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The Average Grocery Bill

October 6, 2007 by  
Filed Under The Menu Mom Chit Chat

I was just reading in an article in Refund Cents that said the average family of four spends $244 per week on groceries.  That is almost $1000 per month for the average family grocery bill.  Yowza!  We are a family of five and we do not spend anywhere near that!  I suppose we probably would if I didn’t shop sales, stock up on sales, shop only 2-3 times per month and use coupons.

We have had many emails from our subscribers of Dine Without Whine and Menu Planning Central share that they have saved anywhere from $50 – $400 per month on groceries using our services!  That goes to share that menu planning can also most definitely help you save!  You can pick up our free Menu Planning Basics Report here.

How about you? Do you spend that much each week?  If not, what are your money saving tips?

Would you like more tips on how to save at the grocery store?  Check out our free Saving Money on Groceries Ebook

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119 Responses to The Average Grocery Bill

  1. We are a family of 9. I go grocery shopping once a month (this is by big shopping trip), and hubby may stop in one a week to pick up fresh salad fixin’s, or if I run out of detergent or something.

    Today’s grocery shopping was just under $195.00 (majority of it was food and I only bought 4 things that were non-food ….2 bottles of shampoo and 2 bottles of toilet blow cleaner though).

  2. Tsoniki says:

    We are a family of four, shopping twice a month, but we do stop for a quick thing like another gallon of milk or such. We spend between $5-600 a month – I tried the Grocery Game but we didn’t shop those stores for the majority of our foods so it didn’t work for me. I wish we could get our bill lower – I need to get better at coupons and sales!

  3. Sneakers Now says:

    We are a family of 5 (our oldest daughter doesn’t live with us all the time). We spend between $200 and $250 a week on groceries. I haven’t used the Grocery Game yet, so I’ll look into it. I’m always trying to find ways to save! We go to the grocery store several times a week, but I like it that way because I’ll get fresh fruit and veggies, and my 17 mo. old twins like to get out and do something.

  4. Kelly Burrow says:

    That is a lot of money. Of course my kids are only 3 (twins) but we spend about $400.00 a month. We do eat out on the weekends so I guess that makes up for it! Thank you for the easy, family friendly meal plans! and I love the new hair cut! I may go get mine done today too! Kelly

  5. Kelly Burrow says:

    Sneakers Now!!! You are a very brave woman to shop with your 17 mo. twins!! Do you do it alone??? Last week we went to Walmart I had my son in a cart and my husband had my daughter in a cart….I came home with a can of Hispanic Formula that “MR. Grab everything” put in the cart….When I got home and said “OK who put the Hispanic formula in our cart….the kids both said…”Daddy”…Ok “Daddy” that’s what you get to eat this week! ha ha

  6. Nikki Keever says:

    HELP! We (family of five 7,3,1 yr old kids) spend $1200 on groceries and $2-400 on eating out. Diapers $50/mo), toiletries, detergent are in there but I can’t figure out how to reduce some months. I coupon and use the stores discount cards and save avg $30 per big shop 1x mo $250-300. “They” say you buy stuff you wouldn’t normally if you use coupons. I clean out the pantry as if we’re going on vacation then break the bank to replenish. I use a list. Eat fresh and healthy. Plan weekly lunch/dinner and shop for them. What am I missing?!?!

  7. Susan says:

    I’m frustrated. My husband and I have been trying to cut down our grocery bill in half. Currently we are spending for a family of 3, $1100 a month for groceries. I certainly don’t feel like we have that much food – I’ve been trying for the past 2 months to be more careful about the spending but it seems to be going up!? I’m exhausted, upset and sad. $1100 seems extremely high.

    • Renee says:

      In regards to Susan and Nikki…I am right there with you. I just balanced my checkbook and added up my grocery cost for the last two months. One month I spent almost $1000, the other month I spent close to $400. I am a family of 3, my daughter is only 10 months old. But she is eating finger foods, I am such a paranoid mom and want the best for my family, so she eats fresh fruits and vegetables, etc. I usually cook 3 times a week. I really need help cutting back my grocery cost. I find myself running to the store buying fruits 3x a week for my daughter. And I hardly use coupons because I never eat, use, or cook with anything that is on sale. I try to buy on sale items, especially meats! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Maybe I need to start meal planning each week??

      • Jess says:

        I have a family of 3 (one is a 13 month old), and we are spending about 400 to 450 a month and I am also trying to cut it back a bit. I found myself also constantly buying the fruit and things for my LO. I have cut my bill a bit by switching to some frozen fruit (like berries) and I also started buying the fruit cups that are are packaged with fruit juice and not syrup. This way the friut is less likely to go bad when not used right away. Also I found that my daughter does not like to have the same flavor juice every day and that was causing the juice I buy to go bad before she finished the entire container. So now when I buy it and open to pour her some I pour half into another container and freeze it. It works great.

  8. Tiffany says:

    How do you only spend $400 a month with twins.

  9. meg says:

    We are a family of 4, with a toddler boy and preschooler girl (who both eat like soldiers!) and they have food allergies so we often can’t buy regular stuff, but I cook everything from scratch, never buy bottled or ready-to-use spaghetti sauces or gravies or salad dressings. We just make it at home. We spend $400 to $450 a month most of the time.
    I don’t use coupons usually because they are always for junk and processed “convenience” foods we don’t buy anyway.

    I do shop “loss leaders” and stock up when chicken leg quarters are 49 cents a pound, or whole-grain pasta is 88 cents a box.

    We buy Organic or do without for the “dirty dozen” items like apples, celery, stone fruit, bell peppers. For things like cabbage and broccoli, organic really doesn’t matter.

    We also grow a LOT on our tiny urban lot, using the Square Foot method, so summer means my yard is the “grocery store” except for meat.

    Using vegan recipes for baking and just using water in place of milk, and ground flaxseed in place of egg, in things like pancakes, waffles, banana bread, etc saves us a lot of money we don’t have to spend on eggs and milk (which my kids are allergic to anyway). So I would recommended vegan variations for anyone, to save $$.

    Good luck to everyone trying to spend less on groceries. It doesn’t have to mean living on white flour and empty calorie potatoes and rice.

  10. meg says:

    Oh and one more thing: Except Sundays, breakfast is porridge. Old Fashioned rolled oats cook in 2 minutes in a bowl in the microwave. So we NEVER EVER buy “quick” oats (which taste nasty) or anything that comes in individual little packets or envelopes. We also NEVER buy toaster pastries (pure junk food!) or boxed cold cereal (double whammy of high price and very bad for blood sugar and leaves you hungry 10 minutes later). So breakfast is porridge, either generic farina or rolled oats, with extras like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, etc for protein boost and fiber and minerals/vitamins.

    Anything that comes in individual packets, tubs, portions, is financial and health disaster.

    And a Kidco mill makes your own babyfood for under $20, out of whatever you are already making for dinner, whereas little plastic tubs of commercial baby food are packed in #7 “other” plastic, which is TERRIBLE for BPA leaching. They should at least package it in #5 HDPE, which is the most food-safe plastic. Sheesh.

    • Jen says:

      Hey Meg, we are a vegan family of 5. I buy 95% organic produce. I spend way too much on groceries! I would love some more tips, if you have a moment! I also have a square foot garden!

  11. Mike.."Mr. Dad" says:

    I can not believe some of you can shop for so cheap… you should try to feed my 18 year old son who is 6’4″ and 250lbs. He can eat his own weight in food every time he sits at the table.. LOL wait till your children grow up and start eating you out of house and home. I also have a 19 year old daughter and a wife we spend any where between $1000.00 and 1500.00 per mounth ands thats since our kids got jobs and started eating out with there own money….LOL our average was around 1800.00 before

    • Kim says:

      Those young men can put some food down! We are just my husband and I and our 19 yr old son . I spend about 3-400 and that’s my main trip for two weeks. We may spend another hundred on the next weekend and a few trips for milk etc.so I’m guessing we spend about 600 per week is that out of,control? ( too much $)

  12. momof5boys says:

    We are a family of 7 living in British Columbia – boys ages 21, 19, 17, 14, 11 – spend about $150/week tops on groceries (that includes toilet paper etc) I cook most everything from scratch. We also have a garden and three deep freezers lol….baking bread, buns, cookies, etc helps the food budget immensely!

  13. Mark says:

    For the family of three who spends $1100. If you plan meals to cook rather than eating a bunch of junk food it can really help on the grocery bill. also making a list and planning for a week of meals is a great money saver. My wife and I (with a little one on the way) spend $200 a month. this includes dog food, shampoo, toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc. It is a little tight sometimes but we don’t even come close to going hungry but we don’t have desert every night either. (which is a lot healthier) :)

  14. Irene Hunt says:

    I agree with meal planning whole-heartedly. We were spending $100 per week and playing the “what’s for dinner” game regularly. Only our two year old had planned meals. Now I just buy exactly what we need. I also cook from scratch but all my dishes can be made in 30 minutes or less. We are vegetarian so I have to keep an eye on the organic produce prices but buy frozen when I must. It is a great deal cheaper and little nutrition is lost.
    No desserts, no chips, no junk, no soda, no juice, etc….we eat as close to the vine as possible with a bit of seasoning (much cheaper and healthier than suaces and marinades).
    The first week of planned meals cut the bill to $65 instead of $100. In the meantime, my luch consistes of whatever I find in the house until the backlog of uneaten food is gone.
    By the way, being a vegetarian makes it much easier to skip fast food and eating out since there are few to no choices:)

  15. vikki says:

    I have a family of 6 in the Chicago ages 9,3 and 1yr old twins. We
    d only spend $400on groceries and that includes hshld items. I shop monthly bases on the sales ads, clip coupons, shop with a list, and limit snacks unless they are on sale. I also shop at multiple stores to take adv. Of the best sales. It takes time to plan the meals and clip or print the coupons, but it is worth it. We have a healthy diet no canned foods plenty fresh fruit and veggies, but I don’t by a lot of juice.

  16. Jackie says:

    We are a family of 3 and spend around 800.00 for everything; food, personal items, dog food,paper items. I was told from a friend who does debt management for a living that I spend way to much. I do not feel so bad now see some people spending 1100.00 a month for a family of 3. We could cut down around 150.00 month on juice, pop/sport drinks, and some snacks, but it is a small luxury.

  17. Stephanie Roth says:

    I am wondering how so many of you grocery shop once a month. Most porduce barely lasts a week. I usually shop twice a week just for fresh produce and milk. We too have kids with allergies, and are Gluten Free. Our bill is about $300 a week. I don’t buy junk food, soda, or cleaning products, shampoo, etc. I make my cleaners, and cook mostly from scratch. I would love to lower my grocery bill, but find it impossible. Coupons are only for processed foods, and good produce is expensive. I sometimes buy frozen veggies and fruit (in the winter mostly), try to buy local and organic when I can. It’s simple, with the Federal Government subsidizing soy and corn so much, the processed foods are full of it and much cheaper than fresh healthy foods. My thought is cut the bills somewhere else and eat GOOD FOOD!

    • Renee says:

      I completely agree with you! (I made an earlier post above). I really don’t want to sacrifice my family’s health, I never buy processed junk food, I made my own baby food from scratch each week (she is 10 mths)…but there has to be some better way to cut down on food cost for me! I don’t know how people can go shopping once a month, I go at least 2 or 3 times a week, 1 big buy, then little quick stops for fresh produce. Maybe I just have think like you and be frugal in other spendings and continue to feed my family like I do now. Well, once I had my daughter I don’t shop anymore, so that is where we get our extra grocery money!! :)

  18. Sean says:

    OK, first of all, I am not buying what most of you are trying to sell. Unless you only drink tap water, eat Quaker Oat meal, whoops, sorry, Generic oat meal three times a day, day after day w/o sugar or honey then you are really spending in the neighborhood of $200 a month on groceries. I am an athlete with a family of athletes who consume high carb, high protein, high vitamine and mineral items. Variety is the spice for us. We all are at or below optimum weight with the majority being muscle (fast metabolisms). My wife refuses to buy junk food and insists that we can survive on $500 a month. Good luck with that! All the coupons in the world wouldn’t get us in that neighborhood. So, to those that are trying to kid everyone else, continue to eat your yard grass and drink that tap water. PS, if you really are telling the truth put a picture of yourselves (full body with clothes please) out there so we can see how you are starving yourselves. Until then, see you at the next triathlon.

