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How much is your monthly food bill?

post #1 of 82
Thread Starter 
Grocery, eat out, order in, drive thru, beer/other beverages, everything. How many people are you feeding? Whats your general location/cost of living area? Do you buy mostly conventional foods, garden, coupon, all organic, etc.?

If your willing, I'd love to see a breakdown.

I am curious how my family of seven compares...(as soon as I'm on my computer, I'll post our food budget.)

post #2 of 82

We budget $300 a month for our family of 3. I try to stick to $60 a week and use 4 week months to stock up on the expensive stuff. This includes all groceries but not household supplies (toilet paper, toothpaste, etc.). DH and I each get some spending money each month that we can use on extras like soda, takeout pizza, or snacks that I refuse to buy using the grocery budget.


We live in the middle of the Midwest, very limited organic, minimal processed stuff other than pasta. I have the blackest thumb in the world so we do not garden. I am hoping DH can try some containers this summer for some tomatoes and peppers. We do not drink alcohol and soda is a luxury so it comes out of DH's spending money (I don't drink it). We do limited coupons as I don't find them for the stuff we buy very often. I do however use rainchecks from our store to get some out of stock products for the sale price several weeks later.


Generally our weekly grocery budget is $15-20 produce, $20 meat, $20 on everything else (canned goods, dairy, eggs, DS's triscuits).

post #3 of 82

I budget 500 monthly (actually 250 biweekly)

1 adult 2 kids

I buy mostly fresh raw food. Dairy, meat. Not so much boxed food (cereal, quick grab treats/snacks)

I shop at the regular grocery store, although I live around the corner from the food coop (mostly organic) and go there for my spices, coffee beans, and when I need anything else for a meal that I am making. And if we run out of milk...


This 500 includes, gas (every 14-20 days), toiletries, pet food, so its not very accurate.  Although it seems on a bigger grocery run, I usually spend 100 (that happens when I need condiments, or other items that are not staples). And then 20 for the runs to the food coop.


post #4 of 82

I budget $500/month for 3 people. We live in a lower cost of living area and eat an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet that is heavy in local foods and unprocessed foods. This figure includes our weekly CSA delivery of fruits/veggies, eggs & milk, cleaning/laundry supplies, toiletry/hygiene items, and cat food & litter. 

post #5 of 82

Family of 3. Our COL index is 101 (i.e. very average) but misleading. I think our food and fuel costs in this area are very high. Our housing costs are very low, so it balances.


This harvest year we spent $100 a month on our CSA.

Average of $36 a month on other local foods - pick your own fruit, stuff like that

Average of $450 a month on standard groceries on top of that.

And less than $20 a month on eating out (which basically consists of some fast food while traveling).

Total monthly average food spending: about $600.


We do not eat all organic though a lot organic (the CSA is all organic). I cook from scratch and personally only eat scratch meals, but DH and DD do eat some convenience foods. My totals do not include any household products at all. I do garden, but my gardening costs and harvests are not included above.


I shop sales and also stock up during sales, and keep a decent pantry. I can my own foods including all my own broth. As you can see, we also pretty much don't eat out (and NEVER eat an actual sit-down meal in a restaurant). I don't coupon, though - but that's because I don't buy convenience foods and there's not much I want to buy that I can find a coupon for. I plan my meals on a weekly basis and stick to the plan. I waste very little food.


I think my totals are shockingly high and you would think we ate nothing but convenience foods, never shopped sales, and ate out every week. I can't explain it, except I think food must be expensive here. I did a full grocery shop for my mother in another state about 9 months ago and was surprised when the bill rang up to only $75 when I had bought TONS of stuff, including tons of meat that was not on sale, to feed 5 people for the week. My bill at the grocery at home for us 3 is usually $70 a shop, and I feel like I walk away with almost nothing - just a dozen items on the list, all on sale, all to complement the CSA stuff.

post #6 of 82

We're about $500/month for 2 adults and 2 kids, a little more in months I need to buy dog and cat food.  HCOL area, a combination of Costco, Trader Joe's, CSA, and occasional runs to the regular grocery store. We buy almost no processed food and I cook mostly from scratch, most produce is organic. The more my kids eat and I fine tune our menu, the more we buy at Costco and are finding it to be the best way to keep our costs down. And it takes some serious meal planning and making sure we aren't wasting anything to keep it here.

