Estimated reading time: 9 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?
You make a grocery list for the store each week and shop at your local grocery store, and yet somehow you can’t explain where your money went.
Yes, you are grocery shopping for sale items. Yes, you are avoiding impulse purchases. And yes, you are meal planning.
So, what gives?
Just like you, 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.
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 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 grocery spending.
Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving. – Warren Buffett
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, the amount of fresh fruits, or some dislike the taste and variety of store brands.
Many also may include nonfood items such as personal care items, like toilet paper and pet food in their weekly grocery budget.
A few families may even have smaller grocery budgets. Simply, because 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 $309.30 spending weekly 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 (u.s. department of agriculture) breaks down the cost of food at home into three categories:
*Please note they did remove the “thrifty plan” as of April 2023.
- 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 $244.80 weekly or $8.74 per person per day on a low-cost food plan (Up $0.50/per day since the last quarter).
This would assume using coupons and best price comparisons while shopping.
Those who do not pursue thriftiness and use a more liberal approach to shopping could spend an average of $364.70 a week or $13.02 per person per day.
These numbers reflect a 3% increase, averaging a rise every 3 months.
This is a huge decrease from last year when we saw a rise of 12-15% each quarter.
He who buys what he does not need, steals from himself. – Swedish Proverb
Weekly Grocery Budget Spending Ranges Recommendations:
- Single person: $59.20 – $92.40 per week, or $236.80 – $369.40 per month
- Families of two: $127 -$188.90 per week, or $510.40 – $755.60 per month
- Families of four: $244.80 – $364.70 per week, or $979.20 – $1458.80 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 $125 – $155 per week.
My budget includes fresh produce and most of the time I can purchase organically. I also don’t limit my family’s needs to one grocery store. I shop at different stores based on who has the lowest price.
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 with the least amount of food waste, 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 having a first step – Creating a Budget that works with your family.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any money saving smartphone apps that can help with additional savings?
Yes, there actually are! They do help offset the cost a good deal. However, most of these apps require you to first purchase your groceries first before earning a credit. To learn more, you can read about each of these free apps here.
How much of your paycheck should go towards buying food?
Have you ever heard of 50/30/20 budget rule?
This is just a guideline and not necessarily a standard you have to follow. However, within this budget, you spend 50% of your monthly net income on needs, which is where your grocery budget would fall, along with other necessities like mortgage or rent, insurance, and car payments. Things you want — but don’t have to have — comprise 30% of this budget and 20% goes to savings and debts.
Do you offer any other suggestions on the best ways to save more money on groceries?
Yes, that I do!! Here is a small list to get you started, but you can find much more on Inspiring Savings.
Did you know I used to teach a local community class on “How to save money at the grocery store”? These classes gave simple tips to helping the average shopper.
I did! And they were always a big hit.