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Old 11-16-2013, 11:09 AM   #21
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A couple of thoughts/comments - 1) We spend $80 a week on food alone for two people. We do not buy meat which is a significant cost saver. (We run marathons and bike centuries on a vegetarian diet, as do many fellow athletes we know. Meat is not a dietary necessity, particularly in today's increasingly sedentary world.) .... 4) I would expect anyone on a tight budget, SNAP or no, to 'get' that cooking from scratch is therefore a necessity. I can make a pot of vegetarian spaghetti with sauce for two, with enough leftovers to feed us for two additional meals for less than $4.50. Adding salad and bread would add another $1....
1) More meat for us . When did you become vegetarian and why if I might ask? DD is on her 23rd year without meat, since 7th grade. From toddlerhood she did not like meat and a class reading of "The Jungle" put her over the edge. She is active and healthy but has to watch her iron levels. She is not vegan, though. Yet.

4) This is exactly my go-to meal for DD and her family, including salad and bread (but I just use a jar of good vegetarian pasta sauce w/o adding veggies to it)!
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Old 11-16-2013, 11:17 AM   #22
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I spend $400 a month for one person. Sounds obscene but I try to eat healthy lowfat food that I like: fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and shellfish, wild salmon, organic milk and chicken, top sirloin, Fage yogurt, Lundgren rice, good coffee, etc. I buy fish, meat, cereal, and a few produce items at Costco. Also buy low sodium items and lower calorie items if possible. All these "specialty" items and buying in small quantities probably adds up. I take my lunch to work and spend less than $100 a month at restaurants unless on vacation. I've just accepted this cost as controlling my weight and blood pressure is more important than money.
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Old 11-16-2013, 11:30 AM   #23
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There are billions of dollars in advertising spent each year to try to get people buy convenience and processed foods. I find it hard to stick to an omnivore diet for $4.50 with per person per day with lots of fruit and vegetables unless we shop at ethnic markets and warehouse stores, buy single ingredient foods and cook from scratch, which takes time. This means buying very little of all the products advertised on TV or even the majority of the 10,000 products at the average grocery store. It is hard to cook like this if you are among the working poor with a full time job, kids to care for and you are taking 3 different buses to get to work and back each day.

Even shopping at Costco, many of the products cost less than retail, but I find most of them to be still relatively expensive convenience foods. Maybe I am a slow learner, but it has taken me a couple of years, and I still have a long way to go, to replace all the commercial products we used to eat with healthy, lower cost, simple alternatives.

We now clean our windows with home made orange vinegar cleaner, I clean my stove top with baking soda, and we make roasted potatoes and onions with olive oil from scratch instead of buying frozen bags of same from Trader Joes. I bought a ten pound bag of potatoes a couple of weeks ago for $1.88, where the Trader Joe's pack of frozen, roasted potatoes probably cost more than that for one pound of ingredients.

Today we are making pizza from scratch. Last week we made our own chocolate bars. This week I froze stock and beans made in the crock pot. I like it but it is taking me a long time to learn the simple and sustainable living ways of cooking and cleaning.
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Old 11-16-2013, 12:29 PM   #24
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Looks to be about $850/month for groceries for 2.
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Old 11-16-2013, 12:50 PM   #25
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We're budgeted for $315/month for 3 people, mostly food but also whatever else we buy at the grocery store. That would exclude the one day a week we go out for dinner. We usually have plenty left over at the end of the year.
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Old 11-16-2013, 12:53 PM   #26
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$450 for 2
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Old 11-16-2013, 02:07 PM   #27
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To spend $5 a day for 2 people is extremely low, particularly if you don't eat out often.
It's $5 a day per person, or actually $4.71 per OP.
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Old 11-16-2013, 02:16 PM   #28
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1) More meat for us . When did you become vegetarian and why if I might ask? DD is on her 23rd year without meat, since 7th grade. From toddlerhood she did not like meat and a class reading of "The Jungle" put her over the edge. She is active and healthy but has to watch her iron levels. She is not vegan, though. Yet.