  19. Sean says:

    Stephanie Roth, you are right on the money. Eat healthy, buy often for freshness and cut out the cable TV or whatever! Im sorry I missed your comment b/f I went on a tirade. I even cut back on car fuel by cycling more often to work. It is no short commute either. But, being in shape has more than one benefit.

    • Renee says:

      I agree with Stephanie too. My husband’s mom was VERY frugal, and these poor boys (5!!) ate crap, cheap food. I make pork chops, steak, etc. for my husband, and he says, “I love these pork chops, but I never remember eating thick ones when I was kid.” Just to show you, that I will not sacrifice my family’s health for poor quality food….even though I have to hear it from my mother-in-law how she never spent over $40 dollars in groceries for her family…blah blah blah… :)

  20. Eric Williamson says:

    Anyone whom says they spend only $400.00 a month on grociers with a family of 4. Either does not know what they are talking about,lives in a dream world or is eating very unhealthy. This is imposible.
    Back to you.

  21. kdog says:

    What the heck are you people eating? No wonder Americans are so obese. We are a family of 4 and we spend about $300 per month and I am 6’2 205lbs.
    Use your brains people, buy the Sunday paper for $1.50 and you will save $60 per week in coupons. Stop buying name brand items except toilet paper and some cereals. If you know you are going to eat it immediately, buy the discounted items that are about to expire. Don’t go to specialty meat stores and pay $25 for 2 steaks. Make a huge dish and freeze half of it for the next month. And finally, put the food down and get off your butts.

    • Zadys says:

      Our family of 3 adults spends $559 month on groceries: shop @ Trader Joes, Whole Food, Fresh & Easy and Smart & Final for paper towels and bulk packaged can kerns juices. We don’t eat out. And we all. Carry 1 small fruit for breakfast my spouse brings his can of soda, cookies that’s his only vice. For 10 years, I have always had a package of oak meal for breakfast. For dinner, we divide 14 oz of chicken between the 3 of us & 2 carrots/quash which is only a sm slice for ea of us along w/ 1 cup of milk or fruit shake made of 2 bananas 2 oranges & 3 strawberries. That completes our meals for us. Our only snack is a vanilla or straberry cup. But still our grocery bill is high, I have observed our food bill go from $289 per month upwards of $589 in less than 3 yrs and we are eating less than ever. My daughter was skipping breakfast before school so I now have her prep a health protein shake before skipping meals. Our main meal is dinner @ 4pm so I believe food prices have gone up more than 33% so who are we lying to about food. When my stomach is empty, I drink 6 oz of. Tea. My entire family is heavy & we eat natural foods not stuff in boxes. My daughter said it’s the propensity in our genetic disposition to be heavy. But,we share lots of strength can lift over 65 lbs of top soil and drow it into the back of our truck.I believe not only food has gotten outrageous in cost along with everything else. Sad but fact

  22. Cmos says:

    KDog wrote: “What the heck are you people eating? No wonder Americans are so obese. We are a family of 4 and we spend about $300 per month and I am 6′2 205lbs. Use your brains people, buy the Sunday paper for $1.50 and you will save $60 per week in coupons. Stop buying name brand items except toilet paper and some cereals. If you know you are going to eat it immediately, buy the discounted items that are about to expire. Don’t go to specialty meat stores and pay $25 for 2 steaks. Make a huge dish and freeze half of it for the next month. And finally, put the food down and get off your butts.”

    Kdog, I don’t know what planet you are from or where you get $60 in coupons each week for groceries. Most of that garbage is not worth buying. At most, I would say $3.00 per week coupons are more like it. We rarely buy steak, chips or junkfood and our family of three spends about $600 per month on food. We don’t go out out to dinner, except for the occassional hamburger from Burger King or Wendys. Diapers alone are about $40 per month!

  23. TaskMaster says:

    (wo)man, is it ever funny to read Sean and the other upset shopaholics who can’t get their bills down HA HA.

    My wife and I spend less than $50.00 a week on groceries.

    How? E-Z.

    1) We are vegan.

    2) We eat no snack foods (not even crackers, why Google Acrylamide), no french fries, no potato chips, nothing with batter (ok, maybe 2-3 time a year)

    3) I bake my own bread (light crust), can my own sauces, make my own salad dressings, make my own toppings, pickle my own pickles.

    4) We go out for dinner 2-3 a year. (she goes out for lunch a lot with her friends, but always has <$10 entrees, no booze drinks)

    5) We do not drink “juice”, alcohol or soft drinks – I make homemade iced tea… yes from a tea bag look for a recipe you like and stick with it. Did you know alcohol is a major cause of cancer? Yea, and so does red wine – but I don’t need red wine ’cause I’ve got perfect cholesterol because I eat no meat or dairy, see? No meat/dairy, no wine, money stays in pocket :)

    6) Most importantly, we count calories! I am a type-1 diabetic so I have to measure carbs for my insulin, so I weigh all my food. I count every calorie with software (based on food type and weight). Guess what? I need about 1800 calories a day, if I’m re-shingling the roof, maybe 500 more for that day only…. unless you are a construction worker, a serious athlete, or the like, you are most likely eating too much anyway. If you are a male and weigh 170 LBS at 5’8″ you need only 65g of protein, unless you’re bodybuilder or are doing physical training. That’s less that a 8OZ steak, per day!

    I’m betting that many of you are eating double that when you count bread, nuts, pasta, dairy products etc etc.

    Google “life extension low calorie” – you’ll see that the only proven way to significantly extend life is to greatly reduce caloric intake, and for the calories you do eat, eat low glycemic foods.
    Don’t load up on more carbs or protein than you need, ‘cus it all turns to fat.

    Incidentally, if you are worried about hunger, don’t be, as long as your diet is 30% FAT (with 10%-15% of it as omega-3, hence why I make my own salad dressings). You and your family will be ultra hungry if you eat low-fat. That’s the secret to weight loss: eat 30% – then, your low carb, low protein meal will fill you up. Google “fat satiety” and find out. The low-fat craze is a scam to get you to eat more food and spend more do, then get you spend more on weight loss gimmicks that never seem to work. Guess why? It was designed that way to scam you. Total calories counting with 30% fat is all you need. The pounds will melt off without lifting a finger.

    I eat omega-3 fat from Flax and DHA from Brown red algae (in a special oil blend) – plus I put flax seeds, hemp and pumpkin seeds on my salad… I eat Almond butter, with flax oil added, in the morning (do not use peanut butter as it is risky, Google “Aflatoxins peanut butter”) with homemade 0-sugar added cherry salsa on my lightly toasted bread along with a banana, 3 plums, 1 nectarine and a pear (fruit on the plate, not the toast)… or some iteration of that….

    It really is easy. Funny thing is, all this info is out there, available and free… if only we thought to look it up ;)

  24. Heather says:

    Diapers alone are about $40 per month!

    Comment by Cmos — August 5, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

    Use cloth diapers

  25. Lisa says:

    I have twin 4 1/2 year old boys, my husband lives elsewhere so doesn’t consume too much of our food as he is only here 4 or 5 times a month. When he is here he could eat a 1/2 tray of eggplant parm or the equivalent in 1 sitting and still be hungry although he weighs 165 lbs @ 5’9. I won’t count him anyway.
    Our average grocery bill is $775 – $800 per month. Approx $100 of that goes towards soaps (Hair, body, Dish, Laundry), the littlest one gets hives so his I have to use aveeno baby (over $5.00 for a little bottle that lasts less than a week) & dreft, paper towels, toilet paper and wipes, night time pull ups because 1 still wets the bed, toothpaste & garbage bags. I do use lysol wipes. I believe in the studies that show how much bacteria stays in the sponges that you CLEAN your counters with and then spread germs around with. The sponges I use get sterilized in the dishwasher once a week. My kids were sick for 9 weeks out of 5 month period on & off. While they are still around other children they haven’t had a cold or virus in 3 1/2 months with the use of the lysol or clorox so I don’t feel that keeping that it is a waste of money.
    That leaves about $650- $675 for food. On the high end that is $2.70 per meal per person. If you look up the food stamp info that is what they give people. How is that too much? Unless you just eat spaghetti rice and eggs only. I had a lot of trouble having my children and did a lot of research about chemicals, hormones and antibiotics in the food and how harmful it is. Is it mere coincidence that this is the most infertile generation to exist and it happens to be the time that all of these things were added to the food? So yes I am wasting money on feeding my children organic foods and we do eat meat. While becoming a vegan has crossed my mind in the past, I do know that humans were made to be carnivorous. I have had many vegan friends who are not very healthy. I do feed my children fresh fruit and vegetables every day and they may have a cup of O.J., lemonade or real fruit juice once a day besides their milk. We also indulge in all natural juice pops or a cookie once a day as treat. I do drink coffee , about 2 cups a day. They are the perfect height and weight for their age according to the dr.
    What many of these people fail to calculate is their eating out, (restaurants, take out, lunches at work) That doesn’t count as the grocery bill although it is far more costly. We haven’t eaten out in about 2 years because frankly we can’t afford it. We have had McDonald’s a few times over the summer because they received Free happy meals for the library reading program. The kids usually only get a happy meal every 2-3 months.
    If I am spending WAY TOO MUCH money because my kids are eating fresh healthy food than go ahead & criticize that if I can’t afford it they need to live on rice & beans. Too bad for them right?

    • Rebecca Mayo says:

      Were a family of five with three boys 7,5 and 2. Im with you on eating this way. i just discovered we spend around $ 1100. a month on all the groceries which was a shocker at first. then i realize how picky i am at only buying what’s healthy. i dont have time to pickle, can, or make sauces and my husband is a carnivore and very particular as well. and i love to try new recipes. Indian curries, fresh salsas and organic salad dressings are a must. once you get spoiled with real flavor in food, it’s hard to buy processed foods. i love carrot juice or green goodness juice, my kids drink milk and orange juice daily. i pack their lunches with healthy food and a sweet occasionally. my two year old loves to eat ! he is constantly pulling cereal and chips out of the pantry. He detests veggies so i hide spinach in the sauces i make for dinner. my cooking style is a mix between Sandra Lee , Giada De Lorentis , and Gandi . hahahahahahaha ! bon apetit !

    • Rebecca Mayo says:

      p.s.-i clean my kitchen rag with bleach daily, saves on wipes, but i love those wipes for the bathroom !

  26. Me says:

    Use cloth diapers? Really Heather?

    In Texas where we are on water restriction her bill would skyrocket due to the added laundry. My calculations have found if I clothed diapered including cleaning I would save $15 a month. This is using the data provided by cloth diaper advocates.

    Every family is different, every region is different…stop comparing yourselves to others and focus on what is important for your family and what your family values. Some states tax their groceries (NC 2% for food).

    We spend $600 a month for a family of three (using disposables!). This includes cleaning supplies which I believe some people keep out when bragging about their low grocery bills.

    We:
    Meal plan (yes…also a low carb diet with a Type I)
    Do not purchase snacks
    Eat out 2x a month
    Buy in bulk from Costco
    Purchase meat in bulk from a CSA
    Mostly purchase generics (unless the few times the name brand is cheaper)
    Are NOT overweight
    Do not eat preprocessed food
    The only debt we have is our mortgage which we have over 20% equity in

    I am constantly working on trying to lower our bill. I have found through my regular assessment and work our bill has stayed steady despite inflation over the past year and a half.

    BTW Heather – I breastfeed.

    • Renee says:

      I am with you too. Ideally cloth diapers would be a perfect solution, but the upfront cost is very expensive and some families just doesn’t have that much money upfront to cover the cost to have a cloth diaper system. Bum Genius is expensive!! I too breastfed, still am! So, I didn’t have to spen ANY money on icky formula! I make my own Baby Food. My husband and I are NOT overweight at all, health, and exercise. I mainly shop for dinner type foods, and the usual breakfast things, egss, toast, cereal. We don’t drink any juice (the occasional OJ for me), no sodas, no bottled waters, no alcohol at all in our house. I swear, it is just fresh produce, meats, and pasta, bread, milk, egg, cheese…just every day type foods, and I can’t seem to get my grocery bill lowered. It is very frustrating, but I do not want to compromise my family’s health for cheap food. AND, we buy cases and cases of diapers and wipes, straight from Medline, hospital product manufacturer, my husband knows someone there and we get a huge discount. so we are saving money there…and I buy some generic items too! Ahhh, so frustrating!

  27. Kari says:

    Thank-you for some really great ideas!

