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I guess I'm in a bit of shock over how much I spend on food....a consumable....so I'm sort of overly focused on that for the moment and I have another question.....

What's the opinion on what people spend on food?

I'm single so I'd like to know for a single person but I'm also interested in what couples and families of say 4 or 5 spend on food in a month. I'm thinking 4 people could live on what I am spending....auggggghhhhhh.

Thanks, as usual,
regatta
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Let's see... I'm away from my MS Money so this won't be precise. This is for my wife and I.

We, by no means, have clamped down tightly on our spending on food. We don't eat out very much at all (maybe once every 10 days)... but we do buy what we like and what is healthy for us.

We shop at two places per week. One trip to the farmers market, and one to the grocery store for everything we can't get at the former.

We spend about $30 a week at the farmers market, and another $45-50 a week at the grocery store. So we average about $80/week or so in total. Some weeks that jumps to $100+ and some weeks that's $50 total... Like last week, we had a crazy coupon for our local grocery story for $15 off a $100 purchase, so we spend $100 so we could use it. Stocked up on all the non-perishable essentials.

4 weeks X $80 = $320/month + about $40 for eating out occasionally = $360/month.

This definately fluctuates...like last month, we took my DW's mom&dad&sis&boyfriend out to dinner and spent like $160 for that one meal... but that is a rarity.

mz00m
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DH and I supposedly spend $60 per week at the grocery store.

In fact, I often supplement that from my personal money when I want something like all-natual beef that costs more.

Also, DH nearly always eats breakfast and lunch out, and we eat dinner out at least once a week.

If you are spending your grocery money on genuine food - meats, beans, produce, rather than on foods that cost more because they are heavily processed, then I think its a terrific investment in personal good health and satisfaction.
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I spend $400 per month. (My roommate reimburses me $80/month.)

Some of our expensive items include organic local-raised vegetables, local free-range beef, and good cheeses.

That's for 3 adults, frequent houseguests and a lot of group dinners, but does not include money spent eating out, nor alcohol.

There are lots of threads about cutting grocery spending on the LBYM board, including a recent one about price lists.

Here are five beginner tips:

- Don't shop hungry.
- Plan your meals for the week, and plan them based on what's on sale.
- Use all of your leftovers; don't let stuff go to waste in your fridge.
- Make your own prepared foods. Whether it be chicken stock or frozen dinners, make it ahead of time. Saves on eating out, and saves on your grocery bill.
- Find the cheapest grocery store in your area and do the bulk of your shopping there. If they don't have all of the items you want to buy then every month or so visit the more expensive store.

Middleweight tips include tracking prices, clipping coupons, changing menus to use more inexpensive items and less meat, and stocking up when items go on sale.

Expert tips include bulk cooking, accepting whatever produce your friends have too much of, picking unloved fruit from your neighborhood and by the side of the road, preserving your own foods, and going to several stores every week to take advantage of their loss leaders.

- Megan
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My opinion is that we spend way too much. We're at about $130 a week for a family of 5, which includes diapers, dog food, toiletries, etc.

I recently joined TheGroceryGame.com so we're starting to stockpile on items that are really great deals (some free!) so that eventually our weekly grocery trips will be less costly.
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I spend 250-300 -includes groceries and food for me (and I take g/f out on Sundays).

Yes, I could spend less, no, I don't want to. I used to buy cheap food in bulk and I lot of it spoiled or wasn't good for me.

Now I eat reasonably healthy with little waste.

Ex17
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I spend about $250/mo in groceries (includes non-feed items), plus another $50/mo in dining out, and I lump in another $100 in cash. That comes out to $400 monthly. But in my defense, I buy a lot of packaged items with controlled carb and calorie amounts, as well as other low carb foods which are more expensive.

Fuskie
Who's desired budget is $375/mo but was initially based on lower income...
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We have a family of four and on average just at the grocery store not including dinners out we average about 560.00 a month.

--George
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Well, we spend about $1000, but the "food" category actually includes everything we get at the grocery store - food, plus petfood, paper towels, toothpaste, beer or wine, magazines, asprin, etc. So it's "food and sundries."
Would it be economical to make a big trip to MegaMart once a month for that stuff - or would it be so very likely to lead to impulse purchases that it's better off avoided for awhile?
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Greetings, PineLevel, is that $1000 a month for two? Or more than two?

