Food Budget

Updated on January 19, 2014
M.M. asks from Chicago, IL
24 answers

Hi moms,
I would like to create a budget for our family, I'd like to start with food budget first because it seems like the least transparent item. Our other expences are predictable from month to month. We are a family of 4 with kids and me eating mostly at home and husband takes lunches to work almost every day. We do eat out on the weekends but we have sertain favorite places and it is easy to budget for that.
So my Q is: How much do you think is acceptable to spend on the food for a family of 4 on the weekly bases? If you have a budget yourself, how do you deal with items you are not buying frequently? Like some expensive sauses, or vine, or smoked fish? How do you approach sale? For example, if you see something on sale do you buy it even if you do not need it right now or you stick to the budget and pass it on untill the next time?
I really want to learn from someone who succeded in food budgeting, it is very hard for me to controll food spending. Also, I cannot be too strict because if the children want something specific - I've got to have it.
Thanks to all who will share their wisdom.

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answers from Augusta on

I'd say 50-100 a week is a good estimate for a family of 4.
That's about what we do depending on what is on the menu.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I don't follow a budget so I can't answer that portion of the question, but I do a lot of strategic shopping to try to keep costs down. I stock up on items when they go on sale. I use the website to help me better understand the sales at my local grocery, drug and discount stores and how to match them up with coupons, rebates. I take advantage of coupons, rebates and loyalty programs. I have a stand-up freezer to keep meats and frozen foods so I can stock up when they are on sale. I also use it to keep make-ahead meals for later use. By doing this I don't feel as wasteful when I buy something special that isn't on sale or if we try a new product and don't like it. Best wishes to you!

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answers from Charlotte on

- use cash - we take out 2 weeks worth of cash every paycheck. For example: take out $300 cash on payday. Use $100 per week or groceries, $50 per week for gas and the other $50 for miscellaneous (i.e. eating out)

- start a change jar. Now that you're using cash, you have a lot of loose change. At the end of the month, cash in the change and do something with it that's not in your budget (i.e. eat out an extra day, take the kids bowling)

- you didn't mention how old your kids are, but when you're on a budget, they are too. If they want something "specific" make them earn allowance and pay for it themselves, or let them use the change jar for it if they are doing their chores like they're suppose to.

- Try generic. If there is a generic or store brand, I always try it. If I don't like it I won't try it again, but if I do, it can save a lot of money. Try to buy the most generic products you can.

- buy non-generic when it's on sale or you have a coupon. For example: I only use Scott tissue. A couple times a year they are on sale for ridiculously low prices. When they are, I buy a 6mo supply. If I run out in between, I buy a small pack at a time because I know they'll be on sale soon.

- Plan your menu ahead of time. If you know what you'll be eating for breakfast lunch and dinner throughout the week, you know exactly what you need from the store and stick to it.

- Eat a snack before you go to the store. If I go grocery shopping when I'm hungry or thirsty, I'll buy impulsively.

- Do your homework - look in the paper or online to find out what's on sale that week so you can set a game plan before you leave the house.

- Got to more than one store. I buy my cleaning products from Dollar Tree or Dollar General. Then I go to Food Lion and buy what I need that I know is on sale from doing my research. Then I fill in the rest (mostly generics) at Wal-Mart.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

I like money saving mom.

You can get ideas on how to create a budget, meal planning, coupons and all sorts of other info! Start there to get some ideas and you can branch off from there to make it your own and what works for your family.

Good luck

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answers from Norfolk on

Plan your meals for the week and shop accordingly. By getting your kids whatever they want, you are allowing them to drive your budget. If you want to control the food spending, you are going to have to tell them no more often. If they are old enough, maybe they can get odd jobs (mowing lawns, walking dogs, etc) in the neighborhood and earn the money for their special treats. It'll mean more to them, and it won't destroy your budget.

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answers from Barnstable on

I am a family of 4 and have learned to live very lean due to tight economic times. Once a month my husband will drive about an hour into Boston to a place called Roxies - it is a huge meat wholesaler. He can buy for $130 what I would spend close to $350 at the typical grocery store or Sams. It is enough meat to feed us for a month and it is very good quality. He also will get veggies while there - 2, 3lb bag of potatoes for $2, 4 pack of peppers for $1.50 . . .

