View Full Version : Food budget

01-30-2011, 12:41 PM
What portion of your monthly budget goes towards food? Mention how many ppl are in your family, and any relevant info such as special foods, organic foods, coupons, growing your own, buying in bulk.

I am really curious because food seems like way too big a part of our budget. I'l try to pull some numbers together after I start the laundry . . .

01-30-2011, 01:17 PM
I don't handle the money so I'm not sure exactly but I know we spend a lot on food too. I go to the wholesale club twice/month and spend about $200 on each trip. Then I probably spend about $100/week on grocery trips for perishable foods - veggies, fruits, milk, yogurt, cheese, lunch meat. We only eat out about once/week and it's usually take-out pizza. So I estimate about $850/month on food for 4 people.

01-30-2011, 01:40 PM
Ok, I looked at January's bank statement (since it closed a few days ago, i guess it includes a bit of december). 35% of what we spent went to loans and 22% to bills. 31% of what we spent was on food, for a total just under $1100 for the four of us. about 70% of that was spent at health food stores, which is largely due to the food allergies. I find I react even to much of the meats in the grocery store because i'm sensitive to chemicals. We dont eat out at all. Ok, i guess this doesnt count what dh spends directly - he eats lunch out all week and picks up a thing or two at the grocery occasionally - very occasionally.

It feels way too high, but maybe its not totally out of line? Esp considering we are gluten free and dairy free and trying to buy high quality natural or organic as much as possible.

Kristina Breece
01-30-2011, 02:06 PM
We spend roughly $700 each month on food. This is for 5 of us (3 adults, 2 kids) and I often send dinner to my in-laws, my parents, and my brother's houses. It takes quite a bit of planning & sale-tracking & bulk-buying & using homemade stocks & such instead of convenience items for me to cut it down that much.

But then I see people who are serious "couponers" and I wish I could control the spending a bit more. (A friend of mine from high school swears she never spend more than 50% of the actual retail price on her groceries because of her couponing. In my DREAMS!)

01-30-2011, 02:16 PM
Yeah, i have a freind who is crazy about chasing sales and coupons ... i dont think most of what I buy ever has coupons. I do buy some things in cases to save 10% (pasta, soy milk, gf pretzels, rice cakes - my 7 yo's staple), we make most of our own gluten-free bread, I make broth. I think the bulk of the cost is in gf flours, dairy alternatives, and natural/organic meats.

01-30-2011, 02:25 PM
$900/month for family of four (I'm in SC). We buy local (we have a co-op that sells all the basics...grassfed/pastured meats, raw dairy, eggs, etc.). Not subsidized by the government and sustainable practices. Gets pricey but it's worth it for wholesome, real, sustainable food. I culture/ferment, make all my own stocks, and basically have nothing here that comes in a box (except baking soda!!).

01-30-2011, 02:43 PM
Our food bill runs around $500 per month for 3 of us (that includes a 15 y/o boy who eats his weight every day. LOL) DS and I are both gluten free, he can't have food colorings and I can't have any kind of meat. Hubby can -and does- eat anything. I know people who save a lot using coupons, but it's on what we call "crap food" - frozen pizzas, junk cereal, gogurt, pop tarts, lunchables, etc. I've found that coupons for "real" food are hard to come by, though when I do find them, I use the heck out of them! Since there aren't really any convenience foods that we can eat, I try to have plenty of snacks made and menus planned for up to 3 weeks. There's a local Thai restaurant that we eat out at once a month, but it only costs about $25 for the three of us, with tip. I would love to cut our food bill down more, but as it is I already cook 85% or more of our food from scratch. Most of the non-scratch items are hubby's gluten-y goodies (and even those I buy on the cheap.)

01-30-2011, 03:07 PM
We spend about $500 to $600 per month for a family of four. We don't need any special dietary food and usually don't buy organic. We shop mostly at the no-frills grocery store where the prices are the lowest, except for a few items from Trader Joe's and bread and milk from the neighborhood market. I grow some vegetables in the summer, but I don't think it knocks a significant amount off our grocery bill. We order pizza once or twice a month, but that's our only eating out.

