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Monthly Average Grocery Bill?

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A few visitors that have been arriving here for searching for the Monthly Average Grocery Bill.

When they come here, they’ll only find my spending which is around $300-400 for a family of 3. But it got me thinking about asking everyone about your grocery bills.

Anyone else care to share your family size and how much you spend on groceries?

I have never been one to use coupons because I always thought that store brands were less expensive, but after seeing this guy eating well on $1 a day so his average monthy grocery bill is less than $30, I may give it a try.


242 Comments

  • Reply Susan |

    We are a family of 9 (two adults, 7 children ages 18 months up to 15 years). I just raised our monthly budget up to $600-700 a month. This includes all meals and all nonfoods as well. I am aiming for the lower but it will most likely be the higher. πŸ™‚ I am wrecking my brain trying to think of what some are buying, to be spending so much. It would be wonderful to have a detailed list of what others are buying. Our budget is on the lower end for our family size and we live in SC, which I think is in the middle as far as costs go.

  • Reply Kristine |

    Susan, I made a detailed list of what I bought for this week. It’s at…

    http://ayearofeating.blogspot.com/

    There were a few things in there I wouldn’t normally buy (salad bar), but it’s a fairly typical week. We spend about $400-450 a month for two people. We’re nearly vegetarian and our splurges are things like soy creamer or cage-free eggs.

    If you would be willing to do the same for your weekly budget it would be interesting to see how some people do so well!

  • Reply Aria |

    Family of two in the Chicagoland area. We spend a little under $200 per month, not including toiletries. We eat out maybe once every other month and my husband brown bags it everyday. I’m religious about coupon use (regularly saving 30% or more on our total bill), scour the ads for deals and keep a price book. We just started a fairly extensive container garden to help supplement, too, since we eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies. We’re also pretty fortunate in the sheer number of stores we have in our immediate area.

  • Reply Jen |

    We are a family of 3, I’m a single mom with a 3 year old son and 24 year old exchange student. We spend about $150/month total for the 3 of us. We are blessed with a discount grocery store in our area and do probably 80 percent of our shopping there. We also have 4 chickens and a garden. We don’t eat much meat and stock up on items when they are on sale, freezing cheese and bread when we can find them at good prices, putting back canned goods etc. We also don’t buy paper products other than toilet paper and don’t buy plastic bags/plastic wrap type stuff.

  • Reply Sharon |

    We are a family of 5..We also have 2 small dogs and 1cat..I spend on average a month, $450.00.
    I buy no processed food or junk food.. I make a menu for 30 days and stick to it..I make all cookies and snacks.. We drink water most of the time and have coffee..soda on a fun day out 1 time a month..My grocery lists includes shampoo,
    laundry stuff, dog-cat food, and I only use baking soda and vinegar to clean with..I use coupons and usually save anywhere from $20-$40 at
    a time…We do have an advantage, my husband is retired Navy and we utilize the base grocery store
    which saves about 35% on my groc. bill..I also hunt around Super Target and Super Walmart for sales..I have a 17 yr old, 15, and 8.They eat alot.. Replacing soda and juice for water and low fat milk has brought or grocery down about $100 a month.. Those are only for special occasions and the dentist has noticed a drastic change in all our teeth..

  • Reply Drew |

    There are so many variables that have led me to discover this site.

    My husband and I…along with one cat spend about $450 to $500 a month. (the cat is the only one who impulse buys, so we never take him to the store with us.)

    I buy local if at all possible.

    Our total also includes eating out, limited toiletries, household items and we do like to entertain at least once a month. Last year before my career went part-time and before we decided to set a true working budget, we were spending twice as much. Of course, you never see the reality of the situation until you take the time to investigate.

    I started meal planning which included searching for recipes, making a grocery list, utilizing freezer space, avoiding processed food, not purchasing anything with “empty” calories (chips, sweets, sodas. I began clipping coupons, shopping for staples once a month and limiting trips to once a week. I don’t buy more than what’s on my list unless it is an oversight. I write it down for the next trip. I make whatever I can from scratch, including juice. We do eat meat and I will buy a surplus when it is on sale. Then I take it home and wrap, freeze and label for future use. I buy fresh vegetables from local growers and freeze or can them for future use. We are eating healthy and well. I can’t tell yet if it costs more to eat this way, or if you really save financially. But the health benefits are unmistakable.

