Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice. You should consult with an attorney or other professional to determine what may be best for your individual needs.
How Much Should you Budget for Groceries?
Groceries are one of the largest household expenses. Grocery budgets can range from $185 per month for an individual up to $1062 per month for a family of four. The table below shows the USDA food plans for different household sizes.
|Family of 4`||$1,062.70|
To Estimate the size of a typical grocery budget, I used data from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service as a guide. USDA uses four categories of budget Thrifty, Low-Cost, Moderate, & Liberal plans.
Grocery Budget for an Individual
A few years ago, before I got married and started a family, I remember walking into the grocery section of a big box discount store, “Who needs to buy this much food at one time?” As an individual big box discounts stores will only save you money if you are hosting a party or on items with a long shelf life.
The Grocery Budget for an Individual can range from $185 per month up to $369 per month.
Below are the grocery Budget estimates for an individual:
Grocery Budget for a Couple
According to the USDA, the budget for a couple can range from $386 per month up to $766 per month.
Grocery Budget for a Family
According to the USDA, the budget for a family of 4 can range from $646 per month up to $1288 per month.
|Family of 4||$646.80||$850.30||$1,062.70||$1,288.50|
If your family is larger than 4, below is the recommended amount to add to your monthly budget for individuals.
|Child 2-3 years||$103.00||$133.00||$160.00||$195.00|
|Child 9-11 years||$157.00||$207.00||$271.00||$315.00|
Factors that Increase your Grocery Budget
If you looked at the Moderate Budget for your household size and find you spend significantly more than the Low-Cost or Moderate budgets. Keep reading to learn more about factors that increase the size of your grocery budget.
These Items will Increase Your Grocery Budget
Grocery Budget: Grocery Delivery
As my family started to grow, I noticed I had less time to make it to the grocery store. I started to use grocery delivery services. Some delivery services that I have used are: Prime Now by Amazon, Fresh Direct, Instacart & Peapod.
Grocery Delivery comes with a tip and possibly a service fee. I typically spend an extra $6 to $10 per week to have groceries delivered once per week. Over the course of a month that is an additional $25 -$40 added on to the grocery bill.
Grocery Budget: Organic & Natural Products
Organic groceries are typically more expensive than conventional groceries. Organic groceries are a priority for my husband and I so our grocery budget tends to be in the Moderate to Liberal range. Choosing organic over conventional groceries can increase your grocery budget by 15% to 20%.
Organic, grass-fed, or pasture raised meat and poultry cost significantly more than conventionally raised meat and poultry. I find that these items are often more than twice as much as conventionally raised meat and poultry. Purchasing Organic meat and poultry will significantly increase your grocery budget and your budget will likely fall into the Liberal M
Grocery Budget: Special Diets & Dietary Restrictions
If you have a peanut allergy, gluten allergy or other dietary restrictions. Your grocery budget will likely be higher than the Moderate Budget laid out by the USDA.
Grocery Budget: Convenience Food & Items
Convivence foods save you time in the kitchen but you often pay a price for the convenience. Below are some examples of convenience foods.
- Pre-cut Fruit
- Pre-cut vegetables
- Single Serve items
- Juice Boxes
- Individual wrapped items
- Toddler Pouches
- Freezer meals
- Paper Plates
- Paper utensils
Grocery Budget: Entertaining Frequently
While I was growing up, my mother often cooked large meals on Sundays after church. Friends and family were welcome and there was more than enough food for everyone. There is nothing like enjoying the company of family and friends over a home cooked meal. if you host meals for extended family and friends on a regular basis, your grocery bill will be higher.
Factors that Decrease your Grocery Budget
If you looked at the Moderate Budget for your household size and find you spend significantly less than the Low-Cost or Moderate budgets. Keep reading to learn more about factors that reduce the size of your grocery budget.
These Items will reduce your Grocery Budget
Grocery Budget: Big Box Discount Stores
Purchasing items at big box discount stores, can significantly reduce your grocery bill. Buying items in bulk can result in a large cost savings.
Grocery Budget: Business Travel
My husband recently traveled for work for a week and I noticed a huge reduction in our grocery bill. I have a family of 3 comprised of myself, my husband, and our two-year old son. Having one of the adults, gone for the week I spent significantly less money on groceries. While my Husband was gone, his expenses were covered by the business.
Grocery Budget: School Lunch
The estimates for Grocery Budgets from the USDA assume that every member of the family eats ALL of their meals at home. If you give your kids money for school lunch, or school lunch is provided for free, your grocery budget could be less than the moderate grocery budget.
Grocery Budget: Eating Out
Similar to school lunches, the USDA estimates are based on the assumption that households eat ALL of their meals at home. I go out for lunch three to four times a week. If you grab breakfast at a local café, or go out to dinner with friends, you will spend less on groceries.