I'd love to find a way to afford organic produce, grass-fed meat, and a CSA share, but money is so tight that after homeschooling materials and the kids' activities we have zero disposable income. :(

01-30-2011, 03:11 PM
I think i shoudl start keeping tabs of the actual reciepts and see what we're actually spending on . . . sigh

01-30-2011, 03:17 PM
$300 / month that is 5 of us, 2 dogs and a cat. (I put 5 because if you count my daughter who is 10months and my 14 month old nephew they only eat 1 persons worth) The bulk of my shopping is done in bulk, we make most of our things from scratch. This total does included our pet food as well as my husbands lunches. We are pretty low income and are actually coming off a year long unemployment stent. I would spend more but there is no more to spend. During the summers we grow some of our own but due to our yard being redone and being renters we don't have much space to grow food.

01-30-2011, 03:43 PM
We probably spend $500-600 a month, too. With eating out, that number is probably closer to $700. That's for the four of us humans plus six cats and two dogs. I make my own cleaning supplies and cook a lot from scratch. I, too, try to buy a lot of organic, and I tend to buy meat in bulk when it's on sale (this week I got 9 lbs. of pork butt, divided it, and froze it). I've looked at couponing but find that it's almost all processed food, which I try to avoid, and CSAs often have a lot of chicken, and I'm intolerant. The only coupons I regularly use are for the cat food. I'm in a low-cost food area, too, so if we moved to another state, this number would no doubt go higher. I could shop at Aldi and save some money, probably, but then I couldn't get organic. We don't have Trader Joe's or Costco here (stupid liquor laws). C'est la vie. I'd rather spend the money on good-quality food that I want to fix than eating out or eating crap.

01-30-2011, 03:46 PM
We are a family of 4 and spend about $800/month if you include toiletries. We are vegetarians, and about half the fresh produce I buy is organic. I tend to get the organic packaged items, like spaghetti sauce, snacks, mac and cheese, yogurt, cans of soup, etc. too. I could probably cut back the bill quite a bit if I used more coupons and stopped buying organic, but I haven't taken these steps yet.

01-30-2011, 05:15 PM
We're a family of 3 plus two dogs and one cat. We spend approx. $400 per month on groceries including dog/cat plus cleaning supplies/toiletries.

I can flucuate, specially around the holidays and special events where we have people over (though luckily my friends/family love to do pot luck). I shop locally at a discount grocer for meat as for some reason they are much better quality and price than the local big supermarkets. We watch the sign outside one of the local corner markets for specials as they do a lot of local meats. Once a month I travel across the border to NH to save on stock up items like soups, canned and frozen items and pet foods. I try to buy healthy as much as possible and I would say about 15% of what I buy is organic. I shop Trader Joe's about every month or so when I am in Portland as they have a few frozen items (and two buck chuck) that I really like and the price is not out of line. I bake/cook a lot more now that I'm home most of the time which has helped the food budget. We do at least one meatless meal per week. I could do more as I'm not a big meat eater but I'm afraid my husband would eat one of the dogs!

We eat out about once a month. We use coupons for dining out...not much for groceries because as others have said it's mostly junk food though I have found nice deals lately on things like ketchup (one of my DH's food groups) and baking items. I belong to the dining club or rewards program of every restaurant we like so I receive coupons and other offers which helps for those once in a while special treats.

01-30-2011, 05:31 PM
Our budget for our groceries is $200 every 2 weeks. We are a family of 5, plus 1 dog, 2 cats and 2 guinea pigs.
Some weeks we spend more, others less so it evens out. We don't eat processed food and hardly any meat. In a 2 week period, we might eat lean ground beef once and chicken once.
We very rarely go out, maybe once a month. My husband might grab some fast food on his way to work, usually once or twice per pay period. I try to can in the summer and I make big batches of soup often.
We've lived this way for years, if not going out means being able to continue homeschooling, then that's what we do ;)
We also have only 1 car, for the reason above!

01-30-2011, 06:50 PM
coupons come in handy with sales and store dollars at Drug stores. Can save big on toiletries, detergent, and paper towels. Gotta play the drug store game. Saves a few bucks for real food.

Miguels mommy
01-30-2011, 11:31 PM
I have no idea how much we spend on food but we definitely need to cut it. We're trying angel food ministries this week. We'll see how long that lasts but we have no idea what to do with all the beans.

