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Here’s what’s cookin’ + questions for you

August 14, 2012

I’ve noticed that a lot of you click through to the recipes I post, so I do hope you find these posts helpful in your own meal planning!
This week I’m whipping up the following recipes:

Penne arrabbiata – I haven’t tried this recipe before but everything I’ve made from The Speckled Palate has turned out great. Except I had to buy more bacon this week because Joe decided to eat half a pound the other night. Oh, boys and bacon…

Burrito bowl – We make some variation of this recipe at least once a week in the summers. It curbs our Chipotle cravings!

Zuppa toscana – Word on the street is it’s going to be cool again this weekend, so here’s hoping soup will hit the spot! This soup is my only reason to ever go to Olive Garden, and yes, this recipe is tried and true and tasted almost exactly like theirs!

Chicken adobo and mashed potatoes – I try to use our crockpot at least once a week, because it’s easy and usually the recipes are huge, which means lunchtime leftovers! I’ve used this blog before for crockpot recipes with good results, but this one is new for me.

Spinach and artichoke baked pasta – Haven’t tried this yet, but I needed something that would use up some leftover artichokes and mozzarella.

Some questions about your meal planning/grocery shopping habits:

It’s probably obvious that I meal-plan once a week and grocery shop once a week as well. I’m very organized about this process and find it oddly relaxing. However, our grocery bills still manage to come out to about $90-100 each week. Is this normal for two people? I clip coupons and do my best to use up what’s in the fridge each week… but it just seems high. I don’t shop at specialty food stores, just Meijer and occasionally Trader Joe’s if I’ve forgotten something. (I won’t shop at Walmart, no matter how low their prices are.) I suppose I should keep in mind that we rarely eat out, so $100 for literally every meal isn’t bad, but I feel like it’s rather steep. Plus, I get all our toiletries in the same trip, which accounts for a few more bucks, right?

What’s your food bill for a normal week? Does it include eating out? Do you cook full meals regularly or get by on cereal some nights? How do you keep food costs to a minimum without sacrificing quality and flavor?

13 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2012 2:45 pm

    I spend $60 about every two weeks on just food for myself. And that doesn’t include toiletries or anything else. But I also eat out a few nights a week, sometimes with my family (they pay) and sometimes I pay. Also, toiletries are generally higher at grocery stores so it might benefit you to look at getting them somewhere else like a pharmacy or WalMart/Target. But really I don’t think that’s bad for two of you, especially if that’s the only food you’re eating on a regular basis. I’d say that’s pretty good.

  2. Jes permalink
    August 14, 2012 2:55 pm

    Hi friend. I, too, meal plan for 5 dinners per week and use leftovers for lunches/random dinner nights. We’re going at about $150 one week and then $50 the next week–so about the same as you. I feel like a lot of it is building up the pantry that A definitely didn’t have (e.g. spices, different types of vinegar/oil, rice, cous cous). I feel like produce is especially expensive this summer (y’know, the drought) and that is most of our cart (always at Meijer. Meijer fo life).

    P.S. Have you joined mPerks? Exclusive Meijer coupons whaaaaat.
    P.P.S. I wish we lived close enough to buy in bulk together. xoxoxo
    P.P.P.S. I miss you.

  3. August 14, 2012 2:55 pm

    my boyfriend and i spend about $80-$100 each week for the two of us. when i lived by myself, food for the week was about $40. it’s a bit pricy (and my toiletries bill is separate, from, but, we try to shop at the greenmarket, have a lot of fresh produce, and i pack lunch for us nearly every day – ordering out is a once a week treat. i know there are places we could cut costs, but there are some packaged things that are totally worth it – a kashi frozen meal is $4, but it’s healthier and way easier than spending $25 for indian food. if it works for you, budget and health wise, keep at it! i think it’s a sad truth that feeding ourselves nutritiously is going to raise the bill a bit.

    • August 14, 2012 2:59 pm

      ALSO! lately, to save $ and time a little, we’ll have “produce only” grocery shopping weeks and try to use leftover stuff we have in the pantry/freezer to build around it. that’s worked out well and cut costs a bit.

  4. August 14, 2012 2:58 pm

    I find this kind of stuff fascinating! And I also love to meal plan and get organized about what we’re going to be eating each week. Every Sunday we sit down and decide what we’re having (D cooks, so he chimes in a lot here). I make a list and then we shop. We usually get the majority of our groceries from Trader Joe’s, then stop at Target for toiletries and stuff they don’t sell at TJ’s. We buy fish and bacon from Whole Foods, but don’t need to go there every week. We usually spend between $60-90 a week, depending on what we have on the menu. I’d like it to be less, but we buy about half of our stuff organic, and I want to buy yummy food that we want to eat so we’re not tempted to eat out instead of cooking at home.

  5. August 14, 2012 3:04 pm

    Dan and I spend anywhere from $75-100 a week on just the two of us. We shop at Meijer as well for the most part (and a smaller grocery chain called D&W every so often). I will NOT shop at Walmart either. I don’t care for what they represent NOR their crap selection of food. SO….

    We usually plan on 4-5 dinners, some nights for leftovers or sushi, eat lunch meat for the most part for lunches, or smoothies and oatmeal for breakfast.

    We keep food costs low by eating out a lot less. Being that I have the few food allergies that I have….we mostly avoid it instead of hounding the waiter and cooks for information on the dishes. We eat almost ALL fresh food ingredients and there are almost no coupons for that sort of thing, annoyingly. :p Anything we need canned or packaged, we buy the Meijer brand — usually their organic line if its available….But if another brand of something I need is on sale, I will grab for that.

