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How much do you spend on "food" each month?


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I spend $200/mo for a single person. This gives me about $30 for groceries (this goes far if I get things in bulk like rice, vegetables, fruits, etc.) and $20 for eating out each week. It doesn't seem like much, but I never feel like I'm struggling for food and I always have money in the budget to go out when friends or labmates want to.

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My budget was similar to Monochrome Spring's. How much you spend really depends on the area of the country you're in though. Fresh produce is cheaper in the Western USA than in the eastern USA in my experience, meaning that $20 on produce would get me a lot more fresh fruit and veggies. If you limit yourself mostly to shopping the perimeter of the store, then stock up on things like dried/canned beans, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, etc., you don't have to spend a lot to get a bunch of food. 

 

As for eating out, my rule has been not to dine out for lunch. I would do it if there was a guest speaker or special event but not just to hang out with fellow students. To combat the urge to grab a quick bite at lunch, I'd cook extra portions with dinner and then bring those for lunch, make a sandwich and bring a can of soup, make a quick pasta salad (pasta + frozen veggies + canned beans + salad dressing), or just cobble together something out of leftovers. Our grad seminars would end at like 7pm so I'd also use my Crock-Pot (slow cooker) to cook meals while I was gone all day so that I'd have food basically waiting for me when I walked in the door. Doing those things definitely helped me save money. I'd still go out to dinner once a week or so, plus go to happy hour. That's really how I spent my "fun/entertainment" budget. Groceries though, I really kept that to $20-25/week basically every single week.

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150/month is about what I spend. I do this by keeping it really, really simple and buying the same things every week, which helps my budget be more predictable. I eat cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, and a peanut butter sandwich and an apple every day for lunch. I eat pasta 2x per week, and the rest of the days its a large salad (simple, cheap ingred- no fancy shmancy veggies/greens and nothing organic unfortunately), with quinoa/couscous/ to make it more filling. Usually a box of your standard grain mix can be split across 3ish meals depending on the serving, so these are pretty cost-effective. I also occasionally eat soups when the good kinds are on sale. I don't eat much meat unless I go out, which is maybe once a week at most. I don't buy a lot of snacks either since that can eat up a surprising amt of a budget- I stick with cheap fruits for mid-day snacks since they're healthier, and also filling (kiwis, bananas, oranges). Like rising_star said, my "eating out" budget I count as part of my entertainment budget, since it's more like a treat and is usually a social thing.

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Without a car these days, I only go to Walmart like twice a month now...and spend around $60-$80 the entire month. Then, there's this other walkable food market neat me...that I often go to and I spend $15-20 about twice a week.I rarely eat out at 'nice restaurants' too. Maybe like twice a year due to not having a car.

 

Grad school should be interesting. I say all of this based on my current undergrad experience.

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I used to have food budgeting problems after I got married. We were spending over $400 per month on groceries alone. Part of it was because we bought lots of snacks, and the other part was that I decided to try being a pescetarian, which meant buying seafood (which is super expensive). I was also trying a lot of vegetarian meat substitutes, which are also pricey.

So when I returned to eating meat, that reduced the grocery bill by a lot (plus chicken and ground beef are periodically on sale, and I stock up and freeze). We also stopped buying as many snacks. If you have time to make your own, it's easy and cheap to make things like chips, soft pretzels, cookies, etc. You can even make your own pitas, tortilla shells, and bread fairly easily if you have some free time on an afternoon. I admit, though, I only make my own bread products if I've overspent on food, because I don't care much for waiting around for dough to rise.

So now we spend around $50 to $75 each week on groceries for the two of us. We don't eat out too often. Usually not every week, so that frees up money for other things.

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I spend about $1200/month on food for my family of 7, which is pretty painful. When you break it down it's only about $40/week per person, but it obviously adds up. It's our 2nd biggest expense behind housing. We very rarely dine out and I cook a lot of pasta, rice, beans, and fresh vegetables.  

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Eating out is the main culprit.  Even if you are eating from the dollar menu it quickly adds up.  My GF and I were spending over $100 a week just on dining out and then still spending upwards of another $100 per week on groceries.  We wasted a lot of food do to spoilage.  We do not eat out nearly as often these days and have taken to make it a point to eat the foods we buy.  This saving us big bucks for sure.  

 

It also depends on your habits.  Prior to my current GF I rarely bought snack foods or ate out and the meals I prepared were more simple.  I also shopped on a near daily basis and only bought what I immediately needed/wanted.  As an example, if I made spaghetti I would cook a modest amount of noodles, crush a tomato and garlic, and mix in olive oil, salt/pepper, with an herb or two.  Sometimes I would a can of tuna.  The GF on the other hand feels the need to keep the fridge, freezer, and pantry fully stocked at all times.  Personally I believe that the more food in the house = the more food one is going to eat, but she does not share this sentiment.  I have a suspicion that her grandparents were preppers, her mother is the same way.    A lot of food goes to waste with her system and her answer is to attempt to eat more of it, not buy less.  Going with the spaghetti example, she will add a pound or more of ground meat to two or more jars of sauce plus added onion, garlic, and so on.  She will then cook an entire box of noodles and mind you this is only for two people.  Her preference is to eat what is essentially a bowl of sauce with a handful of noodles and will rarely eat the leftovers.  Granted, she only ends up consuming what could considered a normal portion size (for an American) but still, a ton goes to waste unless I feel like eating spaghetti for the rest of the week.  I have recently taken to freezing the leftover sauce.  Now, I have a freezer full of frozen sauce. 

 

Personally, I think $40/week is reasonable for one person without having to resort to the Ramen diet (unless, of course, you build your own ramen from scratch.  

 

To add:  coffee is huge expenditure as well.  A buck fifty per cup might not seem like much, but assuming you consume two cups per day (and why on earth would you want to do that!  Coffee is your friend  :) ), over the course of the month that comes out to $90/month.  Even if you buy the gourmet grounds at say $10/pound, if you brew at home you could save $50+/month alone; even more if you buy a large container of say Folgers, which could realistically last one person an entire month. 

 

 

I used to have food budgeting problems after I got married. We were spending over $400 per month on groceries alone. Part of it was because we bought lots of snacks, and the other part was that I decided to try being a pescetarian, which meant buying seafood (which is super expensive). I was also trying a lot of vegetarian meat substitutes, which are also pricey.
 

I have a Korean friend who once informed me that in Korea they use beans as the meat substitute instead of "fake meats" (this was back when I was vegan).  A bag of dried beans can be as low as under $1 and goes a lot farther than say a lump of Tofurky.  

Edited by Crucial BBQ
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Our food budget varied a bit in the last few years due to changes depending on how much money we had and how much time we had. For the first couple years of living together, we lived in a very low cost of living area and I had a lot more time (I'm the main cook) so I cooked all our meals and we ate out maybe once or twice per month. Since we had the extra money, we would buy nicer foods at the grocery store (and since we weren't eating out) we would spend about $80/week, so maybe $350-$400 per month on food for two people. Cooking your own food makes the money go a lot further -- even something nicer like a seafood pasta dish can cost as little as $15 per recipe (maybe works out to..$3-$4 per meal) instead of $15-$20 per plate at a restaurant! 

 

Then we moved to a higher cost of living and our income decreased (foreign work authorization requirement meant only single income for a little while) and we were able to drop down to around $200 per month for two people ($40-$50 per week) by buying lower quality food. Although we would be more tempted to order pizza more often etc. (luckily 2 pizzas costs like $15 and lasts for 6-8 meals total so it's not budget breaking) because we got tired of the same food all the time. 

 

Now, we both have steady incomes and can afford to spend more on food. We budget food and other grocery supplies (e.g. toothpaste etc.) together, so I don't know exactly how much we spend on food alone...probably close to $450-$500 per month for two people including eating out. 

 

I think $37/week for one person is very realistic if you cook all of your meals (maybe eat out once in awhile). We were in a high cost of living area and was able to manage two people on $37/week by cooking a lot so it's definitely do-able. However, one big thing I learned about budgeting wisely in the last 5 years (and this goes for all budgets, not just food) is that if you restrict yourself too much, you will actually end up spending more money overall because the temptation to splurge once in awhile is really hard to overcome and it's easy to undo months of budgeting with splurges. It's much better to spend a little more (e.g. buying seafood or other groceries you particularly like) and cook your own food than splurge on a nice meal out. Of course, maybe you have better willpower than we do!

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I spend about $150/month, though I am trying to cut that down by eating a little less per meal (I do have a big appetite, even though I am not fat haha). But yes, I am also trying to buy less snacks because unless you purchase them from Costco or Walmart, they are quite pricey nowadays! 