01-31-2011, 12:33 AM
We spend $800 per month for seven of us (2 adults, 2 teens, 2 boys who eat like teens, and my 5yo). This includes all food, paper products, shampoo, etc, but it does not include our pet food. I budget for those separately ($100/mth). I buy in bulk and do not buy any premade or processed food. We eat mostly vegetarian and some organic, but really I buy the cheapest local food I can. I buy chickens twice a year from the Hutterite Colony, but mostly I buy from our local grocery store. I try to stock up when things go on sale, but I don't have much storage room. I buy all my bread from the discount bakery (though I do try to make it from scratch occasionally.). We eat simple, quick meals, because I don't really want to spend lots of time in the kitchen!
We're up in Canada, so I'm not sure how prices may difference. Milk is $4 for 4L (about a gallon).


01-31-2011, 12:44 AM
We spend atleast $700-800/monthly for 2 adults and 1 child. We are getting a puppy within the next two months sometime so it will increase from there.

01-31-2011, 07:18 AM
We spend about $700/month for 2 adults 2 kids (kids and hubby have metabolisms like you would not believe - takes almost 4000 cal/day/person to keep them running - I wish I were so lucky). This includes alcohol/paper/toiletries/eating out (we get pizza every friday night and eat lunch out a couple of times per month. We like good food so we'll go to good restaurants) but not the dog or cats - they get lumped in w/farm animals. We shoot a couple of deer every fall and raise our own lamb we used to raise beef but don't any more. I don't have the freezer space so we only eat chicken when the layers get too old. I could easily spend less but I don't really want to spend the brain cells on it right now.

01-31-2011, 08:19 AM
I would say I spend $600-$800 a month for our family of 4 plus 1 dog. When I need to restock the bulk supplies we are at the high end.

01-31-2011, 09:31 AM
We're a family of four (with 2 teens--one a skinny boy with HUGE appetite), and we probably spend an average of $400-500 a month. We shop Aldi's and a no-frills local grocery store. However, we also grow and can/freeze a ton of food (beans, tomatoes, berries, collard greens, okra, zukes, kohlrabi, squash), pick around 100 pounds apples at an orchard in the fall at 50 cents a pound and can applesauce and apple slices for pies. We buy in bulk when we can. We can easily go through four to five 20 pound bags of rice a year.

We also buy whole or halves of steer, lamp, and pig at a local 4-H fair auction and have it processed at a local butcher. We spend about $500-600 total on meat for about a 16 month supply. It's a lot up front, but it averages $1.80/pound on the beef, for example. That includes ground, roasts, T-bones...all of it. Plus, it helps a 4-H kid save $$$ for college. We also have our own chickens for the eggs, and eventually for the meat with they get too old.

01-31-2011, 10:13 AM
Well, we can definitely conclude that I spend a lot on groceries! My numbers do include toiletries and paper goods, but not pet food, which we buy at the vet (cats uti food) or petsmart - canned stuff by the case if we can (dh tends to spoil the picky cats). I also cant do much beans - dh wont eat them - only canned beans in salad, or hummus, or chili. I guess next I need to start tallying each reciept to see exactly where it is going.

01-31-2011, 10:53 AM
I spend $300-400 for a family of 5 (3 adults, 2 kid, well, and the cat). I include our pet stuff in there, but not toiletries (though we stock up on those when there's a great sale so we rarely have to buy any). I'm in Canada, where the cost of living is higher. Before the passport crap I used to grocery shop in the US (I'm in a boarder town) and my grocery bill was even lower. I don't have a passport though so that ended :( Most people don't believe that I spend that little but it's do-able. We shop massive sales for meat and I separate and freeze. I stock up on canned goods when I know it's at it's lowest price. We don't buy organic at all. I cook and bake from scratch a lot and freeze.

01-31-2011, 10:55 AM
Cara, I do track my receipts. It's an eye opener when I haven't done it in a while. Every time I start tracking my receipts again my bill goes down. I track mine to the store and each item including size (like 5lb apples). It helps to learn where stuff is the cheapest.

