Your Grocery Budget

Updated on July 25, 2012
S.H. asks from Harvest, AL
22 answers

I guess this is sort of a poll. I'm trying to get us on a better budget. I have calculated all of our regular monthly bills - mortgage, car payments, cell phone, car insurance, Netflix, and average electricity & water. I have never been good at trying to keep up with how much we spend on groceries per month. Or on going out to eat - which I know is always too much!

If you don't mind sharing, how much do you spend on groceries per month for your family? Please also include number and ages of your kids :) We are a family of 3: me, hubby & our 6 year old daughter. Do you feel you spend too much? Do you use a lot of coupons & sales to save?

Even if I did know how much we have been spending on groceries, I have no clue how to judge if it's spending too much! :)

I'm gonna try to go back through my bank transactions online to see if I can make a guess. I've been shopping more at Kroger for food rather than Walmart type stores, so maybe that will help me narrow it down!


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So What Happened?

Thanks for all of the responses!

Looking over my bank transactions for the last 3 months, I averaged only $168 per month on groceries! I always try to use coupons/sales, but only when it's something that we need. Most coupons, like others have said, are not for things we need or will use. Or it's still cheaper with store brand. We do try to buy meat in bulk, or anything in bulk to save money. I am wanting to start up our Sams Club membership again tho.

I have switched my grocery shopping to pretty much only Kroger and Aldi (Aldi has proven to be great for me!). Sometimes Publix. We do have access to the Commissary, but that is further to drive. Plus I know not everything is cheaper there, so you really have to pay attention!

I also have not really been buying much fresh fruits & veggies. Apples here, bananas there... Seems if I do buy them, they usually end up going bad before they are eaten! I am going to try to get them more often at Aldi thought. And make sure they are eaten :)

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answers from New York on

We spend about $1k a month. We're a family of 4 - 2 kids ages 6.5 and 8. We do buy a fair amount of organic food, high quality meat, and I don't use coupons... I feel like we overspend some though we're in a high cost of living area.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

We're a family of 3, including a 7 year old girl. I buy mostly organic food staples and we spend on average, about $150/week and that could go up to $200 depending on what's in the cart. I don't use any coupons; I don't have time for that, really, but also the couponed items tend to be food items that we don't buy. We live in So Cal.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Seattle on

We are a family of 3. My husband, myself and our two year old son. We spend about $150 every two weeks. We buy as much as we can on sale and try to be realistic in what we will actually use, and sometimes go without certain things.

All in all, we just try to buy smart!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

ETA: If you are throwing food out? You are wasting food and money. Designate one night a week to leftovers. We usually do it on the night before trash is taken out.

Take lunches to work. Use the leftover meat to make sandwiches.

We budget $500 per month for a family of 4 (mom, dad two boys 10 & 12) and one dog. And we have friends over at least 3 times a week - and I always have enough for them as well.

I always have enough left over (because of my coupon use!!) to get pedicures and other "treats"....

To keep control of your groceries? Make a menu for the week and shop off that. Heck - look through the Sunday paper and see what's on sale - then make your menu off that!!! You can save even more!!!

Coupon use is REALLY important. Wal-Mart does not double their coupons, however, their prices are lower for many items....still when I choose to drive out to Wal-Mart - I can save $25 to $40 on my coupons and spend $150 (after coupons).

Call the manufacturers of products that you use regularly - even dog food - I called Eukanuba and told them I wanted coupons - they sent me two - one for $5 and one for $10 off my 50lb bag (which lasts me about 4 to 6 weeks depending upon how active he is).

Put an envelope with cash in it (say $150 for 2 weeks) for 3 months - put your menus and coupons in that envelope as well. Then at the end of three months - go back and average how much you used.

Did you need more? Did you use less? This will help you figure out what you are spending your money on as well. Do a money journal - no kidding - account for EVERY PENNY SPENT. It makes you think twice about spending money - especially when you see how much you spend on "stuff" that you really didn't need.

Have your husband do it too. Account for every penny spent for 3 months. It's AMAZING what you spend your money on.


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answers from San Francisco on

We are a family of three, two adults and one five year old girl. We used to spend about 500 a month, then my husband lost his job and for the past two years have been living off 200 a month. We eat a lot of rice and chicken. Chicken is the cheapest protein we could find at 99c a pound, except when Costco sells huge packs of trout, we can get five large fish for about $11 and that helps shake up our boring diet a little. We used to buy ground hamburger but the price for that went up far too much. Ground burger used to be cheaper than chicken!

We eat a lot of rice, noodles and chicken supplemented with apples, oranges and bananas. The cheapest fruits. Vegetables vary based on seasonality and price. We always get whatever is cheapest. When corn is seasonal we eat a lot of corn on the cob much to my daughter's delight. During the winter we splurge and get pomegranates because they are my favorite and are only around for a couple of months. They are almost a dollar each to get the good POM wonderful kind, so it's an extravagance, but since we save our money to only buy Christmas goodies for our only daughter, we somehow always manage to scrounge up about $12 to splurge on my favorite fruit. Last year my husband put a bow on one for me which we laughed about in a sad sort of way. You do what you have to do.

The thought of spending over a grand a month on food seems so mind-blowingly opulent to me. I would eat cioppino every day for a month if I had that kind of budget. I haven't had a prawn in years. And now I'm drooling... damnit.

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answers from St. Louis on

About 500 a month and there is four of us living in the home. We also have two older kids who come home from time to time because we cook better than them. Oh how I have failed them. :p Oh the kids are 11 and 13, girl and boy. Don't let that deceive you that 11 year old girl eats more than my husband and I combined. Not sure where it all goes, she is skinny as a stick.

We are big on Costco. If you have the room to store and the ability to organize it is a great way to save money and still have quality food. For the most part nothing is premade. Like we buy cereal, that is about it that is premade.

You are spending too much if you are throwing leftovers away. You are spending too much is you are buying stuff that is heat and eat.

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answers from Washington DC on

we are a family of 4. Our kids are 5 and 7. I spend around $120 to $150 per week on food. I wish it was less, but things are just so expensive around here!

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answers from Dallas on

Family of 3, hubby, myself, 17 yr old daughter

I know I overspend, I do not use coupons. I'm usually at my favorite place, Market Street, daily for fresh produce and fruit. I buy the majority of my groceries there with exception to meats. I do buy seafood there. I do not buy Organic. I spend at least $500 a month at Market Street alone because in their program, you get $5 off your bill when you spend $500 and I get that about once a month. We also get our RX there as well. Add in the wine and I spend about $1000 a month on food, toiletries, etc.

I go to the butcher for all my meats. He has the best quality.. same steaks you pay $60 for in a high end restaurant, I pay $12-$20 for in his store. I stock up on steaks, ground beef, hand made Italian sausages, pork and chicken about once every 6 weeks and spend about $300

About once every 3 months, I spend about $600 at Costco... my go to's are toilet paper, paper towels, canned goods, cheese, butter, DanActive, dishwash, allergy meds. I buy some produce if I know I know I can use it, I buy NO meats.

I might spend $50 at Target once a month or so. They have the Ocean Spray Carbonated Cranberry drink we love... Last time I paid $1.99/pk, yesterday I paid $2.99/pack but they are routinely $5+ in the grocery store.

We like quality and we like fresh, therefore I pay more. I refuse to set foot on any property of Walmart or Sams and will go out of my way to avoid those stores.

As for our meals, we eat a lot of steak, chicken and pasta. Hubby is Italian so I keep a stash of home made marinara on hand with stuffed shells as well. I make a huge batch of stuffed shells and then freeze them 2/pk. My daughter Loves to come home from school and have her pasta.

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answers from Honolulu on

Here in my State:
groceries for 1 week (we have a family of 4, the kids are 5 & 9 years old), it is about $200.
And, I am a smart shopper and shop sales and always, plan a menu and grocery list EVERY week.

Of course, here in my State, a gallon of organic whole milk, is about $4.99 and that is the sale price.
Nectarines/peaches, on sale, is like $2.99 a pound.
For example.

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answers from Chattanooga on

We have a family of 4... 3 adults and my 2yo DD. We usually spend around $80-150/ week... but that is with us eating a lot of pasta and severely limiting our treats and nonessential food items... lol.

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answers from Jacksonville on

"Too much" is going to be relative. Too much is when you don't have the money and you spend money you don't have. OR when you "borrow" the money from another place (retirement fund? doctor bills? school clothes? vacation fund? etc).

