- Average Cost of Food Per Month Will Scare You
- Average Grocery Expenditures
- Breaking Down Food Expenditures
- Shopping for Groceries
- Creating a Grocery Budget
- Saving on Groceries
- Bottom Line
- Average Food Cost per Month in 2021
- Average Food Spending by State
- Average Food Cost Index
- Annual Food Cost by State
- Average Food Expenditures by Product
- Monthly Food Price for Organic Food
- Average Food Spending by Age
- Average Monthly Food Expenditure for US Families
- Average Food Spending by Year
- Food Spending Across the World
- Find Your Food Spending Balance
- The Average Household Cost of Food in America
- What Is the Average Household Cost of Food?
- Historical Spending on Food
- How Much Should You Spend on Food?
- Groceries vs. Entertainment
- Rural vs. Urban
- By Household Size
- Food Spending by Income Level
- Lowest 20% of Earners
- Second 20% of Earners
- Third 20% of Earners
- Fourth 20% of Earners
- Top 20% of Earners
- 12 Ways to Save Big on Groceries and Shop on a Budget
- 25% Buy Generic Brands instead of Name Brands
- 23% Make a Grocery List and Stick to it
- 25% Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
- 10% Shop at Discount Grocery Stores
- 32% Shop at a Discount Produce Store
- Buy Fewer Pre-Packaged Foods
- 10% Request Coupons from Manufacturers
- 10% Price Match
- 10% – 20% Stock Up on Sales
- 25% Stockpile and Skip a Grocery Shop
- 12% – 18% Shop with Cash
- 48% Put Your Grocery Budget on a Diet
- Combine Money Saving Strategies
- What does this mean for you?
- Look for Price Break Downs on Shelf Labels
- Make Meals from Scratch
- Always Cook Too Much
- Don’t Buy Water
- Don’t Shop Hungry
- Try to Shop Alone
- Salvage Grocery Stores
- Try to Waste Less Food
Average Cost of Food Per Month Will Scare You
Americans spend more than 6% of their annual income on food every year. For one person to eat on a “moderate” budget, it costs $3,000 per year, or almost $250 per month. It costs a family of four between $712 and $1,106 per month for groceries.
Keep reading to learn more shocking statistics about the cost of food in the U.S. today.
Average Grocery Expenditures
- How much does the average family spend on food per month?The average 2-person family on a “moderate” budget spends $554 per month on food. The average 4-person family with 2 toddlers on a “moderate” budget spends $712 per month. Because teens tend to eat more, the average family with 2 teenagers spends an average of $1,106 per month.
On average, it costs one person on a moderate budget $244 per month to eat.
The average American spends 6.4% of their income on food per year. The U.S. is one of only 10 countries with a percentage this low.
On average, Americans spend 5% of their total annual income on dining out.
If you're trying to eat out less, consider a meal delivery service such as Home Chef.
According to the Federal Reserve Bureau, Americans spend an average $1,088 per month on housing payments. This takes into account the average $758 mortgage payment along with homeowner's insurance and real estate taxes.
On average, families spend $754 per month on transportation. This includes car payments, gas, and car maintenance.
The average family spends $385 per month on healthcare costs. This includes insurance premiums, co-pays, and out-of-pocket expenses.
Food, housing, transportation, and healthcare all add up fast. Don't underestimate how far a little boost can take you. Our guide on where to find free money (yes, really) is a good place to start.
Breaking Down Food Expenditures
- How much does the average family spend on food at home per month?The average family spends $350 per month on food at home. This includes convenience foods that are prepared at home.
The average family spends $262 per month eating out. This includes fast food and fancier restaurants. On average, that's about $3,000 eating away from home per year.
A family of 2 (male and female) between the ages of 19-50 spends an average of $511 per month on groceries. A family of 2 (male and female) between the ages of 51-70 spends an average of $484 per month on groceries.
The average family of 4 with toddlers spends an average of $802 per month on groceries. The average family with 2 children ages 4-18 spends an average of $964 per month on groceries.
