Grocery Budget 101 – How Much Should I Spend on Groceries?

Jan 12, 2021 | Budgeting, Grocery Shopping, Shopping Tips, Video

Setting up a grocery budget isn't a difficult task, and it's one that you should figure out ASAP! We're going to answer that age-old question of “How much should I spend on groceries?” today, along with some great tips to keep your budget as low as possible, saving you THOUSANDS.

Jordan holding a grocery receipt, from Fun Cheap or Free

I get hundreds of questions every week between emails, Instagram, Facebook, blog comments, and just being asked in-person. Answering them is one of my FAVORITE things about doing what I do! I love taking what I know and being able to help make it personally apply to Y-O-U.

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I get asked REGULARLY about groceries, sticking to a grocery budget, food, meal planning, and all things EATING. People often ask me, “How much should I spend on groceries?” What can I say, it's a hot-button issue for many of us! Aside from our mortgage, often times our highest bill each month is our groceries. Mind-blowing, I know.

I have so many different tips I'm happy to share with you! We're about to break down this whole grocery budget thang and answer that all-too-familiar question for you. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, I want to make sure that you check out our Grocery Shopping Tips and Tricks page, food posts, and my Shelf Cooking site because they are a wealth of knowledge.

Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel, where we release new videos weekly! It's a party that you fo' sho' don't want to miss out on!

Click HERE to watch the video online, or keep scrolling to see how much to spend on groceries per month below:

Okay, now on to a grocery budget recap! Let's start at the top, shall we?


HOW MUCH SHOULD I SPEND ON GROCERIES?

As I've explained in detail in my envelope budget system post, the standard I've always suggested is $100 per person in your family per month. Whether it's a newborn, a teenager, or an adult, each person living in your house gets that same $100 every month.

This starts at $300, so whether you've got 1, 2, or 3 people living at home, you still have $300 for the month. If you have a family of 4, then your grocery budget for the month is $400.


HOW MUCH TO SPEND ON GROCERIES PER WEEK

Once you get that monthly amount figured out, I recommend to break down your budget by week, NOT by month. Take that $400 grocery budget and divide it by however many weeks there are in the month. If that month has 4 weeks, then you'd end up with $100 per week. Keep up with it on your envelope budget and you'll start saving some major buckaroos!

To some, that may seem like plenty. To others, you may have just broken out in hives and a cold sweat. Before you run and grab your pitchforks and start shaking your fists at me, just know that I've been blogging about this for YEARS. When people legitimately take my advice into consideration and do the work it takes to grocery shop and meal plan the frugal way, $100 per person is not only doable, it's reasonable. (Unless you live in Hawaii. Holy crud, that place is expensive!)


HOW TO MAKE THE GROCERY BUDGET WORK FOR YOU

But I will say this: if it's NOT reasonable for whatever reason (you live in Hawaii, you have very particular health issues in the family, you live out in the boonies, and only have one very expensive store within 50 miles of you…) then that's okay! Do your best to START with the $100 per person per month standard and try it for 3 MONTHS (yes, three m-o-n-t-h-s).

If that doesn't work, slowly add a LITTLE more to your budget each week to make it more reasonable. Then stop adding to your budget once it's working for you! Don't make it too comfortable, though. Saving all of that money is worth it to reach other financial goals in your life!


HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FOR TEENAGERS

We may not currently have teens right now, but we host a LOT at our family cabin and at our house, and usually, we still stick to our same grocery budget. The best way to make your grocery budget work when you have a lot of people (or a few people who can put away the meat) is to make the expensive protein the sidekick, not the hero.

Rather than cooking up a bunch of chicken breasts or steaks and serving them whole, slice them up! Serve them over a salad, potatoes, pasta, or rice. Serve them with homemade bread. Fix fruit and veggies that are in season. Take the focus off of the expensive meat.

I don't mean to completely stop serving meat, just rethink how you serve it. You can make a casserole, wrap, soup, pasta, or rice bowl for crazy cheap, and they're not only filling but they're delicious!


WHAT DOES THE GROCERY BUDGET INCLUDE?

Grocery items on a counter, from Fun Cheap or Free

Your grocery budget is going to include anything consumable that you use regularly and need to replenish. These are only things you would typically find at a local grocery store. We're talking food, shampoo, dog food, lotion, baby wipes/diapers, shaving cream, ziplock baggies, basic kitchen utensils and baking items, cleaning supplies, milk, basic cold remedy medicine, makeup, toiletries, and so on.


GET INDIVIDUAL HELP WITH YOUR GROCERY BUDGET

If all of this sounds amazing to you but you're needing even more help, then I've got the answer for you! I cover this in incredibly detailed, fun-to-watch videos in my Budget Boot Camp program. It's perfect for people who want individual help with getting their budget under control!

It's so fun, you won't regret going through the program! I'm so sure that you'll love it, I even offer a 100% money-back guarantee.

