How much do your weekly groceries cost?

>> 4.06.2010

For the next post in my "How Much?" series, I'm breaking down my grocery bill directly from last night's shopping trip...

*Before you point out that I didn't buy eggs.. yes, this image is from another shopping trip :)
Fruits & Veggies
$1.05 Spinach
2.50 Pineapple
1.99 Bag Grapefruit
2.99 Strawberries
1.06 Bananas
.45 Avocado
1.68 Lettuce
1.14 Sweet Potatoes
Total: $9.87

Bread, Cereal, Etc
$2.59 Strawberry Jam
1.59 Pasta Sauce
1.50 (after $1 coupon) Frosted Mini-Wheats
2.00 Raisin Bran
2.89 Chocolate Cheerios (had coupon for milk)
.82 Can Refried Beans
1.14 Whole Grain Mac & Cheese
.60 Ramen (4)
2.38 Honey Wheat Bread
Total: $15.51

$.99 (after $1 coupon) Omega 3 Milk
2.07 Cheese
2.98 Gallon Milk
Total: $6.04
Buying two things of milk is unusual for us, but one was on sale for $.99 and will last into next week.
Also, the eggs are missing from the list because we just colored some for Easter this past weekend.

$1.89 (after $1.75 coupon) Bird's Eye Shrimp Scampi
1.89 (after $1.75 coupon) Bird's Eye Shrimp Scampi
4.25 Red Baron Frozen Pizza
Total: $8.03

Grand Total: $39.45 (for two)

Believe it or not, this is a very average weekly grocery bill (we did also buy dog food, but I included that here). Sometimes we'll go as low as $20, but never over $55. How do we keep costs low?

*Buy protein in bulk or on sale. First, I have to say that not eating red meat, chicken, or pork very often cuts down on the costs big time! For the protein that we do eat (I do a lot of fish and veggie meat/ Nate does chicken)

*Skip the snack food. We do snack, but not on pre-packaged crackers or chips. Fruit, veggies, or a PB&J will usually fill us up between meals. We didn't need to buy dessert this week (thanks Easter), but usually a sweet cereal, $2 sherbet, or packages of sugar-free Jello fill that spot.

*Plan out the menu and buy only what you need. It's really not as time consuming as it might sound. Nate and I actually meal plan while we're driving to the store. We really only need to plan out four meals... Monday is pasta night, Thursday is frozen pizza night, and we go out to eat one weekend night.

*Shop sales the smart way. If you weren't going to eat it, don't buy it! That said, stock up if you eat it all the time! I went for the great deals on the Bird's Eye meals and Frosted Mini-Wheats so that we can skip buying those things next week.

What do your weekly grocery bills look like? How do you keep your costs low?

PS I might have omitted a box (or four) of clearance Peeps from the total... I promise that they aren't part of our normal grocery bill!


Jessica @ How Sweet April 6, 2010 at 10:26 AM  

Ohmigosh can you take me shopping? I try to stay under $75 a week, and it rarely happens. My husband is a huge eater and loves meat - there is not changing that. He eats about 8-10 times a day and has meat for many of them. The bill used to be even higher, but I am desperately trying to cut it down!

Emily April 6, 2010 at 10:38 AM  

Is this including items to brown-bag lunches at work? I cannot imagine my husband and I living off of this for a whole week! Nice work! A cheap week for us is about $60 and a spendy week is closer to $100. You mention that Thursday is frozen pizza night, but I don't see one in your items...are you buying these in bulk when they're on sale?

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog April 6, 2010 at 10:49 AM  

@Emily~ Yes, this bill includes lunch. I actually cut my bills even lower by improvising for lunch (I used to plan out my lunches and buy frozen meals). Nate and I are eating pasta leftovers today.

The frozen pizza we eat is up there ($4.25), but the pasta isn't. We buy bulk whole wheat pasta from Costco, but it's under $2 per week. With the sauce, it's a $4 meal that leaves us with lunch for the next day. Can't beat it!

Sara @ Russet Street Reno April 6, 2010 at 10:51 AM  

Wow, we would sit around staring at the fridge wondering what to eat if this is all we bought! I guess we like to snack more than you guys. Our bills come to around $90 a week, if we don't buy wine or beer.

Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker April 6, 2010 at 11:08 AM  

Nice post. Can't believe you can keep your costs that low! WOAH! We must eat a lot. But we, too, have been examining this topic on our blog.

So, rather than write it all out here,

Check out our progress

I like that you use coupons. That's something we haven't really tried yet -- but it looks like you've reached some good savings with it!

Hannah April 6, 2010 at 11:18 AM  

impressive! I am good about keeping a budget of my overall finances but when it comes to break down the grocery portion, it's a free-for-all and I end up throwing away a lot of food and eating a lot of take out. You've definitely inspired me to take a better look at this though!

Danielle and Clint April 6, 2010 at 11:23 AM  

Ours is usually around $70. We try not to go over that. One tip we learned is to buy for the week meals. No munchies.

