How Much Should You Spend on Groceries? Chart of Average Food Costs Per Month

Do you ever feel like you’re spending way too much on groceries? Today, I’m answering the question, “How much should I spend on groceries,” with a detailed grocery budget guideline. (This post is now updated with prices as of October 2022.)

I never appreciated how controversial the subject of grocery budgets could be until I shared my $170 grocery budget challenge.

In it, I reflected on the experience of telling my son I didn’t have any bananas or peanut butter to give him. As I noted in the post, of course, I provided him with a variety of other healthy foods, but I also didn’t run out to the store to restock on his favorites in an effort to keep our grocery budget down.

All of a sudden I was no longer just a mom trying to save money on groceries to get out of debt faster. In a moment, there were two camps of Facebookers entrenched on either side of my parenting decision.

On one side were those aghast that I would dare to deny my toddler a simple banana when he asked for one. One commenter put it something like this, “she should go get a second job instead of making her child suffer for her irresponsible spending and debt.”

On the other side were those who thought even my $170 grocery budget wasn’t low enough. Well, those frugalistas said, “I feed my family of 10 on less than that!” (Ok, I may be exaggerating just a little.)

And on and on it went.

Luckily, my husband happened to be home sick the day the post went live, so it was much easier to stay lighthearted about it all.

What I learned from the whole experience was what an emotionally charged subject our finances, and especially our grocery budgets can be.

I believe the reason for the controversy is this…

Deep down each of us moms desperately want to feed our family’s the healthiest food possible

But for the most part, we feel entirely unequipped to do it on our real-life budgets.

Today, I want to start by answering the question, How Much Should You Spend on Groceries?

Grocery Bag full of Produce
How much we budget can be an emotionally charged topic, but when it comes down to it, each of us moms just wants to feed our family the healthiest food possible on a realistic budget.

How much should I spend on groceries?

Each month the USDA puts out a report about the cost of groceries, so I use this as my starting point.

In the table below, you can see grocery costs calculated for a range of family sizes and make-ups for the Thrifty Plan. This number is essentially the average minimum for grocery spending per month in the continental United States.

Keep in mind this chart is an average grocery bill, and of course, prices will vary depending on your location and which stores are available to you.

This table has been updated based on the most recent data available.

Prices have been going up

In the past, everyone has come to me saying, Shannon, it seems like my grocery bill is always going up.

And of course, that is true.

There’s always a certain amount of inflation.

But typically the increase represents only about $2 to $10 per month for most families over the course of the year.

All that has changed in the past couple of years.

Grocery prices have gone up almost 50% in the last two years alone.

That’s a shock that every family is feeling, and of course it affects all the other areas of your budget and finances.

Although grocery prices continue to rise, I find that the students in my Five o’Clock Fix meal planning workshop can often feed their families a very healthy diet, on the Thrifty Plan listed below. And this has been true for many of those eating special diets. (And it doesn’t require clipping any coupons.)

While prices will continue to go up, the best any of can do is to set a realistic budget (not for two years ago, but for today’s economic conditions), and learn to stick to it.

The table is calculated assuming adults are 19-50 years old and living in a two-parent household.

The variation of grocery costs is due to a range of ages and genders of children.

In theory, at least, older children eat more than younger children, and boys eat more than girls. Use the lower end of the range if you have young children, and the higher end if you’re feeding hungry teenage boys.

Monthly Grocery Budget Guideline for the Average American Family

Family SizeUSDA Thrifty Food Plan – Young ChildrenUSDA Thrifty Food Plan – Older Children
Grocery Budget for 1$288$335
Grocery Budget for Family of 2$383$593
Grocery Budget for Family of 3$680$889
Grocery Budget for Family of 4$810$1154
Grocery Budget for Family of 5$938$1328
Grocery Budget for Family of 6$1126$1546
Grocery Budget for Family of 7$1272$1670
Grocery Budget for Family of 8$1478$1848
Grocery Budget for Family of 9$1669$2007
Grocery Budget for Family of 10$1888$2154
Grocery Budget for Family of 11$2108$2252

(Calculated from data in the Official USDA Thrifty Food Plan: U.S. Average, September 22, which was released in October 2022 )

What can a family eat on a thrifty grocery budget?

Now that you’ve had a chance to look at the average food costs for your family, you might be wondering, what does someone eat on this lower budget? After all, when you’re starting out, it can seem pretty low.

That’s why I put the grocery spending guideline to the test.

I created a one-week meal plan for a family of four. It includes an itemized list of what someone could buy per week to stay within this grocery budget. It also has a meal plan along with links to recipes.

You are welcome to use it yourself. There’s a free PDF meal plan for you at the link below. Just adjust as needed for your family size.

Next Step Resource: Get my free $188 per week grocery list and meal plan here

What does this mean for your family’s budget?

Whatever you do, don’t be like those people who wasted time criticizing what I chose to feed my child or how high my grocery budget was. I know you would never do that, but you might be thinking something along the lines of, This will never work for me because a) we’re gluten free or follow a special diet b) I have picky eaters c) we live in an expensive locale.

My own family, as well as many of my students, follow special diets, and most are still able to reduce their grocery budgets. In fact, the grocery list and meal plan I put together that goes along with this grocery budget guideline is gluten-free. I have specific suggestions for gluten-free families as well.

As for picky eaters, my philosophy is that the best budget-friendly meal plan should include foods that the family eating them loves. After all, if they won’t eat the ‘cheap’ meals you make, then they’ll only go into the garbage and waste money anyway. There’s almost always a way to adjust to your family’s preferences.

The funny thing is, this little guy can't even stand the sight of a banana all these years later.
The funny thing is, this little guy can’t even stand the sight of a banana all these years later.

Where to begin to get your grocery budget lower

Hey, whether you run to the store to get them a banana or hand them the apple that’s in your fridge instead, take the steps now to get your grocery budget under control.

Look up your family’s size and the age of your kiddos in the tables above to select the right grocery budget for you. Then, make a goal to move toward that guideline.

It doesn’t have to happen all at once. Small and steady changes are more sustainable anyway (and less crazy-making for us busy moms).

If you need ideas for what to eat on your new thrifty budget, go grab your free $128 per week grocery list and meal plan.

But get started now, because it’s even the small changes to your budget that can help you pay off debt faster and save for your family’s future.

Alaska Monthly Grocery Budget Guideline

If you live in Alaska, I don’t have to tell you that grocery expenses are much higher where you live. In fact, if you’ve been struggling to keep your grocery budget down, you might feel better to know that groceries cost approximately 35% more in Alaska than in the lower 48.

But that doesn’t mean you can ignore your grocery budget. It just means that you need a different goal, one that’s realistic for your locale. That’s why you can find an up-to-date monthly grocery spending guideline for Alaska below.

Family SizeAlaska Grocery Budget
Grocery Budget for Family of 4$1,163.00

Calculated from data in the Official USDA Alaska and Hawaii Thrifty Food Plans: Cost of Food at Home (June 2022).

Hawaii Monthly Grocery Budget Guideline

If you live in Hawaii, I have to imagine you’re often met with a mix of awe and jealousy when mainlanders here where you live. However, you already know what a challenge it can be to make ends meet in your tropical paradise, especially when it comes to groceries.

That’s because groceries in Hawaii can be around 85-90% more expensive than on the Mainland. That’s nearly double! Even Californians have nothing on you.

With the odds stacked against you, it might be easy to want to give up on grocery budgeting all together. However, many of the same grocery savings strategies will work for you. You just need a more realistic goal to work towards.

To that end, you can find the average monthly grocery costs for Hawaii below.

Family SizeHawaii Grocery Budget
Grocery Budget for Family of 4$1,794.60

Calculated from data in the Official USDA Alaska and Hawaii Thrifty Food Plans: Cost of Food at Home (June 2022).

Grocery Budget FAQ

Does the USDA food plan account for household supplies like paper plates, household cleaners, zip lock bags, and other ‘non-food’ items?

The food plans only include the cost of food at home. They do not include the cost of non-food items even though you may buy at the grocery store like pet food, toilet paper, and paper towels.

If you have been struggling to keep your grocery budget in check, try this. I often recommend to my Budget Breakthrough students that they create a separate budget category for food versus home supplies. This way you can build more awareness around your spending. Otherwise, it’s too easy to throw a bunch of extra items in the cart (especially at grocery ‘superstores’ that carry a huge selection of products in addition to food) and then wonder where your grocery budget went.

Does this include money spent eating out at restaurants?

No, this includes only food at home, so restaurant spending is not included. As I’m sure you know, eating out is many times more expensive than eating at home.

That’s why one of the first places to start to get your food spending in check is to put a manageable meal planning system in place and starting eating at home more often.

If you feed your family at home instead of going out for just one meal out per month, you could easily save $50. And even that small amount would allow you to pay off your debt months or years faster.

Is this based on a two-income household?

The grocery budget guidelines above reflect the basic nutritional needs of the members in the household. It would be difficult to feed a family nutritious meals on less than this without getting outside help. So, to answer your question, this represents your food budget needs regardless of whether you’re a one or two-income household.

What is the timing of the tables per week or per month?

The grocery budgets above are for food spending per month. However, if you would like to convert it to a weekly budget, simply divide by 4.3 (this is the average number of weeks per month).

Is there a coupon source I need to know about?

No. I find that it’s not sustainable for most moms to rely on coupons to keep their grocery budgets down. After all what happens when the kids get sick or you have a newborn at home? The good news is you can stay within these budget guidelines without ever clipping a coupon.

If you’re struggling to stick to a budget, click to join my free budget mini-course to help you get your budget on track. 

How much do you spend on groceries each month and how many are you feeding? Share your thoughts in the comments!

shannon Clark, LIFE & FINANCIAL Coach

As a mom, I know what it's like to feel exhausted, overwhelmed by life, and inadequate to meet my children's needs. But I also know you don't have to stay there.

As an author and coach, I've had the joy of encouraging more than 9.1 million moms to find forward motion with their faith, family, and finances — without the frenzy.

Will you be next?

228 thoughts on “How Much Should You Spend on Groceries? Chart of Average Food Costs Per Month”

  1. I usually spend about $120/week at the grocery store for our family of 3 humans (adult female/adult male/5 year old boy). That also includes pet supplies (1 small dog/1 cat) and our paper goods, some personal care products.

    I also budget $20/week for a fruit and vegetable co-op (Bountiful Baskets).

    So approximately $560 a month which is right on the high end of the thrifty budget for a family of 3.

    Because I work full-time, we eat more convenience foods than I’d like to admit and I don’t shop multiple stores. I have one list, one store, and shop once a week.

    • I understand how you feel being judged by others, when it’s not really their business, “friends” make comments to me all the time about our lifestyle (we are debt-free, except house) and it makes me feel terrible for how much I spend on groceries!! We are a family of 7- Dad, Mom, 4 Boys(13-6) and a 3 y.o. girl. We spend about $1100/mo, though that is in the Thrifty Budget I feel it is too much! I love to cook, so I make a lot of “gourmet’ type dishes for dinners, but also have a busy family and we eat frozen pizza once a week and Chick-fil-a once a week, too. I am just not sure on how to pack school lunches…I feel my boys are spoiled with what they get. I go to Sam’s Club and purchase the bulk snack items, i.e.: Cheez-Its, Goldfish, Fruit cups, Cheese Stix, Granola bars… and fresh fruit and veggies and they only drink water. They have PB& J sandwich, 3 dry snack and 2 fresh (1 is for snack time)snacks… Is this excessive? A few of my good acquaintances have mentioned they think my kids are sort of spoiled. We do not want to raise them to be that way. Though we can afford to spend more on groceries, I just want to make sure we are not “spoiled”. Thanks for your advice and direction!!

