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How much do you spend on groceries a month?

Original post made by Tryingtosave, Los Altos, on Jan 5, 2013

My fianc' and I are in a heated debate on how much we should spend on groceries/household items a month. He thinks we spend way too much as a family of four. We're just curious as to how much other families who live in this area spend. Thanks for your input!

Comments (26)

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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 5, 2013 at 9:42 pm



We are now a family of 4 and spend about $2,000 per month-when we were 6 we spent $2,700 + per month.

We also eat out a lot which- is a separate budget-a decent meal for 4 in a Palo Alto restaurant costs around $250 with cheap wine in our experience.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Just impossible to make a comparison. There are two many unknowns and variables.

Do you make lunches to take to school or work, or buy lunch every day? Do you have young children who eat smaller quantities of family meals, or teenage boys who eat almost non stop and often bring their friends for raiding the refrigerator? Do you do laundry at home or in shared facilities than need quarters? Do you have a lot of sports clothes and once again a load of jeans for small children could be a week's worth of clothes, whereas a load of jeans for teenagers could be for just 2 or 3 days clothes. Do you have a lot of dry cleaning, diapers, alcohol, bottled water, soda, Starbucks, etc. etc. as part of your monthly expenditure?

Try breaking down your expenses into smaller categories and see if you can make some compromises rather than trying to compare yourselves to a family of the same size but with different ages and lifestyles.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 6, 2013 at 12:13 am

Wow, I'm still reeling over Sharon's posting about spending $250 for four for a "decent meal" in Palo Alto. Excessive, to say the least. Just how many calories are being consumed? Sheesh.

I have three older children and we eat out a lot too, but cooking at home saves so much more money. I usually spend about $20-$35 per homecooked meal, sometimes less. That equals about $700-$1000/month on meals. Too bad we offset it with eating out on weekends! But when we go out, we skip appetizers and desserts. Or if we order them (rarely), we share them. There is no need for each person to have their own appetizer and dessert.

Places like Fresh & Easy (off Rengstorff in Mtn. View) have pre-marinated/prepackaged, fresh meals for timesavers.

Trader Joe's also has frozens for meals, at least for lunches.

I agree with "Parent" that people should stop buying coffee at coffee shops. Americans are endlessly addicted to these $5 coffees. Make coffee at home in the morning, for Pete's sake.


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Posted by Palo Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 6, 2013 at 9:55 am

Wow Sharon, "$250 with cheap wine in our experience", where do you eat at? We try and catch a dinner at at $10 per person (4) for a total out the door of $50 with tip.


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Posted by Wow
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2013 at 11:12 am

Sharon and her family are eating pretty well at home as well. $2K a month for food??? Wonder where they eat in PA as well, at $250 a pop for a "decent" meal.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 6, 2013 at 5:14 pm

A better original question would be how much families with a similar income spend. Do you shop at Costco or at Draegers? An underlying problem is often whether one identifies with Costco shoppers or with Draegers shoppers. And with children there is huge peer pressure and risk of setting up lifetime expectations.

ps: It's easy to rack up a tab of $250 for 4 at Il Fornaio or Joya or Sundance, especially for an evening celebrating some family event or a social get-together with out of towners. Not your typical eat-and-run.


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Posted by Matty
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Jan 6, 2013 at 5:26 pm

A family of four -- "a decent meal for 4 in a Palo Alto restaurant costs around $250 with cheap wine"

Why does anyone ever take her seriously? Just get her going on how she supports Hillary and then the whole MENA thing.

Seriously.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2013 at 8:16 pm


Palo Alto-Portolla Valley-West Menlo Park are very expensive places to live-

Among the most expensive in the USA.

These areas is going to get even more expensive because

1/ Wealthy SV executives want to live here and have many $ millions to spend on homes, lifestyle

2/ Wealthy families are attracted by the high academic performance of Gunn HS also Paly and the private schools in the area.

It is what it is

That is why we moved here 20+ years ago and we have seen our wealth and property values increase dramatically over that period.

We also bought property in Carmel at that time which has also boomed over the last 20+ years.

$250 for dinner for 4 is in the low end at decent restaurants in PA, PV, WMP and Carmel these days.

Tuition etc @ Stanford is now well over $ 100,500 for a BS-MS


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Posted by Matty
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Jan 6, 2013 at 8:24 pm

"$250 for dinner for 4 is in the low end at decent restaurants in PA, PV, WMP" (Note she slowly moved it from a family of four, to four adults.)

There ya go. She tries to justify with a bunch on unrelated gibberish.

Does she say what she defines as a decent meal?

Does she list a joint you can pick up a decent meal?

Nope. Unrelated noise - yes.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2013 at 8:50 pm



kids menus prices end at 12 years old-in both fast food and high quality restaurants.

The price of food is predicted to increase dramatically by The Economist-dairy and grain in particular by up to 50%


We have put $ 700,000 in our 4 kids college fund and have had to increase that by 50% to cover all post graduate and extended medical/law education costs.

