Ten years ago when my three stepkids were with us 1/3 of the time I used to shop that way, and our grocery budget was $200 a month, which included several take-out meals. But then I made a goal of buying ALL organic produce and grains and humanely- and naturally-raised meat, and our food bill has skyrocketed.
I think I do almost everything I could do to make buying this kind of food as cheap as possible, but it's still our biggest expense outside of our mortgage payment. I would love to hear what other people spend and any suggestions they have for keeping those expenses down.
FTR, I'm not here to judge those of you who don't do this. I'm just interested in seeing an (organic)-apple-to-(organic)-apple comparison.
Once a week we do tofu, well for 2 days
once a week we do beans usually lentils and rice indian style for 2 days
once a week we do meat
and on weekends its usually pancakes
I try to bake bread once a week too
We do raw milk
So the csa is 150 a month
and our whole foods is usually around 100 a week so 550 at the least. I know its ridiculous but its also soap, shampoo, diapers, dog food
I usually buy bulk rice, lentils,flour
swiss cheese, organic pastures milk, eggs, yogurt, butter, maple syrup, pasta, pasta sauce, spices, organic sugar, raw local honey, tea, o and then there's the herbal stuff, vit d, sambucas, whatever seasonal additives etc.
The csa has helped a lot because i dont have to think about produce i just deal with whatever they give me. Then i buy off of our list and really stick to it, but I dont and now they have their friday sale there and I always end up "taking advantage" of that which increases our bill
We eat mainly organic: all organic/free-range animal products and raw milk and 90% org fruits, veggies and grains/beans. Most food is cooked from scratch and I had a garden last year, canned jams and pickles, froze a ton of fruit. The thread below is a similar one from the Traditional Foods forum, where people seem to have higher grocery bills. It's interesting to compare - I feel weird asking my friends how much they spend on food!
Widowed mummy to T 6/08 and a crazy blue dog
We do raw milk, almost all organic produce, local free-range and pastured meats, honey or maple syrup for sweeteners, and farm eggs. We're also big meat-eaters and have meat for dinner every night, so that makes it a lot pricier.
Elizabeth - Doing life with Scott
SAHM to Evelyn - my crazy little Celiac (4) Annabelle (2) and Abraham (born 6/20)
Follow our journey
Julia, mama to Bumpa 2008, and The Mole 2011
I could probably shave it down by a hundred a month and still be all organic, but I am a big foodie and choose to spend a little more than I need to in order to indulge my hobby and our taste buds.
Our family consumes meat or fish two to three times a week, I purchase quite a few gluten free produts, and dairy replacement products made from coconut and soy.
I've stopped calculating because I shop only every few weeks, my shopping is based on buying mostly sale stuff in bulk, filling in a few food gaps (eggs, some winter produce like cabbage and carrots, whatever we run out of that truly can't wait, etc). So it can vary considerably month to month based on what is on sale and what we run out of, and also based on our available funds, which can vary by month.
About five years ago we were spending $1200+/month with similar standards, so I definitely think we did well to get it down to $800. But I don't buy things like packaged cereals, milk alternatives, fancy sauces or condiments, packaged snacks except for rice cakes and corn chips, sweet "fun" food like fancy dried fruit, etc. I buy and cook more simply now.
We don't always buy organic, but we buy organic whenever we can. For example, we don't have a source of organic bread flour, but we buy organic wheat flour.
We don't buy organic Eggland's Best, we get local eggs instead for $2.50 a dozen.
We buy organic produce whenever we can, but we are limited to greens, tomatoes, carrots, celery and fruit, for the most part.
All these qualifiers later, , we eat mostly organic, a very high percentage whole foods, and our "household" budget is $350/mo. We typically spend $200 on food.
Here's a list I've posted before explaining how/why we do it on the cheap.
Why Our Grocery Budget is So Low
1.Mike has a job wherein he eats two meals a day for free five days a week.
2.We get $150 worth of food from WIC every month.
3.We get $60 in food stamps every month.
4.We get $40/yr in Project Fresh.
5.We pick free, wild berries until our fingers fall off.
7.My in laws give us tons of grass fed beef and venison.
8.My husband and kids catch fish.
9.We buy seasonal produce in bulk and can/freeze/dry/root cellar it.
10.We watch sales.
11.We bake virtually all of our breads.
12.I make our yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese and ricotta.
13.I make snacks/desserts rather than buying them.
14.I make homemade mixes.
