Do you ever feel like you’re spending way too much on groceries? Today, I’m helping you answer the question, How much should I spend on groceries? with a detailed grocery budget guideline.
Plus, I’m taking a look at how low you can possibly go with your grocery budget, while still feeding your family pastured and organically grown foods.
I never appreciated how controversial the subject of grocery budgets could be until I shared my $170 grocery budget challenge over at The Humbled Homemaker where I’m a contributor.
In it, I reflected on the experience of telling my son I didn’t have any bananas or peanut butter to give him. As I noted in the post, of course I provided him with a variety of other healthy foods, but I also didn’t run out to the store to restock on his favorites in an effort to keep our grocery budget down.
All of a sudden I was no longer just a mom trying to save money on groceries to get out of debt faster. In a moment, there were two camps of Facebookers entrenched on either side of my parenting decision.
On one side were those aghast that I would dare to deny my toddler a simple banana when he asked for one. One commenter put it something like this, she should go get a second job instead of making her child suffer for her irresponsible spending and debt.
On the other side were those who thought even my $170 grocery budget wasn’t low enough. Well, they said I feed my family of ten on less than that!” (Ok, I may be exaggerating just a little.) And on and on it went.
Luckily, my husband happened to be home sick the day the post went live, so it was much easier to stay lighthearted about it all.
What I learned from the whole experience was what an emotionally charged subject our finances, and especially our grocery budgets can be.
I believe the reason for the controversy is that deep down each of us moms desperately wants to feed our family’s the healthiest food possible, but for the most part, we feel completely unequipped to do it on our real-life budgets.
Today I simply want to start by answering the question, How Much Should You Spend on Groceries?
How much should I spend on groceries?
Each month the USDA puts out a report about the cost of groceries, so I use this as my starting point.
In my table below, you can see grocery costs calculated for a range of family sizes and make-ups for the Thrifty Plan. This number is essentially the average minimum for grocery spending in the continental United States. There is also list a low-cost, moderate-cost, and liberal plan, each costing progressively more than the thrifty plan.
Updated: This table as been updated based on the data for 2017. (source) The good news is, prices have actually gone down since I started tracking grocery prices. Unfortunately, they only went down a little more than 1% in the last year.
However, I find that my Grocery Savings Made Simple students can often feed their families a very healthy, even pastured and organically grown diet, on the Thrifty Plan listed below.
The table is calculated assuming adults are 19-50 years old living in a two-parent household.
The variation of grocery costs is due to a range of ages and genders of children.
In theory at least, older children eat more than younger children, and boys eat more than girls. Use the lower end of the range if you have young children, and the higher end if you’re feeding hungry teenage boys.
Grocery Budget Guideline
|Family Size (Total)||USDA Thrifty Food Plan||USDA Low-Cost Food Plan||USDA Moderate-Cost Food Plan||Liberal Plan|
|Grocery Bill for 1 Low||196||247||358||439|
|Grocery Bill for 1 High||206||286||305||389|
|Grocery Bill for 2 Low||382||488||607||759|
|Grocery Bill for 2 High||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Family of 3 Low||463||597||729||906|
|Family of 3 High||545||717||899||1091|
|Family of 4 Low||544||700||852||1055|
|Family of 4 High||691||922||1160||1388|
|Family of 5 Low||619||793||969||1197|
|Family of 5 High||814||1100||1383||1648|
|Family of 6 Low||750||973||1187||1454|
|Family of 6 High||960||1295||1636||1942|
|Family of 7 Low||849||1106||1364||1656|
|Family of 7 High||1049||1411||1789||2118|
|Family of 8 Low||987||1291||1603||1934|
|Family of 8 High||1172||1581||1995||2362|
|Family of 9 Low||1137||1473||1823||2204|
|Family of 9 High||1269||1703||2147||2546|
|Family of 10 Low||1283||1656||2044||2476|
|Family of 10 High||1503||2010||2527||3002|
|Family of 11 Low||1430||1839||2264||2748|
|Family of 11 High||1446||1933||2417||2875|
It might be time to make some simple changes so you can stop struggling to feed your family the healthy diet you wish for them on your tight budget.