Every Day

How Much Is My Grocery Budget?


Curious minds want to know! How much is your grocery budget? What does that have to cover?

I have gotten a few people over the past few months asking me these questions. So it is time to explain how we do it in our household. Our food budget is the  3rd largest line in our overall budget with school and property taxes being the largest and medical being the 2nd largest.

Hubby and I agreed upon a grocery budget of $500. per month effective January of 2020. There is just the two of us. Once in while we have company for dinner but that has only been family this year. Our son and grandson eat Sunday morning breakfast with us many times during the year. Our family in Albany visits a few times during the year. We also get take out and go out to dinner in a normal year a few times. It has not been very often this year and has been infrequent takeout.

So at the end of December when our entire budget was set in motion for 2020, $6,000., which is the yearly amount, was put into our grocery account. Then when Covid19 happened and prices started to rise, we put an additional $1200.(1/2 of our stimulus deposit amount) into that account. So essentially, I had $7200. for groceries for all of 2020.   

That $ 7200. has to cover all food including eating out and any takeout. The other items that it has to cover is household items like cleaners and soaps, personal care items like shampoo, deodorants, shaving cream, razors, toothpaste, floss and mouthwash, etc. It also needs to cover any medical items like bandaids, neosporin, and OTC medicines. Prescriptions drugs is a different budget. 

The large stockups I do are included. For example, my stockpiling for winter has to be within this budget and any stocking that I do at Thanksgiving and Christmas sales also has to be within this budget. 

So far it is working this year. But I have to admit, prices have risen and if I didn’t have full freezers and pantries to begin the year with, I think we might have had to raise the budget.

If you have noticed, I have not spent a lot on groceries the past few months. That is because I am keeping money in the account to be able to buy the rock bottom priced items that we see at Thanksgiving sales.

But since Hubby and I are starting to make our 2021 overall budget, I am really thinking that we need to raise the grocery budget. By how much, I have not determined yet. I did some research online and have seen figures of $ 593. per month up to $700. for the two of us. 

At this point, I don’t know what we will be comfortable with. That is still a work in progress. It will also depend on how much meat prices rise by the end of the year and how much the food shortages in China and Australia affect our prices here. 

I hope I have answered your questions. Now, since curious minds want to know, how much is your food budget this year? Are you going to raise it for 2021? How many people are you feeding and do you include household, personal care, and OTC medical items?

Please leave a comment and share the answers with us. I am curious and I am sure other people are too.

20 replies on “How Much Is My Grocery Budget?”

Hi AD, this is Chris. Our grocery budget is similar to yours: $500/mo. This covers groceries and h/ba. I used to keep the kitty food/litter in the grocery budget, but it is a separate item now with inflation. I also budget ~ $100/mo for eating out. Sometimes I go over my budget if we go to Costco, but that is not every month. Once a year we also get a couple hundred in gift cards on a discount to the upscale restaurant company where our daughter works. The owner is kind enough to give us her discount for these when we want, as long as it is reasonable. We are grateful for this kindness.

I am thinking like you that I may have to up my grocery budget next year, the food inflation has been a lot this year. I haven't checked the USDA cost of food recently, might be good to check. There are 2 adults at home and I have my granddaughter one day a week and the whole family comes over that night for supper. Another thing I have to work into our budget is when the weather is nice, hubby likes to make some kind of meat on his smoker every weekend. I try to have less expensive meat like chicken, turkey breast, pork loin, but he also likes to do other expensive meats, so I try to look for what is a good sale that week.

Hi Chris,

Thanks so much for sharing. It will help me and other people. As off July 31, 2020,on the moderate plan for the two of us it is $143. per week or $7436. annually. On the liberal plan, it is $ 172.30 per week or $8959.60 annually. Those USDA plan costs are only for food. So I guess that you and I are doing pretty good when ours includes so many other things and I do not skimp on meats nor do you.

