How much do you spend on food a week? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 25 Old 03-13-2013, 05:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm starting a new strict budget and it is recommended that 5-15% of our monthly income be spent on food including anything we eat out.  Well we spent a lot more then that! So I was wondering what other families spend on food a week? Maybe I'm out of touch and really need to tone down my food budget?

 

We don't really eat out. We have pizza once a week.  On Monday when they have specials it is less then $20. We eat lots of organic items. Grass fed meats, cage free chickens, organic fruits and veggies, and organic dairy.  The typical healthy diet. We are a family of 5. Dad is not home six days a week, though he has coffee at home and sometimes comes home and eats late at night. So it's me a 8yo, 5yo, and 3yo. We spend at least $300 a week on food. Is this crazy? I refuse to shop at Walmart. Though I do use coupons and shop sales. 


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#2 of 25 Old 03-14-2013, 08:30 AM
 
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it's just me ,my husband and 2yold but we spend about $100-$150 a week. we have a strict monthly budget..we on't eat out much either. sometimes i buy a pre made frozen organic something

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#3 of 25 Old 03-14-2013, 08:47 AM
 
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Google usda food costs and you can see a chart that gives you averages based on family size and 4 different budgets.

 

Eta: There is no way we could eat for 5 to 15% of our income.We'd have to be making between $133,000 and $400,000 a year to do that. 

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#4 of 25 Old 03-14-2013, 03:05 PM
 
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Family of 3, 2 dogs, 3 cats. Dd (12) and I eat all meals at home; dh skips breakfast but takes lunch from home and eats here in the evenings and weekend.

We spend about $100-$150 per week on food which works for our budget. We try to have meatless meals several times during the week but are not vegetarians. We do not usually buy organic, grass fed, cage free, etc.  and do not use coupons. We do buy store brands. We live in a lower cost of living area.

 

http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2013/CostofFoodJan2013.pdf

According to that chart, the liberal plan weekly food cost for a family of 4 is about $291 so your food spending might be a little high.

 

I'm sure you could do things to reduce your food spending a bit. Do you plan your meals out and only buy what you need? Are you using everything you buy by the end of the week?


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#5 of 25 Old 03-14-2013, 04:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I didn't think about the difference in prices based on where you live.  We have vacationed all over the country and I typically shop and cook meals at our hotel. I live in one of the most expensive places, South Florida.  The only comparable place was CA.  When we go to PA I am shocked at how much cheaper everything is! My family complains at how expensive some things have got or won't shop at a certain stores because the prices are higher.  Well the expensive stores had me gasping at how much cheaper things were. 

 

I don't for see us changing our food budget that drastically. I spend a lot less then some other families that eat comparable food.  I look at it as I can pay for healthy food now, or pay for medical bills later.  


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#6 of 25 Old 03-14-2013, 09:19 PM
 
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If you are buying primarily organic everything, I do not think that your weekly budget is off base. Especially considering your comment about the cost of living in your area. I find the 5% of monthly income for food a laughable percentage. I'm not even sure how that would be remotely possible unless you were feeding your family boxes of ramen noodles???

 

I used to have higher weekly spending until I modified some of our meals and shopping habits. I spread out my shopping longer, meal planned better, etc. I don't know how passionate you are about it, but I had to let go of a few of my organic-only purchases to better fit our budget. It makes me cringe for some items, but I still think that fresh, raw, non-GMO food is better than processed, junk.

 

I completely agree with your mindset of more for food now over problems later. It's hard. Food inflation definitely hurts the wallet! Good luck on the budget!!

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#7 of 25 Old 03-15-2013, 05:08 AM
 
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Well, that seems like a lot to me, but not necessarily for what your are buying if that makes sense.  If I could afford it, I would buy all organic too. 

 

We spend $100-150 a week for a family of 2 adults, more like 3 when my stepdaughter is with us (1 day one week, then 4 days the next, etc.) plus 2 children.  We are vegetarian, hardly buy anything prepackaged, and do not buy all organic.  I have recently found a source for local raw milk and eggs that is super cheap and totally worth the drive, so that has helped as well.  Also keep in mind this budget does not include paper products, which we don't use except TP which we get in bulk, or pet food.  

