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While I shared this blog post about grocery budgeting originally several years ago, with grocery bills at an all time high I decided it's time to bring it back up again. Deciding how much you should spend on groceries even in 2023 can be soooo important as a penny pincher, and a huge key in changing your financial future.
I've updated this post for 2023, accounting for the 11.3% inflation from last January to this one.
I've said it before and I'll say it again (and again and again and again), there is NO AREA IN YOUR FAMILY'S FINANCES THAT YOU HAVE AS MUCH CONTROL OVER AS YOUR GROCERY BUDGET. Did you hear me??? (If not, please read it again. I promise, I'm right on this one!)
If you've got your PPP Money Planner, pull it out and open up to page 18. This is where you'll track your Grocery Budget Expenses for 2023!
We can't (easily) change how much we're going to spend on our house payment, electricity bill, phone bill or cable bill. Now, we can do smart things to make those bills smaller, but it's rare that you can slash them in half without some major work. However, every single time you walk into the grocery store you decide how much you're going to spend on your groceries. You can decide to check out the sales ads, clip a bunch of coupons, try shopping Aldi only if you have one nearby, or simply skip it all and spend too much.
It's entirely up to you.
One of the largest and most controllable expenses for many families is their grocery bill. Some families spend more than others, but no matter what your family size or income level chances are you have a grocery budget. Now, you might not know exactly what that number is exactly, but it's definitely there. I can not stress enough how much I want to encourage EVERYONE to start tracking their grocery budget.
So, how much should a family spend on groceries? That depends (a lot!) on you.
Way back in 2013 when I originally shared this post, our family of five was sticking to a budget of around a$ 85 a week (we'd done it for even less, but at that point as I'd worked more and my kids were growing, $85 was a reasonable amount that gave us room to donate as well.)
In 2015 we spent around $100 per week for our family of 5 as the kids were growing.
And now in 2023 (CRAZY!) with two adults and a sixteen year old at home, we spend somewhere between $120 and $175 a week on groceries. (Grocery prices have skyrocketed, and as our family's finances have changed we definitely splurge on more convenience foods than we once did!
- What is your current grocery budget (if you have one)? How much do you normally spend each week at the grocery store?
- How long have you been couponing (if you coupon)? Do you have a stockpile?
- How much time do you (realistically) have for clipping coupons and shopping the sales ads?
- What area of the country do you live in? Areas closer to cow farms tend to have cheaper dairy products. Places that are warmer will likely have better produce prices. And if you live out in the country, you'll likely spend more simply because there aren't as many grocers competing for your business (and logistically it's often harder to get food to more rural areas).
- Do you have a store in your area that has good produce prices? (For us, having an Aldi, Fresh Thyme or Sprouts as well as a Dollar General Market really help us trim some of the more expensive items in our budget ~ if that's not an option in your hometown your expenses will definitely go up.)
- Are there grocery stores in your area that have great coupon policies? Can you shop Amazon for items that you can't find good prices on in your area? (i.e. diapers, paper & cleaning products, and even some allergy free foods).
- Do you have children in diapers? Babies who drink formula? Do you have teenagers who can't seem to get enough food? 🙂 Those all add up!
- Do you special allergies or eat a special diet? Or do you try to primarily eat organic food? That will change your budget ~ read these suggestions for how to save on organics before you shop.
To tell you a set amount of what you should spend is hard as it varies so much by family, location, and where you're at in your life. But, I will say that determining what you want to spend each week is so important, and can really help you trim down what you spend at the grocery store. If you want to reach your goal of saving more, you really have to decide exactly what you want to spend, or you'll simply go over your budget each week without a plan.
Here are a few interesting calculators that you might enjoy (for fun!), to see how your family's grocery budget fits. I'll be honest, I think these are high, but that's coming from a passionate penny pincher! 😉
- Official USDA Food Plans Cost (this was just interesting to see to compare!)
- Spend Smart Eat Smart (I thought this one was pretty close? A little higher than what our family truly needs to spend, but not way off ~ see what you think!)
- Clark Howard's Grocery Budget Calculator
Or you can look at this “Thrifty Family Food Plan” put out by the US Department of Agriculture to get a quick idea of your monthly/yearly food budget.
Keep in mind – these calculators aren't taking into account specialty diets, formula, organic, etc – so it's just a basis on which to gauge your spending.
So why should everyone track their grocery budget?
Since grocery spending is one of the EASIEST to allow to get out of control but also the easiest one to reign in. If you have no idea how much you're spending and don't have a plan in place, it's so easy to overspend when you are at the grocery store.
However, with a few simple steps you can easily change your grocery bill, reclaiming hundreds if not thousands of dollars every single year.
Convinced yet that it's worth tracking your grocery budget expenses? Keep reading!
Tracking your grocery budget is so easy to do, and you'll wonder why you have not been doing this all along. First you want to grab a notebook, piece of paper, open up a spreadsheet, OR use the Grocery Budget Tracker already prepared just for this found in our Money Planner over HERE on page 18.
Next, create a heading for each month with 3 subheadings underneath each month called day, store, and amount. You will want to have a few blank rows for each month. Once you have your tracker created, just be sure to write in the amount you spent along with the other details every time you purchase groceries that month.
That's it! Easy peasy!
After 2-3 months of this you will easily be able to see your grocery spending at a glance. You will know exactly how much you are spending on groceries so that you can budget accordingly or cut some expenses if needed.
What if you find that you are spending too much on your grocery budget each month?
Remember what I said earlier about groceries being the single easiest budget category you can cut? That is so true! You can save money on groceries by doing a few simple things. Here are some examples:
- Opt for store brand items
- Choose items on sale vs. items that are full price
- Plan your menus each week
- Use coupons
- Try shopping Aldi for a week if you have one nearby (don't miss this post on how shopping Aldi can drastically change your budget)
- Find more tips on how to change your budget over HERE at our Ultimate Guide to Your Grocery Budget too
Looking for a little encouragement to spend a little less at the grocery store today? Here are a few posts to help get you started: