Typical Grocery Budget Family of 5

adavant1adavant1 Posts: 139Member
edited May 2013 in Desktop
I'm wondering if my grocery budget for the month for my family of 5, hubby, me, 3 kids ages 3, 5, and 8 + 1 puppy dog is out of line?

I'm budgeting $800 a month.

Thoughts?
Post edited by Unknown User on
wenry2004
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Comments

  • angela_mangela_m Posts: 56Member, Moderator, YNAB Team, Beta Tester
    I think this really depends on where you live. We're in mid-west Canada, have a family similar to yours (kids are 1, 3, 5, and we have a cat). Our average spending for the past year has been $700 / month, but that doesn't include household supplies - it's just groceries. I do budget $100 a month to personal and house supplies (i.e. cleaners, diapers, shampoo, toothpaste).

    We eat all meals except one or two home each month and live in a rural area, so most of our shopping is done in one or two big trips a month.

    There's also this site that gives averages: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/usdafoodcost-home.htm

    I would love to hear others' replies to this question!
  • adavant1adavant1 Posts: 139Member
    According to this http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/F ... pr2012.pdf I am not off with $800 a month especially since this includes household toiletries. Interesting
  • tindelsurftindelsurf Posts: 244Member
    I have a family of three - two adults in their early 30's, and one child 1 yo - almost 2. I budgeted $700 last month, but I'm still trying to find that happy spot where we're not starving at the end of the month. This includes diapers and toiletries, random trips to the grocery store for allergy meds, and generally includes anything bought at the grocery store

    Seems like the link provided would sum us up to almost $700. I sure would like to get that lower, but am having a hard time figuring out how. We make about half of our meals, others are 'pre-made' pizzas or lasagnas, stuff like that.
  • jeralyn11jeralyn11 Posts: 32Member
    Whoa! I guess we could do better. We're a family of four, 2 adults, 2 kids (ages 5 and 8 ), and a large dog. We live in the northeast. I budget $1100 per month and we're always pretty close to that, but rarely go over. This number includes all household items that I buy at the grocery store (cleaners, trash bags, etc.). I guess according to the link that was posted we're on the "liberal" plan, but I don't think we eat extravagantly. We eat most meals at home, use lots of fresh veggies and try to stay away from "ready to eat" items like frozen pizzas. We also budget $200 per month for eating out, which is mostly a weekly pizza night at a local place.
  • dmdunca44dmdunca44 Posts: 197Member
    I think an awful lot has to do with where you live. I budget $575 for the two of us (food only) and another $55 for kibble for two large dogs. We live in a relatively high cost of living area.
  • northwetmossbacksnorthwetmossbacks Posts: 41Member
    Wholly moly! We must be totally out of touch.....budgeted $400 a month for a family of four (two adults and two hollow-legged teens). That includes toiletries and cleaning supplies. $50/month for eating out - usually take n bake pizza one night (teenagers....) & one meal out for us adults. We usually end up spending closer to $475 on grocery, but giving it a year (playing a little whack-a-mole) and will probably adjust budget permanently in January when we re-evaluate the budget.

    Yes, we are working hard to pay down one big bill, but don't think that we would do too much differently once it is paid off. We also have a small garden to supplement seasonally, but again I don't think that its bounty makes much of a dent in our budget.

    One thing that we have tried hard to do now that we are actually working to stay within a budget is to plan ahead and do our shopping one day a week (as much as possible!) - this has pushed us to make a concerted effort to check the ads and has provided us the added benefit of saving on gas $$ because we are only making one big trip instead of a bunch of little ones. Oh, and it also opens up the time we would have spent running all those small errands to do other things as well!
  • blackdiamondblackdiamond Posts: 2,314Member, Beta Tester
    We budget $150 for dining out and more recently have been around $600 for two plus a baby. We don't include any non-food items in this budget. We should be able to cut it back significantly, but somehow have not managed to do so.
  • IanIan Posts: 67Member
    UK centric but this site should give you some ideas on ways to cut down on the grocery bill: http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/shoppi ... challenge/.
  • marzydjmarzydj Posts: 80Member
    We are a family of five, kids are 12, 10 & 6 and we spend about £600 :!: I think our food in the uk is more expensive than yours over in the US but I think it does seem a lot! Always looking for ways to cut down, thanks for the link Ian, interesting reading!
  • Budget_NinjaBudget_Ninja Posts: 4,758Member, Beta Tester
    In Southwestern Ontario, Canada.
    Two adults.