The Brick Cottage April 6, 2010 at 12:44 PM  

We're pretty cheap when it comes to groceries, too! The last trip was about $70 but almost $10 of that was for salad dressing (there was a sale and we stocked up--can you tell we eat a lot of salad?). We also don't buy any sodas and rarely do we buy snack food (usually it's because people are coming over). Since this weeks bill was $70, next weeks will be closer to $30. Our bill also includes our lunches. I always eat at home (usually left overs) and the hubs favorite lunch lately has been PBandJ's. Oh, and we also rarely buy prepared foods which helps a lot!

Jeannine @ Small and Chic April 6, 2010 at 12:57 PM  

We spend about $70 every other week with a trip here and there to pick up a forgotten item between our big weekend trips.

I don't like meat, but I will cook with poultry (chicken or turkey), which we buy in bulk, along with whole wheat pasta and sauce (great minds, I tell you!). I have a tiny place, so I guess we this way while we can't buy massive qualities of paper towels and toilet paper (because there's no room to store it all).

If my boyfriend shopped on his own, he'd spend a lot more money. I don't plan meals ahead of time...I plan in the store based on what's on sale.

I don't clip coupons...I like them, but I don't get the paper, so I don't see the point in paying $3-4 for coupons that I might not use. I'm in awe of the coupon moms, though. I just don't have the time to do all that research.

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog April 6, 2010 at 1:01 PM  

@Jeannie~ Nate saves over $100 by shopping with me!

Kate April 6, 2010 at 1:20 PM  

For a minute I was blown away by how little you spend, then I realized that it is because of where I live (San Francisco) and everything is more expensive here. Best way to keep my costs down is to try to get the the farmers market twice a month - saving money while also eating organic, fresh, local foods... win, win, win!

Alexis L. of One Grand Home April 6, 2010 at 2:51 PM  

Wow, I have to say that this inspires real soul-searching in our food budget. We spend way, way, way too much on food.

We like artisanal butter. And chocolate. And Italian soda. Etc.

Sarah @ Breakfast at Tiffany Ln April 6, 2010 at 3:46 PM  

First off, I don't shop weekly... I hate grocery shopping with a capital H, and only go once a month just to avoid the task as much as possible... LOL We are a family of 4 and our grocery bill runs around $250 per month... So if you break it down, that's $62.50 per week. Now, that doesn't count hubby stopping by the store once a week for milk & a few other items, usually around $20-$30... and this includes general necessities in addition to food... one stop shop.

frugalapolis April 6, 2010 at 7:37 PM  

I love to see other peoples shopping, you eat pretty good. I use A LOT of coupons and so far this year our average is $32/week spending for everything including cleaning products, paper items, personal care items and food. I have a good stockpile of everything so now we're down to just buying veggies, fruit and milk each week and spending less than $5. I've posted some of my great shops at Publix with pictures of lots of stuff. I'll have to bring my camera to the store though, thats a good one. Keep up the great posts!

Jenny @ Anything Pretty April 6, 2010 at 8:23 PM are an inspiration. We average a little over $75 a week for the two of us. I really wish it was less and it looks like I need to re-examine what we really need.

Elisa @ whatthevita April 6, 2010 at 9:26 PM  

This confirms what I've been thinking for a while now. My husband and I eat very healthily, do not buy much snacks, and plan all of our meals. Yet, we spend around 400 a month. WHAT? Maybe we eat too much meat... we should at least start eliminating meat from our lunch and work from there. Any other tips?

We love costco. We usually spend $200 there, because of the meat in bulk and all the veggies and fruit we buy there. Cereal, too. Maybe we just eat too much? :)

Jeremy from We Took The Bait April 7, 2010 at 12:56 AM  

Hey, Kasey!

Do you shop at one place? A supermarket? An independent grocer? Do you buy your vegetables from a farmer's market and meat elsewhere?

I went shopping today... and, with the exception of a few items, we're probably set for at least the week, maybe two. And it was only 50 dollars, give or take.

To get that, though, I had to drive to one supermarket... from there to the wholesaler, and from there to a third market.

They aren't THAT far from one another, but to save ourselves 20-40 dollars, we're potentially looking at an hour or so to pick up a dozen items, 4 at each stop.

Catherine @ waking up with you April 7, 2010 at 9:03 AM  

Wow, that's pretty amazing. Things seem to be a bit more expensive here (Australia) but there's still no excuse for the $70 minimum we spend every week at the supermarket. We're really awful at meal planning and end up at the supermarket probably at least 3-4 times a week. It's definitely an area we need to work on!

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog April 7, 2010 at 10:52 AM  

@frugalapolis~ Impressive!

@Elisa~ Hmm... I'd watch out for Costco. We only buy certain protein and foods there because some of the prices are actually higher per serving. Look closely at the numbers and decide if you are really saving. I should probably do a post about this one day...

Also, I would try doing a pantry cleanse (we've done this). I have a feeling that you don't eat 100% of the food that you buy each week. Either skip a week of shopping and eat what you have or donate it all so that you can have a fresh start and make sure that ALL of the food that you bring into the house is eaten by the next grocery trip.