  • Reply Karin |

    I like the idea of a price book, I try to have them all in my head but that’s better!
    We are 7 People, 2 adults, and 5 teens. We get along with 120$ per week, incl. basic toiletries, paper products and pet food.
    I use our 2 bread makers for pizza dough and make some of our bread, buy almost no frozen convenience foods. I hate big grocery stores,they are so time consuming, who needs a choice between 25 different Salsas?? and I always find something extra to buy. I get the bulk of our items weekly at Aldi, even though it’s a 30 min drive. They have 2 kinds of salsa: medium and mild.
    Some stuff I get in bulk, grated cheese in 5lbs bags and 1lbs yeast for 3$ which I store in the freezer. (Not all bulk items are actually cheaper! do your math!) We eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, but only what’s on sale and seasonal. In Summer I have a garden and freeze some for winter, but bec. we like to grill we don’t really save, we just eat differently. Meats only on sale, sometimes I find great deals that are marked down, that’s when I buy steak : )
    I try to have chunks of meat, roast, chops or steak once a week, other meals have meat in it, like chicken enchiladas, and others are meatless. Depression era recipies from relatives, like cabbage casserole, that I make with less fat, are really good. Funny how beans and rice, in a burrito, or beans and cornbread are not only inexpensive, but also very healthy πŸ™‚ I must add, that I have chosen to stay home and consider saving money my contribution to the family income plus be available for the kids. Don’t know if I could cook as much from scratch if I had a job.

  • Reply Tivo |

    Not sure how you all are doing it. I have 2 active teenagers in high school sports and 2 working adults, one very active in sports and all taking lunch to work and school, living in a rural area with very little eating out(frozen pizza night is about it). My calculations show –

    Milk 2gal x 3.50 x 4 weeks = 28
    Meat $5-$8/meal x 25 meals = 125-200
    Eggs 2doz/week x $2 x 4 weeks = 16
    bread 2lvs/wk x $3.50 x 4 wks = 28
    cheese 2-3pkg/wk x $4 x 4wks = 32-48
    lunchmeat 3pkgs/wk x $3 x 4 wks = 36
    frozen pizza 2/wk x $5 x 4 week = 40
    OJ 2/wk x $3.50 x 4 wks = 28
    Produce 20/wk x 4wks = 80
    soaps/cleaners 20/month
    ground coffee 8-12/week x 4 weeks = 32-48
    cat food/litter for 2 cats = $25/mos

    This is for the basics only and doesn’t factor in anything else, no canned goods, cereals, no OTC meds, no cosmetics, jellys, oils, dressings, spices, Peanut butter, sodas, snacks, sweets, etc. not to mention anything purchased on the fly. People are either eating very little or very poorly (or their kids are scarfing their at their friends’ houses) or they are deceiving themselves how much money goes to the grocery store each month.

  • Reply Sarah |

    $450 a month is usual for our groceries in NC – family of 5 with 3 kids, age 7 and under. I think it’s tight, but we have fun eating and eat well.

    – We buy 3 dozen pastured eggs/week, expensive.
    – We have a big garden that will help this summer for veggies & herbs.
    – I go to Aldi most months, stock up at sales, and started using coupons a few months ago (kind of hate it but need to).
    – We don’t eat much meat except unlimited wild venison given to us free by a friend, though I buy $2 bacon and stock up on sale “quality” hot dogs for special occasions like Memorial Day. πŸ˜›
    – I don’t spend much extra on organic food, but I try to buy local veggies when I haven’t grown them (not unreasonable compared to the grocery store).
    – We don’t drink OJ or eat breakfast cereal unless we find a fabulous non-sugary deal, but homemade muesli or granola without super expensive ingredients.
    – I bake almost everything that can be baked.
    – Oh yeah, we pay for diapers – for now.

    It does baffle me why I have trouble staying in the budget though, when I have a freezer full of venison and make things from scratch all the time, grow/pick our own fruits & veggies. So that’s why I came here for a little perspective.

  • Reply Susan |

    I am caregiver for my 93 year old Aunt. I buy nothing but the least expensive items, go to the different stores to get the cheapest items, can’t afford organics… I do twice monthly stop and get chinese, not included, included is some non food items, foam cups, napkins, pine scent,dish and laundry detergent, live in Ga. I can’t get out for less than 400. monthly. This does NOT include personals… hair spray, shampoo, toothpaste,razors, bathroom tissue, soap.Dog food or care for her.

