Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Figuring out how much to spend on groceries is tricky. Setting a realistic budget will depend on factors such as your income, family size, city of residence &, diet preferences. Let’s break down the cost by numbers.
How Much Should I Be Spending on Groceries?
Saving money on food is important to my family. I know that must be important to you as well, otherwise, you would have not landed on this article. As food is such a personal, individualized thing that it’s hard to give advice about how to save money on it that applies to everyone.
However, I have found some statistics and averages that may intrigue you.
You see, food can be expensive and if you are not careful, you can easily splurge on a few items and blow your budget.
An extra carton of ice cream and a few extra bags of chips can really weigh in on your budget. Getting carried away at the grocery store can happen fast if you are not careful.
Staying within our family’s set grocery budget is essential. Over time, I became very curious.
“What is the average grocery bill for a family of four?”
My thought; is to learn more about how much is considered average spending for a family of four. And of course, I became challenged with spending less than the average family of four. Using strategic shopping methods, I was bound and determined to make that happen.
Keep in mind that our grocery budget does not include eating out at restaurants.
Eating out is considered a treat for us. We consider it a treat and not a basic necessity. Each month, we go out twice and we mark it on the calendar to make sure we don’t go over. We factor it into the entertainment category of our budget.
Groceries, housing and other essentials should take up no more than 50% of your monthly income.
You can use this free grocery savings tracker to help you find your family’s average spending.
As you know, there are many factors involved in determining your family’s food budget.
First, people eat just differently. While we all have our own ideas about nutrition, every family’s needs will vary based on likes and dislikes.
Some may only purchase organic produce or have special restrictive diets; such as gluten-free, dairy-free, or the like. Many also may include nonfood items such as personal care items and pet food in their weekly grocery budget.
A few families may even have smaller grocery budgets. Simply, due to the fact that they rather eat out more. They just need only a few days of grocery-related items at home.
Average Household Cost of Food In The United States
Let’s dig in and find out what the average family of four spends on groceries. I did some research.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which publishes a monthly food plan that suggests how much money Americans should be spending on food, the average cost of food for a family of four is roughly $254 spending moderately.
Now, this number will be increasing due to the rising cost of food this year. I will be curiously watching for those numbers as they come in.
The USDA breaks down the cost of food at home into four categories:
- Thrifty Plan
- Low-Cost Plan
- Moderate Cost Plan
- Liberal Cost Plan
Before looking at the numbers, keep in mind what your family spends versus the average. A good way to figure out which plan is best for you is to look at your current food budget and compare it to the USDA recommendations.
According to the USDA website, the average cost for a family of four with two children under 11 is $235 weekly or $8.39 per person per day on a THRIFTY PLAN (Up $0.70/per day since the last quarter). This would assume using coupons and price comparison while shopping. Those who do not pursue thriftiness and use a more liberal approach to shopping could spend an average of $393.40 a week or $14.05 per person per day.
These numbers reflect a 12 – 15% increase averaging a rise every 3 months.
Weekly Grocery Budget Spending Ranges Recommendations:
- Single adults: $59 – $91 per week, or $236 – $364 per month
- Families of two: $92.40 -$183.10 per week, or $400.50 – $793.20 per month
- Families of four: $154.80 – $327.70 per week, or $670.70 – $1310.80 per month
Costs can vary depending on where people live in the United States. In Seattle, San Francisco, and the New York City borough of Brooklyn, food costs at least 30 percent more than the national average, according to a report from Rent.com.
For my family, by using my “5 Tips on How to Save Big At the Grocery Store Each Week!!“, we spend an average of $110 – $125 per week.
My budget includes fresh produce and most of the time I can purchase organically. Surprisingly cheaper than the non-organic counterpart. We have access to fairly cheap in-season produce, but prices on most items are more expensive than in other parts of the country.
Really, the issue of how much to spend on groceries boils down to your family’s needs and values.
You may have a higher income and believe strongly in purchasing all organic foods, for example, that is what you should do. Or you may have a lower income and believe strongly that you should eat only organic food, then you will have to make sacrifices elsewhere in your budget to be able to afford the higher cost.
If your goal is to save as much money as possible, there are many ideas you can implement to bring your grocery bill down to a level, which is much lower than what the USDA suggests.
