A quick question to you the readers

About 11 months ago, I wrote about how dumb I thought “Till Debt Do Us Part” was.

Well, it turns out I’m sometimes too lazy to change the channel and will end up half watching a dumb television program half researching how to become invincible.

So tonight Gail Vaz-Oxlade did her usual Mason Jar Schtick, and started going through the usuals: That much for the house, that much for the utilities, that much for clothing, etc. Then she got to groceries.


And I went WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Seriously? 125.00$ a week for a family of four (The kids look like they were 8 – 12 years old). My grocery bill averages 275.00$ a week. I’m thinking I’m doing something wrong.

Now Gail has her very own blog, and I did ask my question directly to her, like so:

Dear Gail,

I was watching your program tonight, and when you allowed money for groceries you allowed 125$/week for a family of 4 (kids aged 8 – 12 is seems).

I’m really curious to know how is it possible to properly feed a family of four on a 125$ a week budget? That’s 6$ a meal, it seems highly improbable. Would you have a menu that you could make available?

I get that not everything is shown on TV, and I’m wondering what is not considered groceries? For example are detergent, soap, shampoo, toothpaste all included in the grocery jar, or are those items part of another fund? As a point of comparison, my family’s grocery bill averages 275$ / week – but that includes the stuff I mentioned before. I’m thinking I’m doing something wrong.



But really, I’m not holding my breath for an answer. This is why I turn to you trustee readers.

Tell me, how much or how little is your grocery bill? Could you feed a family of four on 125$ a week? What am I doing wrong really?

Fire away!



  1. Oh, I can feed my family of four on that. Well, kinda. In the winter time we eat more meat than we do during the summer months so I spend on average, $150 per week during the winter. However, in the summer, I spend around $125 on food for us. We don’t eat extravagant but no one could ever accuse me of missing a meal! Typically, we have a meat product (pork chop, chicken, hamburger, steak (rarely) or a roast). Then we have potatoes or rice and a vegetable (I try for fresh, but when it’s out of season, canned works well). We don’t have bread with every dinner and we don’t have dessert every night.

    Today the girls had cereal for breakfast. Tuna sandwiches for lunch and tonight we had chicken Alfredo which cost me about $7 to make and there are leftovers I will take to work tomorrow.

    Tomorrow I will make chicken enchiladas (welfare style) and that consists of 1 can Cream of Chicken soup; 2 chicken breasts (boiled); 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese; 1 cup sour cream; 1 pkg taco seasoning;1 small can green chilis; 8-10 flour tortillas. Shred boiled chicken and place in a sauce pan with all other ingredients except cheese. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Place about 1 cup of the mix in the bottom of your cake pan (spray with non stick spray first) then place a good scoop of the soup/chicken mix in a tortilla and fold up, place in pan and do this until all the tortillas are used or the pan is full. Pour remaining mixture over the top of the tortillas and cover with cheese. Bake at 350° until cheese melts. Serve over rice or with corn chips. A rough estimate on cost would be $15 but you can feed an army or freeze the leftovers and use another day. A good roast with potatoes, carrots, onions and gravy from the drippings will set you back around $15 also but again, you can freeze the rest for lunches.

    I should also mention that I’m a cheap skate and I shop at Hell-Mart for my staples and the local grocery for meat. We always have things like crackers, cheese, cookies and chips for snack foods in the house also because when I don’t buy that stuff, the man and kids think they’re starving to death.

    I could give you a menu of the stuff we cook regularly if you want. I’m not saying it’s easy, and sometimes I’m bored out of my mind with the food, however, we’ve never eaten the same things more than twice a month and lately, we’ve been on a tighter budget and I’ve been spending between $125 and $140 per week for food and necessities like TP, paper towels, etc. (sometimes I splurge on ice cream and toppings or soda or the stuff to make rice crispy treats)

    Finally, I spend around $75 per month on non food stuff like TP, paper towels, smelly plug in things, laundry and dish soap, dryer sheets, bath soap, shampoo, garbage bags, etc. and I spent $80 a month on dog food.
    [rq=1595,0,blog][/rq]All dressed up and nothing to blog

  2. There is three of us but I find that if I am doing ONLY food for the week it costs a minimum of about $150. (That is just meat, fruit, veggies, milk and bread.) I have had a few $300 weeks but that’s when I’m stocking up on the things we don’t need every week like granola bars, dishwasher detergent, sauces and the like… also frozen entrees for lunches and stuff… Usually we come in around $200.

