The Grocery Budget Challenge

Discussion in 'Vittles' started by trailhugger, Aug 12, 2015.

  1. trailhugger

    trailhugger Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho Administrator

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh
    There's talk on the forum every so often about budgeting and, specifically, grocery shopping and cooking at home on a budget.

    I came across a blog post that linked to the USDA food plans issued this past May, which outlines the "Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels." (See the attached pdf)

    According to this list, I should be spending $130 - $152 per week, or up to $660 per month, on groceries for my family. That's JUST food. That's what the USDA says a family of five should spend on just food from the grocery store, on the "Thrifty" plan. It honestly blew my mind.

    Then I googled and found a blog post where a woman details how to only spend $200/month on groceries (including toiletries) for a family of five (kids about the same age as ours). She has a few kooky ideas on ways to save, and spends way more time than I think reasonable (which is any) on printable coupons and going to different stores, but there are some reasonable tricks, as well.

    Anyway, I figured I'd do a more careful job of keeping track and see how well we actually do. Doesn't hurt to have the incentive of spending 'extra' money on Jeep parts for fall wheeling trips. ;)

    Who wants to play?
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. Fabrik8

    Fabrik8 Overcomplicator

    Joined:
    May 27, 2015
    Location:
    Huntersville
    We spend about $120/week for 2 people, but we eat lots of veggies and don't buy anything with processed garbage in it. I actually thought that was kind of high compared to many people, but according to the PDF it's not that bad (Low cost plan...really?). Coupons don't really work for us because we rarely ever buy anything with published coupons. I don't want Kraft salad dressing or Cheetos or Lunchables, sorry.

    I get suspicious about the people who spend $200/month on a family of 5, because many of the cheap/prepared foods are not very healthy (and many families of 5 don't have time to cook from scratch). Also, they never factor in a dollar value of time wasted doing obsessive coupon-ing or making trips all over town to save the odd few dollars.
     
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  3. trailhugger

    trailhugger Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho Administrator

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh
    Today's grocery trip:

    IMAG0830.jpg

    Buy 2, get 3 free Cokes
    1# Frozen meatballs
    2# Sandwich ham
    2.5# bananas
    2# pears
    18oz. brats
    18oz. Italian sausage
    2# chicken breast
    1# sausage
    2 dozen eggs
    1 gallon whole milk
    package of 10-10" flour tortillas
    peanut butter
    1 dz chocolate chip cookies

    The total was $55.51, the discount was $40.03. I think that's a personal best. :lol:
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
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  4. Jeff B

    Jeff B pool boy

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Location:
    Lincolnton N.C.
    I drop about 100-120 a week for myself. My kid eats what I do & she is with me 2-4 days a week through the month. I live off of lots of quality protein & leafy greens. (kid doesn't eat the greens so I supplement her those days) I almost always buy a little extra, so the months with a fifth week I usually only need almond milk & whey protein.
     
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  5. trailhugger

    trailhugger Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho Administrator

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh
    We basically do the 'only buy from the perimeter' thing. We don't do coupons because a) we don't buy that stuff, b) It's rarely the best deal and c) It's not worth my time to keep up with them.

    I buy in bulk and stock up on stuff we use, when I can. Hence the buy 2, get 3 free sodas. We don't buy that many every week! I make a lot from scratch, including salad dressing (just enough to toss with whatever is in the bowl). The kids eat what we eat, although less of some leafy greens and other veggies, and it isn't unusual for Sara (almost 4.5) to eat as much as I do.
     
  6. Blaze

    Blaze The Jeeper Reaper

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2005
    Location:
    Wake Forest, NC
    We drop around $175-$200 for the four of us. That is including my 8 year old and 5 year old sons who eat like rabid hyenas. We try our hardest to buy store brand, buy on sale, etc. We also mostly drink water or milk too.
     
