle keeping to a $800 /month budget for two adults, a 4 year old and one year old who recently weaned. That includes household items, meat at (almost) each meal and mostly organic. My son can eat his weight in yoghurt and I tried making it at home but wasn't successful...any good tips or recipes for yoghurt? Also, anyone with good farms or coop suggestions for the south denver area?

Some people make yogurt in their oven or with a heating pad but I use a yogurt maker!! :)  If you are serious about making it, it makes the process really easy.   I just simmer 4 cups milk (plus a sprinkle of powdered), turn it off, put in the special thermometer till it hits the "add starter" point then I stir in 2T of plain yogurt and ladel it into the cups. Put it in the yogurt maker for 10 hours and have really yummy yogurt!  And its easy for my kids to grab one and help themselves. We add granola and frozen berries, or homemade jam.


post #30 of 68

Our budget is $100/ week for groceries, including household items like cleaners, shampoo, medicines, toilet paper, diapers... Although I will say lately the actual spending is more like $125-$150.  And I do tend to spend more in the winter because i am working 4 days a week so some convenience foods come into play, like granola bars, frozen dinners/pizza, peeled baby carrots, yogurt, cold cereal (which in turn makes you buy more milk), etc.  

I do try to buy organic where I can, and I can definitely see the worth in buying organic fruits/veggies instead of regular because most of the time it is not that much difference.   I can also get good organic (bulk) eggs for about the same price as the brand I like in the grocery store.  But meat is another story.  The organic/local meat offered in the health food store is wonderful but super expensive for most items.  Chicken is pretty comparable to the organic brand in the regular store but that's about it.  They don't have sales like grocery store chains either, so no chance to stock up.  When we eat meat for 5-6 meals out of 7 it's just not feasible for our budget.

I make my own yogurt in the summers which saves a ton of money. Instead of paying $3.99 for a quart of organic yogurt or a six pack of yogurt cups I buy a half gallon of (non-homogenized, organic) milk for the same price and make yogurt.   I usually only buy the plain yogurt anyway, and add my own fruit or homemade granola.  It tastes better than regular yogurt and less waste, too ;)

Stocking up when there are sales is key - I almost always cook meat out of the freezer and when shopping look for the meat that is on deep sale or in the manager's special bin (this is the meat that is about to expire but if you are going to freeze it that day anyway, what does it matter?).

I also don't buy certain fruits unless they are on sale, for example, berries:  I always buy organic berries and so I wait for them to go on sale because I can't pay $5.99 a pint for blueberries/raspberries/strawberries/blackberries because we can down one of those in about 5 minutes!  Earlier this month they had organic blueberries on sale bogo free for several weeks, yum!

As for farmer's markets, we have wonderful one here but it it generally not cheaper than grocery store prices.  Still I like shopping there when I can because it is fresh and of course, local.  

I do have a garden (about 175 sq ft) in the summer and I grow peas, lettuce/spinach/arugula/kale, broccoli, potatoes, green beans, squash, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes/peppers/eggplant (hopefully I can get my timing right this year and get a good crop of these; our growing season is quite short), and this year I am trying sweet corn.  I also have an herb garden and grow enough thyme, sage, oregano, and rosemary to dry and use through the winter as well as some basil for summer.  

Meal planning is something I do weekly based on the meat and staples I have on hand in the house, supplementing at the store w/ fresh and stocking up on staples as they go on sale.  I think this saves me a lot of money on meat, pasta, grains, beans, cereal, and frozen veggies/fruits.  It takes a little while to get used to shopping this way, but is worth it imo.  I don't usually clip coupons but I save them and use them if I need them.  Name brand coupons almost always seem like crap because even after the coupon the store brand is often still cheaper.

I am considering joining a CSA for fruits and veggies this summer and looking for a local, affordable meat source.  We have tons of ranchers in our area, and I am hoping to find someone with reasonable prices.  Of course that means getting a deep freeze... so may not be a possibility right now. But it is becoming more and more important to me to eat locally processed meat and fresh produce so we will see how it goes with our budget.  


I forgot to add that we are a family of 3, soon to be 4.  Myself (pregnant), dh, ds (3) and the baby will be here in late June/early July.  