 

I manage to make pretty healthy meals on fairly low budget, but like I said I really wish we could afford more organic and a little more wiggle room to pick up extras while at the store. 


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#8 of 25 Old 03-15-2013, 06:04 AM
 
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Originally Posted by FLmomof1/1ontheway View Post

I didn't think about the difference in prices based on where you live.  We have vacationed all over the country and I typically shop and cook meals at our hotel. I live in one of the most expensive places, South Florida.  The only comparable place was CA.  When we go to PA I am shocked at how much cheaper everything is! My family complains at how expensive some things have got or won't shop at a certain stores because the prices are higher.  Well the expensive stores had me gasping at how much cheaper things were. 

 

I don't for see us changing our food budget that drastically. I spend a lot less then some other families that eat comparable food.  I look at it as I can pay for healthy food now, or pay for medical bills later.  

 

Yeah, where you live can make a difference in how much you are paying for food.

 

If you feel that you don't want to change what kinds of things you buy and you can afford what you usually spend then that is what I would budget as your amount- even if it is more than you saw recommended.  Someone who is more flexible or has different priorities might spend less.  


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#9 of 25 Old 03-15-2013, 11:56 AM
 
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I find the 5% of monthly income for food a laughable percentage. I'm not even sure how that would be remotely possible unless you were feeding your family boxes of ramen noodles???

It depends on your family size, of course, but our food budget for the last two years has happened to be 5% of DH's take-home pay. Our budget is $150 per month, and we do not eat Ramen. Now I did make two bulk purchases in the last year--quinoa and coconut oil--and I took the money for those out of a different budget category, so those are not counted in the $150/mo. We do not buy all organic or grass-fed meat, but we I do cook healthy meals, and they are not all rice and beans. We don't eat meat every day, but we do eat it, and I find ways to make it stretch. We live in a LCOL area, however. Since DS (9.5 months) is starting to eat more, I will probably raise our food budget a little bit, but not a lot.

 

My feeling is that if you have over $300 per week to spend on food--i.e., if you are meeting all of your other financial obligations and not racking up debt--and if you are on track with your financial goals, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with spending that much. But if you can't really afford to spend that much, then sacrifices have to be made somewhere. If you've already made all the sacrifices you can elsewhere in your budget, then you'll probably need to change something about the way you eat.

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#10 of 25 Old 03-15-2013, 07:55 PM
 
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Eating organic will cost you, but you know that! Some ideas:

-shop bulk bins, stock up when things are on sale

-purchase a meat share from a local farm, an entire animal, etc

-only eat in season produce and be strict about it


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#11 of 25 Old 03-15-2013, 08:46 PM
 
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We are in a lower food cost area and we spend about $200-250/month on food for 2 adults (1 preggo) and a nearly 5 year old. Nearly all our meat is pastured which we buy in bulk during the summer. We do the dirty dozen organic and free range eggs from a local farm but nearly everything else is conventional and we are currently on WIC. We grow a garden and preserve as much in season produce as we can and it cuts down on our food bills significantly. We also eat vegetarian a few days a week. We shop at Aldi once per month for our bulk items like butter, organic potatoes etc. Before we were on WIC my daughter drank pastured raw milk but dh just did conventional whole to cut costs. We have had to make some sacrifices but I feel we are doing pretty well overall. We eat out maybe once per month.

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#12 of 25 Old 03-15-2013, 10:49 PM
 
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It depends on your family size, of course, but our food budget for the last two years has happened to be 5% of DH's take-home pay. Our budget is $150 per month, and we do not eat Ramen. Now I did make two bulk purchases in the last year--quinoa and coconut oil--and I took the money for those out of a different budget category, so those are not counted in the $150/mo. We do not buy all organic or grass-fed meat, but we I do cook healthy meals, and they are not all rice and beans. We don't eat meat every day, but we do eat it, and I find ways to make it stretch. We live in a LCOL area, however. Since DS (9.5 months) is starting to eat more, I will probably raise our food budget a little bit, but not a lot.

 

My feeling is that if you have over $300 per week to spend on food--i.e., if you are meeting all of your other financial obligations and not racking up debt--and if you are on track with your financial goals, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with spending that much. But if you can't really afford to spend that much, then sacrifices have to be made somewhere. If you've already made all the sacrifices you can elsewhere in your budget, then you'll probably need to change something about the way you eat.

