Sign up FAST! Login

What is a reasonable food budget?

roast chicken

I've gotten a lot of questions about my food budget lately, so I figured I would just get them all out of the way with some raw unedited data. I didn't make any effort to make my food receipts net out artificially high or low, and the prices are for the whole container of an item even if I didn't use the whole thing -- like I didn't eat the whole pound of butter, but on the other hand I had some parmesan cheese left over from before, you gotta figure it all evens out over time. I didn't count beverages and non-food items. I also get lunch -- almost always a salad and/or soup -- for free at work, as does almost everyone around here.

Sausage kale cauliflower (adapted from pasta recipe)

2 cauliflower 3.48

Bulk sausage 4.11

Organic red kale 2.29

Fresno chile .10

White wine 2.44

Chicken stock 1.50

(Already had olive oil, garlic, thyme, tomato paste, 4 oz parmesan, salt and pepper)

Subtotal: 13.92

Simon Hopkinson's roast chicken

Organic chicken 6.81

Butter 3.81

Lemon .50

(Already had garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, romaine to wrap chicken in)

Subtotal: 11.12

Cheese toast (breakfast x 5)

8 oz cheddar cheese 1.92

(Already had bread)

Subtotal: 1.92

Grand total: 26.96 for the week

Stashed in: @troutgirl, Best PandaWhale Posts, Quora!, Awesome, food, Home Sweet Home!, Nutrition!, Basic Income, Vinegar!, Trader Joe's, Personal Finance, Real Talk, Beans!

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

Wow. That's amazing budgeting.

To be clear, you did not buy any of those items at Whole Foods, right?

I ask because picture. :)

I am impressed and inspired, but where are your apples?  I eat about $12 in apples every week.  That's almost half your budget!

I know how to make really good apple pie! But seriously, I basically gave up fresh fruit a few years ago in favor of vegetables... and I can't say I've missed fruit that much. I'm such a slow eater that it's a lot more time-effective for me to eat veggies for dinner than devote an hour to snacking on an apple.

I see.  You also budget your time.  :)  But

I drink apple cider vinegar now thanks to you! And I drink greyhounds when I can. :D

That's great but I won't rest until you add apples!

"And in fact, apple pectin was used after Chernobyl to extract radioactive waste from victims. Other benefits of natural pectin include protecting against hypertension..."

I'm surprised you don't have more legumes in your diet. And kimchi. 

I often eat legumes at lunch. Kimchi is hard for single people who don't eat rice.

Ah, I thought you eat kimchi as a snack by itself.

Legumes at lunch make sense. They're good in any salad. 

Truly inspiring Joyce...

Whoa whoa whoa, now hold on a minute – white wine $2.44?


I'm not a wine snob, but really at that price even for only cooking – do you buy straight form the winery?

(Extra credit for the above TV show quote reference).

So I'm guessing you're consuming about 16 to 24 ozs of food daily, or roughly 7 to 10 lbs of food weekly.

Average price per pound for 

carbs = ?

fats = ?

proteins = ?

but it all has to average in together at around $2.50 per lb ... and that's friggin' unbelievable.  Hats off.

Buying protein at the retail level, regardless where you shop, is impossible to find at that cost basis... so do we assume you're in it to win it with the lower cost high Omega 6 white meats of pork and chicken?  

Any oily cold water fish, grass-fed meats, raw grass-fed cow butter or other high Omega 3 fats in your diet?

Still, I'm amazed and kudos for living this Egyptian pyramid inscription from 3800 B.C.

"Humans live on one-quarter of what they eat; on the other three-quarters lives their doctor."


Hahaha I know the whole thing about only cooking with wine you would drink... but I can't drink white wine anyway, so I buy these 500mL boxes of "Liberty Creek" chardonnay for cooking. Sorry but these are the tradeoffs we single people have to make.

I would like to eat more, because my athletic performance is better especially with strength training. Still working on it though!

Awesome.  What do you perform at athletically?  I play competitive soccer here in Austin city leagues...

I fast weekly and only eat one big meal a day plus my morning tea and afternoon coffee rituals, so my volume eating is also lower than most... even if my expenses aren't as low as yours!