  28. Cloth diapers God love ya!

    We Have cut way down on our groceries and still are eating healthy and just have cutout much of the waste. We can feed our family of 4 on about $100. a week without using coupons.

    Two easy meals we may have are

    1 1 1/2 -2lb London broil cost $4.00, 1 5lb bag of potatoes Cost $3.00 use 5-7, 1 can of Campbell’s mushroom and garlic cream soup cost $1.69, use 8 carrots from lunch. Mix soup as per direction plus 1/4 can of water place beef, quarter potatoes and carrots, pour soup over top of all ingredients in baking pan and bake for 60-90 minutes until beef starts to fall apart. Don’t let it dry out cover with foil if needed. Total Cost $8.69

    1 1lb canned ham cost $3.00, 5-7 potatoes, 1 1lb bag of frozen broccoli Cost $1.50 (you can save move by using can or ripened veggies I just prefer frozen), 1 can of cream of cheddar soup Cost 1.79, chunk ham and place in baking dish quarter potatoes, add frozen broccoli and top with cheddar soup mixed per instructions on can add a quarter can more water if needed bake at 350 degrees for about an hour until potatoes are soft lightly sprinkle with any leftover Parmesan cheese. Total Cost $6.29

    For a grocery list and easy diner recipes for a week see http://feedafamilyunder100aweek.blogspot.com/

  29. Kim says:

    I spend around $500 – $600 per month on a family of 4 and I found that it really helped to cut down on costs by good planning. Create your menu for the week and use meats twice. One day make meatballs for meatball sandwiches, the next day use those same meatballs with marinara and spaghetti, use hotdog buns with the meatball sandwiches and then the next night for hot dogs so you don’t waste food. I think most people over buy without thinking about how to use the left overs again in another dish. If you have chicken one night, use leftovers to make chicken soup and so on. I hope this gives some people some ideas. I feel that this has really helped me to save some money for sure.

  30. Lea says:

    I live in NC, and my family of 4 spends about $100 per week on groceries…and when I say “groceries” I mean groceries. Food we can consume. My grocery list does not include items such as cleaning supplies, paper products, hair care items, or diapers and wipes. It is my experience that these items can usually be purchased less expensively at my local BJ’s or Sam’s or at Wal-Mart or K-Mart.

    To save money on groceries, I plan my menu around what’s in the pantry/cabinets/freezer, and add to my grocery list those things I need to complete the dishes I’m planning on cooking and the staple things I need to restock. I buy meats based on what’s on sale (I use http://www.sundaysaver.com to compare the sales circulars from all my local grocery stores). I buy in family size packages, on sale, and/or marked down to keep the cost down. I shop early in the morning when my schedule permits because that’s when my local stores mark down their meat. I try to keep to a less-than-$2-per-pound mentality when buying, but I do occassionally splurge on steaks or seafood (my hubby and I have a fondness for king crab), but even then it has to have a good sales price. (Right now my local grocery store has ribeyes on sale for $3.99/lb and king crab for $5.99/lb so I’ll be picking up a little of both & stashing in the deep freeze for our next “special” dinner.) I buy shelf-stable things in quantity when I find them at a good price. I don’t buy convenience foods (no frozen lasangas or Chicken Viola! at our house), but the hubby & I do drink soft drinks, and I do serve my kids juice with breakfast. I do not buy bottled water, but because my kids like the “flavored” waters, I mix my own using my Brita filtered water and real juice. Truthfully, whether or not my vegetables are organic or my chicken is free-range isn’t a big factor for buying decisions. Right now my number one goal is feeding my family a healthy assortment of foods for the least amount of money possible.

    We occassionally eat out for special celebrations (like when our extended family gets together to celebrate birthdays), but we plan for those occassions and consider those to be “entertainment expenses”. If something goes horribly wrong (like the day my slow cooker died) and we HAD to eat out, that cost of the meal out goes against my grocery budget.

    I found that I could cut my “household” spending quite easily. I consider household stuff to be cleaning supplies, paper products (paper towels, napkins, toilet paper), laundry and dish detergents, etc. I buy these in larger packages, keep an eye out for coupons (BJ’s accepts manufacturers coupons), and watch for sales. In general I’m not brand-conscious when it comes to these items (though I am selective about my TP), but there are a few brands I won’t buy because I’ve tried them and don’t like them. Prices at my warehouse store don’t fluctuate much, so if the grocery store has paper items on sale and/or I’ve got a coupon that makes their price less expensive, that’s where I buy it. When my children were younger, all my diapers and wipes came from the warehouse store or Wal-Mart. I loved my Clorox wipes but gave them up in lieu of a sanitizing spray I make myself. I do not buy a huge variety of cleaning supplies — a multi-purpose spray cleaner of vinegar and water takes care of most the surfaces in my house.

    As for hair care products, I don’t buy salon brands anymore — not from my stylist or from the drug and/or grocery store. They’re just too bloody expensive for my budget. I tried a lot of different shampoos & conditioners before I found one I liked and that made my hair feel and behave like the Biolage products that once inhabited my shower. We actually have a line item in our budget for hair care, and I include cuts, colors, and all hair products in that category.

    So, when I say my grocery budget is around $100 a week, I mean my GROCERY budget is around $100 a week. I think many people think of their grocery spending as whatever they spent AT the grocery store. At least that’s what I hope when I read that some families are spending $800 or more. My bank account would scream in protest.

  31. bob says:

    Our family of three lives in Arizona. Our grocery bill is ~$600 per month. I do all of the shopping and use coupons a little. I have club cards for all the stores that accept them. Once a week I make the rounds to Safeway, Fry’s, Food City, Walmart and Biglots. I have figured out which ones carry certain products cheaper. I also sheck the adds on them all. I always use a list. During growing season we maintain a garden and I would estimate that it provides us with a few hundred dollars worth of vegetables per year. The $600 includes all of our toilet paper, paper towels, toiletries, cleaning materials etc… We do eat a lot of beef, prok and chicken mostly ~$1.99 per pound. Also included are the diapers for our 3 year old @ ~$50 per month. Also included is my restaurant bill. Mostly I eat at Wendy’s and have the plain baked potato and side salad. No alcohol. I used to live on tuna (cat food) and water, but now I make good money and could afford to spend much more than I do. 1800 calories or less per day for me.

  32. Bob Green says:

    Lea it looks like some only account for food they buy not laundry supplies or diapers. a package of diapers at Costco is about $40. I’m kinda surprised people know how much they spend on anything in any detail. Does everyone use a money management program? I use quicken so I know I spent $318 last month on groceries and toiletries for just 2 people. It could be alot lower if I did like my neighbor whos yard is full of veggies but that’s a ton of work keeping it watered and tended. I did blow $17 on “eating out” 4 times, twice at Domino (walk in $5.99 large special) and twice at Carls Jr (two dollar burgers with water). It’s junk but the large pizza lasts us two days. I would probably spend more and live more if my only income was not $300 a week unemployment check.

  33. Jessica says:

    I have a family of 4 – a pre-schooler and a toddler and a husband who is 6’5″ and 245lbs and he will eat 2 servings easily and my kids go through growth spurts where they will eat and eat! I spend on average about $300 a month for grocerys or $75 a week. Now when my kids are crazed eating machines I will spend maybe around $85 a week or about $340 a month. Now with that said I buy a lot of stuff that I prepare and make myself. It’s alot cheaper to cut your own veggies than to buy already cut and it’s a lot cheaper to buy a box mix for a cake than to buy an already made one. Sometimes i’ll make cakes and cookies from scratch and that really saves you money, but I like to always factor in my time and to me sometimes it’s worth paying a little more for that box of cake mix that I can whip up in 10mins than it is for me to spend an hour making a cake from scratch. Hope this may help.

  34. Family of 6 says:

    Mom, dad, 9,7,5,3 … Food total $550/month including eating out. Three square meals, meat and milk daily, fresh fruits & veggies. No SNAP/EBT/WIC, no Free/Reduced Breakfast/Lunch (we home school). This is a 6-month (winter) average. If you approach grocery budgeting like a part-time job, it will pay you like one!

  35. Family of 6 says:

    p.s. Diapers & wipes for 2 babies concurrently used to cost me $50 total. Not sure why anybody would pay more…

  36. Cammi says:

    We’re a family of four and only spend around $250-$300 a month. That being said, I’m a big-time coupon shopper. I cook most dinners at home, we usually eat out every Sunday (Tumbleweed, where it’s Family Night so kids eat free, we generally spend $20 for the 4 of us). We do eat a lot of fresh foods, but I also have some shelf stable items. We usually buy a can of green beans, peas, and corn to have on hand. We eat a LOT of broccoli (I’m eating low-carb, losing weight) which I get 4lbs. frozen for under $5 at Sam’s Club. When I can get something cheap or free with coupons, I stock up (I probably have 100 pouches on Tuna Fish in my basement that I actually made money on when I bought it, LOL). It’s probably been 6 months to a year since I’ve bought household cleaning products because I stocked up when KMart had double coupons (they’re prices are too high nowadays to buy there otherwise). And I still have 16 boxes of laundry soap (Surf) that we got free after coupons.

    I do understand, btw, that not every can or would take the time to coupon shop like I do. I also think that some (not everybody, so no one start yelling at me, LOL) just buy too many convenience foods instead of cooking meals. I do understand that not everyone has the time to cook homemade meals, but there are many that are easy to do and some, you can pre-do a lot. Or do bulk cooking on the weekends. Just an idea, don’t know if it’s helpful or not, LOL.

    • Cammi says:

      I wanted to add, when we first moved to the state we live in now, we did so without having jobs (the reason we left Michigan, LOL). We received food stamps for about the first 5 months (there were 5 of us then) and it was a little over $600!! We were shocked. So much money! We were not use to it! I’ve never had a budget more than say $300 a month, even when there were 6 of us! My two oldest are out of the house now, so it’s only the four of us. Anyway, while we were getting the food stamps we also did a lot of stocking up since we knew we wouldn’t have it long. We had a pretty easy time getting jobs here, so now we’re doing fine. And we’re still eating fine.

  37. Kyndra says:

    We are a family of 5 (with one on the way) with kids ages 5, 3, and 1. I was really frustrated to add up that we spent about $450 on food/household expenses last month! I don’t coupon clip because we try not to buy packaged/processed foods which it seems all the coupons are for…we live in the Portland, OR area which seems high in the cost of living area. We freeze/can our own veggies in the summer from a community farm we are part of, but I can’t seem to get our expenses down! Ideally, I’d like to be around $300/month for just food costs, and perhaps another $50 for household items and diapers (we supplement disposable diapers for cloth diapers). Anyone in the Portland metro area have more ideas?? We cook from scratch, not many snacks, etc…

  38. Susan says:

    We are a family of nine(two adults, children ages 18 months to 15 years) and I just bumped our budget up to $650-700 per month. This accounts for all food and nonfood. We have one in diapers and three wearing goodnites (bedwetters). We do have a seasonal garden but during the cold months probably just saves us about $5-10 per month. I do not coupon but do shop some loss leaders. I mainly do a monthly Aldi and Sam’s trip and fill in with the loss leaders and the local produce stand.

  39. Sara says:

    Some of these responses are absolutely blowing my mind… My family is a family of 3. My husband, my 5 year-old daughter, and me.. (and I’m also 6 months pregnant) I’ve had a lot of complications with this pregnancy and am unable to work. My husband also was laid off when I was only 7 weeks pregnant.. Right now, he’s the only one working, and the only job he was able to find around here, powdercoating and welding, only pays him only $9 an hour. Our food budget is around $175 a month.. Even when we weren’t in the situation we are in now, I’ve never spent $1000 a month on food.. That’s insane! We do it by eating mainly vegetarian dishes, although we’ll usually have chicken or fish once a week each. We also buy rolled oats instead of packaged oatmeal, and mix in berries or nuts. Our snacks consist of fruits or raw veggies instead of junk. My daughter and I drink mainly water or milk, and my husband drinks water and tea (that we make at home) during dinner. No sodas, junk food, individually packaged foods, and less meat. It’s not as hard as most of you make it sound.

  40. Family of 6 says:

    (Summary: $550/mo for 2 adults & 4 boys, including eating out, in Atlanta metro)

    We eat tons of fresh produce, but the trick is to buy only what is in season and/or on sale. Needless to say, we get a lot of apples (3 lbs/$2.50), bananas ($0.39/lb), and oranges (4 lbs/$2.50). “Fancy” fruits only when the price is right, e.g., grapes ($0.99/lb), avocados ($0.50 ea), and strawberries ($0.99/lb). You really appreciate them more!