Oh, and beware of high priced fruits and veggies. So many people get into a routine of bringing home the same foods each week. Try making your choices based on what is on sale for that week.

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog April 7, 2010 at 10:59 AM  

@Jeremy~ Our food comes from two main sources: Costco (bulk frozen chicken, frozen fish, whole wheat pasta) and our local neighborhood grocery store. The Costco trip will last us about two months and we go to the grocery store weekly.

I think that this works for us because we make selections based off of what foods are on sale for that week. If I needed to buy oranges every week, I would probably have to do some driving and price hunting. Instead, I just wait until they are on sale at my store and buy another fruit in the meantime. I think it's all about your personal priorities and what works for you!

Nicole R.J. April 7, 2010 at 1:32 PM  

Great post! I was recently searching for some recent stats on grocery bills and didn't end up finding much.

For our family of 2, near Toronto, Canada we spend about $90 a week. We don't eat much red meat, but we eat very little processed foods and right now fresh produce is not cheap! I can't wait until our farmer's market opens for the season!

Alison April 7, 2010 at 4:37 PM  

Kasey, this is impressive! Do you think you could you share the meals that you ate with these items? My boyfriend and I usually average between $75-90 a week, and it would be great to be lower... but I find that I'm like Elisa, maybe--we have a lot of food in the pantry that we use on an as-needed basis.

Also--we don't eat many carbs, which would cut out pasta and pizza nights. That seems like a big $$$ saver...

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog April 7, 2010 at 4:58 PM  

@Alison~ No problem! I should probably do a more detailed post about it one day. For now, here you go:

M- pasta night (we buy pasta in bulk and the sauce weekly)
T- protein & veggie night: frozen spinach, sweet potato (usually we do rice), and protein (bought in bulk- chicken and salmon)
W- burrito night: this is our second buritto night this month so we already had uncooked tortillas, salsa, and sour cream… still, the can of refried beans, avocado, cheese, and lettuce would have been enough
Th- pizza and salad night
F- Bird’s Eye frozen pasta meal
S- restaurant
Sun- improvise… probably ramen, mac and cheese, or something else equally unhealthy :)

For lunches, we do a whole lot of improvising… yesterday I had leftover pasta and today I had PB&J with strawberries and grapefruit. Tomorrow will probably be leftover burritos or a Boca (bulk purchase) meat sandwich.

There are things that aren’t on the above list because we don’t need to buy them every week (eggs, oatmeal, pancake mix, proteins, etc) and things that won’t show up on next week’s list (cheese, cereal, Bird’s Eye meal) so the costs even out.

LizzieBeth April 7, 2010 at 5:01 PM  

We go shopping every two weeks. Our bills usually run us about $60, with the occational $80-- so that figures into $30- $40 a week.

Also, we buy a lot in bulk, like peanut butter, chicken and broccoli. That will cost us another $40, but it will last us a full month. So I guess on average we spend about $40 a week.

Elisa @ whatthevita April 7, 2010 at 7:14 PM  

Thanks for the tips! You're right about waiting for sales. I think we definitely can do that with veggies and fruits because they're sides, so less planning required.

Looking forward to your future post on Costco!

Katie April 8, 2010 at 9:42 AM  

wow. just wow... i'm embarrassed to admit how much my husband and i spend on groceries each month. the sad part is that i've tried to really focus on cutting down our food bill and we just can't seem to do it. we like to cook and we like to try new recipes. we also try to eat mostly fresh foods. this all seems to add up pretty quickly. we've gotten a lot better about cutting back on eating out... but if so many of you can feed 2 people for less than $50 or $60 a week, i really need to re-look at what we're doing! great post, thanks!

Christie, Describe Happy April 9, 2010 at 12:37 PM  

I find these breakdowns very helpful! Reminds me to reflect on how I do. Currently, we spend about $200 for 2 weeks, but that's for every meal, breakfest, lunch, dinner, snacks, desert, every day. We bring our lunches to work and try not to eat out too often.

Anonymous,  September 1, 2010 at 11:24 AM  

Great tips, but I don't see any chicken, fish, pork, beef, on your list, or cleaning or personal hygiene products, which explains why the amount is so low. We have a family of four, and usually spend $25-$30 per week just on addition, toothpaste, toilet paper, soap, shampoo, and other non-edible items really increase our spending. I think if you were to add these to your list you will find that your spending has also increased by quite alot.

Bargain Betty

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog September 3, 2010 at 11:19 AM  

@Bargain Betty~ You're right, the proteins are missing from this week's list. As I mentioned above, we usually buy frozen protein in bulk once every month or two (and never buy red meats which cost more). As a pescetarian (fish only/ no meat), I'm able to save a lot by skipping the meat completely! Eating leftovers for lunchs, NEVER buying snack foods, and buying based on season/ sales really makes all the difference.

I'm sure it's hard to believe, but our $40-50 budget actually takes into account the non-edible items. With only two people in the house (and the coupons that we use), it's really not that big of a percentage of our budget. Nate and I are the only two included in our weekly shopping list so I'm sure that the costs would be much higher if we had others to add in!

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