What's an average grocery budget for a family of 4? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 53 Old 10-03-2008, 08:02 AM
 
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We spend 600 a month for two adults and two boys aged eight and nine. I buy organics as often as I can but I frequently can't remember what's on the dirty dozen.

We eat a lot of chicken with red meat or pork about once, maybe twice a week and I usually cook it for the others and eat a bowl of cereal or leftovers on those nights.

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#32 of 53 Old 10-04-2008, 08:14 PM
 
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Wow. This is really interesting. With the rising food costs, we have been having trouble keeping it down to $800, and we shop rather conservatively. Not sure if where I live is just unbearably expensive or if it is because ds has so a number of food intolerances or what?! I am amazed how low some of you keep it. We are a family of four. ds is three and dfd is two.

One thing we are doing right now is transitioning to never buying canned beans. We'll be using dried beans only from now on. We don't eat meat, but we do eat a lot of eggs because it is one of the few foods *both* my kids like that ds doesn't react to. We do try to buy organic, free-range eggs, and we buy from a friend when his chickens are egg-producing. I don't think we can afford the organic, free-range eggs from the market anymore though. We make our own bread.

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#33 of 53 Old 10-04-2008, 11:27 PM
 
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It's all about location and choices!

We have a bread machine, rice cooker, brew our own beer, make our own yogurt and soy milk, the only meat we eat is the "bulk chicken breast" packs, and we don't purchase any fresh veggies because we have a CSA membership (which means we drown in seasonal produce but the overall cost is low). We don't drink cow milk and while we do buy eggs we buy the plain old store brand ones (usually "on sale" for 87-99cents/dozen)

We spend roughly 100-150/week for a family of four in a moderate to high COL region, with dd1 having wheat/corn sensitivities and a specific list of "foods she can bring to playschool". )ur diet is a bit repetitive and I'd love to be able to afford more variety or exotic produce but it's healthy and it's what we can afford. I'm guessing that as prices climb tings will get even more repetitive and portions for DH and I will be smaller, but we'll see what happens!

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#34 of 53 Old 10-05-2008, 09:08 AM
 
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Right now we are spending $600-$800 a month for our family of four. I started baking our own bread and doing more local/seasonal produce and that has helped keep it down closer to $600. It really depends on what panty items I need to replenish or if their is a really good sale on something. We live in an expensice area.

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#35 of 53 Old 10-05-2008, 10:42 AM
 
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We spend about $400 for a family of four. This is for all meals- we don't eat out at all. This also includes cleaners and paper products, personal hygeine stuff, and crayons and whatnot.

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#36 of 53 Old 10-05-2008, 11:51 AM
 
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not to hijack the thread, but for those families of four that spend between 400-500, will you list what you buy and make to eat for the month? What kind of toiletries do you buy?
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#37 of 53 Old 10-05-2008, 11:57 AM
 
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We are a family of 5 and spend about $400-$500 a month. This includes a bunch of organics, paper and cleaning products, and HBA.

ETA: I stock up when things are on sale and combine them with coupons. Here's a typical shopping list for me.

2pk of soymilk
1 gal. of organic milk
organic apples, bananas, strawberries, grapes, carrots, broccoli
loaf of good bread (without HFCS)
2 boxes of cereal
2 bags of shredded cheese
6 small containers of yogurt
1 doz. organic eggs
single serving boxes of rice milk
bottles of water
big pack of Charmin (once every 4-6 weeks)
7th Generation dishwasher detergent
7th Generation dish detergent
laundry detergent
pull ups (once every couple of months)
romaine lettuce
bacon bits
croutons
tortilla chips
tortilla shells (2)
pretzels
organic deli ham

Pretty much everything else is on an as needed basis or when it's on sale. I buy meat when I see it marked down. I shop weekly. I make a menu and it's based on what I already have in the house. What I buy this week might be on the menu in the next couple of weeks. I'll post my menu shortly.

Here's my menu so far.

10/1~fettucine alfredo
10/2~??
10/3~Homecoming game. burgers, dogs, and fries
10/4~tacos
10/5~almond and peach crusted pork chops, rice, broccoli
10/6~chicken marsala over noodles, green beans
10/7~leftovers
10/8~pancakes
10/9~ham and cheese ziti
10/10~cheesy chicken and salsa skillet
10/11~one-pan roast pork with parmesan fries, asparagus
10/12~parmesan-garlic chicken, mashed potatoes, broccoli
10/13~??
10/14~speedy chicken stir-fry
10/15~something fast. girls perform at football game.
10/16~??
10/17~??
10/18~date night

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#38 of 53 Old 10-05-2008, 01:55 PM
 
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Wow, this is an eye opener. For a family of 5, at most, I can spend about $225 a month. Granted, we can't afford to eat the way I would like but this is the best we can do. I try to stay away from overly processed foods and buy store brand when possible.

This thread made me sad. I just don't know how people do it. We both work full time.
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#39 of 53 Old 10-05-2008, 02:06 PM
 
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when we were a family of four our grocery budget was around $500-600 per month. That probably didn't include eating out, which we used to do a lot. Now that we have 6 people (all of whom eat) we spend closer to $1000 a month but we eat out a lot less often than we did previously. DH still does eat lunch out pretty much every day for work, but he does fast food and can eat pretty cheaply (dollar menu type of food, I know- not so healthy!)

Food is our biggest expense after housing. I do want to get better about how much we spend. I am looking for budgeting ideas, paying more attention to prices/coupons/sales, learning to cook from scratch, eating leftovers, smaller meal portions, etc. With the rising cost of food and trying to actually save money for the future, I'm on a mission to lower our grocery spending.

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#40 of 53 Old 10-05-2008, 02:47 PM
 
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I have a family of four(one adult, one school age, one preschooler, and a baby on solids) and spend $244 in food stamps monthly. We do organics when they are on sale for the baby and we do have wic so my guess would be $300 a month or less total with everything wic buys.

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#41 of 53 Old 10-05-2008, 03:12 PM
 
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Quote:
not to hijack the thread, but for those families of four that spend between 400-500, will you list what you buy and make to eat for the month? What kind of toiletries do you buy?
Well, I'm not as on top of that as I should be honestly. So I don't really have a "menu for the month" or a "set list".

But in general we make two loaves of bread a week and one batch of yogurt (using powdered milk purchased via co-op in bulk). We eat oatmeal for breakfast most days (bulk, slow cook, about 40 cents/pound) and homemade waffles or toast on the weekends when we "do breakfast up right" (the oatmeal leftover during the week goes into the waffle batter so as to avoid waste).

We get a box of CSA veggies once a week so we eat a lot of omlette/scramble with fresh veggies. We also make a lot of what DH calls "hobo stew"... chop up some chicken (when we have it), some veggies (potato, tomato, beets, squash, greens, carrots, whatever), grab some dry rice and some dry beans, some herbs, throw it all in a pot and let it simmer for a day or so adding stock/bones/veggies/etc as necessary to keep the pot full-ish. It uses up scraps (veggie scraps and bones go to make stock, but we have a nice compost pile too) and tastes pretty good too... though sometimes we make a batch that is divine and of course, we can never re-create it! Same thing with bean chilis and heavy vegetable stews.

Lunch is often stew, or toast with cheese and veggies, or homemade pasties (I make a pizza dough, make triangles, fill with whatever, fold over and bake... it's a medieval calzone essentially), or pasta, or baked veggies with beans/rice, that sort of thing. Dinner is often the same. Maybe a chicken and biscuit meal now and then if I find a good deal on chicken, or sometimes a homemade pizza, or we'll go all out with some sort of yummy ethnic meal (like Thai noodle or Chinese stir fry, or Indian, or recently Ethiopian). Actually, I have some wonderful ethnic cookbooks that are great for "low cost meals" and a few monastery cookbooks that are brilliant for soups and stew-meals.