  • Reply Thomas |

    I would like to see an iPad app that effectively gives you a grocery list that you could quickly type in prices of all the items you buy during each grocery trip. It would take a few extra minutes, but as a numbers guy, I would love to chart price trends. A digital download of my grocery bill would be better, but no store would want to make that information so readily useable.

    We are a family of four with the two children being boys who eat more than their parents. We seem to buy about $50 of fresh fruit each week.

    Average Monthly Grocery bill (mostly Wal Mart) – $725
    This has gone up about $60 a month on average for 2010.
    Any food item purchased at a restaurant or convenience store is not included in that number due to the inflated prices. I consider all of those purchases to be “eating out.” We seem to be heading towards 2k for that bill this year, which includes vacation food expenditures. If you treat buying a frappucino at the book store as eating out, then you may be more likely to modify your behavior when you review your monthly expenditures.

    I track any adult beverage purchases separately as well.

    I encourage folk to keep some sort of record (I use excel.) each month so that over time they can compare and watch trends. It seems tedious, but it only takes a few minutes to maintain such information that can help you understand what is occurring in your budget.

  • Reply Pat |

    I think that the many cost variations depend on what area you live in…there is sometimes a big difference in the cost of food. We are a family of three and spend about $400-$450 currently a month on food. I really need to get back into the couponing habit, as I was saving SOOO much with it. I wanted to share a website with you. If you don’t like clipping coupons, this is for you because you don’t clip until you need them..just save the circular and date it..this site will tell you what the sales are in your area, and where to find the coupon for each item. No, I don’t work for the site or have any connection (other than being a member). It’s just a REALLY big help. Anyway, the site is couponmom.com . I hope it helps someone like it did me..I think I just got a bit lazy and I really need to get back on it:)

  • Reply Julie |

    We are a family of 4, (12 yr old son, 7 yr old daughter), living in California, and my husband just told me that our grocery bill has been steady at about $1300.00 a month! I think this is crazy!!! I am a stay at home Mom, and tend to be in our grocery store at least 3 times a week, picking up dinner for a couple of nights at a time. I am going to make it my goal to go only once a week, to try to cut down on all the extras that i tend to throw in the cart. I’m also writing out a weekly meal plan, that includes a pasta, vegatarian, and leftover night to see if i can cut our costs. And i’ll be sure to remember the coupons that always seem to be left at home!!

  • Reply Jennifer |

    Wow… Our diet consists of fish, poultry, some red meat, tofu, nuts, cheeses, yogurt–(organic, nitrite, artificial color/flavor, chemical and preservative free when possible), whole grain breads and pastas, couscous, salad dressings, marinades and sauces, condiments, herbs, spices and lots of fruits and veggies–organic when available–we can’t possibly spend less than $250/week for our family of four. No toiletries or anything like that included. We’d have to eat nothing but Kraft Mac&Cheese, rice, beans, tofu, cabbage and tuna to stick to $300/month for 4 people.

  • Reply Rachel |

    I can’t comprehend eating on $3 a day/ person!! I’m afraid those who stock up on processed “deals” with coupons and shop in the center isles of the supermarkets have unfortunately fallen prey to our obese culture drive for fast cheap food. We’ve got to realize that little savings are costing our HEALTH in the long run. Don’t get me wrong- I hate that we have to spend so much on food. I rarely go out to eat, do the best I can with utilizing coupons and deals but feel it is absolutely necessary for the future of our family to eat well. Watch what you put into the mouths of those that you love. Cheap usually translates to bad health, either now or in the future. You pay for what you get.

  • Reply robert w |

    we are a family of four living in southern california. we have two teenage boys so we end up feeding several other teenage boys a few times a month at least. our complete household is run on $1200.00 per month. the groceries usually average around $800.00 or so per month.that is not including my sons school lunch cafeteria bill of $2.50 per day. that also does not count when we go out to eat or order pizza in.

