Trying to find what family of three spends on groceries per week or month...anybody?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by DDD, Jan 15, 2012.

  1. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    husband and I are disagreeing on our budget for food and paper goods/etc. I've tried googling and can't find a resource that says what the norm is. Anybody know where to look? No, lol, this isn't a "war" just a very different perspective that I'd like to center. DDD
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I'm not sure about the 'typical' household of 3 but difficult child and I used to eat well with me buying groceries and miscellaneous items (toiletries, dog stuff, and cleaning items) at wally world for an average of 100 per week. Now, this didn't include lunches for 5 days a week. I feel certain i could have fed a 3rd person for that amount by being more prudent and not having the better steaks twice a mo. Actually, I think I looked at it once or twice and determined half of that (maybe 50-60) was actually going to food- it was the drinks and other items that caused it to double. Drinks are expensive, comparatively speaking. We did eat leftovers though.

    I hope that helps.
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Some is going to depend on where you shop & what you buy, as in generic vs name brand ect. For two I'm getting away with probably 200 per month.........BUT a lot of that is stocking up, so it's a bit harder to figure. Cuz when those sales come I'm not ignoring them. Kroger has freshlike veggies for .49 cent per can, today is the last day of the sale. Already bought 2 cases.......going back for more today. I won't be buying canned veggies for quite a while after that. But prices are going UP and I can't recall the last time I saw veggies at .49 cent even at aldi.

    I'd make a "normal grocery run" tally up what it cost while keeping an eye on prices of things you normally buy each week. Then sit down and figure it a tad on the high end to account for those prices going up. If you have some money left over each week that is always a good thing......but it gives you some lee way for sales and such that can cut it down on another week or several. That's probably the only way you'll be able to figure it fairly accurately. Prices vary from region to region ect.
  4. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I think that the Dept. of Labor or Agriculture or ??? some government entity publishes regional averages as I've seen them before. Just can't find the darn things. We have seen a sizable increase in grocery costs this year in our region. Even tho we are cautious and do use coupons etc. our budget has been exceeded.
    Hope to have an actual stat for him, lol. DDD
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    DDD....we are a family of 3 and in the south. I would think NC would equate pretty well to FL considering I dont think you are in a really touristy area as that always makes groceries a tad bit higher.

    If Tony and I strictly bought groceries each week and didnt buy any meals out our bill would average around $125 a week.

    Milk runs $4 average. Hamburger is at least $3 a pound for the average stuff...higher for chuck. We just bought chuck on sale yesterday for 1.99 a pound and loaded up. We get bags of frozen chicken breasts B1g1 free for $12, (my house that is 2 meals), for some reason frozen shrimp has been on sale recently for around $6. we get diet coke/pepsi for $1,

    What actually makes my bills a bit higher than average is that I refuse to do some things that others will do. I buy frozen precut veggies for stews and the onions/bell peppers already cut. I have been known to buy the potatoes already cut. Im sorry but my hands and my back hurt bad enough that standing up to cut all that stuff is just not a priority.
  6. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Grocery costs and coupon practices are so different between our two countries that I hesitate to offer any input from personal experience, since it's likely to be irrelevant to you.

  7. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food Cost of Food at Home

    Like Hound we scrape by on about $200 a month (mostly foodstamps) for food by stocking up, couponing, and not buying much in the way of meat. So much depends on personal taste and local price as well as if you coupon to match sales and all.
  8. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    I think it makes absolutely no difference what the "average" family spends. The "average" family may be eating a lot of junk that you would never choose for yourself. Rather than trying to determine what you "should" be spending....I think you need to figure out how much you need to spend in order to eat the way you choose to eat.

    I think it is more important to determine your diet first. If you want to eat a lot more fresh, organic foods and fresh meats and fish - then you are going to need to spend more. Whereas, if you don't mind a steady diet of Top Ramen and Mac N Cheez....then you can save a LOT on your grocery bill.
  9. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    You could never go by mine. I still smoke so cigarettes and lots of pet food probably make up a third of what I spend in the grocery store.

    But I find it fascinating to watch what other people are buying! You can tell a lot about people by what items they're checking out in the grocery store. You can tell who mostly cooks from scratch, the people buying more fresh meats and vegetables, lots of staples, less junk. You can tell who takes a lot of shortcuts, lots of premade, pre-packaged foods. And you see some whose carts are half full of junk foods and snacks, bag after bag of chips and cookies... they're usually the ones complaining that their grocery bills are so high!

    The deli in our grocery store sells pre-cooked whole rotisserie chickens and I've bought them many times, especially in the summer. They taste very good, I don't have to spend my time and electricity cooking it, don't have to heat up my kitchen, and they cost less than a dollar more than a raw chicken of the same size that I'd cook myself. To me, that's worth it. And Janet, I understand completely why it makes more sense for you to buy the pre-cut veggies, etc. because it makes it so much easier for you. But some people take "convenience" to ridiculous lengths and there's no good reason for them to do it! Our store sells potatoes by the bag, then they have nice baking potatoes in a bin where you put your selections in a plastic bag. But then they also sell baking potatoes that are ready to put in the oven! They are already washed and wrapped in foil, covered in plastic wrap. They cost more than twice as much as a regular baking potato out of the bin! And they sell lots of them! Now is anybody really in that much of a hurry (or that lazy) that taking the time to wash a potato or wrap it in foil before they put it in the oven is going to throw them completely off schedule and ruin their day? I don't think so!
  10. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I just came back to the computer to see how you all responded to my post....there is no post! Rats.My computer is acting up a bit so I'll make this one shorter in case it flies off into cyberspace, lol.

    First of all thanks for the USDA site. That's what I was looking for to win a bet with husband. Here is what the chart indicated. For a family of two (we have three) a "low cost" grocery bill is $445, "moderate" is $561 and "liberal" is $677. This is edibles not paper products etc. That is about what I try to spend or less for three adults eating healthily. Ideally I would buy everything fresh. Not possible with the budget. by the way, we don't eat out more than once every two months and we don't do junk food often. Yes, we do use coupons too.

    So...I win the bet (hmm..was it a nickle or a dime?) and I beat husband in our weekend Scrabble competition. All's well with the world this afternoon. Thanks again. DDD
  11. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Holy cow! That seems like a lot....
  12. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Sounds like alot to me too. I'm assuming there are regional differences but there couldn't be that much difference between Fl and most areas. Actually reading those figures made me really feel broke. Truly I can't imagine how the family members manage on food stamps when it is getting closer to a struggle with some income plus social security. DDD
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well that sounds like we are doing okay then on the moderate chart! Tony and I just got back from the store a little bit ago and we spent another $100. He had already spent $50. Now out of that $90 we spent there were some cleaning items too so I guess take those out plus a couple of animal things. Probably $10 worth.

    I am not making biscuits by scratch. No way. I dont bake cakes by scratch when I can buy one off the reduced table at walmart for $4-$5. Im sorry, just no point in it. I dont have to heat up the oven or take the time. Tastes better to me too. Maybe I am just not that good a baker. I do make brownies though. Once in a blue moon.

    I am pretty sure those 4 cans for $6 biscuits come out pretty low cost as far as time and ingredients anyway. I value my time at a pretty high rate...lmao. I think I was making $12 an hour when I quit my job.

    No I wont buy those potatoes that are covered in plastic wrap to stick in the micro...I can manage that myself. I have never figured that one out. I do love the precut apples and the precut onions and peppers. My grocery store has them both frozen and fresh. I buy them frozen to do certain recipes and fresh for others. Fresh are obviously higher unless I catch them on sale. I am not very good at chopping things. Oh they also do diced fresh tomatoes and they are wonderful. Yes I will buy all those things because its easier for me. I do not buy those packages of diced cooked chicken though because I would have to buy too many of them at this point. Now if was just me and Tony, I might if I was making something like a cold chicken salad in the summer but with Billy around I would have to use more than one pack and it would be too much money. Sometimes my store puts them on Markdown for quite cheap when they go close to date.

    I love those bags of fresh precut potatoes that are in the isle with the eggs. In the green bags. They come in hashbrowns, chunks and something else. But the chunks are just plain cubes of potatoes and I can boil them for potato salad. They have no seasoning or anything else on them. Just already peeled and cut potatoes. That was a find! They go on sale quite often for 2 bags for $4 and they are like a pound each. 2 pounds of tater salad for $4 or just a bit over it with everything else I put in it. Maybe $5 after its all put together.