We are a family of 4, plus our dog. Son is 14. Daughter is 11. We like to eat out, and we also eat out as a convenience matter (both kids do martial arts and almost ALL of the classes are scheduled during the dinner hour, plus we have last of the day orthodontic and allergy shot appointments, so I am OFTEN not home to cook for dinner--hubby is at work, so he can't take the kids or be the one at home cooking). We also live near the beach, so we get a lot of family visiting us who want to go out to eat fresh seafood while they are here. So, we spend in the neighborhood of $200-$300/month eating out. That may or may not include the fast food/sub sandwich type place meals, depending on if we have company visit that month. (Last month we had guests 3 out of the 4 weekends and grabbed subs on the way to the beach and ate dinner out a lot).

As for groceries, we try to eat healthy but that can add $$... it is not unusual for me to spend $1000/month or more. This includes OTC allergy meds, and dog food, household toiletries etc.. not just "food".

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answers from Iowa City on

Me, Husband, 5 year old, 2 year old. I spend approximately $750/month. This includes food; personal care items; food, treats, toys, flea treatment and bedding for 6 pets; gifts, school supplies; alcohol; soda; paper items; etc. I make at least two meals a day, usually from scratch.

When I add it up as a sum total ($9000) I think I am spending way too much but for what I am actually getting I think I'm not doing too badly.

I do look for sales and try to plan meals around them but they usually have things on sale that we just don't eat or use (like Powerade, pre-made burritos or chocolate covered bananas). I rarely use coupons. I would use them but, again, the ones I find are for things I won't use.

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answers from Washington DC on

We are a family of 5 and I shop at the Commissary - most things are cheaper, but not all.

I budget $350 every two weeks. Of course I forget some things and the we stop for fruit and veggies in between since we eat those like they are going out of style. So I'd say probably about $###-###-#### a month for the 5 of us.

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answers from Chicago on

We're a family of 5: me, hubby, 3 kids under age 6. I don't use many coupons because they are mostly for processed foods, and we don't do a whole lot of that.

Groceries are a huge expense for us: mostly grass-fed beef, free range, organic chicken, wild salmon, etc. But, recently I have started buying more lentils, black beans, quinoa, etc to get non-meat protein sources. A small reason for doing this is health-related, but my immediate concern is to save money. Unfortunately hubby does Atkins diet right now, so his meat needs are KILLING our grocery budget.

We've been spending around $1,000/mo for groceries.
Recently I told my husband I won't be buying the 6 packs of Diet Snapple anymore. I am making his iced green-tea in large batches, and then he can just take it to work in a water bottle.

I'm trying to get the kids to eat beans too, because that would save us a TON of money if I can substitute it for meat. Right now only the baby (15 mos) is willing to eat beans. But, they ALL love Quinoa, which I stocked up on at Costco.

I am going to have to start buying regular chicken, because the free-range organic is just too expensive for us to keep doing.

I used to buy a TON of different veggies each week: celery, eggplant, zucchini, spaghetti squash, bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, cilantro...yada yada yada. Really, I rarely used the eggplant, carrots & cilantro before they rotted. Celery - when I get it home I now keep it out on the counter instead of stuffing it into the fridge. After I settle the kids, I immediately wash it and cut it up into sticks, for a quick snack, and to make it easier to use it up later.

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answers from Dallas on

All together, I'd say $150/200 a week. I usually spend about $100 at Kroger and then after a trip to Sprouts or Trader Joes, that's another $50 at least and we usually end up getting McDonalds or pizza at least once a week, so that's another $20 or so, plus the extra trip for more milk, bread, etc. Family of 4, kids are 4 and 11.

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answers from Richmond on

choppy answer, climbing toddler. buy your meat in bulk, whole chickens on sale, buy two. big pack of beef cheaper, buy two. buy your pasta ,rice ,diapers,coffee,paper products at sams club or bjs and stock up if you have the space. buy a blender and make your own baby food. buy a crock pot and use it every chance you get. have a regular day of the week when you clean out the fridge, less chance of finding something alive and growing in the back on the fridge. its me, my other half and our two year old.
K. h.

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answers from Austin on

My husband tends to buy his own lunch stuff (generally on his way to work on Monday mornings), but based on what he buys, I'd add it to our normal groceries and say about $150/week. There are four of us, two adults and two kids, ages 3 and 6, and about $12 dollars in fish food/month. (Oh, and full disclosure, about $10/month on fish filters, too, but I buy those at the pet store, so didn't budget it in.)

We don't buy entirely organic, but we do eat organic apples and applesauce, and cage-free eggs and grass-fed beef.