      • Forget about what other people think! You are debt free except your house – congratulations!! You enjoy cooking and you have a family to feed. Tell those “friends” to buzz off. I am cheering you on!

      • We have a family of 8. Hubs, Wife, Girls 8,7,5-1/2,4,and 1, Boy is almost 3. we used to spend close to $1000. But have recently got it down to $500-$600 bc of couponing. I too love to cook and will frequently make “gourmet” type meals. I see some people cook spaghetti and use jarred sauce with meat in it! Hey thats fine. If youre family enjoys that, then good for you! I really struggle with the way “friends” demonize each other over these things! It goes way beyond groceries. It trickles into the way we dress, how our homes look etc. Your real friends are the ones who stop by for a visit when your ill and you dont care that you haven’t picked one crayon or sock up off the floor in 3 days.

        To the poster above about being spoiled. I feel sometimes that the term “spoiled” has taken on a new meaning to those who can not give all that we can! We too are out of debt. Completely. We just finished building our own house (literally my husband did it himself) on 31 acres, we own 3 vehicles, no credit card debt. I do super couponing, to SAVE!, we spend no more than $25 for our cell phones. Thats combined. After Taxes friends! We have just built a greenhouse and are getting some hydroponcs growing and have planted a bunch of fruit trees. My husband works incredibly hard (I have really never seen anyone work like he does, not just saying so bc he’s my husband) as an asphalt roofer here in Southern Kentucky. It is possible. Food is our most expensive bill every month, because we choose it to be ;oP

      • Hey, each person’s view of spoiled is subjective. That does not matter anyway. You are modeling good practices, and it sounds like your family eats healthy. It seems balanced. I bet you are teaching your kids to cook too, right? I think you are a great model and your kids are blessed to have you as a mom. Those making g comments may be suffering from a bit of the green monster illness. Lol. Keep up the good work!

      • Thanks for your encouragement Brenda! :) I was just reading Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly, and she mentioned that the #2 insecurity for women is regarding motherhood. I think it’s easy to get caught up in criticism and judgment as moms when we’re so afraid to fail ourselves. Nobody’s perfect, but I know I’m the best mom I can possibly be to my kids.

      • Embrace your children being spoiled! They should be! There is a HUGE difference between being spoiled and being spoiled rotten. If your children are appreciative for what they have, give them the moon! Good for you for being so responsible, having the ability to spoil your kids and setting an amazing example
        for them! We need more of that for this new generation: Respect, appreciation, home cooked meals, sitting together, zero debt!
        Kuddos to you and let the haters hate. ????

      • In my opinion “spoiled” isn’t only about what we give our children. It’s more about the behaviors and attitudes towards society that we try to instill in them. When they (or we, because we are all still learning everyday) begin to feel entitled or ungrateful is when I feel a someone is spoiled. Two privileged children from separate families could have exactly the same food and materialistic items and one could be spoiled and selfish while the other could be grateful and generous (when I say generous I don’t necessarily mean materiealistic…it could be love, kindness or helping others, for example) . If you are concerned enough to post online about not wanting your kids to be spoiled, then I would wager that you are doing a great job helping them to appreciate what they have and be kind to those not as financially fortunate. They probably do not exhibit spoiled behaviors.

      • I don’t know if that link worked but if it didn’t it leads to Tasty on Facebook for chicken made 4 ways of you are ever at a loss for lunches go here I love watching them. I wouldn’t overstress about what you feed your kids though we all survived before this craze of organic. As long as they eat veggies once in a while lmao your doing great and check out tasty if you want to I really enjoy them lol

      • You sound like u are doing a great job! Don’t listen to the crappy comments. Those people probably don’t even have children so of course they are experts. My only child is 30, a firefighter/EMT and almost finished with his paramedic training.I did what I wanted to do,what I thought was right and trusted God for the rest. you go girl!!

      • I spend 250 every week- one trip, one store, every sunday. That doesn’t account for usually one quick stop-in through the week b/c we forgot or ran out of something. So, over 1000 a month–for a family of THREE! I’m losing my mind–it seems like TOO MUCH! I don’t know how to eat healthy, and fix my other two a satisfying dinner for less. Help!

      • Who cares what people say about you being debt free!! You shouldn’t feel guilty at all! You are being responsible with your money and you can afford spend what you do because of your lifestyle choices! Bravo to you!!

        On a separate note, I hate shopping for one person, but I want to get on a food budget and stick to it. It is hard to plan meals for just me.

      • You’re doing a killer job there dad!! Keep it up!! Feeding your family well, on a reasonable budget is a job well done!

      • Haha!! Spoiled would be eating out for every meal!! You are a good mama. Everyone prioritizes where they spend their money. Maybe they spend more on cable? Cell phones? Cars? Christmas presents? Vacation? Don’t worry about others. They don’t live your life. You do. ?

      • We are also a family of 7 and our grocery budget is 1200 per month. Some months we are lower, but some over depending on when the shopping days fall; some months have 5 shopping trips int hem. I don’t understand how someone can save that much through coupons. Is there a coupon source I need to know about?? Our grocery budget includes household item such as laundry detergent , cat food, kitty litter, paper products, batteries, etc.

      • I think if you have the money which it seems you do because you said you only owe on your house I feel that you should be able to buy what you want and eat what you want and not feel guilty about it at all.

    • Honestly, I spend close to $2k between groceries and dining out in a month. As long as I’m within budget for the month, I don’t really care.

      • Wowzers! That’s almost twice my rent. :) I think it’s awesome to prioritize spending money on healthy food for your family, but I’m going to challenge you a little bit. Are you debt free and have a substantial emergency fund? I used to spend a lot of money on great quality groceries before I realized I was putting my family’s long-term financial well-being at stake. Now that we’ve checked those two financial milestones off the list, we have gone back to spending a little more, but you really can eat well even on a tight budget. Just a thought. :)

      • Hi Terra! Just to make sure there’s no confusion, the prices above are for if you ate every meal at home for the month. In general, we aim to spend no more than $80 per month on restaurants in addition or our regular grocery budget. When we were still paying off debt though it was $40. I hope that helps!

      • My family is usually able to buy groceries only once every three or four months. We only are only able to spend about 200.00 each time then. That is about 800.00 a year on groceries for a family of 3.

      • We spend anywhere from $650-750/month for a family of 3. My husband thinks it’s ridiculous but unfortunately we can’t eat dairy/gluten or soy which makes everything so much more expensive. I hate paying 2x the price for gluten and dairy free things.

    • I spend about $500 per month for a family of 8. I buy a lot of bulk and make things from scratch. I have more time to do this as I don’t work but I am sure I would spend more if I worked. I think if you are doing the best you can there should be no guilt. We are all trying our best. Thanks for the guidelines.

      • Yes! No guilt for sure! That is totally amazing that you’re feeding a family of 8 on $500 a month. Kudos to you Dixie! :) You have a blessed family to have a mom who cares for them so well.

      • Family of 7. Single mother of all girls. 19,13,12, 3.5 year old twins and a 1year old. I spend 800 a month on groceries along and anothe 200 on diapers, wipes, hair products and toiletries. We eat out 3 times a week, that cost another$ 100. My grocery bill and eating out was much more than that. I coupon more, buy in bulk and I sometimes do a monthly meal plan. I really need to get back to monthly meal planning and going out to eat less

    • I recently challenged my husband and I to budget 200.00 a month on food for 2 of us. Which I admit is challenging. We tend to end up at 240.00 a month. I was happy to see we under thrifty. I bogo shop like crazy. We always have oatmeal, cereal, ramen, popcorn, and fresh vegetables. I manage to keep a little meat in the house but we focus on salads to stay healthy. The challenge is he’s a chef and likes fresh ingredients , but we compromise well, I even bake regularly . I’d like to get tighter if anyone has ideas. We do keep staples like rice, fruit, and pancake mix. I believe it’s poosible to budget and eat healthy.

      • Thank you so much for sharing how you and your husband eat healthy on a tight budget. Love it! I know not everyone would be ok with eating so little meat, but I always think it’s a good idea to focus on fresh veggies. Maybe you could grow a few items in a garden for more fresh ingredients. It can be quite easy and produce a lot even in a small space.

      • That’s great we are on the very thrifty side of the USDA for groceries spending around 70-80 a week on groceries. I would love to spend about 50 a week constistently which would be an equivalent to 200 a month. Any ideas?

    • hi, I am looking at budgets for family of 2, my teen son and me. but the two numbers on the high and low are exactly the same. is this an error? Please let me know! Thanks

      • Hi Robin, Sorry for the confusion. The family of two amount is the same for high and low because it assumes two adults. The other grocery budgets vary high and low based on the age of the children. Since your son is a teen, then you can use the cost of food listed in the chart . It’s silly of me, but I should include a ‘low’ amount for single moms with one child. I’ll make sure to update that soon. Thanks!

    • I spend about $300 per week at the grocery store for two adults and one teenage girl. This number is high, but half of this cost also goes towards cat food, paper products, health and beauty etc. This is not included in the government’s guidelines. We also spend about $1000 per month on dining out. This includes two dinners out per week as well as some lunches out and coffee drinks.

      We do live cheap in other ways. Both of our cars are paid off. We also live in a moderate house in a nice neighborhood, but it was only about a third of the price we were approved for. We enjoy spending money on savings and experiences.

      • That’s what we spend for two adults and a one year old, that doesn’t include my husband’s budget for eating out every day mon-fri and our dinning out budget. We shop organic and yes it’s more expensive but quality is more important to me

      • Hi Chris! Thanks for sharing your experience. I think as long as organic fits within your household budget and isn’t holding you back from your long-term financial goals, then there’s definitely nothing wrong with that! :)

    • We are a family of five two adults and three teenage boys, and boy can they eat. We are struggling with debt, and at the same time having a hard time budgeting with groceries. I feel our money goes down the drain when we buy here and there with no structural grocery list. What can you all suggest.

      • Claudia, you’re right on, a system for grocery shopping and meal planning will help. You can find a sample grocery list and meal plan I put together based on the USDA guidelines here. It’s made for a family of four, so you’ll need to adjust up a bit, especially if you have teen boys. However, it should give you some ideas to get you started. :)

  2. We spend 75 every 2 weeks for 2 adults and 1 10 year old. I coupon and look for sales. I try to make it as healthy as possible.

  3. I have a problem with my three grandsons visiting and wanting to eat when I do not have that in my budget. I can not say no to them because I know my daughter is a single mom and is struggling to keep them fed. Any ideas?

    • If it’s something you want to do regularly, you probably will just need to budget for it. I had a similar situation when having people over for dinner weekly and making meals for sick friends was busting the budget. We finally made a separate budget category specifically for purchasing extra food to share with others. You could take a little from other budget categories and start putting more towards your general food budget or make a separate “Food for Grandsons” category. Shannon has some great ideas on how to inexpensively feed your family healthy foods that could also apply to food you would buy for your grandsons! :)

      • B, We did the same thing about a year ago and it has been so freeing. I have a hospitality envelope that gets filled each month. It has been great to have that money to fix meals and take to families as well.

      • Ohhhh I love that idea! One of my goals for the year is to do more hospitality, but it is so hard to fit it into the regular grocery budget. I love how you’ve made giving to others a priority in your budget. :)

    • We frequently have extra kids and what I do is pop a big bowl of popcorn. Not the microwave kind but the cheap bag of kernels kind. Alton Brown even has a recipe where you cook it on the stove top in a big metal bowl so it’s from stove to eating. It’s super cheap! Also, maybe freeze cookies that you take out only for the grandkids. I remember my grandmother always having tins of cookies in her freezer for us no matter when we stopped by.