The average family of 5 spends $1,156 per month on groceries. For each additional child, it costs an average of 20% more in food expenses.
The average adult spends $8 per day on food.
Shopping for Groceries
- How many Americans shop more than once a week for groceries?36% of Americans hit the grocery store more than one time per week.
Almost 50% of Americans shop once a week for groceries. This habit is linked to lower grocery spending and it allows for fewer impulse buys.
15% of Americans are able to grocery shop just once or twice a month.
Just 16% of Americans shop for their groceries online despite the many choices available today. Of those who do shop online, the majority only do so once or twice a month. Only 1% of Americans shop online once a week for groceries.
Creating a Grocery Budget
- How much should a family of 2 spend on groceries per month?A family of two between the ages of 19-50 should spend between $381 and $758 on groceries per month.
Families of 4 with toddlers should aim to spend between $585 and $1,140 on groceries every month.
Families with teens often have higher grocery bills. Aim for a bill between $714 and $1,407 per month if you have teens at home.
Saving on Groceries
- What are the top influential factors for shoppers while grocery shopping?Consumers care the most about getting a good value for the money they spend at the grocery store. A close second is the actual cost of the products. Consumers appreciate sales and coupons, helping them to save on the high price of groceries.
Tip: Chase Savings Coupon
62% of shoppers use some type of device to view grocery store circulars. More than half of shoppers also view the store's offerings online before heading to the store.
More than half of shoppers also look for coupons online before grocery shopping.
Tip: Looking for more savings? Don't miss out on what cash-back apps can offer when buying from your favorite markets online.
Groceries today take up a good portion of a family's income. Learning how to budget, look online for deals, and find digital coupons can help reduce the burden.
Sources and References:
- Market Track
- World Economic Forum
Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.
Average Food Cost per Month in 2021
Americans’ monthly grocery expenditure varies drastically and depends on factors age, state, and budgeting. The average food cost per month can be a few hundred dollars for singles and over $1,300 for families.
Consumers with a liberal food spending plan pay double what those with frugal spending habits do. Having children significantly increases the cost of groceries per month, while adult men tend to spend the most on food.
Even though the US has a considerable monthly food cost for 1, it’s not the most expensive destination. Hong Kong has the highest food expenditures per capita worldwide of over $5,000.
Average Food Spending by State
Residents in Mississippi and residents in Hawaii don’t have the same average cost of groceries per month. Hawaii is, in fact, one of the three states with the highest average grocery bill for 1 person in the US. Every state has a different grocery cost index and food cost range.
Average Food Cost Index
Below, you can find the grocery cost index and respective ranking for all the states plus DC and Puerto Rico for Q3 2020. This table shows that Texas has the lowest average grocery cost for 1 stateside. The US average food cost index here is 100. You can use this to see what states have average grocery cost per month higher than the national average.
Annual Food Cost by State
The average food cost per month in California goes between $233 and $266. In Alaska, in contrast, residents spend between $300 and $333 on food. Alaska is also among the US states with the highest average cost of eating out. Yet, no state comes near the food expenditure of residents of Hawaii, Maine, and Vermont.
The cost of food for 1 person in the US goes from $2,400 to over $4,000 a year. Below, we have categorized the annual food expenditures in every state, including DC. To discover the average food cost per month for 1, just divide the yearly expenditure by 12.
These figures show that the lowest average monthly cost of groceries by state ranges from $200 to $233. People living in New Mexico, Alabama, and Indiana are among those who spend the least on food.
Only five states have an average food budget for 1 of over $3,601 a year.
The latest grocery shopping statistics show that Hawaii, Maine, and Vermont are the most expensive states in this category, with their residents spending over $4,001 on food per year.
About 20 jurisdictions, including Kansas, Rhode Island, and Florida, pay between $2,801 and $3,200 annually. The average cost of groceries per month in Texas and all the other states in this group goes between $266 and $300.
Average Food Expenditures by Product
In the United States, the monthly cost of feeding one person is about $342.50. The average cost of food per day per person is $11.05.