I would see if there is something similar near you.

I also use all leftovers and do a crock pot soup 2 or 3 times a week. I make bread from scratch and in the summer we have a veggie garden in garden deck pots!

Between the meats and the regular trips to Super Walmart (where the prices are awesome), I spend about $450 a month on food.


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answers from Chicago on

I don't really feel like I can give you a giudeline for what to spend or how much food your family needs- Teenagers eat more than little kids, growing kids playing sports etc. need extra fuel. You have to figure out what you can AFFORD to spend each week first and then tailor your buying from there.

The best piece of advice here I can totally recommend and say that we do is the WEEKLY MEAL PLAN. Seriously- it makes such a huge difference just knowing what you are going to make and what you need to buy for it. I have two kinds of buying I do: Staples, and fresh items for dinners and lunches.

1)For Staples for your pantry, etc. check out a cooking magazine website like Rachel Ray or Cooking Light. Both have excellent lists of staples to keep on hand to make other meals with, (like tomato sauce or onion soup mix, etc) and basics (like a couple kinds of pasta, beans, olive oil, canola oil, etc) spices, flour a few cans of soup, etc.
Every month I try and just go through the cupboards and use up some things that have been in there for a while. I also try to keep at least one 'emergency' dinner option on hand- soup or even a frozen pizza. We don't use them often, but on a hectic night or if you are sick, that can be a lifesaver.

2)Fresh Items of course include bread, lunchmeat, cheese. veggies, fruit, milk, yogurt, etc. But also cereal, things that we use up just about every week. Get your whole family to go through the pantry and the fridge with you and figure out what is REALLY getting eaten each week. You may be surprised at how much extra you are buying and how much is going to waste!
For example- if you buy a pound of lunchmeat for sandwiches each week, and always throw out a few slices because they go bad, then adjust your order to 3/4 pound. If your kids always eat up the apples for lunch and snacks, but oranges sit until they are dried out and hard- stop buying oranges.

It's really critical to get your kids on board if you are packing lunches. My son was taking his lunch - and just throwing out the bits he didn't want to eat! I had to really make it clear to him that I wasn't going to get MAD- but he had to tell me what he really WASN'T eating, just so we could adjust his lunch so it would be better. It took a little while, but it turned out even though I thought I was packing the right amount- I was giving him way more food than he could eat. I made his sandwiches smaller, adjusted what I was giving him and now he happily eats everything in his box with no wasted leftovers!

3)Look at how your family uses food and who eats what and how much.Last summer we cut high fructose corn syrup completely out of our diet and started to really watch things like sodium and carbs. My 10 year old son learned to read nutritional labels, and after about a month's worth of shopping and comparing products, etc. we have our food purchases down to what we really like and need. He really LOVED helping me shop and loves to check labels for me- I feel like this is teaching him such better nutritional habits because we are THINKING about what we're buying- not just tossing things into a cart!

4)Look closely at your treat purchases- they are often the most expensive items and the worst for you! I am not saying never buy chips or ice cream, etc. But if you are buying little individual packs of things for lunches- stop! Get the full size and divide them up into baggies. Your kids can reuse the same bag for crackers or cookies in their lunch. Or buy little tupperware containers and reuse those instead of replacing baggies.

We buy ice cream- but it is a treat we save for about 2 nights a week. I also buy potato chips, but my son isn' allowed to snack on them after school. We save them for watching a game on the weekends or watching movies. I've pretty much stopped buying cookies.

Since we're trying to lose weight (not my son, but I made it clear that we are a family and he has to eat what the grownups eat, lol) we only have cookies if my son and I MAKE them from scratch. This has cut down on food costs, but again, it is a lot healthier and I've dropped a lot of weight because of it.

5)For my meal plans, I use recipes I find online, but also I get a couple of cooking magazines. I got a Recipe Notebook from Borders ( they are almost always on sale really cheap). It's just an office file like people use for card collections, etc. with those clear plastic sleeves in it and any regular size magazine page will fit. I go through my magazines and cut out any recipes that I think I'd like to try.