  • Reply Jules |

    Wow! This is an eye opener,especially going back to 2006 and scrolling to 2010. Living in northern California my family of 3 adults,1 cat,2 dogs our bill is $1500.00. I have tried everything to bring it down…I think we just waste a lot and I don’t buy convenient food, everything fresh and homemade. I do a lot of freezing and that helps with left-overs. I guess I should just stop cooking for an army! This also includes household items and dog/cat food. In 2006 I was averaging $1200.00 for groceries. I look for coupons, yet they aren’t always what I need, it seems like it is always junk food.

  • Reply steve |

    For a family of two adults we have a monthly food bill of $600; however, it includes all items that can be purchased at a supermarket such as laundry soap and other cleaning products

  • Reply Becca |

    Family of 5 in MN (me, hubby, 4 year old, and 2 10 month olds). We usually spend $900 to $1000 per month on food. We buy mostly organic and very little processed food. Lots of fresh fruit and veggies – so this is a bit lower during the summer and fall when we can buy from the farmer’s market. We don’t really eat out. This is the biggest part of our budget after our house payment and well worth it IMO! It scares me the things some people are willing to put into their bodies. If I can’t pronounce it or I’m not really sure what it is, I’m certainly not going to eat it!

  • Reply Cherie |

    we are a family of 3 in NJ about an hour outside of NYC (2 adults & a 3 year old) and I’ve gotten our grocery bill down to $650/mth. (We probably spend at least $250 on meals out). The 650 includes food and non food and is for mostly only organic products. In order to get the bill down, I had to go with only buying 1 -2 meats a week (unless there is a sale on the organic meat, then I’ll stock up). I try to have one meatless meal at least once a week.

    I rarely shop in the middle aisles of the grocery store. And almost never buy premade foods or mixes. I try to make most of our meals from scratch. I have to confess that I do buy cereal but strictly organic cereals.

  • Reply Kelli |

    I have been beating myself up over the monthly grocery bill. Foods are getting more and more expensive. For my family of four, two adults and two children under 4, I have been spending around $650/mo on groceries (including cleaning and personal care products etc.)
    I clip coupons, shop sales, prepare a meal-plan for the week, go to multiple stores, and shop in bulk. It can take me a good 12 hours to complete my grocery list and buy my groceries.
    I also believe it is extremely important to watch what we put in our bodies, so I buy only natural or organic foods and prepare all of our meals and snacks from scratch. I also have recently learned that I’m gluten intolerant which has increased my bill significantly while I stock up on brown rice flour and xanthan gum etc. I haven’t brought myself to splurge on fresh meats so we eat very little of it. I buy natural meat in bulk and freeze it.
    I refuse to buy groceries at Wal-mart because I feel as though this place thrives on causing obesity. I have found very little-no real healthy food here.

  • Reply Thrivalista |

    Re not shopping at Wal-Mart – I agree wholeheartedly that the place thrives on causing obesity. But if more people shopped there for the few natural or organic things they do offer, the increase in sales could encourage them to expand those offerings. There are a few organic items they carry (soymilk, for one) that we stock up on once a month or so.

    O/T:
    Re gluten intolerance, which our family shares – we’ve learned to focus on making crackers and cooking other grains (millet, etc.) and root veggies in the winter in lieu of making breads. We also substitute ground flax seed for the xanthan gum.
    /O/T

  • Reply Rose |

    We live in Hamilton, ON Canada. We have a family of 6 (2 adults, 1 teenager, 11 year old, 7 year old, and 2.5 year old)

    We spend $250 per week on groceries and that includes diapers, pads, toothpaste, etc. and we eat out once per month for no more tha $60 so that comes to $1060/month on food. That is with no extras. Also the cost of food here cost more than most States. This is bare minimum food costs with NO extra goodies. I bake all our own snack foods. We drink water and NEVER have pop, etc. Our teenager is eating me out of the house! This includes showing hospitality to others and entertaiing.
    Most families I talk to with kids in our area with the same age kids and amount spend up to $1200 per month and eat out more.