02-01-2011, 03:35 AM
Were a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 children) and I spend $200 every 2 weeks or less. I coupon a lot, but don't waste my time on junk food. I mainly use coupons for pet food, toiletries, canned goods, crackers, rice, and things of that nature. My kids are hyper enough without a lot of sugar being added into their diet, so I don't bother with sugary snacks. I don't know how to can, so I can't save there. We don't eat out, I make a lot of our food from scratch, but we don't eat organic, or gluten free (can't afford that).

02-01-2011, 03:48 AM
I spend way too much on groceries!

02-01-2011, 07:28 AM
I probably spend about $500/month for the 3 of us, not including toiletry items. We are vegetarian and try to eat local and organic, but local and organic are pretty non existent where we live so we eat differently here than we normally do. Food prices are sky high here, some of the highest in Canada. Milk is almost $7.00 a gallon; we don't buy organic (which is way, way more expensive) but at least it is hormone free like everywhere in Canada. I cook mostly from scratch and try to be careful about waste. That said, we also stock up when we go down to the States, usually every couple of months. No matter the reason we are there, the car comes back loaded with groceries, beer and consumables from Target. My DH chokes at how much we spend at Hannaford or Whole Foods, but the prices are 1/3 to 1/2 what they are here, and there are so many more options. A lot of what we buy in Maine just isn't available here so we get some variety and comfort that way too.

I used to garden quite a bit and look forward to doing so again, but we are so up in the air here it makes it hard to plan much of a garden. As soon as we're settled I hope to grow a lot of our own veggies and fruits, and join a CSA (again, not available here--we do have one, but it's ridiculously expensive and limited). Local produce is very hard to come by here in the summer months and non existent the rest of the year. We do pick berries and apples and that sort of thing and I put up what I can.

02-01-2011, 11:15 AM
We spend about $350 a month on groceries and eating out (sometimes less if we're saving for a vacation) for 2 adults and 2 younger kids (that still eat a surprising amount of food at times!). We stock up when things are on sale, do some home canning and in the past we've had large gardens and raised our own chickens. I also go through the sales papers and list out what is a good deal and how much it will cost me, then go back and make a meal plan utilizing what's on the list plus what we have on hand to make sure I can actually get all the meals I need out of what I'm going to buy. We do a mix of organic and regular food and we're not vegetarian, but we're not big meat eaters either, probably 75% of our meals are meatless.

02-01-2011, 11:31 AM
We spend around $600 a month for a family of four (we eat organic and are vegetarian). We also eat out twice a month, which usually totals no more than $70.

02-01-2011, 01:05 PM
Ok, Ann, wanna pm me the amount! LOL

02-01-2011, 05:37 PM

I wish we could make short messages.

02-01-2011, 06:12 PM
We had been spending about $800 per month for a family of four, including eating out and buying organic/humanely raised whenever possible. My new year's resolution is to cut that down to $500 or less. We ate out way too often and it was mostly laziness and lack of planning which caused such spending.

In order to meet my goal I have had to stop buying organic, start buying in bulk and go to big box stores, which I hate doing. I also started making weekly menus, planning more frugal meals, and buying fewer pre-packaged things. DH was eating lunch out about three times per week but now he has bought into the "lunch pool." Everyone who wants to participate puts in $20 per month and someone buys deli meat, cheese, bread, etc...in bulk and they make sandwiches. This has helped alot.

I tried coupons, too, and I did save money but I was buying foods I didn't want and weren't healthy. They don't make a lot of coupons for fresh fruit and vegetables.

Good luck!

02-01-2011, 06:16 PM
Coupons just don't work for us. I buy organic when it is economically feasible. I have joined a produce co-op which actually has usable good food and that helps. I don't use as much meat, or use half the amount a recipe calls for.

I have 2 athletes that eat a lot, and I need to get smart calories in them. That can be challenging at times but we are getting better at it.

02-01-2011, 06:40 PM
Wow! I'm impressed at how little many of you spend on food. We spend way too much, but groceries are much higher in Alaska than in the lower 48. I need to seriously look at our food budget.

02-01-2011, 07:27 PM
Thats the thing tho - if it comes down to cutting out organics and buying at big boxes . . . i have to stop a second and think if its worth it. I used to be a vegetarian myself, but the hubby wont eat beans and the boys wont eat tofu. and the allergies . . . big part of it. Sigh.