You've got nothing to lose! Use the code FCFBLOG for 10% off at checkout, just because. πŸ˜‰


HOW TO CUT YOUR GROCERY BILL

Alright, let's see how low we can go! Here are a few tips to help you cut your grocery budget and keep it as minimal as possible:

  1. MEAL PLAN. Seriously, it's the only way it will work!
  2. Only go to the grocery store ONCE a week! It never fails that you need to run in for some milk and come out $50 later because you saw some other items that you “needed.”
  3. Order your groceries online and do grocery pickup instead of shopping in-store! It's much easier to avoid those impulse buys, and you can easily take items out of your cart if you go over budget.
  4. Make frugal meals. Save “fancy” meals (that include expensive meats and finer ingredients) for Sundays, rather than making them throughout the week.
  5. Don't waste a thing! Use, use again, then reuse leftovers again! Don't let anything go to waste. There are millions of ways to repurpose your leftovers into new meals if you're sick of eating the same thing day in and day out.
  6. Buy extra groceries when they're on sale, as long as it fits in your grocery budget. If something is on sale, don't just buy one…buy several and store it! Pantry, freezer, keep it on-hand so you aren't paying full-price when you need something.
  7. Try a different store! You might be shopping somewhere that doesn't have the best deals each week. Look at the ads that come in your mail. Find the store with the best deals and shop there!
  8. Make extra and freeze it. If you're cooking something, double and freeze it so you have an inexpensive freezer meal for a crazy day when take-out looks appealing.
  9. Make sure your grocery budget is ONLY for consumables – don't include eating out. That might be draining your budget! Instead, include eating out in your “other” budget. You can read more on that with my simple budgeting method.

See, that wasn't so bad! No more asking yourself “How much should I spend on groceries?” now that you're a pro.


SHELF COOK TO KEEP YOUR GROCERY BUDGET DOWN

Have you checked out ShelfCooking.com yet? Our brand new site is dedicated to helping you cook delicious, homemade, down-home-cooked meals for your family without spending too much time in the kitchen!

Basically every parent's dream, right? Join our Shelf Cooking Community today!


Alright, well now that you know all about how much to spend on groceries, what are you waiting for? Get started on it and get that grocery budget under control. It may be a little hard in the beginning, but you will be so grateful once you do!

Grocery budget 101 from Fun Cheap or Free!

Looking for more great ideas to help with the budget?

  • Start dividing up your spending responsibilities within your marriage. This will remove the burden from one person's shoulders and get you both working on your budget and finances together!
  • Apply the 70% rule to your finances and discover that you can afford to spend, save, and invest with ANY income!
  • Still using the same bank account to house all of your money? Break it up into multiple bank accounts and it'll be much easier to manage your money!

Have a great week, Freebs!

Jordan Page Signature from Fun Cheap or Free

31 Comments

  1. Emma

    I would love to see your meal plan for the week. I always meal plan and can never stay on budget ! Thanks

    Reply
  2. Carolyn

    Where do you place gas and auto repair and maintenance in your budget

    Reply
  3. Kamryn Carlson

    This was super helpful. Great to know. Thank you!

    Reply
  4. Madelyne McKee

    we have a newborn and I’ve been wondering if I should add an extra 100 to our budget for groceries! I’m glad I saw your answer. Do you feel like it should still be added even if he nurses full time?

    Reply
  5. Ryan

    “$100 per person in your family, per month, (starting at $300)”

    What I am unclear on still even after watching several of your videos, is if this means $100 per person per month starting at $300 as in, start with $300 and then add on $100 for each person? Like, if there are two people it is $300 + $100 + $100 = $500?

    Or do you mean $100 per person but round up to $300 if you are less than three people? Like, one person two persons or three persons all have a “starting at” $300 budget?

    Does that make sense why it sounds confusing?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Ashlea

      I’ve heard her talk about this on some of her youtube videos. Her recommendation is that for a family of 2, $300 should be reasonable. If there are more than 2 members, budget $100/person/month. I guess a 2-person family ends up being the same amount budgeted for a 3-person family…

      Reply
    • Beth

      I also have this question. Which looks like was never answered.

      Reply
      • Fun Cheap or Free

        It’s $100 per person per month if you have a family of 3 or more (so $300/month for a family of 3, $400/month for a family of 4, $500/month for a family of 5, etc.). However, if you’re a family of 2, you still start at $300. You could try going below that if you wanted to give yourself a challenge, though!

        Reply
    • Marcella

      The second option πŸ™‚ if you have 1,2 or 3 people in your family, you get $300 per month πŸ™‚ if you have 4 people you get $400 per month. The $300 just means you don’t go lower than $300 per month, even if you are one person buying for yourself only 😊 Hope it makes sense

      Reply
  6. Jill

    Very helpful, although I am confused about something. I have a 1 year old and we buy diapers monthly from amazon since it’s cheaper and we don’t run out.. should I just include that into my monthly bills category ( family account? ). I am not buying diapers and wipes and toilet paper weekly.. we budget that out for the month and pay once per month.
    Any advise there? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Fun Cheap or Free

      Anything consumable (such as food, drinks, formula, diapers, paper towels, shampoo, conditioner, etc.) is part of the grocery budget. So you could either take it all out of one week’s grocery budget, or break it down into 4 and take that smaller amount out of each week’s grocery budget. Let’s say you budget $100 for diapers, wipes and toilet paper. That could all come out of week 1’s grocery budget OR you could take $25 out of each week’s grocery budget for it. It’s still coming to the same amount of money from your monthly grocery budget, but you’re choosing how you want to take that amount out. Hope that helps! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  7. Selena

    Does each pet get $100?