      • When my sister and I were young kids we visited my grandparents about once a week and my grandma always had frozen cookies and appetizers she had prepared ahead of time just for when people stopped by. We always raided the cookies but she never said anything to us. ;)

    • Have you looked into things like wholesale foodshares? It may not help the issue with the grandsons…but may free up a little money for goodies here and there. When I say wholesale foods are I’m talking about programs where they buy in bulk at low cost and people in the community buy in at low cost. The one I use regularly is 25 for what I would say is 75 dollars or more in food. Mostly fresh too. I usually split the cost/food with a friend because it is a lot. They usually go through a local church or community center if you need ideas on where to look. You don’t have to qualify at all, it is open to anyone.

    • My boys love my honey oat bread and banana bread, which is great even without the expensive walnuts. they’ll clean up a pot of beans and rice and fried potatoes too. We eat better when we’re broke and have to resort to meals like Biscuits and gravy.

    • Have them join you to shop (on a fixed budget) for and make foods they like. Bean and rice burritos can be made ahead and frozen. Tacos are inexpensive. Vegetarian Indian food with chickpeas and sweet potatoes served with brown rice. Healthy soups, like minestrone are filling, reasonably priced and freeze well. Vegetarian chili is filling and lower in cost than beef chili. Allrecipes has the “best vegetarian chili” recipe. Make it and freeze some. Oat bran muffins are great and can be frozen. I would look for recipes that freeze well. Pancakes can be made ahead and frozen. They can be heated in the toaster. Boys eat a lot! I have two and the are a bottomless pit. Veggie burgers take five minutes to make. I would make cookies from scratch and freeze some. Hot Oat Bran Cereal is filling. The box cereals leave you hungry and the don’t fuel energy in the body. Healthy, filling foods will satisfy their hunger.

      • Thanks for the ideas. We are buying another house and moving to a new city this month and we are planning to keep our current home because it has great potential. We are trying to rent it. As long as it’s not get rented we will be on a tight budget. My monthly grocery budget allowance is 500$ for 5 of us. and we live in Massachusetts. Everything looks costly to me. I hope your idea will give me a heads up about how to feed my kids healthy on my tight budget.

    • Try to keep something specific for them or if the two of you go in on a few meals a week together it’s a lot easier to stretch a meal for 4 into a meal for 5 than a meal for 1 into a meal for 4 or 5.

    • Feed those babies they will be grown up before you know it!! Forget a budget but cereal and milk , [email protected] sandwiches and a cooked supper like wharever is on special is a great way to feed them cheap. And fruit is a .nutrient rich snack

  4. I read the post that you are referencing. I remember thinking, finally! I’m not the only one!
    It never ceases to amaze me how judging people can be. So what if it was cookies that your toddler was asking for that you said no to? Would people still be judging you? Or still saying how dare you make your toddler go without!! Children are way too sppiled these days, getting everything they want and never hearing no. How does this help them for when they are on their own??
    I spend $300-450/month on our family of 6. This includes toiletries and pet food (3 dogs and numerous cats). Now the difference for me is that I raise 100% of the meat we eat in this house and my next goal is dairy. Maybe I’m the exception to the rule, but I aim to be almost completely self sufficient.
    My point is, people need to stop judging. You are (were) doing your best to feed your child healthfully while paying off debt. Kudos to you!

    • I am so envious of you being able to raise your own meat. I have tried growing a couple vegetables the last couple years to help with a little food and I have failed miserably.

      • Me, too! In about 5 years of gardening, I think I’ve harvested something like 3 hot pepper, 3 rose hips, half a handful of shrunken cherries, and maybe a cereal bowl’s worth of lettuce. I’m pretty sure I’ve actually LOST money on gardening due to my black thumb.

      • Wow Stephanie…$300-$450 a good budget for a family of 6! We spend $400-$450 a month on groceries including toiletries, etc for a family of 4. The fact that my husband hunts does help pad things a bit. Plus we have chickens so that saves us on eggs…although we obviously have to feed them as well. My husband also gets a free lunch at work, which helps me save on packing him lunch. I do cook from scratch most of the time. If I didn’t have to buy lactaid milk for my kids, that would save a good chunk as well. :)

    • We are a family of 7, children from 12-18, 3 boys. I spend about $700 a month on groceries. We raise dairy goats, so that is most of our dairy products. We also raise and sell chicken/duck eggs. I buy a whole cow ( when we can) and that helps with our budget also. I shop twice a month and when we are out of something, we are out. Makes a great time to use our imagination.

      • Don’t be hard on yourself. I think a huge part of successful gardening may be factors that are difficult to control, such as quality of soil and dealing with pests.

        We live in a pretty ideal place for home gardening. We’re a little bit city, a little bit country, so we have all the space we need but enough people around us to discourage deer and rabbits from hindering our progress. We have excellent soil and a reasonably long growing season.

    • I’m feeding a family of 7 with 2 adults, 4 boys (12,10,6,4) and 1 girl (2). I spend from $1000 to $1200 a month on food counting snacks and that’s just for food!! Our closest bulk store is an hour and a half to two hours away so the only bulk I’m able to buy is what little bit of bulk our Walmart has started carrying. I really need to get the grocery bill down to about half what it is now since my husband is about to deploy and in general just to be able to have a better savings. Have no idea how to do this. Any info would be great!!

      • I should add the snacks bought are minimal and they’re only allowed to have them when they get home from school to hold them over till supper. They are starving when they get home because school lunch in our area is so early (10 AM early) and they don’t get home till between 2:30 and 4 (depending on the kid)

  5. Hi Shannon! I applaud you for taking the high road and not getting caught up in the Facebook drama. I have been trying (and failing) to feed our family of 4 (2 adults/2 small children) on $440/month. If I could wean the kids off breakfast and fruit snacks, we’d be heading in the right direction. I haven’t had time to make any of the things I said I could make in your grocery course, unfortunately. Oh well, I’ll get it done eventually!

    • ‘wean the kids off breakfast’? Breakfast is a very important meal, especially for growing bodies. I’m hoping you meant ‘wean the kids off breakfast CEREAL’… my children rotate between eggs and oatmeal for breakfast with one or two days per week with a bigger breakfast. I buy my oats in 25 lb bags to help keep costs down :)

    • A great way to wean your kids off of breakfast cereal is to make bulk batches of chocolate peanut butter granola or maple granola or french toast … things that seem like treats but are much cheaper than store bought cereal.

  6. For 2 adults and 7 kids ages 9 months-13 years we spend about $200 a week. That includes raising our own beef. We eat mostly whole foods and organic when it’s affordable. If we eat bread or cookies, I bake them. We don’t eat a lot of snacks but when we do it’s usually apples and cheese. The kids have learned if the fruit is gone by Wednesday, they have to wait until Friday to have more. But they don’t go hungry and they know how to ration. Otherwise the entire budget would go towards fruit! Debt or no debt, kids should understand these basic skills.

    • It’s the same in our house with beloved fruits, snacks, what have you. The kids tend to binge on their favorites in a couple days, but find alternatives (usually apples and cheese) until next shopping trip. My 8 yo is starting to get it, though. She sometimes moderates her snacking because she wants to have enough of a particular item for her lunch all week. Self control learned on her own!

    • Are you including the feed, shots,butchering costs etc… in this? That all costs money too and ultimately it’s for your food bill. In my opinion, it’s not being truthful when you say you only spend x amount on groceries but you raise your own beef, eggs, milk. Those things still cost money. So you can’t really compare unless you were to break that down monthly too.

  7. I struggle to stay within a budget of $650 a month for two adults and two toddlers! I live in Canada so the guidelines are probably a bit different. I find that good quality beef is a killer and snacks also really break the bank-we love our snacks and I’m pretty thrifty about buying them!

    • We are a family of 4, 2 adults and children 10 & 11. I spend about $700-800 a month on groceries! We eat a lot of fish, not pork and not much red meat. I find a lot of these numbers unrealistic for healthy eating, but maybe I am doing something wrong :)

  8. The other thing that kills the budget is cheese!! We LOVE cheese, all four of us-but it’s soo expensive!! rant over.

    • I buy multiple cheese bricks when on sale (I’m also in canada) Cheese can be shredded and frozen if you sprinkle cornstarch over it to keep it from getting mushy when thawed. I’m raising 3 kids alone on less than 25thou/yr….affording 2 teens and a 9yr old is tough!

  9. I appreciate this post and your approach. We have a family of six and I spend $120 per week at regular grocery stores and $135 per month at my buying club or Costco. So approx $650 per month. I did part of your grocery savings course, and realized there wasn’t much else I could do to save, other than sacrificing nutrition. I wish there was something we could do, as our exoenses are going up drastically right now. We just started weekly therapy for our deaf toddler, which includes driving 3 hours per week. We also live in Canada where food costs more than most places in the US.

  10. Our family of 5 (kids 2 – 8 yrs old) spends about $700/mo on groceries, paper products, personal items, pet food, and occasional eating out. Failing to plan meals is a huge issue for me. I also fell into trap of relying on too many convenience foods for school lunches, and not taking packed lunches during weekend outings. I used to be on top of it when my kids were younger, but have slipped backwards!

  11. A max of $558 for 3 adults, not happening. I live in NYC, don’t buy organics no special diet restrictions. I spend #700 a month.

    • I think people often that the cost of living varies greatly depending on where you live. A town of 2,000 in Texas, a city of 25,000 in Oregon, and a metropolis like New York City are entirely incomparable when considering the costs of food (among many other things). It must make some people feel superior to brag about how little they spend on groceries in the same way some people feel superior to about how much money they make.

      • Shop the sales! So often people talk about the cost of living being higher. They say, “I can’t get butter for $2.49/lb…it’s $4.49 at my store.” Well, at my stores it is too…that’s why I ONLY buy it at stores like Aldi, or stock up several packages a couple times a year when it goes on sale. Most chains have VERY similar sales pricing all over the nation. Shop the sales.

  12. We are a family of two with one currently on the way, my husband is a chef so he often gets to eat 2 of his meals at work everyday. Unfortunately we probably spend way to much on going out likely around 200 or 300 a month (I wish we could stop this cycle we do well some months, but others are just so busy it can’t be helped most of the time). Our monthly grocery budget isn’t too bad we go grocery shopping at least twice a month and sometimes we will make small shopping trips in between We probably spend about $300 a month at the grocery store and that includes toiletries, and the other items that you have to replace every two or three months or so. We buy a few things like paper towels and toilet paper in bulk so it doesn’t eat up our budget a whole lot.

    • Hi Brittany,
      Using a slow cooker or freezing ‘grab & go items’ like PB&J sandwiches or bean burritos would probably be a huge help for your busy family.

  13. We are a family of 6 I got 4 boys, we spend £400 to £450 a month. My kids don’t have snacks or very rarely(as that makes then fussy at dinner times) , we eat simple(not fancy) homemade foods, no takeaways.

    • I have been wondering if cutting out snacking would help my picky little ones eat their healthy foods at dinner. I have heard Sally Fallon promote the idea of 3 square meals a day without snacking for the best health for all of us. It really seems to make sense when you think about.

      • Really most healthy diets say 5 smaller meals is better than 3 bigger meals.
        I do limit snacks, no morning snacks because we eat late breakfast and the time between breakfast and lunch is fairly small, snack is limited to cheese stick, 1 piece of fruit or crackers, and no snacking after 4. We are a family of 5 with one on the way I spend about $550 that includes cleaning supplies and other household items like toilet paper.