Unless you have a combined income of at least $ 3 million + stock option then life in PV-PA-WMP or Carmel will be increasingly difficult for a family with 4 kids like ours.

We were fortunate as we got in early and both have great executive jobs.

We worry about the PAUSD teachers and are considering setting up a fund to provide subsidized housing for PAUSD teachers-much like Stanford does for our faculty.

The general US economy will be very grim for the next 7 years


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Posted by Matty
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Jan 6, 2013 at 9:39 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by save101
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 6, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Start becoming a club member(some are free) and watch out for any deal on the weekly fliers. If you do that, you can cut it down by 30% easily.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 7, 2013 at 9:45 am

We are a family of six, four adults, two small children, and spend $1600.00 per month. We go out for one breakfast and one dinner per week, which adds another $600.00 per month.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 7, 2013 at 7:51 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Perspective
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jan 8, 2013 at 7:32 am

I budget $300/week at the grocery store, to include household items like cleaners etc for a family of 4. We eat pizza once per week, add $20. We eat out twice per month, average $40/week. Total: $360/week.


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Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 8, 2013 at 11:36 am

"...much like Standord does for our faculty." ???? Whose faculty? Sharon's? Does she now have her own private faculty that she shares with Stanford? Who said anything about executives, stock options or Carmel? No one; she's just a braggart.

The relevant questions for the OP: Do you buy organic? Do you have favorite stores or are you willing to switch? Do you clip coupons? Do you utilize local CSAs or the farmer's market? In short, what are your priorities when you shop?


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Posted by Matty
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Jan 8, 2013 at 11:48 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Bogosity
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm

"We go out for one breakfast and one dinner per week, which adds another $600.00 per month."

versus

"a decent meal for 4 in a Palo Alto restaurant costs around $250 with cheap wine in our experience"

Funny. Good thing she shared that all important data like a bigus Economist prediction.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2013 at 4:40 pm



We consider Baumé on California Ave to be a decent place-the only Palo Alto place with two Michelin stars and decent wine.

We eat there often for business dinners and have family meals there when we can get a quick reservation.

It is very good -a business dinner @ Web Link can easily cost $ 1000 + with great wine.

That is not expensive by international standards-and it is the only 2 Michelin star local restaurant.

It is always full and our kids deserve the best-we cannot afford the time drive to SF or Napa for a quality family meal

Some of our friend fly to Napa for dinner-we feel that is an extravagance.


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 8, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Wow, what a world for Sharon. For those of you who have followed her postings over the years, her family has suddenly grown and she flush with cash. Quite a change from last year. She has done quite well under Obama despite her continued animosity


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Posted by flippity flop
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Sharon: you told us 6 months ago you won't be caught dead in PA cuz it's for "vagrants,drunks and beggars." Web Link

Now, you drop a grand on just a "decent" meal.

"Sharon, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2012 at 6:38 pm: When we have senior executive clients from Europe or Asia to visit we take them for dinner to Menlo Park--because... When they see University Ave in PA they are horrified by the vagrants,drunks and beggars. They note that there is not one book store-just a vanity Apple store-that's it... These executives would never stay in Palo Alto-they stay in Menlo Park-because they feel safe and they do not feel safe in downtown Palo Alto."

Sharon also said: "The current demographic in Palo Alto is increasingly Asian" Needles to say, additional posts from Sharon on that thread were censored.

Of course, Sharon, whom has benefited so incredibly well under Obama, once said: "-- this is an insignificant one term presidency at best-- it was the triumph of hope and change over experience and reality-- "

Wrong, wrong and wrong.

My favorite? Too many to choose from, but I recall this from Sharon: "Big Bird will be for Obama what the "killer rabbit" was for Carter. The symbol of one term presidency."

Stunning, isn't it?




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Posted by Area Man
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Sharon sure has a lot of time to post here, at all hours, considering she has a "great executive job." When does she executive?


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 8, 2013 at 5:40 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 8, 2013 at 5:55 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by That User Name is already
a resident of another community
on Jan 9, 2013 at 11:01 am

That User Name is already is a registered user.

'flippity flop':

That's quite the petard, upon which you hoisted our dear Sharon.

One wonders what the other posters had to add to that.

Pity.


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Posted by rick
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 9, 2013 at 9:27 pm

rick is a registered user.

Many may find Sharon's posts to be disagreeable or worse, but like it or not, we should recognize that she represents a window on the opinions/attitudes of a larger portion of the population than just herself. Those exclusive restaurants do not lack for customers. We are a diverse community.

The Baumé website did not look very appetizing to me. I'm more a steak and potatoes guy. Likewise I wouldn't fly to Napa for dinner. Harris Ranch would be my preference, and you can tie the plane down just outside their back door.

But this thread was asking about day-to-day basic grocery and household expenses; not recreational, adventurous or celebratory dining experiences. Hope the original poster got something useful from the few on-topic remarks. Several people have asked similar questions on the Yahoo Answers webpage, but that's a broader geography.


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