How much do you spend on groceries?

by 404 · March 13, 2014 at 03:06 PM

I'm trying to buy more high quality meats. I make a grocery list for every two weeks and wanted to find out how much my bill would be if I bought my meats from US Wellness. It all came to almost 200 bucks. I wanted to stay at 75 but it was completely impossible. The price is mind blowing and being a soon-to-be-college student, I can't spend that much and my mother won't let me...

I usually get the same items for less than 100 bucks. Keep in mind that the 200 bucks doesn't include vegetables and stuff.

My farmer's market sells some organic meats and products that are antibiotic free. Not all of the products are as high quality as US Wellness products. All of the veggies I can get organic if I wanted, so that isn't a problem. But still....

Where do you shop? How do you shop? What is your weekly/bi-weekly/monthly budget? How do you save money? Do you NEED to save money?

Tips and advice?

Thanks guys.

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10 Replies

692 · July 03, 2013 at 06:41 PM

I know you're asking about groceries but I wanted to drop this in:

I can't 'eat out' being Celiac BUT I can easily fall into a fancy coffee routine that can go as high as $200/ month. I didn't realize it was that bad til I needed to sock away some cash and since everybody talks about how much little things (bag of crisps here, hamburger there -- not that those are my choices) add up -- so I had NOTHING but homemade food and beverages for about 3 months and BAM: got $500 for my 'bother.' It was eye-opening because as I said, I'm not doing like most people do, where they eat out (even if just fast food) 1 or 2 times a day at least 5 days a week and then pick up an energy drink at the filling station.

I can't imagine the money they're pissing away!

So! Had to drop that down first as you mentioned getting ready to go to uni and as somebody who paid her way through with academic scholarships (did about 2/3 of the tuition) and WORKED my way through? Yeah. I get it.

I hear you saying you're trying to choose 'quality' meats more often. I'm not going to say it's impossible but it's going to be hard.

Do you have a Costco membership? Do you have a large enough freezer? Buy bulk, chop it up and freeze it.

I'm still a fan of tinned fish (salmon, sardines and trout) but they're not necessarily 'cheap.' I just tried a cheap (under 1 USD) sardine and um... it's worth paying a bit more to be able to finish it and not give the rest to my DOG. It was horrible. I'll pay the extra .25 next time!

Another option is just don't buy the 'quality' meats...for now. Be sure you get plenty of coconut oil and surely you can afford some better fish or at least fish oil supplements to offset your PUFA? I mean, ya gotta do what you gotta do.

McDonalds is NOT an option, right?

Buckle down in school and get out fast :)

10 · June 19, 2013 at 04:10 PM

In all honesty, since I cut out buying all the junk stuff, my budget is pretty much the same as when I was buying things that were bad for me. Also, someone mentioned that planning meals is essential.

On Sundays, I cook my lunches for the week and freeze them. The lunches usually consist of a piece of chicken with tons of broccoli, kale and spinach piled on top. I buy mostly frozen veggies (nothing added) which also saves me. I buy on sale where I can too. Organic is more expensive and when buying frozen, I just buy the regular brands, as long as they're not on the GMO list!

Check out your local MOMs or Trader Joe's or other health conscious grocery-type stores. They have a lot of good deals too.

Hang in there! There are ways to do this and still stay within budget. :)

0 · March 13, 2014 at 01:48 AM

I agree with most here that you can eat paleo with a marginal increase to overall budget (when you scale it out over all your meals and total cost), but I there isn't much margin to save on niche items (i.e. Coconut Aminos, Almond Flour, etc). This is a problem that we are trying to solve at Paleo Provisioner.

Right now we are doing market research and could use the feedback if you have 2 minutes to answer the 8 questions.

The hope is to provide quality hard to find paleo products (might include meats, like this thread started with) but we will not know until we hear back from people just like you!

