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  1. #1
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    Monthly Food Costs

    On average, how much do you guys spend on food each month?

    This past month I spent $500 on food for myself alone, and I cooked all of my meals at home (this includes baking buns, muffins, breads, etc)... I spent over $150 just on fruits and vegetables, and another $100 or so on meat (mostly chicken and fish). These are Canadian funds so perhaps that inflates the figures a tiny bit, but even so, I'm sure there are married couples that don't spend $500 on food each month.

    I haven't done a dietary analysis recently, but I'm pretty sure I'm consuming over 3000 calories per day. And the weirdest part is that I'm losing weight, and I wasn't overweight to begin with. I'm 6'2", and I used to weigh 185lbs. Now I weigh 180lbs and falling. I don't own a car, and I bike or walk pretty much everywhere, and I guess my job is fairly physical, but still... How many calories do you guys consume daily?

    Also, is anybody willing to share some secrets on how to save money on food, without sacrificing on nutrition? This is seriously killing my budget.

    Thanks! Love the site!

  2. #2
    Senior Member enamore22's Avatar
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    Buy generic brands that are on sale and use coupons when you can.

  3. #3
    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    Buy whole and minimally processed. For example, instead of buying chicken breast, buy whole chicken. If you're able, you can remove the breast and legs, roast the carcass and use it for chicken stock. Saute or grill the breasts and roast the legs.

    You could also roast the whole chicken and save the bones/carcass for stock.

    Purchase whole veggies and save the trimmings from your bell peppers, celery, onions, and carrots and throw them in the stock.

    Buy dried beans and make bean soups from your fabulous chicken stock.

    Plant your own herbs. Rosemary is quite hardy and basil gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Thyme also survives winters quite well. Use the basil to make pesto. Good amount of calories in pesto. Use walnuts or almonds if pine nuts are too expensive, but you only use a little.

    What kinds of stuff do you like to cook? Come join us at cheftalk.com

  4. #4
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    In most countries a much higher % of income is devoted to food (often substantial). For some reason here in the US people find pride in spending as little as possible on food, while driving a $50,000 SUV.
    For me personally, I spend $150 a week for me and the woman, not counting an occasional lunch/dinner thrown in. I would say realistically about $700 a month, in US funds.
    I dont buy things that have preservatives, so we shop 1-2 times per week to have fresh food. We also cook the majority of our dinners. We dont eat a large amount, I dont count calories, but less than 3000 I would guess. Honestly though, we spend close the the same on a home cooked meal when compared to going out to eat. Although Quality is at a much different level.
    I am lucky enough to be able to afford a hefty grocery bill, but instead of driving a nice car or wearing a expensive clothes, I spend that extra dough on food.
    I have heard the rational that more $ now on quality food = less $ down the road on doctors bills.
    Whatever floats your boat I guess-

    p.s. I had a friend who clipped coupons religiously and spent under $50 a month for him and his wife. He ate like s$^%, but he had a NICE car-

  5. #5
    Senior Member tbdean's Avatar
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    We spend $550 a month on food. This includes food for five people, including formula for one 18 lbs four month old baby, and fast food a couple times a week. We do pizza once a week but that isn't included in the $550.

    My wife does the shopping and uses coupons, store cards, and comparison shopping at a few different stores. For example milk may be cheaper at one grocery store but bread cheaper at another.

  6. #6
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimCurryPowder
    Also, is anybody willing to share some secrets on how to save money on food, without sacrificing on nutrition? This is seriously killing my budget.
    Get a BIG bag of rice, 20-lbs for $7.99 or so. And a BIG bag of beans, about the same price. These will last you 2-3 months.

    Costco has good deals on chicken. You can pick up a tray of thighs & drumsticks for $10 which should last about a month. Separate them into sandwich bags and throw them into the freezer.

