How Much do People Spend on Groceries Per Week?

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albertsons double coupon shopping trip mavis{Mavis’ Albertsons Double Coupon Shopping Trip February 2012}

Several years ago I borrowed the book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats from the Library.

The book featured families from around the world showing the groceries they purchased in any given week. The one thing that really stuck out to me was that no matter how much food the families had to display for the photographer, they were all very proud of what they had.

Just as I probably was last year around this time when I scored all the food you see above for $7.24.

What this picture didn’t show of course was how I had to get up at the crack of dawn, drive to the store with a fistful of coupons, collect my pre-orders, stand in line, wait, then proceed to check out, drive home, unload the food, display the food, and then photograph it all and write up the lengthily transaction details.

winco-shopping-trip{Mavis’ Winco Grocery Shopping Trip January 2013}

Fast forward to about a year later, and I have pretty much bowed out of the whole extreme coupon craze.  Why? Because I was tired of playing the game. I’d rather spend less time and effort on grocery shopping, and more time with my family at home and playing  in my garden.

I think it will be interesting to see if I can pull off spending an average of one hundred dollars a month on food for the third year in a row. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it without trying as hard, but I am sure going to give it my best shot.

***************

I was recently reminded of Hungry Planet: What the World Eats  {and the pictures behind them} on facebook by Katleen and Carol. I found the pictures in a series of 3 picture posts on Time.com and thought you might want to take a peek.

What the World Eats Part 1
What the World Eats Part 2
What the World Eats Part 3

Can you identify with any of these families?

Is there a particular family you think your grocery shopping habits are similar to?

How much do YOU spend on groceries per week?

~Mavis

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Comments

  1. So interesting! I’ve been doing a grocery challenge on my blog and sharing what we buy and eat throughout the week every Thursday. The challenge is to spend less than the U.S.D.A. low cost food plan for our family of 5 ($201 a week) while eating organic food and grass fed meat. 35 weeks into the project, we are at $198 per week for food.

    That is our total food expenditure because we don’t eat out. So curious what others spend.

  2. Those photos were SO interesting! I especially loved the family from Lexumbourg who had a (live) chicken in their family photo!
    We try to spend around 50 dollars a week for a family of three. Our goal is try for half of that and be able to do 100 dollars a month too.
    We do have the benefit of hunting and having venison as well as canning nearly 1,000 jars of food out of our garden. Those things really help and keep us from needing to use coupons as well.
    Thanks for sharing =)

  3. I remember when I first started watching the show Extreme Couponing when it first came on. I had been trying to find a way to cut our grocery bill after having to spend $1,600 one month for 4 adults and one child (we had guests for the month). When I saw Amber from Coupon Connections on and discovered you *could* have massive savings in the Pacific NW, I was hooked. What I didn’t realize is how much work it would be in addition to my full time job. The other thing I didn’t realize is how most of the coupons are for processed foods.

    Now, almost 2 years later while I still get the coupons, I am not getting as many of the ‘deals’. My focus is on the ingredients so I can make my own. We have a well stocked pantry and 2 freezers that we can eat from. And instead of chasing the deals every week, every 3 weeks we drive down to Winco and Cash and Carry and buy groceries. I still get a few things during the week like bread or some of the good deals that I see on a couple of bloggers, but I’ve learned that I can eat better and not have to extreme coupon to make it happen. And now with 2 adults and 1 kid, our grocery bill is only $500 a month and we in the midst of starting the seedlings for our first full blown garden.

    I discovered Mavis about 15 months ago and have a been an avid follower since then. She has shown me it IS possible to feed your family well and NOT have to be spending every waking our couponing!

  4. Trying very hard to spend $50 a week for two adults and a small dog. We no longer eat out, and I’m going to try growing some vegetables on our porch. Our dog has allergies, so I’m making him special treats, like dehydrated sweet potato pieces. I rarely use coupons, and we’re trying to eat healthier.

    • Sandi, you are in the same exact situation as my husband and I. We have decided to spend only $50 a week in groceries and there is only us and a small dog. We eat mainly organic so it has been a challenge. Mostly we do what Evonne said, we make our own. It’s tough but rewarding. We also make our dog’s food since it is so much healthier and cheaper for us to do it ourselves. I have a baking day where I bake two loaves of bread, cookies and anything else we need like pre-made pizza crusts, etc. to save energy.

