In order to help people stay on track with their food spending, the USDA releases four monthly budgets called food plans, each designed to provide a nutritious diet at a different cost. Strapped for cash? Go with the Thrifty plan. If you have a little more disposable income, you can try the Low Cost plan, and then the Moderate. For the most expensive plan, try the Liberal.
The plans vary by sex and age, with a Thrifty millennial male (that's me!) getting $42.60 to spend per week, or about $6.13 per day. In other words, that's the low end of what I should be spending on food. For the high-end Liberal plan, I'd get $75.10, or $10.73 per day.
Could I -- an $80-plus-per-week spender -- eat like a Thrifty millennial male? Is that budget even tenable at most grocery stores? To find out, I spent a month shopping at a different grocery store every week: my local grocery chain, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and a natural foods co-op.