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Old 12-23-2007, 12:18 PM   #1
Emily Mattes
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Question What is your monthly budget for food?

So many threads pop up about doing Zone on the cheap or in college, that I thought one master thread of tips and tricks for making the Zone work for someone not living on a farm would be incredibly useful.

In a perfect world, everything we ate would be organic, farm-raised food. Lots of fresh produce, good nuts, grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish. Unfortunately, the world isn't perfect, that food is expensive (especially on the East Coast, you lucky West Coast jerks!), and rent/mortgage has gotta be paid. Add in fish oil vitamins and other supplements and your body is becoming very expensive to maintain.

So, where do you make compromises? Do you go half-and-half on the grass-fed and store-bought meat? Do you buy all grass-fed meat, but no organic produce? Do you just set a monthly food budget, and buy organic until it runs out and then starve? Or have you taken on a second (or third) job to support a higher food budget? Or do you just buy organic when you can, and just eat non-organic but Paleo/Zone? How much do you spend monthly on food?

Has anyone living in an apartment situation managed to fit in a deep freezer or grow a garden in their apartment or on a balcony?
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Old 12-23-2007, 12:27 PM   #2
Emily Mattes
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Re: What is your monthly budget for food?

I will start. I'm in college, I have a part-time job that pays $8/hour. I haven't set in a monthly food budget, I just try to eat cheap. I share a house in a city that has a front yard, so over the summer I grew tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and zucchini. I also visited a farmer's market close to where I live (which isn't yielding much these days). There are grass-fed farms maybe 30 minutes away, but I don't have the funds for it so I mostly buy from the butcher's counter at the local grocery store, staying away from big meat companies like Perdue. When I don't buy it at the farmer's market, produce is from the non-organic or frozen section of the store. When my diet is at its best, I rely on cottage cheese, frozen fish fillets, beef jerky, and eggs for protein, with store-bought chicken for dinner, occasionally beef.

Pretty soon I am going to have to face up to created a strict food budget if I don't want to be out on the street. This will probably mean cooking a lot more stews and soups, eating a lot more beans than I'm comfortable with. I don't have the time to add more work hours to pay for more food, so that's the compromise I'm making.
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Old 12-23-2007, 12:30 PM   #3
Steve Liberati
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Re: What is your monthly budget for food?

My wife and I spend about $85 bucks a week on food. That includes grass-fed meats, veggies, some fruits, fish, nuts chicken, soups (for her), coffee, etc. We try to go organic as much as we can, depending on the food. Rarely do we eat out. Supps are about an extra $50-60 bucks a month (fish oil, probiotics, vit-C, dig enzymes, liquid stevia, and zma.

Try to avoid buying grain-fed store-bought meat whenever possible, unless there is a huge special going on that I can pass up.
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Old 12-23-2007, 01:02 PM   #4
Daniel Freedman
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Re: What is your monthly budget for food?

I think some people are too fast in eschewing supermarkets altogether.

I am fortunate to have within a 5 minute walk:
- a discount supermarket
- two health food stores
- a gourmet, speciality butcher
- a farmer's market
- various small ethnic grocery stores

I'd love to shop only at the farmer's market. But barring a lottery win, it ain't gonna happen. So I end up buying some stuff at each place.

Discount Supermarket:
Recent specials have included pineapples at $1.49 each, skinless boneless chicken at $8.00 a pound, fresh cilantro and dill at 99 cents a bunch, and raw cashews at $3.69 per large container.

Health Food Store:
I use it for protein powder, stevia, homemade soups with zero sugar, and home made peanut butter

Speciality Butcher:
A six ounce home made rosemary and garlic lamb sausage costs less than $2.00. (I combine with chick peas, spinach and mushrooms and cook in a pan with olive oil. A great, quick meal). The other stuff looks great, but is out of my price range.

Farmer's Market:
Closed for the winter, but a great source of elk steak, fresh fish from an Indian reserve, and olive oil imported from Greece. The fruits and veggies are great, but generally too expensive for me. Five bucks for a small container of cherry tomatoes or 7 bucks for blueberries is just too much.