15.We make our own condiments- mayo, BBQ, ketchup, pizza sauce, salsa, syrups, salad dressings, etc.
16.We buy in bulk, especially spices.
17.We buy store brands.
18.We buy dry, not canned beans.
19.The only meat I eat is fish.
20.We make our own veggie burgers and veggie sausage
I spend between $600 and $800 a month for 2 adults and 2 children (who are both dairy free) and dinner guests several times a month.
I shop almost exclusively at Whole Foods except for the occassional -we're out of something that can't wait a few days- because I simply don't have the patience for reading labels at regular stores and trying to find things that dont' have any high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils etc. and that are dairy free.
I have got to change something because this is really a stretch for us. But hopefully we're done moving (3 times in 3 years) and I can get my garden going this year and cut out bill a bit even if it's just for a few months this summer. And I really *need* to start meal planning - I know that would really help me, but I just haven't found a way that is going to work for us yet.
Mommy to Lily & Kane and we're homeschooling
My goal at the moment is $500. For us this is a huge, huge accomplishment, I realize to many people that is a lot of $$, but for us we have cut our bill in half! This includes everything we buy at the grocery store (food, vitamins, plastic bags, coffee) and all eating out, which at this point we don't eat out but 1-2x a month get a cup of coffee out. Organic coffee is a big expense, I have cut back but can't seem to make myself quit!!! I also tend too over eat and this is a problem I am working on! I cook mostly from scratch and bake all our bread, tortillas, bagels, and treats. Organic dairy is quite and expense also, we eat a lot of eggs, and the only soy we eat is tofu maybe 2x a month. We only shop at our local HFS, Trader Joe's, and Farmers Market. try to buy what’s in season and cheap at the FM & we grow a summer garden so I have jam, sauces, and a little bit of frozen veggies left.
I meal plan and write out a list of groceries, I add up the estimated cost and if it goes over my goal I cross off things. DH always brings his lunch to work, doesn't mind left overs and loves bean, rice, and cheese He also likes wine and buys a bottle or two a month even though it's not on my list (like $6 bottles)!!
This is basically what we eat-
oatmeal, egg sandwiches, scrambled eggs and veggies, egg tacos, pancakes, peanut butter and toast & fruit, bagel and cream cheese
usually left overs, whole wheat pasta w/veggies, veggie sandwiches, salad with grains and nuts, pb &j
dinners- this is my basic weekly template
homemade pizza and salad
bean tacos, homemade tortillas (w/cheese and salsa)
veggie burgers and brown rice (packaged veggie burgers)(easy night when dh works late)
big pot o' soup and homemade bread
stir fry or lasagna or something simple
2 night of left overs
I buy in bulk and stock up when I see deals. I aim to spend $100 a week ($70 at grocery store, $30 at farmers market), plus about $100 more a month for deals, vitamins, and incase I go over
I bake 2-3x a week...usually bread or rolls, bagels, sweets
once a week we make tortillas, I prep everything and my dh likes to make them
Hopefully we will grow even more this year in the garden an be able to trim it down to $400 a month BTW, we are two adults, a 4yo and 20mo.
Things I would like to try & do trim cost-
find a veggie burger recipe I like
make our own yogurt (kids eat a lot)
make our own almond milk (see if it's cheaper)
we are getting chickens in the spring
find a local source for milk?
do a big cooking day 1x a month and stock the freezer so I don't slip up when not prepared!
Being unorganized and unprepared always seems to cost me $$$!!
Happily married, Waldorf-inspired homeschooler to Kylan (8yo), Everest (6yo), and Bodhi (2yo)
so, when we buy organic with more processed than normal--and this includes meat, dairy, and produce--we spend about $200-$225/wk. Now, this feeds a man who eats for two (he's a body builder), a vegetarian, and a 16 month old child who eats about as much as i do (he's also vegetarian).
when we buy organic with less processed, our normal cook-at-home with the most processed food we buy being ezekiel bread, then our bill comes in around $175 per week.
i might also point out that my DH uses a lot of oils--cod liver, flax, udo's perfect blend (i also use these other two), and those can cost a pretty penny. a bottle of the CLO for example, costs $22. it lasts about 1-2 months, so long as he is also using other oils that do cost less. But, we also buy very high quality olive oil, etc--i'm sure people could find cheaper--and it's about $10-12 per bottle.
so, to an extent, we are buying very expensive product.
we don't buy a lot of paper products or cleansers either. we do have toilet paper which we buy every month or six weeks (recycled), and we buy dr bronner's castile soap every 2-3 months, and shampoo/soap every 6-8 wks.
so, yeah, on average, $175-200 per week.