4145 · July 03, 2013 at 06:25 PM

Depending on your goals or approach to paleo, how about adding in white rice and potatoes (white or sweet potato)? I don't want to kick start a debate about the merits of any of the above, but they are cheap and are great filler to help stretch out costlier items. Same goes with bananas and squash.

Also, while definitely not ideal, pay attention to the "Clean 15" - produce that's a little bit less harmful to eat non-organic. Prioritize buying organic for the foods that retain the most pesticides (google the Dirty Dozen). Again, neither are ideal solutions but I've been in your shoes and you're already leagues ahead of many of us who ate all sorts of appalling garbage in college (I lived on totino's frozen pizza and domestic beer).

I also sympathize because you really can get some awesome deals on meat when you buy in bulk, but if you're on a tight budget or it is controlled by your parents, it might not be possible to spend several hundred dollars at once. Keep an eye out on "Manager Specials" at your grocery store. It has been my experience that in crappier grocery stores, they'll occasionally stock grassfed / otherwise not horrible meat for a specific customer, price it way too high, and then have to dramatically reduce prices before it goes bad because nobody is buying it. We recently got grassfed beef for 3 bucks a pound at Albertson's for this very reason and stocked up.

Make sure you're buying the entire chicken instead of just the breasts. You can get several meals out of it, it costs less per pound, and you can keep the bones and bits to make stock.

And to answer your question, we're probably spending $800+ per month for two people, excluding the stuff we don't need to be buying (wine, sparkling water). We're eating mostly organic, not perfect meats (trader joe's organic chicken - not great). We just dropped a couple hundred bucks on the Tendergrass Farms special that MDA was running (spend 200 bucks, get 80 bucks worth of meat free), so that should stretch for awhile.

Good luck!

3029 · July 03, 2013 at 06:00 PM

U.S. Wellness meats is quite pricey but definitely worth it for the care and the way they feed their animals. However, search around with a quick google search of your area and you'll probably be able to locate some better prices. For instance we buy our 100% grass-fed in bulk at 3.25 to 5.00 a pound which you will never be able to find in the grocery store that cheap. Right now we have 450 pounds coming which will do us most of the year. The upfront investment means we are saving a ton.We also have a pig coming at 5.50/lb and we get to visit them on the farm and are great friends with the farmer. We also are getting 100% pasture raised chicken, guinea fowl and pheasent eggs for 3.50/dozen which is a bargain. When you find a good deal stock up!! This is where a chest freezer comes in handy. We have picked up 3 so far in our local buy and sell (or kijijj). Also when buying fruits and vegetables (always organic) pick the most nutrient dense and bang for your buck. Skip the salad greens!

251 · June 19, 2013 at 02:59 PM

My roommate does all of the grocery shopping for us, and we literally spend $100-$120 a week (that's about $60 a person) and eat 90% paleo at home (with the exception of some Greek Yogurt and cheese here and there). Meal planning is the key, and shopping around. We go to the farmers market, Wal-Mart, Kroger, and a local grocery here. Shop around and see what is the cheapest and where. Everything we eat is organic or grass-fed, mind you. I'm sure things may be a little cheaper around here, but it's still feasible. I was spending about $200 a week eating the SAD bs so to drop it down to $60 a week, hell yeah.

11251 · June 19, 2013 at 02:41 PM

Go to the frozen fish section of your store and see if you can find some seafood without sodium tripolyphosphate. I think that's what it is, anyway. I can buy bags of whiting fillets. If you can find shrimp without that stuff in it, that's pretty good too. The trick here is figure out what your protein requirements are, and do portion sizes that correspond. I don't manage this as well as I'd like to, but if you can just eat the protein you need and then fill up with good fats and vegetables, you could save money.

If you are going to buy meat from the store, look for good looking roasts. Ground meat and chicken are not good choices. Additionally, koshering the roasts seems to help. To kosher you immerse the meat underwater for thirty minutes. Then you take it out, dry it off, and salt the crap out of it and let it sit for an hour. Then you rinse any excess salt off, dry it off, and it is ready for cooking. I have never done this with pork. Even though I am not Jewish, I just assume it wouldn't work because there is no way to make pork kosher. Now, pork eating cultures have these long marinades in something acidic- I think you can find something about that in the Nourishing Traditions book. Anyway, these preparations can help pull stuff out of the meat, if they are putting anything in.