If for two, you are averaging about $34 dollars a day between the two of you. Now you need to ask yourself if day after day after day you really want to be parting with $34. This is where budgeting comes in - making informed, conscious choices. For every dollar of that $34 a day you DON'T spend, it could be diverted towards another preferred purpose: accelerated debt retirement, savings, vacation fund, emergency fund, what have you. What matters most is recognizing what you've BEEN doing and then deciding if it is what you want to KEEP doing. Or whether you could winnow that down to pump another category up.

Even with a high income, it is all too easy to be living beyond your means unless you get determined to pay attention. Consider: what if you decided, on average, to hold the spending between the two of you for food and sundries to $20 a day. Then that $14 surplus, amounting to $420 extra PER MONTH, can go somewhere else that you'd really rather have it go, once you have made yourself aware. And since $420 a month is $5040 a year, right there you have just reduced your debt for next year by about $5000 and it scarcely took more than the length of time to figure out how much you've been spending to provide the paydown.

I know your later choices get tougher, since this is just the "low-hanging fruit." But this is also where mastery over debt begins. Getting very loathe to open your wallet without knowing what you are spending for and are you still within bounds is going to transport you closer to the paid-off zone. Then it will feel like you've been given a huge raise since your monthly outlay toward debt servicing will be no more. It won't be tomorrow (you did not get into debt overnight), but just look at what we've figured out TODAY! What's next to slash?

xraymd
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Would it be economical to make a big trip to MegaMart once a month for that stuff - or would it be so very likely to lead to impulse purchases that it's better off avoided for awhile

We don't know what you would do. Would the old you view it as a trip to get lots of extraneous stuff? Would the new you stick to a list?

Grocery stores are very expensive places to get magazines (and if you ask me magazines should be coming out of discretionary spending, not groceries). Supermarkets are moderately expensive places to get health and beauty aids, especially if you're getting them because you're out, not because they're on sale.

Assuming you don't have a really long drive to get there, you will probably save money if you buy more of the non-food at places like Target or Walmart. You might save even more if you can wait until they go on really good sale at the grocery store or drugstore.

Do you know how much pet food costs you per ounce? Do you have any idea how much it costs at different stores? (I can get pet food more cheaply at PetSmart than at my very cheap grocery store, for example.)

- Megan
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One thing to consider is when you're single, there's a big social aspect to going out to eat. If you don't want to eat a meal alone, than that usually means going out to a restuarant instead of just someone's house. Not that that means you'd automatically be spending more than a family of 4, but I've found when you're single if you cut your entertainment budget too low life can get lonely.
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Well, it's for four people, and one is an 18 year old male who runs 5-10 miles a day . . .
Now that two of the four are in college, I have high hopes that we can trim the grocery budget a lot.
Any suggestions on how?
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Greetings, PineLevel, others with family compositions like yours will reply in more detail. I'm just going to focus on one thing that Megan mentioned: look squint-eyed at EVERYTHING you are spending for and consider if it gives you the amount of pleasure it costs you due to the premium you pay for buying it because of the debt. Similarly, think of where else can you access what you're buying at lower-to-no cost - or what would you substitute as an alternative activity for what you currently buy.

Take magazines, for example. Maybe their cost seems trifling. Yet every penny spent on a magazine is a penny that cannot go towards swatting back each owed dollar that is itself showering off pennies of interest you will owe for carrying it. Maybe magazine purchases aren't high on your priority list and with some scrutiny could be stricken from the budget. What saved our necks was the discovery of our local library - we can go there and read every magazine they subscribe to, and borrow books at no cost, completely eliminating what was formerly a chunk-o-change out of our pockets for no sustainable reason. It did require us to change our habits but this change was an easy one to adapt to since the library was in the neighborhood. The scrutiny is essential because doing what you've done so far has caused money to flow out of your wallet. Deciding forward what to do differently is going to lead to a pleasing outcome. If what you are spending does not return its worth to you in the form of value or pleasure received, why not do something else with that money?

xraymd
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What I do is this. I make huge meals. I then divide the meals up so
I can eat them several times. For example, I will buy a five pound roast, put it in the crockpot with veggetables. I then eat the roast for dinner that day, and divide the rest into vegetable/beef and beef for sandwiches. I freeze some of it and eat the rest of it for two days or so. When you get to the per serving cost, this is fairly cheap.

I do the same thing with other dishes, I made spaghetti last weekend. I try to do salads the same way, but that doesn't always work. I like to BBQ, so I will frequently cook two roasts, ribs and burgers/dogs, just to be able to pack food away. It is actually easier to cook for four than for one.

