Jun
26
2013

How Much Should I Spend On Groceries?

by Kimberlee Stokes Affiliate Link Disclosure B

How Much Should I Spend On Groceries--The Peaceful Mom

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Save Money On Groceries!

Each week I share one simple tip that you can implement to start saving on your grocery bill right away.

Many of the tips will be familiar, but if you take the Save Money on Groceries Challenge with us, you will actually take the steps each week instead of just filing them in the “I should do that” file. :) [To join in, just leave a comment saying that you already use the tip of the week, or that you will start this week.]

Save Money On Groceries--Easy Tips from The Peaceful Mom

[Click here to see all the tips in this series.]

 

Today I am answering a reader question.

 

I’m newly married and haven’t mastered the grocery bill yet. I primarily shop sales and target cheaper items.

My question is how much should I be spending on groceries? What would be considered “normal” and what would be considered “frugal”? We spend about $300 a month for the two of us.

 

 

 A:  As you know, there are many factors involved in determining a food budget.

People eat differently. Some purchase only organic produce, include gluten free items or shop at specialty stores. Some people include nonfood items such as toiletries and pet food in their weekly grocery budget. Others may have smaller grocery budgets because they eat out once or more per week, so they are buying groceries for fewer days.

For purposes of this discussion, I am including only food items in the grocery budget, and I am assuming that the groceries are purchased for three meals, seven days a week.

To get an idea of the average grocery spending in the U.S., I checked the Government’s statistics on the USDA website. The USDA’s most recent food cost statistics list the weekly cost for a household of two on the thrifty plan to be $87.30 per week, or $6.24 per person per day. The cost for a family of four with two children under 5 is $127.30, or $4.55 per person per day. (The family cost per person is smaller because the children don’t eat as much as an adult, and the cost is averaged for the four family members.)

For me personally, by using the methods outlined in my Save More-Clip Less: Feed Your Family For Less Without Extreme Couponing ebook, I could easily feed my husband and I for $60 a week, or $4.30 per person per day. I currently feed our family of six including three teenagers and a twelve year old for $125 per week, or $2.98 per person per day. We do have access to fairly cheap in-season produce, but prices on most items are more expensive than other parts of the country such as the midwest.

As for your budget, you could try $60 a week and if find that you need more money in the budget, add $10 increments to the budget until you reach what you think is reasonable for you.

 

Really, the issue of how much to spend on groceries boils down to your personal needs and values. If you have a higher income and believe strongly in purchasing all organic foods, for example, that is what you should do. If you 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.

 

What do you think? Leave a comment with your family size and weekly grocery amount.

 

Resources

How to Save Money On Groceries When You Are Single and WorkingThis post has some great tips that can help you when feeding only one or two people.

Save Money on Groceries Series-My weekly series with money saving tips.

8 Dinners in 1 Hour: Chicken Plan-A great method to make multiple meals for the week based on sale items.

 

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Sign up here for The Peaceful Mom Weekly e-Notes to make sure you don’t miss any of my money saving tips! PLUS get my $125 Budget Weekly Menu delivered right to your inbox along with my best tips to save money, get organized and enjoy life!

You will also receive my exclusive 99 Ways to Jump for Joy Subway Art Print, my Customizable Organizing Labels and a FREE copy of my Stress Free Meals ebook.

 

New Save More Clip Less eBook  - The Peaceful Mom

For more ideas to save money on groceries, check out my ebook Save More–Clip Less: Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half  Without Extreme Couponing.

Click here to see what others are saying.

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Felixco Inc.

{ 98 comments… read them below or add one }

Rae January 12, 2014 at 5:56 pm

I’d like to take the challenge.

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Kimberlee January 13, 2014 at 8:51 am

Welcome Rae! This is actually a series from a few months ago. You can find all of the posts here: http://thepeacefulmom.com/save-money-on-groceries/. I just didn’t want you to be disappointed if you signed up for the emails and didn’t receive grocery saving tips every week. You can also check out my ebook Save More – Clip Less: Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half Without Extreme Couponing here which has lots of practical information to help you cut your grocery bill down to size. Have a Peaceful Day!

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EG January 24, 2014 at 10:04 am

Wow. Even with scrimping and buying chicken only 2x/week and buying reduced (soft) produce, I ring in between 150-250 a week in the most economical grocery here.

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Kimberlee January 24, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Grocery prices vary widely. The important thing is to make sure that you are not sacrificing your long-term goals by spending more on food than you need to. :)

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Michelle Wyatt January 31, 2014 at 2:48 pm

When planning budget for groceries do you include toiletries, cleaning products and paper products?

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Kimberlee January 31, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Hi Michelle! I do not include those because I try to make one monthly trip to Walmart for those items. I usually spend between $45 and $60 a month for non-food items.

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Susie February 7, 2014 at 5:41 am

When you are trying to purchase foods at today’s prices, 2014, it is very hard. Whether it be for 2, or family of 5, groceries have gone sky high. We decided to start buying our groceries every 2 weeks (I don’t work) so we started out with one amt., which worked, but then my husband, who mainly handles the money, somehow came up with a budget of $150, every two weeks and told me this is what we have, I can’t go over. That is fine if I wish to eat the exact same things each week, over and over. We are both diabetic and we have to watch what we eat. But, on top of all this I am also expected to cover all household items in there too. Items such as: Laundry soap, dish soap, dishwasher soap, shampoo, bar soap, softeners, air freshener, toilet paper, paper towels, any cleaning supplies, etc… so,, by the time you have purchased those items during the month, for us, I may as well take $25 away from the grocery money right off the bat. That leaves less than $65, each week, for two people. I am not a miracle worker. We do not eat out often at all, I cook pretty much everything everyday. We always end up forgetting something or running back to the store during the week for something. I wanted to see what everyone else was spending on groceries because I feel what I am having to deal with is ridiculous. It’s not that my husband is a butt, it’s just I don’t work so I try my best to save us money, my job, but to have a set budget thrown on me when I am the one who does all the shopping, the cooking, etc… you would think I should have ‘some’ input into the amount of our grocery budget. Wouldn’t you think?

