I'm in the process of refining my ER budget - (ER start of 2008). I have realized that I don't have a clue about food (and not edible stuff like paper towels - cleaners, etc.) bugets. Reason - my DW and I are currently on the go working so convenience foods - eating out - even stuff like my DW is a clinic nurse and brings home food from the pill reps on a regular basis. I'm assuming that we will prepare more of our own meals and eat out less often (at least if we want the money to last)
So what does it cost to eat when retired? Anyone want to share their experience? Any place to get averages?
Edited to spell budget correctly - I gota get a spel chekir rite aweigh
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Charleston, SC
Re: Food Buget???
Mysto, I'm thinking that my budget will be the same in ER as before, even though we use a lot of convenience foods now. But, with more time to cook, I'll buy more "exotic" ingredients and experiment with more foods. And I've found that healthy food isn't really all that inexpensive. For two of us, we average $500 a month, including food at home and dining out. I have projected that to be our likely average in ER as well.
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Depends a lot on what you like/want to eat and how much prep you want to do.
For our family of 4, including 2 very active kids (they eat a lot), we spend about $800-$900/month on real groceries (covering bkfst, lunch, and dinner) and between $25-$75 on junk (candy, chips, soda, etc.). We only eat out 1-2 times per month as a family and have the occasional lunch on the run. Otherwise, we make our food and don't use frozen dinner, presliced veggies, etc. We do compromise with some prepared items, but generally when on sale.
FWIW, my DH does the shopping, and is a pretty good comparison shopper but not as good as I am, so I could bring it down a bit if I took over, but this is the division of labor that works for us. (e.g. he'll can't seem to shift to buy canned goods more cheaply at W-M instead of the grocery store, will sliced cheese rather than block, and buys expensive cuts of meat that we would never have if I, the nearly veggie member of the family was shopping).
I would not have anyone adopt my mode of living...but I would have each one be very careful to find out and pursue his own way, and not his father's or his mother's or his neighbor's instead. Thoreau, Walden
For many years I grocery shopped and cooked for a family of 4. Then, in the fall of 2005, both sons were away at college and it was just my husband and I to shop and cook for. I learned so much about my shopping habits.
When the boys were home, there was a certain default list of stuff I always kept around. I sort of shopped on autopilot. When it was just the 2 of us, I started really looking at everything I reached for, saw prices in a whole new way and changed my whole shopping scheme.
I stopped buying any kind of convenience food expect for bagged salad. I thought ahead about what the 2 of us would like to eat for typical dinners and bought enough for just us 2. I started trying some bargain cuts of meat, just for the heck of it, and found that some were just fine, others I wouldn't bother with again. I had always looked for items on sale, but now I made an effort to look for mark down stickers on things that were nearing their "Last date of Sale".
We weren't broke, I just wanted to re-learn my shopping habits as an excercise. I was very surprised at how much I could cut back on without feeling like I was depriving us of anything. With a family of 4 I was spending about $165 - $190 a week, when I relearned to shop for just the 2 of us I could get by on $90-$115. And that includes some paper products and cleaning products. I make a trip to a discount store to buy some of those in bulk or on sale.
We also cut back a lot on eating out or take out. For just the 2 of us a couple of those Arby's $5 salads were perfect or 2 entrees and egg rolls from a Chinese place.
The boys are both back home now, but I've retained most of my re-learned shopping habits and have kept the weekly bill to $120 - $165. We still spend too much on take out on the weekends, but we enjoy that.
And I use a cash rewards charge card for grocery shopping. Last year I had one that paid 5%, but they ended that program so now I only get 3%. Also, I shop at a store that has "Fuel Perks". For every $50 you spend you get $.10 off of every gallon of gas. I buy gas about once a month, so I'd accumulate those and get a tank of gas for CHEAP. I even got a free tank one time.
Well, it felt like it was free. I'm sure they make it up in the grocery prices!
__________________ Married, both 64. DH retired June, 2010. I have a pleasant little part time job.
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Re: Food Buget???
I do all the grocery shoppping and most of the food prep at our house. Like some of the other posters, we've been through both the convenience-food-dependent and cook-everything-from-scratch modes, and everything inbetween.
Food budgeting is tough because it overlaps necessity with discretionary pleasure spending. Like most, our budget is a mix of the two.
More than half of our meals are very basic and low cost involving preparing common menu items from scratch. The others frequently involve something a little pricier like a quality meat or seafood entree, out of season fruit or veggies, or whatever. Occasionally, we do enjoy something downright expensive, especially in the summer when I cook outdoors frequently.
Since RE nine months ago, dining out for convenience has dropped to almost zero. Dining out for pleasure has dropped somewhat, but we still do so 2 - 3 times a month. You can buy a lot of high priced ingredients and treats for home with the money saved by eliminating just one trip to a nice restaurant.
I no longer keep a weekly food budget because, since RE, food and restaurant expenditures are no longer tied to a weekly cycle. In fact, I think linking food shopping to weekly trips is a driver of waste.
So far, we've averaged $580/mo for two people. This includes all meals at home, wine and booze, 2 - 3 restaurant trips per month and a brown bag lunch for DW three days a week.
Going forward, I think this will incease slightly. I enjoy meal prep (usually!) and DW thinks having me wearing the chef apron is the best thing since sliced bread. For another $100/mo or so in ingredients, I could significantly increase the frequency of evening meals being "treats."
If we had to minimize the budget, I think we could get by on $300/mo and still eat healthy and with some variety. Except for wine and booze. At $300 those items would be :P .
Oh yeah......your questions.....how much to budget? A couple could eat well, if wine, booze and restaurant expenses are minimal, for $400/mo. At $600/mo, you're starting to enjoy more treats.
Your milage may vary. I'm an experienced shopper in an urban area and am constantly familar with what's going on at a number of groceries and specialty shops. I take advantage of low cost but labor intense recipes now that I'm RE. We seldom buy pre-prepped foods for convenience or dine out for convenience.
We had absolutely no interest in RE if we had to be on a subsistence budget for food. I'm an efficent shopper. I know how to do meals DW and guests consider treats with low cost ingredients. We have no expensive food habits. Food is an area where excessive frugality, for us, would be a real negative.
You're going to have a lot of choice in how much you budget and it's simply up to you as to how you want to do it.
"I wasn't born blue blood. I was born blue-collar." John Wort Hannam
i just started tracking. have january but not feb yet. jan was $118.82/week (including supplements) for a party of 1 but this includes a bunch of protein shake canisters which will last a while and way too much in cookies and nuts. i'm cutting back on that now. i think it will work out to about $100/month for one person, not including eating out. though i don't eat out much because my mother never cooked so i pretty much already had 45 years of that.
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"life should begin with age and its privileges and accumulations, and end with youth and its capacity to splendidly enjoy such advantages."~~mark twain - letter to edward kimmitt 1901
Our walmart bill is $700/month for all food, toiletries, paper products, miscellaneous (prescription drugs, other medicine, car maintenance items, toilet seats, toys, kids' clothes, some adult clothes, etc.). We also spend $160 month on dining out or carry out purchases.
That is for DW and I (both working), and two little kids (2 still in diapers, 1 still on formula), and two cats. I figure about 1/2 of the walmart tab is food and the other 1/2 is everything else.
We are fairly frugal as we buy store brands when they are equivalent to name brand. We don't clip coupons or shop sales though. We buy almost everything from Walmart (every day low prices).
approx $200/month here for maybe 1.25 people (SO eats over sometimes).
Includes lots of fruit and organic stuff (makes it more expensive), not much processed stuff (makes it cheaper). I eat a lot of brown rice, rolled oats, frozen chicken. This doesn't include eating out which is maybe a couple times a month ($50-$75), but does include about 2/3 of my paper goods, cleaning supplies, pet food, etc.
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