I ask my son and my fiance about new things " Would you guys eat this?" and cut those out. The notebook has dividers for things like Appetizers, Main Dishes, Veggies, Desserts, etc. so it is super easy to file and find the recipes- and that way you also have the magazine picture to guide you. one of the other great things is that we have tried so many new ideas- it has really gotten us out of that rut of making the same couple of things all the time.

Again, doing this has absolutely saved us money. I think I paid like $8 for the notebook! But we buy what we need to make the things we pick. I write out a little sticky note on the fridge with the days of the week and the recipes and then make my shopping list.

If this all sounds like a lot more work, I gotta say, it honestly wasn't! It has made the shopping and cooking so much simpler and my son and fiance (who were sort of dubious about these ideas at first, lol) totally jumped on the bandwagon and now they actively participate in the system! Success! :)

Good luck- you can do this too- you won't regret it!

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answers from Chicago on

We're a family of 4 - but the youngest is 1.

We spend $80 a week on food. Weekly food planning is key. We rarely eat out - maybe once every other month. We enjoy cooking, and cook most things better at home than out.

I work full time and pack a salad every day - using really good ingredients (blue cheese, feta, walnuts (not all at once).

We do a monthly CostCo run that's $200 - that includes diapers and that's typically where we purchase our meat.

Do the weekly meal planning.

Good luck!

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answers from Chicago on

I saved a lot by planning inexpensive meals and cutting out the junk food. I looked at my grocery bill and most of the money was going toward chips and soda. Those are expensive items! And they 're bad for you.

Instead of buying those packaged desserts (for $5 s box!) I make one dessert a week. I've found cupcakes and muffins are wonderful because they are a single serving so they can be taken to work, school, etc. I also make Rice Krispie treats (with the generic rice krispies, there's no difference!) We don't eat chips anymore, they have MSG in them anyway and that causes you to eat more and more. We pop popcorn for munchie snacks.

Take a look at your grocery bill and see what the big ticket items are. Then see if there is a cheaper alternative. At first my family complained that there weren't any Little Debbie or Hostess goodies in the pantry. But now they LOVE the fun desserts we make!

I also started making my own laundry detergent. At $15 a bottle it was getting ridiculous! Now I make my own for a fraction of the cost an it only takes me 5 minutes to make a batch that lasts me a while. The initial cost was about $15 and it has lasted me months and months.

Is there a cheaper place to shop? Out here I shop at Woodman's and I save so much! At least $30-40 per trip. At Jewel salad dressing is $3.99. At Woodman's it's $1.50. At Jewel potatoes are $2.49. At Woodman's that same 5-lb bag is $.99. At Jewel, Langers juice is $4.99. At Woodman's it's $1.69. So you can see how the savings add up as you go!

Good luck! And plan those meals and stick to your list!


I saved a lot by planning inexpensive meals and cutting out the junk food. I looked at my grocery bill and most of the money was going toward chips and soda. Those are expensive items! And they 're bad for you.

Instead of buying those packaged desserts (for $5 s box!) I make one dessert a week. I've found cupcakes and muffins are wonderful because they are a single serving so they can be taken to work, school, etc. I also make Rice Krispie treats (with the generic rice krispies, there's no difference!) We don't eat chips anymore, they have MSG in them anyway and that causes you to eat more and more. We pop popcorn for munchie snacks.

Take a look at your grocery bill and see what the big ticket items are. Then see if there is a cheaper alternative. At first my family complained that there weren't any Little Debbie or Hostess goodies in the pantry. But now they LOVE the fun desserts we make!

I also started making my own laundry detergent. At $15 a bottle it was getting ridiculous! Now I make my own for a fraction of the cost an it only takes me 5 minutes to make a batch that lasts me a while. The initial cost was about $15 and it has lasted me months and months.

Is there a cheaper place to shop? Out here I shop at Woodman's and I save so much! At least $30-40 per trip. At Jewel salad dressing is $3.99. At Woodman's it's $1.50. At Jewel potatoes are $2.49. At Woodman's that same 5-lb bag is $.99. At Jewel, Langers juice is $4.99. At Woodman's it's $1.69. So you can see how the savings add up as you go!

Good luck! And plan those meals and stick to your list!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

If you live anywhere near a Caputo's or similar type of store, you can save alot of money there. I cut my grocery bill in about half when I started shopping there. The prices on produce and meats is exceptional compared to Jewel or Dominicks! is the web site!

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answers from Boston on

I think that the amount of money that people spend per week is going to vary wildly depending on where people live. That said, I live outside of Boston, have a family of four, and spend about 100-150/week on food, and I think that's pretty good.

The first thing that you should do, in my opinion, is try to figure out how much you've been spending. If you put things on a credit card, it's pretty easy. Go back and find the average spent the past two months. From there, determine your weekly budget (don't forget that some months have 5 weeks!) and figure out how much you want to try cutting from that budget. I would start small until you get the hang of this. I have cut our grocery bill by over a third over the past year.

Different people plan differently, so you'll have to find out something that works for your family. Here's what works for me:
1. I plan all of our meals for the week at the same time I'm making the grocery list. It has really help me cut down on the amount of produce I throw out.
2. I try to think about the week as a whole, so I balance our more expensive meals with our less expensive meals.
3. I have cut way back on the amount of red meat and chicken that we eat. That was far and away the most expensive part of our grocery bill. Breakfast for dinner is very cheap.
4. When recipes will call for just a little bit of something expensive, or will use a more expensive cheese or something, I substitute it out with a less expensive option. (For example, I love mashed potatoes made with boursin cheese. But mashed potatoes made with cream cheese and spices are almost as good and way cheaper).
5. I try very hard to only go to the grocery store once per week. I find that even if I'm just running in to buy a gallon of milk, I think of a bunch of other things that I need and I end up spending too much money. (I did this just yesterday, so clearly I'm not perfect at this plan).
6. I joined a CSA, so that the veggie portion of my budget is already paid for (and I'll get a weeks worth of veggies and fruit from may-oct for 25/week.)
7. I comparison shop when I'm at the store - for example a boboli type pizza crust is almost $5, the store bought uncooked dough is $2, and I can make the crust myself for about 30 cents. Same thing with pizza sauces, snacks, etc. I'm brand picky about some things, but there can be a lot of little savings if you just look at the prices as you're going.
8. Get a store rewards card if you can. That saves me about $10/week.
9. Finally, I keep track of my "food" purchases and my "needed" purchases separately, even if I buy them at the same time. I always get bummed when I've spent $175 at the grocery store, until I figure out that $75 of it was on detergent, cleaning supplies, shampoo and diapers. I budget for those things separately too.

What I don't do is stock up meats in advance, because I don't think to defrost it far enough before I need to make dinner, and I don't really like the way that chicken tastes when it's been frozen. I will sometimes make a double batch of sauce or chili or something and freeze that, but only if I've accidentally bought too much. I also don't really clip coupons for food - I don't find that it saves me enough that it's worth it.

Sorry that this got so long winded! I hope it was helpful. Good luck!

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answers from Chicago on

I cannot answer for your budget specifics, but I can suggest shopping for basics such as noodles, cereals, garbage bags at Aldi's, much more reasonably priced. Go to Sam's or Cosco for quantities and wach for buy ones, get one free at places like Jewel or Dominick's/. Centrella foods have expensive meets, try local cultural stores for some meats, you will be surprised as well as the lunch meats. We go to a Fruit Market where we purchase Deli meats and it is probably only $2.00 a pound as opposed to places like Whole foods where I saw the prices are out of the wall. It depends on where you shop. There are four of us, 2 grown sons included and we probably do spend half the amount of money than most people. We have done this for years because we are not worried about name brands. Although beer and wine we might.
I think as far as an amount goes you know how much is able to spent and we do not. So budget the amount according to your paycheck. Pick an amount and see if you can stick to it.

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answers from Austin on

First- If you are serious about setting a budget, you are going to have to be strict. There really isn't any way around that.
Second- Meal plan. Sit down on one night a week (I do it on Saturday, because I'm boring). Write out the meal for EVERY night that week. Include the nights that you eat out. Come up with several different lunches and simple breakfasts.
Third- Take stock of what is in your pantry. I can't tell you how many times I've bought something at the store (baking soda, whatever) that I later found buried in the shelves. It adds up.
Fourth- Buy only what you need to make the meals that you have planned. The only time to deviate is when there is a particularly good deal (like under $1 a lb. for chicken breast).

I spend $80 a week for our family of four. We eat out at least once a week. I don't like leftovers and my family won't eat soup so I try to keep the meals simple and easy. There are many websites about budgeting if you want to google it.

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answers from Dallas on

I suppose it depends of what kinds of food you are preparing. We rarely, rarely go out to eat. We might go out once a month together. We don't eat much in the way of processed foods (well the kids do pick one snack a week and I definitely have lazy days)...most of what I prepare is from scratch. My husband usually takes the dinner leftovers to work for lunch, if there is enough left over, that's when the kids and I have for lunch too. It also depends on the cost of living. With that in mind our family of 4 spends about $150 a week on food.

I plan all shopping before I leave the store. First I have a dry erase board that we write down things we need...spices I ran out of, something we think would make a great dinner, deodorant, etc. I look at what's on sale and see if I can plan a menus around those choices. I write down the menu first and then make a list of all the ingredients needed for that menu. Then I take it one step further and re-write the list into sections of the store (fruits and veggies, breads, cold, meat, etc.). I do this only to speed up my trip.If there is a terrific sale on something I can stock up on, I stock up. I try to keep within the $150 budget, but I don't panic if I go over (since I am stocking up the weeks I use whatever I buy means I won't be buying them at full price and those weeks I come under budget, so it all evens out in the wash). Be careful and bust out the calculator. Sometime when a store says the sale is buy one, get two free, if you do the math it's the same or worse than regular price. I could save even more if I was more diligent about coupons, but often coupons are for things we don't buy and I gave up on them. Another trick is to avoid convenience items...often times it's worth a trip to another items or light bulbs for example.

For specialty items, I just make up for it in other parts of the menu. If we are doing sushi night (sushi grade tuna can get pricey) I make more inexpensive meals throughout the week to make up for it...spaghetti, sandwiches, etc. There are also times when we up the budget...around the holidays or if we are having a get together that sort of thing.

As far as the kids go, I can understand not wanting a battle. I often ask my son (my daughter is only 1) if there is something he wants for dinner. Sometimes we compromise on his choice, but often I make a meal he wants. He also gets to choose a snack each week. We don't buy cereals, so we don't have that battle. Sometimes he picks cereal as his snack for the week and I am ok with that. But I don't feel bad telling my son no. I tell him that things are too expensive and I have explained that we have to be careful about how much we spend so we can enjoy using our money on something more fun. And sometimes I will add that coveted item to the next week's list. Usually he understands, but he does have a melt down over it occasionally, thankfully it's short lived.I think it helps him learn budgeting and it also helps him learn the difference between want and need.

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answers from Rochester on

This is just what I do-

Our personal budget for food each week is $40, however we're a family of 3 and our 1 year old doesn't eat portions large enough to warrant raising that limit right now, so your amount will of course be different! Decide where you most often shop and find out when they release their flyers each week, especially if they're online its really easy. I shop at HyVee and they release their's every Wednesday, so every Wednesday (I'm a stay at home mom, so this is easy for me during nap times) I sit down with the list we have built up over the first half of the week and make the master list. Some things that are extras are sometimes left off because there are things we need instead. I write down the items with the prices next to it so I know approximately what we'll spend. More often than not, we stick to our list. If you deviate from your list you'll spend more because you have not accounted for it (unless you work in a little wiggle room, which you can). If I catch a sale on something that we use a lot that is easy to store and we have room for it, I'll stock up a little. Maybe about a week in advance. That way if its butter, it won't go bad etc.. it will be easily used instead of forgotten and wasted.

