In a household budget, the grocery bill is one of the most expensive budget categories, if not the biggest expense next to rent or mortgage.
But everyone’s circumstances are different, so knowing how much of your budget should go towards food can be a difficult question to answer.
So, How much should you spend on groceries a month?
One really good rule of thumb is to plan to spend $100 per month, per person in your household, starting at $300 a month.
If you are a single person, with no children or dependents to care for, you might be able to get away with $200 a month, depending on how frugal you are.
But a good baseline for a couple is to spent $300 per month on food, and then add $100 per month for each additional person in your family.
To look at it another way, a family of 4 should plan to spend $100 per week on groceries, or a total of $400 per month.
Did that number freak you out? Look way too low? I know it can be daunting. But when we were getting out of debt, I was able to keep our monthly grocery budget to $350 per month. At the time we had two kids, and quickly added a third baby. So it is possible. But there are some tricks to keeping your grocery budget low.
Note: some links in this post contain affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase, at no cost to you. Click here for our full disclosure
How can I Reduce my Grocery Bill?
Now that we know a good plan for how much to spend on food in a month, let’s walk through some tips and tricks for saving money at the grocery store and reducing that grocery bill.
If you really want to learn how to cut down your grocery bill, I highly recommend you check out Erin Chase’s Grocery Budget Makeover. She will teach you how to rethink the way you grocery shop, resulting in amazing savings at the grocery store, and your grocery bill! So go check out Grocery Budget Makeover and see how much you can save on your food bill!
I attribute meal planning to the biggest contributor in keeping our grocery budget so low every month, even now! Creating a plan for what you are going to eat, and what groceries are needed for those meals, will prevent you from aimlessly wandering the aisles of the store and grabbing random food that you hope might result in some sort of edible meal. Trust me, meal planning is the way to save your shopping sanity. Check out our meal planning guide to learn the ins and outs of easy meal planning.
Struggle to meal plan? Don’t have time to do it or figure out how to do it? We have a solution for that too. Check out the $5 Meal Plan and let them plan your meals. They will be delicious and budget friendly AND done for you. Win, win, win! Although the service is not free, it will take the stress of meal planning and help you save on your groceries.
Go ahead! Go and see what the $5 meal plan is all about!
Shop the Sales
Another way to save on your grocery bill is to shop the weekly sales. Check the weekly mailers for the local stores and see which stores have the best deals on the items. Hint: Only look at the front and back pages of the mailers. These are where the real deals are. Everything else is fluff.
When items in the store are at rock bottom prices, like 30%-50% off the regular price, that is the best time to buy those items. Don’t buy something just because it is on sale. Do your best to wait until it is at a very low price before buying.
Don’t be afraid to shop around and shop different stores either. You might be surprised on which stores actually have the best deals, when you look into their sales.
RELATED ARTICLES: How to Save Money on Groceries
Learn to Stockpile
Creating a stockpile of food so that you can “shop your pantry” before you shop the store is a HUGE way to save money. This is definitely something that takes time and some effort.
One way to start is, when shopping, buy 1 of the item you need for now, and also buy 2 of the same item for later. This is an easy way to start a stockpile that will also work within a budget.
Another way to do this is to buy items when they are at rock bottom prices, like we mentioned before. BUT to buy enough of the item to last you until they are at rock bottom prices again. Products are usually on a 6-8 week sales rotation. So you would need to buy enough of one item to last you 6-8 weeks, until it goes on sale again. Now, this does take planning and budgeting and time.
If you do this second method, realize it will take time to get a good stockpile (6-8 weeks, per the rotation schedule). And it can be hard on the budget to purchase that many items at once. But if you can make it work, you will never have to buy an item full price again. Plus, you will be buying more of fewer items. And all of this will save you hundreds on your grocery bill.
Stop Wasting Food
One of the best ways to save money on groceries is not waste the food you already bought. Wasted food is wasted, and overspent, money.
Plan to eat leftovers at least once a week to help clean out the uneaten food from past evenings, or eat the leftovers for lunches during the week (pack them to work if needed).
If fruit is starting to go soft, use it in a smoothie or freeze it. If vegetables are going bad, chop and freeze them as well.
Rotate the food in your pantry so that everything gets used before it expires.
Find ways to use the food you already have so that you don’t spend extra money to buy what you let go bad.
Stay Out of the Grocery Store
This might sound counter-intuitive, but hang with me. Plan to go to the grocery store 1 time per week, and then DO NOT go back, for any reason. How many times have you gone to the grocery store for “just one thing for dinner” and came out having spent $40+ dollars for that “one thing”? I know I have done it! If you have a meal plan and your list for the week, go to the store once, get everything on your list and don’t go back until the next week. This will save you lots of unexpected $40 trips to buy one thing. If you run out of something, time to get creative! I promise, it works!
I actually prefer to go grocery shopping once every two weeks. This helps me stay on budget and out of the stores. But if you are new to this, try one week at a time. Then build up to 2 weeks. I am working to build up to once a month grocery shopping.
Go Shopping Alone
I know this can be hard for moms, but it works. Whenever I take anyone to the store with me, whether it be kids or even my husband, I inevitably spend more than I planned, buying extra things I did not plan on. When I can go alone, I can focus on just what is on my list and get done more quickly (aka spend less time in the store).
I am a stay at home mom to 3 kiddos. I get the necessity of taking kids to the grocery store. However, if you can find a way to go shopping without kids, it will help. Perhaps you go at night, or on the weekend, or get someone to watch the kids (swap with another mom?). Bottom line, if you can go alone, it will help save you money.
The food budget in a typical household can be a huge piece of your financial pie. But, if you learn some tricks for keeping your grocery bill down, you can save money and lower your monthly budget. This will let you use that money for other pieces of your financial goals.
How do you save money on your monthly food budget? Let me know in the comments!