How Much Should I Spend On Groceries Per Month?

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average grocery cost
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Overspending on groceries is easily justifiable because food is necessary to sustain life. However, a healthy diet doesn’t need to be expensive. And preparing delicious meals can be done on a tight budget if you know what to look for.

Quick FAQ: What is the Average Grocery Cost Per Month in the United States?

The average monthly grocery bill of a family of three in the US is $902. This assumes that the household consists of two adults and one child and follows the July 2023 Official USDA Moderate Food Plan.

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Monthly Average Food Cost Per Person

The US Department of Agriculture has created three food plans that Americans can follow: the Low-cost Plan, the Moderate-cost Plan, and the Liberal Plan.

These plans take into consideration the age and gender of a person to calculate the average food cost. Here are some of the average food costs listed in the July 2023 USDA Food Plan:

Male (19-50 Years)

Low-cost Plan Moderate-cost Plan Liberal Plan
$299.60 $376.00 $457.20

Female (19-50 Years)

Low-cost Plan Moderate-cost Plan Liberal Plan
$259.60 $317.60 $405.40

Child (4-5 Years)

Low-cost Plan Moderate-cost Plan Liberal Plan
$169.70 $209.50 $253.00

Are You Overspending on Groceries?

You’re probably wondering how anyone could consistently stick to the liberal plan budget, let alone follow the low-cost plan. And while the USDA has probably made a few mistakes in its estimates, these plans are viable.

In fact, there are probably a lot of things on your grocery list that could be considered luxuries that should be funded by a different budget category.

Top 5 Tips for Saving on Groceries

1. Create a Separate Budget for Food Deliveries and Restaurant Dining

These may be food purchases but they are not for sustenance. These expenses are for entertainment, socialization, and convenience, which are important but they should not be sharing the same priority as your groceries.

2. Create a Price Book for Groceries

You’ve probably gotten some amazing deals on online purchases, especially with Buy Now, Pay Later. And that’s all thanks to how easy it is to compare prices when shopping online.

The good news is that you can apply this to your grocery shopping as well! The bad news is that you have to do it manually by creating your own Price Book. A price book is just that, a list of prices for items, from different stores.

Keep your price book updated so that you always get the best deals for your groceries.

3. Buy Raw Ingredients in Bulk

For expensive grocery items, you’re mostly paying for the labor that went into their creation and also their storage and delivery costs. You can cut costs by purchasing raw ingredients as opposed to finished products. And also by purchasing in bulk as opposed to buying the amount that you need that week.

This does require you to do extra work and prepare extra storage. This also means that high-earners might be better off paying for the labor and convenience.

4. Consider Using a Grocery Pickup Service

Most stores are ingeniously designed to encourage impulse buying. Just think of how many times you’ve been tempted by that chocolate bar at the checkout line. Avoid the temptation by never setting foot inside the store in the first place.

5. Never Shop on an Empty Stomach

This seems like an obvious tip but it bears repeating due to how much you can overspend on food when you’re hungry. Schedule your grocery shopping after a nice meal to prevent the regret that comes after a hunger-induced shopping frenzy.

Budgeting for Holidays and Special Occasions

Budgeting for monthly grocery expenses is hard enough with consistent spending. Throw in the spikes in expenditure caused by the holiday season and there’s a good chance that your well-planned budget will implode.

Here are some tips on how to save your grocery budget from certain doom during holidays and special occasions:

1. Share the Love and the Grocery Bill

It’s the season of giving so everyone should pitch in. It doesn’t have to be monetary help either. A potluck can be incredible fun and who knows, you might discover your new favorite dish.

2. Purchase Items in Advance

Obviously, this doesn’t apply to goods with short expiration dates. But the best way to budget for the holidays is to spread out the spending over time. Better yet, learn the sales cycle of your favorite grocery store and schedule your shopping sprees accordingly.

If you couldn’t plan in advance there’s another option you can use to spread out your holiday spending. Buy now, Pay Later schemes have gotten popular lately, and with good reason! This financing option usually allows you to pay in three installments with 0% interest.

3. Create a Holiday Spending Budget Category

The best way to prevent the holidays from ruining your routine grocery budget is to set aside money specifically for the holiday season. Another advantage to this is that you can assess your holiday spending in previous years to optimize your budget.

Tracking your spending may be a bit daunting but there are tools that you can use to organize your finances. The Cushion App for example has a calendar view that allows you to clearly see all of your upcoming expenses, including BNPL payments!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is there a universal grocery budget that applies to everyone?

No, but the US Department of Agriculture has created comprehensive food plans for people from all walks of life.

2. What percentage of my income should I allocate to groceries?

If possible, you should plan your grocery budget according to your needs and not according to the size of your paycheck.

3. How can I save on groceries without compromising on quality?

Buying raw ingredients in bulk will cut down your grocery expenses while increasing the quality of your meals. As long as you’re willing to prepare your own meals, that is.

4. Should I include dining-out expenses in my grocery budget?

No, dining out is an entertainment/socialization expense and should be included in that budget category.

5. Is it better to shop online or in-store for groceries?

If you have issues with impulse purchases, a grocery pickup service is the best option. Since most brick-and-mortar stores are designed to encourage impulse buying. And unfortunately, shopping apps carry the same risk.

6. Is it necessary to stick to a strict monthly grocery budget?

Yes, developing responsible spending habits is the key to financial success.


If you have to ask how much you should spend on groceries each month, you’re probably overspending. In that case, you need to review your grocery budget and ensure that it only includes necessities. It’s also important to take the holidays into consideration to ensure they don’t make you lose control over your spending.

Finally, don’t be afraid to use fintech apps to help you keep track of your spending. Cushion for example even lets you build positive payment history with the payments you’re already making, including BNPL payments.

Last Updated on May 05, 2024
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this website is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as financial advice. Consult with a financial professional for personalized guidance regarding your specific situation.

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