The Cost of Groceries, or My Weekly Bend-Over By a Random Guy Named Ralph


This morning I did what I always do. I woke up. I grabbed my computer. I scrolled through to see how people were disparaging me overnight on my blog. I’m not saying that people always do, just every once in a while someone disagrees with me and calls me something nasty. Anyway, so I checked my email and my blog, then my Twitter and Facebook … the usual.

As I scrolled through Facebook, I saw that Momspirational (another mom blogger) had posted a question for her fans: how much do you spend on groceries per week? Oh, you mean how much do I get bent over for every time I go to Ralph’s?

I should have just put in what we spend and been done with it.

I actually should have just kept scrolling and erased having seen the question from my memory.

I should not have clicked “see all comments” or whateverthefuck that stupid Facebook link says that opens to a long list of things other people said that you really do not want to know about. I should not have done this. But I did.

I immediately became nauseous. I very literally felt like I was going to puke.

People’s responses were pretty varied. Some paid about $500 a month. Others paid a little less. A few paid a little more. One woman said she pays $200 a week and doesn’t use shampoo but makes her own soap. That comes a little close to what we spend, but we don’t include toiletries in our grocery budget. (And I don’t make my own soap, either.)

Our food budget every month is close to $1300. This doesn’t include alcohol. It doesn’t include toiletries. It does not include house supplies. It does not include lunch every day for anyone but my husband (I know, seems a little unfair).

Puke.

There are a couple of things that go into this. Despite the fact that he’s going to get defensive and annoyed and come home acting pissed off because I was honest about it, I’ll just say it: my husband eats a lot. I mean a lot. As an example, last week we went out to eat with my dad for dinner and so I made my husband a chicken and vegetable stir fry that I planned on making for all of us. Since I planned on making it for all of us and it turned out being only my husband eating, I thought he would just eat about half of it and the rest would go to leftovers for lunches.

He ate the whole thing. Four diced chicken breasts and a large package of mixed, frozen vegetables. That was organic chicken, the package weighed 3.5 pounds. My husband’s meal that night cost $34.

He still ate dessert.

Had I not prepared that; had I halfed it and just put some in the refrigerator; had I made something lighter or had we eaten at home too; he would have grazed on top of eating dessert for the rest of the night. One night, after eating an entire meal he came into the living room an hour later with an entire peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Another night I had a writers group over and after it he gobbled up an entire brick of cheese that I had set out for the group. The whole, entire brick of cheese.

One time I made a 12 pound turkey and he ate 3/4 of it, along with all the sides. I had plans to make three other meals out of that turkey.

One time we went out for pizza and he ate almost the entire thing. You’d think that was enough; I mean I was still eating my first slice when he polished off the rest of it himself. I set down my slice for a second to take a sip of my Diet Coke, and he started to grab the pizza off my plate. Off my fucking plate, faithful blog followers. Off my fucking plate.

His lunches are worse. The stories go on forever.

So you get the point, my husband eats a lot. Rather than admit it, he generally gets defensive. He’ll come home tonight in a horrible mood and he’ll probably start blaming everyone else for all our problems to compensate for how the truth about this makes him feel. (Responsible. I know. How dare anyone take responsibility for their behavior?) And to be fair, I’m not really complaining. It is what it is. He has an appetite. If he eats less, he’ll get cranky. I’ve moved on, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to lie about it or hide the truth just to help him deny the realities he imposes on our daily lives.

Back to our grocery bill. So it’s about $1300 a month. We don’t eat fast food. I cook almost every meal at home. I have to use my share of the spending money to feed us lunch, because if I had that stuff around the house my husband would gobble it up too, and it just isn’t in the grocery budget anyway. Seems a little unfair, I know; but again, it is what it is. I’m choosing for us not to eat fast food. While I joke that we should just start eating at McDonalds like the rest of America, I never will.

There are other factors, though. We live in California where the cost of living is exponentially higher. When we were in Chicago earlier this year on vacation, my cousin’s wife went grocery shopping and bought more groceries than we have ever purchased in our house at one time, and she spent about 1/3rd of what we would have spent. I went to Whole Foods – the most expensive grocery store on the planet – while out there to get a cake to take to a party as well, and was just completely floored when the cake only cost me $8. Eight dollars?! Are you serious? The same cake at the Whole Foods out here costs $27.

