Lets Talk Numbers

What is your monthly grocery budget?

I recently started a new job that puts me in a (slightly) better financial situation than I was before. Prior to this, I was an Americorps member. In California, Americorps members are eligible to receive food stamps, which as sad as it sounds, really is necessary for Americorps member to be able to scrap by from month to month. Before Americorps, I worked at a camp where living expenses were included in our benefits, and before that I was living at my parents house while job hunting. Right now is the first time in really over two years that I have had to think about a food budget. Americorps, as well as frugal parents that trained me well, had me with a solid excel spreadsheet, Mint account and a system of budgeting that had every single penny well accounted for, but the food budget wasn’t really one of them. I am a single person, and in California that means $200 a month for food. As a vegan, and someone who loves to cook from scratch that was more than enough (I sort of felt guilty about how much I was given, but my paycheck came from the state/government as well, so really I looked at it as a predetermined budgeted amount).

Anyways, I have been really curious the last couple months to see where I currently lie with food expenditures. I started my new job in September, but it was so hectic with moving that the first few weeks were a little out of whack. I now have two complete months of food purchases in which I tracked everything I bought, how much individual items cost and how many of them I bought. There are a few things that do mess it up a little bit.

1)      I had vegetables from my garden up until about the beginning of December, so I was eating vegetables that I didn’t have to buy

2)      I had a massive stock pile of nonparishables, so I was eating many things that I bought a few months ago and aren’t listed in my lists

I have budgeted out $160 a month for food, which is about what my average was the last few years while on food stamps. My charts show that now that I currently spending less than that, however that is because I had such a good supply of nonperishable items. I also realized that before, I did a lot of dinners with my significant other, and those meals tended to be a little nicer and larger than what I cook solo, so in a few more months I might reassess that number and budget a little lower. Or, since that number still works well in my budget and I factor in things like alcohol and the few times I will eat out I will keep it and learn to live a little. I could also decrease the amount I spend on alcohol, but I’ve been saying that for a few years now and have seen little change…

The USDA has different food plans that represent a nutritious diet at different spending levels. According to their chart, $160 for someone my age is a about on par with their thrifty, or lowest cost plan. Next up-the breakdown of where the money I spend is going.

How much do you spend a month, per person?

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