A lot depends on what is in the CSA box (for a while we ate beet greens with almost every meal, and recently with the all-you-can-pick free tomato crop we've been eating and preserving a lot of tomato products... juice, sauce, crushed, etc.). The rest is generally beans, rice, oatmeal, with whatever "extra" we have put on top.

We do drink coffee and tea so about once a month we buy a container of store brand coffee and a box of tea. And for special meals we may have a bottle of wine (which is never more than 10 dollars, and yes... there are some nice wines for under ten bucks!). We get most of our herbs from our garden or the CSA, spices we can't grow we use very sparingly and re-stock rarely (bulk co-op), and specialty items (like rennet) we save for and/or barter for.

Fruit is whatever we can buy/scrounge seasonally (right now it's apples, and there are wild apple trees around here too) and while we stuff ourselves we also preserve what we can (applesauce joins the melon chunks, blueberries, and raspberries in the freezer and we make jam/jelly/marmalade for ourselves and to give as gifts).

Non-food shopping:
We cloth dipe dd2 and dd1 is potty learned, but both girls wear sposie overnight dipes. So that's 10 dollars per girl per month. We do use toilet paper (and a nice brand because I have ongoing issues from dd2's birth) but we coupon/buy on sale for that and DH uses TP he brings home from work (the janitors set out the almost empty rolls for people to take). I use cloth pads.

Dish soap is whatever is cheapest and unscented... usually store brand. And we use cloth towels and cloth napkins so that's not a cost issue. Our water is just hard enough that things like Charlie's Soap aren't really cost effective... we buy it when we can, but often get the cheapest Free/Clear (with coupon, on sale it's usually All). Shampoo/body soap is dilute Dr Bronners. Toothpaste is Toms but we don't go through it quickly. DH uses an electric razor and a homemade deoderant, I don't shave or use makeup and I use the homemade deoderant too.

General cleaning is Dr Bronner (bulk, co-op, when diluted it last forever), baking soda, vinegar, and a few EOs or herbal rinses I make. I think I restock that stuff about twice a year?

Honestly, we're nor super frugal (though our current situation means I need to trim our budget more... we really need to get below 100/week. So I'm thinking the chicken is going to go, the eggs and yogurt will get scaled back (probably for the girls only), and I'll be buying more via co-ops or on trips to urban areas where I can find more ethnic shops to bulk buy staples.

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#42 of 53 Old 10-06-2008, 04:07 PM
 
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Bah. I spend $900/mo for my family of 5.

80% organic, all whole foods, local raw grassfed organic milk ($60/mo), grassfed meat ($40/mo), organic red wine ($40/mo) but I bake my own bread, homemade toiletries and cleaners, cloth diapers, buy in bulk (50 lbs of organic grain at a time, 25 lbs of dried beans).

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#43 of 53 Old 10-06-2008, 04:17 PM
 
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Oh my gosh, you guys rock! I don't know how you are doing it. I spent $400.00 last WEEK. I usually spend $1000-$1600 a month. We do live in a very high COL area, and I will NOT shop at Walmart, so I guess shopping at Jewel (Albertson's or Super Valu in other parts of the country) I do spend more.

I can't imagine getting down to even $900 a month, so you guys are doing really great! I am going to have to try harder...

We are a family of four, BTW, but my youngest is almost exclusively breastfeeding. :

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#44 of 53 Old 10-06-2008, 06:30 PM
 
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We're a family of four, but one isn't due til November. Does that count?

We receive $300 dollars worth of food stamps a month, so that's what we spend. 'Cause that's all there is. (Of course, that doesn't include toilet paper, detergent, etc. And often we go a bit over the $300, but that is NOT GOOD.)

We do it by buying raw ingredients and cooking from scratch, eating very little meat, never eating breakfast cereal, buying in bulk, avoiding locally grown foods/CSA/farmer's markets like the plague, and limiting organics to meat, milk, butter, and about half our produce.