    Carrots ($0.69/lb), cucumbers ($0.75 ea), romaine lettuce ($1.99/3 heads), broccoli crowns ($1.29/lb), collards ($1.99/HUGE head), green beans ($0.99/lb), potatoes ($2.99/lb lbs) … Many of them can keep for more than 1 week. Also, you can buy just one — cut it up, mix it in, and it looks like you have a lot of variety.

    NOTE: You need to know your prices! These are my threshhold prices, and I know which stores to go to. If I rotate among 3 stores (Aldi (cheap), Publix (packaged goods), and farmer’s market (specialty)), I can get some of everything in a one-month period.

    If you really must have something out of season, look in the frozen section. e.g., berries for smoothies. Also, buy extra when it is on sale and freeze it yourself. (e.g., asparagus)

    Meat: I buy from Restaurant Depot and repackage everything for my freezer. Every 6 weeks I buy: 40 lbs chicken, 10 lbs ground beef, 4 lbs fish. Sometimes lamb or chunks of beef. I also choose 1 case processed meat (hot dogs, chicken patties, lunch meat, etc.) and choose a different type each trip. We buy HALAL meat (it’s like Kosher, meaning that it’s more expensive!), and we spend about $100-$125 every 6 weeks. The trick is to make things like meat sauce or shredded chicken so you get a taste but not really huge pieces.

    Make sure your pantry is stocked so you don’t need to make extra trips. Rice, pasta, spag sauce, beans, spices, shredded cheese in freezer, etc. I have about 2 weeks’ worth in my regular kitchen, plus a few months’ worth of *basics* in the basement. I’m aiming for 1 year like the Mormons! BTW my emergency food is also included in the $550/mo.

    Hope that helps.

  41. Theresa says:

    Are you all including cleaning supplies in your numbers ?

    We are closer to 1100 a month (last year it was 1121/mo) and this year so far is it 1047/mo.

    I am grouping in cleaning supplies and paper products, and I am in the DC suburbs. Two adults and two teenagers and a college daughter occasionally home…

    The USDA website says it should be 850.00 a month and they calculate based on age (I have a teenage son so I think he should count as two people !).

    Curious if your numbers include stuff like toilet paper, paper towels, Kleenex, plege, etc….

    Maybe that’s the difference. Because of said college daughter I am definitely also trying to cut costs down !

  42. Family of 6 says:

    Cleaning supplies:
    - toilet paper — 1 double roll/wk = $5/3 months (5 males + 1 female :)
    - toilet wipes — 1 pack/wk = $5/month
    - kitchen towels — 1 roll/2 wks = $1.25/mo (Use washable washcloths for everyday messes. Towels for gross stuff.)
    - kleenex — 1 box lasts for months and months = $1
    - bleach — 1 bottle/yr (only for really gross stuff, and we don’t wear white clothes)
    - Mr Clean — 1 bottle/6 months = $2 (Dilute your own in spray bottle.)

    The point is… cut down as many categories of cleaning products as you can, then try to reduce usage.

    • Theresa says:

      Hi Family of 6 …

      are you including your cleaning stuff in your $550 ?
      laundry detergent, etc ? as well as paper products ?
      My 1100 includes that, and I will guess that atlanta is 20% cheaper than dc, of course if we assume that and you have 6… and I have 4, we should be about even and I am double ! do you have teenage boys or little boys (BIG difference on food consumption ..my teenager eats at least 1 and 1/2 what my husband does if not double). no where close to that amount when he was 10 …

      too funny about boys versus girls and tp… I think I am going through a 12 roll tp pack a month, which is 1/3 roll a day ? maybe there is a national average for how much tp you should use too ? :-)

      the numbers on “what you should pay for x” are really helpful. I think I will make a cheat sheet, I do a few coupons but mainly try to do a bi-monthly run to costco for the meats and paper products…

      thanks for any advice.

      • Family of 6 says:

        Funny I forgot about the laundry given I do so *much* of it (40-50 loads / month). Detergent on sale runs about $0.05-7 per “load” but I fill the cap higher than “line 1″ so it’s probably closer to $0.10 per load. Dryer sheets are $0.97/50 sheets. So that’s about $6/month. Rarely bleach and Shout. I’m glad my husband doesn’t need dry cleaning, but I used to iron A LOT when he had a desk job and and the kids used to wear school uniforms.

        If I had to guess, I’d put cleaning, paper products, laundry, garbage bags, soap, shampoo etc at about $15/mo.

        I’ve got 3 little boys & 1 tween. We’re also homeschoolers, so that means that the food budget includes all meals and snacks. $550/mo also includes eating out, but nothing fancy, mostly Captain Ds (Who wants to stink up the house with fried fish?!) or Little Caesars (Pizza! Pizza!). My husband brings his lunch or eats out on the business.

        Theresa, you’re right about DC being expensive! Giant & Safeway are totally insane, even if you shop the specials. (Hey, there’s money in a government town!) You’re lucky there are so many well-established ethnic neighborhoods… Try out Lotte or any of the Korean chain grocery stores for great produce and a cheap lunch too :)

  43. Theresa says:

    Hi family of 6…

    So I am determined to get this number down (or at least determine if it is possible)… I put your numbers on a spreadsheet and carried them around with me at Safeway today in the MD suburbs (Montgomery County).

    My shopping list didn’t have all of your items, but I have been diligently recording prices. I am going to try Trader Joes, Giant and do the same. I had three numbers I checked against yours and would love to check some more. Bottom line, 20% more for DC is way off (or perhaps it is just Safeway)…

    It’s more like 50% to 1.5 times more….which would explain why my bill is double yours ! Maybe it is just where I am shopping.

    Anyway, here is my spreadsheet so far. Right now my plan is not to adjust what I am doing for a month, just to go different places and record. My husband thinks I am nuts, BUT, if I can shave 5K off our bill somehow (and pre-tax that’s 9-10K) maybe that’s not so crazy….but if you have time to record what you think some of these numbers should be that would be great.

    Thanks again.

    Produce atlanta mom internet price md safeway percent more
    per lb
    apples $0.83
    bananas $0.39 $0.59 51.28%
    oranges $0.63
    grapes $0.99
    broccoli $1.29
    green beans $0.99
    potatoes $0.60
    strawberries $0.99
    green onions $1.28
    fresh ginger $1.49
    baby carrots $1.50
    peaches $2.49

    each
    avocado $0.50 $1.25 150.00%
    cucumber $0.75
    romaine – per head $0.66 $1.56 135.18%
    head of iceberg $1.99
    petite green peas
    garlic (1 clove sets) $0.50
    blueberries (pt) $3.00

    junk food
    tostitoes scoops 15 oz bag $3.60 $2.00

    dairy
    sharp cheddar cheese – 1 lb $3.49 $3.50
    skim milk gallon $3.79

    meats
    hamburger meat (20% fat) $3.99
    boneless chicken (per lb) $1.99

    breads
    arnold loaf whole grain $2.69

    condiments
    caesar dressing (marzetti 15 oz) $3.99
    molasses
    morton salt standard $0.69

    • Family of 6 says:

      My numbers are not everyday numbers, but my “best price” numbers meaning that I WON’T buy potatoes at $0.60/lb but at $1.79/10 pounds. But that means always knowing what’s in my pantry because I might not go back to the good-for-potatoes store for another 2 weeks.

      (current summer prices)

      *** FRUIT/VEG ***
      apples $2.50/3 lbs
      bananas $0.39/lb
      oranges $2.99/4 lbs (winter price — still in season?)
      grapes $0.99/lb
      broccoli $1.29/lb
      green beans $0.99/lb
      potatoes $1.79/10 lbs
      strawberries $0.99
      yellow onions $1.99/3 lbs
      green onions $1 for 3-5 bunches
      fresh ginger not sure, I buy small pieces
      baby carrots $2.50/3 lbs when they are BOGO free
      tomatoes $0.49/lb
      peaches $0.50/lb (summer!)
      plums $0.99/lb
      seedless watermelon $2.99-3.99
      blueberries FREE! (1 bush in garden = about a gallon so far :)
      avocado $0.50
      cucumber $1 for 3-5
      romaine heart $1.99/3 heads
      head of iceberg $0.99 (cheaper to buy romaine and it lasts longer)
      cabbage $0.39/lb
      carrots $0.59/lb
      celery $1.39
      gr peppers $0.50 ea
      mushrooms $1.39/8 oz
      anise $1.99
      petite gr peas $1/lb frozen
      skinny gr beans $1.29/lb frozen
      garlic 32oz jar $2.99

      spaghetti sauce $0.99/can
      tomato paste 6 oz $0.39
      salsa $1.69/jar

      *** JUNK FOOD ***
      plain corn chips $1.00 (about 13 oz)
      generic doritos $1.29 (about 13 oz)
      generic cheetos $1.99 (about 13 oz)
      generic kettle chips $1.99 (about 13 oz)
      indiv size chips $10.50/50 1 oz bags
      100% juice boxes $1.99/10-pack (but I loaded up when it was $1.29 :)

      french fries $10.69/30 lbs
      hash browns $2.69/20 pieces

      *** DAIRY ***
      cheese chunk $1.99/8 oz
      shredded mozzarella $10.50/5 lbs
      gallon milk $2.09 (was $1.69 just a few months ago!)
      dozen eggs $0.79
      lb butter $1.99
      cream cheese $0.99/8 oz chunk

      *** MEAT ***
      (all meat is “halal” which is more expensive like kosher)

      ground beef regular $1.99/lb
      ground beef xlean $2.69/lb
      chicken leg quarters $0.49/lb
      whole chicken $1.09/lb
      goat cubes $2.75/lb
      lamb cubes $3.49/lb
      tilapia fillets $11.00/4 lbs
      25/30 size raw shrimp $3.99/lb
      tuna $6.50/6 lb 6 oz can

      *** BREAD/GRAINS ***
      hot dot/hamburger $0.49/8-pack
      generic wheat sandwich $1.19
      bolillo $1.00/3 pieces
      french bread $1.25/baguette
      donuts (bakery) $2.40/dozen

      long grain rice $??/50 lbs
      brown rice $??/10 lbs
      couscous $1/lb
      cereal $1.50-$2.00/box
      dry beans $18/20 lb case
      pasta $0.88/lb (mostly BOGO at Publix)

      *** MISC ***
      ranch/french/vinegarette $0.99-$1.29/15 oz
      ketchup $3/114 oz can
      BBQ sauce $0.89/small bottle
      sugar $2.25/5 lbs
      flour $1.69/5 lbs
      salt $0.33

      dog food 50 lb $12.99 (he also eats lots of leftovers)

      *** WHERE I GO SHOPPING ***

      I would say 50% of the time I go to the farmer’s market. Not the trendy outdoors ones, but the ones in ethnic neighborhoods (Korean, Chinese, or Mexican) that look like Publix. You have to try out different ones until you find the right mix of cleanliness (!), price, and selection. Plus you can get a great lunch in the food court before hand.

      30% Aldi
      10% Publix/Kroger (mostly loss leaders)
      10% Restaurant Depot

      Restaurant Depot really saves me a lot of money because I can make the same foods at home instead of going out. It really burns me up to go somewhere nice and all the kids want is pizza or mac-and-cheese!

      I’m always on the lookout for deals and not afraid to look like a total NUT buying a whole cartful of stuff. Recent best deals:

      - gourmet frozen mixed veg (sugar snap, yellow squash, etc) was $0.59/lb;
      - indiv cupcake bites (like Little Bites) were $0.49/box-of-six;
      - 44-load Xtra laundry detergent was $1.00;
      - 4-pack of Barilla whole wheat spaghetti was $2.88;
      - Lindt chocolate balls (about 12 in bag) was $1.00 !!!

  44. Theresa says:

    okay this isn’t formatting correctly and I can’t figure out how to get it to do so… If there is a percentage, it is a number you supplied, if not, it is a safeway number.
    thanks again.

  45. Theresa says:

    oh, and if you have time I am very interested in why you decided to home school. my kids are in catholic schools because I was horrified at what was going on in the public schools (indoctrination, no sense of values, anything goes coupled with teacher approved mockery of any organized religion)…
    we are not quite to the condoms handed out to elementary kids of Provincetown but close.
    we are the “condoms on cucumbers” district.
    full explanations of everything you ever would have want to ask about the birds and the bees in co-ed classrooms at age 10 (fifth grade, complete with graphic pictures)
    I had my kids in public school for exactly one year as a result.
    I would have thought Atlanta, in GA, wouldn’t be quite as bad as far as the public schools.