      • Growing bodies need frequent fuel-ups. I give SMALL snacks to tide my children over til the next full meal. They’ll often say they are still hungry, but I gently remind them that a snack is just that – a snack. It is not designed to fill you up :) Six kids – 4 apples sliced with a dollop of peanut butter works nicely.

      • We tried snack free living and it was horrible. Even I have to snack. We just stopped having “snack food” and made mini versions of regular meals. So I keep the salad toppings separated in glass jars and we snack on those with almond or cashew butter whipped with coconut butter and spices (cinnamon, cocoa powder etc) or the Marriage Proposal Dipping sauce from Fork in the Road. Tuna salad or egg salad smashed up like a smooth hummus is also a big hit here.

      • Any health food store should be able to order the large bags of oats, or any other grain, for that matter.

        Seriously, Shannon, running out of bananas and/or peanut butter is not a crisis, nor will a child “suffer” for it. I raised 5 children, now in their 40’s, and I don’t think any of them believe they were deprived because we sometimes ran out of certain foods
        . We lived 12 miles from the grocery and I did not make special trips to the store. As long as there is other nutritious food in the house, all is well.

  14. Boy, people can be harsh sometimes! I don’t even use Facebook anymore for that reason. I’ve found that the connections/information/etc. I was getting on there weren’t worth the negative junk that went with them. I understand that you need to be on there though to support your site. It’s hard to let that stuff roll off, but I try to remember when people make insensitive comments, it is likely because they feel self-conscious about how they are raising their own children. If someone can feel like they are doing it better than someone else, it can be soothing (even though it’s a false sense of comfort and just plain mean sometimes).

    On the grocery front, we live in rural upstate NY (way upstate, like near Canada), and fresh produce is pricey here in the off-season. We were spending over $1000/month for our family of 4. I know this sounds insane, but we weren’t eating a crazy amount of food or anything and nothing processed. We have company often and I bake to give to others a couple of times a week, so it adds up quickly as baking ingredients (especially natural/organic ones) are expensive! We also eat gluten-free (I have an autoimmune thyroid condition) and mostly dairy free (just butter) as my husband and kids don’t tolerate it well. I took your grocery savings course and made some big cuts and we joined a CSA that provides meat, veggies (seasonal, right now it’s a lot of carrots, potatoes and cabbage), and eggs. That’s $610/month, and then I allow myself another $190 for the things I can’t get there like olive oil, coconut oil, honey, fruit, coconut milk, baking ingredients, etc. I’ve had to be brutal in my budget cuts, and summer will be easier when there are more fresh vegetables available. It blows my mind that people are swinging it on SO much less. My hats off to you! Believe me, I know that we are incredibly blessed to have the resources to spend on food. We make cuts elsewhere so we can spend this way. We don’t have a TV and therefore no cable, no cell phones etc. I’m sure there are plenty of people that would say I’m depriving my kids, right? ;) I know it would probably take a lot of time, but I would love to see an itemized list of what someone is buying in a month that has a lower budget. Do you know of any websites that have that? I would love to spend less if I could figure it out. Thanks for reading my novel! hahaha

    • You are an inspiration for mom’s and anyone else looking for opportunities to save! I love to hear the ways in which people find and consciously choose to live well in a responsible way. I am always seeking ways to scale back and focus on intentional living at a point in time when it is so easy to get swept up with frivolity.
      The cost of food is high and whether or not you can afford to spend alot or have to make do with very little is neither here nor there. Everyone should be able to access healty choices without spending such a huge chunk of their income!
      Having a CSA where we live would be a huge blessing. My sister lived in upstate NY for a time and had access to a wonderful CSA and Farmer’s Market that functioned more to serve the community and the vendors than as the latest trend as it sometimes feels in my community. More community gardens are beginning to crop up in the vicinity and we have a good climate for growing food which is a plus.

  15. Great article. This is very timely. I just finished up sharing “What Groceries We Buy for $400 a month” on my blog. For a family of 4, I thought this was very doable (although I’d love to spend more), but I cannot believe those statistics about the “thrifty” budget for groceries. I consider myself pretty average when it comes to grocery shopping…I simply shop sales and at affordable stores…no coupons, but maybe once or twice a month. Blown away at those stats. I could probably spend even less, but it’s what works for this season of our lives. We spent about $180 on eating out this month as well…we eat out a lot :)

  16. I have budgeted $850 for our family of 6 (kids are 2-9 yrs old). This includes all of our toiletries, cleaning, pet and paper products. I’m still trying to reduce my spending by cutting out some of the “splurge” buys… it’s a process, right?

  17. Wow! I am so shocked to see what the thrifty and low cost monthly budget for a family of 2 is. I have always been so concerned that we spend waaaay too much on food each month. My husband is the only one that works, so we budget $330 a month, but truly spend probably about $350-$400 a month ($400 on a particularly bad budget month haha). This doesn’t include our household supplies though. Does the USDA food plan account for household supplies in its numbers? I’m also curious if they base this on a two income household?

    • The USDA plan is only for food at home. I find this is a really important thing to separate in my own budget to make sure I stick to it each month. It’s just easier to track them separately so I can see where the trouble spots are. It takes a minute extra to split up my transactions in Mint, but it’s worth it! Feeding a small family is intrinsically less efficient than feeding a large one, but you can overcome that and reduce your budget if you batch cook and freeze portions for later.

  18. There are 2 adults and our 14yr old son.. I also provide meals for my family daycare of 6 children.. 2 cats and a guinea pig and I spend about $150.00 a week some weeks $100 and some $200 but usually right around $150 with your chart I am way under.. so I guess I am doing better than I thought.. :)

  19. I have budgeted $250/week for our family of five. Two adults, a teen girl and two teen boys. My goal is to get within the Thrifty budget range for my family. I am gluten free, I shop for all our meat on sale (although I would love to find a share of a cow in my area!) I usually stay within our budget and this does include eating out, toiletries and paper goods.

  20. I found this very positive, thank you!
    I feed my family of 6 with $850 a month. I’m happy to see that I’m in the range, I couldn’t imagine going lower.
    Love your blog!

  21. It was great to compare the budgets of others and surprising we are right on track for a family of 4. I would love to lower our grocery bill if possible, so any way I can save I do. It was great to find you through IBN and I’m sharing this post as a new follower!

    • I jave a family of 5, 3 adults and two teenage boys. Honestly one boy alone eats more than the three adults amd I have two like this lol. My monthly costs for food are around $1,100-$1,250. We only eat out once a month and have very few snacks. This budget is just food I cannot stress enough how much teen boys eat!

  22. *sigh of relief* I’ve been fighting guilt over how much money we spend on groceries each month. I try SO hard to keep the cost down. But I’m feeding two hungry teenagers, a toddler, and a husband who is currently working a demanding job six days a week. I don’t feel so bad now. Apparently I’m doing better than I thought! Thanks for giving this tired mama some breathing room and a little less guilt. :)

    • I was the same way when I put this together. I realized that we were spending well under what we should be. No wonder it was so hard to stay on budget there for a while! I tend to ignore the fact that our kids are growing and grocery prices are going up and up every month. It’s easy to be too hard on ourselves, isn’t it?

  23. Well we are definitely over for a family of 5, although I do include cleaning supplies and toiletries in my budget. And We do buy mostly organic. I did read an article that we spend less now on food then we did 50 yrs ago. So hats interesting. I would love to cut my grocery bill down and in interested in the e course but I’m worried that between my husband and one son ( picky eaters) that ideas might not be doable?! I know God prices have gone up but a few years ago I use to spend a lot less!

    • That is interesting, especially since it seems healthcare spending just keeps skyrocketing. Makes you think. As far as the course, it really is designed to save you money on whatever your family eats. Yes, there may be some specific examples that won’t work for you, but I’m always there to answer questions and help you come up with ideas that will work for you. I’d love to see you in class, but either way I hope you find the grocery savings you’re looking for!

  24. Thank you for posting this! I’ve been worried that we’ve been spending too much. Depending on the month for a family of 4, we spend between $660-$720 and that’s with a gluten/corn/dairy free diet (food allergies). Great to know we’ve been right on track. Thank you for the support :)

  25. Thanks for the chart. We are a family of 5 who homeschools and hubby takes lunch leftovers every day. We are just outside of NYC and food can be expensive. We eat mostly organic whole foods and we are at the low end of the chart budget for family of 5. It so helped when we cut out all the processed food and misc snacks. Being home all day with the kids, lots of field trips (packing lunches) sure helps going thru the food quickly! Always looking for great crockpot recipes! Thanks again for the encouragement!

  26. I wish I had the funds to spend the amount for a family of 5, however I spend no more than $300 a month. That’s 1 adult (me) & 4 kids.

  27. We are a family of 7. I spend $100 every two weeks l. I don’t know how, and I don’t like it. I don’t feel like that’s enough to eat healthy, but we have major debt, two special needs children, and I have no choice. It’s either that or lose the house and car.

  28. It is just my husband and I, but we spend way more than this due to the area that we live (we’re in Seattle and are shocked when we travel the country and see how low groceries are elsewhere), as well as the fact that I have Celiac Disease and medically require all food to be certified gluten free and only made in a gluten free facility. I get extremely sick with even a tiny cross contamination of gluten. This means we can’t eat a lot of the cheap foods that many families rely on to stay on a lower budget. We also cook every. single. one. of our meals due to the Celiac again and not being able to eat out. We are at $800/ month for our grocery budget, which includes everything you would buy at a grocery store in addition to food (detergent, toiletries, toilet paper, dog food, etc.)

    • Oh yes, I know all about Seattle prices, and I cannot say I miss them now that we’re in North Idaho! :) I am so sorry to hear about your health challenges. It sounds like you’re doing the very best possible under your special circumstances.

    • Count me as another stunned resident of Seattle. The budgets I’m seeing people report on this blog are mind-blowingly small. In fact, they seem downright unrealistic.

      We are two adults with two cats, no kids, who cook a wide variety of cuisine from around the world at home and our budget for groceries is $500-600 per month. My spouse is strictly gluten-free.

      We avoid unhealthy processed foods: no hot dogs, no boxed cereal, no canned chili, no potato chips, no ice cream, no packaged bread, no bologna, no frozen pizza, no pop tarts, no sodas, etc.

      We strive to buy what’s on sale and/or what’s couponed. We often buy grains and spices and such in bulk. We focus a lot on healthy whole foods like fruits and vegetables and nuts, although they tend to get expensive.

      We usually eat chicken or sometimes go vegetarian, because other meats tend to get expensive and therefore are rare for us. Even with chicken, we normally buy skin-on and bone-in just to shave off a little more cost.

      On rare occasion, we splurge on fancy cheeses, because there is no substitute for the amazing flavors and dishes one can create. Of course, most of the time, we stick to store-brand cheddar (despite the fact that it does not taste anywhere near as good as quality unpasteurized cheddar cheese), and even then we keep a sharp eye out for the frequent sales and coupons for that store-brand schlock.

      We would prefer to eat more certified organic foods, but frequently skip it because the cost-difference is too dramatic. We would love to buy direct from farmers, but they are always way WAY overpriced compared to the already high prices of a store.

      Maybe the rest of you can survive exclusively on frozen peas and oatmeal, but otherwise I have zero idea how y’all are achieving such tiny budgets. Especially when you have hungry kids, in addition to the adults.

  29. So if I was being thrifty I would spend between 700 and 1000 for my family of 6? We spend $400. It is cheap, but we make it work. We work hard, we just don’t make millions to afford that.