It's not for everyone, I know.
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#45 of 53 Old 10-06-2008, 06:35 PM
 
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I'll say it again... you ROCK!!! :

I wish I could do as well. I am going to work on it, though. You have all inspired me.

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#46 of 53 Old 10-06-2008, 07:28 PM
 
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Location has a lot to do with it...even little things.

Like, our CSA box is 17 dollars a week. And our most recent box had 6 squash (different varieties, one pumpkin), 4 beets, 12 carrots, a huge thing of brocolli, 4 eggplants, 6 large onions, and 5 pounds of potatoes. Plus all you care to pick tomatoes (over a dozen varieties, including heirloom), tomatillos, hot peppers, herbs, and flowers. And all of this is fresh, local, organic, and even biodynamic.

But around here there are literally dozens of CSAs to choose from so the prices are all really reasonable. The farmer's market on the other hand is a scam. It's beautiful, and social, and a wonderful place to visit and meet people but the prices are double or even triple the most expensive prices in the grocery store. And it amuses me that the farmers that produce the CSA boxes also have stands there too.

But other mamas in this thread have found the exact opposite! Threads like this (average price of X) can get really depressing or incredulous if you don't keep the location mantra at the top of your mind!

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#47 of 53 Old 10-06-2008, 09:55 PM
 
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Yep... our Veggie delivery box with a similar amount of goods( wow actually.... I re read that and yours is SIGNIFICANTLY more!!!!) costs 45 dollars per delivery either weekly or twice monthly. We can't afford it! Free range eggs are about 4.50 per carton, regular large brown 3 bucks a carton. We have gotten our grocery bill down significantly by nessesity. But it seems like we must live in an expensive area. We are gluten free so that also makes a big difference. We make all of our own bread instead of buying 7 dollar loaves of GF bread , but at 15 dollars per 5 pound bag of brown rice flour , even that isn't cheap! I need a grain mill!

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#48 of 53 Old 10-06-2008, 10:14 PM
 
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DD1 has wheat/corn sensitivities... grain mills are awesome. Also, if there are any "ethnic" food shops you may be able to find alternative flours (rice, potato) for less. We're in a moderate-high COL area but if you look you can find amazing deals.

(and yeah... our CSA is three farms working together and they rock. But there are gobs of other CSAs that include free range eggs, or fresh bread, or raw milk... some are significantly more expensive. And for instance our box this week had a pumpkin... which is 5 dollars at the grocery store but 13 dollars at the farmers market. And that's the same pumpkin from the same farm! I don't know how they keep it all straight.)

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#49 of 53 Old 10-07-2008, 12:05 AM
 
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We are a family of 4 and we spend about $400 a month on average for food. We don't buy much pre-prepared things except condiments, sour cream, yogurt, pretzels (huge bag from Costco), Organic Mac N' Cheese (costco), Salmon burger (costco and cheaper then buying regular salmon), and the occassional juice. When I splurge it's on things like french bread, spicy hummus, or natural soda.

We mostly just buy things like:

Milk
Veggies
Eggs
Fruit
Peanut butter
Cheese
Flour
Wheat Berries (to grind into wheat)
Popcorn kernals (to make popcorn or to grind into cornmeal)
Oats (25lb bag last us 2-3 months)
Pasta
Yeast
Spices
Raisins
Nuts
Honey (we go through a gallon every other month)
Teas
Coffee Beans (for dh)
Meat (mostly chicken and turkey, but we buy red meats when they are on sale)
Jams
Rice

We eat mostly organic about 95% actually. I make our bread, tortillas(although I haven't been as good about that lately), granola, cookies, treats, etc. I shop at TJ's, A local co-op store, costco, farmers market, grocery outlet, and I do a bulk order through Azure Standard every month. Also we have a small garden at my parents house that mostly just produce zuchinni this year.

Tips to keep your budget low:

Make a menu either before or after you go shopping otherwise you may waste precious produce

Use up everything, don't let your overripe bananas go to waste

Learn how to make the take out you love, pizza is SO easy and I prefer my homemade

Make extra, freeze meals

Don't buy anything canned except tomatoes and pumpkin puree or other things that are actually difficult or not cost effective.

Learn to bake bread, we saved almost $30 a month from this alone

Don't try making everything from scratch at once, one by one you can master just about anything.

Grow a garden or share a garden. If a friend has land buy the seeds, do a the planting, have them water and reap the harvest together.

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#50 of 53 Old 10-07-2008, 02:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by snazzy_mom View Post
Wow, this is an eye opener. For a family of 5, at most, I can spend about $225 a month. Granted, we can't afford to eat the way I would like but this is the best we can do.
I can completely understand that sentiment. We're a family of 4 and spend around $220-240/mo. There are times when I can get it a bit lower than that by about $40 or so. I'd like to be able to spend more, but just don't have the wiggle room now to do so. I do have to say it has been noticeably more difficult lately to come in at or under budget.
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#51 of 53 Old 10-12-2008, 11:48 AM
 
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I am in the highest category myself. We easily spend $1000 a month on groceries if not more. I am trying to cut it down, but I'm finding it a difficult trade off between eating healthy and eating cheaper. We also live in a very high cost of living area. My kids are also very big eaters - most parents are trying to get their toddlers to eat, I'm trying to get mine to stop! We eat some things organic, but not others, so I'm not sure whether its worth even bothering, we can't afford to switch to all organic, I can't imagine what that would cost if I was strict about it.

So, we can easily go through a yogurt (Stonyfield farm organic, $0.80), a granola bar (Kashi TLC crunchy, $0.50), an applesauce cup (not organic, but No sugar added, $0.45), an apple ($0.15), a banana ($0.15) and 10 crackers (Kashi TLC, $0.40), total $2.45 per day per child (actually they tend to eat much more fruit than that in addition to some carrots, etc). My son will eat 2-3 granola bars a day if left to his own devices. So $5 a day, 30 days a month is $150/mo just in snacks. Could I get cheaper versions of all of that yes, but my kids eat a lot of it and I hate to substitute it with less healthy versions with HFCS, etc. Solutions that involve me doing a lot more work tend to be a waste of money - what happens is I buy the stuff, maybe make it once or never make it at all. It turns into a huge waste of money when the stuff goes unused. I mean well but I feel like I'm not going to save money by being unrealistic about my own ability.

That said, I've been very bad about not planning meals, not paying attention to prices and I'm going to try to be better. This week we made out a meal plan, looked through what we already had and I made a very specific shopping list which I only bought a few extra things besides the list. We decided to only buy enough of the kids snacks for what I listed above, so they simply can't go through more than 2 boxes of granola bars a week, etc. so I actually bought very little of their snacks besides fruit. I still spent $232. I am going to start keeping a price book, which I did for this weeks groceries, to get better about seeing when I can buy things on sale or which grocery store has better prices. I did this years ago when we lived in seattle and it helped a lot, but have been lax since we moved.

Mightymoo - Mom to DD (6) and DS (4)
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#52 of 53 Old 10-12-2008, 01:09 PM
 
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We only have a family of 3 but we eat mainly organic. I spend about $95/week on all 3 of us. I use a lot of local farms for fresh produce and we don't buy boxed or processed foods.
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#53 of 53 Old 10-12-2008, 06:57 PM
 
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It varies for us. We are a vegetarian family of four. In months with low expenses, we buy almost all organic, even pricey organic convenience foods, usually 1000 or more a month. Last month we were hit with repeated unexpected expenses (cars breaking down, sick animals, unexpected travel, homeschool expenses, and so forth) and cut it down to barely 500 including pet food for five animals and all supplies required for running a home.

Doing that required me to dip into our stockpiles so this month I am rebuilding all of our stockpiles. We buy most things in huge quanitites, ie, oil, rice, oats, soap, detergent, etc. I was glad to be able to easily feed our family with barely a bump in the road, just a focus on buying perishables.
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