    • Family of 6 says:

      The kids went to private religious school, but with our 4th ready for school we couldn’t stomach 4x the tuition ($20,000+ per year total). We never went to public school, so I can’t compare.

      We’re lucky to have a virtual charter school option (Georgia Cyber Academy), accredited (!) and also paid for by the state. I hear there will be about 6000 students statewide next year! We get all the books and materials (return everything except workbooks at end of year), a curriculum, and an online teacher who holds class once/wk and we meet in-person occasionally. GCA also organizes field trips either for free or group rates. We have the freedom to move ahead once a topic is “mastered” or spend more time on things that interest us. If there is something offensive (but everything is *very* politically correct), we can just skip it or gloss over it. My 2nd grader’s history covered the Roman Empire through the Middle Ages, and my 3rd grader had the Middle Ages, Reformation, Age of Exploration, and Revolutionary War. Amazing!

      We bought this house (we have 6 acres, with 40+ acres of surrounding forest) for the privacy and proximity to the city (11 miles to Midtown). Unfortunately, all of the schools fail AYP and we have low-income apartments and trailer parks in our neighborhood. They did open a charter school (part of the Imagine Academy franchise) about 1/2 mile down the road, but I’m still not comfortable sending the kids to that environment until they iron out the kinks. There are some really good public schools in Atlanta, just not in my area. If our gamble pays off and the developers come in the next 1

  46. Theresa says:

    wow is that helpful !
    Thank YOU !

    I am going to incorporate into my spreadsheet and repost. I have been trying to find a site that lists prices by area for groceries (that’s a big database effort, clearly….).

    I can’t find one…. a couple of sites appear to have coupon archives but it is not clear if they have price comparisons…..

  47. Cassondra Rushing says:

    Wow, I would definitely like help also. I have four children 8, 7, 5, 2 and two adults. I have been laid of due to current econimic situation so I am living off of unemployment, which is only enough for me to pay my bills. I recently swallowed my pride and applied for food stamps. I recieved $455 a month in food stamps, and recently found out my daughter has a condition which can lead to type II diabetes, so now we have to eat healthy and can’t buy the cheap pasta and things that we used to buy to use as fillers. I am very worried on how to make this work and be able to feed them the healthy foods that they need. I do shop sales, but it is so expensive to shop healthy!!Can anyone give me some good suggestions? Last month we got to the point that the only thing I could afford to feed them was Ramen noodles and sandwiches, but as stated above due to her condition, I have to stay away from allot of starches and fats.

  48. Cornbag Tickles says:

    About $750-$800/month for two people. Mostly fresh produce and meat. We don’t eat out, and this includes all meals for 2 people, 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. We make out pretty good.

    We have 2 dogs that tack on another $125 or so per month.

  49. Elyse says:

    How have we survived all this time on a mere 300 a month? We’re soon to be a four person family living in Alaska (where it seems all the food is more expensive) and all this time I thought I was doing something wrong grocery shopping. I mean I try my hardest. I’ve charted which stores have the best price on certain products like produce, I always buy the cheapest brands but it still feels like we’re barely scraping by. I have to count down the days to our next paycheck. It’s almost to the point where it would be cheaper to go vegetarian.

  50. Shelly says:

    Family of 5 with one on the way:

    This is a very interesting thread. I found it because I was trying to see if what I have budgeted per month is anywhere close to what it should be. We live in Texas in a mid-size city and its a military town. I did have $600/month including everything having to do with groceries, cleaning supplies, paper products and what have you in the toiletries department. It was comfortable and many times we would have excess that I would roll over into our eating out money. Now, we have to cut that back to $400. I know it can be done, but I don’t think coupons are THE answer for us. Most of the ones I get in the paper or mailers are for things we don’t ever use or buy. I buy mostly off-brand if there is a comparable one. If we have brand name things like certain cleaners: I use the kaboom never scrub in the toilet and the scrubbing bubbles auto shower cleaner (I’m preggers and have little kids, 2 of them boys who sometimes care where they aim:) and home school and make lots of stuff from scratch… priorities, people!;) then I usually find that they include coupons in the previous package I bought or I become a member on their website and get coupons that way. (If I ever find a homemade recipe for either of those, you can bet that I will be going that route instead!) I do the same for any name brand stuff that we eat. I shop at Sam’s Club and buy things in bulk that we consume in crazy amounts. We are not going to be able to eat out very much at all, so where I used to have $100/mo budgeted for that, let’s just say its no longer in the budget for now.:) So, because of that, I am now making all of our meals. I make several things myself now that I used to buy. I make my own yogurt and my own “nutrigrain” bars. I make my own quick mix (like bisquick.) I was making our bread, but it wasn’t getting eaten, so we’ve gone back to store bought. Oh, well, you can’t win them all! I don’t buy ready made desserts, I have a bit of an obsession with baking, so yeah. I do keep a couple of boxed cake mixes sometimes if I haven’t had the time to make up my own homemade mixes to store in the pantry. I got tons of great homemade recipes from this blog: http://chickensintheroad.com/ I’m learning about making my own shampoo, conditioner, chapstick and cleaners, which will cut down on that money spent. Google it, its really not hard or else I wouldn’t be doing it! I have a stack of microfiber towels that I got from Sam’s which I clean up most of the messes that occur in our house. (Sometimes a beach towel is required. Just sayin’.) They get bleach treatment when washed. I may start doing vinegar instead though….hmmm. I buy detergent once a year/year and a half off of Amazon.com which has free shipping and I spend a total of about $60 for 40lbs of detergent. The brand is Country Save if you want to look it up and it is great for cloth diapering or people with skin allergies/sensitivities. You don’t have to use as much as regular store bought detergent either, so that’s why it takes me so long to go through it. BTW I have a top loader, not a front loader. Um…what else? We are not vegetarian, though I’m not big on meat. My husband is, however, and so most of the time we have meat in what we eat. Sometimes I don’t feel like messing with meat and so he just accepts it and moves on…Love that man! Okay, that is the end of my monologue.

  51. Shelly says:

    Oh, I also wanted to add that we only spend about $27 on diapers. I get the HEB brand in the big box and they are probably the best diapers I have ever used, including pampers and huggies (which were my previous favorites.) K, now I’m done.:)

  52. shaloop says:

    Our family consists of 3 adults (me, hubby and MIL) and 3 kids (10 y.o.son, 8 y.o. daughter and 11 month old son.) The baby eats homemade baby food and is breastfed. I spend about 400 – 600 per month on groceries and household items (including diapers, cleaning products, health and beauty, and paper products) per month. We are all well fed and that includes packing the kids and sometimes hubby’s lunches for school and work. I cook mostly from scratch. I bake our cookies and oatmeal bars and other desserts like apple crisp, brownies and occasionally a cake. I keep rolled oats for cooking and eating for breakfast. I buy box cereal when it’s on sale and/or with coupons. I try to buy good quality (high fiber/low sugar) cereal. I try not to buy foods with artificial flavors, colors or high-fructose corn syrup or trans-fats. I only buy 100% juice, usually apple cause it’s cheapest, or buy other varieties when on sale and/or with coupons. I buy fruit, either from the farmer’s market or what’s on sale. I usually get Wednesday newspaper for the weekly sales fliers or look them up on line. I also get Sunday’s paper for the coupons. I stock up on sale items and freeze them. (Only have a top-mount fridge/freezer.) We drink iced-tea, lemonade, milk, water and juice. I buy produce on sale and make my weekly menus based on what’s on sale that week. Ground beef was on sale for $1.99 this week so I bought 8 packages and froze them. I buy sirloin when on sale and use for stir-frys or occasionally have steaks for dinner. I keep a container of refrigerator roll dough on hand and we have rolls, biscuits or corn muffins with most meals. I buy the 3 pack of romaine hearts, a pound of regular carrots and green onions and make salad several times a week, just change up the toppings to go with the meal. it can be done!

  53. Ray in Minnesota says:

    I use Quicken religiously and ran an annual report. On average we spend $874.00 per month for our family of four. We use coupons sporadically, but pretty much buy whatever we want, whenever we want. The number is for all items purchased at large box grocery stores and includes non-food items such as soup, laundry detergent, paper products, etc. While we have room for improvement, we are not all that different based on the other replies in this forum.

  54. Elizabeth says:

    We are a family of 4 and so far this month (December 2010) we have spent $1340 on food. That’s without buying Christmas dinner yet. :( I am here because I am trying to save 10% to start and then hopefully will be able to do more.

    I wanted to see what other families usually spend… I am feeling really bad about how much money we spend on food. :(

    • Sarah Magro says:

      I feel like I spend WAY too much on groceries for a family of three (two adults, one 13-year-old boy) – about $500. I am amazed at people who save money using coupons – all the coupons I see are for crap – cleaning products, air fresheners, etc. And when they ARE for food, they’re for “$1.00 of all THREE xxx” – well, that 33-1/3 cents off each one – still comes out to more than the store brand of something. And it’s usually for sugary cereal, hamburger helper, etc. And I can’t spend $9-12 of my grocery money on say, cereal, buying three boxes just to save 33 cents each. If I need something and it doesn’t happen to be on sale, well, I still need it. What’s the secret to spending less??

      • Denise Koch says:

        I am so in that boat with you! I try to use a coupon periodically, but the fact is, store brands are usually cheaper. The things I need are things I need, period. I don’t have a mansion, so even if run upon a great sale I have no where to put extras!. (Recently my grocery store ran a great deal on Gatorade…my kitchen table was covered with bottles of gatorade for a week!) It’s ridiculous. And it kills me those people who do extreme couponing. I mean seriously, who needs 64 candy bars? I want to just give it up, but financially, a change has to happen! In regard to your question about the secret to spending less…one thing we do is go to the meat market and buy a 90.00 package which includes chicken, beef and pork products. If nothing else, it keeps me out of the grocery store, and when I do go, I have a better idea of what I need to get, which also keeps me from wantonly buying things that may or may not get cooked in the future.

      • Andrea says:

        My family consists of myself, my husband and three very active boys. We have always bought whatever we wanted at the grocery store regardless of the price, but lately I have started trying to save on our grocery bill. I live in a very small town with only one grocery store and because they are the only grocery store they tend to price their items higher than other stores in surrounding towns. I agree with you on the coupons. I have started using them, but I only use the ones for items I would be buying anyway. However, what I have found works best for me is that I price match. One of the towns I live near has a Wal-Mart and of course Wal-Mart promises to match any competitor pricing. I first made a list of all the items my family generally buys and put them on a excel spreadsheet. Over my next couple of trips to the store, I began noting to cost of each item. Therefore, when the local sales ads came out for the week I would know what I could save money on. Since Wal-Mart is the only store in my area that will price match, I buy all my groceries there. On average I save around $20-$30 a week. Only about $5 of that is by using coupons. It may not seem like a lot, but after a year you can save between $1,000 to 1,500. I hope this helps.

  55. Amanda says:

    We spend about 750.00 per month for a family of four, I try to keep up with buying organic or all naturalon just about every food item we buy so this is hard on a budget. I try to use coupons as often as possible and I shop the sales as well as shop several different stores per week. I would like to find a way to keep eating the way we do and still cut dowm on what I spend but rarely do you see coupons for organic products.

  56. Amanda says:

    We spend about 750.00 per month for a family of four, I try to keep up with buying organic or all natural on just about every food item we buy so this is hard on a budget. I try to use coupons as often as possible and I shop the sales as well as shop several different stores per week. I would like to find a way to keep eating the way we do and still cut down on what I spend but rarely do you see coupons for organic products.

  57. Sandy says:

    We are a family of three (two adults and a toddler). We spend about 100.00 a week on food. That includes snacks for the baby (cookies, juice boxes, etc). I try to buy store brands and keep items at the 1.00 mark and buy variety of what I need. I stock up on sales and this week alone I was able to save 34.oo from buying store brand items… (the large 3 liter store brand soda is 1.19 compared to 1.79 name brand 2 Liter. We have been doing great with this method. You really need to stick with a list as well and only buy what is needed. If you impulsively pick up something and put it in the cart.. before check out you should reassess what your purchase is and start putting back the “unneccesaries”.

