I just can’t believe it how you guys can survive on this food budget, 2 adults and a baby for 400 CHF per month total? When I consider my “cheap day”, I eat lunch at the canteen for 10, then in the evening I buy a chicken salad at coop for 8, some fruit for 6, some nuts. I won’t go under 30 on a cheap day.
That’s 900 CHF per month per person just for food, if I was only eating like this, which I’m not. I’m probably spending around 1500 just for myself. Looks like I could feed 3 families with that kind of money, and their pets too!
I guess the trick is to cook at home. My wife is an awesome chef and she cooks lunches and dinners for us (I normally don’t eat breakfast). I work 2 days in the office and 2 days remotely at home - in the office we have microwave, so I take lunch and others snack with me. At home we eat normally together with my family. Most of the dishes we eat are traditional Polish recipes, so we eat lots of soups - which we both like and are relatively cheap.
My budget is usually between 400-500, but when I have guests from Poland or I roll out a BBQ, it can blow to 700-1000.
These are my numbers from last year (per month):
339.82 300 460.1 463.9 574.6 296.32 705.85 447.5 616.25 589.5 620.72 329.45
This is this year (it’s bigger because we had more friends visiting us and I’m too lazy to split the receipt into multiple categories, so here are also Pampers and other stuff):
539.1 472.3 440.5 710.6 763.8 910.33
I cook sometimes. For example ingredients for two nice big pizzas are 20 CHF. Or a chicken dish: half kilo chicken costs 10 CHF, then some veggies, sauce, rice, spices, it can easily reach 20 CHF. And that’s gonna feed two people, so 10 CHF per meal for just ingredients. If you shop in Lidl then maybe you can bring it down to 8. My point is, by cooking you can make a tastier and healthier meal, but not necessarily cheaper.
And what about fruit? Berries cost about 5 CHF per 250g, cherries 6 CHF per 500g.
I really wonder how you manage to keep the cost so low. Do you only eat veggies and rice? 400 CHF used to be my food cost back in Poland, and somehow you manage to feed two people and a kid in Switzerland?
Btw, when the wife cooks, she probably takes an hour a day for cooking. That’s also some cost. I don’t have this option. Me and my gf are both working and back home at 18:00.
Lidl, lidl, lidl. We very rarely go to Migros/Coop (only when we miss an ingredient that we cannot find anywhere else), and it shows in the final bill. Lidl is at least 40% cheaper than Coop. If you do not fall for the fancy packaging of Migros/Coop, you can make some substantial savings.
Some examples :
Chicken legs : 5.72 CHF/kg at Lidl, at least 10CHF at coop (On the online Coop website it is even 14 CHF/kg!
bananas : 1.69 CHF/kg at lidl, usually around 3CHF at Coop. And don’t tell me they have been grown in Switzerland.
even something as basic as potatoes : 2.50 CHF for 2kgs at lidl, 4 CHF at Coop.
Time to try Soylent-like foods
This type of food definitely isn’t to everyone’s taste, but if you don’t have a family / partner to sit down for dinner with… ~CHF2 per meal is pretty much unbeatable
And at this price you get 100% of the recommended nutrients, which is hard when trying to save on food.
I know you probably mean this as joke, but just in case: That would completely defeat the purpose. Life isn’t a game of how can you survive with the lowest cost possible. Food is an essential part of life for me. My daily meals are something I am looking forward to every day, and I would not like to save on it. I don’t want to save like @1000000CHF and @Julianek, I was just shocked by their frugality.
Maybe I’ll give Lidl another shot. Whenever I’ve been there, I’ve been missing some stuff that I can find in Coop or Migros.
I eat exactly the same way as in Poland (before I become Mustahcian believer), so I don’t consider it even extreme frugality. It’s just normal home meals eating for me. The only thing that I’ve changed is not dining out (except of when we have friends visiting us) and taking home lunch to work.
Anyway, regarding food choices and where to buy:
Remember that there is some quality difference between shops. I remember for example that 2kg of potatoes from Aldi started to get wrinkles and rot way faster than potatoes from Migros. On the other way, Aldi and Lidl have fresher salads and fruits and they most come from Switzerland.
@Bojack : I’d gladly accept that I am on the very frugal side of the spectrum, however let’s be realistic there.
if your “cheap” daily food budget is 30 CHF, it means that for two persons you have a monthly budget that is likely to be around 2’500 CHF. Do you realize that your food monthly budget is as high as regular rent in Zurich?
