If you have ever asked yourself – How Much Should I Spend on Groceries – you are definitely not alone.
This article answers exactly how much you should spend on what groceries and why!
It is often been said that there are two topics that should be avoided when it comes to discussions. Those two topics are politics and religion.
These two subjects are because there are many views and sometimes extreme polarizing views which may cause discussions to become heated and intense.
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Perhaps, added to these two taboos when it comes to a discussion are the subject of eating and more specifically how much one should spend monthly when it comes to the purchasing of groceries.
Talking about one’s grocery bill and a good rule of thumb to follow regarding expenditures on groceries may interfere a bit with Americans’ love for food and their love of freethinking.
But, here it goes.
Importance of Knowing Much Should to Spend on Groceries
A discussion regarding the budget for household’s groceries can be an extremely important conversation.
For example, if the household is concerned about the world’s population increasing and the food supply decreasing a budgetary concern may be to minimize the wasting of food.
Or, if a family has limited income, such as retirees or seniors, the budgeting of food may be a stark reality if it is a choice between food and prescriptions.
Another possibility of wondering how much one should spend on groceries could be simply due to economics with the expense side of the personal finance and budget being more than the income side.
Therefore, a “tightening of the belt” needs to occur with one expense line item possibly being the expenditures on groceries.
Therefore, whatever the reason for wanting to know about how much to spend on groceries, it is an important discussion and one that not only speaks to the family’s financial health but their physical health as well.
How Much Should You Spend on Groceries and 5 Reasons Why
1. Current Spending
In trying to determine how much one should spend on groceries it is first important to realize what is being spent, on average, for groceries in the household.
Totaling up what the household pays for groceries can be an easy process.
If one uses a credit card, often the credit card companies will categorize spending with one of those categories being food.
If you utilize cash, you can start keeping a spreadsheet and put the date and the amount spent each time you went to the grocery store. This requires a little discipline and awareness on the consumer’s part but can be done.
Another way to track your expenditures is to download an app on your smartphone which will help you with your budgeting process including how much is spent on categories in the household.
One of those categories would be groceries or food.
At the end of the month or at the end of a certain timeframe, you can take that monthly figure or the average of the expenditures over the recorded months and determine your average monthly spending for groceries.
Also, if one month is particularly high you can toss that particular month and only divide your total spending without that month included.
2. Grocery Spending for the Average American Family
Not surprisingly, there are entities including the government that track all types of spending by Americans.
One of those categories is the spending of the average American family on groceries.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average household in America spreads approximately $4,643 a year on groceries.
If you do the math that yearly average divided by 12 equals $387 a month.
Of course, there are significant caveats to these figures in that the size of the household and the various eating habits of that household are not distinguished.
For example, if the household is vegetarian it may be higher or lower depending upon whether they cut out all meats and replace them with plant-based food.
Or, if the household is committed to eating organic food this of course would be a higher cost of your food the household on food purchases.
However, $397 a month is a good standard to gauge your costs as an individual family.
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3. Budget Percentage
Another tip in regards to budgeting for food has been comprised by some individual who does this for a living or has a significant amount of time on their hands.
Through research, these individuals have assigned a specific percentage of their monthly income devoted to certain aspects of their budget.
Categories and percentages of your monthly income devoted to those categories could include:
- Housing – 25% to 35%
- Utilities – 5% to 10%
- Transportation – 10% to 15%
- Savings – 5% to 10%
- Clothing – 2% to 7%
- Charitable giving – 10% to 15%
- Medical – 5% to 10%
- Debts – 5% to 10%
- Recreation – 5% to 10%
Of course, adding up to 100% would take different variations within each of the nine categories.
4. Budget Benefits
There are many reasons as to why an individual should determine how much they should spend on groceries and try to adhere to that budgetary line item.
If you have budgeted X amount of dollars for groceries and go over that amount then budgetary adjustments need to be made elsewhere.
There are only two ways to make up for overextending one’s grocery budget.
Either bring in more money or cut back elsewhere on the expense side of the budget.
Generally, it is the latter adjustment that happens and unfortunately, the easy expense categories to reduce budget expectation are on two line items.
Those two line items to make the budget adjustments are with your savings or charitable giving.
One good reason why as to know how much you are spending on groceries is that you stay within your budget constraints and don’t “rob Peter to pay Paul.”
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5. Health Benefits
Another reason why it is good to know how much you spend on groceries is so that you can cut out or minimize certain unhealthy grocery expenses.
For example, if you find that you are close to your expense limit on groceries for the month and need a few essentials, it is important not to go over budget especially by purchasing needless or unhealthy items.
By limiting high-fat saturated snacks or excessively processed foods, you will not only stay within budget but invest in your health.
By investing in your health, also speaks to your budget as eating high-cost or unhealthy foods can have dramatic negative effects on your health.
These negative effects will not only reduce your healthiness but will also add an added strain on your budget due to unnecessary medical costs.
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6. Global Benefits
Of course, if you are altruistic and are concerned about your world, environment, and the global population, any over-excessive purchases of food can have repercussions on food availability.
Statistics reflect the eating habits or more correctly the non-eating habits of America. It is estimated Americans waste about 141 trillion calories worth of food every day.
Putting this into perspective adds up to over $1.5 billion a year which is quadruple the yearly import expense of food by the people living on the continent of Africa.
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One other statistic that is pretty dramatic is that in countries that are less affluent than America the average family spends 60% to 80% of their income on food while America only spends an average of 10%.
Consequently, another reason as to why it may be important to know how much is spent on groceries.
Those reasons are not to starve your family or yourself, feeling guilty but reflecting on one’s blessings and honoring the hard work of individuals who put that food on the dining room table.
Also, it may be beneficial to all to remember and pray for those who go without.
7. Tightening Your Grocery Belt
As the old saying goes, “where there is a will there is a way.”
Perhaps at the end of the week, there is a considerable amount of leftovers in the refrigerator or perhaps there is some disgusting-looking growth on the food on the kitchen counter.
It seems each week that the food that is needed to be thrown out could partially fill a grocery cart.
You are beginning to wonder if just maybe you are buying too much food and it is going to waste.
You now are beginning to see dollar signs with each food item that is being tossed into the garbage or ground up in the garbage disposal.
As you remove the lid from that food container in the fridge which resembles growth from a bio-hazard laboratory, you have determined to stop wasting food.
You have decided to set a budget limit for the expenditure of food and stick to it. You have decided to make a shopping list that ignores aisles 9 and 10 in the grocery store where the snacks and other goodies are.
Added to your resolve is the commitment to avoid the grocery store when hungry and by crossing your healthy heart and start reading the nutritional labels.
Convincing yourself through research and doing your homework, a grocery budget has been set.
You got this and the benefits include your own financial and personal health.
Besides it is not about just you, it is about being a responsible citizen of the world and doing your part as it relates to the limited food supply.
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Having recently retired and our budget being now fixed have required some financial adjustments on our part.
One of those lifestyle adjustments has been the reality that we don’t eat at restaurants as much as we sometimes did.
This certainly has not decreased our quality of life but is a simple adjustment that needed to be made to minimize our expenditures.
I also find that I keep more of a wary eye on our grocery spending. I now look for and have the time to find grocery sales and take advantage of those discounts.
I also shop at the grocery store on certain days of the week where they offer a senior discount.
All that to say is that being retired now has increased my awareness about spending and particularly in the area of grocery shopping.
Related: How to Get Paid to Eat or Taste Food.
The topic of conversation has been surrounding one’s budget and specifically how much should be spent on monthly groceries.
This is a valuable topic because the cost passed on to the consumer regarding the whole process of gathering food, transporting, and making food available through various outlets for purchase can be an expensive venture.
Of course, the reality is everyone needs to eat. Therefore the cost of food and how much you should be spent monthly should be of concern to the majority of American families.
This concern should be specially addressed in the shadows of looming inflation and costs of food production and consumption increasing.
This course is true not only when food is purchased at the local grocery store but when eaten at a person’s favorite restaurant.
Is important to remember that there are variety of reasons why an individual would want to know what they should be spending on groceries and why this is important. We have discussed the financial, health, and global benefits.
Also, we talked about specific line items in one’s budget and provided a template of percentages for the reader’s consideration of the monthly income towards those particular items.
What drives the individual to know what they should be spending on groceries and what rationale they wish to be their driving force, is strictly up to that particular individual.
Each one has its potential merit.
Possibly, the best physical indicator that one may be overextended on their food purchases is as close as the refrigerator in one’s kitchen.
The opening of the refrigerator door may be a window into one’s grocery budget and perhaps reflect either overspending or understanding depending upon the food on the shelves and as to whether it is edible.
One other item in the household reflecting the grocery budget maybe the bathroom scale but we wouldn’t add to our list of taboos.