Your grocery budget is one of your most costly budget items, underneath your rent/mortgage. It is also a budget area that many wish they could cut back on to save money. If you were to ask several families about how much they spend each month, you would get a wide range of grocery budgets. It can be hard to nail down the right budget for your family, so let’s take a look at the averages for a Typical Grocery Store Budget For Family Of Four.
According to the USDA a family of four (two adults and two children under 12) spends an average $563.90- $648 per month if they are on the thrifty plan. A family of four that spends a liberal amount on groceries each month is said to average $1,102-$1,287.80 (the variation is due to the different age ranges of children).
Picking the Right Grocery Budget for Your Family of Four
There is no right formula for setting a grocery budget. If you hear that a family of four only spends $200 a month on groceries, but you feel miserable sticking to those strict guidelines, then that is not the right budget for your family.
You can budget for your family by thinking of meal costs. Typically breakfast costs about $5 for the family and lunches and dinners cost about $10 for the family. Broken down this gives each family member $1.25 for breakfast and $2.50 for lunch and dinner portions. Little children might not eat that much of a portion for meals, but will cost more through the snacks they consume. Altogether, this adds up to $750 worth of food for the month. The price can fluctuate slightly up to account for snacks and food bought for special occasions (i.e. having guests over for dinner), or the price can fluctuate slightly down if you have a lot of staples in your pantry and freezer to pull from.
Setting a Flexible Budget for Your Family
Instead of focusing on a strict number to hit each month, give yourself a flexible grocery budget range. Your grocery range should consist of two numbers, your desired budget and your absolute maximum. For example, a budget of $500-650 would mean that you are aiming to hit the $500 mark, but you have ample wiggle room to stock up on a sale or to accommodate for special events or guests. It is then wise to put all the money saved into a separate account or jar for a special family outing at the end of the year.
For example, even just saving $50 each month on your groceries would give you an extra $600 at the end of the year. That is the perfect amount for a trip to Disneyland or a weekend away with your family. Setting the extra grocery money aside for a family trip can help motivate yourself and your family to be more frugal when it comes to grocery shopping.
Quick Tips to Save More on Your Grocery Budget
Even if your monthly grocery budget falls within the USDA average, you still might feel like you need to cut back. Here are some effective tips to slashing your grocery budget each month. If you carefully apply these tips, you can save as much as $100-200 off your bill each month.
- Meal Plan: How much food do you throw away at the end of the month? How much money do you spend on fast food? If you answered “a lot” for either question, then a simple meal plan can reduce your food waste costs and fast food costs. Thankfully, you don’t have to spend hours meal planning. There are many free printables online that offer free weekly meal plans, recipes, and grocery lists
- Buy Clearance Meat: When meat gets near its “Sell By” date, many grocery stores will mark it 30-50% off to clear it off the shelf. This is a great opportunity to stock up your freezer for less money. This is also a great way to get pricey organic meat for a large discount, and if you use the meat right away or freeze it, it is safe to consume
- Plan According to Sales: Planning what you eat according to what is in season and on sale is another surefire way to save money. For example, if your recipe calls for chicken breast but chicken thighs are much cheaper that week, then just make a simple change and enjoy the savings
- Stock Up on Sales: Another great way to save money on your monthly grocery budget is to think ahead. If you use common staples such as chicken or tomato sauce, then stock up when the price is extremely low. For example, if tomato sauce is usually $2.50 per jar and you go through four a month, then it would be smart to buy quite a few if the price went down to $1 each. Don’t just buy one jar for the week at $1, but instead buy 3-4 months’ worth. This would cost you about $12-16 and take away from your current month’s budget, but you would ultimately save $6 each month for the next 3-4 months.
- Eat Simple: There are so many amazing recipes to try, but sometimes it is just better to eat simpler. There is nothing wrong with having rice and bean burritos for dinner or having plain oatmeal or eggs for breakfast. Simple food items, such as oatmeal, eggs, tuna, rice, and beans are all very affordable and healthy food choices.
Saving money on your monthly grocery bill doesn’t have to be rocket science. Find out what works for your family and use creative strategies to try and save a few dollars each shopping trip. Sometimes saving money on your grocery budget is as simple as switching where you do majority of your shopping. Look at weekly ads to see which store has the best deals in your area.