    We budget $440 a month for groceries only. We shop weekly and take advantage of discount grocers who match flyers. The amount is set by taking our weekly amount multiplying by 52 and dividing by 12. We have a separate category for Holidays where we budget for xmas and thanksgiving dinners.

    We budget $150 a month for dining out which includes a nasty Starbucks habit. We budget for birthday dinners out separately under out Birthday category which includes both presents and a dinner out.
    Iowan
  • SpaMomSpaMom Posts: 9Member
    California family of four - 2 adults and 2 kids (ages 9 and 7). We budget $1100. No toiletries or pet food included.

    But in fairness, not skimping on really wonderful food is an indulgence that we've agreed on - I love being able to go to the grocery store and go off-list if something strikes my fancy. There are other areas where we keep things tight in order to have this luxury.
    Iowan
  • rsd22rsd22 Posts: 125Member
    I don't think the OP is that far off at all.

    Family of two: $650.00 (lots of organic groceries and this also includes, all non-food items)
    Alcohol: $50.00 .... $700.00.
    Three dogs (food and treats): $140.00 .... $840 a month for our family of 5!

    Though I'd like to see this number lower, it is what is. Asking my wife to stop buying organic groceries would not go over well....
  • m8cb0ym8cb0y Posts: 78Member, Beta Tester
    This makes me feel a lot better. I've been sweating my budget for a while now due to trying to get our $600/month grocery budget for two (not including non-edibles) down to something more like $400-500. Now I find we're closer to the norm.

    Based on just trying to control what goes in the cart, we're on track to dropping our budget down below $500 this month.
  • litleclaylitleclay Posts: 2Member
    Wow. We're a family of 3 (2 year old) and we just raised our budget to $300. We also have $50 for toiletries and $25 for eating out.
  • LupineLupine Posts: 20Member
    We are a family of four in Alaska and we cannot seem to get below $1500 a month this year. We do not eat processed food; we eat organic, home-grown, and local as much as possible. We hunt and fish and raise our own chickens. We always try to spend less and we used to be able to make it for under $1000 but in the past year or two prices are way up. Our raw milk just went up to $6.00/gallon. Local eggs are $5--glad we have hens! This amount does not include dog food--that's another category. When we talk with friends who have families of four we are all around the same amount monthly.
    Val
  • INAB26INAB26 Posts: 1,582Member, Beta Tester
    There are 6 of us and I can usually get groceries under $500. I do have separate categories for anything that isn't food (toiletries etc.) and cat food (we have 3).

    We are in a fairly low cost of living area, but that is mostly fresh, not processed food. We eat a lot of simple meals and don't buy many snacks or prepackaged things.
  • mcampbell1014mcampbell1014 Posts: 65Member
    WOW! I'm having sticker shock at other parts of the country/world! For the two of us we spend on average about $350/month. That doesn't include household items($20), toiletries($10), or dog food($30) though. We don't eat out a huge amount, usually budgeted at about $50/month and I hate to pay for convenience foods! Why should I pay for a container of sliced cantaloupe at $5 when I could buy a whole one and cut it myself for $1?
  • jesse_ohiojesse_ohio Posts: 109Member
    I've been struggling with the cost of groceries lately. It always seems like no matter what I set the budget to, we go way over. I just bumped it up from $600 to $700 for July, we'll see how it goes. I'm including toiletries in that, but not diapers or wipes or anything. This is for 4 (2 adults, a 2yo and a 1yo). Feeding the kids is already starting to add up and they're still tiny! Can't imagine when they're older :eek:

    One thing that helps is when we consistently meal plan, like for a whole 1 or 2 weeks of meals, and then do a massive shopping trip to get everything we need to last that long. Sure, the bill is usually over $200, but that is literally enough food for 2 weeks of meals. The problem is, we invariably forget stuff or want to get a snack or something, so we go throughout the week and make "these quick runs to the store" for "1 or 2 things" and end up spending $60 each time! Do that once a week on top of the big shopping trips and we go over budget.

    I guess it comes down to self control, but food has always been something we've enjoyed and spent money on. Don't get me started on our dining out budget. Seriously, I can't comprehend how some people say they get away with $25 or $50 a month. You can barely go to fast food and feed the family for $25 now, and that's supposed to last THIRTY DAYS??? Heck, go to any middle of the road restaurant and it's tough to get a meal under $10 anymore. Do you guys REALLY only eat out once or twice in an entire month??
    Kaetana
  • only120xsonly120xs Posts: 164Member
    jesse_ohio wrote:
    Do you guys REALLY only eat out once or twice in an entire month??

    Yes. Our budget is $60/mo for family of 4 (two boys- 4 and 2). That's usually pizza/fast food a couple times. If the wife and I can find time to go out for ourselves, we will either cut down on the rest of the eating out, or budget for it separately. Even so, it's usually no more than $40, and less than once a month.

    I hear you on the grocery shopping though. Meal planning is key, as is using low-cost foods (beans, pasta, grains, very little meat). The kids have started eating crazy amounts though; they will seriously eat us broke when they are older!
  • jesse_ohiojesse_ohio Posts: 109Member
    only120xs wrote:
    jesse_ohio wrote:
    Do you guys REALLY only eat out once or twice in an entire month??

    Yes. Our budget is $60/mo for family of 4 (two boys- 4 and 2). That's usually pizza/fast food a couple times. If the wife and I can find time to go out for ourselves, we will either cut down on the rest of the eating out, or budget for it separately. Even so, it's usually no more than $40, and less than once a month.

    Huh. Color me impressed.

    Part of it is that I'm used to a lifestyle I guess. I'm 26 and my friends are always going out every week/weekend. I decline most of the time, especially now that I've got the kids at home, but I do like to get out for some fresh air once or twice a month. But on a typical night out I'll meet friends for wings and a beer and it's $20 right there, after tip. Or say my [pregnant] wife is out and NEEDS to eat something she'll grab a burrito or something and be down another $5 (ha -- she JUST called and said she picked up a taco because she was about to yak). Or say I was running really late one morning and didn't get to pack my lunch... fast food. That kind of stuff just... happens.

    We are out and about a lot, just the nature of our schedules, and it's impossible to have cheap pre-made meals on hand all the time. And 30 days is a long time to go... I just don't see how people do it, unless you stay at home 95% of the time and have no social life (I don't mean this as an insult to you -- I just mean, I can't add it up myself!)
  • only120xsonly120xs Posts: 164Member
    I will grant you that it would be harder with tight schedules. My wife is at home most of the time and does lots of cooking. Most of our eating out happens when we are going to in-laws (2hr drive), or out running around.
  • jesse_ohiojesse_ohio Posts: 109Member
    only120xs wrote:
    My wife is at home most of the time and does lots of cooking.

    As does mine. Still, we struggle. I guess I just need to focus on self control.
  • litterbuglitterbug Posts: 3,646Member, Beta Tester
    I've posted this a few times lately, but while budgeting (at least with YNAB) doesn't mean deprivation, it means having to list out your priorities and than choosing which ones are important to you. If eating out with friends is a high priority, you'll have to adjust your other budget items to accommodate it.

    Every time I spend money I'm making a choice. I'm a night owl and have terrible trouble getting up on time, so every morning I have to choose between going to work late and making coffee and breakfast at home vs. buying coffee and something less healthy on the way to work. I'm lucky that my boss is fine with my flexible schedule, because I really don't want to let my eating out make it harder to save for my ski pass and home furnishings!
    prettypenny
  • only120xsonly120xs Posts: 164Member
    You can also try using discount gift cards. I've been buying them for our grocery shopping, saving us 2%. Same kind of thing can be done for eating out: Groupon/LivingSocial/discount sites can save you some money if you were going to go out anyway. Just the other day my wife found a deal online for gift cards to a local restaurant- $15 for a $25 GC, plus a coupon on top of that, making it like $8 for $25 GC! (I think she got 4 cuz it was such a good deal, and I'll probably sell a couple of them at a small profit, making our dinner out virtually free!)
  • jesse_ohiojesse_ohio Posts: 109Member
    litterbug wrote:
    I've posted this a few times lately, but while budgeting (at least with YNAB) doesn't mean deprivation, it means having to list out your priorities and than choosing which ones are important to you. If eating out with friends is a high priority, you'll have to adjust your other budget items to accommodate it.

    Yes, that is true. It just seems that with trying to sock away $5 here and $10 there to my "micro savings" (gifts, tools, etc), I'm stretched too thin for that. Ha, I guess that's pretty much the definition of living at/beyond your means, eh?
    Every time I spend money I'm making a choice. I'm a night owl and have terrible trouble getting up on time, so every morning I have to choose between going to work late and making coffee and breakfast at home vs. buying coffee and something less healthy on the way to work. I'm lucky that my boss is fine with my flexible schedule, because I really don't want to let my eating out make it harder to save for my ski pass and home furnishings!