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I spend about $80 a month, or $20 a week, on average. I don't eat out (usually), don't drink anything other than milk and water (personal preference), buy meat in bulk when on sale, and buy produce weekly based on what is on sale/season. Personally, I don't feel like I'm limiting myself in any way with regards to nutrition and/or taste.

 

Note: I live in Florida, so prices might be much higher in other locations.

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I have a Korean friend who once informed me that in Korea they use beans as the meat substitute instead of "fake meats" (this was back when I was vegan).  A bag of dried beans can be as low as under $1 and goes a lot farther than say a lump of Tofurky.  

 

Life would be cheaper and easier if I knew how to cook vegan. I've used beans and nuts in many dishes as the main source of protein, but quite often I want something that mimics meat (like lunchmeat or a burger). I can do a burger from scratch, but some things (like the lunchmeat) I have no idea. I wish Quorn was cheaper, because it really tastes like meat and I think a lot of people converting to vegetarianism or veganism would have an easier time of it eating Quorn.

 

Trying to eat vegetarian is also made more difficult by the fact that my husband is a meat eater for life. I can rarely get him to eat vegetarian food or even seafood, so cooking two meals gets to be a real pain.

 

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My partner and I budget $350 a month for groceries + $100 for eating out. That works out to ~$44/person/week for groceries, or ~$56/person/week including eating out. We also do $100 a month for "fun money": events, movies, other entertainment. 

 

I'm sure we could cut this down if we ate out less and didn't shop at Trader Joe's so much, but we're lucky to live in a cheaper apartment in a lower COL city so we have plenty to spare on both my stipend and her salary. Also helps that I bike to school and she works 1.5 miles away, so commuting costs are almost 0.

 

When I was in Philly I had to budget way harder as COL was higher and despite my salary being higher in gross than my current stipend, taxes meant I actually earned LESS net (don't work in academia, folks!). I also had to live in a shitty part of the city to afford rent and lived without a car, which I enjoyed but was kind of necessary to maintain my checking account. Spend about $125 a month on groceries and maybe $50 eating out, so again ~$44 a week for just me.

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I don't know how much we spend monthly on food. (I buy stuff in bulk, when it's on sale, or both when possible.)  I wanted to voice my opinion on the vegetarian/pescetarian food slant though.  It doesn't have to be expensive...avoid the heavily processed stuff and it's an inexpensive lifestyle choice.  No "walking meat" for almost 25 years so speaking from experience.

 

I live with 5 1/2 omnivores, and have gotten them to enjoy eating vegetarian 3-4 nights a week.  My go-to cookbooks are The Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen and The Bean Book by Rose Elliot.  For frugality I would recommend The Bean Book strongly.  I can make dinner for my family of seven for between 3 and 4 dollars, and that usually includes a "free" frozen dinner, or a few leftover lunches.  The kidney bean curry recipe is FANTASTIC (and crazy cheap).

 

Wanted to add....I'm only pescetarian because I refuse to give up Worcestershire sauce....or smoked salmon.

 

ETA: We rarely eat out.  It's too dang expensive, and half the time we end up saying "our homemade version is better".

Edited by busybeinganxious
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I spend about $50/week on food for myself ($200/month), and my boyfriend (who does not live with me) pays for us to eat out at least once a week because I pay for the food I cook for our dinner at least two nights per week. I only go out to lunch if I fail to buy groceries in time to prep lunch for the one day as a portion of dinner the night before, so that ends up being about twice a month that I go out for lunch and once a week that I go out for dinner. A lot of the student restaurants right around campus are pretty cheap, especially the Asian ones (I can eat a vegetarian meal for less than $10), so I don't feel bad about going out there every once and a while. 

 

@shadowclaw I have the same problem as a vegetarian dating a meat-eater, but my boyfriend is willing to eat my vegetarian cooking (especially since he hardly knows how to cook anything and is grateful that I cook so he doesn't have to go out). He just orders meat whenever we go out (and probably goes out for meat on the 2-3 nights per week we don't see each other). I haven't gotten him to eat tofu yet, but I got him to eat vegan sausage and he liked it ;)

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I recently made vegetarian chili (well, almost... I used some chicken broth), and my husband was quite upset about it. He ended up eating a small bowl of it and then drove to Burger King afterwards. I'm not kidding. I've gotten him to try all sorts of vegetarian food, and he always says it's gross. I've tried just not mentioning what food is, but he always figures out if there's meat or not. The only thing I can get past him is substituting ground turkey for beef.