These are the insights provided by NUMBEO and their overview of food and other expenditures worldwide. Their data suggests that the average cost of food per week for 1 person is $77.35.
The average cost per person per month grows depending on the consumers’ spending habits and location.
In the table below, we listed the minimum single person food budget in the US and several select cities. Note that these figures apply to the minimum daily amount spent on food and groceries.
The chosen products provide 2,400 calories and represent Western food types. Asian food type products are cheaper, with people spending an average of $271.38 a month on such food. Meaning, they fork out about $71.
12 less than the average amount spent on groceries per month for 1 for Western food types.
These details suggest that the minimum average food cost per month for 2 adults is $685. Meaning, an average family of two spends about $8,220 a year. Yet, these figures don’t apply to all US cities and states. In the table above, we also compared the food expenditures in selected destinations to see how the costs vary.
In Austin, Texas, residents spend a minimum of $9.88 a day and $306.42 a month on food. That’s not surprising as Texas is among the cheapest states to live in. Our data on the average cost of gas per month shows that Texas excels in this category, as well.
Honolulu, Hawaii, by contrast, has the highest average monthly food cost for 1 of $512.41, while the daily cost is $16.53. The price difference in the minimum monthly food expenditure between Austin and Honolulu is an impressive $205.99. If Texans spend $3,677.04 annually and Hawaiians $6,148.92, the latter fork out nearly $2,480 more per year.
Jackson, Mississippi, and Seattle, Washington, also have higher food expenditure than the national average. Residents of these states spend $425.14 and $410.57 on food per month.
Monthly Food Price for Organic Food
The average cost of organic food per month is higher than purchasing regular products. Depending on the product, the price difference ranges from 0% to a stunning 196%.
Getting regular dozen large brown eggs at Harris Teeter costs $2.19. Getting the same product but organic costs $6.49 at the same store.
Organic beef at Amazon Fresh is about 75% more expensive, while organic apples cost 20% more.
What you pay for organic food depends on how much groceries you purchase and where you purchase them. Online reports suggest that the average cost of food per month for 2 is about $260 cheaper when not organic. If a family of two shops regular products at Safeway, they can expect to spend about $136 a week or $544 a month. Getting organic products costs about $199 a week or $796 a month.
Average Food Spending by Age
The USDA publishes detailed reports on the average cost of groceries per month. In its September 2020 report, expenses are categorized into four spending plans as not every person has the same budget.
The average grocery bill between the thrifty and the liberal spending plans is quite significant. Feeding a child aged 9-11 on an economical plan cost $163.40, while the liberal plan was $327.70. Meaning, the food cost per month for a child aged 9-11 was by 100.55% higher in families with a liberal food budget.
The average cost of groceries per month for 1 adult was the highest among men aged 19-50. This group of customers spent between $193.70 (thrifty) and $384.90 (liberal). Women from the same age group have a lower average grocery bill for 1 person per month.
Their costs ranged from $171.90 to $341.20 in September 2020. Feeding children of about 12 months cost families between $99.10 and $182.60 per month. The average grocery bill per month of $99.
10 was also the cheapest compared to all other food expenditures by age.
It’s interesting to compare these costs with the average cost of dog food per month, which ranges from $20.83 to $58.33. Feeding two large and healthy dogs can cost owners more than buying food for a 1-year old. The average clothing cost per month among American adults is $161 or close to feeding a child aged 9-11.
The table below shows the average food cost per month by age for different budget plans. These figures are from the latest USDA report on food expenses in the United States.
Average Monthly Food Expenditure for US Families
How much families spend depends on whether they have kids and how many they are. Again, the age of everyone in the household affects the final cost of groceries per month. The lowest average cost of groceries per month for 2 in September 2020 was $381.90.
This amount applies to families with a thrifty spending plan whose members are aged 51-70. If the family has two members aged 19-50, then the cheapest food expenses are a bit over $400.