  30. We have 2 adults and 3 kids 1.5, 4, and 7. The 1.5 year old eats like a grown man. All. Day. Long. I was feeling so awful going over $400 a month buying groceries. I have no idea where I got that number. Thanks for this post. It has made me think more realistically about my budget.

  31. I’m pretty sure that no one on their deathbed said “Gee if only Mom had given me that banana and peanut butter that I wanted that one time when I was a child my life would have turned out so much more perfectly”. Nice to see a parent laying down boundaries for the kids while not getting that second job that keeps you out of the parenting your own kids loop.

    • NO. WRONG.

      The kid is a TODDLER. Her job is to PROVIDE FOR THAT TODDLER. I don’t care if buying an extra jar of peanut butter and a banana bunch will blow her Mastercard payment….her debt load is not the kids fault.

      The child has the rest of his childhood to be taught responsibility and consequences and how to reason and work things out. A TODDLER does not need to learn how to ration their food-but they SHOULD be able to depend on their PARENT to provide what they need.

      I can’t believe you parents are up on your high horses supporting that ridiculous notion. My kid gets the healthy food he needs……and if something of mine has to suffer for it, then so be it. Or so it was…..he is now twenty years old, and is doing well mentally, physically, emotionally….BECAUSE I PUT HIM FIRST.

      Regarding the budget, I live in Canada. We can occasionally be guilty of too much processed food, or when we are busy, too much fast food. I spent $260.00 today, and spent about the same when I last shopped two weeks ago. We eat well, and I make alot of my own treats-muffins, cookies, nuts n bolt mix, popcorn….there is not alot of junk in my house as a rule-we eat meat approx 3 times a week, pasta once a week, egg dishes once a week, soup and sandwiches or buns once a week, and the rest of the time its leftovers or fend-for-yourself night. It balances out. If a spend a fair amount with planning some meals and following a list, there is no need to blow money on processed or fast food between shopping trips.

      • HOLY COW! I was unaware you could be a bad parent all because your toddler didn’t have a banana to eat that day. *eye roll*. You did notice she said, “As I noted in the post, of course I provided him with a variety of other healthy foods” But how dare her run out of bananas though right?! That poor neglected child isn’t being provided for. (sarcasm). The kid can wait for the damn banana till her next grocery trip, in the meantime he can enjoy other fruits. Or would that be the end of the world too?

  32. We are a family of 7 (2 adults, 2 teens, 1 preteen, 2 little kids) and I average about $200 a week for food, pet food, and other kitchen needs (plastic wrap, plastic baggies, etc). We don’t drink sodas or juices because they are all mainly sugar and extra calories (and carbs). We make our desserts at home if we get a sweet tooth. We get at least two deer processed in the fall from a family friend and use that as our ground beef for the year, with a few chuck steaks. I also do a lot of casseroles to make our other meat go further and buy the reduced thighs and legs when I want to do a main meat dish. I love soups in the fall and winter and tend to do more beans then in my soups. I also add a can of beans to taco meat and chili mac to sneak in more fiber and lower meat used. I usually shop only two main stores, as I find adding more stores than that, is just too much for my weekly shopping. I do love Kroger’s app for coupons that are downloaded right to your card, so you don’t forget to use them! :)

  33. We’ve been currently on low income and could not afford the most healthy diet. But we also had butchered a cow this spring and two goats so we did not need to buy meat for a while. We were spending around $500 to $550 a month for a family of 7.

  34. This was very interesting to me. I have been under the impression that I was spending a huge amount of money on groceries each month for just the 2 of us. I target for about $400 and that includes all the toiletries, paper goods, food for 2 smaller dogs. I have felt so bad for spending “so much.” I see all the posts on Facebook, Pinterest and the like where others are apparently “feeding a family of 6 for $200 a month” (I actually just went to Pinterest and found that Pin) and I have wondered how on Earth they could be doing that? Or conversely, what am I doing wrong? I do OAMC, I freeze ahead, I use the other portions for my husband’s lunches and we rarely go out to eat. Now that I have read your post, I feel so much better. Now I can focus on maybe resourcing better meats or joining a Co-Op or container gardening on my deck. Thank you for the post!

  35. I have been struggling with a food budget for my large and growing family. We have some food allergies that play a significant roll in cost. We have two kids with Celiacs, as well as kids with soy and nut allergies. I found that simply going gluten free almost doubled our food costs. I try to buy bulk when and where I can. We also buy all of our grass fed organic meat directly from the farmer, in bulk. We are struggling with an average food budget of almost $2K a month to feed my family of 9!! When your food budget is equal to your mortgage that creates allot of financial difficulties. Do you have any suggestions specifically for gluten free families?

  36. For 2 adults and one 13 1/2 month old, we usually average about $300 a month. I try to by organic as much as possible. Since it’s summer, I’ve been trying to go to the farmer’s market more. I want my daughter to have healthy eating habits, so I’ve been feeding her organic, homemade food since she starting eating real food. I’m kinda liking the fact that our budget for a family of 3 is lower than what the average should be.

  37. My husband budgets $1200 for me to spend for our family of 8. About $100 of it goes to feed the van :-)
    This money covers not just groceries, but cleaning supplies, light bulbs, toiletries, and things of that nature as well. Also I have celiac disease so where some can spend 89 cents on a box of pasta, I pay about double that for gluten free pasta. Same goes for breakfast cereal. I also have to buy GF flours for baking. I do try to stick with naturally gluten free meals, but sometimes I just need to mix it up and I love to bake!
    Leftovers in the grocery budget get used for my mad money. (shhh, don’t tell my hubby! lol jk)

  38. Wow! Wish I had $200 or more a month to spend on groceries. We are a family of 3 (2 adults and a 10 yr old). I only have less than $150 a month to spend on groceries, pet food and toiletries. I have congestive heart failure & can’t work so living on 1 income for the last several years, been declined disability and don’t qualify for any help. I tend to shop Aldi & dollar tree more than any place. That makes it easier to stretch my dollar.

    • Be cautious shopping at Dollar tree. I have very often found the items at dollar tree are actually more expensive than at walmart. For example- the Vo5 shampoo at dollar tree is only .88 at Walmart.
      The food products are often more expensive per ounce. While you might pay $1.50 at Walmart for the same crackers at dollar tree, you’re getting twice the crackers (16 Oz vs 8 oz)which would coat $2 for that amount at dollar tree. Always check per oz price.

  39. First of all, I want to thank you for taking the time to do the research nessesary to produce such an informative blog. I appreciate your openness and honesty that you share with the readers. I find it amazing that people stand and ridicule and judge others as you expressed you had received from you previous post. You are an amazing mom, woman and blogger. Thank you for taking time out of your precious life to share you heart and findings with the rest of us. Dismiss all the negative feed back. I wonder how perfect they really are? Or is it simply the critical voice that yells at them that they are casting out to others. You are amazing. Thank you

  40. Most months I spend between 500-600 per month for a family of 5; 2 adults, twin 17 year old boys, and an 8 year old (all of them have a healthy appetite). We live in a small town with hardly any competition. So, I try to do most of my grocery shopping in a city about 30 minutes from us since they have 2 main grocery stores (with good sales), Aldi’s, and Walmart. I try to go twice per month and then just buy our milk and bread locally. I easily save 100-200 by doing it this way. I coupon some as well to help save money. My husband is changing jobs though and will take an overall cut in pay (however it will be a steady, once a month, income). I am hoping to cut my grocery budget down by at least another 100-200 dollars. I used to make more things from scratch, so I am going to go back to that again. I am also going to try to incorporate more beans and rice into meals and start cutting down on the amount of meat each meal (my family loves meat and having meatless meals are not really an option).

  41. Great to see a rule of thumb for grocery budget, as I’m in Canada I believe it’s probably a little more.
    Just over a year ago, I was spending $350 – $400 a week for groceries, with three adults, two young teens. Add to that one dog, one cat, three lizards and a large fish!

    I’m quite happy to report that for the last two months, I’m only spending $250 a week, a huge difference!
    It hasn’t been easy, it takes about 5 hours a week with my routine. The routine includes a lot of planning with flyers and flip app, and learning to say no! to things that aren’t on sale this week. I also analyze my spending and use Mighty Grocery to see what price I’ve paid in the past on my cell phone.
    I’ve been doing a lot of couponing, price comparing in store, shopping in more than one store now, looking for the reduced produce and meat first. I use a credit card that I pay off when I get home (never a balance!) for rewards, and the online apps like Checkout 51. The rewards from Shoppers Drug Mart here in Canada are fabulous and many of their food items are cheaper if you know what to buy when on sale.

    I also stockpile items on sale, (check expiry dates!!) and re-learned how to make many of our treats like cookies and banana bread. I’m cooking on weekends as my weekdays are 12 hours everyday with travel time. My oldest daughter is severely autistic so there are additional responsibilities there.

    I appreciate the encouragement I gain from reading the comments and your posts, as it’s hard to keep up the work you need to do for savings if you’re in a vacuum.
    I think my best advice is track your savings after you get home to give yourself the motivation to continue, even when you don’t feel like it after working and commuting. I can show myself that my monthly savings have gone from $400 per month to $1200 per month in nine months!
    I’m getting better at it. On weekends now, my mother and step-father and my (out-of-home) daughter join me at the stores and everyone benefits! I’m the “Lead Lemming”.

    Blessings to all

  42. So, I spend between $300-350 for myself and my daughter, who is with me three days a week. That sounds about right. But really, what I want to talk about is this: I admire the way that you handled the controversy that your grocery challenge caused on Facebook. You were being attacked, and reacted with grace, compassion, and mindfulness.

  43. I am a social worker at an elementary school in the U.S. Many people simply cannot provide adequate healthy food on their budget. There is no shame in visiting a food pantry or applying for SNAP (formerly called food stamps). The idea is that you won’t always need the extra help and will be able to give back later. That’s why they are there – to provide temporary emergency food for people who need it to meet their basic needs. Children truly need adequate nutrition and the free and reduced priced lunches in public schools are there for that reason. Don’t be afraid to access the services that are put into place for families whose income cannot meet their nutritional needs.


      So many people think that if kids are receiving the free or reduced lunches at school, their parents’ are “working they system”(said in a derogatory tone) or that they aren’t trying hard enough. I can’t remember the exact statistic(upwards of 60%, i think), but a majority of the children in Florida Public Schools are receiving free or reduced lunches. A friend of mine teaches at a Title I school and 100% of her students are beneficiaries of the program. MANY of those children get their only healthy food from those lunches. The community that her school is in, most of the families are extremely poor, the area itself, although just outside the Orlando Metro area, is a very small, rural area & most of the adults are agricultural( dairy, citrus, etc) or other blue collar(construction, roofing, landscape, etc) workers.

      I remember as a kid(1980’s) in elementary school, we only had a few kids in my grade that received reduced lunch(including myself at times) and both the adults and children would treat those kids like they were “less than” because they were getting their lunches for $0.42 instead of $1.20(or something like that). I’m glad for all the kids that need it, that the program is much more expanded and available these days.

      • I’m so grateful that kids are able to get the help they need without the stigma. I noticed at our school you pay for lunch online so no one would even know whether a kid was getting free, reduced, or paid lunch which is nice.