The other thing I do is I buy mostly fresh items. As much as possible, I try to avoid the middle ailes of the store where things are packaged and marked up. An example, we BBQ weekly at our company. I like to buy a loaf of French bread for $1. I put butter and garlic powder on the bread and then throw it right on the grill. You have to be careful, the butter starts to burn, but this bread is so good when it is done. One of my co-workers told me the only way to make toast is to buy the Texas Toast and put it in the oven. It may be good, but my stuff was fresh.

When you start cooking for yourself, the food tastes better, especially if you use fresh ingredients.

fredinseoul
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Regatta -

I'm a single male and have to admit that I spend a lot on food. But that's mainly because I have specific dietary requirements due to allergies. Thankfully, I've started to take this into consideration with how I cook and shop.

Basically, if I'm in the grocery store and see bulk chicken drumsticks on sale, I'll buy a package of 12 for $9 and use the garlic, basil, balsamic vinegar, and a little olive oil...I'll marinate them for a night and then toss 'em in a crock pot on low for 8-10 hours. Those 12 chicken drumsticks are good for 4 meals of 3 each with rice and a vegetable...and you can just freeze the chicken with some of the juice and you've got a quick meal to defrost.

Before I got creative with my cooking, I would spend upwards to $300-400 a month on food. Now with my crockpot cooking, I've cut that in half.

Scott
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My DH transfers $300.00 every other week into his grocery account. There are three of us, but we feed other people almost every weekend. DH has paid for lots of other things out of the same account so we don't actually spend $150 a week, probably closer to $100.00 a week average.

We eat VERY well, DH loves to cook, but DH also goes out one meal every day. His work pays for it, so don't start writing me telling me to pack him a lunch, doesn't matter.... it's his way of taking a break.

No doubt we could spend less, we don't plan like we did when the older girls were home, but we try to be careful and we rarely eat out.

Cheryl B.
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Cash outlays for food for my single, bachelor self in the past year:

Dining out $325.28

Groceries $1061.15



So, whatta the rest of you big spenders say to THAT?



Seattle Pioneer
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Greetings, Seattle Pioneer, howsa bout giving a workshop on how to be this frugal - and I am not joking! I bet you could teach this at the local community college and really rally a whole new generation behind how to learn to conserve resources.

Great job!

xraymd
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My wife and I attempt to spend about $100 per month total for the both of us on food. Sometimes we reach this goal, othertimes we spend closer to $125 total on foof during the month.


c
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Regatta,

I am single and spend around $3000/year on groceries and dinning out. This does not include entertainment expenses such as dates and bars, but does including going out to eat with friends. I'm not sure I am typical though as I enjoy food and am willing to pay more for something I enjoy. (i.e. Cheese, wine, beer, prime beef, etc.) In general though I spend less than $10 a day on food.

CiB
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So, whatta the rest of you big spenders say to THAT?

I don't do Cup of Noodles and the value menu at Wendy's.

CiB
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Cash outlays for food for my single, bachelor self in the past year:

Dining out $325.28

Groceries $1061.15



For 49 year old divorced male + 18 year old daughter, 12 months ending today:

Dining out $715.03
Groceries--Food $2,161.75
Groceries--Nonfood $750.53

Average for a month: ~$240 for food, ~$300 including nonfood groceries

If SP's groceries are purely food, I'm spending a shade over twice what he does, for two people. If SP's groceries include nonfood groceries (paper towels, TP, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.), I'm spending well over twice what he does.

I started tracking groceries by food/nonfood several years ago when I was concerned about how much I was spending on nonfood items at the grocery store. That type of expenditure is better controlled now than it was when I started tracking it.

I believe I'd spend less than half of these amounts if I weren't buying for daughter in addition to myself. I don't think I've been particularly frugal, I just followed normal habits of not wasting money.

Patzer
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<<Greetings, Seattle Pioneer, howsa bout giving a workshop on how to be this frugal - and I am not joking! I bet you could teach this at the local community college and really rally a whole new generation behind how to learn to conserve resources.

Great job!

xraymd
>>


Heh, heh! I give seminars on this subject every few days on this board and the LBYM board.

I think you saw my latest seminar on making your own beef jerky and smoked meats a few days ago.

Frankly, frugality is both a core value of mine AND a hobby. I do lots of things that reduce my cost of living, but are really a waste of time if I were to use the time doing repair work for my business rather than making beef jerky, for example.