The situation was different among families of two having a liberal spending budget. Such families with members aged 19-50 and 51-70 spent $798.70 and $743.80.
The price difference between the thrifty and the liberal spending plan here is a stunning 98.58%.
The average food cost per month for 4 also depended on the age of all family members. A family of two adults aged 19-50 and two kids aged 2-3 and 4-5 spent between $587.40 and $1,144.40.
To get the average grocery bill for a family of 3, just remove the monthly food budget for 1 from the calculations. For instance, if we remove one child aged 2-3 from the frugal spending plan, the result would be $479.40.
The average cost of groceries per month for a family of 4 is higher if the children are older. Families with kids aged 6-8 and 9-11 spent between $673.60 and $1,339.80 a month on food.
Average Food Spending by Year
The average food cost per month in the United States has been moderately growing over the years. For example, the average grocery bill for 1 adult female jumped by 4.50% between September 2016 and September 2020.
The largest five-year increase in the average monthly grocery bill was seen among children aged 9-11. In September 2016, the food expenses per month for a kid within that age range was $266.60. Five years later, feeding a child aged 9-11 cost $281.80 or 5.70% more.
Families of two adults needed an average grocery budget of $639.50 per month in September 2020. The average cost of food per month for a family of 4 was the highest at $1,106.40.
In the table below, we included the monthly food cost between September 2016 and September 2020. These figures are the USDA reports on a moderate-cost food budget for different types of consumers.
If we compare the average cost of food per month in 2010 and 2020, the increase is even more significant. Namely, the average grocery bill for a family of 4 in 2010 was $945 or by 16.95% lower than in 2020. The increase in the average monthly grocery bill for 1 adult female was 15.79%, from $230.50 to the latest $266.90. All these figures reveal a slow but steady upward trend.
Food Spending Across the World
While the US average monthly food cost seems high, the country isn’t even among the top 10 by food expenditure per capita. Knoema’s 2018 stats show that Hong Kong had the highest costs on food per capita at $5,000.2.
Switzerland, Norway, and Israel came in next with per capita food expenses of $3,908, $3,726, and $3,611.
Other countries with exceptionally high food costs per capita were Japan ($3,611), New Zealand ($3,277), and Denmark ($3,220).
The US earned the 15th position by food spending per capita at $2,626. The average food cost per month in Canada was about $214 per person, while the per capita food was $2,350. This average earned the country the 22nd position on the list.
Australia ranked high and was among the 10 countries with the highest food expenditures. In 2018, Australians spent $3,003 per capita.
As for European countries, Belgium and Italy were two other destinations with high per capita food costs of $3,034 and $2,986.
The United Kingdom took the 26th position. Consumers in the country spent $2,168 on food costs per capita. The average food cost per month in the UK is about £167 per person.
Find Your Food Spending Balance
The monthly food budget for 1 person in the United States ranges from under $100 to several hundreds of dollars. Various factors affect how much a person or a family spends on groceries every month.
The state where you live alongside your age and spending habits are the three essential elements of determining your food costs. Incorporating a frugal spending plan can decrease your average food cost per month by nearly 50%.
Moving to a cheaper state is another step that can help you spend less on groceries and food.
References: MERIC, USDA, NUMBEO, Business Insider, knoema, Chowhound
The Average Household Cost of Food in America
Eggs will run you $2 – $3 per dozen, depending on where you live. A loaf of bread averages $2.35 and chicken comes in at just under $4 per pound. The costs of food add up.
And if you're most people you probably haven't noticed it.
Americans spend more on food than on almost any other line-item in the household budget. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nationally we spend more than $7,700 per year on groceries and going out. For rural and suburban consumers it's their third-highest expense after housing and transportation. Urban residents spend more on food than anything aside from housing.
Yet it's easy to miss. Un rent checks and car payments, consumers don't buy food in one lump sum. This expense leaks out $20 and $30 at a time. Only people who pay close attention to their finances will notice just how fast those quick trips to the grocery store do add up.
So, whether you already keep an eye on this or have decided to start, here's about what the average household spends on food per month.