I get that food is really important for you, but it seems to me like there is a big place for savings without compromizing your pleasure.
So what? How is that a reference? In Warsaw I used to spend 2000 PLN for food and flat for two also rents for this kind of money. Your stance is that I spend a lot, and mine is that you are extremely frugal, in fact much more than an average person.
Let’s repeat: a meal in a subsidized canteen, a ready-made salad from supermarket, a portion of fruit, a pack of nuts. That is really no bizantine eating. Would anybody back me up on this?
I could reduce the cost by shopping for raw ingredients at Lidl and cooking myself, but that would cost me time.
I’ve been thinking, what if everybody was as frugal as you guys? It would not be sustainable to keep all the restaurants that we have. I guess 3 in Zurich and 1 in Zug would be enough . Coop and Migros would go bankrupt, let alone Globus and Jelmoli .
It’s true, for me this is the biggest factor. But since I’m also not ready to have a Swiss-scale food budget, I’ve really come to appreciate the kinds of foods that are healthy (in terms of nutrition), cheap, and easy to prepare.
I totally understand your reaction, in fact it’s a conversation that I have had with several friends already. But other friends (all computer scientists, for some reason) see food more like something that “has to be taken care of”. In this case, it’s a perfect solution, and I was not joking
I still believe that it’s not super frugal. For instance, most of the Poles don’t dine out because they can’t afford it. I think I eat like most of the Poles.
Of course, it’s reasonable in the Western-rich-city-standard eating. In Poland, only people in big cities can afford that. Of course, if you can afford it, you have an option to trade time for money. Most people would choose the time, but they can’t afford it. Some people choose to save money, even if they could afford saving time - like me and @Julianek. De gustibus non disputandum est. I guess it boils down to how fast you want to get to FI and what you’re ready to trade for that (less free time? more fancy vacations? dining out? etc).
In my case, it’s easy because my wife likes to cook and she doesn’t mind doing it for us every day. So, I’m lucky in this matter.
I agree, but at the same time I wouldn’t buy a ready-made salad and a portion of fruit every day. Well, I suppose it’s a fruit-salad if you say it costs 6chf per portion. That or you eat a kg of cherries per day (sitting on a WC I suppose )
I guess that also depends on the society. I’m not sure, but I heard that in USA the poorest people don’t have a kitchen and they only eat out, because it’s the cheapest.
Well not quite. The assumption is that you maintain your lifestyle after reaching FI. Counting every penny until you reach FI (there is a nice polish word for it: dziadowac or ciulac) and only then allowing yourself a more luxurious life is not how it’s supposed to be. If anything, I am rewarding myself with small pleasures like going to a nice restaurant while im still working, and will maybe focus more on cooking after I retire.
Well if I understand correctly, your wife does not work? If I didn’t work, I would also cook more. But then again, a tasty meal, with all the ingredients, can easily cost 10 CHF per portion.
That could be a tragedy, actually! What you save is the value added you produce minus the value added you consume. If everybody was a frugal mustachian, then the economy would shrink drastically. I think, in order for mustachians to get rich, there need to be other people who consume
Well, you can prepare the salad yourself, but it can’t bee too much, if it’s supposed to stay fresh. You will save a few francs. But then you need to cut all these ingredients and prepare the dressing.
Why wouldn’t you eat a portion of fruit every day? Don’t you know that’s a health recommendation? I eat between 250g and 500g fruit every day. 500g of cherries costs 5.95 at Coop. Only by the end of the season you can find an Aktion, where they sell a whole kilo for this price. I don’t eat any sugar products, fruit are my sweets.
As I mentioned: matter of taste. I find eating home made food (especially when I eat at home with my family) one of such small pleasures. For one savings is dziadowanie, for other it’s rational optimization that brings joy. It really depends on your objectives and preferences.
Yes, she’s looking after our son (I personally consider that work). But we cook together on weekends, which is fun for us and it saves us money. I really doubt it’s 10 chf per portion. Go to Lidl and buy stuff for rosół. You’ll have food for whole week for 10 chf.
Keynesian mithology. It’s not the consumption that drives the economy, but savings, investments and production. Have you heard about Say’s Law?