Eating on $20 per day?

Before you answer, I am feeding 7 people. It just seems like if I play my cards right, I should be able to average about $20 a day for food.


I’m going to start paying attention to where I shop and how much I spend. I also want to have a list of the meals I make and how much they cost.

After an initial attempt at keeping track of food spending, I think my biggest difficulties are figuring out how to calculate leftovers, calculating condiments and other things that we buy once a month or every other month and eat a tablespoon at a time, and also just finding the time and energy to keep track.

I’ve got a shopping list, and I’m going to keep the receipt with the list and also write all the prices on the list so I can use it to calculate how much a particular meal costs.

Does anyone have a good system for keeping track of the cost of meals?

Do you know about how much you spend on food for your family per day?

Do you have the stores dialed in where you can find the cheapest price on your staple items?

4 responses to “Eating on $20 per day?

  1. Back when I left the workforce for the stay-home Mommy gig, we weren’t sure we could make it on the single paltry salary my (now ex-)husband brought home… Being a list-maker at heart, I hit the five major grocery stores nearby with a printed-out Excel spreadsheet, several pages long, of grocery items we regularly bought–and wrote down the price of each at each store. Based on that analysis, I knocked out a couple stores entirely, and determined which items should be bought at which of the remaining stores… I’d plan meals a week at a time, choosing recipes that allowed me to buy items in bulk and use in several meals, and do a once-a-week run to the three stores, buying each item where it was cheapest. Of course, gas prices were cheaper back then, but even now it saves money to be systematic! As you’re finding yourself. πŸ™‚
    I did get approached by a couple wary store managers while I was doing my initial price-check lists; they were ready to kick me out of the store, thinking I was doing spy-work for a competitor… Sure–with a baby on my hip? πŸ™‚

    • I really should get more systematic. Yesterday, trying out a new store, I used my price markers: milk, bananas and frozen corn dogs. I don’t know why I’ve decided on those as being representative of the overall cheapness of the store… I need to be a bit more thorough! πŸ˜€

      When I worked at Walmart (back in 1994) the whole spying thing was a really bizarre game that the managers seemed to thrive on, sending their drones to enemy territory, flushing out the recon agents wandering their aisles… it was quite goofy. Sounds like you were incorporated into the child’s play!

  2. Menus have certainly worked for me – at least I’m not buying six bags of rice and not the thing I really need that night for tea! My problem is still that I’ll buy too much of the stuff that stores well. Perhaps it’s a reaction to Chch earthquakes – but I have a ton of canned fruit and frozen bits that we really don’t need this week. Costs? Hmmm, I spend $100 on a Monday for top-up bits, $300 on a Thursday for the big shop and then another $30 or so at the butcher. But that’s all the groceries, not just food. Actually, it’s pretty much all food as we’re not big on cleaning products etc. My biggest complaint is that we grow heaps of food in NZ and have to pay overseas prices for it, even though we’re technically a low-wage economy. Crumbs turning into a post. Will stop now. Food for thought – tee hee!

    • I used to do menus and loved it. Now for some reason I like to wing it. I mean, I make the same meals over and over, so everything I buy is going to fit into one of the meals (am I old and set in my ways? πŸ˜€ ) But it just seems like from day to day I never know what’s going to be happening or who will decide to be (or be able to be) home for dinner, so my plans will change.

      I wish buying local were easier here too. We do grow quite a few things in North Carolina, but everything in the produce aisle is from California. Having made that particular drive, I can feel the exhaustion coming off the veggies as they sit there! πŸ˜€

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