What Is the Average Household Cost of Food?
First, there is an answer for the entire country. The average American household spends on food:
• In raw outlays, $7,729 per year,
• As a proportion, 12.8% of after-tax income (ATI) per year, and
• As a proportion, 10.5% of pre-tax income (PTI) per year.
Americans spend a little more on food than they have in recent years. Over the mid-2010s, spending on food ticked up by about 1% of total income and more than $500 per year.
However, in the big picture, American spending on food has declined dramatically.
Historical Spending on Food
When it comes to food and costs of living Americans today live much better than their grandparents or even parents did.
everything else, the average per-item cost of food has soared over the past century. A loaf of bread in 1913 cost just over 5 cents. Eggs set consumers back 37 cents a dozen.
Prices are… a little different these days.
But while the average price of food has climbed (in some cases skyrocketed) over the past 100 years, as a portion of income Americans spend far less on groceries than they used to. Where the average American household spends 10.5% of their income on food today, in 1900 most households spent nearly half their annual budget on dinner.
The cause? Inflation and prosperity. Over much of the 20th-century inflation tended to impact food less than most other categories of consumer spending. At the same time, incomes steadily rose for Americans across the board. This led to food prices to rise more slowly than consumer spending power, and Americans could steadily afford better meals.
How Much Should You Spend on Food?
Average household spending on food is useful information for macroeconomists and trivia enthusiasts. It's a good headline number. But let's be honest, headline numbers don't help much for figuring out your finances.
So here are a few more useful metrics for figuring out whether you spend too much, or maybe have more room in the budget than you thought.
Groceries vs. Entertainment
The average household spends most of its food budget on groceries ($4,363 / 5.9% PTI), but it also spends a decent amount of money going out to eat ($3,365 / 4.5% PTI). The takeaway for most households? You might spend more money going out to eat than you realize because on average Americans spend almost half their food budget at restaurants.
Rural vs. Urban
Consumption changes where you live. City dwellers spend more on everything but as a percentage of income less on groceries ($4,392 / 5.8% PTI) and more eating out ($3,437 / 4.6% PTI). Their rural counterparts buy groceries somewhat cheaper ($4,058 / 7.4% PTI) and eat out less ($2,596 / 4.7% PTI).
As with inflation over the 20th century, the numbers here are skewed by income. Urban consumers spend more on food than their rural counterparts, but less as a proportion of income because they tend to make considerably more. (Of course, rural residents spend almost 40% less on housing than their urban counterparts.)
By Household Size
It should come as no surprise that larger households spend more money on food than smaller ones.
A one-member household spends the least but also earns the least, making food a significant line-item ($4,425 / 12.3% PTI).
Two members households spend more, but also see huge per-income savings over the singles ($7,865 / 9.6% PTI). (Sharing a salt shaker, it seems, is a big money-saver.)
A traditional four-member family spends the most on food any group measured ($10,995 / 10.4% PTI).
Food Spending by Income Level
This last category is so important that we broke it out into its category. This is how much people tend to spend on food by their level of income.
Lowest 20% of Earners
The less money you have, the more each dollar means. People in the bottom quintile spend an average of $2,582 on groceries every year or almost 23% of their pre-tax income. They spend an average of $1,488 on eating away from home or almost 13% of their pre-tax income.
All told the poorest Americans to spend $4,070, or 36% of their pre-tax income, feeding themselves and their families.
And as to the rumors about poor families stuffing themselves full of sodas and sweets? Members of the bottom quintile emphasize fruits and vegetables more than any other income group. They dedicate almost 2% of their budget to that section of the food pyramid compared to the wealthy's 1.1%.
Second 20% of Earners
The second-lowest tier of workers includes many retail, service and government employees. They spend $3,622, or 12% of their pre-tax income on groceries. They spend another average of $2,049 or 6.8% of pre-tax income on eating away from home.
In total, the second poorest families spend $5,671 per year on food or 19% of their total income.