    Reply
    • Fun Cheap or Free

      We just work it into our standard grocery budget, and then extras like dog toys go into my β€œother” budget. If you have very expensive pets, you could open a β€œpet account” and pull from that, or give a small budget per month. But $100 seems really high! So if you do choose to do that, maybe start out with $25 a month and see how that goes, then slowly work your way up if needed.

      Reply
  8. Stephanie

    I am wondering what about those in different countries like in Canada. Our groceries certainly do not match your prices.

    Reply
    • Fun Cheap or Free

      You use the same concept but do whatever works best for your family in Canada! The main goal is to cut it down as much as you can so you’re not spending too much money on groceries.

      Reply
  9. nicki wright

    What are your recommendations when there are food allergies? We are a family of five that eats mostly plant based. We are all gluten free and dairy free. A loaf of bread costs around $6 budget and meal plan and it takes a lot of work to keep out budget to $1500 monthly. For some time we spent $2500. My kids are athletic and have huge appetites as well. We live in Canada as well so our food prices are higher. Any tips?

    Reply
    • Fun Cheap or Free

      Focus on buying in bulk and make everything yourself! Those gluten-free and dairy-free convenience items at the store are so expensive, it’s much cheaper to make them yourself at home. Find a bread recipe that you can make yourself. Focus on batch cooking anything you may need on the weekends with the whole family to make it go quicker and you’ll have enough to last you for the week! We don’t really have any food allergies, but I have seen people comment in our Shelf Cooking Community on Facebook with great ideas for staying gluten-free and dairy-free on a budget! $100/person/month may not work for your family, just try to cut your budget down as much as possible and ensure you’re focusing on eating the foods you have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry first before buying anything from the store. Also try to shop sales and meal plan around that when you can! Hope that helps. πŸ™‚

      Reply
    • Shelley Howe

      Nicole Hunn has some fantastic cookbooks for gluten free homemade breads and all kinds of stuff. She are not dairy free, but a great resource for gluten free cooking and baking.

      Reply
  10. Sammy

    Great tips, I’m going to start working on our budget tonight. So just to be clear, we are a family of 5 so our budget would be $500? And this will include the pets too?

    Reply
    • Fun Cheap or Free

      That’s right. Good luck! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  11. Renee E Cook

    These are such great tips!! If I’m really trying to stretch trips between stores (to save extra $$), we’ll do a “Free dinner night.” We say it’s free or bonus because we weren’t planning on it. I’ll pull everything edible out of the fridge and open the pantry and telling the kids to grab whatever they want including 3 healthy items. Haha! They love it and it’s easy for me πŸ™‚

    Reply
  12. Tara

    Thank you for this! I cant wait to try. I have a question, there are three in the family, but I keep my niece and nephew during the day so they eat breakfast, lunch, and they occasionally are there for dinner. How much should I add for them?

    Reply
    • Fun Cheap or Free

      Depending on how old they are, maybe start at $25 for both of them and slowly bump that up until it’s enough, but not too much? That would hopefully take care of the food they eat and the supplies they use while at your house, such as toilet paper and soap. Hope that helps! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  13. Kellyn

    I absolutely love this concept! There are 4 of us that live in the house fulltime and then I have a stepdaughter who is here about 40% of the month. I’m guessing I can count her as $40 for the month because thats the percent she’s her. Does that sound about right?

    Reply
    • Fun Cheap or Free

      Yes, that would be a great place to start!

      Reply
  14. Cheryl Walker

    I have been using this method of figuring up about what our groceries/supplies should cost each month, but with prices in the grocery stores increasing with inflation, do you now recommend a higher number? Or do you feel that $100pp is still about right? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Fun Cheap or Free

      It totally depends on where you live! If $100 doesn’t work, slowly add a LITTLE more to your budget each week to make it more reasonable. Then stop adding to your budget once it’s working for you!

      Reply
  15. KAYLA

    100 a month for 1 person just doesn’t make sense

    Reply
    • Fun Cheap or Free

      We definitely understand that not everything is a one size fits all and you have to do what’s best for you and your family. We have found this formula to work for the majority of those we have worked with but that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. The most important piece is that everyone challenges themselves to make changes to save more and use what you already have.

      Reply
  16. Kacie L

    Wondering how to modify the “$100/month/person” with the recent inflation? Meats, dairy products, eggs, and many produce items where I live (and many other places) have shot up in price. We meal plan, budget out our bi-monthly grocery trips, and shop ads/coupons. Still frustrating seeing our monthly grocery bill creep up…

    Reply
  17. Karen Schup

    Now that the price of groceries has gone up significantly, will this $100 per person per month still work. I am trying, but it is really difficult. Curious about your thoughts on this as this video/post was made many years ago.

    Reply

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