Last summer, we joined a large, established food coop in Brooklyn (with about 15,000 members) and are spending about $80 per week on all groceries. We have to each work at the coop three hours per month but that, in my opinion, is a small price to pay for such a huge reduction in food cost. The coop provides almost all organic and if not organic, at least locally (as in tri-state area) grown. The coop is able to provide such low prices because 1) labor is provided by the coop members; 2) it is a non-profit so the mark-up is minimal; 3) stuff like spices, beans, etc. are bought in bulk. In fact, DH recently paid 22 cents for a jar of thyme! The thought that we previously paid so much more for the same items makes me cringe. Food coops are becoming more popular and I love the concept of people taking control of their food supply!
we shop, trader joe's, azure standard/unfi, and occasionally whole foods.
i buy everything in bulk and from co-ops that i can (4 gallons of maple syrup for $35/gallon, 25 pounds of organic oats for $16 etc.).
we're trying to get it down to $500 or less but i just can't seem to do it.
What we go through a lot of are eggs (some times 2 doz a week) and bread. I have stopped purchasing organic bread. The Rudy's I like to buy is over $5.00 a loaf at Whole Foods. I could buy it in our neighborhood store for $3.89. We've moved, though, so, now, I just focus on no HFCS. Organic eggs range from $2.99/doz for tiny eggs to over $4.00 for large eggs.
I do reference the dirty dozen and purchase organic for things on that list, but, for other items that we eat a lot of, like avocados, I purchase conventionally raised as they are not on the dirty dozen list.
Mama to add 10/05; ds 3/09, and two angels
Back when I was still buying only organic foods, only grass-fed meat, as much local as I could, we were spending $800-$1000 per month for a family of five.
It's insane. We have a CSA full year, and we also found a buying club that lets us get a lot of our things in bulk for near-wholesale, so that helps a lot....
ETA: We rarely buy processed foods either. But coconut milk yogurt, coconut milk kefir, a good quality vegan cheese, and locally grown grass fed meats are expensive.
I would guess that our bill is about $120/week for a family of four. The usual bill for the big shopping trip is about $80-90, and it seems like we usually have to run out for a few more things (milk, usually) once a week or so. That includes TP, soap, and toothpaste, but not cat food and litter (which we buy at the other grocery store). We are about 95% vegetarian and we make our own bread and have a garden, but I do not can or preserve. I cook from scratch a lot, we don't do a lot of processed food, and we don't buy vitamins or supplements.
grateful mother to DD, 1/04, and DS, 2/08
I haven't listed what I spend on groceries every month because I haven't been very good at tracking. I *aim* for $600 a month, but that's laughable. I'm sure it's closer to $800 - $1000.
One of my goals for this year is to track more carefully and bring the amount of money we spend on this stuff way down. I re-did my price book (and am actually using it) so it's easier to use. I've started comparing prices with other stores (not just our co-op, UNFI or Amazon). I checked out a salvage store in town that I've been meaning to go to (but they didn't have any organic stuff). I've been searching online for coupons for the few packaged foods I buy. I've started paying attention to the sales flyer that I get for UNFI every month, and buying off THAT...ditto with Frontier. (I can't believe that spices are HALF what they are buying from the bulk bins at our co-op!)
I'm looking a lot more carefully at what we're buying. I dried a ton of strawberries & apples that we picked last spring and fall, so I no longer buy my son the Just Tomatoes dried fruit (that cost about $5 each, and that he can eat in one sitting!) every time we go to the co-op. I've stopped buying coconut milk yogurt. (I was making my own for a while, and may get back to that.) I found a potato pancake recipe we like, so that's a super cheap, relatively healthy and yummy special breakfast for us.
I'm considering buying a SECOND stand-alone freezer so we can buy more meat in bulk. I know eating beans and rice is cheaper, but after being vegetarian and then vegan for 10 years I feel like eating good quality meat is what brought me back to good health. (This is just ME and my personal opinion.) So I'm not about to give up meat or even cut back...I'll just have to work around that.
I forgot to mention that we're gluten-, soy- and corn-free. Also mostly dairy-free. So that makes things a lot more difficult. But I'm determined to do what I can!
New Mama... you mentioned you make your own coconut yogurt - would you mind sharing the recipe? I love the SO Delicious yogurt, but it's pretty pricey. Do you use dairy or non-dairy starter?