Third 20% of Earners
This group spends $4,038 on groceries or about 7.7% of each household's pre-tax income. They spend another $3,023 on going out to eat or 5.7% of PTI.
All told the third-quintile spends $7,061 per year on food or 13.4% of its pre-tax income.
The middle-income earners are also the first income group that doesn't rely on public assistance, as both the lowest and the second quintiles spend more than they earn to survive each year.
Fourth 20% of Earners
This quintile is approaching high-income status, and many members have already achieved it. They spend an average of $4,893 per year on groceries or 5.6% of their pre-tax income. This quintile spends another $3,863 going out to eat, or 4.4% of pre-tax income.
In total, the upper-middle-class spends $8,757 per year on food or 10.1% of its income.
Top 20% of Earners
The wealthy make several large jumps in their spending habits.
First, the middle-tiers of income spend within $1,000 of each other on groceries, reflecting the common needs of those households regardless of income differences. The top tier earners, however, spend significantly more, at $6,677 per year, or 3.5% of pre-tax income.
This is also the only demographic that's as ly to eat out as eat-in, spending $6,402 or 3.4% of pre-tax income on restaurants.
In total, the top quintile of earners spends $13,079 per year on food or 6.9% of their pre-tax income.
12 Ways to Save Big on Groceries and Shop on a Budget
If you buy your groceries using a few proven strategies, you can save a lot of money.
25% Buy Generic Brands instead of Name Brands
You can save 25% on your groceries if you buy generic brand groceries instead of name brands. Sometimes generic brands don’t taste as good as brand names, but you can work around this. For example, real Cheerios taste better than generic brands of Cheerios, but if you’re buying for a toddler, they probably won’t care.
When it comes to staples sugar, salt, flour, bleach and many other items, for most people there is no discernible difference in quality—only in the price.
You might not want to completely ignore brand name groceries—they do go on sale—however, if you can substitute generic or no name brands for brand names, you can begin to experience some real savings.
Potential Annual Savings: $880*
23% Make a Grocery List and Stick to it
According to research from the University of Pennsylvania, people who can avoid impulse spending can save up to 23% on their grocery bills. Making a grocery list and sticking to it is the best way to shop.
Potential Annual Savings: $2,360*
25% Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
You can shrink your grocery budget by up to 25% and trim your waistline at the same time by adding more fruits and vegetables to your snacks and meals. Research from the American Dietetic Association shows that every member of your family can benefit from this and lose weight. Your budget can also breathe easier as you introduce more fresh produce into your family’s diet.
Potential Annual Savings: $880*
10% Shop at Discount Grocery Stores
In our comparison shops, we have found that you can save at least 10% on your groceries if shop at a discount grocery store the Real Canadian SuperStore compared to the next best alternatives. These savings are comparing name brand items that every store carries.
Potential Annual Savings: $1,000*
32% Shop at a Discount Produce Store
You can save up to thirty-two percent on your fruit and vegetables by shopping at a discount produce store or at a farmer’s market. Not all farmer markets will save you a lot of money, but some will. Stores Safeway sell premium quality produce. Discount stores usually sell lower quality produce at significantly lower prices.
If premium or organic produce is important to you, then you will have to pay more for it, but if your produce doesn’t always have to be perfect, then you might be able to save a lot by shopping at a discount produce store.
Compare prices at produce stores, farmer’s markets and grocery stores in your area and see if you can find some great savings.
Potential Annual Savings: $620*
Buy Fewer Pre-Packaged Foods
|What you can buy||Try instead||What you will save|
|Minute Maid Orange Juice, $3.57 (1.89 L)||Minute Maid OJ frozen can = $1.57 (1.42 L)||41%|
|Mini Oreo Cookies in Snack packs (8) = $3.49||Oreo Cookies in family pack (48) = $6.49||69%|
|Bag of cut, prewashed romaine lettuce = $3.|
99 (255 g)
|1 head of romaine lettuce = $2.99 (255 g)||25%|
|Bag of cut, prewashed broccoli = $5.94 (340 g)||Broccoli crowns = $1.99 (454 g)||75%|
|Bag of grated medium cheddar cheese = $7.99 (340 g)||Medium cheddar cheese = $11.|
99 (700 g)
You can save a lot by purchasing less food that is pre-packaged.