02-01-2011, 07:52 PM
Food allergies! Aside from living in a place where food is expensive, food allergies inflate our food budget.

02-01-2011, 08:07 PM
Food allergies! Aside from living in a place where food is expensive, food allergies inflate our food budget.

Yes ! This is our issue too. No eggs, no cow's milk, and very little wheat. Makes for exciting shopping.

02-01-2011, 08:39 PM
I am one of those crazy couponer-s but 90% of what I buy is not food with them. Mostly I coupon for health and beauty items as I make 90% of our household cleaners too. As it is i have a years worth of diapers and wipes pre-bought and i spend less than $5 a month on "personal items" for 5 people. Our grocery budget is about $500 for 5 people. We eat about 50-60% organic fruits and veggies. Other than breakfast cereal and pasta almost nothing we buy here comes in a box. I buy 1/3-1/2 a cow from my in-laws every year that is organic and grass fed. Chicken I buy in bulk that is hormone free though not organic. I go to costco about every week and buy fruits and veggies, flour and such in bulk.

We eat out about once every 3-4 months. I think that is about all I could take of it. None of us have any major food allergies to avoid. I just shop sales and use coupons when good ones come around. I do use a lot of coupons and deal websites to save in other areas to help cover our growing food budget. So I guess it is somewhere around 1/5th of our budget monthly?

02-02-2011, 03:48 AM
About $600 per month at the grocery store per month, that includes "sundries" (paper products, soaps, ect...) DH spends an additional 5-10 per day for lunch and snacks... yeah there's one way to cut back I know, but try telling him that. I will also have him pick up milk, bread, ect on his way home 1-2 X's per week, so another 10-20 per week.... sigh, this is for a family of 4 people 2 1/2 sized dogs. And there's never anything in the house that I want to eat!

02-02-2011, 09:45 AM
I have a $350 monthly budget for groceries (which includes household items as well) plus an additional $125 for Sam's Club where I buy food in addition to dog food, TP, detergent, etc...
When we eat out it goes up by another $50-100/month. I'm really, really trying to cut the eating out but am having trouble doing so.
So that is 475 for certain up to $575/month for a family of 4 plus 2 big dogs.
In addition to this, we get a grass fed fed Black Angus every other year or so. That is about $1600 for about 450-475lbs of beef. So, I guess add another $65 per month since we only do it about every 2 years. Luckily they speed freeze it from fresh, double wrap, etc... so it lasts a solid 18 months + in the freezers.

02-02-2011, 09:57 AM
i want a freezer . . . lol. I would love to buy a lamb. we dont eat much beef, tho. we all have trouble digesting it. tho i've been making a french-canadian shepherds pie using grass-fed ground beef, and we are all fine with it.

02-16-2011, 02:11 AM
I spend $300-400 for a family of 5 (3 adults, 2 kid, well, and the cat). I include our pet stuff in there, but not toiletries (though we stock up on those when there's a great sale so we rarely have to buy any). I'm in Canada, where the cost of living is higher. Before the passport crap I used to grocery shop in the US (I'm in a boarder town) and my grocery bill was even lower. I don't have a passport though so that ended :( Most people don't believe that I spend that little but it's do-able. We shop massive sales for meat and I separate and freeze. I stock up on canned goods when I know it's at it's lowest price. We don't buy organic at all. I cook and bake from scratch a lot and freeze.

yes, I believe this! When we lived in the U.S. we would spend approx 250. to 300. a month to feed all 7 of us. Now we are in Mexico, it is about 120. to 150. to feed the five at home and which ever kidlets come home and bring their crew with them to eat at mom and dad's. I do a lot of cooking from scratch and freezing though. I do not waste anything. Yes, it can be done.

02-16-2011, 08:59 AM
Glad to know I'm not insane lol I am slacking in the receipt tracking department and just did December's yesterday.... Including buying baking supplies, my grocery bill was just over $300 for the month. I've actually had people call me a liar about how little I spend...

02-16-2011, 09:28 AM
Youre all better at saving money than me apparently... I spend 600 a month for 3 people. Granted two of them (the kids) are like black holes. That is at the COMMISSARY no less... If I was food shopping at the local safeway that would shoot up to 1000 .... GAhhhh

I havent lived on the mainland USA for years and years now so I cant think what it would/should be...