  58. Marie says:

    I spend about $130.00 a month on our grocerys and that is including staple items that we have ran out of during the week for a family of four. I can even think about spending the “average $244.00″ a month! I sit down and do a weekly menu and purchase only the items I need to make our meals. I plan meals that can be used as left overs for either the next nights dinner or for lunches. I am a stay at home mom and my husband comes home every day for lunch so we do go through the food. I think of you do your food shopping wisely you dont purchase items you dont need or use in the week and will reduce your weekly food bill.

  59. Barb says:

    We are a family of 4. The best I have done on my grocery spending was when I planned meals for TWO weeks in advance and I managed to spend $85.00 for TWO weeks. THEN, we had some “in between trips” in those two weeks, which only totalled and additional $20. I made sure that each of the 7 meals had enough for leftovers. We ate each meal ONE night and I FROZE the leftovers to be REPEATED the following week. HOWEVER…. I have been lazy and fallen “off the wagon” again and I simply need to discipline myself and try to follow that plan that I implemented before. That’s MY idea. ALSO, I have to say that I buy EVERYTHING generic with maybe one or two exceptions. I REALLY need to save again. My grocery bill, when I don’t plan the meals, EASILY climbs to $700 a MONTH! The plan I mentioned above works out to about $115 every two weeks INCLUDING the in between trips.

  60. Sam says:

    These are some really good tips! However, you have to be a bit wary of grocery bill ‘comparisons’ because all families and their eating habits are a little different, and people shouldn’t feel bad about that. For example, I used to be vegetarian, which saved money, but had problems keeping my iron levels high and had to start buying red meat again, so my bill went up. Some people feel more strongly about buying organic than others do, which can affect a grocery bill. Also it’s easier to save on grocery bills if u have one spouse who stays at home. If both people work out of the home and work long hours, it’s harder to make as much from scratch, shop around for deals, or clip coupons. Anyway my point is that you have to figure out what works for your lifestyle or the tips won’t work for you. Personally, I dropped my bill a lot when I sold my car and had to carry my groceries! I stopped buying juice, soda, some condiments, and a lot of extras that werent nutritional but just added to the weight of what i carried, to the bill, and to waistline :) We spend about 120/week for two people who work 50 hrs/ week and we eat mostly organic.

    • Jen says:

      Thanks for making the point that the way that families eat varies greatly. I figure that if I provide higher quality nutrition to my family now even if it costs more, in the long run it will pay off because we will be healthier and happier and live longer (of course I understand that not everyone has the means to maintain that). I try to buy organic when it’s not prohibitively expensive and lots of fresh/natural foods. I buy a lot from Costco–they have good organic selections of meats and fresh foods that are cheaper than in a regular grocery store, plus Costco has coupons sometimes on top of their good prices. Also, I shop at Harris Teeter–the one near my house puts “old” fruits and veggies on a cart for reduced pricing. The $1 sack of 10 bananas from that cart don’t look old to me and still last another week, and just a day ago I got huge really fresh (not old) sacks of green beans and wax beans for $.40 and $.50 each! I find that there a lot of coupons for JUNK that you can get for next to nothing, although I do use some coupons from time to time. I see the posts on this site about cheap soda and other items, and I can’t compare because I do not buy those things for my family. I’ve recently set a goal to keep our grocery budget at $1000 per month for two adults, one two year old, and one three-month old (who drinks formula). We’ll see if I can keep it at that!

  61. Holly says:

    I started to google “average grocery bill” to just see where we fall and I can’t believe how well I do! Not to pat myself on the back, but I have been feeling guilty but now I feel much better. My husband and I have 2 young kids, ( 2 and 4) and my brother and his wife have been living with us. I spend around $65 a week on grocery items and $35 a week on non grocery items ( diapers/household products)I am a stay at home mom and I love to cook, so I make as much from scratch as possible ( bread etc.) We also do not purchase alcohol very often at all. Maybe 1-2 bottles of wine a month, and only purchase coffee when we have a little extra ( since we are snobs and can’t bring ourselves to drink crap coffee :P ) I also do not clip coupons and do almost all of my shopping at Woodmans. I also like to check out local ethnic markets ( we have an asian market close ) because theyoften will have better deals on produce.

  62. Beth Kamp says:

    I’m amazed that families of 3 or more can somehow keep their grocery bill under $500 or $600/month! There are just 2 people in my household, and we EASILY spend $500 per month. What’s expensive is buying better quality food, for sure. For example, I buy organic salad greens & fruits (if available), raw nuts, organic meat if available, alot of juices (Cranberry, etc.), frozen fish, and boy, it sure adds up! Oops, I forgot to mention…we do have 4 cats, and I do buy them ‘Fancy Feast’ mostly. So ok, 6 in our household. Ha ha. Occasionally I go to Whole Foods because of their organic selection, but it’s sort of a *treat* because they’re significantly more expensive. I could bring my bill down, but I want to purchase the highest-quality food possible, and sometimes that means paying more.

  63. Paul says:

    I am shocked as to what people say they spend. As a family of 4 we spend about $1200 a month on food alone ! We go to BJ’s to buy most of the stuff, but we do the local supermarket for the rest.
    Typical breakfast is fruit, yogurt, Juice and something small cooked. Our typical breakfast is $12-14/day, but admittedly we do prefer organic fruit and juices.
    Lunch and Dinner varies by i calculated it costs approx $10-12 a typical meal for 4 people.
    We use coupons where we can.
    Is Miami really that expensive compared ?

    • Stephanie says:

      It was refreshing to see someone along my same lines. Spending less than $1,000 a month for my family of four – two adults and two almost adult/teenage sons, my grocery bill rarely falls below $1000 a month. *GASP-THUD* I simply don’t know how you do it. I clip coupons, shop at Walmart mostly because that is pretty much all we have in our little town, however, we do try to eat as much organic as possible. I do shop at an organic market in a town 45 minutes away when we get there. We are almost vegetarian – we eat fish only. BUT, we almost never eat out. I am a religious Quickbooks user as well, and know what I spend to the penny each month. Eating out is a treat – usually at Subway or a pizza on sale. Maybe a deli for a birthday. I hate spending money on restaurant food – I love to cook and prefer the taste and freshness and value of home-cooking. I’ve been beating myself up forever for our grocery/toiletries/household bill. I have really tried to find ways to cut. To simply say to watch sales, cut coupons, build recipes around sale items, cook a week or more ahead…I’ve tried them all. I’d love to spend less than $500 a month…..

      • Tobin says:

        I find it refreshing too to hear about those who spend around $1000 a month on groceries. I work at home (I’m a stay at home Dad), but my wife who drives into downtown is in charge of the meal planning. She shops on the weekends or her day off and tries to coordinate the meals, but it’s tough staying under $1000. We have a 1 year old and 6 year old. We’ve tried couponing, but it’s hardly ever for anything nutritional. We don’t eat a lot of carbohydrates so we have to fill up on things like yogurt, fresh/frozen fruit or vegetables. I suspect that our low carbohydrate lifestyle along with mostly organic lifestyle drives prices up. This month I think that we might manage about $900. I can’t even imagine spending $500 a month on food, I would love that!

  64. Rick Herbst says:

    Great points by everyone. While budget is extremely important, what happens in the process is often times we sacrifice nutrition for that dollar. Unfortunately, our country used to be a super power that was looked upon by the world as being leaders and innovators. Now, we are only the leaders in one area. Obesity. 1 in 3 of our children is either overweight or obese and that cycle just continues to rise every day. Now, I am fully in support of saving money. In fact, I think if there was a way to save money, eat healthily and it wasn’t more time consuming that would be fantastic. I have found a program that is attacking all these issues. Spending about $4 per person per day for 2 meals has been great. I don’t sacrifice nutrition and my time is saved not having to run to and from the store in the process. So, gas doesn’t come into play. Especially, at 4.50 a gallon in California! :) Coupons are essential and education even more so. Thank you for providing a great blog for so many people in our country to take back control of the our 2 greatest challenges. Saving Money and Tackling Obesity. I look to partner with motivated, and inspired people to provide solutions for others. Contact me if you like to find out what I’m doing.
    Again, thank you for providing such great value for people!

    Rick Herbst
    90daywarrior.com

  65. mrs. stevens says:

    We are a homeschool family of 7. Kids range from 16 – 1 yrs old. We like spending $700 a month, but some months we have to ‘be creative’ and work with less! Crock pot dinners, large casseroles, weekly special fruit deals, & coupon clippings are just a few tricks. Because we live in the south we eat a lot of pinto beans & rice (the kids & husband LOVE them, more than me, for sure!) There are several great resources for cutting grocery bills (cookbook -’More With Less’). However, if you can afford it , don’t feel bad about spending more than others. Enjoy it!

    • elena says:

      I loved your comment. You are doing a great job, mainly with the large family you have. Happy Mother’s day!

    • greta owens says:

      you are doing a great job on feeding your large family for less. i agree…the More With Less cook book is amazing!

  66. mrs. stevens says:

    Ohhh! & we grow a large garden in the summertime!

  67. Marie says:

    It is very easy to spend a reasonable allowance for food and still eat healthy. So many people think that if you eat on the cheap that you are eating “crap”. You dont have to spend alot of cash to get healthy foods you just have to read labels and eat your veggies and protiens. I have lost over 130 pounds doing this. If I want hummus I make my own, it is healthier and I can control what goes in it, no chemicals or fillers same goes for snacks and sweets. I make my weekly menu and each meal has a protien, veggie and a small amount of starch (cant take noodles or rice from my kids). I find that most people dont per-say eat unhealthy but they load up their plates and eat to much.

    My solution to my obesity was plate size and excersize. Size does matter… the size of the portion that is! You will be amazed at how your food bill will go down just by eating the correct and healthy amount of food.

  68. threeicys says:

    We are a family of 5. Two adults and three children – 10, 6 and 4. Average grocery bill per week is 100.00 (food only) I cook. We don’t buy packaged, processed foods. I don’t buy bread at the grocery store – $1 a loaf at the bread store. Meat protein is in serving portions – there is always more vegetables/grains for dinner than meat. I don’t buy box cereal either. Milk is two gallons per week- I make homemade rice milk for baking and salad dressings. If the kids want cake or cookies we make them from scratch. I will admit – I moved from California to North Carolina two years ago and our grocery bill dropped $200 month by shopping at Aldi. I could not get buy with $100 month in California.

    • MarkP says:

      Aldi’s rocks and you will save $$$ by shopping there. I used to shop there when I lived in Ohio and was very poor. I forgot about them when I moved to Florida, so I was pleasantly surprised to find one in Elkton, MD near where we live last year. We shop there for some of our staples, but it is a little far from our house (25 minutes) for our weekly shopping. Incidentally, they are owned by the same company as Trader Joe’s and a lot of their products are identical if you observe closely. You cannot beat their prices. Example: head of cauliflower $.99 vs. $2.99. Brownie mix $1.29 vs. $2.29. They don’t carry a huge selection, just the most popular grocery items. Also, they offer a guarantee, so if you don’t like a product, just bring it back. If you shop there, bring your own bags and a quarter (for the cart).

      As a family of 5 (3 adults, a 3 y.o and 1 y.o), we spent about $877 per month over the last 12 months for food and beverage. However, this includes alcohol (beer, wine), party foods (birthdays, etc.), and 3 months of formula when our daughter decided to not breastfeed any more. The kids get organic fruits and veggies if they are on the Dirty Dozen list. Our costs also include fresh-roasted coffee ($11/lb), which we consume a lot of and is probably the most expensive thing on our list. We drink very few soft drinks and only buy when they are on sale. We buy our fruits and vegetables from BJ’s and a huge local produce market. That $877 amount also includes our annual BJ’s membership fee.

      The thing that impacts the $877 a month is the fact that we buy in bulk, particularly during sale, so we could probably live on the food in the basement and freezer for a month or two, easily. I haven’t checked our average in two months, but I believe our average is lower, as we have been working to eat through some of our stored food. Take off the wine, beer and coffee and we would be well below $800 per month. Once I have the chance to start cooking more, our food costs will surely fall. I believe that we could drop our costs to $600 a month.

      Do you want to be more frugal? Go to your library and get ‘The Tightwad Gazette’, volumes 1-3. It is a master’s degree in frugality.