We generally make good use of sales and promotions. Just this morning, there was a store coupon for, if you bought the generic children's ibuprofin, you get the generic children's liquid allergy meds free. The coupon did NOT specify what KIND of allergy meds, and the zyrtec equivalent was a full $2 more than the ibuprofin. From my point of view, this equals a two dollar coupon on zyrtec (which we need around here), and ibuprofin for free!

I don't understand the complaint about coupons being mostly for processed food. In my experience, coupons are hardly for food at all. I use about $6 in coupons every week - I haven't paid full price for feminine hygiene products, dish soap, storage baggies, toilet paper, or paper towels in years. (I HAVE had to buy tissues at full price this year. We didn't take advantage of the sale/coupon period at our local grocery store like we normally do, the last time the combo came around, and my 3-year-old seems to have summer allergies, whereas the rest of the family has fall allergies. Snuck up on me - won't make that mistake again!)

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answers from Washington DC on

Hi. I have a house of 3, myself and two children. I spend 450-500 a month. I have to buy school lunch items as well and that drives up my bill, my kids do not like school lunches. I also do a lot of fresh fruits, salads and that drives it up. I do mostly frozen veggies and I can always find deals on them. I think the only thing I buy fresh regularly are carrots and peppers.

I think when I don't plan out my meals I spend too much. I've stopped eating out as much ( the meal planning helps with that) and I've cut way down on overspending. I totaled up eating out expenses and in one month I spent an additional 400 dollars!!! The thing is it was in small increments, 5-6 here 10-15 there, so I didn't realize how much I was wasting.

I now budget for one, possible two, dinners out a month. We go to a nice place, dress up and enjoy a delicious meal! The kids enjoy it and it saves me a ton of money.

It was hard for the kids at first when I stopped buying any food out, including runs to 7-11 for a pastry, pizza slice or anything like that. They got over it when they realized I then had more money for trips, toys and other fun things!

Oh I read somewhere that the average is 75 per person, per week and I use that as a rough outline. Small kids need less and adults esp males may need a little more. It doable when you think in terms of needs vs wants.

Good luck!

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answers from Denver on

$500 to $550 per month - it's gone up at least 20% in the last 12 months and I haven't changed what we're eating. so those so-called experts who say groceries aren't rising are full of it! shop Kroger and a local whole foods type. $400 per month is Kroger (hey, I get 5% towards baseball and school expenses using the registered gift cards!) Oh, so my bill is really $$60 per month! :)

eating out not included in number above - that's 4-5 times per month.

family of four - me, hubby, 8 yo and 10 yo. pet stuff comes from petsmart. toiletries, paper towels etc come mostly from Target (although sometimes Kroger). I do shop the sales and produce is mostly in season.

we eat vegetarian 80% of the time. about 1/2 organic. free-range eggs and organic milk (but we only use about 2 gallons of milk per month). what meat we do eat is pasture-fed, free-range, etc. lots of fruits and veggies. lots of beans.

very few coupons - all the coupons are for mainstream processed stuff - it may be cheap but you'll pay for it in health care in years to come. we do some processed but it's Annie's organic, newman organic, etc. - stuff that only has ingredients that I can pronounce and know what they are.

so, you can spend what seems like too much (but is still quite a bit less than your grandmother in terms of percent of income) OR you can coupon and get it way down and eat a bunch of chemicals, etc.

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answers from Bellingham on

I budget $250 per week for groceries. We have three boys, 4, 6, & 7, and my husband and I. The budget covers food, cleaning stuff, toilet paper, shampoo etc. Sometimes we spend it all, sometimes we manage savings.

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answers from Los Angeles on

We are a family of 3: one adult, a preschooler and a 4th grader. So I don't think my budget would help you. To answer your other questions....

Yes I feel I spend too much. However, its because the food prices are so high. I do use sales and some coupons. Lately I've used mostly coupons for cleaning supplies and coffee and not much else. If I fill a cart at Whole Foods I know I'm spending too much. If I'm throwing out food I figure I'm either spending too much and/or wasting money on food nobody wants to eat. My current goal is to spend $25 per person per week on groceries. That doesn't include toiletries or take out.

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answers from St. Louis on

4 in our family: myself, DH, & 2 sons....both adult appetites. Actually all 3 men are big!! eaters.

I also buy for my daycare....4 kids.

I average $200/week. Sometimes more/less, depending on how our week is running. I use coupons, & I shop at Aldis for many food items.

Considering that we go thru 6-7 gallons of milk & about 25 bananas each week.....I think I'm doing pretty good!

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