      • Agree 100% there is absolutely nothing wrong with a child receiving free or reduced price lunch. Our county is considered one of the poorest counties in the state (NC) so all school lunch is free for all students and there’s no paperwork to fill out. It’s been like that for about 3 years now and we’ve been approved for it to stay like that for the upcoming school year as well so it’s nice to know all of the kids in our community get free breakfast and lunch 5 days a week. We also have the backpack program which sends children home with a bag of food on Friday afternoons to help them make it through the weekend. A parent just has to sign the paper saying yes they want the bag sent home. It includes things like peanut butter, spaghetti and meatballs, snacks, canned chicken breast, and some other things. It’s not much but it’s enough to make sure a child can at least have a little something to eat while they’re not at school.

    • I really appreciate you making this point Sally! Those are options I do recommend to the moms who write me who are really struggling. Exactly what you said, those are there for a reason so kids and families can thrive and it doesn’t mean you’ll have to use them forever.

  44. This is crazy to me, we’re a family of 5, BARELY coupon (I use the custom kroger coupons they send me, I maybe save $10 a trip) and we do about $400-$450 a month in groceries. $680 is A BUDGET? YIKES! Now if we do Costco it’s more expensive, but that’s about every 4 months. STILL brings our monthly to maybe about $500 a month.

  45. As a family of 5, I shop at 3 different stores and come close to the $700 budget listed as thrifty, and I think we could still trim the fat even more. If I made my own snacks in bulk, if I was willing to invest in a higher budget for food every several months to buy more ingredients ahead of time, make crock pot meals, etc, I might find that overall we would save even more. But that takes energy and planning, both which are a challenge for me. But I’m willing!

  46. I have $89 per month for food. Any suggestions to help me stay at this budget with foods that have no preservatives and additives? Thank you (it is just me)
    I am supposed to be on an AIP Meal plan due to my illness.

    • Hi Dawn,
      I suggest a lot of brown rice and beans. It’s cheap and healthy. I like black beans and will add some spices or salsa to a can of them and just heat them up. This meal is great with fresh spinach salad and some italian or light dressing.
      Also, I eat a lot of apples and bananas because these tend to be the cheapest fruits. Carrots sticks are a great cheap vegetable.
      Sweet potatoes are fairly cheap and much healthier than regular potatoes. I often make a meal out of sweet potato, a bit of butter, and a side of veggies.
      Bags of spinach are pretty cheap at Aldis and you can add tuna out of the can or some leftover chicken etc. for a healthy easy meal.
      Steel cut or regular oatmeal in the morning costs like 10 cents a serving and is healthy.
      Hard boiled eggs are packed with protein, filling, and often less than a dime.
      Hope that helps!

  47. I feed three (1 female adult/1 male adult/1 male senior) on 300$ish a month that includes hygiene, cleaning and pet supplies. I work full time and shop biweekly, one list, one store, when I get paid. I use more boxed foods than I’d like and only cook from scratch on my days off but I always try to make enough for leftovers.

  48. I feed my family of 8 (technically 9, but one is still exclusively breastfeeding ) on an average of around $1000 per month. Some months it’s more like $12-1400, sometimes I can get by with $600, but it’s because I buy in bulk. So my high months I’ve probably bought a lot of meat at a great sale, which feeds us into the next month when I may only have to buy produce, dairy, and breads.
    I am rather surprised I’m on the low/thrifty end… I always thought I was spending way too much lol

  49. This really puts things into perspective. I thought I was spending way too much, but running out of budget before food was bought. The thrifty budget for low 3 would be adequate for us. Thank you.

  50. With 2 children with life threat food allergies to penuts, tree nuts eggs and milk going to the grocery story and trying to live on a budget of less then $800 to $1000 bucks is a joke. I buy meat, veggies,fruit and a few convence things such as cereal and such. We dont make any cassroles since they all require lots of cheese.I usually cook for dinner meat and then a few sides of veggies and maybe rice or potatoes. Just buying a butter replacement “butter” soy butter cost me $5 bucks for a very small container. I do use coupons and shop sales. Everytime I roll up to Kroger I feel like I should have a parkig spot with my name on it with my own personalized shopping kart with a Starbucks Coffee for me. Lol

  51. I feed a family of 5 on 800.00 a month including toiletries and cleaning stuff.- 4 adults and 1 teenage girl with a healthy appetite. We do organic carrot juice and I buy organic fruits and veggies in season when possible. I’ve found that just a small garden can shave my food bill between $ 20.00-40.00 a month. I don’t buy cereal- kids won’t eat it. We eat eggs 4-5 times/week and bacon/ sausage a couple times a week and oatmeal to fill in. Chips and ice cream are bought for special occasions only. No soda or juice. We drink water and almond milk. I plan a months menu for meals around food in freezer and fridge. We eat beans once a week. I do one monthly haul for meat, dry and canned goods and fill in twice monthly fresh food. We’re not bread eaters- I’m allergic to wheat.
    We do eat brown rice and quinoa. I would like to shave more off but don’t want to sacrifice our health. Anything sweet is homemade. No prepackaged food. If you shop the outside walls of the grocery you’ll save a bunch of $. The expensive stuff is in the center isles and isn’t usually that good for you. Budget 101 website has a bunch of mock recipes that save you money. A-1 anyone? They have a recipe for that $4.00/ bottle stuff and you can tailor to food allergies. I also make my own laundry and dishwasher soap(.02/load).

  52. I try to keep our monthly food expenditures around $600, but no more than $800. We are a family of 10. Just like that, I feel a whole lot better about the months I get close to $800! We have a garden and I can some, but that’s the extent of the cost saving measures I’ve taken. I cook from scratch, buy what’s on sale, and stretch things as far as I can.

  53. i don’t get this we are a family of 4 me my wife and 2 kids a 6 year old and a 4 year old and we eat extremely healthy and we only spend $150 a month is it because where we live “small-town” America a Place called Metropolis ILINOIS we do all of our shopping in Kentucky right across the river are their food taxes cheaper we never pay more thn 200 we buy fruits and veggies on this budget also

    • Sounds like you’re doing great with grocery budgeting Mike! It does sound like your location might help out your budget. Grocery prices are very location dependent, and the grocery spending guideline is an average from across the US. I’d love to hear more about what your typical grocery list/ meal plan looks like. Sounds like we could all learn a thing or two from you :)

  54. Holy crap $468 a month for a family of 3! That’s crazy. We’re lucky if we have $150 a month for groceries for 3 and sometimes 4 of us.

  55. We are a family of 3 + 2 small dogs and a fat cat.
    We eat organic, grass-fed meats whenever possible, cook at home and our dogs eat human food (raw diet).
    We eat like Kings every day and never sacrifice. Having fresh nutritious organic fruit daily if we want, shrimp, raw milk fresh from someone’s cow/goat.

    I also buy raw local bee pollen for added Nutrition.

    Our Food Budget per month is $1200,- to $ 1240,-. Which is $ 40,- a day to feed all of us like Kings including all the pets. Now this seems like a LOT, but this food budget includes gas for the car, toiletries, cleaning supplies, detergents and personal hygiene (shaving included).

    Because of the way we eat, we have reversed my husbands diabetes and liver disease has been completely cured.
    I had severe allergies, rheumatoid arthritis and IBS.
    The meds alone in 1 month used to be $350,- just for me.

    I no longer am sick in any way and have absolutely no health problems at this time.
    So if you consider paying 600,- a month on wheat, preservative and nutrition-void foods that make you ill to the point of having medical bills, and then add the vet bills for your pets being fed kibble…in the end, it pays to be healthy, to have all your teeth and loved ones (including the pets) that live to a ripe old age without complaints :)

    Your health is the #1 investment everyone should make.

  56. We are a family of 5 (children- 7,8, and 10 months), and our monthly food budget is $250. This includes toiletries, dog food, and cleaning/ house hold supplies. I make our bread, dough, cookies, and granola bars from scratch. I also stick to a general meal plan- so every Monday we have pasta, Tuesdays are burritos, etc. I vary it when something goes on sale (like Eggplant or Spaghetti Squash!). I do a lot of price comparing, and I coupon a little when it meets our needs. I buy rice, flour, sugar, oats, and coffee in bulk at Costco. I also shop discount stores like Aldi (where a large portion of my monthly staples come from), Fresh to Frozen, and Save-a-lot. What I can’t find there I pick up at Kroger, and I occasionally make a trip to Walmart. I have one big shopping day a month, and then pick up my discount fruit weekly from either Kroger or Fresh to Frozen. We also invested in a deep freezer so I can pick up great deals on chicken and other items when I see them! We also don;t do a lot of snacking (we would like to, but it’s not in the budget). I am working on being even more efficient, but it’s a work in progress!

  57. Family of six:
    $12 Tri tip $3.99 lb
    $15 ribs $2.99 lb
    $5 whole Foster Farm Chicken $.79 lb
    $3 zucchini $.99 lb
    $1 green bell peppers $.99 lb
    $3 broccoli crowns $.99 lb
    $4 asparagus $1.99 lb
    $2 carrots $.99 lb
    $2 sack of potatoes (5lbs)
    $1 (2) green onion& (1) cilantro
    $2 yellow onion $.49 lb
    $5 seedless watermelon
    $3 green grapes $.88 lb
    $5 (1) blueberry, (1) raspberry & (1) blackberry pint
    $1 cantaloupe $.33 lb
    $2 bananas $.49 lb
    $2 bread
    $3 eggs (2dz)
    $71 total (last weeks grocery)

  58. I spend 450-500 month for 2 adults and 2 teeny dogs. This includes all household /bathroom/cleaning products as well. We eat very well, I do not buy organics and we are not on any diet restrictions.

  59. This chart is depressing. I am constantly struggling to make ends meet and now I know why. I have $900/month to spend for our family of 7 and this includes groceries, all household goods and clothing. Always trying to stretch the dollar. I guess it makes more sense now.

  60. Well there are many great apps out there for saving money on groceries. I’m still learning and I don’t know how much I spend a month on groceries but I know this: I spend way too much! We have 5 children from 6 months to 8 years old. I use the walmart app..savings catcher…it takes your receipt and compares prices with stores around the area, matches those prices and gives you money back! I’m a failure at coupons! Most coupons I see are for junk food or things I never buy (which would not make sense to buy if I don’t use it regularly and I would not be saving $)!

  61. I have a family of 4 ( 1 adult and 3 children, 10, 5, and 4). I am in Canada and I spend about 500-700 a month on Groceries. We always have lots of food. We always host friends and family comfortably at least once a week as well. I’m surprised to see that I am on the low end of the budget already. Because I feel like we eat like kings. I feel very fortunate to be able to provide for my kids what we have. I have definitely had less in my day.

  62. I feed my family of five with a budget of $1,800 a month. This however does include diapers, formula, and paper products. :(

  63. I am a single mom of three who, since the divorce, must work full time. Grocery budgeting is honestly the hardest part of money management for me — I don’t spend lots of money on clothes or fancy things etc. I worry a lot about health and am a sucker for holistic healthcare and high quality food, although I feel like I am failing at both currently.

    I am literally running everywhere, and feel like I do not have one moment left in my days / weeks to meal plan anymore or shop properly… my big pit fall is stopping by the grocery store on the way home from work after picking up all the kids for exactly those items bananas and peanut butter! And blueberries and Popsicles. Just bc I am exhausted and want everyone to be happy for a moment, do you know what I mean?

    If I could get a handle on this I would be thrilled but I keep trying and failing.

  64. Budgeting is quite a difficult thing to do. But if done smartly you can save a lot of bucks. You have given a lot of good ideas which can come in handy while shopping. Now I want to budget everything as I’ve realised how much money goes wasted on useless things.

