How Much To Spend On Groceries

Groceries are expensive. We have to buy them so our question is, “How much to spend on groceries?” Right?

The last thing we want to do is spend more than we have to.

What Others Spend

In 2020, the average American family spent $63,036 in one year.

That’s a lot right?

Where did all this money go towards? The table below shows where the money was spent the % of the total spent.

CATEGORY$% of Total
Apparel and Services$1,8833%
Personal Care Products and Services$7861%
Cash Contriubtions$1,9953%
Personal Insurance and Pensions$7,16511%
All Other Expenditures$1,8913%
This data is from the U.S. Department of Labor September 9, 2020 News Release.

If you look at the chart above, food was the THIRD HIGHEST expense.

The average American spent $8,169 in one year on food. To break it down, that’s $680.75 every month. That’s a lot of money for just one category. Did you think food would be the third highest expense? Is it also yours?

Unfortunately, a lot of the money that is spent on food is wasted.

How Much Is Wasted

Have you thrown away food because it expired, spoiled, or didn’t want to eat leftovers?

Here’s a startling statistic, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA),

Americans waste more than $161 billion each year on food, with dairy being the food item we toss the most. The average American family of four throws out $1,600 a year in produce.

Guys, that’s A LOT of money wasted. It’s sad because food production, especially dairy and meat, needs a lot of essential resources like water and energy.

When you think about your “water footprint”, the amount of freshwater each person uses. Your diet makes up most of your water footprint.

To be honest, I’ve been guilty of food waste. I’m thrown away produce, dairy products, and a lot of my food has expired. But throughout the past year, I’ve gotten a lot better.

I’m not perfect but I’m making progress.

Here are a few quick ideas to avoid dairy and meat waste:

  • Use your freezer. Cheese and meat freeze really well. I had no idea you could freeze cheese and how much it would extend its shelf life.
  • Buy the smallest size. If you run out, it’s probably not the end of the world.
  • If you don’t plan on finishing your; milk, sour cream, yogurt, cottage cheese before it expires, don’t buy it. Find a substitute that will last longer.

So on one hand, our third largest expense is food and on the other hand, we are throwing it away.

That doesn’t make sense!

How Much To Spend On Groceries

I hope these statistics have helped you understand that we don’t have to spend as much money as we do on food. Because in the end, a lot of it is thrown away.

So when it comes to figuring out how much to spend on groceries….

I encourage you to start with a conservative number. A conservative number is a small number. Start with that small number and do your best to stick to it. Also, just because you start with a small number that doesn’t mean you can’t eat hearty and healthy meals.

ALSO, when you create a budget for food. Don’t forget that your food budget is part of a whole other budget which includes your fixed expense. Sum your fixed expenses (mortgage/rent, utilities, car insurance, etc.), choose how much you want to save FIRST, and then see how much you have left for variable expenses which include food.

These 5 Easy Steps to Budgeting Success will guide you through this process.

How much To Spend On Groceries Examples

How Much I Spend

As you start thinking about what your food budget could be. Learn from my mistakes! Before I created a budget, I tracked my food spending for about three months and I was shocked because I had no idea I was spending so much money on food.

I was spending about $375 a month. At the same time, I never seemed to have anything to eat….And that’s because I would just buy random things and then I couldn’t make a meal out of it. I was also spending too much money eating out BECAUSE I couldn’t make any meals out of what I already had at home…

So now, my grocery budget is $35 a week. I got my inspiration from Shelby and her YouTube channel. She’s amazing at making the $35/week (per person) budget work for her and her family.

Here’s what I do that helps me stick to my $35/week grocery budget:

  1. I plan my meals AND THEN I go grocery shopping.
  2. When I plan my meals, I incorporate what I already have on hand and prioritize food that’s expiring soon.
  3. I plan for a specific number of meals.
  4. When I plan my meals, some are a little bit of a “splurge” and others are simple. I don’t plan to eat salmon 5 days out of the week.
  5. Before I go grocery shopping, I research how much each item will cost so that I know how much I will spend. This number is not always perfect but it helps A LOT! I’m usually just $5 over or under.
  6. I plan my meals two weeks out, this helps me make the most out of my budget. Instead of having $35 to spend on groceries, I have $70.

Do you sense a running theme here? I take the time to plan. That’s the key to sticking to mine and YOUR budget. So, don’t forget to plan before you go grocery shopping. It will save you time and money.

How Much Others Spend

Find inspiration on YouTube and blogs and see how different people make different budgets work for them. I haven’t tried these myself but they are great references. Here are a few that I found:

  1. $25/week – Tia Weston, her YouTube video is called, “$25 weekly grocery budget – How to plan & save money each week (shop with me)”
  2. $50/week – The Everygirl, her YouTube video is called, “Under $50: I Bought a Week of Healthy Food from Trader Joe’s”
  3. Beth Moncel at Budget Bytes. I recently found her blog and plan to get some great recipes from her!

So when it comes to how much to spend on groceries. There is no right or wrong number. But as I mentioned before, start with a small number. You will be amazed at how much you can buy with planning and creativity.