More Food Pondering

It's been a lovely weekend. Mr. Scrimp and I just celebrated our first wedding anniversary! That's right, we've been married for a whole year, which is next to no time at all to those of you who have been married for a while, and an eternity to those of you who think marriage is terrifying.

All in all, I gotta say I'm pretty happy with the deal I got, by which I mean that Mr. Scrimp is the best and I wouldn't trade being married to him for anything in the world.

I was mulling over things I could talk about on the blog today, and then I drifted into daydreams about our lovely anniversary picnic yesterday (we went to the beach. There was grass! There was sand! There was water! There was a picnic!). So I figured I'd talk to you a bit about food, which you know is a favorite topic of mine.

How much do you spend on food each week?

You might be surprised by the answer. I was. That is to say, I was surprised by what I was told about how much I should spend each week.

For the month of April, the USDA suggests that a family of 2 in the Scrimp Household Age Range (seriously, that's a category) spends at least $80/week on food, and that's for the super-ultra-mega-low-budget plan! That's right, the average grocery cost for a family of 2 in America in April of 2010 was $80.70, for the thrifty plan (there were 3 plans that were more expensive, but that's irrelevant to what I'm about to say).

I tell you what--I suddenly feel really good about my grocery expenditure. Before our CSA started, we averaged $50-60/week, depending on how crazy we decided to get with the gourmet cheeses at Whole Foods (I can't even type that without drooling a little bit). Now? Well, since we started getting our wonderfully comprehensive CSA deliveries (which include local meat, eggs, and dairy almost every week), we've spent even less than that.

We did have to supplement this weekend, because we ran out of eggs. So, this week we purchased a dozen eggs at $2.80 and some cold cuts yesterday for our picnic. Because we got picky and each got two different meats and different cheeses, this came to $12. So, we bought $14.80 worth of groceries this week.

Our total grocery expenditure this week? $54.80, and I'm cringing, because for the three weeks before that we were eating on $40/week with food left over, and now I feel like we've broken a streak that I was pretty proud of. But still, $40.

Just for reference again, that's half the national average.

I'm not saying this to gloat or preen (well, maybe a tiny bit). Seriously, though, I want this to inspire you, because we were eating for $50-60 a month even while buying all our groceries exclusively at Whole Foods, which is often significantly more expensive than other grocery stores. My point is, it can be done, and we really don't spend an inordinate amount of time preparing our food.

Look at your receipts. Figure out if there are ways you can cut down your costs. Make things yourself. Don't buy the brand name. Buy fresh instead of processed and just buy less. You might be surprised at how much you can save.


  1. Hey Beth,

    Question about the USDA budget and your budget....We spend 80-100 a month at Sam's and then about 60 at the grocery store. So I guess it comes out just about perfect according to their lower budget.

    However, is that JUST food? Is yours just food? I wasn't sure....I got the impression it was. Mine at 80 includes EVERYTHING (toothpaste, toilet paper, dog food, etc...). So my guess is that your budget is strictly food that you are writing about, but is the USDA's? I'm assuming yes, but just curious...

    If it is just food, we're significantly lower than the USDA's, too! Woot!


  2. Jenn,

    As far as I know, the USDA budget is for food only.

    Ours, at $40, is strictly food. Add in another $25 or so in cat supplies per month, $20 or so per week which is our budget for eating out, and whatever we might spend on incidentals like toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, etc (most of which we buy in bulk once every 6 months or so) and we're still under $80, but less so.

  3. Mr. Mac and I spend between $100-$120 a month on groceries for our family of 2 with no pets, and that's including dishwashing detergent, toothpaste, etc. However, keep in mind we are living in AL, which is most likely (ha! OK, definitely)cheaper than Chicago. And we're not shopping at Whole Foods, either. Plus we do eat out once a week or so, especially since I've had an injury that saps my energy to cook (or more importantly, to clean after cooking). Before that, we had a streak of not eating out for five (!) months! OK, sorry, I am gloaty about that one.
    Point being, the USDA has made me feel smug. ...Oops, was that not the point of your post? Oh well. ;)

  4. The USDA makes me feel pretty smug too, I'll admit it.

    I envy you your not eating out streak. It's a habit of ours that I feel bad about, particularly since we don't have the excellent excuse that you do. In fact, we tried to avoid it this month intentionally to save money and still ended up making excuses for why it was ok--and, big surprise, that money didn't get saved. Sigh. Well, live and learn I guess.



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