  65. I’m curious to know if “groceries” means to include all household items such as laundry detergent, cleaners, toilet paper, etc. If so, where are these people all shopping that it only costs for example, “$75 for 2 adults every 2 weeks”?! I only feed my family organics, including my dog, and with all necessary items, shampoo, cleaners, etc, that actually work I might add, not dollar store watered down versions, we are spending $260 every 7-9 days. That doesn’t even include extras such as dinner Guest meals, or a bottle of wine here n there. Help!!

    • I think it depends on where you live. Someone above posted that they pay $2 for asparagus, $1 for cantaloupe, green grapes @$.88 lb and $5 for (1) blueberry, (1) raspberry & (1) blackberry pint.

      In addition, what they posted was suppose to represent their weekly shopping. 1 loaf bread for family of 6 for a week? That would be 1.5 meals of sandwiches. What did they do for the rest of the lunch meals? What did they put inside their sandwiches? Also, the meat that they bought is equivalent of 4 oz meat/person/meal or just enough for 7 dinner meals. What did they eat for lunch for 7 days?

      I think people underestimate what they spend in groceries.

  66. We are a family of 5: 2 parents, 1 diabetic 20 year old son, 1 17 year old boy with Celiac, and 1 17 year old boy with no special eating needs. We live in a very expensive area with no Aldi (I have big time Aldi envy). We spend around $250/week on food. We do a lot of cooking-from-scratch to avoid problems for my 2 special needs eaters, and to save money. I have tried to bring our costs down, but it’s really difficult to do without spending more on gas to get to less expensive stores. We’re within the guidelines, but it’s a real struggle. Thanks for your tips here; I’m going to try to implement some of them and see if it helps.

  67. Thank you for writing the article and for providing links to the data. Our grocery spending in 2016 went up pretty considerably compared to our budget. I’m looking for trends in the USDA data to support or contradict our spending to decide if it’s the cost of groceries, increased consumption, or selection of more expensive products that is the primary contributor to our cost growth. Great article and great topic.

    • I’m glad this was a help! I will update this chart for 2017 soon! I will say that I’ve been tracking for a couple years now, and according to the USDA at least, food costs haven’t increased much at all. I was going through the same thought process as you were, but I realized our costs increased because my kids are getting older and eating more and I’ve started buying more organic now that we’re out of debt.

  68. This may have been mentioned, but when posters are mentioning they raise chickens/meat, I don’t think they are including the costs of feeding/maintaining these animals in their grocery budget, so the amount seems smaller than it is. We get a lot of eggs each week, so I don’t have to count that, but to be fair, I would need to include their feed cost and coop bedding cost as grocery budget. Just a thought for those envying lower grocery budgets of those who raise their own food.

  69. Thank you for this chart. I felt like I was totally out of control going over my monthly budget until I saw this. Made me feel a little less crazy. Now if I could only get myself out of the “liberal” zone :)

  70. This post makes me feel great about what I thought was a really high grocery budget we have, lol. We are a family of 8, soon to be 9, and we spend an average of $150/week with a bulk shopping trip of $300/month at the start. So that comes out to around $900/month and includes all groceries, cleaning supplies, paper products, diapers, formula, etc. We’re on a tight single income while I’m in grad school, so every penny is stretched to the fullest extent possible. We do meticulous meal planning and it has worked really well for us. We don’t have the ability to raise our own food (meat-wise, we’re within city limits and ordinances) and my attempt at growing our own produce has not fared well–I just don’t have the time to devote to it that I need.

  71. From October 16 to March 17, a family of five adults (no one under 14) where 3 of those adults tend to eat all 3 meals at home, has been spending $567 monthly. Last month, i got the bill down to about $462. Summer vacation is coming in less than a month (another mouth eating 3 meals at home). I hope to hover at 500 a month (we have veggie night, crock night, and beef, chicken, pork and seafood).

    • Good question! The reason is the 1-person household could either be a man (higher grocery cost) or a woman (lower grocery cost). With the 2-person household, I’m assuming a man and woman, so there’s really no high or low, since there’s one of each. Does that sort of make sense?

  72. I reread this multiple times but couldn’t find any mention of the table’s timing. Is this spending over a week? Month?

  73. In my household of 4 adults and 1 baby we spend less than $400 per month. We only have 200 every 2 weeks to spend on food, but household goods like toilet paper, dish soap, shampoo/conditioner, toothpaste, laundry soap, gas money, etc. are also included in that amount so it is less money for food. I eat only once a day and that’s one plate of food for dinner. We do not get food stamps.

  74. Very interesting.. My bf and I often get into stupid arguments about where all our food is going.. It seems the cost to stay alive and well is sky rocketing but the pay stays the same. I’m a cheapie I’ll admit, so sometimes we dont go shopping till the fridge is bare. Which puts us at about $ 300-400 per month for a family of four- two adults and two children. Not including the extras- soap,detergent,trash bags etc

    • That’s fantastic! It is tough to feed a family on a budget, but sounds like you’re doing a great job. I like to wait to shop ’til the fridge is bare too because that makes us get creative and makes sure we really use up what we have. I do keep a well-stocked pantry and freezer though thanks to buying in bulk, so that makes it much easier.

  75. This is so reassuring to me. We budget $700 for our family of 5 (kids are age 4 and under) which is between the low end of the thrifty and low cost plans. I struggle with staying in the budget, usually spending about $100 more. But we have a raw milk herdshare, buy eggs from local farmers when our chickens don’t lay enough, buy meat in bulk by purchasing a quarter of a cow or half a hog, and I usually cook everything from scratch. So these numbers reassure me that we aren’t spending

  76. I spend 80-100 dollars a week for a family of 2.5
    Our daughter is 2.5 so she doesn’t eat enough for a full person.

    A good tip for healthy eating, is shop the perimeter. Your grocer may set up a bit different but it’s generally similar. We hit the produce, buying organic with the dirty dozen and buying norm from the clean 15. I get 3-4 types of fruits (o-bananas, o-apples, o-strawberries, avocados, o-grapes), 5-7 vegetables (o-carrots, o-broccoli, cabbage, o-bell peppers, onions, garlic, o-lettuce), I go to seafood and get shrimp or wild caught salmon. It depends if I need to restock on staples, like organic brown rice, milk, eggs etc.
    I get no preservative, no hormone, deli meat, fresh baked sourdough, grassfed ground beef, no hormone/no antibiotic meats, chicken 4 pack, 2 packs of pork. I only go into a few dry food aisles, organic pasta sauce, o-pasta, o- brown rice, o- beans, oatmeal. I get organic cheese slices and parmesan cheese. Bacon, pasture raised organic eggs, organic milk, organic butter, grass fed organic yogurt. I don’t always have to buy brown rice, or oils and spices. So usually it’s around 80 bucks. My meals I cook use half a chicken package, or one pork or one beef. I have left overs so husband has lunch and so do I for work. We have fruit and oatmeal for breakfast and I pack my daughters fruit, yogurt, and cheese for day care. They provide her meals but I often bring her the organic staples already prepared. I’ve eliminated going down most dry aisles, I do occasionally have to restock on organic sugars, organic flours, organic spices or baking goods. It’s only a few times and even then it evens out over the month that each week’s average is 100, sometimes I spend 80, and sometimes it’s 120. If you have a weekly pay period I’d get it as close to 100 by adding the dry ingredients you’ll soon need to restock on, rice, pasta, beans. So you’re buying something that won’t go bad.

  77. Wow. These seems over by alot! We do on about 500 a month for 5 of us. We eat mostly clean. But 50 to 60 is premade quality snacks. My guys snack alot. And I make the finish their meal before the next snack is served. This may be woth averaged food prices t0… just thought of this.

    • I suspect there’d be quite a bit of variety based on location. However, I think we are on the same page that careful budgeting can let you feed your family healthy food at or below the average costs. Sounds like you’re doing great at that! :)

  78. While helpful, and the author’s authenticity is appreciated, the article is pretty unrealistic because it does not mention that the cost of groceries can be 40% to 50% higher in major cities like NY, SF, DC, Boston, etc. where a large % of the US population live. The FDA SNAP budgets mentioned are based on best case scenario in small town Midwest where comparison shopping and bulk purchases are easy or feasible. The author may not be aware of the realities of large-city living faced by millions of Americans. Most people in large cities trying to live on food stamp budget end up relying on food banks to make up the difference. As is often the case in these cities, there is often only 1 grocery store within a 30-45 minute commute (other options often 1 hour away due to traffic gridlock or public transit times) comparison shopping is greatly limited or not possible, and if everyone in the household works full-time (typically needed to pay rent), the need to carry groceries on the bus and or (often) one does not have much space for storing bulk purchases, it is further challenging.

  79. I want to shop where Msfpier does, I have not seen prices like that since the ’70’s! Granted I live in a suburb of Los Angeles, everything is expensive here – even Costoco and Sam’s Club. I do make the rounds of smaller independent makets and you need to know your prices and have the luxury of time to hop from market to market, which most people don’t. I do not eat bread, rice, potatoes or pasta and very little meat, (except for meat I buy for the dogs), and still spend over $500 a month for myself and 2 dogs (dogs are well fed and get home cooked food due to all the recalls on petfood.) I want one of the super savers to come shop my markets, put decent nutritious food on the table for less . . . Who is up for the challenge???

  80. Not to be picky because I figured it out, but you never mentioned that the table is based on a monthly budget as opposed to some other time frame. I would think a weekly budget makes more since given that months contain different numbers of days. Anyway, good article overall. Got the info I needed.

    • Hi Chris, sorry if that wasn’t clear. The chart included is for the average monthly grocery bill for families depending on their size. While the number of days per month could make your weekly grocery bill vary a bit hopefully this is helpful as an average.

  81. For 2017, not counting December, I spend an average of $483 per month. The first half of the year I spent an average of $496 monthly. July through December I have spent a monthly average of $468. We have three adults who usually eat leftovers for lunch. In addition, we have a not-so-hungry teenager and a hungry nonagenarian. That’s almost $97 per person. I’d like to do better. I’m in Upstate SC.

  82. Back in 2006 in Staten Island, NY, we parents with a ten and five yo spent an average of $313 monthly. That works out to $78.25 per person per month. Time and location make a difference.

    • That’s so true. The one big difference I see though is that now almost anyone can access online grocery sources even if they live in very expensive location or have few local options, so that’s nice.

  83. I laughed and then felt bad while reading about how tore you down in the comments section. Hey, guess what? It’s your money and you can spend it however you please. I have a family of 4 and occasionally I feel guilty when I talk to my coworkers about our grocery habits and someone new finds out I go to the grocery store 4 nights out of the week. But that’s how I was raised. I text my husband with dinner choices, we figure out what sounds good, and then I go and shop. It also means I spend a lot of money doing it this way…a lot! And then, my husband and I usually do takeout on Friday, date night on Saturday, and we might do one of the two again on Sunday. It’s a lot of money that gets spent the *wrong* way according to certain friends and family. But again, we have earned our money, we can afford a certain lifestyle, I won’t apologize for it, and neither should anyone else. I commend anyone who can set a budget and stick to it or anyone who shops once a week, that’s amazing in my book!

    • I have found that deciding what to eat and then shopping for it is expensive. Try going to the store, buying what’s on sale, and creating a meal from that. For example: deciding to eat salmon, when a whole chicken is on sale for $1.25 a pound, isn’t budget friendly. This assumes you are in general a somewhat creative cook with a variety of ideas or simple cookbook featuring how to cook the basics.

  84. I think it is VERY reasonable to spend this amount on groceries, but the real reason I’m commenting is that I really hate that you got assaulted for sharing your opinion. I agree with your stance about the banana. I have an extremely picky 5yo who constantly refuses to eat the healthy meals I make for him. It is him that is making the choices not to try something and therefore not to eat. I AM providing fresh and nourishing food, just maybe not the ones that are his favorite…usually JUNK he gets from family’s homes. I LOVE your vibe! Thanks for sharing!! -L

  85. Here is my struggle…we have a family of 5 (soon to be 6) with 3 boys (7,5,4). I spend somewhere between $800-$1000/month on groceries and it’s our biggest budget hit. Becauseof my youngest son’s compromised immune system, and the benefits we’ve seen for all of us including little to no healthcare costs, we use recipes ranging from paleo, to GAPS, to nourishing traditions. I have started making as much as i know how to at home (almond milk and flour, sourdough bread, applesauce, etc etc) but the boys are eating me out of the house! They get enough to eat, but could eat more. I struggle most with finding affordable “snack” items for lunches and occasional grazing. Eating sprouted grain cereals and granola, beef sticks that are nitrate and sugar free/grass fed, chips not made in canola or with any chemical additives is SO expensive.

    We do “splurge” on quality dairy from local farms that include raw cow and goat products as well as pastured soy free eggs. Due to respiratory issues in my youngest I don’t feel i can budge in this arena.

    All this to say, I’m at a loss.

    • First off, Tera, it sounds like you’re doing really well at offering your family healthy food and staying mindful of your budget. I know that’s hard work. How wonderful it is that it’s paying off with improved healthy and reduced healthcare expenses. Hurray! :)

      It sounds like the one place you have left to possible save would be in the snack category that you mentioned. You’re right, all of those pre-packaged snacks will kill your grocery budget fast. For healthy natural snacks, could you do something like a boiled egg, carrot sticks, fresh fruit, or make your own granola? I would guess you could consistently get down to $800 per month at least.

  86. Do these numbers include other items we all purchase at grocery stores like paper plates, household cleaners, zip lock bags and other “non-food” items?

  87. My family of 7 (two adults, and five kids 5 and under) spends $600/mo. We buy burger from a dairy farm ($3/lb) chicken legs from costco ($0.79/lb) fish at Aldi, and some other meats when on sale. Basically, we try not to buy anything that is more than $3/lb. Oatmeal, cream of wheat, grits, or eggs for breakfast, meat and veggies/fruit for lunch/dinner on a 4 day rotation for variety.

  88. I looked through many of the comments trying to find some insight/help. We’re a family of 10, 4 girls and 4 boys. I have three challenges with budget. One, celiac disease, so no wheat barley or rye–and oats, even gluten free, have to be in limited quantity because some are sensitive to a similar protein in them. Second, I home school, so my time available for cooking and food prep can’t run my day, or I struggle to get other things done. Third, we’re in a small town without Costco or Aldi type stores (unless I drove 1.5 hours or more).

    • Hi Mary, Many of my students have dietary limitations and of course we all are short on time. Have you checked to see if there is an Azure Standard drop point in your area? If not, perhaps you could see if you could organize one. Also, see if you can save on packaged items on Amazon Pantry. Another good option is Thrive Market. All of these have health conscious and specialty brands available.

  89. The grocery bill for two low and high are the same (not sure if this was addressed in previous posts). What are the correct numbers?

    • Hi Nelly, Thanks for your note. I’m so sorry about that! I just updated the chart to reflect the correct high and low for the grocery bill for two (high and low). This info is as of October 2018.

  90. thank you your share! I have budgeted $330/week for our family of five. Two adults, a teen girl and two teen boys. My goal is to get within the Thrifty budget range for my family. I am gluten free, I shop for all our meat on sale (although I would love to find a share of a cow in my area!) I usually stay within our budget and this does include eating out, toiletries and paper goods.

  91. I spend about $50-$60 a week on my family of 5. I also have about $200 a month for Sams club/Costco for diapers and paper products. So about $400-$500 on groceries for a family with young children. My husband is a hunter so we don’t buy meat and that helps a lot with costs, all I buy is chicken on sale and occasionally pork on sale. no beef.

  92. Do these numbers account for school lunches? I have 4 teens in high school. Lunches are $2.75 per person per day. I’ve tried the take your lunch approach but they “forget” and charge lunch anyway which I end up being responsible for. So our family of 6 spends probably close to $2000 a month as we do eat out once a week. Sometimes more if we are busy. Help!

    • Hi Liz, The grocery budget guideline above accounts for food at home, but it should be enough to send a packed lunch to school with your kids. It does not include eating out or buying hot lunch. It sounds like a first possible step would be to put a system in place to make your teens responsible for their lunches. Make a rule, if they charge lunch, then they have to pay for it (and enforce it!) Hopefully this will motivate them to not forget their lunches.

  93. If you are a restaurant business owner or if you know someone like it, you can arrange a Restaurant Depot store card , at restaurant depot, 12-14 piece good size whole chicken only cost 15$.
    Frozen and fresh fish is also available at low cost. As well as rice, cheese, vegetables, fruits, all the condiments are cheap here. Only down side is you have to have the store card and all the things come as huge bulk.
    I go there every two months and I have few friends, we divide everything among us.
    Some vegetables and condiments are costly at regular American stores, you can try some subcontinental stores like Indian or pakistani stores to compare if the prices are low or not.

  94. For two people eating organic as much as possible, I spend $350 – $400 a week. I try to cut back but can’t go below $350. How do people live on such a scant grocery budget shown above? I use Whole Foods and Peapod and buy a basic diet. No frills or extras and it still comes to over $20,000 a year for food and groceries. So weird.

  95. I budget around $800 per month on my family of 8. This is strictly food and most months I have money left over. We are under the budget for the thrifty plan listed. We have 2 adults (one male one female) 12 year old girl, 10 year old boy, 6.5 year old boy, 4 year old boy, 3 year old boy and 20 month old girl.

  96. I have a family of 3 (me, my husband and my 7 yo child). I spent $418 groceries on February and my husband told me I spent too much. He told me to cut down on groceries. Can it be possible to spend under $300 on groceries for family of 3?

    • $465 would represent an excellent grocery budget for a family of 3, so if you’re at $418, then you’re doing great! Some people certainly do spend less on $300, but when you get that low, you start to sacrifice health and nutrition. This might be possible if for instance your child is a part of a school lunch program and you don’t have to pay for breakfasts or lunches for them. Otherwise, $300 would be a challenge and not necessarily a good idea. You can check out this meal plan and grocery list to see what the “thrifty” grocery budget would get you for a family of 4 and compare it to what you’re doing.

  97. I feed two senior adults age 70 and 84 and a temporarily live in adult son age 34 for $400 a month. Son works a manual job, and
    requires lots of food. I cook from scratch, use up all leftovers in creative ways. Live in Michigan.

  98. We’ve moved to the UK and buy groceries using my pension. We start with ‘what are we going to eat’ and then buy the materials needed to prepare those meals, plus perishables and snacks. We used to spend quite a lot but have been able to rein it down to $105 per week for a family of four (two teens). We seldom eat out and when we do, spend about the same cost as the week of groceries. Someone has to be the logical/bad person when it comes to spending money so other things can occur eg travel and other life experiences.

  99. I didn’t have time to read the whole article yet but this budget seems spot on. And i did read the part about readers saying you should get another job. That I dont agree with. We should be teaching our children that you cant get everything you want so you have to choose from what you do have. And maybe next month, you can switch it up.

  100. I am wanting to save on my monthly bill, Not sure how to go about it. I only have a Raley’s or Super Walmart in town. What should a family of 3 (2 adults 1 girl youth – 8 yrs old) pay a month on groceries be?? And where do I begin in getting that $$$ lower?

      • I used to come here every year to check ranges under all four of your guidelines (Thrify, Low-Cost, Moderate-Cost, and Liberal), but I no longer see the Low-cost, Moderate-cost, or Liberal spend guidelines here. Have you pared back on your analysis, or am I overlooking something? Thanks for doing these analyses and publishing, by the way.

      • Wow! I’m so happy you find these grocery guidelines helpful. I really appreciate your feedback. If you like seeing the different levels, then I will bring them back for 2020! The reason I took away the other levels was that I had some people seeing the Moderate/Liberal, and saying ‘Oh, I’m in that range, so I’m just fine’ when in reality they could do a lot better. Thanks for being such a loyal reader! You can look forward to the updated grocery prices by March 2020.

  101. If you want to be healthy and actually enjoy what you’re eating, it costs much more than what your list states for even 1 adult. I only buy organic food and eat extremely healthy. I spend about $250 per month on food because I wouldn’t shop anywhere but my Co-op of which I’m a member and receive 10% off of everything. I also cook from scratch and would never buy boxed or processed foods.

  102. Honestly, you CANNOT compare prices even within the contiguous States. We lived in Northern IL, where Aldi’s and discount grocery stores abound, food coops are available, and the cost of living is lower. We moved to Santa Rosa Beach, FL and there are NO discount stores, prices are higher and even bulk stores are near non-existent (One Sam’s Club an hour and a half away, and the prices are literally the same as Walmart per quantity). There are NO coop/bulk fresh food buying groups here either. With that said, our grocery budget blew out of the water. We are a family of 8 (adult parents, 4 boys and 2 girls). We don’t eat out at all. We literally spend $300-400 each WEEK on food. I don’t go to farmer’s markets because they are even MORE expensive. I hit sales wherever possible. To give you an idea of cost comparison for standard of living, Amazon, Target and Walmart subscription deliveries along with Boxed every once in a while are the SAME prices as going to the store. Up north, I wouldn’t even have considered the subscription services because prices were too high. WHERE you live in the contiguous states really really matters. I know CA and some other places have an even higher standard of living. We do get paid a little more because my husband builds custom homes, but nurses and healthcare get paid significantly less than other areas. I just don’t think you can make ONE chart for the entire connected States.

    • I see where you’re coming from. Prices vary from one state to another and even from one neighborhood to another. However, I still believe that having a basic guideline to start from is important. After all, it’s much better than just giving up and ignoring the issue of grocery budgets all together as many end up doing. (Not saying you do, by the way!) Even if you have to adjust, this will give you a starting point. For instance, for a family of 8, according to the chart, I’d expect you to spend at a minimum of $233-298 per week. So if you’re spending $300-400 you’re not that far off at all. And you’re absolutely right, farmer’s markets do tend to be more expensive, so that’s one reason I don’t typically recommend them. However, you might look into Azure Standard as a way to get good deals on bulk buys even if you don’t have a Sams or Costco near you.

  103. My problem is to know what to make. I have a large family and apparently I’m sticking in the range but I think I could cut tons. What do you cook for large families? I struggle with this.

  104. Hi Shannon!
    Overspending on groceries has always been an issue for me. When I started tracking, I realized that I was spending between 1,100 and 1,300 for a family of four and two dogs. We need to include the dogs because their food gets expensive too.
    I have been meal planning for the last few months and made great progress reducing my bill, which I should mention, includes groceries and whatever we need from the supermarket to do life.
    I feel comfortable spending between $200 and $250 per week. We don’t eat out much so I do meal plan for about 6 days of the week.
    Thanks for sharing this useful resource because it helps me gauge how other families are doing in the grocery shopping department.
    I also find that the critics are most often people that don’t budget or meal plan, so they really have no idea of how much they are spending.
    Best, Yezmin

  105. We usually spend about 150 a week for our family of 6. Mom, dad, 20 year old, 20 year old, 14 year old, 11 year old. I thought that was high but it actually looks quite low according to this chart. We always have plenty not food, although I am not a snack buyer. They are too expensive and my kids can empty a box of anything in 2 seconds flat. We mostly buy meals.


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