I am trying to buy more stuff at the farmer's market than ever before, mainly because I've recently had problems. It is the summer time and at summer parties the hamburgers and fruit seem pretty safe, but between whatever is in the ground meat and possibly FODMAPS in the fruit, well, according to my guts, being social leads to distress. So I am less concerned with budget and more concerned with feeling halfway decent.

18794 · June 19, 2013 at 12:45 PM

Counting dining out, my fiance and I spend about $1100 / month, here in Greater Boston, Massachusetts. Prices here -- for everything -- are quite high. However, we only dine out once a week, which comprises about $300 of the total -- I'd say 3 cheap nights, and 1 fancy-pants night out.

So, groceries are about $800 a month for 2 people. So, (4 weeks * 7 days * 3 meals * 2 people) - (4 meals * 2 people) = 160 meals; $800 / 160 = $5 a meal. I would say that's pretty darn good for the quality of food we eat. :-) Unfortunately, this number includes "sundries" and other random stuff we pick up at the grocery store, like paper towels, toilet paper, cleaners, etc -- so the number is actually high.

The key to saving money is cooking for yourself. Our Sunday cook-up both saves us lunch-money during the week (all lunches precooked), but we also save time at dinner (sides precooked often enough, so only main course need be cooked) -- and of course, cooking in bulk saves money v. buying meal-to-meal.

While there's definitely a "dollar menu" at fast food joints, I'd easily spend more than $5 for any fast food meal years and years ago when I ate like a SAD asshole -- and that doesn't count inflation - yikes! ;-)

I would suggest you prioritize the premium foods you want to buy, and then make it fit your budget. Fresh fish may not always be feasible, but fresh fish 1 a week and canned fish other days might be, for example. You are going to pay more of a premium for grass-fed steaks (in my experience) than grass fed ground meat (which if you are lucky and live near a farm like I do, may be fairly inexpensive).

Remember: pay a premium for the good stuff you want, but be aware that paying a premium doesn't mean you bought good stuff -- shop wisely!

236 · June 19, 2013 at 11:37 AM

How much meat are you eating!? Living in Belgium, I spend about 300€ ($400) PER MONTH for ALL the groceries for myself AND my husband! And we both eat "meat" three times a day!

(Breakfast is usually eggs, veggies and an extra protein for flavor - a bit of bacon, some chopped Italian ham... Lunch could be a huge salad with tuna and hard boiled eggs, chicken legs with a veggie, meatballs in a chuny tomato sauce... Dinner usually follows the same basic outline of "protein" + "veggie" + "veggie" - and could be salmon filet + broccoli + tomato or steak + eggplant + asparagus... There really is no skimping at our house - we eat til we're full and have a large variety of things!)

If I were you, I'd re-evaluate your meal plans. Then I'd just go to a regular grocery store and buy the best option you can afford. Every little bit is better than nothing.

1142 · June 19, 2013 at 11:20 AM

You can eat paleo very cheaply. I have 3 college age children and they buy lots of cheap vegetables (here in the UK), tins of sardines/tuna (and we are lucky over here that just about all beef lives in fields on grass so we do not have the same issues the USA has over feeding cows).

Also I don't think you need to be too much of a purist. Most people in the UK/US eat an awful processed food diet. If they just moved to meat/fish/eggs/veg of any kind at all their health would be vastly improved even if nothing were organic or grass fed.

In London 30,000 people have allotments (small plots of land they hire to grow their own vegetables) which is another cheap option.

I am older than you and my UK food costs are not going to be too relevant to you in the USA and I don't really have cost issues at my age. We shop on line and the shopping comes to the house each week.

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