Your Food Budget... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 25 Old 09-02-2011, 11:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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How many people are you feeding and, if you could estimate, how much are you spending per meal?

 

We are a family of 5.  I budget $125 a week. I have no idea if I am actually within budget bcs I stock up when I see a good deal on meat, etc, so I'm trying to figure out if "per meal", I'm within budget. And I realize I have NO CLUE. TOnight, our grocery store runs "Buy 2 rotisserie chickens for $10". But I have no idea if that's actually a good deal, based on my budget because I've never figured out how much I spend when I throw a meal together. My kids have a decent hot lunch program (whole grains, local produce) for $2.40 a kid. I'm sending them lunches, but do my lunches actually cost more than that??

 

So I guess I'm realizing that although I SAY we have a food budget, I'm actually winging it. Looks like back to envelopes for me!

 

just wondering what you average...

 

(ETA: This is further confused by magazines that boast budget friendly meals at $3.92 a serving and I think..."what???" bcs I $20 a meal sounds like a LOT but again I am clueless it turns out!)

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#2 of 25 Old 09-02-2011, 12:45 PM
 
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We average $150 per week. That is for two adults (one nursing a baby), one toddler, 2 school aged boys for 3 meals per week, and my MIL for 2 dinners per week. That includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. It really does not buy all that much. I usually just get meat, milk, fruits, vegetables, coffee, and other dairy (yogurt, cheese, etc). We buy very little processed foods and most of what we get is organic. I really don't feel as though I am making a lot of impulsive choices.

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#3 of 25 Old 09-02-2011, 04:43 PM
 
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Our budget is $175 cdn per week.  This feeds 4 to 5 people (2 adults, boys 10 and 8, grandma stay here half the time).  I pack all lunches at home.  We eat out once a week that's not included in this.  I'm certain I do stay within the budget most of the time, unless we're stocking up.  Food in Canada are a bit more expensive than in US.  i.e. milk is around $5 for 4L.  Luckily we're not big people so that helps a lot.  I know our budget is OK because we put the set amount of money in a separate "food account" and all grocery purchases and food orders come out of that account by debit.  I check the summary online once in a while.

 

*Oh we eat about 50% organic.  Have a CSA delivery, buy meat from local butcher offering ethical meat, and fresh breads from local bakeries.  I'm sure there's lots of room to cut if money is tight.  But we don't need to right now, so I'm enjoying the fresh food. :)


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#4 of 25 Old 09-02-2011, 05:27 PM
 
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I budget $600/month for 6 of us (dh, me, kids 12, 9, 7, 4).  When I complain about the cost of food or how quickly it disappears from the fridge and cupboard, dh reminds me that the 6 of us consume 540 meals per month (3 meals per day x 6 people x 30 days) not counting snacks, so we're really not spending that much.  We only eat out or get take out 1-2x per month (separate budget line), so most of those 540 are consumed either at home or prepared at home and packed to school.

 

I do keep track of how much I'm spending on food, because I know it would be very easy to go way over budget without seeming that extravagant.

 

I'm in canada too, and 4L of 1% milk is closer to $6 here. greensad.gif

 

I think the best way to figure out if you're sticking to your written budget is just to keep track of your purchases.   Over time, you'll get a good sense of your weekly average and meal costs.

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#5 of 25 Old 09-02-2011, 06:54 PM
 
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We spend $1200 to $1400 a month for two adults and three kids (ages 10, 7 and 4). We rarely eat out and they bring lunch to school four days a week (and buy on the fifth day). 

 

We buy about 50% organic and are 95% vegetarian. Most of our money goes towards organic milk and produce.

 

We spend a FORTUNE, but can't seem to cut it down much. This does include paper products and toiletries (anything we'd buy in a supermarket, I don't break down the bill). 

 

ETA: I'd say we spend, on average, $6 on breakfast, $8 on lunch and $20 on dinner. It would be interesting to get this down to a more exact amount, though.

 

Good luck figuring out your food budget!

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#6 of 25 Old 09-03-2011, 04:31 AM
 
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I shop a little differently. 

 

Every 3 months, I spend $600 with a food buying club and get the bulk of our grains and beans -- rice, beans, spices, oils, nuts, flour, bread, etc

 

I spend $40 each week at the farmer's market. 

 

And then, another $100 at the grocery store for more produce, tofu, milk, cheese, yogurt.  