    As far as quality, we will spend more on lunch meats or seasonings that are more expensive and sacrifice something else that week. As much as I hate to, sometimes that means sacrificing organic produce. :p But I WILL buy a lot more expensive organic/free range/antibiotic free/hormone free meats without sacrifice. After watching Food Inc. I can’t deal with buying Tyson brand chicken, for example.

    We also subscribe to “Clean Meals” plan on Emeals for dinners. Which helps us keep from wasting money — we stick to a plan and it makes it easier!

    Sorry this is long! 🙂 This is just the way we handle food stuff!

  6. August 14, 2012 3:36 pm

    I don’t clip coupons or really pay much attention to meal planning (I generally plan two or three meals for the week since my husband is picky) and we come in around $100-150 (not including his lunches or eating out) a week for the two of us. Including lunch/breakfast foods for me, stand-by meals (frozen favorites, things the other person doesn’t like, etc) for when we do Fend For Yourself nights and anything we need for the house (tp/paper towels, soap, etc). I generally buy the same produce every week but sometimes we pick up beer and wine and I always stock up on meat when it goes on sale. We could definitely cut costs if we stuck hard and fast to a meal plan and if we didn’t eat out as much as we do (usually twice a week-ish). Sometimes if I think we need a bit of a break I declare it clean out the pantry/freezer week and we challenge ourselves to using only what we have on hand. Once we have kids and finances get a little crunched we’ll adapt, but for now it’s nice to not really think about it. We just do what we want because we can. :p

  7. August 14, 2012 3:42 pm

    I love posts like this, even if it means I realize that I’M SPENDING WAY TOO MUCH ON MY OWN GROCERIES. I’m spending about $130 every 2-ish weeks (sometimes it’s a bit less than 2 weeks, sometimes more- depending on how often I watch the food channel and decide to start cooking weird shit that requires 18 trips to the supermarket) for JUST ME.

    As much as I HATE Wal-mart, I do go there to buy my eggs. I’ve watched too many documentaries (like Food Inc) and just have to buy the free-range, organic, all the good stuff, grain fed, get to party in their hen house eggs. They are $1.50 cheaper at Wal-mart than anywhere else, so I do it. And feel dirty afterwards since I’ve also watched documentaries on the evils of Wal-mart. Boo.

    I also live near a massive drugstore that’s branched out into food which has been amazing since their points program is magic and I can end up with $250 worth of free WHATEVER I WANT FROM THERE every 3-5 months. This means I buy eggs at Wal-mart, soup, dry goods at the drug store (wtf?!) and produce at Safeway. I find that in the summer my grocery bill does tend to be higher since I spend more on fruits/veggies than I typically do in the winter.

    I’m not a regular meat eater, which definitely cuts down on my bill but having Celiac’s and therefore having to buy the expensive ($7! a loaf!) bread if I want a sandwich pretty much evens out the cost.

    Also, my dog has silly expensive diet dog food now, which always ups the expenses.

    I could talk about this stuff forever.

    Also, hi, I love you.

  8. August 14, 2012 3:47 pm

    I spend $100 a week, on average, on groceries. It’s mostly for myself. I eat out once or twice a week (plus get coffee out about once a week), and I use leftovers for lunches. I spend about $10 every other week on beer/wine. I meal plan during the year, too, but am not as good about it in the summer because I am home all the time working. My boyfriend eats at his job because they have a cheap cafeteria and he can spend $5 for a pound of salad and beans. Also, I buy a lot of fresh food at farmer’s markets in town and a lot of vegan food (which costs a lot sometimes). It is worth it when I compare myself to people who eat out every damn day. 🙂 I think you’re budget it normal, especially of you’re focusing on healthier options. People I’ve heard who spend $30 a week – Their diet is my exactly well balanced. I get it for sure because we all have to find what works for us financially. I also lived on pb&j and rice and beans in college and love to cook too much to go back to that unless I absolutely had to. 😦

  9. August 14, 2012 6:06 pm

    I live in Nashville and we spent about $50-75 on groceries per week and I buy bulk stuff at Sam’s, which is usually about $50 per month. So around $250 on avg per month. I shop at Publix and do a lot of B1G1F deals with them, which helps a lot. I have learned that if you make casseroles or bigger meals to last, you save more money. It’s the more expensive single meals that eat up your budget.

    We don’t buy a lot of meat, so that probably helps, too.

  10. August 14, 2012 9:54 pm

    That is not expensive at all. I could probably spend up to $300 a month on groceries if I wanted. I need to start planning meals.

  11. August 15, 2012 1:15 pm

    For the 3 of us, we try to keep monthly groceries at $300, so that seems right on target with what you’re spending. We’ve gone over the food budget over and over and over and I just can’t cut out any more because I’m not willing to sacrifice quality. I just shop sales and stock up on staples only when they’re on sale, like spaghetti sauce and noddles, rice, boxed mac and cheese, canned beans, frozen veggies etc. And I do cut coupons, but I’m definitely not a “couponer”.

    I saw that someone else does “produce only” grocery trips. We can’t do that strictly because of the toddler who demands his daily yogurt, but if I see that we have a pretty full pantry and freezer, we eat from that.

    I also do a monthly meal plan. It’s quick and dirty, and though I love to cook, we don’t stray from our standard recipes for budget purposes. I think I will blog about this now. Haha. I have a lot more to say than I anticipated.

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