    Now my biggest new expense is my dog food. You guys turned me on to expensive dog food and Tony hates you for Especially because Nina is our developmentally delayed dog. She is the poor dear. Leave it to us to get a difficult child dog. But I have become in love with Chicken Soup for the Soul Dog Food. Problem is its like $49 for 45lbs but I will look on amazon and see if I can find it cheaper there. I have Prime now and can get it shipped free if its cheaper there. She loves it and its so good for her. I only have to feed her 28oz cup a day and she is good to go and my 45lbs lasts me almost 3 months because we supplement her food with table scraps. For a difficult child dog, she is so pretty. She is the most beautiful pit bull around. Friendly, wouldnt hurt anyone and wouldnt get near anyone. No one could get their hands on her. She loves me to death though. Always has. I am momma. Basically the only time she likes tony is when they are outside together and when we are all in bed together...lmao. Then she wants to snuggle with him! We dont often let her in to sleep with us so its a real treat for her.
  14. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Janet, do you have a Tractor Supply store near you? I never would have thought about going in to that place until someone mentioned that they sell dog food! I never knew, but they have many of the premium brands of dog food, their prices are comperable, and you don't have to worry about paying shipping. They even carry it to the car for you! With my Bostons, one has a very sensitive stomach and another is allergic to just about everything including corn which is in just about every brand of grocery store dog food. They do great on Taste of the Wild which is a grain-free premium food and is available at Tractor Supply for about $45 for a 30 lb.bag- a pretty good price for TOTW. And it is true that they will eat a lot less of a high quality premium food because their nutritional needs will be met with a smaller quantity of food. The corn in lower quality foods is a filler and dogs can't digest corn, and many dogs (like my Ragan) are very allergic to corn. They will eat it like they are starving because it takes a lot more food to meet their nutritional needs but the only thing it really does is give them massive poops because they can't digest all that corn and it goes right through them! Seems weird that you can actually SAVE money by buying a more expensive food for them but it's true!
  15. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Thanks for the USDA chart too!! I agree that it seems awfully generous... I have 3 SKINNY teenage boys who are big eaters -H works from home and everyone packs a lunch and I don't spend anywhere near what they suggest for even a family of 4 with- 2 young kids (1229 generously-wth?) PC17 is a really picky eater who could care less about food and a runner who is underweight so I buy things I know he will grab on the go (hot pockets, pop tarts) bc otherwise he may skip meals if running late to school or work. I budget 1018 per month (largest grocery tab for the last year x 52 divided by 12 as a safety net but I rarely spend that much) and usually spend between 145 and 200 per week. When things are tight, I can usually whittle it down to a max of $150 per week.

    I think my biggest savings is that I only go to the grocery store once a week. No running in to pick up something else for dinner. I make do with what we have or will send a kid to pick up the occassional missing ingredient I forgot. Running into the store always means $20-$30 IME and by refusing to do so, I control our costs. (I do the same with target/wal mart. I go once every month max and use coupons to stock up on hygeine, cleaning supplies & paper goods) Every once in a while I challenge myself to buy the "cheapest" version of a product and have found quite a few favorites that way. I can't tell the difference between Morton's salt and the store brand.

    We eat pretty well -rarely eat out as a whole family. H & I go out for dinner about 2x a month. I buy whatever meat is on sale - I try to keep our average "meat" price around $10 per meal for the 4-5 of us, we eat leftovers 1-2 nights a week (or the kids have frozen pizza-"open kitchen" nights) and I probably make a meatless meal like lentils or a spanish tortilla or bisquick quiche 1x per week. We eat pasta at least once (usually twice) a week. (bet that doesn't surprise you --->signorina) I also buy 1lb of deli roast beef for sandwiches, breakfast sausage, bacon and usually a pkg of hot dogs.

    I buy a big bag of apples & oranges each week, 1-2 bunches of bananas, plus 2 types of "other" fruit like berries, melon or grapes depending what is on sale. I also love "Simply Potatoes" and buy the quartered or hash brown potatoes and the mashed potatoes. I always have bell pepper strips, chopped onions and a few types of frozen vegetables in the freezer. I usually buy 2-3 nights of fresh vegetables (green beans, broccoli, zucchini or eggplant) head of romaine, a tomato, avocado, a bag of baby carrots and a bunch of parsley.

