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DanM

What's Your Monthly Grocery Bill?

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I am sure I am not the only one that is evaluating finances trying to find ways to save money. I was surprised to see that my wife and I are averaging $400-500 a month in groceries here in CT for the two of us (and a few baked goods for her coworkers). I have no basis for comparison, so I was wondering what others are spending, how many they are feeding, and where they are.

Thanks

Dan


"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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I just looked over a couple of credit card statements, and combining that with estimated cash expenses, I'd guess we're spending about $450/month in New York for my wife, myself, and a toddler, including wine, good cheeses, coffee shipped from Hawai'i, and such. We eat most meals at home.

I don't feel like I make a big effort to economize on groceries, since I figure every meal we don't eat out in New York is a big savings, and I don't clip coupons, but I'm not particularly wasteful either. I always buy whole chickens, for instance, and cut them as needed, saving backs, necks, and bones for stock. I don't buy much in the way of processed foods. I don't skimp on the quality of ingredients, since good ingredients inspire me to cook, and again, every meal we don't eat out in New York is a big savings.

That doesn't mean we never eat out, but that we'd rather have one memorable $300 meal occasionally than six forgettable $50 meals out.


Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)

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Probably $3-400 a month here in Cambridge, for two of us. but it's hard to say just how much of that is really just for food, and not the nonfood items one might buy at the supermarket. Maybe half to two-thirds? For instance, if I go out to Russo's (a local produce-only market), I might spend $20-30 for a week's worth of food. Might be a little more if there's cheese. I don't by meat and only occasionally fish. I keep thinking about trying to track that more closely, but never can bother. I don't skimp, or buy the cheapest stuff, either. Often when I am in a supermarket I am struck by how much most of what's in there can be avoided completely.


"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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My guess is that my wife and I spend about $300 or so per month. (And another $500 on wine.)

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My husband and I shop at a military commissary. We get beef and pork from a local butcher, and buy Smart chicken and produce at a regular grocery. Over this past winter/spring, I haven't cooked much because of other obligations, so our monthly expenditure is up around $500 to $600. We usually eat out about twice a week, and that averages about $75 a week.

But now my husband is laid off, and although we really don't have serious financial worries, we're cutting back. He's cooking more and I'm cooking more, and we're eating out less and eating less pre-prepared food. We're probably saving $200 to $300 a month, total, from the above figures.

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The commissary privilege is really being taken advantage of lately. It is one of the few retail outlets that is seeing growth over last year. My mother, who lives across the street from a military base, is back in the commissary lately.

We are in South Florida, and I spend between $300 and $400 a month for two people. More during holiday months or when we have guests - there is an extended family thing going on that includes young adults (who are getting hit pretty hard as well) with limited cooking skills. I cook it and send it over. Now, I have been known to spend $300 on a home cooked meal, but it was certainly something to write home about! :biggrin:

Prices went down for a while last month and the month before - but am I alone in noting that prices are back up to pre-recession levels this last week or two?

Butter craziness. One week, premium butter at $2/pound - the next $3.50/pound.

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Food's incredibly expensive around here (well, quality food anyway). Usually I'd average about 400-500$ per month for myself only.

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We average $450/month for two people in north-central NJ.


Joanna G. Hurley

"Civilization means food and literature all round." -Aldous Huxley

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Anything under $400 for two people seems very frugal to me, if that includes meals eaten out and alcohol. I tried keeping really good records of all food and beverage purchases for several months. I was staggered at how much we were spending, even though we almost never go out. But the more I kept tabs on it, the lower the monthly averages went, so clearly I was paying attention.

Including wine, beer and very rare meals out, we were spending at least $600 a month for two. Our alcohol purchases are not high, since I am not drinking much. We managed to get it down to closer to $500 a month, at least during the winter.

The summer budget goes up. Does anyone else find this to be the case? I don't make big pots of soup and I make a lot more trips to the farmers' market, where everything is irresistibly beautiful and costs an arm and a leg. I try to be careful, and only buy what's really outstanding. Prices are up at least 30% from last year. Those adorable Padron peppers that are all the rage now were $8 per lb last year, $12 this year. A few days worth of tomatoes now costs me about $10. Green beans at the Berkeley farmers' market are averaging $4 to $5 per lb. At Berkeley Bowl: $1.49, and just as good, if not organic. However, the stone fruit as the farmers' market has been outstanding, and I can't pass it up. Just goes to show, shopping more or less locally can carry a penalty; it's no small footprint if a gas-guzzling van has to be driven 6 hrs. roundtrip just to get a few crates of organic produce to the consumers.