For making yogurt, I used this site: http://www.makeyourownyogurt.com/  There are a few threads on mdc about it too.  I think it is important to use non-homogenized milk, but I am not really sure where I read that - I buy the Strauss Family Creamery milk in the glass jug at my hfs because of that reason and because you bring back to jusg and they re-use it (no waste).  I also like to use greek yogurt for my starter.  I don't like tangy yogurt.  I use a cooler with hot tap water jugs to ferment my yogurt and I don't use a double boiler (I continually stir).   A thermometer is really important though.  I finally got a nice candy therm to use because I messed up my instant-therm from the steam.  So hopefully that helps you with the yogurt thing ;) 


Edited by firecat - 3/22/11 at 4:18pm
post #31 of 68
Thread Starter 

I think that the idea of where you live impacting your budget is probably pretty key along with food choices obviously. I live in South Florida and pretty much everything seems expensive.  This thread has been really helpful for me.  So far I think that I am totally guilty of letting go of meal planning and making too many quick stops that wind up being way too expensive, not even checking for coupons when I probably should, and I think maybe are meals are too extravagant too.  My husband is a bacon and eggs for breakfast, dinner leftovers for lunch, hearty dinner kind of guy and when you sprinkle in lots of fresh produce throughout the day it gets pricey.  Maybe toning it down would help.  I guess we just have to weigh it out.


post #32 of 68

thank you so much for posting this! I am always wondering about it. My husband feels like we could eat all our meals at home for 60 bucks a week (two little kids and him and I) but I feel that is impossible for real healthy food!

post #33 of 68

i have to agree about where you live greatly affects the cost of food...i feed a family of 2 adults and three girls in elko, nevada and the cost of food and things in general are more expensive here than elsewhere. i spend about roughly 500-600.00 a month on food, but that is because i recently parred our budget down...we buy most toiletries, canned products from the grocery outlet store in idaho(what we buy there are all organic products) but i rarely buy organic things in the regular grocery store here in elko...the only thing i don't budge on is the meat and chicken. we don't eat a whole lot of meats, but we've incorporated more dried bulk foods into our diet, such as pinto beans, black beans, and kidney beans and long grain brown rice. we just recently bought a small bit of acreage and have a couple milkgoats, a highlander cow and a new flock of baby chicks, so hopefully we can cut some of our food budget for the food we produce on our own place!

post #34 of 68

You know, I was recently talking with a friend of mine who just moved back to our area (sw Colorado) from Indiana and she was telling me that really food prices were not really that different there.  We live in a small mountain town and people are always saying that the cost of groceries is so much more but not necessarily, I think. 



post #35 of 68

I think a lot of what you spend depends on where you live too. We live in NYC. I spend about $450 a month on groceries for a family of four (1 daddy, 1 pregnant and nursing mama, 3.5 year old, 2.5 year old). That includes my 2.5 year old who has multiple food sensitivities and requires special foods. I buy a few organic things, but generally buy the grocery store meat and produce. I make everything from scratch and we don't eat out.

post #36 of 68

We are a Maman, Papa, 3.5-yr-old and 7-month old, and I think we spend about $800/month.  Eat meat 5 or so nights/week.


We don't have a budget - I have no idea how to budget!  But simply the suggestion of the cash in the envelope is helping me to start thinking about this.  Right now we buy whatever we want (and do not have the money to do so).


We live in eastern Canada, where fresh produce is only around for a couple months of the year.  We have a garden, but don't get much out of it.  Do not eat as many veggies as we should. 


Saturday market, $60-$100.  Usually about $30 in organic beef/pork/eggs, $7 in fish.  $5 in yogurt.    Every other week we buy a huge $20 organic chicken which feeds us three nights, two lunches, two soup meals.  $3 in root veggies right now; in the summer, ~$10 on veggies. About every other week, we buy a big-ticket item at the market, such as maple syrup (which I use for baking) or honey.  It costs $15 per week to have hot market fare, this is our only meal eaten out.  Ever, really.


I meal plan on Sundays, DH goes to the store (this is a big deal for us - if I go, I buy a helluva lot more than what's on the list) and spends about $100.  


Once a week DH will run to the store for a $25 quick trip of forgotten items, or he will run out of milk (which he puts into his coffee - the rest of the house is dairy-free).


We buy our grains (flour, lentils, oatmeal, couscous) from a local organic mill, through a food co-op.  I don't know how much it is, but maybe $15/month.


I make my own bread, every single thing in our house is from scratch (including crackers).  We do not eat cold cereal.  Our meals are simple (tonight we had $4 pan-fried fish, rice, green beans; last night goulash; chili is next; lunch is either leftovers or almond butter and jam).  We don't buy big-ticket healthy supplements such as flaxseed oil, although we probably should.  We could eat less meat (would never consider eating grocery store meat) but it's hard to fatten up my dairy-intolerant little boy.  Holy crap we consume too much juice (~$60/month: organic apple for the 3-yr-old and plain frozen OJ for DH.).  And almond butter is far more expensive than peanut.  I guess I could buy my canned items only when they're on sale.  But really I don't know how we could slash this budget.

post #37 of 68

I agree, it really depends on where you live.