  • Reply Becky |

    We live in Wenatchee, WA and we have a family of 4 (2 adults, 9yo, 7yo, and 1 dog, 3 cats). We also live 1/2 hour out of town but drive there daily for kids private school and work. We spend 2000 per month for food, gas, eating out, extras, etc. I think about 800-1000 of that goes to food, depending on the month. I try and do a grocery outlet and super wal mart run 1-2 times per month, we buy our pet food and paper goods at costco, but I am gluten free so that adds to the budget as all noodles and flours in our house are GF. We also spend more money on raw local organic milk and eggs, we eat a lot of fruits and veggies which are, in the summer, purchased locally. I also purchase our meat grass fed and local for the most part. I think if we went back to sale milk, meat, eggs, etc I could probably cut it down to 500 per month, but it’s not worth it to me-we live in an area that is pesticide heavy so I give my kids every advantage through nutrition and natural hair/skin/cleaning products. We buy a lot of our natural skin care/cleaning/toothpase products at grocery outlet or wal mart to help defray that cost. I do think I could cut down a bit on that budget though by soaking and using more beans/lentils ect. in food. Will have to try!

  • Reply Rich |

    We live in the Denver, CO area. Food is one of our largest expenses. Two adults, three kids all under seven. We spend $800-$1000/month on groceries. That includes non-edibles that you buy at the grocery store (paper towels, toilet paper, etc.) We shop for most things at a big box store (Sam’s) but I am not convinced we save money. All veggies and fruits come from the supermarket. These last two are a huge cateogry for, which I think raises our bill substantially. Unfortunately, almost all coupons are for canned or boxed food. We buy very few of these types of products.

  • Reply Carrie |

    In South Central Wisconsin, my husband and I spend $100/mo at the grocery store. I’m lactose and gluten intolerant. We eat out once a month but that is not included in this. I buy generics and bulk food and only buy things when on sale. I have a stand alone freezer which helps.

  • Reply Marie Cooper |

    I have been spending approximately $600 to $1000 per month on groceries for a family of 4 people (2 teenagers). We have now had a serious cut back in income and I will only have $240 available per month for food – anyone have suggestions?

  • Reply Janelle |

    Hi Marie –

    A few suggestions. First, I’ve been in your boat. We have 4 kids, 13, 11, 10 and 8 and wow can they eat. I’m feeding 6 people here in Western Washington. It can be very expensive.

    First, shop sales. Question every purchase. If you can make it by hand, don’t buy it. Use more beans, less meat. If you don’t know how to use beans, search the net for how to prepare them. There are tons of blogs and recipe sites to help you.

    Cook all meals from scratch. Make extra portions so you can have leftovers for quick meals.

    Be humble and accept help where you can. Check farmers for gleaning opportunities. There are ministries out there where you can buy boxes of food for less. Angel Foods or Angel Ministries is one of them (there isn’t one in my area but do a net search). Over the last few years, we have had some very, very lean times with only like $200 a month or less for food. We’ve gone to the food bank, prayed and gone ‘scouting’ for food. We picked tons of apples off the side of the road on public land (all for free). We sliced them, froze them, made pies, dryed them, etc.

    Specific ideas: Oatmeal is cheap and can fill up your family each morning for pennies.

    Buy whole chickens on sale for .75 cents a pound or less. Boil 3 up, debone and save the meat for other meals. Simmer the bones and everything else all day to make a rich broth (add carrots, pepper, salt, celery and onion for more flavor and nutrition). Make a huge pot of soup out of 1/2 the stock. Freeze the rest for future soups.

    Turkeys will go on sale for .39 cents or less in November. Buy as many as you can freeze. I usually buy 5 or so and we use it for soups and every meals for months.

    Bake all of your bread. Do many loaves in one day and freeze what you can’t eat in a few days. Do the same thing with rolls.

    Hope this gets you thinking. I know its hard, but with some work, you can do it!

  • Reply Ken |

    I live in Orlando, FL. I’m single now and only eat out two or three times a week, usualy on dates. When shopping at the supermarket my bill runs anywhere from $100-$150 per week. That includes healthcare and hygiene. When I was married and five children, our bill was close to $400 per week. And neither my ex, children, or I are overweight. When I talk to my friends they say around $250 per week. So for the ones that spend the least, more power to you.

