How Much it Costs to Feed Me

I have a thing for numbers.  Not math.  I hate math.  I suck at math, but when it comes to creating budgets I'm good at it and I'm fascinated (although sometimes disturbed) with knowing how much things cost.  Now that my normal meal plan has been firmly established for well over a year, I thought it would be interesting to see exactly how much it costs to feed me.  I've heard people say that eating healthy is not expensive, but I've never believed them.  Whole foods are not cheap, and when was the last time you saw a coupon for a bag of apples or a pack of meat?  Yes, those things do go on sale, but you will never find 3rd party coupons for them the way you do for things like Zatarain's rice and pasta dinner mix or Aunt Millie's hamburger buns. I got a thick coupon book from McDonald's in the mail full of the usual burgers and deep fried chicken, but they couldn't be bothered to include a single coupon for one of their premium salads.

This list of foods and prices were collected from several receipts over a period of months, and is a comprehensive listing of everything I meal prep and eat on a daily basis.  When I say everything, I mean everything.  My shopping list is saved as a note in my phone and it rarely changes. I eat out on Friday night and Saturday night always.  I'm sorry, but ground turkey and broccoli while I watch my Friday night movie does not cut it.  I don't mind eating the same thing every week, but I have my limits.  I might take a week off here and there, but for the most part I meal prep every week, and this is what I've been eating for the last year and a half. Same old, same old because I'm just not that into cooking. 

Peanut Butter (40oz):  $5.48  --$1.27 per week
Almonds (@6.99 per lb): $9.50  --$3.05 per week
Weekly Total:  $4.32

Whole Wheat Tortilla (12 ct): $2.46  --$1.43 per week
100% Whole Wheat Bread (8oz/18 slices): $2.96-$3.42--$2.66 per week (I eat 5 days per week .95)
Ezekial Bread 4:9 (24oz/20 slices): $4.99  --$3.49 per week (I eat this weekends only $1.50)
Fiber 1 Cereal (16oz): $3.74  --.87 per week
Weekly Total:  $4.75

Ground Turkey 93/7 (48 oz): $8.96
Boneless Chicken Breast (2.0 lbs @1.98 lb): $9.51 or
Boneless Chicken Tenders (2.0 lbs @4.95 lb): $7.18 x 2 or
Boneless Chicken Tenders (1.25 lbs): $4.95 x 2
Weekly Total:  $23.32

Fruits & Vegetables
Green Onions: $1.18  --0.59 per week
Frozen Bell Pepper Strips (14 oz): $2.18  --$1.09 per week
Broccoli (2.4 lbs@1.26 lb): $3.02
Shredded Carrots: $1.67  --0.84 per week
Baby Carrots (32 oz): $2.34  --$3.07 per week
Apple (@.97 per lb): $2.33  --$2.76 per week
Weekly Total:  $11.37  

Skim Milk (1/2 Gallon): $1.67  --0.84 per week
Fage Total 0% Yogurt (35 oz): $5.98  --$9.57 per week
Weekly Total:  $10.41

Stevia (80 ct):  $3.96  --$1.04 per week (I also use this in my Fage)
Creamer (16 oz): $3.18  --0.74 per week
K-Cup (72ct): $35.00 --$3.43 per week
Weekly Total:  $5.21*
*I only use K cups on weekends because coffee is free at work so actual expense is closer to .98 weekly, but I do occasionally stop for $1.25 coffee at 7-11 so I did not adjust.

Wine o'clock: 1 bottle $4.97

Total Spent Weekly $64.35
Total Spent Monthly $257.40

The weekly and monthly totals do not include sales tax.  They also do not include cinnamon to sweeten my Fage or the spices, reduced sodium soy sauce, and reduced sodium Worcestershire sauce ($3.42) that I use to season my meat. It does not include Reduced Fat Ritz Crackers ($1.98) and Pretzels ($1.98) which I like to keep on hand to snack on from time to time.  I almost didn't include my wine because it's not even food, but lets get real, I'm pretty consistent about my weekly wine habit, so even though it might make me look like a wino it made sense to add. 

I know these numbers to be true because I am that person who know exactly how many ounces of everything I eat and can tell you exactly how many ounces are in a pound or how many grams make an ounce without looking it up.  The only thing I did not calculate based on the exact portion size is creamer and peanut butter.  I just eye ball it.  I divided those prices by 30 days because I think I have to replace them about once a month or so.

What this tells me is that eating healthy isn't cheap, at least I don't think it is.  Minus the coffee accoutrements and the wine this is the cost for a healthy diet consisting of 100% whole foods.  Processed food tends to be more expensive.  Right?  So I imagine that my bill would be even higher if I those were a big part of my purchases.

I saved so much money when I didn't eat.  I will never go back to that, but sadly it's true.  It's also sad that I don't even know if I could have afforded $250 a month for groceries back then.  I may have, but it would have been so tight.  I didn't know how to eat properly back then, but even if I had wanted to I'm sure that I would have been put off by how much it costs.

The numbers also tell me that although I did a pretty good job of estimating, I may be a bit under on our joint grocery budget.  When I did Whole30 it cost $520.00 for me alone for 30 days!  I was floored.  After that, I increased our budget from $350 to $500 because we were making changes in our diets and I realized that $350 was not realistic.  If it takes $250 just to feed me, it definitely costs a more to feed my husband because he eats a lot more protein.  He changes his meal plans up a little bit more than I do, but when he returns home it will be interesting to calculate exactly how much it costs to feed him.  And we may have to increase our budget.  Ugh. 