  69. Stephanie says:

    For people in the southeast that are AMAZED by these comments SO AM I! lol There are TWO adults here (me and my husband) and we spend easily at LEAST $200 PLUS A WEEK on groceries ALONE.. My household products add up to about $150 a month.I do suppose we have a higher standard of living? :S I don’t know how the heck your doing it but I sure wish we could! I stay at home and work online while my husband works on the rd as a truck driver,if he would be at home I am sure I could cut our bill down.I know when I was a single mom I would NEVER DREAM of having more than $65 a week in groceries! lol and that INCLUDED diapers at the time.But now My daughter lives with her dad and it seems I spend more :/.I am 28 (almost 29) and my hubby is 40.I cannot work outside my house (not able) and I am about to quit my job :/ I am scared we won’t be able to save for a house.I need to live more frugally! I “Thought” by buying things “on sale” online I was doing myself a favor.. truth be told I am not :(

    • MarkP says:

      Check out ‘The Tightwad Gazette’, volumes 1-3 at your library. It is a master’s degree in frugality.

      Here are some quick tips:
      - Keep a grocery log or notebook, track your costs, and compare prices
      - Buy store brands, including household cleaning products
      - Shop local farmer’s markets, or road side stands (you live in the SE, you probably have plenty of locally grown produce)
      - Cook from scratch; if you don’t know how, get the Fannie Farmer cookbook for starters
      - In your case, I would avoid warehouse clubs unless your family grows any bigger and/or your husband starts working locally

      I hate to sound like an Aldi’s fanatic, but if you have one in your area, shop there. They don’t have sales, just low prices. 95% of their products are ‘store brand’, not name brand. Supermarket markups on foods are huge.

      I hope this helps.

  70. Marie says:

    Stephanie…. I am SURE you didnt mean to say that YOU LIVE BY A HIGHER STANDARD…. right? Just to let you know I live in the middle of wine country in California where the average house price is 450,000 for a small 3 bedroom and small lot, gas prices are on average 4.15. I am a stay at home mom by choice and my husband makes a very good living but we CHOOSE to teach our children that just because you can afford something doesnt mean you have to have it.

    I love trying to see how much I can get out of the grocery store, it is a game that I like to play each week. I make a menu and only BUY what I need.

    Our menu for this week was:

    Chicken Marsala with noodles and fresh steamed beans

    Citrus Marinaded BBQ Skirt Steak with fresh Grilled Corn on the cob and Green Salad

    BBQ port roast with homemade peach BBQ sauce, Baked Sweet Potatoes and Steamed Broccoli

    BBQ Texas Lemon Chicken, Grilled Corn on the Cob and Grilled Zuchinni

    Homemade Pizza and Salad

    As you can see, we eat very fresh very nice meals for a family of 4-6 depending on which kids are home and I do it for around 120.00 to 150.00 a week. I do it from planning my meals and looking at what is on sale that week and planning my menu from that.

  71. Alexis says:

    We (family of 4 – two adults, two very young children) spend $1000 a month (groceries plus cleaning supplies, toiletries, and occasional household items), and that also includes eating out. We eat out at least once per week and at good restaurants – which here costs quite a bit because they are so rare – to the tune of $400 to $600 per month, but we alter our grocery bill to stay at that $1000 level. I bought the Economides book about saving cash on groceries and have tried some of their methods. Buying things when they are on sale even if you don’t need them right then was hard to grasp as a money-saving technique since I’m all about the cash flow. But I gave it a try. I gasped at my $250 grocery bills the first couple of times, but I’m proud to say that several months later, we’ve used everything that I had stock piled. It gave me great pride to pick up a tube of toothpaste and think “I bought this at 30% less than I would have had I waited to buy it until I needed it.” I was taking advantage of every deal in the ads for every product that we regularly use. I think that’s why it was so expensive at first. I was building a stock pile.

    Now, I menu plan using what I already have in my freezer/pantry/fridge and google the ingredients to get new recipe ideas that use what I’ve got. I will use the week’s sale ads and my coupons to fill in the blanks to get complete menus. Doing this reduced the bill to $150 per week. Since the baby’s been born, we’ve been eating out more, so I reduced my shopping trips to every other week and still only spend $150 each trip. I haven’t added to our stock pile (which is now just some empty shelves in our basement) because the sale ads just haven’t been that great from when I started (January). With it being spring, lots of produce is on sale. I buy meat when it’s on sale (usually around barbeque times – Memorial Day weekend and 4th of July) and freeze it. Because we’re land locked, seafood is expensive, so when I see a deal on it, I snap it up and freeze it as well. I’ve been surprised to find that buying things this way has introduced a variety to our meals that I wasn’t expecting. When mangoes are on sale, for example, we try new recipes that use mangoes we wouldn’t have otherwise tried because we don’t normally have mangoes on hand. Rather than having a limited menu by buying “whatever we want,” I have to get creative to use what’s on sale. Also, because I’m too busy to bounce around from store to store, I shop at Walmart and price match using the ads from the grocery stores around town. Since we only get sales ads for stores in our neighborhood, I go online to get the weekly ads from stores on the other side of town. I really don’t know how Walmart stays in business using this tactic, but I’m going to use it while it’s available. I make a list of the ads I’ll be using (product, size, price, store the ad came from) so I can tell the cashier what the sale price is.
    They usually don’t ask to see the ad unless it’s a deal that seems too good to be true and they haven’t heard anyone price match that price so far that week (that’s right – the cashiers know what the really good weekly ads are just from so many people taking advantage of them).

    I do get a little jealous that I don’t have the time to make more of my own stuff from scratch (bread, jam, trail mix, etc) like many stay-at-home moms do. When we had kids, we decided I would be the one to work full time because I had the degree and could make more money. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to fully support us in this day and age, so my husband still works part-time. Still, he would probably have the time to do some stay-at-home dad activities, but he started feeling like he wasn’t contributing enough, so he decided to go back to school so he could start a career making more money. I see more and more families in this kind of situation. The moms are the main bread-winners, but the dads won’t “reduce” themselves to being stay-at-home dads and doing the grocery shopping, budgeting, cleaning, etc. I can’t say as that I entirely blame them. When my husband tried this for just a few months, everyone kept asking me when he was going to get a job. My dad even called him a bum. It’s not fair.

  72. jan says:

    We are 2 adults and 1 nine-yr old. Our daughter eats lunch from home; my spouse eats lunch from home. We spend an average of $1000 -1200/month. That includes groceries and paper goods and health and beauty items. I shop at a discount store that advertises 50% off other grocery stores (PriceRite)…and it’s true. The produce low cost alone is worth going there. However, our problem is going to another store for things we can’t get at the discount store during the week (better cuts of meat; dog food; mexican sauces; soda (other carries on Pepsi products). We go to Walmart for paper goods and health and beauty.

    It’s a ridiculous amount of money, I know, but I cannot foresee us cutting down.

    • mrs. stevens says:

      That’s not a ridiculous amount. That is quite good. Don’t compare yourself with others. Family mealtime is extremely important. If you don’t have to cut back, enjoy it.

  73. Sarah says:

    I am amazed at the spectrum of dollar amounts spent by contributors – some spend SO little, others spend a lot, like I feel I do, and there are just a few people who mentioned the part of the country where they live. I wonder…I am in New England – produce is inedible in the winter, and outrageously priced to boot. I don’t buy soda – ever, and I don’t buy prepared foods. Farmer’s markets and organic stuff is triple the price of the grocery stores. I still say coupons are never for anything I’d buy/eat and still come out to more than the store brands. I use baking soda/white vinegar to clean, so I don’t buy cleaning products. I am in awe of those who spend barely $100 a week for a family of 3 or 4. Still can’t seem to come in under $500-600 a month for three people. Thanks for the tips! I’d like to try some of them and report back….

  74. Beth Kamp says:

    I just love these posts!!! I originally posted because I was amazed at how little some people claimed to spend on groceries. I’m sorry but I REFUSE to buy those generic brands I see at Walmart and other stores (‘Great Value’ for example). I’ve done enough research to come to the conclusion that I do NOT want to consume genetically-modified food, which it appears these generic companies utilize….

  75. Kate says:

    Hi, This is a great “blog” all the different posts have been great to read. We are a family of 6. 2 adults 4 children ages, 15,14,11 & 3. I just for the first time ever looked at our grocery spending for the past 30 days. Wow, over $1400. This includes all our spending except eating out which I am sure is another $400 or more :( Mind you all 4 kids have been home full time. Now they are back in school, we live in the south. I do pack all their lunches everyday. My husband and I both work full time and I do not use coupons & dont even remember to use my loyalty cards. Uggh, I am still in shock over how much we spend, I have spent the last 2 days researching “extreme couponing” and am going to make the time to give it a shot. I just ordered the Sunday paper since I have never gotten it before therefore never even looked for coupons. My teenage daughters have offered to help, As someone else mentioned, make it a game to try to save. Most of the family is vegetarian which makes our spending habits worse since the only meat I buy is hotdogs, kielbasa & sliced lunch meats for the 11 yo boy. We also do not eat alot of “junk” or snack foods like chips, pops, sugar cereal, etc… I just have no excuse…. We try not to be wasteful & we certainly eat alot of leftovers yet I’m not quite sure where all the excess goes, I know we are spending too much & I am going to try to work on it. We have decided as a family to monitor for a month, try to save which will create a new budget. The excess we will add to savings & the extra free buys will go to the local food bank. Our goal is to also be able to make a monthly donation to the needy. I am disgusted with our waste & hopefully this will motivate us to not only put away the savings but also feed others. I will plan to share our progress!

  76. Jessica says:

    I hate to say it, but it’s great to see other people that go over $1000 a month. I am a family of three, (Our son is 2.) from Southwestern Pennsylvania. And we EAT. We go out MAYBE twice a month to restaurants if that. I am very into cooking and very into cooking healthy meals and I don’t skimp. We don’t eat a cheap meal of just tuna & peas for example. We eat tuna with peas & noodles & a salad.. I like to have 3-4 items per meal.
    I’ll buy store brand cheese or nuts, but we like our name brands. I spend at least $1000 a month on groceries (including diapers, paper & cleaning products). I am baffled that anyone can spend less than this. I commend you if you can! However, I think what is comes down to is how picky you are. I refuse to eat things I don’t want to eat, or that taste bad just to save a few bucks. It seems that unfortunately to save money you have to eat what the store sales are instead of what you’re in the mood for. That’s NOT for me. I go to the store when the organic milk is almost gone or when we are out of fresh veggies/fruits. It seems if I let the cupboards & fridge dwindle down I’m left with the junky snacks we only eat occasionally. It seems more shopping/spending= better healthy eating. So, I guess when I consider better taste, more freedom of choice, to me it’s worth the extra cost as much as I hate when the cashier announces the bill.

    But I am curious.. Does anyone that saves all this money with coupons/tips actually eat top shelf brands & enjoy their meals nightly? I’m not trying to be negative.. It just seems unfortunately that if you want to save money you have to sacrifice taste & brand..

    • Molly says:

      If you shop with coupons/sales, it’s the NAME BRANDS that have the best deal!
      You won’t see a coupon for a generaic item and those don’t go on any good sales.
      Manufacturers will put out high value coupons (especially if it’s a new item) Stores run sales, and some double coupons.
      If you can combine the coupon+sale+double coupon, you can actually get items for free and if there is a catalina promotion running at the same time, you can actually get paid to buy the product.
      It’s all about timing.

  77. B says:

    We live in the DC metro area. We are a family of 2 adults and one school aged child. Right now we spend from 600-700 a week on groceries from the grocery store. Our child eats lunch at school most of the time. One of us works at home and the other at an office. The office worker eats out probably two or three times a week for lunch at between $5-9 per lunch, with morning coffee two or three times a week at 2$ a cup. We eat out about once a week at between $15 (better fast food) to 50 (restaurant) a week. Including the eating it out, we probably get to 850 a month.

    I really want to lower this number. It feels like way too much money to spend on food. I have noticed that prices have increased, even for dry beans, and that costs of eating out have increased noticeably. We eat beans most days of the week and are vegetarian. We seem to end up paying the most for fruits, especially organic, fish, cheese, breakfast cereal and package granola bars. Cheese ends up replacing meat in some ways, and can get costly. I feel like the number should be lower since we eat beans so often but we cannot seem to get it to $150 a week, which is our goal. I have definitely noticed that staying away from processed carbs like pasta and rice has increased our food bill.

    • B says:

      I mean 600-700 a month!