 

 

When I break it down, I spend about $175-190 a week to feed 2 adults,3 kids.  We eat a mostly vegetarian diet, lots and lots of produce.  I strive to buy organic, but don't make myself crazy with it.  We rarely eat out, maybe once every 2-3 months we will go out for pizza.  So, that is all meals for 5 people.  

 

 


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#7 of 25 Old 09-03-2011, 05:38 AM
 
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Were a family of dh,me(pregnant),ds(5) dd(2.5) All with fairly big appetites and ALWAYS have leftovers for at least dh to take to work and our groceries total about 100-120 a week. Depending if its one of those garbage bags,compost bags,flour weeks. Were dairy free vegetarian. Our big spending comes from almond milk mostly and "fake meat" which we know buy at a discount place and very little of it. 

 

I break down meals to see cost like this

 

cauliflower was on sale for .88 this week divided by how many meals you can get a head of cauliflower to last(1 in our house b-c the kids go nuts for it) so .88/5(leftover meal)=.17 a serving thumb.gif

 

If my per serving is over .50 it aint happening unless its some amazing organic fresh produce I cant pass up. 

 

Then I total all the aspects of the meal & that should give you a ball park on how much your meal costs. SEEMS like work but its pretty quick once you figure it out


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#8 of 25 Old 09-03-2011, 06:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taubel View Post

 

 

ETA: I'd say we spend, on average, $6 on breakfast, $8 on lunch and $20 on dinner. It would be interesting to get this down to a more exact amount, though.

 

 

 

That was exactly the kind of breakdown I was looking for thank you! Is that TOTAL? So $6 for your entire family for breakfast? I feel like these numbers are important so I can do "mini" splurges occasionally, like hot lunch or rotisserie chickens for dinner...without breaking the bank...unless they actually DO break the bank!


 

 

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#9 of 25 Old 09-03-2011, 06:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This is what I need to do, but seem to have a huge mind block against it! I made hot pockets for my kids lunches...I think the last batch produced 8 of them...2 cups white flour, 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 package yeast, 1 lb ground turkey, 28 oz crushed tomatoes, 16 oz tomato sauce, 6 oz tomato paste, 1/4 c shredded cheese....what a PIA.  And I haven't even gotten to the homemade hummus, baby carrots, 1/2 cup watermelon. But I guess I NEED to do the exercise to see where I am! Sigh....
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by caiesmommy View Post

Were a family of dh,me(pregnant),ds(5) dd(2.5) All with fairly big appetites and ALWAYS have leftovers for at least dh to take to work and our groceries total about 100-120 a week. Depending if its one of those garbage bags,compost bags,flour weeks. Were dairy free vegetarian. Our big spending comes from almond milk mostly and "fake meat" which we know buy at a discount place and very little of it. 

 

I break down meals to see cost like this

 

cauliflower was on sale for .88 this week divided by how many meals you can get a head of cauliflower to last(1 in our house b-c the kids go nuts for it) so .88/5(leftover meal)=.17 a serving thumb.gif

 

If my per serving is over .50 it aint happening unless its some amazing organic fresh produce I cant pass up. 

 

Then I total all the aspects of the meal & that should give you a ball park on how much your meal costs. SEEMS like work but its pretty quick once you figure it out



 

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#10 of 25 Old 09-03-2011, 08:18 AM
 
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I'm trying to get our budget to a reasonable amount. We were spending upwards of $1000 a month for groceries, including toiletries, but $250/week is over half of our weekly budget :( SO, I'm trying $700 this month (we had major car repairs) and I am doing well. I think I may make it $800 next month and use that extra $100 to stock my pantry as it's getting rather bare.

 

This is for hubby, me, and two school age boys who eat a TON! We may be pregnant as well, so soon it could be more, I hope :)

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#11 of 25 Old 09-03-2011, 08:40 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cristina47454 View Post

 

(ETA: This is further confused by magazines that boast budget friendly meals at $3.92 a serving and I think..."what???" bcs I $20 a meal sounds like a LOT but again I am clueless it turns out!)

 

$20 for one meal sounds like a lot to me too.  I certainly don't spend that much daily and it isn't a budget friendly meal when I do.

 

Tonight I'm making spaghetti, sauce, and salad.  It's tough to break down the exact cost because it uses so many tiny ingredients.  The meat for dh and dd2's sauce was $2/lb, but I'll get at least 3 meals for them out of it.  Ds, dd3, and dd1 prefer their spaghetti with butter and parm cheese.  I like a fast and fresh tomato/veggie sauce with whatever veggies need to be used up in the fridge.  How much do a couple of tbsps of cheese or tsps of butter cost?  1/3 head of lettuce, red pepper, 1/3 cucumber, onion, etc.  I estimate the meal costs about $10, but I don't know for sure.

 

It's much easier for me to just stick with under $600 per month average.  I know I average under $20 per meal because I spend on average $600/month and we eat all meals and snacks from that, not just supper.
 

 

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#12 of 25 Old 09-03-2011, 09:27 AM
 
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We use $140 cash every 2 weeks for groceries (so $70/week) BUT this is supplemented by $925 we spend a year for 2 CSA shares (one meat/eggs and one veggies/fruit/eggs), and probably around $60/month of ordering food out (bringing the cost up to 'normal' when compared other people).  We do have 2 young, very picky eaters (5 and 1.5 y/o) who don't take up a great deal of the food budget - I'd count them both as one person, but even considering that together they eat less than dh or I.  Except for dh we are a vegetarian household.

 

 

I get more strict about cost per meal on any convenience foods we buy - cost needs to be $2 or less per serving or we don't buy it.  Food can get supplemented (say with salsa we already have, cheese, tomatoes, etc.) and I don't really factor that into the meal cost.  

 

I do use cash envelopes, so I never fully 'stock up' - I have to limit that to only a few items per paycheck that we need most.  Cutting back on what you 'stock up' on somewhat might be enough to help your budget concerns.  So right now, we're out of black peppercorn and low on beans (for us - only 1 kind and a few random cans), but I just stocked fully up on butter.  I've been keeping us to one kind of cheese to save a bit lately and only buying half loaves of bread more often so they don't end up going to waste (we don't eat very much bread).  

 

Just winging it on this - but I'd say that on a normal day we're spending $5 max for breakfast or lunch (probably between $1-$3 per person), and possibly up to $25 for a fancy dinner (homemade indian feast or something like mushroom stroganoff) and something like $10-12 for a normal dinner (cost per serving ranging from $6-$2, considering most meals make 2-3 servings of leftovers).  Think about the meals you eat most often and figure those out, that will probably be the most help.  

 

 

For a normal breakfast (like yogurt with jam & berries) I calculated we spend $4 for huge container of yogurt, $5 for huge container of jam, and somewhere around $5 for berries.  Yogurt lasts around 3 weeks, jam several months, and berries about 1.5 weeks.  Weekly, that would be around 1.25/.50/2.5 = 4.25 giving us at least 5 'meals', so under $1 a meal.  Something more 'fancy' like my wonderful vanilla pancakes uses $5 buttermilk, $6 flour (lasting 3 months), 2 eggs (.50), nominal other pantry stuff (maybe .50 as a high estimate for vanilla/baking powder/sugar/salt).  I'll round that to 5/1/.5/.5 = 7 for the meal making it just over $2 per serving.  (Not sure if the examples are helpful or not, but it was just kinda interesting to think about figuring this out right now for myself).  

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#13 of 25 Old 09-03-2011, 09:30 AM
 
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I am terrible about groceries and food budget...so I will just kinda think out loud here.

 

I figure I spend about $600 a month on all things consumable (including paper products and dog food and kitty litter etc...and I figure all of that is about $100 a month)  That leaves me $500 for food and there are 4 of us and an occasional guest.  

 

So for breakfast they usually eat a piece of fruit, toast or cereal.  We will budget for cereal since it is the most expensive.  Almond milk is about $3 a carton and a box of cereal is about $2.50.    So  $8 a week for three girls.  I usually have a protein bar or left overs so that's about $6 a week for me.    So breakfast comes out to about $14 a week or $2 a day or $.50 per person a day.

 

Lunch: 

girls get a sandwhich...usually p b and j.  an apple.  something crunchy and sweet.  and a veg.

 So a loaf of bread and a jar of pb and jelly, 15# of apples, a box of cookies or granola bars, and a couple pounds of baby carrots (right now they take cucumbers or cherry tomatoes which are free).  

          $2.50                           $5        $2          $15                         $5                                                    $2   = about $30 or $10 a week each girl or about $1.50 a day

 

i suck and spend about $4 a day at work but eat leftovers on my days off.  So $20 or average about $3 a day which brings our daily lunch total to $4.50

 

Supper is our most expensive meal.  I get a good deal on meat at work.  The all natural angus roast in the pot right now was $1 per pound (heck yeah!!!)  I added a little bullion and onion soup mix to cover up the freezer burn (yeah well....) and some celery tops and carrots.  So $3 for the meat and about $.50 worth of carrots.  $1 for the seasonings.  Potatoes will be about $2 and I will serve some sliced tomatos and cucumbers with it and perhaps some fried zucchini (veggies from the garden)...so maybe $.25 for oil.  total for awesome supper that does not happen often is $6.75 and this is a big dinner!  I only cook like this maybe 1 time a week.  but we will go with it because it i the most I will spend on a meal if I actually plan a little.    

 

Bottom would be speghetti or chili or soup.  average cost is about $4 for the meal if it includes salad or bread.  So average I would say $6 per night.

 

and of course it would be silly not to figure in snacks, treats etc....so lets just say we spend $3 a day on that stuff.

 

that brings us to $14 a day....or about $100 a week.   or about $450 a month.  Plus there is the occasional celebrations, snacks for teams and classes etc.  

 

There are four of us and my kids ages are 8, 11, and 15.  So everyone is eating adult portions.


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#14 of 25 Old 09-03-2011, 05:36 PM
 
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Now I'm becoming obsessed with the cost of meals. So tonight's spaghetti, sauce, and raw veggies.

meat sauce: $7 for recipe, enough for 4 meals for dh and dd2, so $1.75

1lb ground beef $2

2 cans tomatoes (one diced, one crushed) $2

onion, celery, carrot, diced $1

green pepper $.50

8oz mushrooms $1

misc herbs, spices, oil $.50 (probably high estimate)

 

quick tomato sauce: $1

tomato $.50

olives, capers, garlic, olive oil, basil from garden $.50

 

butter for spaghetti: $.25

 

parmesan cheese: $.50

 

spaghetti, 2/3 900g package: $.67

2 packages=3 meals for us

 

veggie plate: $1.50 with leftovers for my lunch with hummus tomorrow

cucumber free

carrot sticks $.50

celery $.25

red pepper $.75

 

TOTAL $5.67 for dinner for 6 people

 

I guess I should also count 2 glasses of milk (only ds and dd1 like to drink milk, the rest of us had water) $.75

 

I think spaghetti is one of our cheaper meals though.

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#15 of 25 Old 09-03-2011, 06:10 PM
 
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We spend 100 a week for a fmaily of 6 . Me , dh , 12yr , 8yr, 6yr, 3yr old  . 1 kitten and 1 dog and all paper products . I do use coupons but do NOT buy processed foods as we are Celiacs and can not have Wheat Gluten . 1 child can not have dairy and another can not have Tommattos.  makes for interesting dinners thats for sure .

 

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#16 of 25 Old 09-03-2011, 06:30 PM
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I've never bothered to break it down per meal, but we spend around $700/month on groceries. That's for me, 19yo DS, 16yo DS, and DH who is 6'3" and large-framed. We do eat out from time to time. The total does not reflect pet food and litter, as those are not purchased at the grocery store.

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#17 of 25 Old 09-04-2011, 07:50 AM
 
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I don't break it down by meal.  We have pregnant me, DH and DD who's almost 4.  If I spend less than $500/month on all household stuff, I feel like that's a good month.  I'm sure I could spend less, but we really love to eat and I get a lot of pleasure from cooking and preparing a variety of healthy foods.

 

We don't eat all organic, but we do some organic foods and lots and lots of produce. We eat out about once a week and DH brings his lunch to work everyday. 

 

For breakfasts we eat things like: toast and eggs, oatmeal, cereal, fruit, nuts, yogurt or keifer.  I either make waffles or pancakes or baked oatmeal on weekends.

 

For lunches: DH usually takes left overs or a salad (spinach, other veg, meat and cheese).  DD usually eats fresh fruits and veggies, a sandwich and something snacky like Veggie Booty.  I usually eat a big sandwich with tortilla chips and a fruit or veggie.  We eat a lot of green smoothies too. 

 

For snacks: we eat string cheese, fruits, veggies, yogurt, crackers

 

For suppers: we eat really varied things but lots of rice and lots of meat or tofu or beans.  We're big protein eaters. 


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#18 of 25 Old 09-04-2011, 08:30 AM
 
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Our food budget is basically $300/month + WIC (minus eggs and 1/2 the milk). We are me (pregnant), DF, 4yo and 2yo (who share 50/50 time at their father's house). That is food only. Sometimes we go over about $25 a month (that is all FS money). Currently, we are out of FS because we did a bit of bulk shopping during caselot sales and costco (food to last a while), so I am using WIC only and only what is in the house already.

 

I do keep track of prices. There are stores that have better prices than others, so I go there for those things.