 So how do I stack up? Am I spending too much?

The IRS National Standard for monthly food expense is $345 for 1, $612 for 2, and $737 for 3.  According to the official USDA Food Plan, Thrifty is $164.20, Low-Cost is $207.50, Moderate is $256.30 and Liberal is $327.10 monthly for a female of my age.  For a male & female family of two our $500 budget puts us between low cost and liberal.  According to this Gallup poll from 2012 the American family reports spending an average of $604 per month. In San Diego County a household can qualify for up to $194 for 1, $357 for 2, and $511 per month for 3 through the SNAP government assistance program.

Sometimes when I go through the check out and my total is $85.00, I'm shocked because I realize just how expensive it is to keep yourself fed, and that doesn't even include keeping yourself housed and clothed.  But what else can I do to spend less? 

Giving up coffee and wine isn't an option.

There are probably a few swaps I could make, but overall the cost of whole foods is the cost of whole foods and there isn't much I can do about it.  I buy Ezekiel Bread and Almonds in bulk at Sprouts.  I shop at my Neighborhood Walmart for everything else because it's close to home and cheap.  I am sure the totals would be much higher if I shopped at Ralph's or Von's.  I admit, Ezekiel bread is kind of a luxury item. Fage is pricey, but it's the best.  Regular carrots are probably cheaper, but baby carrots taste so much better.  The biggest swap I could (and probably should make) is to stick with the whole chicken breasts instead of the pre-cut tenders.  It bothers me that I am paying so much more just because I don't have to cut it, but raw meat is gross, and it's easier to have it done for me.  Those thick breasts take so much longer to cook and I got so sick of eating them that way.  I refuse to buy more than two at a time and since it's just me, I'm allowing myself to do it.  Also, since it's just me I don't feel the need to splurge on a "nice" bottle of wine. 

How do you stack up when it comes to your grocery expenses?  Do tell.  I'm fascinated.

That Type of Person

I'm the type of person who kind of shuts down when insomnia takes over.  Combine that with being pushed to the limit at work and I'm done.  Motivation is down and inspiration is squashed.  I can't muster the energy for anything extra and that definitely includes all things blogging.  Stringing together coherent thoughts for a post is impossible, and then the longer I go the easier it is not to, and then I feel so bummed out that I'm not blogging that it makes me not even want to read blogs.  A few weeks ago a friend asked me on Friday around 7pm if I wanted to go to an art festival the next day.  I was already in pajamas trying to stay awake on a movie.  If she needed to know right then the answer was no because when I'm that nauseated from fatigue I can't imagine wanting to do anything.  I told her I'd text her the next morning because tomorrow is a new day, and sure enough the sun was shining and I was ready to run around like mad getting all the errands and Saturday stuff done before rushing off to Art Walk where we had a great time. 

What we had for lunch at Art Walk

I'm the type of person who doesn't think anyone cares about the type of person I am.  I think this also tends to contribute to my lack of blogging at times.  When you think about it blogging is kind of bold.  It's hey look at me, look at what I'm doing, and this is what I think! When you are a lifestyle blogger you might blog about things like travel, fashion, or cooking, but a lot of it is all about you.  When you get right down to it blogging requires some level of confidence to assume that people are interested in who you are and anything you have to say at all and the confidence to be okay with it if they aren't.  It's funny how I don't truly realize confidence is exactly what it takes until it's gone, but like those times when I feel too tired for life, that confidence comes and goes.

I'm the type of person who feels so deeply.  Sometimes I think I am too emotionally fragile for the world.  I cry on movies, commercials, and TV shows.  I watched a documentary on Netflix called Be Here Now, and I sat on my couch alone in the dark and sobbed for a good five minutes after it was over.  I was so saddened and moved that I thought about it for weeks.  I hate conflict too.  It is entirely too stressful.  If I have to deal with conflict or if people are mad at me I feel physically ill.  Appetite gone.  Stomach in knots.  I hate it that people have to die, that there are so many sick and suffering, and so many people who are just plain evil.  Feelings can be such a burden!  I feel good things very deeply too.  That part I like.

I'm the type of person who loves watching people's dreams comes true and I will use that as an excuse for watching another silly reality TV show.   The Pop Game, features five teenagers who are invited to live in an LA mansion and compete for a record deal while their parents/managers bicker and cause drama in the background.  MJ totally judged me for watching it, but what can you do?  Admitting that I watched it (and will watch it again if there is another season) is a little embarrassing, but it was so good.  I sat there and cried (of course) on the last episode because I saw so much growth in each contestant and wanted them all to win because they improved so much and did so good. Gosh, you'd think I know these kids or something.

So how's that for my first post back in a month?

I actually feel like a human being today instead of a zombie, and I really wanted to take advantage of that and write, even though I didn't have anything in particular to say.  I also might be the type of person who cares too much about what other people think.  I need not allow thoughts that nobody is interested or that I don't have anything important to say prevent me from blogging.  So What.  Right?  So here I am writing without apology, and without regard to how literary or "post worthy" this may be.  Just me, writing what I want (and hitting publish before I change my mind) because it's what I like to do.