So it’s about $1300 a month. When I see people talking about their grocery bills only costing $500 or $600, or even a cool grande with toiletries and house supplies included (we buy toiletries out of our personal spending and house supplies out of a separate, budgeted amount); when I see how much they spend and look at the last grocery receipt sitting in my wallet… Which was just bare essentials to get through the week. Bare essentials. Nothing extravagant. My husband’s lunches, breakfast food, and ingredients for dinner every night. When I see that and hear someone say that what I spent for one week is over half what they spend every month, I want to puke. I want to puke because while I always felt like I was getting bent over every time I go to Ralph’s, I didn’t realize it was really that bad.

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26 Comments on “The Cost of Groceries, or My Weekly Bend-Over By a Random Guy Named Ralph

  1. I’m with you. If I don’t put the food not intended for immediate consumption in the refrigerator BEFORE commencing eating dinner, we can go through over a pound of meat for just two people. When I make 1/4 pound burgers at home, the husband’s rallying cry is, “What? Just one?!” I try to explain that McD’s makes a big deal about their quarter pounder, because that’s a lot of food. My words fall on deaf ears. The two of us spend about $500 a month on food alone, but we do go out about one or twice a week for dinner or lunch, and husband will absolutely not take lunch to work (I think it’s a cool kid thing), so add about $50 a week for that. Put it together makes it about $850 or $900 a month. This includes my crockpotting, and “reinventing” leftovers, like all the budgeting blogs recommend. .We live in the Bay Area, too, so I get the expensive food thing. The part I DON’T get is the part where we grow and raise just about every variety of produce and slaughterable animal within the state, but we are still paying so much for it. Oh, and I love the “budget-friendly” meals like “potato and bacon pie with salad.” Yeah, like I can convince him that two strips of bacon buried in a pile of sliced spuds alongside some lettuce leaves is a full dinner…BWAH-HA-HAH

  2. Anyone saying their bill is, say $300 a month makes me stabby, too. I am not eating freaking gold leafed foie gras….although Im not eating ramen either. I was in Chi Town this summer and surprised how cheap food was. So that solves the mystery

    • Yeah, the food in California is DEFINITELY considerably higher than most other places in the country. Don’t get me wrong, you can find expensive food elsewhere (as in my example Chicago, for sure) … but by and large the groceries are less. I grew up there, which is why I was there and am just appalled after going home for the first time in 10 years how different California is than the Midwest; and how much I forgot was different.

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  4. My husband eats a lot too. A LOT! The worst part is he stays thin too. It’s unfair! I’ve become the coupon Queen around here. I spend hours each week organizing coupons and shopping sales. It’s a lot of work, but I have big mouths to feed. I don’t think we would make it in CA. It is much more expensive there!

  5. I am creative. I have been asked repeatedly about my menu and grocery list since mentioning it on my blog..but I just don’t want to go there. I mean I DO…but as much as I TRY I won’t tell you we eat the food pyramid daily. So…we have gotten to about $220-250 for two weeks but we make milk/bread (and coke-cola for ME) runs so it adds another $20-50 easy. This included EVERYTHING. I do make my own laundry detergent (just started and LOVE it. Saves me $14 month! I try to plan my meals out ..I have a printable list. My list is broken down to the ingrediants for each meal. I do a quick inventory by circling the items I need to buy and ONLY buy off my list and then I have 15 meals+ snacks and lunches. No big. I use leftovers from one meal to make a whole different meal within a day or two…it’s my secret. They never ask “where’s the leftover taco meat”…so they don’t need to know they ate it in the spaghetti sauce the night before. If I make something that I need to stretch I just add a side dish or “I” serve. If I need something to make enough for lunches…I pack those up before I serve dinner. If it’s not there they won’t eat it. I used to feel bad. Like I was starving my boys but I’m not. I’m teaching them portion control something we all should work on. Besides if they want they can have a bedtime snack. None of them are wasting away or going hungry. No I don’t have tons of junk food. We do have lots of produce, I do some organic some not. I grew my own peppers this summer. I have gotten creative in cooking it so that my kids will eat it but it’s hit or miss most days. I don’t think your numbers are too bad, Heather. Everything is high in CA. I think you’ll be excited once you get back to Chicago to see how you can REALLY stretch your budget. I highly suggest you try making your own laundry soap. Unless you use TIDE..you really won’t see a difference. Nothing compares to tide. But I’ve heard some make their own and add one tide container to it…for a boost. I don’t. Allergic.
    OMG..this is soooo long. Sorry.