But I like to make beef jerky, while working too much is a pain. So I prefer to make beef jerky and limit the amount of work I do to that which I'm genuinely HAPPY to do.

That reduces the amount of income I earn these days (and the amount of taxes I pay). But heck --- I have more money than I have any use for anyway.

And I'm not trying to boast here, but rather to explain how I decided when spending time earning more money was no longer worthwhile to me.



Seattle Pioneer


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<<So, whatta the rest of you big spenders say to THAT?

I don't do Cup of Noodles and the value menu at Wendy's.

CiB
>>


Well, I made probably the last fresh blackberry pie of the season today, and squeezed about three quarts of fresh apple cider today from apples that I picked for a cost of $0.00.

I'll agree with you about Cup of Noodles, but I'll indulge in a Wendy's baked potato once in a while.

But heck--- spend your money for whatever you really value. That's what I do.



Seattle Pioneer


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But heck--- spend your money for whatever you really value. That's what I do.

I couldn't agree with you more. My vice just so happens to be food...and good booze...and women...and....

CiB
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I couldn't agree with you more. My vice just so happens to be food...and good booze...and women...and....

CiB


And Coffee in Bed? Just a wild guess.

jmc
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And Coffee in Bed? Just a wild guess.

Ummm...yes. But I prefer to leave such discussions on the Sex and Relationships board.

CiB
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One thing to consider is when you're single, there's a big social aspect to going out to eat. If you don't want to eat a meal alone, than that usually means going out to a restuarant instead of just someone's house. Not that that means you'd automatically be spending more than a family of 4, but I've found when you're single if you cut your entertainment budget too low life can get lonely.

having been single (and still am) for a while, i know the drill.

its actually one of my brainstorming ideas to open a hip restaurant catering to singles and travellers. no table seating. only bar seating. plasma screens showing various movies while you eat. conversational starter stuff to get you acquainted to the person eating next to you at the bar seating if you are so inclined.

just a hairbrain idea. but i would love something like that from my perspective.
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Use all of your leftovers; don't let stuff go to waste in your fridge.


A few years ago I posted on LBYM a recipe I call the Frugal Skillet for using up leftovers:

Saute in oil or water whatever kind of onions you have on hand. Stir in any leftover vegetables or some from the freezer or fresh that aren't getting any fresher. Carrots and broccoli are nice to keep on hand for color, texture and nutrition. Garlic if you like it.

Stir in a starch - leftover potato, some canned beans, the little bit of pasta no one ate.

Stir in protien - leftover meat/tofu, even open a can of beans if that's what's handy.

Now, add chopped fresh parsley (I grow it in a pot on my porch, or buy a bunch and keep it for a week or two in a glass of water in the refrigerator) and lemon juice.

It is the onion, parsley and lemon juice that make this more than just a bunch of leftovers.

This also works with fast food - the meat from a burger, some stale fries. The fries plump up and taste good in this skillet recipe.



Reader99
Waste not
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Hi, PineLevel. My family composition is very much like yours--two adults, two college (18 & 20) kids still living at home. And yes, our grocery bill is running an astonishing $1,000 per month. I used TMF Money Tracker worksheet for 6 months so I know it's pretty accurate.
Now, we're going to be making some changes. Don't know if these will work for you, but here it is:
PACK LUNCHES. We have fast food and a deli right on the premises at work and it's just too darned tempting to go out and eat all the time. That's going to stop.
SHOP THE SALES. I don't subscribe to the newspaper, but I'm going to pick up the Tuesday one with the food ads and spend some time scouring them for sales. Coupons haven't typically worked for me in the past, because most coupons are for brand-name products (Hunt's ketsup, for instance), that is still cheaper to buy the grocery-store generic equivalent, USUALLY. But I'll be comparing.
BUY NON-PERISHABLES IN BULK. Canned veggies, even frozen veggies, spaghetti sauce, typical stuff that can go in the pantry. And while you're at it, put a manual can opener in the pantry too. It's a good thing to have in emergencies.

Now, we live Down In The Boondocks (as the song goes), so it is a pretty good commitment of time and gas for me to get to a Target, etc. But we do have a Wal-Mart about 10 miles away and I'm going to check out some of their stuff. Except during the Christmas season. There's no power on heaven or earth that could get me into that place at that time.

FWIW, I hope this helps.
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