10% Request Coupons from Manufacturers
You can save around ten percent on your groceries by requesting coupons from all of the manufacturers you normally buy products from. Email them and ask them to send you any coupons that they might have. Some people do this once every month or two—whenever they know they will need more coupons—and they are able to get coupons for almost everything they buy.
Potential Annual Savings: $1,000*
10% Price Match
You can save at least ten percent by shopping at a grocery store that price matches competitor’s flyers. Make sure you bring your flyers with you when you shop to cash in on this. This sort of a tip doesn’t appeal to everyone, but if you want to save about ten percent on the annual cost of your groceries, this is a great tip to follow.
For a family of four, this tip can save $1,000 per year. Wal-Mart stores that sell groceries are great places to do this, and apparently the Real Canadian SuperStore will also price match. However, the SuperStore does not advertise this. Some other grocery stores may also match competitor’s prices.
Speak with a manager at your favorite grocery store to see if they will price match competitor’s advertised prices.
Potential Annual Savings: $1,000*
10% – 20% Stock Up on Sales
You can save ten percent, twenty percent or more by stocking up on grocery items that are on sale. Stock up on groceries that are non-perishable or can be frozen bread and meat.
You are only saving money if you stock up on things that you normally use. Compound your savings by stock up when groceries are on sale plus use a coupon and then possibly buy on a customer appreciation day (if your grocery store has one of these.
Safeway is one store that has customer appreciation days once each month).
Potential Annual Savings: $1,000 – $2,050*
25% Stockpile and Skip a Grocery Shop
Save almost twenty five percent on the annual cost of your groceries by stockpiling groceries when they are on sale and then skip a grocery shop once every month.
When you skip a grocery shop, you live off of what you stockpiled. If you can’t do this monthly, then try for once every three months. It will still save you a lot of money.
You can stockpile all kinds of non-perishable food, and you can freeze bread and meat when you find them on sale.
Potential Annual Savings: $2,560*
12% – 18% Shop with Cash
You can save 12% to 18% if you leave your credit cards at home and shop with cash. According to a study by Dunn & Bradstreet, people who shop with a credit card pay twelve to eighteen percent more than those who shop with cash.
McDonalds has also found that when people buy their food with a credit card instead of cash the average transaction jumps from $4.50 to $7. If you only shop with cash or your debit card, then you can only spend what you have.
Shopping with $50 in your pocket can be much different than shopping with a $10,000 credit limit in your pocket.
Try using cash for all your shopping— for clothes, shoes, electronics and restaurants—and see how much you can save. If you really want to use your credit card to collect points, then make sure you stick to your grocery or shopping list and you still may come out ahead.
Potential Annual Savings: $1,230 – $1,850*
48% Put Your Grocery Budget on a Diet
Statistics Canada reports that the average Canadian household spends about $214 per person on food each month. This does not include eating out. If you're single or live in certain parts of the country, the average will be higher.
As a general rule, the Credit Counselling Society recommends that consumers allocate $200 to $250 per person for grocery money every month, or even a little more if you buy toilet paper, laundry detergent and cleaning supplies at the grocery store.
However, in her book Zero Debt, Lynnette Khalfani-Cox suggests that a family of four can aim to spend only $125 per week on groceries. That means aiming to spend $125 per person on food each month rather than the Canadian average of $214. This is an ambitious goal, but if you implement many of the tips outlined above, it is possible.
Potential Annual Savings: $2,560*
Combine Money Saving Strategies
Combine as many of these money saving ideas as possible and you can drastically reduce your grocery budget. Create a grocery list, and then only buy what is on your list. Next, start by shopping at a produce store. These stores allow you to eat healthy and save money.
