How Much Should I Budget for Groceries? – How much to budget for groceries; spoiler: you’re spending too much! Here’s how to lower your bill…
One of the most popular questions I hear is “how much should I budget for groceries,” and it’s a really great question. We all need to eat. But how much is too much?
You’re probably not surprised to know that the average family of 4 spends between $719 and $890 per month on food (or even more!).
While there’s a lot of varying information about how much people actually spend on groceries, it’s generally considered that families typically spend at least $200 per person per month on groceries alone.
That means that the average family spends $800+ per month on groceries. Whew! That’s a lot of money!
But the hard reality is this… even THAT is considered overspending on groceries.
It is generally suggested that a family should spend $100 per person, per month on food. Meaning that the family of 4 should be spending $400/month on food. But, since I hate the whole monthly budget thing, I chart our spending by week. Making your weekly grocery budget for a family of 4 $100/week.
If your jaw is on the floor and you’re saying “that will never work for my family,” I hear you. I have a family of 5… and they’re all big eaters! But we just upgraded our budget from $75/week to $110 (since apparently all 3 of my sons are going through growth spurts at the same time…), and we’re not hurting for either money or food.
Here are my top tips for keeping your family on a grocery budget.
1. Meal plan!
Wait, before you write me off, I have NO time to meal plan either. That’s why I use this site that sends me a weekly meal plan (that fits all of my family’s dietary restrictions) along with a shopping list. So I literally don’t have to do anything except bring the list with me when I go to the store. And unlike other meal planning sites, this one is $5/month.
This has been THE key to grocery budgeting success. Going to the store with a specific list of everything that I need to make lunches and dinners for the week has been a game changer for my shopping trips.
Related resource: Meal planning made easy.
2. Shop for different stores.
My favorite stores are discount grocery stores. They are stocked with bent boxes, dinged cans, and overstocked goods from big-name stores. All you need to do is Google “discount grocer near [your zip code]” and see if there are any in your area.
But if you can’t find any, the next-best grocery stores are Costco (but make sure that you have one of these before shopping there!), Aldi, and Walmart. You don’t need to shop at Whole Foods to get organic and healthy food. Both Costco and Aldi are making it a point to make all of their generic brands very high-quality products. And their prices are really tough to beat.
Related post: 11 Expenses to Stop Spending Money On
3. Buy in bulk.
This goes back to shopping at Costco. Products are cheaper when you buy in bulk. So if you know that you go through a lot of flour, rice, sugar, oil and everything else, shopping at Costco might be the best option for you and your budget.
Related post: Cheap and Easy Instant Pot Recipes
4. Do a monthly spending freeze and clear out your pantry and freezer.
Spending freezes are the best! If you’ve never heard of a spending freeze you need to check this out.
The 2-second overview is that you set a specific timeframe when you don’t spend money. $0 other than bills gets spent during the spending freeze and you can’t stock up the fridge before or after the spending freeze.
This is a great way to both save a week’s worth of grocery money and clean out your pantry and freezer in the process. You might be working with lentils and canned tomatoes by the end of the week, but that’s ok!
This will also help you get back on track with your grocery budget if you’ve been starting to drift into frivolous spending at the store. A spending freeze will force you to get creative with the food that you already have.
Related post: The One Weird Trick to ALWAYS Stay Under Budget
You get cash back when you buy even generic items with Ibotta, which is why I love it! Plus, you can use it at Costco and Aldi (both places that don’t usually accept coupons). You can get $10 for signing up with Ibotta through my link.
It will save you a few dollars (maybe even more) each time you shop. You won’t get rich this way, but it’s a great way to save up for something special (I use mine to add to our Christmas fund each year).
Related post: Best Money Saving Apps You Need
“How much should I budget for groceries” is a tough question. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration: location (some areas are more expensive by a LOT!), dietary restrictions (dairy-, gluten-, soy-, egg-, nut-… free are all things that make grocery shopping more difficult and costly), and family size all contribute to how much you spend at the grocery store.
The general rule of thumb that I had been told is that when you’re on a budget, $100 per person per month is the way to go. And while that’s almost an impossible number for some people, for others it’s totally doable.
I’m not here to pass judgment at all (my husband and I used to spend close to $800/month back when it was just the 2 of us… yikes)! The best thing you can do is cut back your budget and find a number that works for you.
How much do you spend on groceries and how many people are in your family?