 

I probably should have worded that better. I apologize if my remark came across as snarky.

 

Organic vs. conventional, cost of living, food variety, and family size definitely make a difference. For me personally, I could not feed my family of 6 (and 4x/month relatives) the type of food we eat on anywhere near $150-200/month. I suppose the 5% is also relative to what the income level is. The less you make, the more groceries eat out of your budget.

 

Some of you must have some super clever ways to make meals! I'm impressed! thumbsup.gif

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#13 of 25 Old 03-24-2013, 08:33 AM
 
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Our family is DH, my pregnant self, and a 4 y/o and 2 y/o.  The kids both have food sensitivities (DD1 just dairy now and DD2 dairy, soy, nuts, gluten, eggs).  My budget is supposed to be $600 a month including household items.  To be totally honest though, I think I've gone over that by at least 100 for the last several months.  I have a hard time staying within that anyway but add in pregnancy, morning sickness, holidays  and just not being organized enough and it's not been pretty.  I am really trying to get things back under control though.  Food is hard.  The costs keeping going up!  I really try to keep our meats local or organic but we weren't able to get our beef share this year which throws a wrench in things.  I was getting whole chickens locally but the fact is that none of us like the drumsticks.  I do try to get most of our produce organic by purchasing in bulk but not all of it is.   Our growing season is really short here so we only have a farmer's market for a couple months and things are (generally) more expensive for conventional there than what I can buy organic for at the store. 

I am trying to buy in bulk more but that's harder to budget for.  We are hoping DH will get at elk this year which would be great. 

 

Like has been mentioned I think food budgets are really personal based on so many factors.  If you live in a high COL area that is tough.  If you have certain preferences (for instance, i could eat meat 3 or 4 times a week, DH wants it 2x a day) that changes things, allergies, time, storage space...all of it factors in.  


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#14 of 25 Old 03-25-2013, 05:40 AM
 
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We don't have a strict budget and we go up and down each week but we average around $75.-$100 a week. Our family has Dh,Myself,Ds(6.5),Dd(4),Dd(16m) and I'm pregnant right now. I'll be honest and say we've been higher then normal the past few weeks b-c I've been relying a lot on quick foods and eating out b-c I'm killer sick with this pregnancy. We're dairy-free vegetarians and when I'm up to it EVERYTHING is cooked from scratch.

We also buy organic when available. Grow our own veggies. Hit the farmers markets/farms in the summer


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#15 of 25 Old 03-25-2013, 03:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Maria2513 View Post

It depends on your family size, of course, but our food budget for the last two years has happened to be 5% of DH's take-home pay. Our budget is $150 per month, and we do not eat Ramen. Now I did make two bulk purchases in the last year--quinoa and coconut oil--and I took the money for those out of a different budget category, so those are not counted in the $150/mo. We do not buy all organic or grass-fed meat, but we I do cook healthy meals, and they are not all rice and beans. We don't eat meat every day, but we do eat it, and I find ways to make it stretch. We live in a LCOL area, however. Since DS (9.5 months) is starting to eat more, I will probably raise our food budget a little bit, but not a lot.

 

My feeling is that if you have over $300 per week to spend on food--i.e., if you are meeting all of your other financial obligations and not racking up debt--and if you are on track with your financial goals, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with spending that much. But if you can't really afford to spend that much, then sacrifices have to be made somewhere. If you've already made all the sacrifices you can elsewhere in your budget, then you'll probably need to change something about the way you eat.

$150 per MONTH?  That seems impossible!  I guess if you don't by organic and you eat a lot of vegetarian meals, maybe that's possible, but I don't see how.  Do you include things like toilet paper, dog food, toothpaste, dish soap, and those kinds of things that you buy at the grocery store?

 

Anyway, we probably spend $150 a week.  We eat mostly grassfed meat/eggs, organic produce, grains, and beans.  We eat quite a few vegetarian meals, dh hunts, and we garden.  Hoping to put up a lot more food from the garden this year, as organic produce got expensive this winter.

 

Basing food spending in a percentage of your income isn't totally reasonable in my opinion.  If you have a larger family and a lower income, you will probably have to spend a higher percentage of that income to eat well (or at all).

