Is your trip to the grocery more expensive these days? You’re not alone. Food prices have been steadily increasing since 2020 and jumped 3.7% between September 2022 and September 2023, according to the most recent consumer price index report.
One way to deal with rising food prices? Have a plan for how to manage the amount of money you spend on groceries.
Here, we’ll look at the average cost of groceries, provide a grocery budget calculator table to help you manage your food spending, and explore a few ways you can save.
What Is a Grocery Budget?
In order to manage what you spend on food, you have to know how much you can afford. That’s where having a grocery budget comes in handy.
A grocery budget is simply an allotted amount that you can use to buy food for your household. Ideally, you’d spend that amount or less, and anything left over can go toward other living expenses or savings.
💡 Quick Tip: Online tools make tracking your spending a breeze: You can easily set up budgets, then get instant updates on your progress, spot upcoming bills, analyze your spending habits, and more.
Pros and Cons of Grocery Budgets
Grocery shopping on a budget generally means being more mindful about your food purchases, which has a number of benefits.
One of the biggest perks of sticking to a grocery budget is that it helps you avoid overspending. It also ensures you still have money for other expenses.
Plus, having an idea of how much you should spend on food can help cut down on the amount of food that goes to waste.
On the other hand, creating a grocery budget means reigning in impulse buys and being stricter about what ends up in your cart. You may have to spend more time looking for the best prices on food items, and you might even need to visit multiple grocery stores to save money.
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Average Cost of Groceries by State
Curious about how your grocery bills stack up against others in the U.S.? Here’s the average monthly cost of groceries in the most populous city in each state, ranked from lowest to highest.
|State||City||Monthly Food Costs|
|Utah||Salt Lake City||$359.65|
|South Dakota||Sioux Falls||$462.65|
|New York||New York City||$555.11|
Average Cost of Groceries by Age
It’s not just geography that can impact how much you spend on groceries. Your age and budget can also play a role. Let’s look at how spending can differ by age and budget sizes. Note that these figures are suggestions and reflect a grocery bill for two.
|Age Group||Low Budget||Moderate Budget||Liberal Budget|
Source: One Main Financial
Average Cost of Groceries by Household Size
Not surprisingly, the size of your household can have a major impact on how much you spend at the grocery store. But it’s worth noting that the more family members you have, the less your budget increases. In other words, you don’t have to double a single person’s budget for two and triple it for three.
Instead, add about 20% to your budget for one extra person, 10% for two extra people, and 5% for three extra people. So if your allocate $400 a month for yourself, you’d increase that to:
• $480 for two people
• $576 for three people
• $605 for four people
This will, of course, vary depending on who’s in your household. Teenagers, as we know, eat a lot!
How to Calculate for a Grocery Budget
Generally, people spend about 12% of their household income on groceries. To get an idea of what you’ve been spending, gather receipts from past grocery shopping trips.
Pay attention to what you’ve bought. How much of it was necessary and how much was an impulse buy? Keep in mind that when you make your new monthly or weekly budget, you’ll likely need to curb some unnecessary spending.
💡 Quick Tip: Income, expenses, and life circumstances can change. Consider reviewing your budget a few times a year and making any adjustments if needed.
Grocery Budget Calculator Table
Let’s create a scenario to illustrate what a monthly grocery budget could look like. The example below is for a household of three.
|Fruits and vegetables||$50|
|Milk, yogurt, ice cream||$30|
|Household items (toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo)||$30|
|Discretionary spending (impulse buys)||$50|
This budget may be on the high end for a three-person household, depending on its monthly income. If $800 per month is too high for you, you might explore ways to cut down on spending in some of these categories.
Ways to Saving Money on Groceries
One effective way to save money on groceries is to track your spending. Categorize your spending so you can track your budgets and make sure you’re within the margin. A money tracker app or grocery budget calculator app can make the job easier.
It also helps to familiarize yourself with the grocery stores in your area so you know who has the best deal on which items. Check the weekly store flyers, and stock up on good deals. Many things, including meat, can be frozen, so consider buying in bulk.
Having a membership to a store like Costco or Sam’s can also be a smart economical move, especially if you’ve got a large family. Also consider cutting coupons the old-school way or downloading a coupon app.
Always make a game plan before you leave for the store. Look at your list and see which store is offering the best prices on the things you need. Check your coupons and plan to buy items that you can save on.
Finally, here’s a tried-and-true tip that’s very useful: Never go to the store hungry. If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, you’re more likely to buy what you want to eat, rather than what you need.
If you’re looking to save money on food, consider making a grocery budget. The spending plan can ensure that you only buy what you can afford, and may leave you with extra money to put toward other expenses or financial goals.
Take control of your finances with the SoFi Insights money tracker app. Connect all of your accounts in one convenient dashboard. From there, you can see your various balances, spending breakdowns, and credit score. Plus you can easily set up budgets and discover valuable financial insights — all at no cost.
How do you calculate your grocery budget?
Begin by looking at how much on average you’ve been spending at the grocery store. If your current budget can’t accommodate that amount, look for items you can cut out.
What is a realistic budget for groceries?
Many American households spend about 12% of their monthly income on groceries. How much you spend will depend on the size of your household and how strict you want your budget to be.
How much should I budget for groceries for a week?
Once you work out a monthly budget for your groceries based on about 12% of your household income, you can break that amount down by the number of weeks in a month.
Photo credit: iStock/Candle Photo
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