Food budget for one


Well-Known Member
I'm attempting to help difficult child plan a weekly food budget.
But, I don't know how much would be reasonable to spend per week at the grocery store
per week for food for one (1) person. We live in a medium to large city. Southeast, US.
About two years ago, hubby and I went to the store and shopped super diligently, using sale items etc. and for $40 we got a about 6-7 days worth of groceries...all food, no paper products like toilet paper.
They had a sale on a TV dinner she kinda likes and we bought like 5. They were about $1 a piece
They had a sale on vegetable soup...we bought three or four.
Bread, turkey breast, cereal, milk.
Hamburger meat and buns.
Two yogurts. Two apples. Two bananas.
Not super healthy, but not hideous either. Can't remember all that was purchased.
Being careful and somewhat frugal what do you think is the typical weekly grocery cost of food?
I'm thinking with inflation, maybe $45 and if one throws in any paper products, that would be $50... But it seems very debatable.
Today, I went to the store and paid $75.00 and I would estimate I purchased enough food for two people for two - 3 days. So, that would be potentially the equivalent of six days for one person.
I'm sooo confused.
And difficult child does not have the befit of shopping various sales easily because she doesn't drive.
I can encourage her to shop at the food store on big sale days, which I think she would do.


Well-Known Member
Can't comment on dollar values, but... normally, prepared foods like TV dinners are more expensive. Turkey or chicken breast is normally way more expensive than dark meat. And beef is... well, beyond my budget.

Cheapest protein is lentils, but you have to know how to cook them.
Next cheapest is eggs - and they are versatile.
Dark chicken - thighs or legs, usually - can be had at a good price but you have to buy in bulk to get a good price.
Cold cereals are outrageously expensive compared to cooked ones - simple oatmeal can be cooked in the microwave, for a lot less per serving (quick-cooking oats, not "instant").

There is a thread out there somewhere - watercooler or healthy living - about stretching the food dollar.

Best approach I have found is to buy ahead in bulk when the sales are on, cook ahead (things like soup, meatballs, etc.), and have ahead in a freezer.


Well-Known Member
Does she know how to actually cook, at least the basics, or will she have to rely on a lot of prepared foods? I swear by my little plastic bags! I buy things like family size packages of chicken leg quarters that are really cheap, then freeze them individually. I buy ground beef, form it in to hamburgers and freeze them. A package of three pork chops is three meals and I can get four meals from one whole chicken. It's hard to cook for one. When I was working I used to cook a little more, then take the leftovers to work for lunch the next day. I honestly couldn't tell you how much I would spend on groceries in a week though because I also buy a lot of coffee, soft drinks, paper products and pet foods.


Well-Known Member
I have no idea about food cost in US (I know that cheaper than here, but everywhere is cheaper than here), but some things to consider:

- It is always more expensive to cook for one than it is to cook for bigger group per person.
- what kind of opportunities she has to cook and store food? For example is a freezer size a limitation?
- How expensive are the shops she has access to? Doesn't help, if some place sells some item really cheap, if she can't get to that store.
- One can save lots of money by buying in bulk, freezing and using later, cooking four or five meals at the time and freezing and using the left overs, using seasonal products and being good at using sales. Problem is; one needs to be reasonable cook and very good at planning and have good executive skills. If I remember correctly, your daughter was one of the kids of ours, whose executive skills and not her strongest point.

So, when considering the budget, consider what she actually can and can't do and do not plan a budget for 'martha stewart' or even yourself.

Depending how much she knows and how good she is at planning, it could maybe be even more useful to break the budgeting to smaller pieces. Come up with ten affordable meals she likes and knows how to cook, make a weekly menu based on those and then look how much that costs are and help her figure out how she needs to shop to make it work.


Well-Known Member
Right now her ability to cook is very limited. She is renting a room within a home, she has a single burner, which I don't like her to use due to safety reasons. She only uses it if she has to. And she has her microwave. Very tough situation.

Hopefully, relatively soon, she will move to a small place and have a small kitchen. She has a basic understanding of cooking.

She has some memory problems, impulsivity problems and sometimes mood swings.

I don't think for the most part, bulk will work for her. I think at most like three servings. She could , for example, buy a package of chicken and divide it up for three meals.

Our store has buy one get one free deals. And fortunately, they have them often on the cold cereal, which yes, is ridiculously expensive and usually not that nutritious. So, I will probably encourage her to buy it at that time only since I know in my heart she won't give it up.

I like the idea of coming up with some affordable meals she likes to cook. I like the idea of remembering eggs as a good source of protein! And throw in some pre done meals too, like a few inexpensive TV dinners. This is because she can be impulsive. If she is over hungry, she won't cook, she will go out to eat and spend money she needs for other things on going out to eat. A few TV dinners might help with that.

It's hard to come up with a dollar amount. Even in my own shopping, I find that it fluctuates a lot. Sometimes I have a lot left over, other times there is nothing left at all in the refrigerator. Yesterday, I ran into the store to just pick up a few things and catch a sale.

We are very burned out from helping her (sad, but true) with various things over the years. She has mood swings, etc. But, I think in this case, we will need to go with her at first regularly and then now and then for awhile to help her.
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Well-Known Member

$50 per week for a single person is doable, if that person is diligent and sticks to a budget. However, with your daughter's limited access to a 'normal' kitchen set-up, not sure. I would give it a try by going shopping with her and helping her with a grocery list.

Do you have an Aldi store in the area, or other discount place? Aldi has great prices on a lot of things. I have certain things I buy there once a month.

Shop the sale ads. Be flexible and buy what is on sale.

Can you price match in your area? This really helps ALOT! My local store will even price match Dollar Store, Walgreens, any place that is 'local' to this area. It only takes a bit of pre-planning, and only one grocery stop.