Edited by colemom - 1/3/12 at 5:13pm
post #7 of 82

We just upped our food budget and are hoping the new amount will cover us.  While we live in a somewhat higher COL area, our food costs seem to be about average.  Our food bill averages about $675/month.  We have 7 people in our family, DH, me, 7yo, 6yo, 4yo, 3yo, and a nursing 8mo.


$50/ month is set aside for our yearly meat order of 1/4 cow.

$75/ month is our eating out budget.  We're working REALLY hard to stay within this.

Roughly $100- $150/ month is used either at our natural food co op where I buy grains, flour, spices, etc in bulk or for Mountain Rose Herbs for our loose tea, coconut oil, and butters I use for beauty aids.

$80/ month is for our weekly milk order from a grass fed creamery and eggs.  In the winter I get our eggs from the local Mennonite store, the rest of the year I get them from a friend of the family who raises chickens.


The rest is used for groceries.  We do a big shop 1x/ month at Costco and supplement w/ fresh fruits and veggies from either the farmers' market or u-picks in the summer/ fall or the supermarket in the winter/ early spring.  This also covers the few beauty aids we use: razor blade cartridges (but in bulk from Costco every 6mo), DH's antiperspirant (I make my own deodorant), DH's shaving cream, and DH's contact solution.  Since we use food items for beauty aids (oils to make soap, ACV for hair rinse, coconut oil for moisturizer, etc) and household cleaners (mostly vinegar and baking soda) they also come out of this part of the budget.


We do not eat ALL organic, but DO try to stay local when possible.  I cook mostly from scratch, but we have 2 convenience foods we use, Costco's whole grain chicken nuggets and their signature line frozen pizza.  Both allow me the ability to not have to get take out when evenings are rough or I haven't planned appropriately.  I don't coupon since pretty much every where I buy from doesn't take coupons and this spring will be our first garden, so fingersx.gif that it helps keep the food budget down.

post #8 of 82

Ours is $225/wk for 6 people, 5 of which are athletic, active male (ie: BIG eaters) Youngest is 5, then 8, then 10, and 12.5.  They eat a ton, because they never stop moving.  We do whole, healthy foods - tons of veggies, nuts, fruit, yogurt (I make it), hormone-free meat + dairy as much as we can (always on milk), and organics when they are available grown locally and (relatively) inexpensively (we're in Philly) (I'd rather buy local conventional than organic trucked from across the country) We rarely eat out (maybe once every 2-3 months with all 6 of us, and then once every 1-2 months for just DH + I)


I like to look at the #'s in terms of per person/per meal, which I think helps break down the shock of "OMG, that's almost $900 a month!!"  Yes, it's a big (our second biggest, after mortgage) expense, but if you figure it's 3 meals a day, for 6 people - that's 18 meals/day.  Which equals (on average, depending on how many days in the month) 540 meals per month.  Per person, per meal that's about $1.67.  That's crazy cheap, for healthy, whole foods that don't come from a can or a box.

post #9 of 82

Its about $700 a month in the end. Some months its as low as $500 and some as high as $800. We buy a side of beef and a full pig every year which is factored into the monthly budget. We eat mostly organic and I cook from scratch 95% of the time. We are a family of 2 school aged children plus DH and myself. DH takes leftovers for lunch, the kids take pb & J and/or deli turkey. They buy lunch at school about once a week. We snack on fruit, smoothies and cheese. I do buy snackie items such as baked lays style chips or crackers.

post #10 of 82

I should add, I do not coupon at all. There is nothing I see in the weekly circulars that we would buy, since I cook from scratch. I also as stated since I buy sides, we buy several things in bulk from a local restrnt store such as 25lbs of flour, 15 lbs of sugar etc. We grow our own veggie garden and I can tomato and freeze up all the peppers, make roasted salsa and can that. I also menu plan which is huge. We have a printed out calendar on the fridge with penciled in dinner plans for 3-10 days in advance.


