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How We Keep Our Grocery Spending Under $500 per Month

Save on Groceries

We often get asked how we keep our grocery spending under $500 per month for a family of five. Our grocery budget, to be exact comes out to $475 per month and we also allow for $100 per month for eating out. At the end of nearly every month we usually end up with some amount of money leftover, though that changes from month to month. I wish we had some secret tips as to how we save money on groceries but ultimately it comes down to choices we make and following some fairly basic tips when we do our grocery shopping.

If you listen to the USDA, the “average” family of four spends just under $600 per month to be considered “thrifty” and upwards of $1,300 if you’re “liberal.” While I’m not entirely certain as to what the USDA considers thrifty and liberal I’d guess that the more “liberal” you are is going to result from quite a bit of spending on items that you may not necessarily need, buying a good number of specialty items, and not having a grocery budget you’re sticking to. I don’t know if that is necessarily the case, but is just my educated guess. That said, I know it can be a challenge to keep your grocery bill down especially when costs seem to be increasing at the grocery store, but it can be done.

 

If you’d like to read more about some of the simple tips we follow to keep our grocery spending as low as it is, please read my latest article over at Daily Finance

 

 

Photo courtesy of: Sodanie Chea

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John Schmoll

I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally.

17 Comments

  • It takes a lot of challenges for us to reduce our grocery to $500 dollar. The inflation rate is keep going. I’ll try to look for other items in our grocery list and most of them are very important in our daily livings. My wife keep a records of all our grocery receipt and she monitory it diligently.
    My Wealth Desire recently posted…Achieving Financial Success – 5 Secret Steps to Achieve It EasyMy Profile

  • I can’t believe they consider the “thrifty” grocery bill to be $600. I know people who eat for far less than that!
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Credit Card Rewards: What Am I Doing Now?My Profile

  • I think I’ve pretty much given up on trying to spend less than $400 on myself. I buy in small amounts because I don’t want food to go to waste, so I get about an A- grade for that, but when it comes to meal planning I’m terrible. I’m just a really picky eater and have no idea what I’ll be in the mood for thursday or friday. I find more money goes to waste that way because I buy stuff for my meal plan and then when it comes to the day I don’t want it. Man I feel weird and anti-frugal when I say that. But I’ve come to terms with it, As long as I’m under budget overall and cut out lots of the unnecessary items, I can live with it.
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…Decision Time/Link LoveMy Profile

    • John says:

      I hear ya Tonya, that can be a challenge. We used to run into that a lot as well and then we decided to make our meal plan flexible so we could move meals around as we were in the mood for them. That way we can keep our spending down and still have the variety we want. But, a lot of it is relative in my opinion and if you’re within your budget then you’re doing what you should be doing anyway. :)

  • Alexandria says:

    We spend around $500/month for a family of 4. We eat VERY well.

    One tip I Always share is to always keep an eye on different stores and don’t assume anything. We primarily shop at a historically high end market that has been trying to re-brand to a low cost leader. (Few have gotten the memo and most in the area just assume it’s an expensive store. I hear the strangest comments). Meanwhile, we stopped shopping at some of the perceived “low cost” grocery stores because their prices got so ridiculous over the past several years. While everyone else is experiencing inflation, we just remain flexible with the stores we shop at and keep our eyes open. (It amazes me how slow the masses are to realize that the “cheap” store ain’t so cheap any more! It’s been several years since we switched our primary grocery store. But old perceptions die hard).

    • John says:

      That’s awesome Alexandria! We eat very well as well, which many just look at us weird when we say that.

      That’s a great tip Alexandria! You do definitely keep your eyes open to different stores and not just assume one thing or another. We like to buy organic and many assume you can’t do it at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Yes, WF is expensive, but we’ve found that you can get great stuff at Trader Joe’s for very reasonable prices.

  • My wife and I coupon quite a bit and even with buying a lot of fruits and veggies (things that don’t typically have coupons) we spend probably about $300 a month on groceries. I’d say we do pretty well for ourselves, especially considering the amount we spend eating out is relatively low as well.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…The Weekly Quick Hits RoundupMy Profile

  • My husband and I have always enjoyed saving money and getting good deals. And we’ve always tried to be careful grocery shopping. However, when we decided to finally sit down and crack the numbers, we found that we had averaged $57/mo in 2013 for the 2 of us. We were so surprised! Here are a few things that we do to keep our grocery bills down: We’ve done the research so know which stores are cheapest for which items, we plan our menus around sales (not the other way around), we only buy simple ingredients (not fancy exotic stuff) and then use those same simple ingredients for a lot of different recipes, and we are happy to eat healthfully yet simply at home.

    • John says:

      That’s great Deb! We do a lot of the same things as well. I find doing it around the sales adds some variety to things and by going with simple ingredients you can use it for a good number of different things. For the “nicer” things we like, we try to be flexible as to where we get them so we can get the best price without driving all over town to get it.

  • You have some excellent ideas there. Right now I ca get strawberries really cheap, so I buy a lot of them. The stuff at the front of the grocery store, that stuff that goes for a dollar, I wish I could eat it, it always looks awful.
    Brad @ How to Save Money recently posted…Inexpensive Hobbies Are GreatMy Profile

  • Syed says:

    Great tips. In the end you really have to be flexible with your menu. if you like certain brands and can’t get away from them, you’re gonna be stuck with a higher bill. But if you’re willing to try new things once in a while and shop around a few stores for good sales, you can come out ahead.
    Syed recently posted…Standard Deduction or Itemize?My Profile

  • We try to keep ours under $500 per month, but it is quite difficult in Canada to do so. Even though there are only two of us, our food prices are substantially higher than those of the USA and I am committed to eating really healthy, and mostly natural/organic food which raises the prices.

  • Sarah Park says:

    There are many tips on how to keep your grocery spending under $500 per month. For me, make sure to lists all you need before buying it and buy only the essential need to your house so that you can less your grocery or keep it under $500. Thanks for open up this article. I had fun reading it.
    Sarah Park recently posted…5 Retail Marketing IdeasMy Profile

  • Wow, I couldn’t imagine $1300/month on groceries even if that is considered “liberal”. And I’m Canadian! Over here, our groceries as a whole are far more expensive than in the US.

    We eat mostly whole foods and organic or local produce so it can cost a bit more but we do pretty well.
    Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter recently posted…Want to Save Money? Work with What You HaveMy Profile

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