The Accidental Nutritionist

3 Eaters, 1 Mission

Notes From Jamie – Week 16

“Eating healthy and fresh is an expensive venture, how do you budget, what are the average monthly bills like for this eating plan (including the extra purchases for Charlie only, and us only)?”

(Harissa Chicken & Cabbage over Cauliflower “Rice” with Side Salad- pic by Charlie)

Budget-wise, we run about $50 per person per week. So $600 on groceries for the three of us for a month. 

That’s pretty good, considering the traditionally cheap fillers we can’t/don’t use (or Drew and I use sparingly) like pasta, rice, and bread.

We also benefit from sharing staples like oils and vinegars that cost a bit more upfront but can be used across time.

(NOTE: if Drew and I ate just like Charlie, we might shave our monthly budget down to $500, but we add things like milk and cereal, deli turkey for Drew’s sandwiches, and beer for me. Nothing dramatic, but it does add up.) 

While I do pay attention to (digital) coupons and employ them when I can, I don’t plan meals around them, because I already have a long list of things I’m paying attention to. Neither Drew, Charlie, nor I are rich by any means, but we can all swing a few hundred bucks each month for food.

From my experience, fresh veggies (the bulk of our purchases) have the fewest sales/coupons, but also the lowest average cost.

Meat is expensive, there’s no way around it, but with Charlie eating so little of it (8 oz of chicken/week, 4 oz of pork/week), it’s not a massive part of the grocery cost.

Chicken rarely goes on sale, but pork often ends up in the “Manager’s Special” or “Day Old bins” with a 30-50% discount. You have to make sure to use or freeze this meat quickly, but we do that anyway with a Thursday shopping and prep and Friday cooking schedule each week. Charlie can’t do beef but Drew and I will occasionally, and that is always from the Manager’s Special bin.

Canned goods (for us that means beans, tuna, salmon, and Italian tomatoes) are the prime balance between already being inexpensive and somewhat frequently going on sale—at which time, if you can afford a few more bucks that week: stock up! With canned goods, you do have to be careful about things like added sodium, however.

The place where we splurge the most is the flavor additives, like spices, vinegars, oils, and mustards. I find the investment well worth it, though. Not only does it improve every meal, but I can often use less of the good stuff because the flavor is more intense. 

For context, where we live, the cost of groceries is 1.2% above the national average in the US. So we’re a reasonable example of the cost of eating this way. 

For groceries (not the full cost of living):

Jacksonville, FL is 0.8% below the national average.
Raleigh, North Carolina is 0.6% above the national average.
Omaha, Nebraska is 3.4% below the national average.
New York City, New York is 16.6% above the national average.


~ Jamie

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