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Kimberlee February 7, 2014 at 8:55 am

Hi Susie! Thanks for joining in the discussion. It sounds like you have a tough situation, but YES, you should have input into the budget. If you sit down and talk with your husband about it and he still will not listen to your concerns, I would try marriage counseling or going to a Financial Peace class. You can find classes in your area at DaveRamsey.com. Hope that helps!

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Susie February 7, 2014 at 5:47 am

Just wanted to add… one of the reason’s we end up forgetting, or cancelling something, or going back… I make a grocery list each grocery trip but I am usually so worried about not going over our budget I forget things. I can never just fix a meal because I really like it and want it… everything goes by my budget. I finally got him to understand that dog food, etc… shouldn’t be in our grocery bill, but in my opinion neither should any of the household items I listed above. At least not all of them anyway. That isn’t leaving very much for food, to feed 2 people for two weeks. We usually only eat 2 actual meals a day, breakfast and supper. If lunch it’s usually leftovers or a sandwich. We definitely eat our leftovers. With today’s prices… you just need more than that… even for two people.

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Susie February 10, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Thank you for the reply. I was very frustrated when I wrote the above and I believe I made it sound worse than I should have. My husband would do anything for me, buys me things constantly and I can go whenever I wish and all that. I am not a tied up, broken prisoner. lol. I just got very frustrated when it came to groceries because I seemed to not have any input into the situation. After I wrote this I sat down with him and let him know I felt so upset that I found your page and commented. It upsets him when I am upset. I explained that it isn’t that I am wanting to spend a huge amount on groceries, because I do not, it’s just that when you take out all household items, then take out the taxes, there isn’t much left. I can do some crazy things with meals but enough is enough. lol. He wished I’d have told him ALL OF THIS earlier, instead of just losing my cool before. We have fixed this, it is all better, and I credit you having this page and my commenting. It got the ball rolling and now it is great!! Thanks.

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Kimberlee February 10, 2014 at 10:29 pm

I am sooooooo glad Susie! Thank you for following up and letting me know what happened. I am very happy for you. :)

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Nathan March 17, 2014 at 11:18 pm

My wife tells me that $800 dollars a month isn’t enough for groceries and household items. I tell her it should be fine and we argue about the budget. But I showed her this website and it helped out on how she looks at things. Lets hope it helps.. Im tried of arguing with her about budgeting. We have a family of two adults, and also 5 yr old and 2 yr old.

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Kimberlee Stokes March 19, 2014 at 11:43 am

Hi Nathan – I am so glad that you found the blog! I am sorry that you are having arguments over money. I have a new series that I have just started about how to stop money fights that may help a little. You can find the first post here: http://thepeacefulmom.com/2014/03/13/new-series-stop-money-fights-for-good/.

As far as a grocery budget, everyone’s circumstances differ, but maybe if you sit down with your wife and look at exactly what the situation is, it will help. Let me know if you have any specific questions. Another super helpful idea is to take the Financial Peace class offered by Dave Ramsey. It saved our marriage!

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Jennifer April 7, 2014 at 1:30 am

I am always trying to figure out a good amount to spend on groceries. We eat a lot of frui and vegetables not a lot of meat but lots of yogurt and peanut butter. We try to only buy organic as I think it is important to feed us all as healthy as possible. Makes going to the doctor none exsistant. We are a family of 7 and I just went shopping today. $220. For the week. We shop the dollar area in king snoopers for toilet paper or the dollar store. The dollar store is out place to get napkins, toothpaste, toilet paper for most of the bathrooms. If your kids are like mine they are unrolling the toilet paper as they are going. I find myself less upset knowing it wasn’t the 12.99 a package. We clean with Mrs. Meyers hand soap deluted so kid friendly and cheap to make. Vinegar and baking soda as well. I do wish for more ” Stress Free” meals that most of my kids will eat. I do think I could do better on my grocery bill though. We do only buy what is on sale and make meals from their.

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Kimberlee Stokes April 7, 2014 at 11:06 am

I think you are doing a great job Jennifer. The important thing is to spend your money according to your values and it sounds like you are doing just that. As long as buying organic isn’t wrecking other areas of your budget it’s definitely healthier for your family.

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beth April 7, 2014 at 11:32 pm

I feed my family of six on less than 600 a month. I dont have an option. My family is me and fiance, a 16,15,14,&3yr old.

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Kimberlee Stokes April 8, 2014 at 4:08 am

Hi Beth – It sounds like we have a lot in common with four children and a tight grocery budget. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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Amanda April 8, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Loving this site! I’m pretty good (at least I think I am) with managing our household budget. My husband does all of the bills and routine payments… and it is left up to me as to how we spend our day-to-day household budget. The main thing that I’ve noticed for me … the more time I spend preparing, the less I spend. The less time I spend preparing and planning, the more I spend. It isn’t always fun to sit down and hammer out a plan… but it makes a world of difference with our budget. I would estimate that, on average, we spend about $150 a week for a family of 5 (2 adults, 11… 6… and 4 year old children), not including paper products and personal hygiene supplies. It goes down considerably June-September, as we grow our own garden.

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Kimberlee Stokes April 8, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Excellent point that taking time to prepare enables you to spend less. Thanks Amanda!

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