      I think it’s great that you are growing things on your own. Be sure to check out the veggies you can re-grow from scraps like scallions, ginger, celery, romaine, etc. Nothing is better than growing new food out of something you would have thrown away. Good luck lady! :)

      • Megan,

        I applaud you for all your hard work and persistence! I too am trying organize my life in order to do similar things. I want to do away with store bought and processed food as much as possible. So, my question to you. You make your own pre baked pizza crust? Would that be like Bobili? If thats the case, would you mind sharing your recipe? I would love to strike that one off my grocery list!

        Thanks

        Dena

        • Hi Dena,

          I can absolutely share it. Okay so the easily distracted me finds that it is easier to make dough in the breadmaker, then cook it in the already heated oven. So this is for the breadmaker. And it is a thin crust recipe.

          I got this from All Recipes. The only change I make is that I cook the dough for 9-11 minutes instead of the 5 minutes it says to cook it. For freezing, I have made a couple of plastic wrapped cardboard pieces that I store them on to keep them flat and protected. I then put the crusts and cardboard into a large plastic bag (one bag and board for each crust) and lay them on top of everything in my chest freezer.

          3/4 cup warm water – 100 to 110 degrees F (40 to 45 degrees C)

          2 cups all-purpose flour

          1/2 teaspoon salt

          1/4 teaspoon white sugar

          1 teaspoon active dry yeast

          2 teaspoons olive oil

          1.Pour the warm water into the pan of the bread machine, and add the flour on top of the water. Sprinkle with salt and sugar, and top with the yeast. Set the machine on the dough setting, and push the start button. When the machine signals that the dough is finished, transfer to a well-floured work surface.
          2.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
          3.Roll or stretch the dough out into thin crust about 14 inches across. Leave dough thick at the edge. Place the dough onto a 14-inch pizza baking sheet, and brush the dough with the olive oil.
          4.Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes before removing to top with desired ingredients for final baking.

          • I forgot to mention that when you re-heat, you can thaw it if you like or put your toppings on it when it is frozen and put it right into the oven. I have found that it just takes a little longer to to warm up when it is frozen.

  5. Ahhh yes the coupon craze. I did the same thing, bought the same stuff (not real food, HMO infested, processed) but in recent months we’ve went from eating 80% processed i.ehamburger helper, rice a roni, fast food, packaged snacks, etc to eating 80% REAL/clean food. We did a juice cleanse for 2 weeks and now eat a mainly plant based whole grain diet….guess what? We spend less than we did before, even with Couponing and stockpiling.
    As a family of 5 we spend about $150 for two weeks worth of Breakfasts, lunches and diners oh and desserts (vegan, clean, whole grain, raw).. I still coupon but mainly for household and personal products. Don’t get me wrong, I will still by jiffy peanut butter; cause peanut butter is still healthy no matter the brand right? And kettle chips? Yummm but we’ve taken a stand on our diet and couldn’t be happier.

    Maybe you’ve read, maybe you haven’t but we are growing a garden in a 2500+ sq ft and have hopes to have chickens next year. Starting our bakery business will prove to be interesting!

    I’m super thrilled you are changing your families eating habits and spending quality time with them and your garden :)

    • Would you be willing to share a grocery shopping list?! I am trying to buy the healthy stuff you have mentioned and spend less money. I am having a hard time with it. I would love to spend $150 for 2 weeks! If you are willing to share that $150 shopping list to give me an idea that would be great!

  6. Thanks Mavis. I have also stepped back from the coupon craze, especially since we do not have any stores in our area that double. I found concentrating on buying whole, unprocessed foods (and organic when possible) from simpler stores was more worthy of my time than mega couponing and trolling the big supermarkets. I still coupon for toiletries (like toothbrushes, cosmetics, etc.), cleaning products and other non-foods which keeps us on budget. We spend an average of $175 a week for a family of four (which includes non-food items like foil, sponges, toiletries, etc). We are planting a garden and keeping chickens this year, we expect our bills to decrease even more after we are able to harvest our own produce.

  7. Jessica J says:

    I loved the pictures! Makes me think of when we could spend that amount a week on food. Currently I feed 9 people on $540 a month. We hardly eat out, if at all. I cook from scratch as much as possible and coupon at least one big trip a month for our staples (what ever is on sale that week) I can not afford to feed us all organic and always real food, but my first big garden will help cut that price down and afford for some better quality foods.

  8. We average around $50 and also rely on our chickens, garden, hunting and fishing. So I’m not sure how much would be added if you add in feed, licenses, gas to go hunting, etc… I can from our garden and glean whenever I can. I found as others have said, that couponing for whole foods isn’t a great savings. I shop Aldi’s and meat sales at several groceries.