    • I guess I should mention that is for Me, Hubs, 3 sons (20,14,11) …oh and we do limited wheat for little which REALLY cut the snack budget. No more oreos or crap like that. I make cookies from scratch or pillsbury helps me out in a pinch. For 5…3 teen boys. I think I do ok.

  6. I started, about 3 years back without saying anything to my family, to make meals according to REAL portion sizes, not restaurant menu/McDonald’s portion sizes. Plus, I started even further back cooking everything at home like you do. Over the years, especially since I started automatically making appropriate portion sizes and dishing up the plates myself, I’ve finally pared down food for 3 of us to about $200-$250 every 2 weeks. The variable is for those times when I pick up spices or buy extra meat or get an item for a new recipe that we don’t normally have around the house. Now we’re at the point that even my hubby is not always finishing what’s on his plate, and the extra portion he takes to work for lunch the next day. 🙂 I’m not bragging, or putting you down, just admitting how much work it really was to get to this point and how happy I am that we finally made it. Now to survive the oncoming crash of the boy’s teen years and his constant eating of everything in sight……….

  7. I’m too scared to officially budget my groceries. I used to on mint.com, but haven’t updated it in a long while. I think we spent around $600. I too shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Target. Does your husband have a tapeworm? It might explain his constant need to eat.

  8. Our budget, and by “our,” I mean the grocery bill of two adults who rarely eat lunch at home and only one who eats breakfast: is about $100 a week or so…plus the cost of lunches…and dinners out… so I can’t imagine how much it would cost to cook every meal at home. Brian can eat a whole bag of chips and container of salsa in one sitting–then go on to eat a full dinner…

  9. “For ten cents a day you can feed a hungry child…that doesn’t live in America” Holy F*CK!!! $1300 a month on food?!

  10. We spend about $150 a week on food. However, my husband would tell you I don’t buy real food. My girls and I pretty much exist on fruits, veggies and whole grains. If he wants to eat, he has to go get meat because (although I do eat it) I refuse to cook it. He says we must have been cows in a past life. I say he must have been a douche. 🙂 But, fruits, veggies and whole grains in San Francisco are expensive!

    • Isn’t everything in San Fran expensive haha? I can only imagine what your grocery budget were like if you were buying more meats … that shit is OFF THE HOOK in price, anywhere.

  11. I LOVE Mango’s rationale. I am going to use that on my husband. Oh,and my husband is a fucking garbage disposal too. I hide shit alll the time.

  12. OH wow. Yes, I thought my grand per month was awful and bad, but thats for all 6 of us. I’m way to lazy to be a farmer though. But it seems like groceries consume most of our expendable income. And by the way, my husband eats like a pig too. He eats in one meal what the rest of us combined eat in one meal. And, he always gets the leftovers from everyone elses plates because God forbid we throw food in the trash or feed it to the dogs.

    • My 12-year-old-going-on-30 son is the one who now eats the leftovers off of others’ plates. I stock up big on fresh fruits and veggies every grocery trip to have around as snacks. It’s actually getting better since he’s been living with me and not his dad (who, along with his wife, eat out constantly or buy everything in a box). I think the healthier food and realistic portions, plus knowing fruits and veggies will be snacks, has finally curbed him down to something within the range of tolerable. The teen years scare me when I look at how much he can eat now…….

  13. well at least if you’re eating organic.. it’s almost like preventative maintenance for your health bills, right… um, trying to be helpful 🙂

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