Hi Jessica, My husband and I are astounded at the amount of money we spend on food, sometimes as much as $1,300 per month at the grocery store (but that includes non-food items I buy). Do you have a sense of monthly food spending for a typical professional family of 4?
M.S., Falls Church, VA
Dear M.S., That is such a good question and something many of us Scramblers have surely wondered (or fretted) about, too.
Sometimes when I do my weekly shopping I feel like our money is slipping through my fingers so quickly. And I often angst over which items, like organic or locally produced, I can afford to spend more on than the cheaper but less flavorful and probably less healthy food at the traditional supermarkets. For example, a pound of locally made, absolutely delicious ravioli at the farmer’s market costs about $8, vs. about $6 at the supermarket, so it costs 25% more.
I did some research and found that the range of what Americans spend on food is huge, and is affected by how many meals we eat at home, how big a family we have, where we shop, the type of food we buy, and how much food we waste. (Americans waste around 25% of the food we buy, according to studies, or as much as $2,275 per family per year!)
According to the USDA, monthly food spending, if most or all meals are eaten at home, can range from $551 to $1,252 for a family of four (more details here).
When I asked Scramblers on Facebook how much they spent on food each week, the answers ranged from $94 – $350, with an average of $195 per family per week.
“We spend $150-$200 per week in Central Pennsylvania for a family of four. We try to buy organic. We buy very little meat and most of our veggies are from a CSA. My husband works at the farm in exchange for the CSA share. I’m envious of the families spending much less. We do buy some prepared foods, but try very hard to keep things homemade,” according to Scramble member T.F.
To get a more accurate estimate for your family based on the number and ages of family members and how many meals you generally eat at home, try this food price calculator.
Clearly, the more meals we cook at home and the less food we waste, the less money we need to spend on food and the more we’ll have left over for other necessities, family outings, vacations or savings. That’s one of the many reasons that weekly planning and shopping is such a good deal for our family budgets.
For my top 10 ways to save money on food, click here, and please share other ways you’ve found to reduce spending on food purchases.