To get started, lowering your bill, I have compiled a hefty list of reading material to help you on your way. But it all comes down to first Creating a Budget that works with your family.
Other Articles With Tips for Lowering your Grocery Bill
Learning How to Create A Weekly Menu Plan – Step by Step Instructions – free printables
Savings Even More Money By Shopping the Sales Cycles
What Are Loss Leaders And How Can They Save You Money
Is Couponing Worth It? What Percentage is Really Saved?
The Big Secret to Saving Money at The Grocery Store – Is Not The Couponing!
What do you think? Is your family above or below the USDA’s calculations? Leave us a comment below.
Other Good Grocery Savings Reads
Must-Have Money Savings Smart Phone Apps
How To Get Grocery Coupons for Free
Natural & Organic Coupon Round-Up
Six Budget Busting Foods – That are costing you more money
Tips To Buying Organic Food On A Budget
Sue S says
So smart! I never really thought to do a comparison. My family is with in the average which is good to know.
Great breakdown. I do my best to be as thrifty as possible. I use every coupon I can find, and I plan my meals around what’s on sale.
Jennifer Prince says
I shouldn’t admit this, but we eat out a lot, so our grocery bill is low. But that doesn’t mean we’re eating inexpensively. We need to get back to cooking at home!
We’ve always just bought what we needed for the week, but I always wonder if we should have set a budget for food. I think we would have saved a lot.
We can implement a lot of ways such as coupons to bring our grocery bill down. It’s also good to buy groceries in bulk. It’s what we do in my family.
Having a weekly budget for groceries is important. I always plan our meals and base them on our budget.
Talya Stone says
I always thought we overspent but looking at the above we are probably around average. Having said that I have definitely been noticing the prices creeping up over the last few weeks. I do plan our meals in advance and that really helps.
I love how you structured this blog. With the rising cost of groceries sticking to a solid budget is beneficial right now.
Jen @ Inspiring Savings says
Melanie Edjourian says
I try to keep on top of my spending by sticking to essentials mainly and additionals every so often. I’m not sure how much I spend each week, I should keep a track of my spending when it comes to groceries.
Fransic verso says
We try to keep it at a minimum, and we have other things that we buy. This is very helpful!
Agree with all the tips. We’re a family of four, and the budget is just like you stated 🙂
Its good to have a weekly budget for groceries. I always think about it, but never get around it. Thanks for reminding me again!
Angela Ricardo Bethea says
We are a family of four and if I don’t budget and plan what I plan to buy beforehand then it’s gonna get so much pricier, especially with kids.
Blair Villanueva says
Your topic is very timely especially nowadays that prices of most of the commodities rapidly increase, including the fuel cost! We’ve been very savvy on our grocery weekly budget, and try our best not to waste food. Buying in bulk is also an option for us.
Deb Nose says
Well, my health is worth every penny of my investment, so I do without unnecessary digital devices and other ridiculous expenses in the modern world of computer technology, and I don’t go on several trips a year nor renovate my home and pay landscapers out of mere boredom. I don’t shop for clothes every few months to keep up with the trends or just for a different ‘fresher’ look. I spend money wisely even if not a dime is saved. Quality organic food is expensive but my health is top priority. Everything else can be omitted. That’s how I would save if my earnings were sufficient enough. For now, I’d rather have nothing saved than be sickly with future medical expenses digging into that stash!
400 a week for 3 of us.
Jen @ Inspiring Savings says
Thank you for sharing your family’s grocery spending budget with us.
I live in Portland OR. I have a family of five and I end up spending $500-$800 weekly! We never go out to eat. My wife and children eat %100 gluten free organic. Something has to change!
Jen @ Inspiring Savings says
I agree with you. The price of food has gone up tremendously. It is heartbreaking.
I live in a small rural city. Safeway, Rite Aid, Grocery Outlet and Dollar General are the extent of shopping places. Looks like you are mainly dealing with edibles but paper products are also included in my grocery shopping
Jen @ Inspiring Savings says
I am using the USDA Food Plans Reports – They define their research on “Each food plan specifies quantities of food and beverage categories that can be purchased and prepared to make healthy meals and snacks at home.” – Paper products are not listed.