  9. Those were fascinating pictures!
    Before we started the Dave Ramsey plan, we were spending about $600 to $700 per month for the 7 of us. We are now trying to keep it down to $500 or less per month, which works out to be about $130 per week (or less if I’m really good!). I never played the ‘coupon game’ to an extreme. But I use coupons for the things I usually buy; I buy a lot of generic items. We make a lot from scratch, and can what we are able to from the garden.

  10. MaMaLaLa says:

    Family of 4: (2 adults, 2 children; one on the way too)
    Weekly Budget: $125

    How we stay under budget each month-
    We do the cash envelope system so I have 500 to spend on groceries for the month; we garden too, and we do buy bountiful baskets weekly-when our garden isn’t producing.

    Our spending on food used to be SO much higher, but learning how to cook more at home, following blogs like this one, and setting and sticking to a budget helped us bring our spending down.

  11. I definitely hopped on the coupon craze thanks to Extreme Couponing. I would spend several hours every Sunday morning going through the coupons and going from store to store getting the deals. As time went on I got bored with it and realized that not only was it a total time suck but what I brought home was not what my family normally ate. I would use the coupon bargains to barter with the neighbors and buy our “normal” food for us. I do still look at a few coupon blogs, but mainly for entertainment.

    I came across the One Hundred Dollars a Month blog around the time I started couponing and actually laughed out loud when I saw how much Mavis spent each month on groceries before her “a-ha” moment. That was until I added up the receipts from my grocery trips for a few months and realized I was right there with her. These days I’m nowhere near $100 per month, more like $150 per week, and I can live with that. I get the food my family likes and I feel much better feeding them the veggies, meat, seafood etc that they are used to.

    My garden will hopefully provide the majority of our vegetables this summer, so maybe I’ll be able to cut some of that grocery bill down….for the summer at least!

    Great post Mavis!

  12. I loved that book! I remember being amazed at all the whole foods (dried beans, fruits, and veggies) that the family from Mexico ate compared to the amount of processed food other families (like mine) consumed. I’m still working on getting our family’s weekly consumption to look that healthy and fresh.

    We are a family of four (with two teens!) and we spend $80-100 a week on food…more for all the non-food groceries. I keep trying to whittle that down by buying in bulk and growing our own.

    I couponed for about about 4 months, and then quit because it was exhausting. We’re still trying to use up all the mac ‘n cheese, canned soup, and brownie mixes (hee her)

    Thanks for the post!
    Anne F.

  13. We have a monthly budget of $400 for a family of 5, and this includes eating out. About 2 years ago we were spending $800 to $1000 a month on who knows what. During the summer months I preserve what we grow, and as I become better at gardening I’m hoping to get better at preserving. The key for us is to keep track of what I have when I menu plan. We do buy our beef from a local rancher once a year, and I buy chicken twice a year. I hope this year during the gardening season I’ll be able to trim about $90 a month off of our budget.

  14. We seem to keep evolving. When my three kids were younger I spent more out of convenience though I’ve always kept to cooking from scratch. Now we are a household of three with two satellite college kids. I send cookies and groceries to them as well. We eat mostly low carb and use emeals.com for dinner meal plans. This year I’m weighing what ever I grow as Mavis does to see how much we produce in our own backyard. We do bountifulbaskets.org as well and I’ve discovered soap.com is a great resource for weekly shopping items we’re in need of. When I place my bb order on Mondays I then check the emeals.com mealplan and order for soap.com any canned goods or household stuff we need and its delivered Tuesday, doing this has enabled me to keep track of spending better and they often have online coupons. The only reason we go to the store is for dairy and meat. Tomorrow is Zycon day for 40 lbs of chicken breast that I’ll be bagging and freezing a few freezer meals as well. I do run out to albertsons on double coupon days to see what I can get for free sometimes just for treats mostly. We keep adjusting for better health and value with emphasis on health. It’s amazing what people don’t know they’re feeding themselves.

  15. About $150 for 5 people including toiletries and non food items. We eat from the garden and orchard and glean what we can over the summer and I preserve everything that we don’t eat fresh. We have eggs from the chickens and I trade some eggs for milk and other things from my family. We were spending about $450 a week before the economy tanked. Its amazing how much money we were wasting on eating out.

  16. We grow most of the food we eat on our 1 1/2 acres. We are mainly vegetarian, eat eggs from our chickens and have a permaculture garden system in our orchard. We actually spend very little on food. I grow everything from seed for our garden and try to make everything from scratch. It tastes so much better to eat food that was harvested a few minutes before you eat it. We started with a few changes at a time and slowly changed our eating habits!