ETA- we eat out about twice a month now. At least once for a date night for DH and I, and once with the family either for a lunch or dinner that the kids request. Usually its a popular hot dog place the girls like or if they are picking- sushi, pita house (middle eastern), chinese, or something of their craving.


We order pizza maybe once a year? We make home made pizza at least 3 times a month in our oven. I make the bread in the afternoon and let it rise, punch it down etc.

post #11 of 82

The per-meal figure is very interesting. I guess ours is $2.22 per meal per person.

post #12 of 82

We budget $280 bi-weekly for a family of 3 (me, DH and 2.5yo DD). I haven't gone over that amount in months. That includes any toiletries, grooming, pet supplies and laundry soap, as well as food, since they're all bought at the same place. It doesn't include our freezer order, which this year was about $600. It also doesn't include the significant amount of free produce that we get through DH's work. He manages the food distribution arm of a local food security non-profit and so every friday he gets to take home whatever fruit/veg they over-ordered and/or likely won't last the weekend. We do organic dairy and meat and sometimes organic produce. We make nearly everything from scratch. I do think it's pretty good amount for us since we're in Canada where food costs are higher than south of the border.


We also budget $100 a month for eating out/entertainment. We do sometimes go slightly over that amount but try hard not to.

post #13 of 82

Our budget is around $700 CDN a month for 5 people.  The boys are 10 and nearly 9 so they eat quite a bit.  This include household things like TP or toothpaste.  Eating out is not included, that's from entertainment budget.  It's about $150 - 200 a month.  I'd say we spend on average about $400 at the grocery stores, $200 at Costco, and $100 at produce stores / farmer's market / CSA. 


Food is expensive here, though I know not too bad compared to remote Northern communities of course.  At least we have a lot of choices and fresh produce is cheap and widely available everywhere.  The pricier stuff tend to be dairy and meat.  I'm grateful that everybody in our family is small and doesn't eat too much.  I know a big guy can easily eat as much as 3 of us do.

post #14 of 82

I am on assistance and get about 250 a month for my family of 3. I try to keep it within this budget and we eat out 1 x a month- about at a chinese restaurant for 25 a visit.  I will sometimes pick up noodles from a different chinese restaurant- since its $7 and feeds my family of 3 if I just can't cook. And we get a Little Caesars pizza and breadstix maybe once a month or e/o month for $10

I rarely spend my own money at the grocery store.  SO I would say I spend about $300 a month on food.

We don't do traditional snacks aside from fruit and cereal and eggs and I mainly shop at aldis.

Kids eat at school for lunch. tho this may change soon- it just is not healthy.

I am trying to improve our meals tho so it may go up soon but I really do not have room in the budget to spend much more just want to spend what we have more wisely.

OH- edited to add...

as far as household supplies- I think I am at about 50 a month.

post #15 of 82

We are also on assistance and get $365 for me and my daughter. Soon it will be going up as my Mom will be added to our case, then it will be $450 or so. We eat mostly conventional, lots of meat and quick fix items as I'm a single mom and busy. We rarely eat out due to finances. 

post #16 of 82

We are at about $650/mo for 2 adults (1 pregnant), 4 kids (12, 9, 7, and 1), and 1 dog and 2 cats. Most of our household is gluten free and/or dairy free so there is a little added expense there. We also eat quite a bit of organic foods. I go through spurts with coupons. I haven't been clipping them for the last couple of months. I do watch the sales though.

post #17 of 82

I'm so glad you posted this because we are a family of 7 (DH & I, my mom, ds 11, dd 9, dd 6, ds3) with one more on the way.  We have been brainstorming ways to control food costs because things are really tight for us. Only my hubby works right now.  I love the ideas you guys have and plan to put them in action. I am about to research purchasing meat by the 1/2 or 1/4 animal and see if CSA are an option for us. We plan to move this year and will be getting a few chickens as well as planting a little. I grow some herbs in pots but we live in an apartment complex so that's the most I can do. 


