Cost of Groceries

by john on March 14, 2003

A couple of years ago the standard price for a bag of groceries was about $25. It seemed like every trip to the store I’d be lucky to escape spending less then $100, which would usually net me four well packed bags. It wasn’t too long ago that you could count on six or seven bags for that $100.

Lately, however, I’ve been spending more like $150. Tonight I set a family record – $210 on one trip. The yield? A lousy five bags. And it could have been so much worse. I went to Rainbow Foods instead of Kowalski’s. I saved $21 on coupons. Instead of buying three $5.49 bottles of spice I bought three of the cheapie $.99 deals. I even bought some generics.

Other than spending about $30 on fixings for Baklava to bring to work on Monday this was a normal weekly shopping trip. I didn’t get enough meat to load up the freezer – I bought a couple of pounds of ground chuck, a two pound chuck roast, a pound of bacon, some brats and some hot dogs. That’s it for meat. I bought a dental pick – other than that nothing from the healthcare department. I didn’t buy laundry detergent.

I just don’t get it. Our kids are four and five. What on earth are we going to be spending when they are teenagers? The mind boggles.


Dorothy March 14, 2003 at 11:38 pm

John your not the only one that doesn’t get it. It seems every week I am stunned into disbelief when I hear the total at the check-out. My menu is dictated by what’s on sale and I am never to proud or stupid not to use a coupon when I can. I have an eleven year old that can eat more at one setting than three starving sailors…see what you have to look forward to. I don’t dare take my husband shopping with me, that’s an automatic $50 increase. So I just plug along and try to get the best value for my money that I can.

Joe Grossberg March 16, 2003 at 7:33 pm

Three thoughts:

* Moving to a more vegetable-based diet instead of a meat-based one can save you a lot of money (no, I’m not a vegetarian). For example, chili doesn’t need meat and eggplants or mushrooms can replace meat in lots of Italian food.

* Do your shopping for spices at an ethnic market. No joke, it’s about 1/4 the price Giant would cost me for the same Indian and Thai food. And it’s a great way to find “the right” vegetables and spices instead of substituting the wrong flavors.

* Similar to what Dorothy said, it’s helpful to have a list of recipes handy (have you got a PDA?) and decide which ones to buy based on what’s for sale, instead of being “forced” to pay whatever they want for a particular ingredient.

janeyq January 31, 2005 at 8:09 pm

I hear you!!!! I was just talking to the bank about my late mortgage and working out a “reasonable” budget when the customer service rep asked how much I was spending on groceries per month. I told her about $600 dollars for a family of four: kids are 4 and 8. This includes packing one lunch five days per week and my husband and I don’t usually even eat lunch! I limit how much meat I buy, I ALWAYS buy what’s on sale, I use coupons if they make sense, and we don’t waste food. The customer rep acted like I bought right from the Schwann’s truck every day – she said the average for a family of four is – get this – $400.00. No way. So after some research I found out this figure is based on
a USDA experiment to see how little welfare recipients could live on. I appreciate the above helpful hints, but let me assure you I have tried them all and still spend at LEAST $500.00 monthly on just food alone, let alone toiletries.

Good luck!!

donna October 3, 2005 at 6:01 pm

Here is a question that I would like you to answer for me. My husband and I will never see eye to eye on this. I have 6 children, ages 14, 13, 12, 10, 6 and 4, plus my husband and I – what do you think that we should be reasonably spending on groceries each week? My husband thinks I am spending too much money and he thinks that the kids are just eating out of control – this is not the case. I pack 5 lunches four days a week (they buy hot lunch once a week). Plus breakfast, dinner and snacks. Please respond for sake of a never ending argument.

Carla August 20, 2007 at 9:47 am

This is 2 years late in coming, but, for Donna, I would guestimate you would spend about $1300 or more a month in 2007. I was so happy to read the other posts, as my husband thinks I spend way too much on groceries. I spend about $150 a week for a family of four with kids ages 12 and 9. We eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and I find that sometimes that bill is about $35 per week on the high end. I buy generic and sale items, but I also have my staples. I shop at walmart for most everything except fresh fruit and vegetables. we have a lot of farmers around here, so when I shop at the roadside stands its cheaper. I live in upstate NY and just about everything is more expensive here, so I think I am doing good.

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