  17. For the month we spend between 400- 600 dollars, with 500 being the goal most of the time. The 600 dollars is when chicken is on sale by the case, or other large purchases. We are a family of 7 most of the time with number 8 home sometime.

    Our food budget also covers animal feed for 2 cats, 2 dogs, 3 chickens, 1 duck, and the other small animals my dd has. It also covers all personal and household items.

    We shop 2x a month as the stores are 40 min away, I do coupon some for personal items and cearl. And I can’t wait our local produce stand opens this week so more fresh fruits and veggies.

    I do think that I will keep track of what we do eat next week, we eat from the household pantry and shop to re-stock the family pantry.

  18. My family has 5 members, two teenage boys (one of which is 14, 6’7″ 270lbs)we live in New England. The closest store that doubles coupons is 45minutes away and is in a rich neighborhood so I don’t do coupons often, cereal mostly.

    We spend… 1400-1500 a month. I buy organic milk(5 to 7 gallons a week), and mostly conventional produce. We are vegetarians, mostly. We have salmon maybe once a month. I don’t buy many packaged foods, one box of cereal every two weeks, 2 boxes of granola bars a week,. I don’t buy any juice and soda happens only for a birthday party. I have a large garden and a hoop green house. But I can’t get seem to spend less, even though I try. And I continually am hearing that there is “nothing to eat”.
    I am beyond frustrated. thanks for letting me vent.
    Carrie

  19. I’ve noticed a lot of the people commenting lump their non-food items in the grocery budget. I’m curious how many also include going out to dinner in this total.

    • Good question Sara. I lump my household items (light bulbs, toiletries etc.) into my grocery budget but not eating out. We use the cash envelope system and I buy most of the household items at places like Target (on sale with coupons) so its easier to keep them in the same envelope with the food items. I count our eating out as “entertainment” and it comes from that envelope. Eating out is a non-essential and when we eat out it really is more for entertainment than actual nourishment. I’ve been working on stocking up on frozen meals (mostly casseroles) for those days I am just too tired or busy to cook from scratch so we are not tempted to eat out. We are trying to eat out just once every couple of weeks as a family treat. Usually its Chinese because its fun, inexpensive, and really time consuming to make at home.

  20. What a great post! Yes, I too tried the coupon thing. I use it now mostly for personal products like toothpaste, floss, and razors. I pretty much do the Walgreens thing. In my area, we don’t have stores that double, triple, etc. I have 6 kids (3 boys, 3 girls) and I spend about $250 a week. I could cut that down, and that is my goal over our school break (we homeschool). I am too busy right now to really figure it all out. One goal I have, though, is to cut out the premade stuff. We don’t eat a lot of it now, mostly chips and condiments. But I want to focus on cooking well and eating well, rather than on convenience.

    This is my favorite blog!

  21. I like the comment about evolving and making adjustments. It really is a lifestyle change. I did coupons for 2 years before the Extreme show. That show killed it for me. I became bored because I had mastered the “game” of it. I still use some coupons but mostly strategic shop. My family has also done the Dave Ramsey method and it helped put things in perspective. This year we have been building a brand new garden (tough work), raising rabbits, planning for quail, and set up for bees.

    • I too have couponed for a super long time. Extreme couponing seems to have given couponing a bad name. I “strategic coupon” now as well. I keep my up+ rewards rolling every week at rite aid, double coupon only when there is something I really need. Couponing had taken over my life and my office was filled with paper (coupons). I won’t ever give couponing up entirely but intelligent couponing is a must.

      This year we had to move our garden and it is a lot of work (we built 10 raised beds) but I can’t wait to get it planted and see all the beautiful fruits and veggies growing.

  22. I use coupons at the grocery if I have them for the things I want to buy, but my family is picky – it might have been cheap but if it is not what they like to eat, it won’t get eaten. I do much better, food-wise, checking the weekly circulars for sales and shopping that way.

    Where coupons make all sorts of good sense for me is in places like Macy’s, Kohl’s, JoAnn’s, Michael’s, Bed Bath and Beyond – the merchandise stores. I generally don’t shop unless I’ve got a coupon in hand. My local hardware store has a loyalty program that tracks purchases and gives you coupons for dollars off when you spend certain amounts. I’ve even convinced my nephew, who is largely embarassed by the whole coupon thing, to use that one.

  23. I’ve been couponing for a couple years now, but we started eating Paleo January 28 and couponing for food pretty much went out the window. I still play the drugstore game (CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens) for free/cheap toiletry and household items we use or that members of my extended family will use, but even that has slowed down.