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  7. StretchASU

    StretchASU Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Location:
    Durm
    Cooking for myself I typically spend around $60 a week for food. When I actually take the time to cook and meal prep, it's amazing how far the dollar goes, especially when I take into account watching portion control. Weight management has always been an issue for me so the second I start eating shitty and not working out regularly (usually the "winter coat), I see my food expenses go up with the LB's. I shy away from the heavily sauced/processed stuff when I can but I will primarily buy the steamables veggies just for the convenience factor. Not AS good as fresh, but I travel a good bit so I don't want stuff to spoil. I do a LOT of fresh grilled chicken, meat and fish with a brown rice and a veggie. Alternate things in and out and you can maintain a relatively healthy diet on a budget. Some weeks I go over the $60 or so because I am loading back up on the cooking necessities like oils, seasonings etc or those things that last a couple of weeks when I buy them or I am under because I am just grabbing some fill-in foods. I could go into things like supplements cost per month and stuff like the protein and snack bars, but its not fair comparison for the per month cost since I get those things below wholesale through work.

    Cart typically has the following:
    Bag of frozen chicken breasts or strips
    A couple of steaks if I find them on sale
    larger bag of uncle bens brown rice (lasts a couple of weeks)
    3-4 bags of steamables veggies (2 servings per bag)
    1-2 boxes of pasta (3-4 servings per box)
    2-3 of the "Pasta Sides" or "Rice Sides" packets
    2 cans of Tuna
    Medium sized thing of Peanut butter
    Bread
    Fish, I tend to make a trip back to the grocery store for something fresh that I plan on cooking that night.
    1 Water flavor
    The 10 for 10 G2 Gatorades when I can find them (1 a day typically depending on my physical activity: mountain bike, lifting, dirtbike, soccer)

    Average is around $240 every 4 weeks + approx $50 for supplements and snack bars. Months I travel a lot this cost goes way down due to per-diem and what I get for free at events and shows.
     
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  8. RobMcBee

    RobMcBee Slow n easy when you're not gettin greasy....

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2009
    Location:
    Fort Mill / Indian Land SC
    We budget our groceries to 100/wk. sometimes we go over that but usually stay right on budget. We shop a lot at Aldi and BJs wholesale. That's for me, my wife, our 3 year old and our dogs. We don't go hungry and I'd like to think we eat pretty healthy. Tonight we're having steak, sweet potatoes, and mixed vegetables.
     
  9. XJsavage

    XJsavage Warlock of Zante plantation

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2009
    Location:
    Sc
    When I travel out of state I'm given perdiem money to eat and live on. Food prices do vary ever so slightly in different regions on the country. The real test to find out how much $ worth of goods/food you consume is to start completely by scratch. I've always been able to do this with at or around $100 a week just for my person alone. This includes napkins, tin foil, seasonings, meats, vegetables, water, etc. That's three good meals a day including a packed lunch. I actually enjoy cooking for myself too. Things I've learned over the years is junk food will break you in a heartbeat. For reasons other than that I've become a very healthy eater and drink only purified water 99% of the time. I buy drinking water by the gallon and reserve a gallon a day for cooking and drinking use, which only comes out to $7 a week. If you can find a farmers market and a local butcher or seafood market, you've struck gold, regardless of where you are.
     
  10. jeepin' jen

    jeepin' jen Slummin' with a sami

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Location:
    Salisbury, NC
    This pretty much describes us too! It floors me when people say they can't afford to eat healthy. On average, we spend $100/week for groceries. Lean proteins, whole grains/wheat, fruits, veggies, & cashew milk. We spend another $50-$75/month for protein supplements. I won't add the cost of dog food! ;)
     
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  11. criket

    criket Blue Ridge 4x4

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2010
    Location:
    Dobson, NC
    I ask around for someone who wants to go halves on a cow/pig. Yea the bill is around 500 or more each time but I only have to do it 2 maybe 3 times a year, and we have a good size freezer. Meal sides come from the store
     
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  12. broncosbybart

    broncosbybart Is it 5 YET?

    Joined:
    May 15, 2008
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    My wife and I budget $100/wk for groceries. She cuts coupons from the paper but nothing special. We hardly ever go over budget unless we find some good deals on stuff to stock up on. It helps to make a grocery list and go shopping once a week.
     
  13. trailhugger

    trailhugger Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho Administrator

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh
    I shop once a week and, mostly, the list is in my head, along with our inventory and what I normally pay for most things. I've started to use the Out Of Milk app, which keeps old items checked off in the list (I use it a bit like inventory) and will let you add details like price... Might be good for anyone wanting to keep track of price points or to share with a significant other who doesn't normally do the shopping.
     
  14. DSM Turbos

    DSM Turbos Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    I spend like 40-50 bucks a week at the grocery store for myself, but I eat out for dinner 2-3 times a week also. Cooking for one person sucks so I don't cook too much anymore.
     