    • MarkP says:

      The office person in your family should be packing a lunch every day (yes, I’ve put my dad hat on). Get a thermos for coffee (I work at home most days, but use a thermos when I travel). My sister-in-law, who was facing foreclosure, was eating out almost every day for lunch. I showed her how much she could be saving (a couple of thousand a year) and it really opened her eyes, and now she eats healthier to boot.

      I must say that the grocery stores in the DC area are more expensive than other areas (we lived in Arlington and I’ve maintained a residence in the MD, DC and VA areas off and on over the past 8 years or so, for work).

      When I lived and worked in DC, I shopped at Trader Joe’s a lot (it was only me), where I was able to get a lot of heat-n-eat stuff that was reasonably priced. When I worked in Harrisburg, PA, I did a majority of my shopping at Aldi’s, which was close to my client’s office. Their produce is usually very fresh (they have a high turnover of food due to a limited selection). I know there are a number of their stores in the DC area, so I would check them out, particularly for your everyday staples (eggs, cheese, milk, baking supplies, cereals).

      If you want to switch from easy carbs (pasta, bread, etc.), eat more beans. They are a much healthier carbohydrate, with lots of protein as well. It may sound horrible, but it really isn’t (Gas-X Prevention works wonders). Refried beans, Brazilian or Cuban style black beans, chili, etc. Learn how to cook or get canned if you must. We have cut our grocery bill considerably by having beans at least once a day.

  78. B says:

    I imagine that menu planning would be very helpful in decreasing the bill and taking the thinking out of dinner time. Since we both work, dinner is always a bit of a hassle. It is hard to get myself to make a menu, but I bet that you could just keep re-using the same menu every other week. I am trying to get myself re-inspired to try meal planning again.

  79. Dawn says:

    We are a family of 7(dad, mom, 5 kids 14 and under). We use an envelope/cash system and that amount is $560/month. This is for food, diapers, cleaning supplies, helth and beauty, dog food,and any additional foods (i.e.potluck or holiday items). I use coupons often, but not regularly. I like to hit off-brand stores like Save-a-lot for some dry goods, and the the big chain store for produce and meat, pet food, etc. I plan a menu based on the meat sales, and then assemble a list based on needed ingredients for those meals. The cash envelope provides accountability and an excuse to say “no” to the latest toy in the checkout aisle. Loved reading your ideas!

  80. Phil says:

    Hmmm…
    Sounds like I need to pick up farming!

  81. Marie Newbrough says:

    Tonight my husband and I were discussing the grocery budget and how high it seems to be. Yes, gas is driving things up–but still!!!! I live in Colorado Springs, which has a higher than average cost of living. We mix it up and do most of our shopping at Safeway (and that saves us on Gas) and some at Whole Foods. I try my best to buy organic when it makes sense but I definitely mix it up. We average about $1200–but this past month was $1400. We are a family of four, and our youngest is in diapers. I stay home and cook every meal. I do use some prepared snacks–like applesauce cups, etc. I have my certain brands I like Pampers–where I do spend more on them, but it’s because they work better than anything I’ve ever tried and I use less that way. I’m frustrated and he’s frustrated. We’ve decided he’s going to do the shopping for one month–I’ll still do the meal planning and cooking. We’ll see how this test goes :)

    • MarkP says:

      Hello Marie,
      I have waited a while to respond here, but I can’t hold back any longer. We have a similar household, a family of four with a toddler still in diapers. Our monthly grocery cost is about $750/month (probably closer to $700 now). I checked our cost of living against yours and we live in a more expensive area. This budget includes wine and beer (we may have a glass of wine or beer a couple of times a week).

      My first suggestion is, drop the Pampers, regardless of how attached to them you are. You are paying hefty premium for the brand name, regardless of how cheap you may be getting them at a warehouse club or discount retailer. There is very little difference in brands from our experience, except in cost and we have tried all of them (refer to the book Baby Bargains). Target’s Up and Up brand has performed great on both our boy and girl (skinny legs, funny body shapes), but we use BJ’s house brand now, in addition to cloth diapers when she is not in day care. Also, don’t buy your diapers at the supermarkets, which is where they will be the most expensive.

      Second, be more selective in your choice of organics. Follow the Dirty Dozen rule for organic foods (source: Environmental Working Group), which means you should buy organics for 12 of the dirtiest foods, but also eat more of the Clean 15. We buy organic apples (BJ’s Warehouse), salad greens (BJ’s) and applesauce (Trader Joe’s), and some other select organics, but focus on the cleaner foods.

      Other tips: Start shopping at discount grocers. In your area, you should have a Save-a-Lot. Stock up during sales. Safeway, along with most major grocery stores, I have found, is very expensive. We shop at Aldi’s, but I will be checking out Save-a-Lot, too. Buy house brands. I have an elephant’s memory for prices (I do most of my shopping, my wife deplores shopping), but get a notebook or app for you phone and start tracking prices. Also, pay attention to unit prices (price per ounce, pound, etc.). You will be shocked.

      Stock up during sales on things with long shelf lives, but don’t overbuy. Frozen vegetables are better, cheaper and healthier than canned. Buy equivalent store brands (‘Woven Wheats’ = Triscuits). Speaking of store brands, nearly all stores offer 100% refund if you don’t like the store brand. If you don’t belong to a warehouse club, take advantage of any one-day complimentary passes they offer and see if you like what they carry. Cut back on soda’s and other canned/bottled beverages. Drink more water.

      With that being said, we do about 50% of our grocery shopping at BJ’s (or we would probably use Costco or Sam’s Club alternatively), 20% at Aldi’s, 20% at a regional produce market, and the remaining 10% at Trader Joe’s, regular supermarket, and other various markets. I see no reason why you shouldn’t be able to reduce your grocery bill to less that $1,000. You really should be in the neighborhood of $800 or so. I really hope this helps and it would be good to hear if any of this helps.

  82. Laura says:

    Thanks for the great tips, everyone! I’m in AZ and currently spend about $125/week for groceries and household items for my family of 4. Hubby and I eat at home for all meals and so do the kids (ages 5 and 3). I also do daycare 5 days a week so I have an extra 5 year old and 3 year old for 10 meals a week. I cook as much as possible from scratch, price match at Walmart to get the best deals, and buy most of my produce at a discount produce market (the produce seems to go bad faster so i try to freeze as much as possible). I also try to stock up on commonly used idems when they go on sale, and double my recipes whenever possible so i can freeze the extra and not have to cook every night. I’m due with baby number 3 in a few weeks and won’t be doing day care anymore so I’m hoping to spend less every week now that not as much money will be coming in. It’s going to be hard, though, because I feel like I’m already doing as much as I can!

  83. Jessica says:

    We are a big family of 6 (three adults, a 10 year old, 7 year old, and 2 year old). We spend $650/mo, broken into 4 weekly shopping trips. This includes basic household items (cleaners, toilet paper, shampoo/conditioner, basically anything that’s carried at the grocery store). We are a family of 6, there’s just not a lot of time to be shopping in multiple stores. I would like to reduce the number of shopping trips we make per month to 2 or 3, but honestly, we have a small home and a lot of people–we can’t fit two weeks worth of food into this house! My primary money-saving strategy has been meal planning–I have a “skeleton” shopping list wherein I just check off what is needed, and I meal plan for the week on the back of the list. Then I check off the items needed for the meal plan that we don’t already have (I try to incorporate what we do have on hand into the meals, to minimize waste). When the shopping trip is done, the list gets posted on the refrigerator meal-plan-side-up, so I don’t forget what I was planning to make :D

  84. Amber says:

    I am a Mother with a family of 4 2 small children and a Husband. My grocery budget is $800 a month. I buy ALL ORGANIC and mostly gluten free. Grass fed meat and milk. I do buy some organic snacks for my children. I don’t give my children any juice except orange juice on occasion, they drink water and about 1-2 cups of milk a day. My husband is working a lot so he mostly just eats dinner at home, on weekends all meals. My children do not eat when they are bored neither do I, we are a very healthy family. We exercise regularly and treat food as the good Lord intended it, to nourish or body not to use just because its there or because your bored. That isn’t good for you body or you grocery bill. I love all of the posts on here. I gathered a lot of great info and ideas. My family hasn’t been sick in over a year which is when we went ALL organic and whole food. It’s worth the savings in dr bills and medication cost. Happy health:)

  85. kathryn d says:

    After reading thru all the posts,most people here spend more on food than us.My husband and I spend $50 week.
    So many people are hung up on the ‘organic’ foods. It isn’t an issue for us, and we are healthy. If it is on sale, and cheapest, we will buy it.
    We usually buy whole chickens/roast pork. The first couple of meals are roast &vegetables, then a simmer sauce w/rice, then sandwiches/casserole, and finally we make a soup from the carcass/bones.
    We buy our fruit and vegs in season. Usually look for reduced/sales first.
    When we buy meat, we don’t go by price per pound, but rather how many meals can I get from this package.People don’t seem to have a clue what is a portion. It is generally the size of the palm, of the person consuming it.
    We eat a lot of stews (beef,pork, turkey leg,chicken)and we like dumplings too.
    Cooking hamburg and onions loose, instead of patties, will stretch a long ways, when making hamburgers.
    We rarely buy cold cereals.If we do it is usually corn flakes.If they happen to go stale, they can be crumbled and added to hamburg, eggs, onions, ketchup,to make meatloaf.
    Pancakes,waffles,muffins are easy and cheap to make from scratch.Very easy too.Cooked oatmeal or cream of wheat is very nutricious. Don’t make the instant.Add your own fruit.
    I have a basic cake recipe, that I change flavours by using white/brown sugar..adding spices, putting on a lemonjuice/sugar glaze after it come out of oven, adding cocoa, nuts, etc. Use your imagination.
    We don’t waste food. Period. If a fruit is getting too ripe/bruised I use it up immediately or cook/freeze it.Substitute foods in a recipe.
    Don’t spend lots of money on single serves of yogurt/puddings/juice boxes.Make your own.If this is too much work for you..stop complaining.
    I don’t buy groceries. I go shopping for sales/reduced foods.Find out when stores/markets mark things down.I may buy food several times a week, or only a couple times a month.If we see a really good sale, we stock up. Do I buy treats? Sure do. We don’t deny ourself anything we really want. I guess we have a lot of self control, because we rarely want to pay full price for anything.
    I don’t make menus ahead of time. With my purchases/stocked goods, I can usually make whatever I feel like eating.What I buy this week, may not be used for a month (if I freeze it)
    Some convenience foods are cheap, and good to have some on hand.For the people trying to reduce their budget, look into your shopping cart. Can you buy a cheaper brand? Try the cheapest, and if you don’t like it, go to the next cheapest. You don’t need to have a huge variety of fruits /vegs each week.
    If your kids are picky eaters, it is because you have allowed them to be. Make a meal, and offer bread. They won’t starve.Stop buying their favorite foods.Stop making excuses and try new recipes.The internet is vast. Buy a bread machine.Make biscuits and homemade pizzas.
    “NO” is a perfectly good answer, when someone asks for junk food.If the kids are over 2 yrs old, buy whole milk and dilute it. This great for cooking too.Same with juice.Limit it to one glass a day of each.
    If you honestly want to reduce your food budget, obviously you need to change the way you shop and eat.
    How many of these over spenders are overweight? Start using smaller plates.
    If you still need help,list the food you buy,brand, their prices, the size, and we can offer suggestions, of alternative purchases.

  86. emilia says:

    Here it is years later with higher food prices, and our monthly cost for 4 adults is still $600 per month. Yes that includes cleaning and paper stuff. What do we do? I cook like my grandma did back in the 20s. I make broth from what other people consider “trash”. I bake from scratch. Haven’t you noticed the price of a decent loaf of bread could get you a pound of beef instead? Flour is cheap. Also as the previous commenter mentions, 3 oz. of meat is a serving and that isnt much. I look at foods purely by their price per pound first and then choose for nutrition. This way I automatically save money and get.produce at the in season price. We buy nothing processed. Any fool can make a salad dressing that’s better and cheaper than store bought. Cleaning products… Well as a chemist I am here to tell you they are a ripoff and most are more toxic than you think. A big jug of white vinegar, big package of baking soda, Palmolive dish soap and a rag and elbow grease cover almost everything. Go Google recipes for your own laundry soap. That will cost you 1 cent per load. All you need is a bar.of Fels Naptha, 1 cup baking soda, and 1 cup washing soda. Get thee to your Ace Hardware and save a bundle and quit paying for advertising. If you really want to get expenses down goake friends with military families. They have this stuff nailed because they have no other choice.

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