    When we decided to go Paleo (after watching the documentary, “In Search of the Perfect Human Diet”) we had a stockpile of so much crap — canned vegetables, boxed foods, etc, and we gave it all away to family members. Filled 4 people’s pantry’s! In that same period we were stocking up on everything we would need for our new way of eating. EXPENSIVE! All natural chicken and pork, grass-fed beef and bison, wild caught fish, healthy oils, almond flour, etc…

    It was painful to spend that money at first, but it has been SO worth it. We feel SO much better not eating grains, dairy, legumes, and sugar. The food is delicious, all made from scratch, and is so much healthier! HH has lost 28 pounds so far and I’ve lost 22. NO cravings for any of the bad crap and really don’t miss it!

    As far as budget — we don’t really have one and I haven’t really kept track, but I would guess we probably spend $400 a month on food for the two of us.

  24. i’ve never really been an extreme couponer. i just don’t have the room to store gobs of extras. but with five growing kiddos plus the hubs, finding deals on toiletries, cereal, and some snacks has been helpful. i figure if i can save money on toothbrushes, etc, i can afford to spend a little extra on the fresh fruits and veggies.
    those pics were fascinating. makes me thankful for so much i take for granted: clean, running water, not having to butcher my own meat (unless i wanted to), being able to run to the store if i need something, and all the choices in the store.
    i try to keep my budget around $100 per week including toiletries, but not including eating out- that comes from the entertainment budget.
    this will be my fourth year of home gardening and i have high hopes for a bumper crop to eat and put up, so we shall see what happens.

  25. Christine says:

    This post really resonated with me. Last year at this time I was reading multiple coupon blogs, clipping/sorting/printing all the time, hitting varies grocery and drug stores, and filling my pantry with cereals, pasta sauces, granola bars, etc. Too many processed foods, not enough real food. Our journey away from super couponing to more gardening and wholesome food has been similar to yours (though on a tiny piece of property). We spend more on organic and/or local produce, grass-fed meats, and cooking things in the kitchen with simple ingredients. It costs more, but it is worth it. The hubby and I have lost weight & feel better and our kids have a much better understanding of where their food comes from and why it is important to spend more to guarantee fewer chemicals in our food. It has also taught them why we need to care about our environment and how the animals we eat are raised and treated. (The Friday night movies you have suggested have been particularly informative in this regard.) The shift in your blog is great and if it your blog’s name has to change to fourhundreddollarsamonth (or more), I’ll still keep reading.

  26. Beckybeq says:

    I noticed that during this winter, my grocery bill averaged $150-$190 per week. 2 adults, 2 teenagers and special diet with one of my kids on gluten free and my husband on low-fat/spicy due to Crohn’s Disease. Can’t wait until summer when my garden starts replacing some of that.

  27. I’ve cooled off on couponing. In this season of my life (5 kids , homeschooling, outside activities, etc) I just couldn’t keep up with it. We are also focusing on eating a whole foods diet, less processed stuff. I try and stay home as much as possible to save on gas and usually my husband will shop after work if we really need something. He’s great at sticking to the list which helps us save too! It’s nice to not feel stressed about missing out on certain deals like I used to!! :)

  28. Just going slightly off topic, here are photos of kids from around the world with their most prized possessions – thought you and your readers might be interested

    http://www.featureshoot.com/2013/03/photos-of-children-from-around-the-world-with-their-most-prized-possessions/

  29. I used to spend $500-$600 on a family of 3. Now I can’t imagine spending this amount of money. Two years ago I started using coupons and this saves me up to 50%. I came to this country from Europe where men like to eat nice big breakfasts with sausage, cold cuts etc. My husband fortunately likes to eat healthy and he eats oatmeal for breakfast. This saves me money.

  30. I average $50 / week for my family of 4 (me & 3 teens)
    this includes toiletries, laundry and household cleaning supplies.
    I also have 1 dog, 2 outside cats and a few hens whose food is considered groceries. Let’s face it, it’s all sold @ the store and they’re family too.

    I do do “couponing” (FREE $$) and frequently saving more than I spend.
    I also use powdered milk for cooking. @ $3.75 gal it counts!
    I will buy ham @ $0.75 lb before Easter, have the Meat Dept slice it frozen. Bag & freeze it when I get home. I have ham once a month then.
    Do the same with turkey when it’s $0.50 lb @ Thanksgiving. Meat dept will quarter it frozen.
    When you can get real meat @ wiener prices it’s GREAT.
    !!!ORGANIZE!!!
    I get ALL my coupons and lists together with my envelope of $$ before I go…If I don’t have the cash I can’t spend it !!!

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