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Anything under $400 for two people seems very frugal to me, if that includes meals eaten out and alcohol.

Oh, now see, alcohol is classified under "entertainment" in my budget schema.

With alcohol, between $450 and $650 or so, depending. Just food, between $300 and $400.

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The commissary privilege is really being taken advantage of lately. It is one of the few retail outlets that is seeing growth over last year. My mother, who lives across the street from a military base, is back in the commissary lately.

Are customers required to show a card or can anyone shop there?


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

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The commissary privilege is really being taken advantage of lately. It is one of the few retail outlets that is seeing growth over last year. My mother, who lives across the street from a military base, is back in the commissary lately.

Are customers required to show a card or can anyone shop there?

You have to be military, a spouse or dependent, retired military, a spouse or dependent, active reserve, a spouse or dependent - and I think that's it.

Yes, military ID. They used to check the ID at the door, now it is at the checkout as far as I know.

Cost+ minor markup. It used to be 5%, but I am sure that it is higher now. Now doubt that it is much less than the typical retail markup.

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We're shooting for 100 euro per person per month in Amsterdam, but we're broke so that explains that. Also/however, that figure doesn't include entertaining. And we don't eat out unless coerced.

+++


Edited by markemorse (log)

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I manage on about $150 a month for two on just food -not counting non-food items bought at the grocery. But, both my husband and I are vegetarians.

I try to make a pot of dry beans each week in the slow-cooker, so that I have them on hand to add to salads or make main dishes.

I make bread from scratch. I make almost everything from scratch now. (especially since Breyer's changed their ice-cream formula) We have pizza about once a week, the same with a bean night with Indian Dal or bean burritos. The rest of the time, I try to cook with mostly vegetables and a little starch and dairy.

I'm lucky to have a produce-focused store called Sprouts nearby, so I can get reasonably priced seasonal produce. I also live near a dollar store that sells a lot of food.

I make snacks, like popcorn and potato chips.

I try to make extra portions of certain meals so that I can freeze them for later. This helps the husband when I am not at home.

We keep salad fixings and fresh fruit on hand at all times.

We make salad dressings and mayo from scratch. They taste better and cost a LOT less.

I buy dry grains and beans in bulk, when they are on sale. And, I try to have a variety on hand. (5 kinds of rice, 6 kinds of beans, couscous, pastas, etc.)

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In the western burbs of Chicago we spend about 150.00 a month for food -- wine and beer might push it to 200.00.

We're frugal, and I can squeeze an 89 cents a pound butt until it oinks.

We have tremendous ethnic groceries where the price of good produce is risible.

We never eat out.

We don't eat meat every night.

We eat well, but not a lot. In our twenties we'd eat a ribeye apiece. I can't now imagine eating that much meat -- much as I love it -- and these days we'd split that steak.

My biggest extravagance is good cheese.


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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We're in NNJ too, just 8 miles from NYC. I started keeping detailed records of our expenses this spring after my wife was forced to join me in, errr, "retirement."

For the month of June, we spent $465.47 on groceries & produce. Folded into this is the cost of feeding 6 cats + whatever drugstore-type items we may have bought at the supermarket, I don't track those costs separately. At a very rough guess, it's $60 in cat food & $25 drugstore stuff, so call it $380 for food, paper goods & cleansers.

We also spent $361.26 on prepared foods. This includes $110 for two actual restaurant dinners, $34 for food at a Greek festival & about $45 for several cheap lunches on the fly in NYC. The remaining $172 is a pretty fair average of what we spend on various takeout meals - Chinese, Thai, pizza, etc. - right here in NJ.

I buy almost no processed foods apart from canned broth for cooking & deli ham for sandwiches. When I cook, it's from scratch. Otherwise we order out. I don't like the stuff that occupies the middle ground.

If we have to cut back, we will. Obviously more cooking & less takeout would make a difference.


Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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I budget $100/week for DBF and I. That includes my CSA, cat food/litter, cleaning supplies, and Costco stock ups, but not eating out. We eat out maybe 1-2 times a week. I pack both of our lunches with snacks every day, and we both take coffee with us in travel mugs. I'm making an effort to cook from the CSA shares and pantry staples as much as possible this summer, and my weekly grocery trips have been averaging $45-55 excluding coffee - I think I'm doing well.