Wabi Sabi
02-16-2011, 09:56 AM
We try to eat lots of whole and organic foods, but I'm no purist- there's still some boxed stuff and treats that find their way into our grocery cart. It's all about balance, IMO. Anyhow, in the past we've easily spent upwards of $800+ a month on food on a family of four. However, my dh hasn't worked full-time since last summer and money is tighter than ever. He's working in a much lower paying part-time job right now while trying to start his own business. We simply don't have enough money left in the bank account after paying bills to shop like we used to shop for groceries. Now I try to keep our groceries to $200 or less each month. We're able to do this because we had quite a full pantry/freezer plus I'm able to bring home a few bags of groceries each week from a volunteer position that I hold at the local food bank.

02-18-2011, 11:22 AM
I'm also a crazy couponer who rarely uses coupons for food. When I do use them for food, it isn't for junk and convenience items. There are a lot of coupons that aren't for processed or junk food. I have a about year's supply of the brand name toothpaste we like, and most of it was free. The same with shampoo. The most I will pay for a big bottle of name brand shampoo is $1.50. This week I'll be getting 6 pounds of our brand of dry cat food for only $1.50 by matching coupons and a sale. That's 25 cents a pound! I stocked up on butter before Thanksgiving (certain foods go on sale at certain times of the year), and am just now running out. I paid $1.25 per pound for Land 'O Lakes. I have a closet full of Ronzoni pasta (our preferred brand) that cost me 9 cents a box. I could go on, but those are just a few examples of how I use coupons to cut our expenses. I can't get generic items for as low as I can get brand names when I match coupons with sales.

I recently went to a cash system for groceries. Dh gets paid biweekly, so every payday I withdraw $160. So, that's $80 a week for 2 adults, 1 teen boy who I swear eats a full meal every 20 minutes ;), 2 cats and 1 dog. It also includes all household and toiletry items. I've only been doing it for the past 3 pay periods, but so far it really helps me think about what I'm buying. We're getting ready to make a trip to BJ's, so it will be interesting to see what that does to my cash budget. We usually buy paper products and meat there, but very little else. We don't eat strictly organic, but I do buy organic produce sometimes. We have a local organic delivery service that I use when they're offering produce we like.

The next thing I want to try with a cash budget is dining out. We do try to be careful, but when I've saved receipts and looked them over, I discovered we were spending much more on eating out than I thought.

The OP asked what portion of our budget is used on groceries, and I confess I haven't sat down and looked at that. Now I'm curious and might do it. Dh handles all the bills (I hate that job) but it's not as though I'm unaware of what comes in and what goes out. I just let him deal with it for the most part.

Stella M
02-18-2011, 10:03 PM
Budget posts always make me feel bad, but I'm beginning to think prices are way different in Australia. I'm a fairly no-frills shopper, make most of our meals from scratch, basic meals without gourmet ingredients etc but if I only spend $250/week on food and groceries, that's a good week. It's more often $280. We don't have coupons here and the kids do eat a lot but still...
So you are all doing way better than me!!!

02-19-2011, 11:57 AM
We spend about $1200-1500 a month for just the three (2 adults and one 14 y.o. male) of us however we are in Spain plus I have to mail order some of our foods. Food for Europeans is a big expense in their budget. A year and a half ago my grocery bill plus cleaning supplies, personal care products, and laundry products for 4 adults and a youth was under $500 a month in CA. I can't wait to get back to the states and have a garden once again.

02-19-2011, 05:28 PM
We spend about $1200-1500 a month for just the three (2 adults and one 14 y.o. male) of us however we are in Spain plus I have to mail order some of our foods. Food for Europeans is a big expense in their budget. A year and a half ago my grocery bill plus cleaning supplies, personal care products, and laundry products for 4 adults and a youth was under $500 a month in CA. I can't wait to get back to the states and have a garden once again.

Same problem here. The very price of food is just much higher. We live in the most remotely located islands in the world so the cost of getting the food TO the islands hikes up the final ticket. Even AT the commissary. Milk is about $5 a gallon.