Grocery budget

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Grocery budget
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Mon, 08-27-2012 - 9:09am

Definitely not trying to start anything, but wondered what others are giving their college student(s) for weekly/monthly grocery money, and how often.  Last year I put money on a grocery card weekly (and that got old for me!) - was thinking of either 2x/month or monthly to get him to budget longer.  And the total dollar amount - big question - ds20(jr) likes pricier brands but I don't want to give in to that; I figure I should give him enough to eat well enough, but he can add to it if he wants expensive stuff!  Thanks.

Sue

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-06-2009
Mon, 08-27-2012 - 10:04am
Hi Sue, Good question, should be a wide range of decisions with the difference in sizes of students and family lifestyles. Our boys were on a meal plan their first semesters. Both got their $$ from scholarships. When they moved off campus their scholarship money came in august/jan and they had to budget their own semester spending. Oldest went to clubs meetings who served free food. My youngest was put on a 7000 calorie diet and was assigned a breakfast club as part of the training table they gave him food to take to his room/apt so even when they spent food money in august on a bike or tv they figured out not to starve. I guess if we paid would give them about what a meal plan costs or $6 a meal. Does your son share meals with a roomie? My youngest is a foodie = likes quality too. He lives close to campus so he goes home for lunch ( walks dog too) makes his own soups for a week of meals. When I call oldest he is grilling out. His apartment has outdoor kitchen/fireplaces. He still goes to meetings/affairs with free food :smileywink:
Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Mon, 08-27-2012 - 11:43am

This is mostly a commuter campus (freshmen must stay on campus but as he's transferring as a junior, he doesn't have to). I did give him money into his school account to pay for a meal at school; MWF he goes 12-5 so I figured he would eat at his place (condo, one bedroom, alone) before and after, but Tu/Th he goes 10-3:30 with a 1.5 hour break starting at 11:20, so maybe 2 meals/week on campus (and the money I gave should last the whole year for that; he's not that into fast food to get a ton anyway). He loves to cook and loves buying fancy sauces and boneless chicken, etc. (he's a health nut so no issues with junk) He doesn't 'do breakfast' (medical issues); just milk and juice, so I guess I could factor 2 meals/day, 7 days/week - if I use your $6/meal that's definitely more than what I'd been giving him (this is for groceries, not going out). Hmm. (I don't spend that much for dh and I to eat at home)

Sue

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-19-2006
Mon, 08-27-2012 - 3:19pm
Great question. We are trying to figure this out ourselves. My son (sophomore) just moved into an apt. for the first time. It is very close to campus, but it is tough for him to go back for lunch. Luckily he has a job in the cafeteria so as a perk he gets free meals in the dining hall so he eats lunch there every day except Saturday. I must say that that is an incredible perk! Still, he is kind of sick of the dining hall, says the food stinks, so he really wants to eat some of his dinners in his apartment. I told him to feel it out the first couple of weeks - see how much money he thinks he needs and then let us know. He is very reasonable and I know he won't come back with an unreasonable amount. Maybe you could try that approach. Make him tell you what he thinks he needs. Robin
Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Mon, 08-27-2012 - 3:27pm
I did that last year - I gave him a certain amount and he asked for more, but then when he came home at the end of the semester, there were things he brought back that I never indulge in. So...I really wanted to keep it fair but not be too cheap! (he loves milk, and it's expensive here - he goes through 2-3 gallons/week, as an example - that I don't have problems with, but it adds up fast!)
Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Mon, 08-27-2012 - 3:34pm
http://www.ehow.com/info_7760757_food-budget-single-person.html
I found this - a little dated but at least it's letting me know what I've been giving ds in the past is fair/reasonable, in fact a little generous.
Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Mon, 08-27-2012 - 8:34pm

Here's something that might help: the USDA "Thrifty Food Plan" cost estimates, as of June 2012. Evidently its used to help states determine the food stamps allowance so its probably pretty frugal.

http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2012/CostofFoodJun2012.pdf

You'll see that there is a broad range between Thrifty and Liberal...I would probably give him the amount for Thrifty or Low-Cost and see if he can make it on that. Like gpam suggested maybe he can spend his own hard-earned money on the fancy sauces etc. That will help him to decide how important they really are! 

