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How Much Should You Spend on Groceries?

How much should you spend on groceries? There's no right answer, but here are 3 factors that could determine how much you "should" spend.

I want to start out by saying that I’m not an expert by any means. I’m just a mom of one child that buys non-organic produce and processed food at times. I just want to share my experiences with grocery budgets, how we’re doing, and how you might compare to the national average.

With that being said, I’ve been asked, and read about people asking, what is a good average to spend each week/month on groceries? Unfortunately, I can’t give a straight answer because there are so may varying factors such as where you live and what kind of food you eat. I came up with 3 factors that determine how much you “should” spend on groceries every week.

How many people are in your family?

How much should you spend on groceries? There's no right answer, but here are 3 factors that could determine how much you "should" spend.

I found an interesting chart on USDA’s website that show the U.S average of how much is spent per person, based on age and sex. It’s also divided into four food plans: Thrifty, Low-Cost, Moderate, and Liberal. According to this, an average family of 3 like mine spends $455.80 per month on the Thrifty plan, which from what I understand, sets the basis for calculating costs for food stamps. Also note that this is based on the nutrition standards that the USDA recommends, a well-balanced and nutritious diet.

I also keep hearing that a good average to start out with when you’re coming up with a budget is $100 a month per person in your family (No source, it’s just a common thing I’ve been reading). So it looks like the more people you have in your family, the more you should add to your budget, to a point. According to the USDA chart I linked to above, if your family has 5 or more members, you actually start subtracting 5-10% from the average cost. So after looking at the chart, what do you think? My family only spends $240 a month on food AND household items, which is way below the average. If you’re also doing less, great job!

Dietary needs/restrictions

As someone with a family that has no dietary restrictions at all, it’s hard for me to say what you “should” spend on groceries, especially on a gluten-free diet. Studies are being done that show that gluten-free items are much more expensive than their regular counterparts, and from what I’ve seen at the grocery store, I definitely agree! If you’re on a gluten-free diet, try your local Aldi if you have one. They’ve gotten very good at varying their items, including a huge gluten-free line.

I asked some very helpful people in the Dave Ramsey Budgeting Meals Group on Facebook (Join us! A great way to find help eating on a budget) about their grocery budgets, and they have a very rough average of $100-$125 a week with either one or more family members on a gluten free diet. The family sizes varied between 1 and 7 people, and some of these budgets included household items as well. One way to keep costs down, one said, was to make your own bread items if possible. That goes for everyone, even if you’re not on a gluten-free diet!

Choosing to buy organic

Have you seen the prices of some organic produce? I can’t believe how much more expensive it can be! Regular milk is about $2.00 a gallon, while organic milk is up to $6.00 a gallon. It’s kind of sad that “good” food is more expensive, but that’s just how it is. Once again, I don’t have an organic diet so I can’t give an accurate number, but from what I’ve seen of others’ budgets, it’s very similar to the gluten-free budget of between $75-$100 a week. Try adding about 20% of your usual grocery budget and see if that works. If not, you may have to adjust.

Does this give you a better idea of what you should spend? This is just one of many answers you may receive when you ask how much you should spend every month, and there’s really no right answer. If it works for you, go for it! If not, just keep adjusting until you’re comfortable. You can do this!

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