The USDA uses national food intake data and grocery price information to calculate different costs for a healthy diet at home. The latest numbers for a four-member family: a thrifty food plan, $146 a week; a low-cost food plan, $191 a week; a moderate-cost plan, $239; a liberal plan, $289 a week. Some food waste is built into these costs.
"We constantly hear the claim that you can't eat healthy on a budget, and to us that's a myth because a family can eat a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables that meets the Dietary Guidelines for Americans," says Robert Post, associate executive director of the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
Find out more over at this USA Today article by Nanci Hellmich: Link (Image: Supermodel Meal in a Box Gum)
$146 to $289 a week for a family of four. Does that sound right to you?
I spend about $20/week on groceries for 1 person plus dinner guest about twice a week. When the garden is in bloom in the second half of the year, it's about $15/week. My house came with a kitchen, so I don't have to go to restaurants.
Sunshine and neutrinos are still free if you want something without chemicals...
"not what most of us mean when we say "Healthy" food."
What a lot of people mean by "healthy" is widely inconsistent and frequently baseless. There are plenty of issues of issues with how RDAs are derived, but basic RDA and recommendations on amounts of vegetables and fruit components to a diet go quite a long ways. Other effects are much subtler and might not be as significant as expected by some.
2) What does healthy mean? If it's just based on RDAs, that doesn't mean organic food, or even low-chemical food, it just means getting the BARE MINIMUM of the basic vitamins, minerals, fat, protein, etc. that your body needs to just not fall apart. It doesn't mean getting the optimum amounts of anything, just the lowest needed, based on a average of mostly-young-male study groups. It doesn't take into account trying to avoid hormones, preservatives, and all those other nasty things they put in food that are decidedly not what most of us mean when we say "Healthy" food.
Since we've gone mostly organic, we've all lost weight, have lost most of our sugar and snack cravings, and feel better.
I've seen three categories: those that eat out a lot because they don't know or don't want to cook (typically including a lot of fast food), those that have their standard night(s) out a week (like every Friday, or every weekend), and those that only go out for special occasions. The first gets expensive fast, although people can get trapped there easily if working long hours or multiple jobs. But I've also known quite a few families in the third category, including having been there myself. That can amount to eating out once a month or even less frequently.
This article does seem to be calling it, "costs for a healthy diet at home," so it makes sense it doesn't include eating out. Along that line, I've always considered eating out as coming from our family's entertainment budget, not food budget. It is a luxury in the end, and some people do like the idea of eating out more when both halves of a couple work. Although, I've seen some people realize that while getting both having a job increases their income, it ends up costing more in the end when adding in cost of eating out, transportation, and child care (depending on ages of children). This doesn't apply to everyone, and for those that it does apply to, it still comes down to a choice of what lifestyle they want, career interests, etc. Sometimes I wonder how many people don't realize it is an actual choice though, as some people spend a lot of time placing blame externally for what still is a choice they make (this is tangential and not meant to say the person I am replying to is doing so).