Good luck and I hope others will add any info they have.



Well-Known Member
Well, where she is to move in approx. six weeks there is an ALDI relatively close by. And when she moves, she will have a small, but normal kitchen!

I have thought about seeing if she would be willing to go there at least sometimes to pick up some things at ALDI. It might be fun to see what items they have there that she likes and uses regularly that are cheaper there. Since she takes the bus, I don't think she would want to go weekly. It's a little farther than the regular food store. But certainly, once or twice a month could be well worth it and even fun. I think we will go together and check it out!

I've never heard of our food store doing price match...I'll ask.

Thank you Apple and everyone.


Well-Known Member
My Difficult Child step-son rents a room from a young couple with kids who struggle to pay the bills often, so he finds any food he leaves in the fridge or freezer may or may not still be there when he wants it. This winter he would often put his refrigerated items outside to keep. But we live where it stays below freezing for months at a time, so not an option down south.

Aldi is great for a lot of things.

They have bagged frozen veggies for stir-fry with a sauce packet that is pretty good and an easy, quick meal. I think it is in the $3 range and is more than enough for two or more meals for a single person. Add some chicken and it is a great filling meal.

Their produce prices are the cheapest (at least in my area) BY FAR. I can usually get a pineapple (for example) for $1.99, where at the local groceries they are $3-4 each. And their produce is good. I use their ad to price match on fresh produce at the local grocery and get it often for 50% or more off the store's price.
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Well-Known Member
Wow! I think this is definitely worth checking out. And I like Insanes idea about eggs. She likes eggs and they keep awhile, aren't too expensive, good for you and easy to scramble. Her Executive skills are so so. There is so much to keep in mind. Picking up so e good ideas. :)


Well-Known Member
I echo everyone else on Aldi. It's a great place for a budget shopper. I have found their store brands, (Savoritz, Fit and Active, there are others) are as good as anything you'd get at Kroger or HyVee. In fact, there are a number of things they sell that I prefer over name brands, specifically their "trisket" crackers and their Greek's the only store we buy those items. That said, if you shop sales, you might beat their prices on meats and poultry. Veggies are great and usually a better price than you'd find anywhere outside a farmer's market. Once she has a kitchen, that should probably become her go-to store.


Crazy Cat Lady
I spend between 65 and 100 dollars a week on groceries; depending on whether I need meat and fish that week.

The price is as high as it is because I use an internet shopping service.

I order my groceries online, pay for them, and schedule a delivery date and time. Prices for the actual food are about the same as at a non-discount grocery store, but one has to take into account delivery fees and the tip to the delivery driver who carries it all in and puts it in my kitchen.


Crazy Cat Lady
I make my own marinades again, now that I've found out that you can buy red and white wines in 4packs of "single serving" bottles. I can't drink wine because it gives me migraines, so had given up on making wine-based marinades after Stu became very ill and could no longer kill off the rest of the bottle, so to speak.

Now I buy a little 4 pack of red wine and a little 4 pack of white wine and I'm all set for a bunch marinades for various dishes.


Well-Known Member
I make my own marinades again, now that I've found out that you can buy red and white wines in 4packs of "single serving" bottles.

We buy those too. More expensive than buying a cheap bottle of wine to cook with, but since you usually cook with dry wine and we drink sweet wines, there's less waste, since I only cook with it once in a blue moon.

Jabber and I have been talking about ordering our groceries and having them delivered. It would force us to meal plan, which is the key to keeping costs down. I suspect the planning and lack of impulse buys will even out the higher prices we'll pay for delivery. It's a thought.


Well-Known Member
I am the queen of cheap when it comes to food. I spend 200 dollars a month on just food items. I use meat as a condiment or for flavor. The rest is plant and nut based.


Roll With It
She must learn to shop at Aldi's. They have great stuff esp their house brands. If you don't like an item, they will give you your $ back AND another item! We have found very few items we don't like, esp the produce and chips are great. My kids and hubby like t heir chips better than the big brands! I did a blind taste test with them and each one liked Aldi's brand better than the big brand!

Learning to cook will save her a TON. So will a bunch of small containers to freeze her food in. I go to Sam's and spend $30 or so on a box of those clear tubs that you see in delis for the salads. I get 200 - 250 containers (8 oz or 16 oz) and it is so much cheaper than the ones like Rubbermaid, and the lids are all the same so no hassle. If you bought the box and sold her a sleeve of container and lids, you would each have them and she could divide her food into portions to heat ad eat in her microwave. You would also be able to do this easier.

There are cookbooks for one out there that she can use. You can also make a book with your recipes for her.. Write the recipe out as you would cook it and then cut down the portions and write it out with the smaller amounts on the next page It would be a lovely gift for hr and help her to figure out what t do and how to do it.

She might also find coupons useful.. Once she sees that she can save $ with them, it could be something she enjoys.


Roll With It
Around here I can often find chicken breast in boneless skinless version for almost the price of dark meat. I buy it if the boneless kind is half or less than the reg kind.. Tomorrow one store has boneless skinless chicken for $1.59. I often find it at Sprouts for $1.97 or $1.78 and I get it then.

Giving her some spices would also be nice. They can really wreck a budget if you have to go and buy them all at one time.


Crazy Cat Lady
Studies done in the US have shown that it's not a good idea to microwave food in plastic containers. Apparently toxins from the plastic leach into the food. I went out and got a set of lidded Pyrex bowls for fridge-to-nuker storage. The containers also work in the freezer, though you want to start at medium power to warm things up before progressing to high power.

I use the bowls a LOT as even though I have a very small pressure cooker, I still get 4-5 servings at a time out of it.