Our budget for groceries, household, personal care and OTC is $300 per month. There are three of us here: Hubby, me and our 22 year old son. Even though it is $300 per month I regularly am $100 to $150 under budget. This money gets rolled over into the next month if there is any, therefore all the money is used only for groceries. I use the envelope system. We have a kitty but his food and litter are separate and taken care of by my husband who gets them at Tractor Supply. Since our son still lives with us (we are very happy to have him with us) and he is an adult, he pays us room and board and that is the money I use for groceries. I shop every 2-3 weeks.

Hi Mary,

You do terrific. I remember the days of $200. a month when we lived in AZ but those days are over. Perhaps the secret is only shopping once or twice a month. Thanks for sharing.

We average 610/mo for food only. I try and budget between 500-750 depending on our meat supply. We are low carb as well and as you stated meat prices keep climbing and Chris can not eat beans/and only limited veggies so meat is a big part of all our meals.

Hi Patti,

I think being low carb 99% of the time is expensive, Perhaps I do need to up the budget for 2021. I may also have to have a separate budget for the other items that aren't food. You are doing terrific! Thanks for sharing.

We spend about $300/month on groceries alone. Of course, I do go to some food banks. But, some days it is not worth going! We do get more meat there than before the covid outbreak. I still manage to stock up, getting enough for shelves. Right now, today, I am freezing free carrots.

we have 5 adults, Our budget last year with only 4 home was $800 per month. Eating out or take out is separate for us. This year for several months (April, May, June) we spent an average of $1200, I had abandoned trying to budget as some of the shortages in the Boston area were severe. I started budgeting $1000 in July and that is where we are sticking. I think we are between thrifty and moderate on the USDA plan.

Hi lonibelle,

Wow! You do well for 5 people! I think almost everyone has spent more than they wanted to during this illness. Shortages did hurt price wise. Thanks for sharing.

Hi. Our food budget for two is also set at $500 a month. I track it and in all reality it inches up towards $700 by the time the month is done. AS like right now: it's 9/17 and already I have spent $511 this month. I'm going to stop buying and eat out of our pantry and see how that goes. I just put in a freezer and we have a back up of milk, bread and other necessities in the freezer. We very rarely go out to eat. I've put a stop to that. We also live in New York upstate, as you do and I just paid our school tax bill. It went up 116% from last year due to full appraised valuation vs assessed valuation. Wise guys, right?
We only food shop twice per month at two different stores: Aldi and Adam's. I was hoping that would get the food bill down but it hasn't worked yet. As for raising our food budget for next year, I'm still going to aim for $500. Even though I will probably always go over.

Hi Cindi,

I hear you on the taxes. We have been at 100% assessed valuation since we moved here over 10 years ago. They reassess us every other year to keep us there. I am paying $6000. more in yearly property and school taxes than in AZ. It makes me want to move back there.

Back on topic now. I was wondering if shopping less would help with the budget but it always seems like I have a list of things that Hubby wants or our needs.We keep a dry erase board in the kitchen needed and wanted items and it seems to fill up fast. Going over was one of the reasons I did the low spend challenge. I am under now but it isn't easy. I am still mulling upping it.

Thanks for sharing.

Ugh. Our grocery budget (doesn't count eating out or toiletries, paper products, etc) pre-COVID was $625/month for two adults & two teen boys. We worked pretty hard to keep it there. Post-COVID, it's well over $1k. Less eating out, more eating at home. My husband & I previously had free breakfast/lunch/snacks at work, which is gone. Grocery prices have gone up. Our teens are eating more… I will likely have 1 full month's of groceries covered by our Costco rebate, so that will offset our full total at the end a bit.

Hi HP,

Wow! That is a huge number but between the two teen boys who probably eat you out of house and home(I so remember because my boys were 2 years apart)and price increases, I can appreciate that number. But UGH! Thanks for sharing.

It's been hard to not be able to shop around for deals, and one of our favorite produce stands is not socially distant at all, so we've had to buy much cheaper alternatives. We also spent a lot on "ready to eat" food during the remodel. I'm hoping to get us back to maybe $875 next month, which feels like a good compromise right now.

Leave a Reply