    Then buy fresh veggies weekly at local farmer's market if you have them. Or Trader Joes or WholeFoods, etc. which typically have wider selection of veggies than supermarket chains. Then look up recipes for making tasty dishes out of what you have. I got through 1st year of school on a $50/m food-budget somehow. At $125-150/m, I had more than I could eat!

    Hey kuan !
    Last edited by DannoXYZ; 08-30-06 at 12:18 PM.

  7. #7
    Lost in the Black Hills mx_599's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
    Get a BIG bag of rice, 20-lbs for $7.99 or so. And a BIG bag of beans, about the same price. These will last you 2-3 months.

    Costco has good deals on chicken. You can pick up a tray of thighs & drumsticks for $10 which should last about a month. Separate them into sandwich bags and throw them into the freezer.

    Then buy fresh veggies weekly at local farmer's market if you have them. Or Trader Joes or WholeFoods, etc. which typically have wider selection of veggies than supermarket chains. Then look up recipes for making tasty dishes out of what you have. I got through 1st year of school on a $50/m food-budget somehow. At $125-150/m, I had more than I could eat!

    Hey kuan !
    you are such a tool...idiot

  8. #8
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mx_599
    you are such a tool...idiot
    Gee, that was helpful, thanks!

  9. #9
    roadie (mostly)
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    Dang, I feel cheap. My girlfriend and I spend roughly $375 per month on food.

  10. #10
    J E R S E Y S B E S T Jerseysbest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mx_599
    you are such a tool...idiot
    I dont get it?


    Quote Originally Posted by nickw
    In most countries a much higher % of income is devoted to food (often substantial). For some reason here in the US people find pride in spending as little as possible on food, while driving a $50,000 SUV.
    For me personally, I spend $150 a week for me and the woman, not counting an occasional lunch/dinner thrown in. I would say realistically about $700 a month, in US funds.
    I dont buy things that have preservatives, so we shop 1-2 times per week to have fresh food. We also cook the majority of our dinners. We dont eat a large amount, I dont count calories, but less than 3000 I would guess. Honestly though, we spend close the the same on a home cooked meal when compared to going out to eat. Although Quality is at a much different level.
    I am lucky enough to be able to afford a hefty grocery bill, but instead of driving a nice car or wearing a expensive clothes, I spend that extra dough on food.
    I have heard the rational that more $ now on quality food = less $ down the road on doctors bills.
    Whatever floats your boat I guess-

    p.s. I had a friend who clipped coupons religiously and spent under $50 a month for him and his wife. He ate like s$^%, but he had a NICE car-
    Way to make sweeping generalizations.
    Quote Originally Posted by SingingSabre View Post
    Cheating: a symptom of the problem.

  11. #11
    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerseysbest
    I dont get it?
    I think they have some history.

    If you break down the amount of protein, carbs, and fats that you actually need during the week, it doesn't amount to much at all. 8oz of protein a day is 3.5lbs a week and that's one large turkey breast. 2000 cals from carbs a day is only a pound of pasta plus a couple servings of rice. For one week you could theoretically get away with 7lbs pasta, a roaster hen, and can of oats. Fill in the blanks with raw carrots, celery, bananas, apples, oranges, coupla heads of dark green lettuce, EVOO and good vinegar, and you're set. Shoot you don't even have to cook your veggies!

  12. #12
    Tossed some weight Redrom's Avatar
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    It sounds like you're committed to eating healthy food. If so, don't underestimate the value of beans and grains for sustaining you between meals. Their cost compared to meat (especially if not full of hormones and preservatives), will help bring down your bill. Don't get me wrong, there's definitely a cost associated with eating healthy.

    We used to spend ~$700 a month for a family of 4, including going out to eat and shopping ~50% at Whole Foods. We now spend 1/3 at the Farmer's Market, 1/3 at Whole Foods, and 1/3 at Costco (almost entirely produce and nuts), and spend nearly $250 a week for 4. But it's not just the cost that it has impacted us - it's also the time spent. I estimate that we used to spend 5 hours a week between the two of us, preparing foods and now we spend at least 15.

    For us, the benefits are worth the time and money spent . We each have lost about 50 lbs. (well, the boys are still gaining weight ), and we have a new found excitement in our menu planning and preparation. We are healthier - haven't had a Dr. visit this year (except as a precautionary test to check vitamin levels in the boy's). Comparing that to last year when we probably had 20 Doctor's visits over the year between the 4 of us, and it helps make us feel like the money's spent as a health investment.

  13. #13
    ambassador of good will *new*guy's Avatar
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    I don't own a car, so I tend to stop by the grocery on the ride home most every night. That said, I think I spend between 150-250$ a week on food for my son and I; I'm a single parent.

    It's nice to be at the grocery often enough that you catch fruits/veggies when they are fresh. Often something will be on sale for a week, but it is only fresh for the first two days it's out on special.

  14. #14
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    Thanks for all of your useful tips. I really appreciate it.

    @ DannoXYZ and Redrom:
    I don't have a Costco membership, but I'll look at the costs/benefits of getting one. It isn’t an obvious choice for me because I live a fair distance from their store, and the store is not very accessible by bike – it’s on the highway just outside of town. I've been thinking about buying one of those Wike Shopper trailers to make carrying large loads easier, which could make Costco shopping more practical, but I don't know how those trailers perform in the snow (I live in Canada). Also, our farmer's market doesn't run during the winter, but I'll check it out before they close for the season.


    @ nickw:
    Is there a site somewhere that talks about the food budgets of people in different countries? As boring as it may sound, I wouldn't mind reading more about that.


    @ kuan:
    Thanks for telling me about cheftalk.com. It'll be helpful because I'm still learning the basics of cooking, really. At the moment, when I want to cook something I look around the Internet for a recipe (allrecipes.com is pretty good), and try to make it healthier by taking out a lot of the salt and/or sugar. Then I go buy the ingredients I need. Some of the things I've made lately are (low sodium) teriyaki chicken, banana bread, carrot cake, cranberry muffins, simple pastas and sauces, shepherd's pie, stuff like that. All really basic stuff. I usually make things in large quantities, portion it into bags or Tupperware, and freeze it. That way I don't have to cook when I get home from work, but I can still eat a decent meal.

  15. #15
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    Tim....not sure where in canada you live but by and large food costs here have increased dramatically in the last few years here. In most cities you only have a big name chain (under various names). In toronto the best place for fresh foods is still kensington market, and st lawrance. Otherwise its loblaws and dominion. Now having said that the easiest way to save money is what kuan suggests, do all the work yourself. Avoid the prepackaged stuff because usually its 1) overpriced 2) usually tastes like ass and 3) isn't that nutritious. My girlfriend and i average about $125-$150/week ( i admit i eat most of that), and we eat well.

    Your weight loss could be several factors such as your bodies natural metabolism or the kinds of food you eat. I'm 6'2 and 185lbs......and i'm 31. when i was in my teens & 20's i had to eat like a horse to keep my weight up, that was just the way i was. Also pay attention to what kinds of food you eat, despite what alot of diets tell you, you need lots of carbs especially if you cycle alot.

    As for costco....ask around, odds are one of your friends parents have a memebership, but they're usually big box stores out in the burbs so cycling there could be an issue.
    there will come a time when there will not come a time.

  16. #16
    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    I spend from 800 to $1000 a month on food for a family of 4. It is quite ridiculous actually. But this is due in large part to having Acme as a monopoly in the area. I recall spending less than half that when I could shop at Giant in a metro area. Oh well.

    Buy in bulk, on sale, and with minimal processing. Shop in different stores and ONLY buy what is on sale.

    For example you can buy a lb of spaghetti for the price of one box 7oz of macaroni and cheese.
    "Ride lots." -- Eddy Merckx

  17. #17
    ... . Tmax1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
    Gee, that was helpful, thanks!
    That's what I was thinking...

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