 

ETA: I am wheat-free lacto-vegetarian. DC are lacto-veg, and DF is omni and eats veg at home with us.

-Our budget doesn't reflect eating out.. which we try to only get something small to snack on when we do have to eat out (like driving and we didn't bring enough snacks)

-We snack on: DC: sandwiches, fruit, chips, popcorn. Me: nuts, granola bars, cereal. DF: cereal, sandwiches, nuts.


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#19 of 25 Old 09-04-2011, 09:26 AM
 
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We spend about $125-150 for five people a week, this includes all lunches because our school lunches are AWFUL! This is kind of embarrassing, but when I went back to working full time and packing a lunch, our cost/consumption went down noticeably. I was eating A LOT during the day while I was around with the kids, mostly out of boredom. Now that I pack a lunch, I just eat what's in that and don't have time to snack a bunch when I get home, since it's practically dinner time.

 

Oh, and we buy very little organic for that. Oh, and we've had an elk in the freezer since January, which we're almost through. That helped a lot with meat.


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#20 of 25 Old 09-04-2011, 11:17 AM
 
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I figure we spend about $30 a day on food (for a family of 6). It's not always $10 for each meal (sometimes less, sometimes a lot more - especially when eating out), but on average we spend $30 ish a day to eat.

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#21 of 25 Old 09-08-2011, 12:55 AM
 
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Do any of you include school lunches in the food budget?  I heard they're very reasonably priced in US.  Over here (BC Canada) it's $5 for each school lunch, no choice or substitutions, so we never ordered any (due to food allergies).  I can't imagine spending $220 a month for my two kids' school lunch, but obviously some people must do that to keep that program running.  I guess if some people usually spend $1000+ on groceries, not packing lunch everyday for the kids is worth it.


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#22 of 25 Old 09-08-2011, 04:41 AM
 
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Like Ruthiegirl above, we don't really shop weekly like others do.  I garden and during the summer, get a portion of our vegetables for, well, essentially, free.  I also can and dehydrate any overage.  We are unapologetic omnivores and get our meat by the side or animal.  So, I might spend $700 once a year for beef or $200/year for pork, but then I won't buy much more the rest of the year (unless I want a particular cut that we've run out of).  I buy in bulk from Costco and online.  We also buy a lot of ethnic food online that can't be found in supermarkets (particularly Turkish, German, and gourmet products).  I cook 95% from scratch, 20 meals a week for 4 of us, and can't use coupons, as we don't buy processed food except for a few items (organic whole-grain crackers or condiments, for example).  Dd and dh pack a lunch every single day, so this includes lunches for everyone.  So we have a very non-traditional food budget and we place a HUGE amount of importance on quality of product.  I work very part-time and spend basically all of my pay on food, so at least $500/month in addition to the other purchases.  By far, we spend more on fruit than any other food item, meat included.  All in all, I'd say we average about $800 per month on food at home.  Eating out is another budget item.  We eat out once a week, and during the summer, when dd is off from school, we also have a girls'-lunch-out once a week.

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#23 of 25 Old 09-08-2011, 06:45 AM
 
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My 2 that stay for lunch aren't particularly interested in the meal choices at their school, which is fine with me because it's $5-$6 per day each.  Compared to what I've heard of US school lunches, the school meals here seem very healthy and balanced, with protein, grain, vegetable, fruit, and milk incorporated into every lunch.  Fries, nuggets, etc aren't part of the rotating menus.

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#24 of 25 Old 09-08-2011, 09:40 AM
 
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our school lunches are only $1.50-$2.50 (and I think we qualify for free meals but even if we do we would not eat them often as they are horrible from a nutrition stand point) so they are only slightly less than packing a lunch.


The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#25 of 25 Old 09-08-2011, 01:26 PM
 
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Wow.  I just realized we spend just slightly less than $2 per meal per day for 6 people, only one of which doesn't have an adult appetite (and I have 2 preteens who eat a ton).  This includes snacks.  We spend about $650 per month.  We do raise our own meats, but those are mostly free to us (and eat scraps), except for our rabbits, but they pay us back by sales in the winter, and we do supplement w/foraging and gardening, when we can (no spring/summer garden here this year, but I will have a Fall garden!!!).  I dehydrate and can and sweeten most things w/the honey we harvest.


Happy Homesteading Homeschooling Homebirthing Beekeeping Dready (& a bit redneck even) Mama to 4 fab kids :  dd (23), dd (13), ds (11), dd (5)

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