I bike commute, hike almost daily, strength train, and practice yoga!

Hold up, Rob... you mean you only eat SIX MEALS TOTAL per week?

Yeah HBB, thereabouts on an average week: I count sitting down to table and leisurely enjoying food with family and/or company as a meal.  As I said, tea in the morning and coffee in the afternoon and I'll either eat a big lunch or dinner.  No other meals.  

There are periodic times when I'll eat something raw during the day, such as happens a couple times a week while I'm out provisioning at farmers markets, as well as when tasting new preparations of raw meals as a private chef for my primary care doctor (yeah, he recently hired me to put him on my diet cause he was so impressed by my labs over the last 10 years--hah!).

Of course there are other non-periodic social occasions and athletic demands when I will eat more at my sit down meal as well as eat some meals with cooked foods (for social grace and family love reasons only).  And these would skew my above averages to about 1.5 meals a day and less than 100% omnivore raw (like I used to be).  I estimate that my average daily meal count is a little lower than 1.5 because of my periodic 10 day seasonal fasts each year (usually around the Spring and Autumnal equinoxes) and fasting once a week... it's a day-of-rest kinda thing.

My athletic demands include playing on two competitive amateur soccer teams here in Austin this fall season: mens open Division 1 and mens Over 30A – that's two games a day on Sundays with practice once a week on Thursday – so about 6 hours of intentional physical effort weekly that is competitive to guys one-third my age in Division 1 and much better to the near halfish my age guys in Over 30... 

Being the oldest guy playing competitively in both divisions at 54 years old is doable perhaps because I'm still fielding my college playing trim at 5'11" and 158lbs.  And maybe because I don't over-strain by doing other athletics or intensive training than the above.  Screw two-a-days... go with kurtosis!

However, I'll represent my fitness is mainly due to eating right – quality raw whole foods, high Omega 3 fat and not so much food volume as one would think one needs to flourish athletically.  But then again, I'm not using a glucose metabolism to burn energy, I'm on the ketone side of the ledger most all the time.  No insulin insensitivity and not much of a revolutionary or new idea here, as per above quote from an Egyptian pyramid several thousands of years ago:

"Humans live on one-quarter of what they eat; on the other three-quarters lives their doctor."

Not my doctor, he lives on what I feed him... less is more.

Where does he get eggs for $1.96 a dozen? The cheapest at my store right now is $4.99, allegedly due to the new California requirement that chickens be raised humanely plus drought.

Actually I am rather proud that my food budget does not include ANY of the high-carb low-protein foods that are staples (haha) of poverty cooking: no rice, no potatoes, no pasta, no ramen. That shit was kind of OK when I was 20, but it is NOT acceptable now that I'm over 45 and have a desk job. I try to spend my money on vegetables and decent meat.

Oh and to answer a couple of questions I've gotten: I try to eat legumes almost daily at lunch, and fish a couple times a week just because I enjoy the taste. I don't actually think there's any chance I personally will die of heart disease, and none of the studies on "healthy fats" have convinced me of anything except their myopic focus.

Seems like he's getting $2 per dozen eggs in Boston. We have no such cheap eggs in California. 

You have definitely influenced me. I try to eat more legumes and fish when I can. 

Non-sequitur best lunch suggestion:  Pacific Natural Foods organic curried red lentil soup.  Poach an egg in the soup when you heat it up - stove not micro.  Lunch!

I once tried to implement a high-fiber diet which included lentil soup (which I really like) every day. Also apples, soy burgers, and extra fiber bread. I am gonna be frank, I shit like a Clydesdale!!! Like 4x/day. Which would have been OK except the restroom in this office was unheated and a singleton... Probably better not to get into the details?

I LOVE the direction this stash is going.  :)

I keep it REAL

Halibutboy does keep it real. I like high fiber but I'm trying not to overdo it.

When I overdo fiber, bad things happen. 

I'm going to make some lentils now.  I've splurged lately, but still it's going outside to forage season for a few more weeks, and now the chickens are out egging me.  What broke the budget? Pilgrimage to Trader Joes for cheese. 

Is there a good reason to get cheese at Trader Joes?

Great selection, quality, super price.  I love cheese... I am pleased. 

You May Also Like: