How Much Do You Budget for Groceries/household Items?

Updated on September 25, 2008
A.M. asks from Saint Paul, MN
6 answers

Hi all,
My husband and I budget $600 a month to cover groceries and any other household items, (i.e., cleaning supplies, lightbulbs, paper towels, etc.) I am a coupon clipper, we don't eat much red meat, and I occasionally shop at Aldi to get bargains. However, I still feel like we're always going over the budget amount. What are we doing wrong? Is this not enough for this category in our budget? We would love to buy organic foods, but of course, we cannot afford to do so. We do buy organic milk for our son, but that's it. I buy a lot of fresh fruit and veggies, but again, I try to get whatever is on special. Any ideas? We recently started planning our meals for the week, but we're still going over the budget. Thanks!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from Minneapolis on

we budget $500 for groceries each month and probably another $50 for household goods. I cut coupons and use the store flyers to buy items on sale and plan meals based on that. Do you shop at Sams or Costco? Buying meat in bulk saves a lot. You may also go on Saturday early am to see that they have reduced meat! Also, we have found that Super Walmart is chaper for our staples like milk, eggs, ceral etc and shop there where we can. I find sometimes I buy just to buy things...when I really look in my pantry, freezer etc I can make meals for about one week more. It basically comes down to not buying as much and resisting the temptation to buy things on impulse. Stick to a list!! You may think butter is on sale, but you go back home and find you already have 2!!

P.S. I also buy generic a lot!



answers from Minneapolis on

I think that if you make a menu and follow that when shopping, you will see a difference in your food bill. We are a family of 4 (two boys - 3 and nearly 2) and I spend between $75 and $100 on average per week on groceries at the grocery store. During the summer I usually spend about $20 at the farmers market as well, so that is a total of around $110 per week on average ($440 per month). $600 seems like a lot and you should be able to make it with that in your budget.

Try the menu idea for a week or two at a time.




answers from Minneapolis on

A. all I can say is WOW..

We are a family of 5 (2 adults, 10yr old, 4yrd old & 11 month old). I don't budget because we spend alittle different every month, we only spend about $300-$350 a month (not including formula), but does include diapers. We shop at Cub and Target (regular no Super).

I guess all you can do is to start sitting down with the receipts each time and see where the money is going. Fresh fruits and Veggies do add up. I know that is where alot of our money goes at the Grocery store..

Let us know what you figure out...



answers from Minneapolis on

Hi A.,

My family is the same size as yours, 2 adults and 1 little one (9 mos.). We spend about the same, $600/month on mostly food and a few household items. This comes out to $6.00/day per person, which I think is very reasonable.

We rarely, if ever, eat out. My husband and I both pack lunches to take to work, and I buy food from the vending machine about once a week. These are all factors you have to take into account when looking at your food budget.

For food, I shop at Lund's and the Wedge Co-op. I do buy local and organic foods whenever I can. Many people think these stores are outrageously priced, but I "shop the sales" and buy a lot of items in the bulk section, like beans, oatmeal and rice. I could maybe save 50 cents on hamburger if I went somewhere else and bought factory farm meat that's been driven 1,000 miles to my table, but what kind of "savings" is that?

We don't buy much in the way of household products; most of the money goes to food. I make my own laundry detergent, and I use vinegar for most of my cleaning. My son is in cloth diapers and I use cloth menstrual pads.

If it's imperative that you stick to $600/month, I would say that the fewer times you go to the store each month, the more you will save. The most expensive thing you can do is to be making several trips. I go shopping every 2 weeks, when I get paid. Also, you could start eating more meals without meat, as good meat is very expensive these days.

Another tactic you can use is to keep track of the cost of items as you put them in your cart. Before you check out, look at the total--if it's more than your budget, pick out the items you can do without for now.

Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

I think it's interesting that you say "I feel like we're going over the budget." You are either over or under, and I would take the time to figure out WHERE the money is going.

We keep household items and groceries separate in our budgeting, that way we know exactly where the problem is. Did we spend too much on food last month? Did we have to buy something for the house that isn't purchased regularly? It's easier to pinpoint the source of the problem this way, but it does take more work if we shop at Target or Wal-Mart for both. We separate them out and have the cashiers ring food and househould seperately.

Keep working on it. If you do, you will find the problem eventually. Also, know that "the problem" can change from month to month.



answers from Minneapolis on

Definitely make a menu for the week, and try to incorporate items that are already in your cupboards and fridge. Make it a challenge to come up with as many meals as possible without having to write any items on your grocery list. I promise you, you will find the grocery prices drop dramatically. We tend to overshop when we don't use lists, so our cabinets and refrigeraters become filled with stuff we don't need! Also, when you're at the store, ask yourself, "do I really need this for this week, or can I wait until next?" I guess I should mention that I grocery shop once per week, which helps with menu planning and keeps the cost lower. Our family makeup is similar to yours, (my son is 19 months), and we spend about $500 on groceries and household items.

Another huge tip - start shopping at Trader Joe's. There is one in Maple Grove, one in St. Louis Park, and one in Woodbury. You may think that because it is a specialty type store that it is more expensive - wrong! You can get TONS of organic products there for very reasonable prices, and their non-organic items are made with natural ingredients and very rarely contain any preservatives or other chemicals. In a typical week, I spend about $75 on food there and another $25 for wine (and that's for over 6 bottles of wine!). That's only $100 per week, which leaves me plenty for the other household items.

So, make a menu, make a list, and head out to Trader Joe's once per week!!! Good luck,

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions