Wednesday, June 29, 2005

How Much Grocery Spending?



Another query which lands lots of Google searchers at my site:

"How much should my family spend on groceries?"

Usually this search takes folks to my Balanced Money Formula page. Which is fine, as it's somewhat on the right track — at least on a more "macro" basis.

But I suspect that what people are really looking for are some guidelines specific to food and grocery spending, and the respective amounts that these expenses comprise for "average" American families. For instance, I could see someone hoping to answer their own concerns as to whether their family's grocery and food spending is way out of the ordinary. (My latest post on this topic is at "How Much Grocery Spending? Part 3," by the way.)

According to ICFE Director Paul Richard, "Nearly 32 cents out of every dollar spent by American families is for groceries and household items. The average is two trips per week to the grocery store, and one or more stops at a drug or discount store."

But that doesn't tell you much, does it? If it's hard data you're looking for, then as far as I know, there are only a couple of (free) places to get it:

1) IRS: Collection Financial Standards

Read that page, then follow the "National Standards" link. The data seems pretty self-explanatory to me. Note that the amounts shown are not indexed for high-cost-of-living areas (other than Hawaii and Alaska).

2) Bureau of Labor Statistics: Consumer Expenditure Tables

Right now, the latest data here is from the BLS' 2007 surveys. There's a ton of info to look at, so starting with the tables sorted by "Composition of Consumer Unit (PDF)" might be a nice idea.

Here's a U.S. Census press release with some relevant data, sorted by location:

U.S. Census: "Updating Data on Americans' Spending Habits"

Here's an article wherein site readers (who are probably more frugal than your average person) were polled about their weekly grocery spending. I'm assuming that the dollar amounts listed are "per week" expenditures, and the percentages show the number of readers who report that level of spending:

DollarStretcher.com: "Grocery Spending Survey"

Beyond that, I can only really offer my own family's recent spending. (We're two adults and one toddler, residing in the very low-cost-of-living state of Oklahoma.)

Our average monthly food and household-related spending for 2005, year-to-date:





ItemAvg.
Monthly $
Approx.
% of
Gross Income
Groceries$3678%
Dining Out$812%
Other Household Items
(cleaners, paper goods,
makeup, hygiene, etc.)
$2325%


If anyone else would like to chime in on this, feel free. If you know of other sites (or books) where spending guidelines and/or related data are available, please tell me about it in a comment below. I'd like to take a look at the information, also.

RELATED LINKS:

2009-01:   How Much Grocery Spending? Part 3

Labels:

— Posted by Michael @ 1:03 PM








12 Comments:
 

I'm not much for budgetting on groceries except to keep the cost down on eating out and considering if I bought a lot of junk food lately.

 

Budgeting for groceries has saved us a ton. We're two, w/ a one-year old and we manage to keep it between $130 and $175 each month. And I don't feel hungry...

 

My at-home wife is pretty frugal and we go to Costco a lot. Our kids are 13, 7 and 2. We spend about $700 per month on what I call "Groceries." That includes paper and grooming products. (And the occasional splurge when I pick up some Guinness.)

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 2:32 PM, July 11, 2005  
 

WHew! I found you on google and thought that I was spending too much but it seems in sync with yours! (I live in OK too!!)

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 2:44 AM, October 10, 2005  
 

I live in AZ and we budget every penny. My stay-at-home wife is the ultimate bargain hunter and she can feed our entire family of 4 on $250 a month! Look at those estimates, we're upside down! We budget $1200 a month to invest and spend $250 a month on groceries!

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 2:59 PM, June 06, 2006  
 

I must be crazy. My husband and I just had a conversation about how much groceries cost per week. I thought I could do it for $250.00 but this week I spent $320.00 We are a family of 5 and I love to cook fresh and healthy meals. I also buy organic milk and juice. I have twin 5 year olds that are home for all three meals. I would love to cut the bill without sacrificing nutrition. Any suggestions?

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 6:50 PM, June 14, 2007  
 

wellwe live in NORTH louisiana,we spend about 230$ a week a family of 7.but my dad eats file' minon so we budget good but,we dont really have a budget.

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 9:18 PM, October 22, 2007  
 

for a fascinating photo essay on how much people in other countries spend:

http://ycrazymind.blogspot.com/2007/08/food-for-week-at-different-places.html

 

Second try:

http://ycrazymind.blog
spot.com/2007/08/food-for-week-at-
different-places.html

 

" I must be crazy. My husband and I just had a conversation about how much groceries cost per week. I thought I could do it for $250.00 but this week I spent $320.00 We are a family of 5 and I love to cook fresh and healthy meals. I also buy organic milk and juice. I have twin 5 year olds that are home for all three meals. I would love to cut the bill without sacrificing nutrition. Any suggestions?"

Your answer is in the description. The healthier you eat, the more you're going to shell out. Unless you spend your entire day bargain hunting, cooking all of your own meals and eating relatively few processed foods is going to be expensive. Obviously a diet of ramen is much cheaper than a diet of mixed fruits, veggies, meats, dairy, etc.

 

I almost fell over when I saw how me were spending a month at HEB, local grocery store. We area family of 5. We spend 1100 per month. 90% of one pay check. How does one provide good fresh food and not spend this much? We are going to find out. Our goal will to be to reduce this spending by 400 dollars.
Hope cheese, milk eggs and meat comes down with the gas prices. With the new price of Gas these sellers are making a killing. A little deflation should help us middle class if we hold our jobs.

 

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