    I do know that unless I get really skimpy on quantities, or serve nothing but ramen and rice I can’t do it for less than $125.

    In my recent travel stateside I do find that the cost of processed foods is a lot lower. Certainly they aren’t paying $3 for broccoli in the dead of winter. I think I read that Ottawa has high food prices too…

    $125 for a family of four still seems low… if that 12 year old is a boy… no way!
    [rq=2064,0,blog][/rq]Wordless Wednesday — Eight Year Old Photography

  3. OMG! $125 a week! Are you kidding me? Not even a possibility in my house. I budget $180 a week for our food bill and that is if we don’t have to “buy everything.” About every two months or so we end up having a massive food bill because we have to re stalk EVERYTHING!

    I guess if I clipped coupons and really looked for hard core deals, we could mostly live on $125 a week, but that is really tight.
    [rq=2399,0,blog][/rq]Metaphorical Phone Numbers

  4. We have a family of four and usually spend about $80 a week, about $100 if I have to re-stock cleaning supplies and toiletries. I get my cleaning supplies and toiletries from the dollar store and we have an ALDI so I get a lot of our stuff there.

    Last night I made cheesy chicken and rice casserole and it cost about $6 to make – and we had enough leftover for me to bring for lunch today. Of course, LM and LD don’t eat that much, being eighteen months and seven years, respectively.

    When we first got married we wasted tons of food because I would spend $150 a week on stuff, thinking that that was how much we *should* spend – and would have to throw stuff away. Of course, I used frozen veggies instead fresh, the only fruit the kids will touch are oranges, bananas, blueberries and strawberries. I buy our meat in big packages and divide them up.

    We don’t eat fancy meals but we eat really well, for cheap. That’s the best thing my mom taught me – how to make filling, (usually) reasonably healthy foods for cheap. I say “usually” because there really aren’t any redeeming health factors in fried chicken 🙂

    My mom has five adults living at her house full time, plus my sister’s four kids every other weekend and then my two kids and my best friend’s son at her house during the week, and she spends about $200 a week. And believe me, she feeds them *very* well.
    [rq=2455,0,blog][/rq]Remember When….

  5. I spend about $175/wk. We do a lot of fresh veggies and fruits. And I have a teenage daughter who can be a pig at times 🙂 I make bigger dinners because Travis and I can take the left-overs for lunch the next day. But no way possible could I do $125/wk.
    [rq=2860,0,blog][/rq]Revisiting the Bottom

  6. @Usedtobeme: A novel is good. 😉 So it’s not possible without getting bored? Do you use a lot of canned stuff?

    @Rachel: I’m thinking that’s what they do. But that’s no way to live, really.

    @THE BROTHER: Thanks for the link. And no, that doesn’t include alcohol. That’s another 300.00$ on it’s own. 😉

    @Nat: Well, the 12 year-old was a girl, but you’re totally right. We nickname our 8 year-old “2nd Mortgage” because we’re afraid that’s what we’ll need when he hits his teens – if not sooner.

    @Avitable: That’s the spirit. There’s no point in saving money if you’re miserable in the process.

    @Hilly: I think all the “no sugar” stuff we buy is a lot more expensive too, but so worth it. And we love cheese.

    @Janelle: That’s a sweet lapsus. 😉

    @SheilaCSR: I think my concept of healthy is costing me a lot of dollars.

    @Jenny: Well, “not really eating” might be a plan. Not a good one, but it’s a plan. 😉

    @Becky: We also do the leftover thing for the kids. Most day I’ll grab a subway or a slice of pizza for lunch (not included in the grocery bill, of course). 125$ is out of reach for me I think.

  7. Four our family of four, we only budget $275/month for groceries, which is only for food — other items are budgeted separately. *But*, we budget another $400/month for dining out, which we do quite a bit of. We often go over on one or the other, but are actually usually pretty consistent with the combined amount. Also, it is important to note that neither of these amounts include my work-day lunches (assuming I go out, which I always do) — those come out of my own discretionary budget.

    I really don’t think we’d have that much trouble eating for $125/week.
    [rq=3008,0,blog][/rq]One Hundred, Two Hundred

  8. We buy for three and spend around $150.00 a week. Family of four for $125 seems a little unreasonable unless you really really buy cheaper goods and are absolutely wicked with your coupon love.
    [rq=3151,0,blog][/rq]Random Three

  9. It’s just the two of us, and we usually average about $100-150 a week on groceries. Granted some of that is my specialty foods (gluten-free stuff costs more than the regular stuff) but mostly we’re just getting the staples – milk, bread, fresh fruits and veggies, and cheese. We almost never do desserts. Other things like shampoo, etc, I buy at shoppers so that’s rarely part of our grocery bill. I’d be curious to find out what she responds, if she does. Let us know!

  10. we shop every two weeks, and with the exception of milk, which we end up buying at least three more times during those 14 days, we don’t shop other than that set aside shopping day. if we forgot to put something on the list and it did not get bought, too bad, for us, it waits til next shopping list.

    Including personal hygiene, TP, soaps/detergents, 87.00 for smokes, cat/dog food/treats as well as groceries to last the next 14 days, we spend roughly 380. so, do the math, thats us per week.

    we are a family of five, and Parker (9) eats a lot, as does Micah, but the rest of us don’t eat all that much.

    do you have a Sobeys? you need to check out their dollar day sales. I love those :o)
    [rq=3282,0,blog][/rq]The Tree Of (your) Knowledge

  11. I can feed for 4 for $100-$125 a week, and have been doing it for a couple months now. They is to make a menu of everything you are going to make, get all the ingredients on them, and do not deter from the list. I even manage to get snacks for the kids, juiceboxes, and ice cream.

    oh and coupons help too.

    We may not eat a lot of fancy stuff, but we eat. And that’s better than starving. And my recipes are usually really good, so I never hear complaints.
    [rq=3795,0,blog][/rq]A Letter to Emily’s Teacher

  12. We eat very well – I buy organic fruits and veggies and whatever, and I’d say we do average maybe $125 a week. Some weeks a little more, some a little less. Depends on how many staples are in the pantry, really. I am a list person, though, and I rarely stray from the list. As soon as I stray, you can easily tack on an extra $30 or more.

  13. I have to agree with you. No way is it possible. We are a family of four and both kids are teens. Costco alone once a month runs me $400. We go through a jug of milk every two days!! We are probably at $700 to $800 a month before luxuries like T.P 🙂

  14. I think it’s possible to buy groceries at $125/week, but I can’t imagine that you can feed a family in a healthy way. I would imagine that it would be a lot of processed foods and stuff. I cannot imagine that this amount includes fresh or organic ingredients. And really? I think people can skimp on anything, but skimping on food is just… well, dumb. You can end up paying now or later.
    .-= Faiqa´s last blog ..Archaeology Rocks =-.

  15. @Ren: Your current cost is 169$ / week, not including your lunches. You’re saying you could cut 45$ / week plus your lunches easily?

    @Kevin Spencer: I hope I get a reply from the guru, because I’m really curious to see how she does it – or if she does it for that matter.

    @Suze: Once again, your experience seems to mimic mine. Doppelgänger I tell you… 😉

    @bluepaintred: I don’t think we have a Sobey’s around here. I’d be curious to see your typical 2-week menu. I’m guessing you have a chest freezer – or you might just stack things outside in the frakkin’ June cold and snow… 😉

    @Cissa Fireheart: Okay, but I’m sure you also use magic to complement your menus. (hehehehe!)

    @Sybil Law: We’re list people too. I guess we’re just not doing the right list. 😉

    @THE BROTHER: Everybody likes food! 😉

    @Flo: We stopped going at Costco years ago. We realized we just bought and ate more stuff going there.

    @Sarah: Can you send me your cupboards? Oh wait, maybe you can step to Narnia through them?

    @Faiqa: That’s exactly what I was trying to say! I’ll keep my grocery bill this Saturday. Maybe I can milk this for a couple more posts. 😉

  16. I’d say the opposite of Faiqa – it’s the processed foods that make the costs so high. If you’re actually MAKING dinners, you just get the ingredients and they go a long way. By using planning, using up everything you buy, coupons and only counting groceries in the bill (ie, not cigarettes, alcohol, household items), one can easily and healthily feed a family of 4 on that amount. However, it requires a lot of time for preparation and cleanup.
    .-= whall´s last blog ..i shud haz ifone? =-.

  17. @Whall: I kept this week grocery bill somewhere, and I’ll tally up exactly what I bought for what price. The total was just above 300$, but included some non-food products (TP, 25$ phone card, etc.). I’m curious to see how low the bill can get removing all those non-food items.

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