    For groceries - usually 2 boxes of cereal + a pkg of microwave, flavored oatmeal (for H) 2 loaves of bread, 1 good baguette or pk of dinner rolls, PB & jelly, bagels or eng muffins, pop tarts, 2 boxes of "school snacks" (granola bars, fruit snacks, pb crackers,) 2 big cans of san manzano tomatoes, 3-4 lbs of dried pasta, few cans of soup and broth, some beans, a jar of pickles or peppers, single serving applesauce, 2 bottles of apple juice, a 24 pk of water, a bag of pretzels, 1 bag of chips, pkg of tortillas, box of crackers (wheat thins for me!), pkg of cookies. (oreos for pc14), needed baking staples or spices, rice or egg noodles and 1-2 bottles of wine and/or an occassional 6pk!

    Dairy - 4 gallons of skim milk, 1 bottle of coffemate, butter as needed, 2 pkgs shredded cheese, 1 pkg sliced cheese, 18 eggs, 2 pkgs of gogurt, pkg of string cheese. Frozen - 3 bags of veggies, 1 bag french fries, 2 lean cuisines, 2 pizza, 1 box of Eggos, 1-2 ice creams, maybe some hot pockets or frozen conveniece type foods during sports season.

    Monthly splurges are a 2lb bag of coffee beans, 1 big bottle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, 12-24 pk of diet soda (for me) a 50pk of individually bagged chips for lunches, salsa, hummus, a wedge of nice cheese, and a hunk of imported parmesan. My cart usually contains a few extra things too like paper goods or magazines, a greeting card, a bunch of flowers etc.

    I am definitely saving that USDA link though. H doesn't mind the grocery expenses - he loves to eat and really appreciates my cooking and knows I watch the dollars.
    Lasted edited by : Jan 15, 2012
  16. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    HOLY MOLY! I didn't feed a family of FIVE on that much, especially without non food items included! Even before coupons! Wow! Now I understand the weird looks I used to get from other moms lol
  17. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I wonder if that was supposed to include money spent for lunches at school and work. That's the only way I can see it costing that much if the miscellaneous items are not included.
  18. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Signorina, that's my downfall, going to the grocery store so often! It's only a half block away from me, i'm in there every other day, and even if I only went in for one little thing, I will spend at least $20 on other things.

    It makes a huge difference when you have kids around, especially teenage boys. When my son was a teenager he would take a whole package of lunch meat and four slices of bread and make two sandwiches out of it, then still eat a big dinner! He's grown now but still has a healthy appetite. He stayed with me for about three weeks last fall and my grocery bill didn't just double, it tripled while he was here! When it's just me here by myself most nights I cook but sometimes it's leftovers or I just heat up some soup or have grilled cheese. But when he's here, I make an A-list big home cooked dinner every night, not because he asks for it but because it just seems like the thing to do. And if there's any leftovers, he eats those before he goes to bed.

    My brother and sister in law had three boys that were all teenagers at the same time ... poor planning on their part! My poor sister in law would go to the grocery store and would go through with two carts, pushing one and pulling the other, and fill up both of them! And a few days later it would all be gone and she'd be back in the store again!
  19. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Are you counting for inflation, too?
  20. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Donna - I wish I had known I would have 3 teenage boys and not girls in advance. My next door neighbor has 3 teenage girls and her larder is bare - her dds exist on vitamin water, sushi, organic fruits and salads!

    My boys and my h are my downfall. H has a great metabolism (it didn't slow down until he hit 45 or so) and my kids were lucky enough to inherit it from him. PC17 is super skinny, a distance runner -- he's5'5" maybe 108 lbs but eats a lot. PC14 plays sports and and has a great metabolism. My difficult child has put on a few lbs at college but still is a big eater with a good metabolism...both pc14 & difficult child play(ed) HS football and pre-season & the season trying to put on or at least maintain their weight during two a days...

    Me - I have the slow, dumpling shaped metabolism of my ancestors and everyone on my side of the family is overweight. When difficult child started HS football - he was trying to gain weight and IT WAS ME WHO ACTUALLY GAINED. My servings always look minuscule next to their plates and I am still likely over eating! The fully stocked pantry & fridge are the bane of my existence. I'd sell my soul for just an occasional poptart or a handful of oreos.
    Life just isn't fair sometimes.:groan:
    Lasted edited by : Jan 15, 2012