We're a family of four, dh, me, 9 year old and a 4 year old.  Both boys can easily outeat me.  I rarely spend over $400 a month, but it depends on the sales.  I shop sales and stock up heavily from that and then meal plan from what I have in the house.  We raise our own meat and most of our own produce.  The only produce I buy in the store is lettuce, bananas and apples through the winter.  We live in a hugely agricultural area so we can get produce all summer and fall and preserve it to last the winter.

post #38 of 68

It's really, really hard for me to figure out what we actually spend on food.  I *could* if I wanted to spend that much time tracking it, but it is more complicated than just adding up my receipts from the grocery store.  I buy some things from Amazon and use my prime shipping and sub and save.  Things like nuts, spices, alternative flours when I buy them, some grains/legumes I can't find in my small town.  I don't buy anything regularly other than apples, bananas, oranges, flour, oats, and a few other baking supplies.  Our diet varies so much.  We raise rabbits (white meat), chickens (mostly for eggs, occasionally for meat), ducks (red meat and eggs), dairy goats (male offspring will be our red meat), guineas, and bees.  Our feed bill varies according to litters being born, clutches being hatched, etc.  Our budget is also very dependent on the weather or life circumstances.  Like last summer we had over 100 lbs of sand plums go bad because we had a death in the family.  I didn't care about the plums and still feel guilty.  So we had less jam this year.  A couple of years ago there were no peaches, so we had none.  Same goes with our garden.  This year I'll simplify and only do green beans, tomatoes, asparagus, swiss chard, bell peppers, hot peppers, kale, carrots, beets, and radishes.  But we hope to have 5x the honey this year, some of which we can sell to make $ to put back into the food budget.  We'll also have our own goat milk, and I already have everything I need to make all our cheeses, hopefully enough to last the whole winter!  This summer may be a fantastic berry year again, as was last year.  We'll wait and see and hope.  I got gallons and gallons and gallons of blackberries, plums, and grapes last year.  Still working on those and the peaches, actually.  Waiting on a good pecan year, because we have access to acres and acres of pecan trees, but unfortunately there haven't been any for two years.  This year is a feral pig year bigtime.  All the meat we want for pennies a pound.  We work our arses off for it, though.  Not everyone's families will pitch in like mine to accomplish it.  We did 5 big sows last weekend and filled 3 freezers.  I have bacon and hams curing as I type.  They are free for the taking where my mom lives and they trap them, we drive up and work, work, work.  But it is not only feeding our family and those of people we know, but it is helping to solve a true problem (the pigs are very destructive and dangerous!).  They are about to open the traps back up and we'll go do several more weekends at 3-4 freezer-fillings each time.  Everyone we know will have pork for their freezers.


Someone upthread mentioned that they figured prices for farm-fresh meats would be cheaper.  What you may not know is what has happened to the prices of feed and hay!  up, up, up!!  Our chicken feed bill alone has DOUBLED.  The way to get it cheaper is to buy it "on the hoof" and butcher it yourself.


To the OP, make better use of your leftovers, if you don't already.  Last night I didn't know what would be for supper because I'd been so busy.  Well, I looked around and found the end of a hunk of cheese, 3 leftover breakfast sausage patties, an onion, half a red bell pepper, some eggs, and I have swiss chard growing.  I made up a crazy crust pizza.  I used the 5 or so spoons full of tomato paste mixed w/pureed caramelized onions for the sauce.  MMMMM!  Was fabulous and cost pennies.  Fed 6 plus lunch for 2.  The crust w/the eggs was way more filling than yeast crust, too.


You can also freeze those last helpings of this and that that are just too little to put back in the fridge, and might not get eaten if they do end up there.  Then pull out little containers or bags for lunches when you think you are out of food (I send these for my dh's lunches when we don't have leftovers from supper the night before). 


OP, I wanted to touch on something you said.  You said you weren't sure if a co-op of some sort would be a good idea because what if your family wouldn't eat what you got.  Well, look at it this way...new ingredients give you more experience not only with your pallets, but with your cooking skills.  And if you expose your kids to more, they will normally eat a much more varied diet.  My kids have learned that they "get what they get and don't throw a fit" because they are very lucky to have that food and they are very lucky to have a mom who will prepare it for them with such love.  They also know what it takes to get it on their plate as they are involved in every aspect of the process (feeding, watering, cleaning up after, and butchering animals, to dumping barn rakings on the garden beds in the winter to turning the beds, planting the seeds, watering, weeding, harvesting, washing, and preparing the veggies, plus wild harvesting of fruits and nuts as a family activity). 

Edited by Chicky2 - 3/23/11 at 9:12am
post #39 of 68

We currently spend roughly $600/month. We are in the process of tracking money spent and trying to stick to the current budget. There are 6 of us (5 eating).  DH is GF/DF and DD2 and DS are DF. Our budget also includes cleaners, paper products, and the occasional pack of disposable diapers (mostly cloth here). We avoid HFCS, nitrates, and other junk so that eliminates a lot of prepackaged crud.

post #40 of 68

we also buy natural bulk foods from azurestandard.com!! and love it! I get five pounds of organic rolled oats once a month for cheaper than the cheap brand at the grocery store

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