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The Cost to Feed a Family of Four with Healthy Food: $146 to $289 a Week

My Twinkies bill alone is more than that! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cost of feeding a family of four with a healthy diet ranges from $146 to $289 a week:

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?


$289 divided by 4 people, divided by 7 days a week, divided by 3 meals a day = $3.44 per meal per person. Seems a little low to me, even at its most generous.

You would not be going out at all (except fast food restaurants), and the meals at home would be high in refined carbs and low in fresh fruits and vegetables, and quality protein sources (meat, chicken, and fish). So, the question is what do they mean by 'healthy diet range'?
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It seems high to me-- I spend about $100-$120 a week for two people and I do all my shopping at Whole Foods and Farmers Markets. So I could probably be doing my shopping for $50-60 a week. Is the cost they are giving for a particular area? You could spend much less where I live but I know the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables for my in-laws on the other side of the continent is sky high.
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that is still pretty expensive for most people. between our bills- which are seriously reasonably and few- insurance, having 2 children, and both me and my partner working full time that is still a good chunk of income. we eat very little processed stuff and im gluten and lactose intolerant, adding to our food costs (we just gave up and i go ahead and eat the regular white cheap bread). i cook nearly all our meals, and we eat very well for our income bracket... but yea- sounds right, and it is super expensive.
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I have two teenaged boys, both over 6 feet tall, and one of them can eat an entire XL pizza by himself. If it weren't for organic groceries from Costco, we would be eating GMO foods, and meat loaded with hormones and antibiotics. You can't claim that that is healthy in any way.

Since we've gone mostly organic, we've all lost weight, have lost most of our sugar and snack cravings, and feel better.
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1) $600 a month is NOT cheap
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.
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VERY expensive!
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.
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