Back in the day when ds was a CS I gave him a monthly stipend on the first of the month that had to cover his rent, utilities, groceries, toiletries etc. It was enough to live very frugally...he wanted his own bedroom in a nicer apt complex so he had to work and pay the difference. I was very strict about not giving him more money, to force him to learn to manage his money and make good decisions. One time, a few days before the end of the month, I got a pitiful phone call saying that he was broke and out of food...somehow I was aware that he had purchased beer for a party earlier in the month so he got no sympathy from me. He made a choice and he had to live with it! He had roommates so maybe he "borrowed" food from them, I don't know, but he didn't die from starvation nor did he ask for more money again. I know that eventually he was quite proud of his ability to eat on a small food budget by comparing prices in the store etc. Since your ds lives nearby, in a worst case scenario he could come home for dinner if he runs out of grocery money.

I liked to think of the college education being about more than academics, they are also learning survival skills for the real world. Its great that your CSds likes to eat healthy stuff, the challenge for most people is to figure out how to eat healthy and not break the bank....maybe there are more complex carbs and less lean protein in his near future?!

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Mon, 08-27-2012 - 8:43pm
I was somewhere between low cost and moderate; I think I'll maybe stick to that range but provide it 2x/month vs. weekly (less hassle on me calling and providing a credit card over the phone that often; they won't keep it on file). He does a lot of rice and pasta (stir fry or spaghetti); it's just that he'll splurge every once in a while on some ingredients - but did stick to budget. Thanks for that attachment; it was interesting to see it all broken out.
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-19-2006
Tue, 08-28-2012 - 7:28am
Interesting. That was very helpful. Thank you.
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Registered: 01-05-2005
Tue, 08-28-2012 - 10:24am

So, dd19 is very frugal (especially with other people's money). She asked for $100 a month, which dh and I think is low, but she is going to be working 10 hours a week and will buy extras. She does tend to live on rice and beans and very cheap stuff (the $14 rice cooker we got her a few years ago is one of her prize possessions, lol!). We also did a huge Costco run before she moved in: 10 boxes of tissues, 20 rolls of toilet paper, 18 cans of black beans, etc....  I guess it's good she likes plain food- the other three like pricier things, lol. Last night, dd22 (today is her birthday; I have to get used to writing dd22 :smileyhappy:) was here with her boyfriend for dinner and I think he was laughing when I asked ds12 "goat cheese or feta on your salad?" My kids are food-spoiled, lol.

One thing we also did was add dd19 to our Target credit card and she can pick up groceries there if she needs more. She is graduating in May and has no credit. This way, she can get the 5% discount and build up some credit. I trust her to have it, since she doesn't spend money lightly.

Theresa

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-06-2009
Tue, 08-28-2012 - 2:50pm
Knew this would be a wide range of ## and interesting.  Really do you believe there is a way the thrifty menu allows for a meal plan with fresh fruits and veggies at todays 2012 costs? That was a 2007 report right? The kids will have to grow their own sprouts. http://www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/fvwretail.pdf Plus adding dairy. :smileywink: The Liberal is less than my 6 a meal /  UF  meal averages food to be $413/month so $13.75/ day. That includes the energy /clean up/labor.... Time to cook... Thrifty is 5.37 for a female and 6.03 for a male a day.   http://www.choosemyplate.gov/downloads/DailyFoodPlanSAMPLE.png Survival skills of beer money beating out food $$$ made me laugh. The students at UF made a 100 person beer bong The cost of all the tubing has to throw your budget off! Is it less tha solo cups?  

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