Most people can’t tell you how much they spent on food in the last month. Can you?
I firmly believe that anything you don’t track leads to inflated waste. Your mind is wired to love instant gratification, and will push that extra $5 you spent on your latte or the $20 takeout you order multiple times a week to the back of your mind.
Those expensive meals from fast food restaurants or gourmet restaurants cost 4 times + the amount it takes you to go to the grocery store and cook them.
Here is a normal weekly breakdown of groceries for me. I tend to meal prep on Sunday, so that I can spend 2 hours at a time cooking and prepping every thing for the week. It tends to save a lot of time as I’m prepping 21 meals for the week instead of making my food from scratch every time.
2 $4.99 rotisserie chickens (5 pounds total) at Costco
1 $3.99 package of blueberries
1 $3.99 package of strawberries
$2 3.5 cups of uncooked Nishiki Premium rice
$9.99 3 pounds of brussels sprouts
$1 3 bananas
$2 sliced wheat bread
$2.8 pepper jack cheese
$3 1/4 pound chorizo
Breakfast – $1.56
I start the day with one cup of cooked oatmeal ($.08), 1 cup of coffee ($.08), a tiny dollop of nutella ($.1), and a medley of strawberries, blueberries, and banana ($1.3).
I make my coffee with a Keurig machine because it saves me time, Costco coffee, which is delicious and cheap, and put my coffee in the reusable K-cup pod for freshly brewed coffee.You could use a coffee pot, but I prefer to not clean the pot every week and on occasion when I crave tea, the Keurig makes it easy.
Lunch – $1.56
For lunch I have roughly 1/3 pound of chicken ($.66), 1/2 cup of cooked rice ($.15), and 1/4 cup of brussels sprouts ($.75).
The USA recommends .8 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight. I’m around 120 pounds, so that translates into 44 grams and roughly 6 ounces of protein per day. I eat approximately 10 ounces a day, for no good reason, other than the fact that it’s delicious and I (sometimes, ok fine, once in a blue moon) go to the gym.
Here’s my favorite recipe for brussels sprouts.
I like savory things, so I like to have a sandwich in the afternoon. Bread ($.29), pepper jack ($.5), and chorizo ($.43) make for an easy and savory sandwich. The pepper jack and chorizo give it a really great kick. Here chorizo is $12 a pound, with other Italian meats falling in the same range, but with prosciutto topping out at $20 a pound. Most deli meats cost anywhere from $8+.
Dinner – $1.56
For dinner I have the same meal as lunch, as I think it’s delicious and very nutritionally healthy.
Could you save even more money than this? Absolutely. Rotisserie chicken is roughly $2 per pound, and chicken thighs and drumsticks are $1 per pound at the grocery store, so you could cut your protein cost in half. Bone-in pork shoulder is also $1 a pound. Get the kind with the skin on so you can make that skin crackle. It’s one of the tastiest, cheapest, and easiest to cook meats around. This is my favorite recipe for it.
The recipe calls for leaving the pork shoulder marinated overnight, but you can just cook it right away, and it’s still amazingly delicious. I haven’t made the ginger scallion sauce, but for the ssam sauce, I just use gochujang and water with some sugar for simplicity. I already have the Nishiki rice as part of my normal food plan, which is basically the same price on Amazon as in the grocery store. It always amazes me how Amazon’s shipping costs must be so low for it to be able to ship 15 pound bags of rice and still have the same price as in store.
There are so many different kinds of meats you can substitute for the same cost. There are also a ton of veggies you can use instead — most veggies are cheaper than $3 a pound so if anything, brussels sprouts costs are at the top of the line. I choose to use brussels sprouts because it’s one of the most nutritious veggies out there and is delicious roasted.
Total cost per day of food if you cook yourself? $5.9
Total cost per week? $41.3
This isn’t how much I spend every week, as some of the items above are purchased in bulk, whereas others I buy every week. For example that can of coffee lasts me months.
Now this is just the base of things I eat. If I have friends coming over I’ll make some of that pork shoulder ssam. Momofuku charges $250 for it, and my $15 ssam is pretty tasty for the same thing. If I’m going over to a friend’s place I’ll bring over some Angry Orchard beers ($12). If a group of friends want to eat out for a celebration, I’m all for it and don’t try to choose a cheap restaurant — ambiance is important for events! I’m frugal, but not cheap. Don’t be cheap and drive your friends away while you try to FI/RE!
Do you feel uncomfortable with bringing your lunch every day because your coworkers buy $10 lunches every day? Well, your co-workers will end up spending $40 more per week than you on lunch, which is $2,000 more than you per year on lunch, even more if you consider this is the cost post-tax. I know social norms are hard to shake though :/.
So, do you bring your lunch in to work or do you go out and buy lunch? Are you considering bringing lunch to work knowing how much you could save?
How much do your groceries cost you per week, and what do you buy? What are your favorite frugal buys?
Subscribe to get access to FREE spreadsheets to save money and the entire resource pack!
Olivia worked in finance and wants you to learn the secrets of financial independence. She’s on track to reach financial independence before 30, and she wants to teach you how you can retire in less than a decade as well.
She thinks everyone needs an emergency savings fund and uses CIT Bank . They have the highest yielding rate at 1.55% and only require a minimum of $100. No monthly fees or charges like other big banks!
Her favorite free investment plan is from Ellevest. Go to Ellvest and click “Get Started” to get yours.
Her favorite personal finance tool is Personal Capital, which allows her to track her spending, historical net worth, and monitor her credit cards. It’s an upgraded version of Mint, in her opinon.