I also do coupons. I know this isn't for everyone, but I usually get them online. It does take a while because I have several sites to cruise through to print out coupons, but for us its worth it with cereals and stuff. Like this week we need sugar, our local grocery store has it on sale for 1.88 for a certain brand and we don't care about brand with sugar of course. There's a coupon for .50 off this particular brand so I'll only pay 1. 38 for it. Not a lot of difference, but it adds up in the long run on things you actually use. Store brands are good too. Try store brands/generics if you haven't, you may be surprised. If your children wand say.. fruit snacks, make a deal. You can get the fruit snacks, but it has to be this certain brand (the cheapest one).

The other easy solution is for one of you to go to the store and the other parent stays home with kids. If they don't go shopping with you then they can't pick brands and they can't throw a fit if you forget something. Not taking your husband and kids with you and sticking to a list will likely shave off a lot of money to begin with.

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answers from Tulsa on

I have a freezer and if I see a great sale on meat I go ahead and buy it, it is neccessary to make ends meet at a future date. I only buy what we eat, I don't buy stuff because it is something I might want to try. It can be expensive and wasteful to buy something and it not be eaten, like strawberry yogurt Cheerios', no one liked them, and I had to eat them just to get them gone because I couln't just throw them out.

I use Peggy Layton's book on food storage. It has given me lot's of insite on how to budget and store food for future use. I don't use all the book but find some of it to be valuable information.
The book I used most when I was setting up my budget was:

The advice I took to heart was keeping a record of what you eat/use in a certain time period then buying to supplement the food as it is used up. She gives a lot of advice on being prepared for an emergency that is good common sense to anyone but I used most of her information on setting up what I needed to get enough food for about 6 weeks to 2 months stored.

Another book I really got a lot out of was her Food storage 101, and cooking with Home Storage.

Here is a google link to the books I found listed on the net.



answers from Houston on

I'm not sure what we spend, but I think it is around $120-$150 per week for a family of 4. This includes diapers, toiletries, etc. My husband also takes his lunch most days. The thing that helps me the most with food budgeting is to make a meal plan for the week based on our schedule. I usually know in advance of anything we have going on during the week and I try to plan my meals for the whole week in advance and shop for that menu. I always have extras around for emergencies (like frozen pizza or pasta bags that are easy to cook), but I try to stick to the menu. I make my grocery list based on that menu and what we will need for lunches and make every attempt to stick to that. If there is meat on sale or something like that, I buy it and freeze it and then try to use it for the next week's menu so that I don't have to buy that ingredient the next week and it will generally balance out over a month's time. I always have a variety of meats frozen and try to vary the menu each day so that we have chicken, pork, fish, beef, etc. each week to change it up. I have several cookbooks and use, so there are tons of new things to try. I also use my crock pot about once per week. I have actually really cut back on our food budget since I've been doing this because it takes all of the guess work out of meals and I'm not at the store several times per week buying stuff for dinner that night. I am pretty sure it is a proven fact that the more trips you make to the store, the more money you spend, so if I can go just once per week and get it all, I'm not tempted to buy the extras each time I go in there.

I hope this helps!



answers from Honolulu on

We spend about $150 a week on food. I put the money in an envelop and take the envelop with me. If I use cash, then I limit what I spend on the things I need versus the things I want on a whim. I make sure to keep $10 set aside for things I find on sale that I use frequently. (I also buy an extra can or two of food for food storage purposes). Also, make a list of what you're going to get before you go to the store including what your kids want. If you stick to your list it makes shopping faster and you don't accidentally buy stuff that you don't really need or use. Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

You've gotten a lot of great advice already.

One of my kids is a picky eater (but otherwise a good kid ;-), so when I make something new he has to try it. I will NOT stand over the stove making him a different meal, I will try to make a side he might eat or throw some nuggets in the toaster oven, but there are times I say cereal or yogurt as his limitations were bringing me down. He is part of the family and we all have to play our part! I am saying this for myself too.

I shop at least weekly for produce at produce markets and try to limit the other items to 2-3/month. I know what we use so when I see a great sale I'll stock up. At the same time, I plan the menu around deals too. If chicken breasts are a great deal I'll stock up & freeze a bunch. I coupon too.

I find that the grocery stores can be pricey so I try to limit myself to the deals and get the produce at the markets which have better quality and prices. I used to pick up staples at Walmart & warehouse clubs, but there selection is limited and when I shop the grocery store deals, I can do better a lot of the time especially with coupons & catalinas.

I recommend crock pot cooking as well as freezer cooking to save time & money as well.


answers from St. Louis on

We spend anywhere between 150-190 a week for a family of four. That includes diapers, wipes, baby food, beer and frozen easy meals for my hubby, WW meals and lowfat snacks for me and fresh fruit/veggies.

I just recently started tracking how much we spend each month on food just to have an idea. I thought we were spending less! I don't give myself a limit per month or week. I have found that if I go to the local grocery store (not Wal-Mart) once per week, I spend $50-75 because I just buy enough stuff to get us through the week. If I go to Wal-Mart, I spend $100-150 - because I find more sales, more generic brands and see things I forgot I needed so I figure why not?

I think shopping 1x a week is important because you can plan only a week at a time and also get fresh fruits and veggies. I would like to spend less on groceries each month but I also go shopping even when we are not 'empty'. Our pantry is almost always fairly full - maybe not of enough stuff to make a meal but we always have a few cans of soup, veggies, cereals, at least 2-3 snacks, pastas, etc. I only restock the pantry items when we run completely out or I think of something new I want. Otherwise, I focus on meats, fruits, veggies, bread, dairy.

I do try to plan 3 meals a week. That way I can be sure I have the ingredients on hand. Of those, I like to make 1 new recipe each week which can be more costly because I may not have the ingredients.

Because my husband works nights, our meals during the week are fairly skimpy. My daughter loves Mac and Cheese and that can last a few days (adding eggs with it, hamburger, chix nuggets, salad, etc). My son eats jarred baby food (at $.50-1.00 each) a few times a day so I've started making baby food for him about 3x a week which helps on costs.

I don't drink much soda - maybe a 12 pack every two weeks but my husband does. He drinks that and a lot of juices so we spend more on that then I would!

If I see a good sale (like on V-8 Fusion which my daughter drinks) I buy a few because I know it will last.

As far as what is acceptable, I think it depends on where you shop (Whole Foods or Aldi type store), how much you make and what lifestyle you have. It seems to be the norm to spend around $150 per week based on these posts. For us, we spend around that plus also each spend $10-20 eating out during the week plus eating out as a family 2x a month (around $40 each time).



answers from Chicago on

We are struggling with this also. I am eager to read others' responses.



answers from Kansas City on

We spend $150 every week on food we are a family of 4 plus I run my daycare and provide all foods for that as well. First off I make a list of what we need daycare/us then I get coupons we use they have great coupons. I get the hen house and price chopper ads and get sale items that I need in order we go to walmart to do our shopping since they are right behind our house they price match as long as you take the grocery ads with you. The $150 also includes all of our toiletries stuff as well. We are also doing the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover which helps out with budgeting stuff. Good Luck.



answers from Portland on

Hi there, here's my thoughts on your question. I hope you find this helpful. We are one source income and have 3 kids so budgeting is our favorite thing! just kidding of coarse, not been we've got to be really good at it since am the only one working.
We usually shop about 2 times a month. We choose one day go to cosco, found that most useful and buy everything we need- besides fruits and veggies.. we find them too pricy for that. Then buy the remainder veggies and fruits at another local produce store. We go another time for more fruits and veggies sadly they dont last a whole month. We end up speding probably 400-500. I think for a family of 5 that works just fine, and is more than enough.
We used to buy groceries weekly, but end up speding way too much money usually 100-200 a week... which adds up to quiete a lot. Lots of planning is definately key. And cooking at home more, will save you more money than you can imagine. We like to stick to once a month dinner or lunch out with the family. Maybe a night of ice cream or shakes but thats it!



answers from Sioux Falls on

Look into the David Ramsey financial peace university. It is a great coarse in budgeting and planning, and it shows you how to do it in each step. It will help anyone who is trying to make ends meet, or just help with overall responsible spending and saving.

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