Watch your prices, but usually you will want to buy most of your produce at these kinds of stores. The exception would be when other stores have really good sales, or if you are willing to pay more for a couple of fruits and vegetables that are better quality at another store.
Continue your savings by doing your big shop at a discount grocery store and buy as many generic brand name goods as your taste buds can handle. For the brand names you love, ask the manufacturers for some coupons and then watch for a sale. When your favorite brands go on sale, stock up and use your coupons.
If the sale is at Safeway, hopefully you can time your visit so that you shop on their customer appreciation day. Buying with coupons when there is a sale on a customer appreciation day—and then stocking up—can save you some serious money. Remember to shop with cash or your debit card and stick to your list.
If you can find a grocery store in your community that will price match, take advantage of that. Wal-Mart is starting to open grocery supercentres in Canada. They offer the same low prices that the SuperStore does plus they price match all competitor’s ads.
If one of these stores opens near you, you can save gas by doing almost all of your grocery shopping in one place. Hopefully this increased competition will cause other grocery stores to become more competitive and allow more Canadians the opportunity to save big.
What does this mean for you?
Some of these saving tips may be a little hard core, but we know that some people are more motivated to save than others. That is why we are trying to lay out as many creative and insightful options for you as possible. You can decide how motivated you are to save.
Some people find saving money fun, and some find it to be a necessity. If you can only apply a couple of tips from this page and save 20% a year, that could save you $2,050 if you feed a family of four. Is $2,050 worth the effort? That could pay for your next holiday.
* Savings are numbers from Statistics Canada. The savings we show are how much a family of four could potentially save from implementing each strategy.
Look for Price Break Downs on Shelf Labels
Many stores are now breaking down the price of groceries on shelf price labels.
For example, when you are looking at a huge wall of toilet paper, how do you figure out which one is the best price? Some packages have 24 rolls and others have 36 rolls while others are double rolls—and each package is a different price! If you forgot your calculator, you would just have to guess. Not any more, many stores now tell you in fine print on each shelf price label how much each little piece of toilet paper costs. The same thing goes for cereal and almost every other type of product. They will often tell you the cost of a product per 100 grams. This allows you to leave your calculator at home and quickly find the best deal. This is a smart way to shop. Or if they don’t show what you need on the shelf label, use the calculator function on your cell phone to figure it out quickly.
Make Meals from Scratch
Making your own meals from scratch is one of the biggest ways that you can save money. the table above illustrates, the more prepared the food is, the more it usually costs. The nice thing is that home made food is usually better for you too. So making your own meals from scratch can save your wallet and your health.
Always Cook Too Much
Always try to cook more food than you need and then freeze the leftovers or take them to work for lunch the next day (if you can avoid buying a lunch at work you can save $1,800 per year). Freezing meals can help you save a lot of time and can make cooking meals from scratch more realistic for busy people since this can save a lot of time.
Don’t Buy Water
Check with your city or town to see how the quality of your water compares to bottled water. Many cities now offer water from the tap that is just as clean or cleaner than bottled water. Why break your back caring bottles of water when the stuff that comes the tap is the same or better?
Don’t Shop Hungry
You will buy more food if you shop hungry, and you will buy food that appeals to your appetite at that time rather than what works for your weekly grocery budget.
Try to Shop Alone
Shopping with kids can add to your grocery bill and retailers know this. All grocery items that are geared toward kids are placed at their eye level. Shopping with your spouse can also add to your grocery bill if your spouse tends to go for impulse buys and other things that aren’t on your grocery list.
Salvage Grocery Stores
These stores buy damaged or defective goods from major grocery chains and food manufacturers that are still safe to eat—the packaging just got damaged in shipping or it has the wrong expiry date printed on it. At these stores, you can sometimes save 50% or more.
Try to Waste Less Food
Some people estimate that the average Canadian household wastes as much as $1,600 worth of food per year. If this is true, the average household could add over $100 to their monthly food budget if they managed to cut their food waste by 75%.
See 25 more tips to help you grocery shop on a budget and save money!