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#16 of 25 Old 03-25-2013, 08:25 PM
 
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Do you include things like toilet paper, dog food, toothpaste, dish soap, and those kinds of things that you buy at the grocery store?

Sometimes it includes toilet paper, but most of the time it doesn't. I take household expenses like that out of a different budget category, and they really don't add up to much. Toilet tissue is about $7 every 1.5 months; dish soap $1 maybe every two months; dishwasher detergent $1 about once a month; toothpaste $1 or less every two to three months. We don't have a dog.

 

I have always cooked a lot of $0.89/0.99-per-pound chicken and $0.99-per-pound shank portion hams, all of which I can make stretch. Once in a while pork when it is around $1.20 or so per pound, and occasionally ground beef. We just finished paying off all our student loans, so now that we're debt-free I am going to be increasing our food budget by from $150 to $180 in order to buy more grass-fed meat/pastured poultry, as well as because DS is starting to eat more.

 

 

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Basing food spending in a percentage of your income isn't totally reasonable in my opinion.  If you have a larger family and a lower income, you will probably have to spend a higher percentage of that income to eat well (or at all).

Definitely!

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#17 of 25 Old 03-26-2013, 11:47 AM
 
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Hmmm...  just lately things have crept up, but I'm right with you.  I end up spending about 300/week on food, although I'm in denial about it.  We don't eat out (if i can help it).  I try and shop at trader joes where stuff is cheaper... It's crazy...   (family of 6, dh eats lunches out but the rest we all eat together) (ds's - 7, 5, 3, dd - 1)  I can't wait til they're teenagers....eyesroll.gif  (We don't do organic everything, but there are certain things that we do...and if I can't get real sustainable farm meats, we don't eat meat...although I will sometimes make the exception for trader joe's organic chicken which says sustainable but I've never been able to verify)
 

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#18 of 25 Old 03-26-2013, 11:20 PM
 
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I end up spending about 300/week on food, although I'm in denial about it.  

 

Me too. Total denial. I'm actually procrastinating on working on the budget as I type this.

 

We are vegetarian. 2 adults 2 kids (4 and 7.) I had to stop buying organic a few years back. I do buy organic apples from Trader Joe's and organic almond milk from Whole foods (it's one of the few non-dairy milks my daughter can drink.) And sometimes, if I'm feeling particularly sinful, I buy organic raisins.

 

I buy a fair amount of stuff from subscribe and save at amazon.com. I also get avocado oil and macadamia oil from them.

 

We don't do gluten or cane sugar (due to sensitivities) and very little cheese (our daughter does Daiya vegan cheese.) Our chickens lay eggs. I'd like to have a garden but we live in rattlesnake country and with kids so little I am holding off on a garden. (You should have seen the mice in the chicken coop when I set up the wildlife camera a couple nights.)

 

I buy raw local honey straight from the beekeeper for our raw honey needs but buy processed stuff from TJ for baking since it's cheaper and baking will kill the nutrition anyways. I am trying to figure out which almond flour recipes I can substitute TJ's almond meal since it is significantly cheaper than blanched almond flour I have to buy online (makes great gluten free baked goods, but it's ghastly expensive.)

 

It's a total struggle. I only buy the kids one frozen meal a week (though Sprouts had a 20% off sale so I stocked up and hid 6 weeks worth.) I buy them up to two packages of desserts each week--a small container of ice cream, some gluten free cookies, whatever. On grocery shopping day I buy them each a box of fruit juice made from pureed fruits as a special treat. I stock up when things are on sale (and store everything in metal or glass so we don't get rodents.)

 

I make a menu every week and shop from my menu. Although I might hold off on buying some sensitive produce (like mushrooms) until midway through the week, other than bananas I try not to go shopping more than once a week. (That has actually saved me a lot of money.) I recently started shopping at night, without the kids, after dog training class. I buy a lot less that way as well.

 

I have to make my own veggie broth and figured out if I puree the veggies and freeze them in ice cube trays, I can mix them with water when I need more broth. This greatly reduced my veggie broth expense.

 

Other than using canola oil instead of avocado or macadamia oils, I'm not sure what I could do (and I have no intention of doing that.)