We get $252 in SNAP benefits, WIC for the 3 yo and me, and spend about another $250 on groceries. I shop sales and use coupons whenever I can.

post #18 of 82

Golly I do not know how you all do it! Great job! We are 2 adults and 1 child. We eat all organic including our meats. The vast majority if what we eat is made by me from scratch. We cannot seem to spend less than $800/month, and that's with rarely going out!! I've tried all sorts of strategies to cut it back but that's where we keep landing. It's very hard to manage it, but health just tops the list for us. I've spoken to other moms in the same boat here in extremely-expensive Boulder. I buy some things in bulk/on line (maybe $400/year). Certainly our spending crept up since pregnancy, and I'm still nursing. We'll try a CSA this year and hopefully see some savings that way. Maybe I'll also work one day a week at a natural grocery store to get the employee discount!

post #19 of 82

This thread spurred me to login to a neglected Mint.com account and figure out the answer to this question.


Full disclosure: we are a family of two (now three! but he hardly counts, his food is free ;) ), who live relatively comfortably on a moderate single income (we don't have a lot of extra money to throw around, but neither have we really bothered to budget or cut back on our expenses - it's a comfortable homeostatic point for us, right now), and food is our weakness. We know this. We like food, we like good food, we like going out for food, we like convenience food. If we were a food-frugal family we would save a lot of money, we already know this.




$1,250 per month. For two people. That's the average over the last five months.


I think I'm going to throw up. =S


Time to jump-start a financial revolution resolution! yikes2.gif

post #20 of 82
Originally Posted by MonkeyPrincess View Post

Grocery, eat out, order in, drive thru, beer/other beverages, everything. How many people are you feeding? Whats your general location/cost of living area? Do you buy mostly conventional foods, garden, coupon, all organic, etc.?

Counting all those things, we probably spend about $1200/month. We don't eat out very much, but probably end up having a "reason" (birthday, got a bonus, anniversary, whatever) about ten times a year. We've done drive-through about three times in the last two years. We probably get pizza about once a month (was more than that, but we reined it in). We don't buy many beverages, but dh does drink beer, and he likes expensive craft and import brews. I believe beer is considerably more expensive here than in the US, anyway, for taxation related reasons.


We're a family of six. There are three adults, for food consumption calculations, as ds1 is 18. Mind you, he doesn't eat anywhere near as much as he did a few years ago!


We live in Vancouver. The COL is pretty high here. Housing is very, very expensive, and other costs are far from low. Food isn't cheap. We don't eat a lot of packaged, processed foods, but do eat some (and many of those are subject to 12% sales tax). We still eat conventional meat, but are trying to figure out a food plan that would allow us to cut back enough to buy free range organic (not there yet). My experiments with beans and lentils haven't' gone well, as none of the kids like them. I generally buy organic for the "dirty dozen", as well as carrots. The carrots are just because I really, really, really notice the taste difference. Organic carrots are a pleasure to eat, and conventional ones taste a bit like wood.


We had a very small garden this year, but all we really got from it was herbs and some tomatoes. The growing season up here was completely messed up this year, and I got things in the ground late, anyway. So, the garden didn't really affect our budget much. We'll try again next year, but the garden isn't going to be big enough to make a lot of difference, even if I do figure out what I'm doing!


We use coupons a little bit, but not very much. Couponing here isn't like it is in the US, in any case (It took me a while to figure out what people were talking about when they discussed "doubling", for instance). DH and I have a loyalty card at a local grocery store and will be using point from that to pay for most of a trip to Victoria (ferry fare and part of our hotel) in the near future. We've also picked up a popcorn popper, steam broom and new sheets, through the same program. We tend to shop to minimize cash outlay, but maximize loyalty points. Sometimes, this means stocking up on things we do eat, but not that often. I have 2-3 unopened boxes of Kashi bars in the pantry right now!



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