I often wonder while checking out at the grocery store and seeing the busy shoppers around me how much do people spend on groceries. How does our household grocery spending compare to others?
Of course, many variables come into play. Dietary restrictions, preferences, and the region you live in.
When searching for an answer to how much should you spend you will find many different opinions and answers that you can end up wasting time without an answer. I love crunching numbers and wanted to find some real grocery spending amounts.
I discovered that the USDA releases monthly food reports on the average food spending of Americans. The USDA has been creating food plans at different price levels for more than 100 years. Let’s dig into the reports. https://www.fns.usda.gov/cnpp/usda-food-plans-cost-food-reports-monthly-reports
Table of Contents
USDA Food Plans – Monthly Cost of Food
Let’s take a look are the information in the reports on how much do people spend on groceries. The reports are broken down into easy to read categories so you can easily calculate the monthly average cost of food for your family.
The catagories are listed by ages and gender.
The report indicates that the costs are for all healthy meals and snacks to be made at home.
There are four eating plans listed in the report. They are Thrifty, Low-Cost, Moderate, and Liberal. Let’s take a closer look at what these plans are.
Grocery Budget Spending Plans
All Grocery Shopping Plans
- Use 2005 dietary guidelines, including health recommendations from the 2005 food pyramid
- Uses the most recent data available for food prices, nutrients and food consumption
- Is realistic about the time that people have to prepare their meals and uses some already prepared foods in the meal plans
- Uses the prices that many people have paid for food items
- Uses a nationwide standard for the nutrients offered in the diet at the lowest prices possible.
- The thrifty plan is used for the maximum amount allowed for the food stamp program.
- Food consumption by food group: Grains 8-10% of the diet, Vegetables 22-29%, Fruits 17-21%, Milk Products 29-25%, Beans and meats 8-13%, Other foods 3-6%
- Court systems use the low-cost food plan for the allotment of funds that should be used for food for those going through bankruptcy.
- The Department of Defence uses the Low-Cost Plan to determine the amounts for basic food expenses for all of its service members.
- Potato products tend to be of higher consumption in the low-cost plan compared to the liberal plan
- Leafy green vegetables tend to be at a lower consumption in the low-cost plan compared to the liberal plan
- 15% Fish and fish products are consumed in the meat and beans category
- The other category consisting of sodas and fruit drinks are higher in this plan compared to the moderate and liberal plans
Moderate Cost Plan
- Amounts of poultry are highest in this cost plan but noted that many poultry products can be reused into casseroles, soups, broth, etc.
- The people following this plan usually consume 20% more meat than people who follow the low-cost plan.
Liberal Grocery Spending Plan
- People in the liberal grocery spending category usually spend more money on fruits and vegetables.
- More expensive cuts of meat are eaten by the liberal group.
- Seafood takes up 20% of the meat category in the liberal spending plan.
Overall Grocery Spending Costs
For example, let’s look at what the grocery spending plans would look like for a family like mine. My family consists of two adults age 19-50. One child age 4-5 and one child age 6-8.
- 1 Female age 19-50 $39.80 week
- 1 Male age 19-50 $45.00 week
- 1 Child age 4-5 $26.30 week
- 1 Child age 6-8 $33.60 week
Total For Family – $144.70 week/578.80 month
- 1 Female age 19-50 $50.50 week
- 1 Male age 19-50 $58.30 week
- 1 Child age 4-5 $33.00 week
- 1 Child age 6-8 $47.00 week
Total For Family – $188.80 week/755.20 month
- 1 Female age 19-50 $62.00 week
- 1 Male age 19-50 $73.00 week
- 1 Child age 4-5 $41.30 week
- 1 Child age 6-8 $56.30 week
Total For Family – $232.60 week/930.40 month
- 1 Female age 19-50 $79.10 week
- 1 Male age 19-50 $89.40 week
- 1 Child age 4-5 $49.80 week
- 1 Child age 6-8 $66.20 week
Total For Family – $284.50 week/1138.00 month
Average Grocery Spending
Keep in mind these are averages for how much people spend on groceries based upon a specific diet. It’s great to use this guide to reflect on where you are compared to the averages. It can help you determine what your grocery spending goals are.
How Much We Spend On Groceries
The first thing to note is the differences in our diet in comparison to the dietary guidelines used.
- We don’t eat meat
- We prefer organic pastured raised dairy
- We prefer organic produce
One would think not eating meat would be big savings for us. It is but since we prioritize organic dairy and produce it wipes out those savings.
For a little bit of background on my shopping history. I used to be an avid couponer. We were those people that had a room stocked full of food that I purchased for pennies. I am no longer couponing. When I had my first child eight years ago I didn’t have as much time to focus on it and our diet priorities started to shift to more healthy foods.
I base our grocery shopping around two major points. First is I base the majority of our meals around a simple pantry of items that I keep on hand at all times. I mix those pantry items with fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables.
The second is I always look at the sales flyers when creating my meal plans. I lot of money can be saved especially in the produce department by planning around the sales.
On average my family’s grocery spending is between the Thrifty and Low-Cost. There are months that are higher especially if when make a Costco run.
How Much Money Should You Spend On Groceries?
The best place to begin when figuring how much you and your family should spend on groceries is to evaluate your current grocery spending habits and determine what your grocery shopping budget priorities are.
- Keep your receipts for a month of normal grocery spending and evaluate how much you spent and what you are purchasing.
- List your dietary requirements and preferences for your family
- What are your goals? This is both a monetary amount you wish to have as a grocery budget and dietary goals chich can affect your grocery expense.
- What would you like to cut from your grocery list and what are must-haves.
- Can you buy any must-have items in bulk?
How much you should spend on groceries is really personal and relative to your family. The right amount to spend is determined by your own needs and desires. The USDA report is a nice base of information to start evaluating your own grocery spending. If you want to spend less take a look at your current spending and experiment with what changes you can make to reduce that amount.
I found this information very interesting and helpful in answering the question of how much do people spend on groceries. I hope you did too. What are your grocery spending goals?