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#19 of 25 Old 03-27-2013, 04:55 AM
 
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if you buy quality stuff i cant see how you can spend less than 300 a week. 

 

for a family of 3 adults (might as well call dd an adult where food is concerned) spending 400 - 500 a month is  nothing. plus i get a CSA box every week. that is not factored into the $$$s we spend on items. 

 

OP i am not sure what you are wanting. i think for your family 300 a week is reasonable. i am not sure how you can reduce that without compromising the kinds of food you buy. 

 

are you looking for ways to reduce spending  or do you just want to check what others spend on food. 

 

food is a big part of our budget second to rent. i grew up that way too. we always ate well and healthy and quality. 5 - 15% seems a ridiculous amount to me. 

 

i can easily walk into TJs and spend 200 without a qualm. and now that dd has allergies i can spend even more. 


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#20 of 25 Old 03-27-2013, 08:04 PM
 
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We are a family of 5.  I spend around $1200 a month on food.  It's more than most people I know, but we don't eat any grains, everything is organic, grass-fed, etc.  Our food is expensive, it's the one place where I spend a lot of money.  I make literally EVERYTHING from scratch, it's still pricey because meat and vegetables are expensive.  We also pretty much never eat out at this point.


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#21 of 25 Old 03-27-2013, 09:53 PM
 
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We are a family of three (myself, my partner, and our two year old). We USED to spend between 400 - 500 dollars a month on groceries (including toiletries, etc.), not including on what we spent on going out to eat. Now, we're down to 300.00 or LESS per month.

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#22 of 25 Old 03-28-2013, 06:44 AM
 
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Our family eats at least $500 a month on produce alone! I couldn't imagine the cuts I would have to make to keep my whole budget $500.

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#23 of 25 Old 03-28-2013, 12:45 PM
 
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if you buy quality stuff i cant see how you can spend less than 300 a week. 

 

for a family of 3 adults (might as well call dd an adult where food is concerned) spending 400 - 500 a month is  nothing. plus i get a CSA box every week. that is not factored into the $$$s we spend on items. 

 

OP i am not sure what you are wanting. i think for your family 300 a week is reasonable. i am not sure how you can reduce that without compromising the kinds of food you buy. 

 

are you looking for ways to reduce spending  or do you just want to check what others spend on food. 

 

food is a big part of our budget second to rent. i grew up that way too. we always ate well and healthy and quality. 5 - 15% seems a ridiculous amount to me. 

 

i can easily walk into TJs and spend 200 without a qualm. and now that dd has allergies i can spend even more. 


We definitely can on $200/week or less, but I'm guessing food prices are lower here.  If I bought whatever I wanted to eat all the time, I could easily spend $300 a week -- in fact, that would be fun!

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#24 of 25 Old 03-31-2013, 07:46 AM
 
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To be honest, I am not sure, but it has to be well over $500 a week for a family of 4 - two adults, two teens - (although it is currently 5 people because I am taking care of my 22 yo DD who has a badly broken ankle and is recovering from surgery) and a raw fed 200 lb dog. We drink raw milk, grass-fed meats, and all organic fruits and veggies and local products where possible. I would love to get it down (a lot) because it is excessively high given our income. However, DH and I will not compromised on food quality, so it means other things like vacations, new furniture, electronics etc get sacrificed.


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#25 of 25 Old 03-31-2013, 08:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the replies! I see the range varies greatly and it depends on where you live, what you buy, and how many people are in you household. It is very personal. Some of you mamas do an amazing job keeping costs low!! I try- maybe not as much as I could but as much as possible for me. My shopping lists are usually spread out to four different places. That is a ton of running around with 3 little kids. I buy conventional produce that is not on the dirty dozen at the produce stand. I buy some of my organic produce/fruits at a whole sale club. I also get cage free chicken from the whole sale club. I'm stuck buying meats at Whole Foods because I don't have the space to buy a whole cow and store it to save some bucks. I buy a lot of frozen organic veggies and fruits, they are much cheaper that way. I do shop sales.

My kids are so picky! They will tell me something is wrong with their hamburger if it's not grass-fed meat. They also say the same thing if the veggies are not organic. Luckily our budget falls below the recommended %'s in every other category, so if we spend 30%+ on food so be it.

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