  • Reply WashingtonSuburbMom |

    Family of four in Washington/Baltimore Metro suburbs-avg. $1,100 to 1,200 a month for groceries, personal care products, toiletries, pet food. My husband and I have two daughters, 11 and 13, one cat, one dog. Both daughters are dancers, my husband has a very physical job and I teach fitness. We eat a lot of calorie and protein dense foods. I buy all meat at Whole foods, but tend to buy chicken, ground beef, sausages and have fish once a week. We also don’t eat huge meat portions (3/4 of a pound for 4). We have a better cut of meat about once a month. Only organic milk and butter. Chips, yes, but no soda and very limited snack foods (generally the natural ones like nuts and granola which tend to be more expensive.)I cook every night and everyone eats home-made lunch. We eat a ton of fruit and veggies, I can’t keep them stocked. We buy expensive toilet paper and paper towels and cheap shampoo and personal produts. I shop at Whole foods for proteins and some veggies, Target for all boxed, package and non-grocery items, and buy store brands for everything but bread. I shop at Safeway for about 1/4 of my monthly bill because it is much closer and convenient.
    My biggest expense seems to be vegetables and fruit. (Even more than meats.)

  • Reply Pat |

    Hi, I posted back in Aug. 2010. Wanted to update my comment because a couple of things have changed since then. First of all, I’ve learned a LOT in the past year. I used to be so naive and thought that if it’s in the food it must be safe…WRONG! We went on a diet (not to lose weight) called the Feingold diet, which eliminates many preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, etc. Since starting that, I’ve learned SO much. Anyway, more recently, my son is on a gluten free and casein free diet, so our grocery bill is probably (I haven’t calculated recently) around $700-$800 for our family of 3 with two cats. This DOES include toiletries, etc. We live in Ohio. I read somewhere that for every extra $1 you spend on healthier food, you’ll save $6 in medical bills later. Someone once told me that it was true because she experienced it first hand. Anyway, thought I’d update since I realized that it’s not always about the AMOUNT you spend….health is a huge consideration as well.

  • Reply Talishia |

    In my family of 4 we spend $140 a month on food. I shop smart and compare deals all the time. I live in Minnesota so for our short summers I have a large garden that helps our bill stay even lower. In the summer I also go to pick your own farms and can or freeze food. We also buy meat from a farmer that costs us an extra 600 a year. So after you add in the meat we spend about $190 a month in the colder months (9 months out of the year, lol) and $150 when our garden is producing.

  • Reply YGBSM |

    Some of these families claiming 150 bucks a month must look like emaciated concentration camp prisoners, complete with multiple vitamin deficiencies and weak bones. Definitely not good for developing children.

    I was rail thin and single back in 2000, and I STILL spent 150 bucks a month on groceries (NOT including non food items). But hey, my organs and bones are still intact 12 years later.

  • Reply Hap |

    I admit that I’m a bit skeptical about some of the claims here too. However, if you can eat basically vegetarian and are willing to make most foodstuffs from scratch, you can save a lot of money. There is the issue of the value of one’s time too, though, but it depends on one’s lifestyle.

    I tried being a vegetarian for many years, but it turns out I am allergic to legumes and most grains (the veg diet causing me lots of health problems). Besides that, purchasing meats from regular stores is no longer acceptable to me, since the product seems terribly adulterated, colored, and with lots of water to add weight/cost to the meats. I’ve resorted to using a local butcher, which isn’t cheap, but the quality is far superior to what is offered in regular grocery stores or places like WalMart. Prices are high otherwise in this region (SW Florida) for some reason. One can fish and garden here, which is a plus. But it isn’t uncommon to find that I can eat out at a restaurant and end up saving money (because restaurant meals usually equal at least two servings, I can take half home for another meal).

    It’s frustrating to be forced to spend a lot just to obtain food of acceptable quality; actually I find that an issue of concern in our nation.

  • Reply in seattle |

    We are a family of 5 and have found buying in bulk at places like costco and winco (if you have them in your area) have saved us hundreds of dollars in our grocery budget.

  • Reply Virginia |

    For a family of 3 adults and 2 children our monthly food budget is about $600. Southern Illinois lower class family.

  • Reply Tasha |

    In 2011 (I just got around to adding it up), we spent $400 per month on groceries/paper products/pet food. We are a family of 4 people with 3 cats. We live in Southern California. Buy all of our produce organic and our eggs from local backyard “farmers”. I buy very little processed food and cook from scratch every day for at least 2 of our 3 meals. We shop in bulk from Costco and Sams club and grow a little bit of our own produce. We eat Paleo and when splurging are gluten free. The key to keep the cost down is to cook from scratch. Healthy can be cheap if you have the time to cook.

So, what do you think ?