    LOL - this is me exactly. It took me a long time to get to the point where I make my own coffee instead of stopping and buying it, but it is a big savings. Breakfast... I'm at the point where I eat a breakfast bar or make a quick bowl of cereal and eat it at the stop lights :D
  • adavant1adavant1 Posts: 139Member
    litterbug wrote:
    I've posted this a few times lately, but while budgeting (at least with YNAB) doesn't mean deprivation, it means having to list out your priorities and than choosing which ones are important to you. If eating out with friends is a high priority, you'll have to adjust your other budget items to accommodate it.

    Every time I spend money I'm making a choice. I'm a night owl and have terrible trouble getting up on time, so every morning I have to choose between going to work late and making coffee and breakfast at home vs. buying coffee and something less healthy on the way to work. I'm lucky that my boss is fine with my flexible schedule, because I really don't want to let my eating out make it harder to save for my ski pass and home furnishings!

    AMEN AMEN I especially like the link budgeting doesn't mean deprivation. I have followed other budgeting guidelines and gurus and felt deprived. I couldn't stick with them in fact my 2-3 weeks using YNAB is much longer than my previous track records for this very reason.
  • katsmeowkatsmeow Posts: 198Member
    I've realized over the years that sometimes when I budget, that budgeted number means different things.

    1. Realistic - The budgeted number is pretty close to what I typically spend. Yes, it may be slightly over or under but I basically nail it.
    2. Aspirational - I haven't quite done this in the past but I aspire to spend less on a category so budget for less, planning to meet this target. Within reason, this can be motivating as it gives me something to shoot for that may be a bit of a stretch. I have found that even if I go over, I do better because I am trying to hit the lower number.
    3. Wishful thinking - What I wish I would spend on the category but I am usually way below the actual spending. This usually is those categories that you have to spend for but you don't really like spending for -- car repair, home maintenance, and so on.

    I find that the grocery budget for me as tended to fall between aspirational and wishful thinking. For years, I found that I consistently underbudgeted by a couple of hundred dollars a month (we had 6 people in our house at time - 3 adults, 3 teenagers) and I was budgeting $800. This was just not realistic at all.

    We now have 4 people in the household and I budget $1000 a month for groceries which does include supplies such as toilet paper and paper towels but doesn't include pet food or cat litter. This also does not include dining out. The reality was that I was constantly going over when the budget was less. We just aren't going to change our eating style right now enough to make a substantial difference so it is more important to budget according to how we really eat rather than have wishful thinking that doesn't reflect reality.
  • litterbuglitterbug Posts: 3,646Member, Beta Tester
    I remember Jesse posting somewhere that he and his wife seemed to overspend their grocery budget no matter how large they made it. I think the solution was to decrease it in the hopes that would reduce the resulting spending. But groceries and eating out are really tough to cut back for many of us because they just seem to 'happen.'

    Eating out is a big part of how I grew up, and being reckless in the grocery store was how I learned to shop. I've gotten much better at grocery shopping. I make sure to leave room for the treats I really love, and when I pick something up or review my cart before I get in the checkout line, I almost always look at it and think about whether I actually need it or want it badly enough to have to spend less on something else. Even though it may seem that everything in the cart is necessary, reviewing them before checkout is certain to reveal that many of them could be exchanged for something cheaper or made yourself with little effort. It might seem like small savings, but those little bits add up to a lot!
    Iowan
  • rsd22rsd22 Posts: 125Member
    katsmeow wrote:
    I budget $1000 a month for groceries which does include supplies such as toilet paper and paper towels but doesn't include pet food or cat litter. This also does not include dining out.

    You must be talking with or know my wife...?
  • pmcint01pmcint01 Posts: 10Member
    I live near in the Mid-Atlantic part of the US, Philadelphia Suburb and I am spending $1200 for groceries, food and cleaning supplies, trash bags, etc. Anything bought at the grocery store. This is has been tough for us to keep under $1,000 for our family of 4, kids are 3 and 6. It ends up being about a quarter of our monthly outlfows. On top of that we can't get our gas under $250/month for 2 vehicles and we both work, but only have to drive to work 3 days/wk each.
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