(The only time we've been over budget this year was when I took my brother to Costco to make sure he had some real food at his college apartment. Here's a tip - if your grocery budget is rigid, don't go to Costco with a skinny, 6'3" college soccer player. Yikes.)

It's funny. This thread makes me think that my budget isn't too far out of whack. On the money message board I read, I think I would get crucified for admitting that I spend that much for 2 people and a cat.

The summer budget goes up. Does anyone else find this to be the case? I don't make big pots of soup and I make a lot more trips to the farmers' market, where everything is irresistibly beautiful and costs an arm and a leg.

My problem with the farmer's market is carrying cash. If I spend $21, I have to have taken $40 from the ATM, and that extra $19 magically disappears.


"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

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A few days worth of tomatoes now costs me about $10. Green beans at the Berkeley farmers' market are averaging $4 to $5 per lb.

That seems pricey--this morning at the farmer's market in Somerville I got green beans for $2 a pound, and some really nice zucchini for $1.50/lb.


"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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on average we spend 300 euros a month for 2, this includes ´normal´ alcohol (regular beer and wine - but liquor and expensive bottles of wine are not in this budget), and non food items such laundry detergent and personal hygiene stuff, and it also includes entertaining. It does not include eating out.. the funny thing is that when we eat out more, we have money left over from the 300 euros at the end of the month :laugh:

We´re in Amsterdam , The Netherlands.

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A few days worth of tomatoes now costs me about $10. Green beans at the Berkeley farmers' market are averaging $4 to $5 per lb.

That seems pricey--this morning at the farmer's market in Somerville I got green beans for $2 a pound, and some really nice zucchini for $1.50/lb.

Remember, she is in California where EVERYTHING is more expensive. I pay less for Haas avocados( in small town Ontario, Canada) than Katie probably does.

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Remember, she is in California where EVERYTHING is more expensive.  I pay less for Haas avocados( in small town Ontario, Canada)  than Katie probably does.

Which is pretty ironic considering that much of the ordinary supermarket produce I go to the farmer's market to avoid is shipped here from California.


"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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We're getting slightly off topic, but it is interesting to note that location seems to be a factor, which I didn't really think about. With every post I'm getting more and more embarrassed to admit spending $500 a month on food, although it's also true that certain non-food items like laundry soap and paper towels are often not excluded from the weekend shopping excursions, so my records may be a little haphazard. About half our meals are vegetarian, but that doesn't seem to make any difference; the cost of heirloom tomatoes at the farmers' market isn't really much less than the cost of chicken or farmed trout or shrimp.

As for a Haas avocado, at the Berkeley Farmers' market they range from small at $1.25 each to extra large at about $2.50 or even more each. But they are the best ones I've ever eaten, so it's hard to resist. Gwens, when available, are about the same; they are my favorite. They are now selling huge Reed avocados--individual wrapped like French melons--for between $3 and $4 each. Randi, what do you pay per avocado?

If you truck a semi full of CA strawberries to a Chicago supermarket, it has been noted elsewhere that the price per lb may very well be less than if you drive a few crates in a pick-up several hours to Berkeley. Some footprints are not as small as we might think or hope.

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We're getting slightly off topic, but it is interesting to note that location seems to be a factor

Location, location, location. One of the things I remember being a student at Cornell in the late 1980s was that the Ithaca farmer's market had not only better and more varied produce than the supermarkets and even the Greenstar Co-op, but it was also less expensive. The farmers there at the time were generally really local--within a 90 minute drive at the most, I'd suspect.

I definitely feel that I'm paying a premium at the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan, and I also get a sense from shopping at other Greenmarkets around the city over the years that vendors adjust the price for the neighborhood.

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Randi, what do you pay per avocado?

The lowest I've paid( regular price) is .64 each. Right now they're about .77-1.00 depending on what supermarket. But, and here is the big but, they're almost always on the clearance rack. I once got 10 for 1.00. People here just dont get into avocados as much as they do in Cali so they turn black pretty fast. The clerks dont realize how perfect they are when they're black so they throw them on the reduced rack. The last bunch I got I paid 2.00 for 6.

eta pic.

gallery_25969_665_18278.jpg

Here is a pic from a few months ago.


Edited by CaliPoutine (log)

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Randi, that is a perfect Haas. Kudos.

It is heartwarming to see California bashed, as Florida has been.

Location. Grow your own if you can.

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