I should also mention various ethnic grocery stores. These are great for spices and green tea....all for pennies.

Hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants can also be worth exploring. I stumbled into one on the way back from the gym the other day. It's popular with taxi drivers and specializes in "middle eastern and east african cuisine". The only dish that made sense to me was "eggs with vegetables". It turned out to be scrambled eggs with mid eastern spices, onions, eggplant and chunks of green peppers. It came with a bowl of chick pea and lentil soup. Total cost was $5.00!

Last edited by Daniel Freedman : 12-23-2007 at 01:14 PM.
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Old 12-23-2007, 04:46 PM   #5
Veronica Davis
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Re: What is your monthly budget for food?

Do you have a Trader Joe's near you? Check out their website www.traderjoes.com. They are the walmart version of Whole Food (aka Whole Paycheck). I spend about $200/month on groceries.
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Old 12-23-2007, 05:23 PM   #6
Susie Rosenberg
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Re: What is your monthly budget for food?

You don't want to know what I spend on food. I have 2 teenaged sons and a large husband, and they all eat a lot.

My philosophy is that the higher up the food chain, the more necessary organic becomes.

So it goes like this:

Vegetables: in summer, I grow my own...great soil, lots of compost. What I don't grow, I buy from the farmer's market. Off-season, I'm not proud. I buy bags of regular frozen veggies from WalMart. A bag of broccoli stirfry is $1.54.
A bag of leaf spinach, $1.39. I also buy frozen berries from Wally's World.

Fruit: I buy fruit from the local market. Mostly not organic. Look for sales and specials.

Nuts: I buy in bulk from the local natural food coop.

Meats, Eggs, and Poultry: I buy only from local farms that I have visited myself. We're fortunate in having a buffalo farm not too far away. Makes great pot roast. The farmer there said to us, as he gazed at the grazing animals, "You can't tell a buffalo what to do. It's a wild animal. We don't get too close unless we have to." You can't buy that experience in the market.

Dairy: I don't use much, just cottage cheese and some yogurt. Half the time it's just the regular stuff from the market, and half the time it's from a grassfed dairy herd from a local farm.

Susie
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Old 12-23-2007, 05:48 PM   #7
Bryant A Buchanan
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Re: What is your monthly budget for food?

The Army gives me about 288 a month for food and toilet items cleaning supplies. I probally on average spend about 100 dollars or 200 a month. My main problem is eating out. I'm addicted to having others cook for me.

I am on the zone now and my toughest challenge is to not go buy my food but eat the food in my fridge.
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Old 12-23-2007, 06:16 PM   #8
Sam Cannons
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Re: What is your monthly budget for food?

I live in OZ and if i eat at home all week (not stay with with girlfriend) i spend around $AUD100 a week ! I eat about 90% paleo. I little bit of dairy and the odd wood fired pizza every fortnight or so.
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Old 12-23-2007, 09:21 PM   #9
Justin Andrew Joiner
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Re: What is your monthly budget for food?

250 a month. i have 3 meals i rotate every week. its really pathetic.

meal one: chicken breast (4oz) grilled yellow onions, tomato, squash sll cooked in olive oil. handful of nuts (almonds or peanuts), 1 apple.

meal two: 93% lean beef from super market (4-5 oz) with yellow onion. tomato, broccoli, cucumber, olive salad. big cup of milk.

meal three: grilled salmon i buy fresh (5.5 oz) soak in butter/lemon juice for .5 hour. olives, onions, tomato, almond slivers and squash on side. 1/2 cucumber and maybe peanut butter snack.

snack: is always 1/2 cup of cot cheese with peanut butter, honey mixed in. dice most of an apple or pear mix in as well. viola! tasty.

have been buying brats recently, talk about some good eatin boy.
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Old 12-24-2007, 02:49 AM   #10
Dan Heaney
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Re: What is your monthly budget for food?

I figured it out a little while ago and it was something like $10 a day but that was at 3300-3500 cals per day. Now a eat 2400-2600 so I'm guessing $8 a day so $240 a month.
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