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  15. Loganwayne

    Loganwayne #BTL

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2013
    Location:
    Clyde, North Carolina
    Cooking for 2 isnt much better most meals are planned for 4-6 servings
     
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  16. DSM Turbos

    DSM Turbos Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    It was much better when I was married to cook for 2, I don't mind a couple days of leftovers but I don't want to eat the same crap every day during the week.

    Plus I am just lazy now so cooking sucks anyways.
     
  17. trailhugger

    trailhugger Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho Administrator

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh
    I double up a lot and freeze half or cook extra meat or tomato sauce, for example, and freeze that... Rarely do leftovers look like the first go 'round in our house. It's nice to have something to thaw and reheat but eating the same thing for three days is no fun.
     
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  18. Jeff B

    Jeff B pool boy

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Location:
    Lincolnton N.C.
    I cook 5 lbs of meat at a time on the George Forman grill (when it's hot as hell outside) or on the gas grill. $10 of Tyson breast from Walmart and I eat all week for lunch..
    Chicken is an excellent source or protein, sticks with you and is low fat, easily digested.

    Wild caught salmon spinach salad or rotessiri pork romain/artisan salad with a Australian Shiraz for dinner and I am a happy fella.
     
  19. RatLabGuy

    RatLabGuy You look like a monkey and smell like one too

    Joined:
    May 18, 2005
    Location:
    Churchville, MD
    Meh, shopping for food is women's work.
    I have no idea what we pay, I come home from work and there's food here, and most days a meal made for me.
    I eat snacks out of the cabinet, sometimes they run out and magically they are refilled in a day or two.
    All this costs me is having to say nice things occasionally, a back rub here and there, keeping her car maintained and having to have sex every now and again.
     
  20. Ron

    Ron Dum Spiro Spero Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2005
    Location:
    Sharon, SC
    We grocery shop every 2 weeks and spend between $600-$750 a month. Now that includes all household stuff as we grocery shop at walmart so TP, toiletries etc get in that number.

    We have 4 humans to feed which includes a 14 year old that eats up your budget by himself and an 11 year old in a growth spurt so...the equivalent of somewhere around 8.5 normal humans.

    I'm still think we could cheapen it up, but I finally quit bitching about it and just started working a tad bit more.
     
  21. jeepinmatt

    jeepinmatt Still Fat

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Location:
    Stanley, NC
    We spend ~$450/week for two of us. My wife basically only eats vegetables from the garden. I eat a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts at each meal.

    Really though, in 2013 we spent $440/month on groceries/toiletries/etc, and $175/month going out to eat. That's 2 of us, and I really like food. 2012 was $550/month on groceries and $297/month on eating out. Not sure why so much discrepancy. I've been too lazy to figure out 2014.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
  22. Fabrik8

    Fabrik8 Overcomplicator

    Joined:
    May 27, 2015
    Location:
    Huntersville
    Unless it's chili. Then it's game on all week long as long as the cheese, sour cream, tortillas and Frito's don't run out.

    I get so incredibly bored of chicken though, unless it's thoroughly buried in something saucy and tasty.
     
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  23. Jeff B

    Jeff B pool boy

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Location:
    Lincolnton N.C.
    It's only food, this simply makes a good turd & gives energy. There are so many things in life to be interested in. Good health trumps being board of food in my perspective.

    When I am traveling across the pond, tasting other cultures then it's like a true vacation. I love tasting the wine, the women & the song..

    Back to Russia in the spring, this time to meet her family:cool:
     
  24. Hunter44

    Hunter44 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2014
    Location:
    Asheboro
    Being a college student the Cookout tray between classes keeps my grocery bill fairly decent for one person. When I'm at home it's normally chicken, rice, fish, and other tasty veggies. All in all I say I spend a good $130 or so a week on food alone. Most of my money left goes towards gas...:D
     
  25. trailhugger

    trailhugger Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho Administrator

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh
    You'd be surprised how many different ways you can cook chicken and make it delicious as hell. I'll post up some of my favorite recipes (although I really just throw stuff in a pan most of the time) later.

    Personally, I prefer salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Bacon drippings are always good, too.

    Who else is gonna post pics of their weekly grocery haul?
     
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