4) This is exactly my go-to meal for DD and her family, including salad and bread (but I just use a jar of good vegetarian pasta sauce w/o adding veggies to it)!
We'd been moving away from red meat for quite a while because of the high fat content, but seeing the documentary Forks Over Knives ( http://www.forksoverknives.com/ ) sealed the deal. There was a bit of a learning curve in developing a new collection of both vegan and vegetarian meals, but my husband lost about 20 pounds within the first two months of going onto it. He's now about 155 at 6', which is perfect for his frame. We found going 100% vegan a bit austere, but have adopted many vegan products into our lifestyle - soy, tofu, and non-dairy milk, yogurt, sour cream and margarine. The biggest difference between eating meat and not eating meat is the absence of that weighted down feeling.
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Old 11-16-2013, 02:19 PM   #29
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I spend $400 a month for one person. Sounds obscene but I try to eat healthy lowfat food that I like: fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and shellfish, wild salmon, organic milk and chicken, top sirloin, Fage yogurt, Lundgren rice, good coffee, etc. I buy fish, meat, cereal, and a few produce items at Costco. Also buy low sodium items and lower calorie items if possible. All these "specialty" items and buying in small quantities probably adds up. I take my lunch to work and spend less than $100 a month at restaurants unless on vacation. I've just accepted this cost as controlling my weight and blood pressure is more important than money.
Finally, someone I can relate to, as I don't think $400 is that much, I don't know how many get so far under. I eat oatmeal mixed in with fresh strawberries and walnuts daily, and that just itself including the milk is almost $100 a month for breakfast. And that is the cheapest meal of the day for me. I have to have meat at least once a day. I am a fit person, but if I tried to quit eating meat I would eat all day and gain weight. I have to have that rock sitting in my stomach to feel full.
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Old 11-16-2013, 02:36 PM   #30
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Finally, someone I can relate to, as I don't think $400 is that much, I don't know how many get so far under. I eat oatmeal mixed in with fresh strawberries and walnuts daily, and that just itself including the milk is almost $100 a month for breakfast. And that is the cheapest meal of the day for me. I have to have meat at least once a day. I am a fit person, but if I tried to quit eating meat I would eat all day and gain weight. I have to have that rock sitting in my stomach to feel full.
I eat very similarly at breakfast, but I don't spend anywhere close to $100 a month to do it. Shall we do a Bobby Flay throwdown and compare costs item by item?

Trader Joe Steel Cut Oatmeal - 17 servings: $2.49/$4.98 for 34 servings
Strawberries - 1 lb: $2.50/$12.50 for 30 servings
Milk (Coconut milk for me): $2.99 1/2 gallon/$11.96 for 30 days worth
Walnuts - 1 lb: $7.49/$14.98 for 30 days worth
TOTAL: $44.42

Calories:
Oatmeal: 150 per serving
Strawberries: 75 per cup
Coconut milk: 50 per cup
Walnuts: 140 per 1/4 cup
415 total calories

Add a banana for an additional $5.70 a month, at .19 ea (Trader Joe price), and you have a total of $50.12 and 500 calories at a per breakfast cost of $1.67.
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Old 11-16-2013, 03:10 PM   #31
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Thank you for your input. It looks like the amount folks spend on food is all over the place.
I was just curious. I'm sure it depends on where you live, where you shop, whether you buy on sale and what you eat. On a lot of items, the sale price is half what it is when not on sale. So for those who don't watch sales, that would double the the cost for those items. As long as you're spending your own money, it's no one's business what you eat or how you shop.
But I think the answer for food stamp receivers is watching the sales and cooking from scratch. And scratch is usually a whole lot healthier. We spend our own money and that's what we do. We eat on about $5 a day each. For example, we had a wonderful bowl of cabbage soup for lunch - lean ground beef, tomatoes, kidney beans, green pepper, onion, cabbage, etc and the cost for a huge bowl was around $1.25 each. (Man, it was good!) We had a few soda crackers and iced tea with lemon and maybe that added another dime (?) each.
I don't know why people on food stamps can't do the same. I just don't get it. Honestly, many people of my mom's generation ate a lot of beans and cornbread and were very healthy. They spent their own money for that and that's all they could afford.
My point about people being overweight is that food stamp recipients are at least as overweight as the general population so they don't need more food anymore than the general population does. (I see a lot of food stamp recipients at ALDI).
Cheap foods don't have to be starchy or fattening - my husband has been a diabetic for 15 years and his A1c is rarely above 6.0.
(All the stores where I shop are on the bus line so they're accessible to those living in the inner city too.)
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Old 11-16-2013, 03:15 PM   #32
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I eat very similarly at breakfast, but I don't spend anywhere close to $100 a month to do it. Shall we do a Bobby Flay throwdown and compare costs item by item? Trader Joe Steel Cut Oatmeal - 17 servings: $2.49/$4.98 for 34 servings Strawberries - 1 lb: $2.50/$12.50 for 30 servings Milk (Coconut milk for me): $2.99 1/2 gallon/$11.96 for 30 days worth Walnuts - 1 lb: $7.49/$14.98 for 30 days worth TOTAL: $44.42 Calories: Oatmeal: 150 per serving Strawberries: 75 per cup Coconut milk: 50 per cup Walnuts: 140 per 1/4 cup 415 total calories Add a banana for an additional $5.70 a month, at .19 ea (Trader Joe price), and you have a total of $50.12 and 500 calories at a per breakfast cost of $1.67.
I got sales tax included in mine and all my food I have to get at walmart as it is the only store in town outside of a crap hole. Ya when you refer to walmart as the nice place in town, selection is limited! 10 quarts of strawberries at about $3. ( have to go to store every 2-3 days to buy them as I only like them fresh and they spoil fast) 4 -16oz bag of walnut pieces about $9 a bag. 4 gallons of milk about $4 per gallon. 2-3 containers of oatmeal a month at about $3. So that's around $90 ish...Yes, I love eating the fresh strawberries. Makes the oatmeal taste a lot better since I don't put any sugar in it, and I love sugar!
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Old 11-16-2013, 03:24 PM   #33
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For the past 7 years $475 per month for two including soaps and paper products. We have changed our shopping habits to keep this number stable. We eat at home more too now that we FIRED. Have Cut back on Whole Foods Market and use Costco more than ever. Does not include dinning out.
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Old 11-16-2013, 03:27 PM   #34
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I got sales tax included in mine and all my food I have to get at walmart as it is the only store in town outside of a crap hole. Ya when you refer to walmart as the nice place in town, selection is limited! 10 quarts of strawberries at about $3. ( have to go to store every 2-3 days to buy them as I only like them fresh and they spoil fast) 4 -16oz bag of walnut pieces about $9 a bag. 4 gallons of milk about $4 per gallon. 2-3 containers of oatmeal a month at about $3. So that's around $90 ish...Yes, I love eating the fresh strawberries. Makes the oatmeal taste a lot better since I don't put any sugar in it, and I love sugar!
We'll tag your's the high living breakfast, and mine the on-the-cheap version. Something for everyone!
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Old 11-16-2013, 03:39 PM   #35
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About $180-200 per month. I eat well and shop wisely. I rarely eat meat (except chicken) and buy pretty much all my staples at Aldi. Staples are typically eggs, milk, Fage yogurt, bananas, apples, onions, celery, peppers, tomatoes, other fresh veggies, oatmeal, beans, brown rice. Breakfast is homemade kefir and yogurt, oatmeal, banana. Lunch is hardboiled egg and apple. Dinner is typically a hearty veggie/bean soup, red beans and rice, grilled chicken and veggies.
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Old 11-16-2013, 03:40 PM   #36
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Just making something as simple as spaghetti for 2 people is not dirt cheap.

3/4 Pound of 93% lean ground beef $4
Jar of sauce $2
Half a pack of thin noodles $.75
Partial bag of Costco salad $.40
Salad dressing $0.25
Parm cheese $0.40 (I like cheese)
Garlic bread $0.50 (the frozen texas toast type makes for small servings)

Ok, it is pretty cheap but that is one meal. $8.30

Anyway, we spend about $450 a month just on groceries for 2 people. Sometimes we make more expensive meals like ginger and garlic covered grilled salmon.
Just a tip that might save you a little on the spaghetti meal. It looks like you're spending about $5.33 / lb for lean ground beef. Often they put London broil or sirloin tip roast on sale here for $2.99 /lb When they do, I buy a bunch and ask the butcher to grind it. Makes great spaghetti, meatloaf, etc. (but too lean for hamburgers.)
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Old 11-16-2013, 03:48 PM   #37
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This has been a fascinating read. The average of everyone who has posted to this point is around $460 per month for two people. I WAY overestimated monthly food costs when figuring my budget. ONOH my wife plans on eating out five or six times a week once we RE.
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Old 11-16-2013, 04:04 PM   #38
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According to the Consumer Expenditure Survey, the average for two person families in the US is:
$6,634 per year, or $553 per month, or $9.09 per person per day.

57% of that is "Food at Home", and 43% is "Food Away from Home".

Their lowest income groups spend about $3,800 per year. (But, "income" is kind of slippery in the CEX.)

Average spending varies a little by age, with the 75+ couples spending $5,781 per year.

The ratio of (food spending) / (total spending) is about 12% overall. It varies by income group, from about 15% for the lower income groups to 11% for the highest ($70k+) group.

Consumer Expenditures Survey (CEX)
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Old 11-16-2013, 04:16 PM   #39
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I do not know. We are careful shoppers but we are not reluctant to buy expensive cuts of meat/fish/ cheese or pay for the fresh fruit/produce that we enjoy. Our red meat consumption is down considerably but not by specific design. We buy very little prepared/processed food as we can often seem to taste the chemicals/preservatives. Costco is our friend. We just pay the bills.

At the end of the month I simply add up our Visa, Costco, utilities, and cash withdrawals to come up with 'the number'. Our budget is geared to our total monthly spend. As long as this number is realistic and we achieve it on an annual basis (not on a monthly basis) we are happy. So far, after three years, we are right on target for each of the three years.
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Old 11-16-2013, 04:23 PM   #40
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\I eat oatmeal mixed in with fresh strawberries and walnuts daily, and that just itself including the milk is almost $100 a month for breakfast.
And I thought I was eating oatmeal because it was cheap

For me oatmeal, some raisins, maybe some banana slices and little honey is less than $10/month. I don't use milk, maybe that's where difference is.
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