Edited by shadowclaw
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I recently made vegetarian chili (well, almost... I used some chicken broth), and my husband was quite upset about it. He ended up eating a small bowl of it and then drove to Burger King afterwards. I'm not kidding. I've gotten him to try all sorts of vegetarian food, and he always says it's gross. I've tried just not mentioning what food is, but he always figures out if there's meat or not. The only thing I can get past him is substituting ground turkey for beef.

 

Are you married to Ron Swanson?

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I recently made vegetarian chili (well, almost... I used some chicken broth), and my husband was quite upset about it. He ended up eating a small bowl of it and then drove to Burger King afterwards. I'm not kidding. I've gotten him to try all sorts of vegetarian food, and he always says it's gross. I've tried just not mentioning what food is, but he always figures out if there's meat or not. The only thing I can get past him is substituting ground turkey for beef.

Better than my husband. Mine eats the following: chicken, fries, onion rings, and baked potatoes. Plus, he drinks tea, but only because he's British. He still has the most limited diet ever.

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Better than my husband. Mine eats the following: chicken, fries, onion rings, and baked potatoes. Plus, he drinks tea, but only because he's British. He still has the most limited diet ever.

 

To be fair, the UK is not known for their varied, healthy, and scrumptious diets over there.

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Are you married to Ron Swanson?

  

Hahaha that made my day.

Better than my husband. Mine eats the following: chicken, fries, onion rings, and baked potatoes. Plus, he drinks tea, but only because he's British. He still has the most limited diet ever.

If my husband could have it his way, he would eat taco bell for every meal. He believes every meal should consist of meat and cheese, and for some variety, there can be an "edible spoon." He really likes tortillas for this purpose because it creates the perfect bread to meat ratio.

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Weekly grocery bill - about $250, this is for 4 1/2 people - me, wife, 10 yo son, 24 yo son (usually gets his own dinner when working), and 24 yo daughter (when she is visiting or needs extras @ school). This is almost entirely organic, and locally produced products when available. We grow and freeze quite a bit of of our own veggies during the summer, and hit up all of the local farm markets for other seasonal items.

I also spend an additional 40-50/week on daily lunches & dinners for the evenings that I have classes.
Beer & wine budgets are not included (but this is mostly homebrew anyway)

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Because I don't bother with cooking anymore (for a few reasons), here's what I basically do:
 
• A constant breakfast - mine is yogurt+peanut butter+oatmeal+wheat cereal
• I drink water ~97% of the time
• I actually do eat Cup Noodles
• I but these $5 frozen pizzas that are actually decent! and split that into two meals
• Actually, I try to split meals into two as much as possible (my high metabolism doesn't let this work often, though)
• I used to buy 3 99¢ crispy chicken sandwiches from Wendy's, but it closed down last week =O (
• I try to eat lunch at home, if possible
• I frequent the same cheap places in my daily routine. I have a few "boyfriends" I go out with, and that provides the variety. Luckily, one pays for me, another one knows I won't spend more than $10, and… I guess the rest kinda vary.
• Every paycheck, I treat myself to a CD and a menu item that's $1 or $2 more than what I usually order, LOL.
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I recently made vegetarian chili (well, almost... I used some chicken broth), and my husband was quite upset about it. He ended up eating a small bowl of it and then drove to Burger King afterwards. I'm not kidding. I've gotten him to try all sorts of vegetarian food, and he always says it's gross. I've tried just not mentioning what food is, but he always figures out if there's meat or not. The only thing I can get past him is substituting ground turkey for beef.

I was lucky, back when I was vegan the majority of my friends were also vegan or vegetarian, including those I wound up dating.  My current GF tells me to cook veg all time yet 9/10 when I do she takes two bites, makes a few positive comments, then barely touches the rest of her plate.  She always then claims she is not hungry, had a huge lunch that day (why she thinks I have not caught on by now is beyond me, she uses this exact same excuse each and every time!), then goes for a large bowl of ice cream.  

 

The irony is that there are many, many, dishes and food items that are vegetarian or vegan that most meat and potatoes types would not even second guess.  Mac and cheese immediately comes to mind.  I mean, does your husband expect the noodles to made of steak?  Yet, tell them that the dish is vegetarian/vegan and they all of a sudden won't like it.  

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