Last Updated: March 10, 2023
Although groceries are a necessary expense, what may surprise you is just how much people spend on food each month. In this article, we’ll take a look at the average cost of groceries per month in the United States broken down by state and income bracket. We’ll also explore some of the factors that contribute to these differences, so keep reading to learn more!
Average Cost of Groceries per Month
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average spending on food is about $386.92 per month for one household living in the US. This data was gathered based on the groceries people spend the most money on, such as dairy products, meat, fruits and vegetables, fish, eggs, and bakery products, to name a few. However, this is only the average spending price determined by the BLS—in real life, the price for monthly grocery shopping will certainly exceed the average spending price. The figure can vary significantly based on location, income bracket, and the number of people in the household.
Location as a Factor
Whenever you stumble upon the question “how much does one person spend on groceries a month,” you’ll need to keep location in mind as one of the factors influencing this. The food prices are not the same in every state—for instance, the total amount people in Atlanta would spend on groceries is $314, whereas in Seattle the same groceries would cost around $500.
Income as a Factor
How much the average American spends on food per month is certainly influenced by their income. High-income earners spend a lot more than low-income earners since they can afford to pay more for gourmet items or organic produce, as opposed to those with lower income. Unfortunately, for lower-income families, every penny is worth a fortune for their food budget, which naturally influences their grocery choices.
The Number of People in the Household as a Factor
How much the average American spends on food per month also depends on how many people there are in their household. It’s normal to spend more money on groceries for a household of four as opposed to one. Let’s talk about the monthly average cost of groceries depending on how many people are in the household.
The Average Cost for 1
Let’s begin with the average food cost per month for 1. How much can a single person spend on groceries? If you live alone, it mainly depends on how much money you make per month, but on average, a single person spends $172–$358 per month on groceries. However, even that amount depends on the gender—a male adult spends between $194 and $358 monthly, whereas a woman spends $172–$342 on groceries per month. For a more detailed outlook on how much a single person spends on groceries, it’s important to mention the food cost per week for 1 person, which for a typical American ranges from $39.70 to $88.80, depending on their monthly income.
The Average Cost for 2
As you might have expected, the average cost of groceries for a family of two is double what a single person would spend on groceries. To be more exact, the average cost of groceries for a household of two people, one male and one female aged 19–50, varies between $402.20 and $798.70. The price range is enormous alright, but it depends on the family’s food plan: whether it’s thrifty, at low cost, or at moderate cost. If, for instance, a family of two decides to shop at a moderate cost, the average food cost per month for 2 would be around $652.10.
The Average Cost for 3
It should come as no surprise that a family of three will spend a little bit more than a family of two—as the family grows bigger, so do the average grocery costs. Let’s say the family consists of two adults and a little one (up to 6–7 years). Such a family of three would normally spend around $722 monthly.
The Average Cost for 4
We also have the answer to the average cost of food per month for a family of 4. A family with two adults from 19–50 and two small kids would spend $599, and that’s if they follow the thrifty food plan. If they decide on the low-cost food plan, they can expect to spend around $766 on average per month. However, if the kids are a bit older than six, the family should expect to pay a lot more—between $673.60 and $1339.80 for one month of groceries.
The Average Cost for 5
By now, you might be wondering what’s the average grocery bill for a family of 5. You guessed it, a family of 5 spends a lot of their monthly income on groceries. If a family of four spends less than a thousand dollars on groceries, a family of five spends more than a thousand dollars solely on groceries—usually around $1,060 with careful and strategic grocery planning.
|Did you know: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set out monthly food plans as guidance when going grocery shopping, with a calculated monthly average cost for groceries at four different cost levels.|
How to Create a Budget Grocery List
Not having set a budget for your monthly groceries can be a bit tricky, leaving you with the temptation to visit the grocery store every time you pass by it. And without knowing your average food cost per month, you can get carried away, especially if you’re out buying on an empty stomach. That way, you’ll end up buying a bunch of stuff you don’t need at the time, or throwing away a lot of perishable items (meat, dairy, baked goods, and produce) simply because you bought them, but didn’t use them before the expiry date. That’s why you need to think of ways to prevent spending more money than you should on your groceries.
Create a 50/30/20 Budget Plan
“How much should I spend on groceries?” is the question most asked, and to it there’s no definitive answer. One way you could stop overspending money on things you don’t need is by setting up a budget. A budget trick that will certainly work is the 50/30/20 budget. Within it, you spend 50% on your needs, 30% on your wants, and 20% on your savings. To create the perfect budget plan, you should subtract 50% of your income, then subtract your needs, and see what you have left for your monthly groceries. If that’s not enough, make adjustments to your wants category. If you know your household’s average food cost per month, you’ll easily create your monthly groceries budget. You could even implement the cash envelope system, which helps keep your budget divided in categories.
Stretch Your Grocery Budget
If you’re careful with your grocery spending, you could end up saving hundreds of dollars on groceries. Start with these simple, yet very effective strategies:
Make a Grocery List Before Going to the Supermarket
To avoid impulsive shopping, you can print off a budget grocery list and strictly follow it for the things to buy when you decide on eating at home or having your groceries delivered to your house.
Look for Cheap One Meal Kits
It’s normal to not always feel in the mood to cook at home, and sometimes after an exhausting day, all you want is to order food, curl up on your couch, and watch your favorite TV show. To do so at a cheaper price, there’s the option to subscribe to one meal delivery service and get tasty meals delivered right to your door for less. And you won’t be the only one—statistics on food delivery show that 8% of Americans use a delivery subscription.
Plan Your Meals in Advance
A popular strategy when planning grocery shopping on a budget is to plan your meals in advance, which will help you stay within your budget and avoid buying unnecessary items. If you’re careful enough with your meal planning, you could make delicious meals that will last all week, while still within the budget.
|Did You Know: The reason most people overspend on groceries is that supermarkets want them to. Instead of helping people save money when grocery shopping, supermarkets are interested in making them spend more money than planned.|
|The average amount of money spent on food per month is $386.92|
|The grocery budget for 1 varies from $172–$358 per month.|
|A family of five spends around $1,060 on groceries per month.|
|Creating a 50/30/20 budget will prevent you from overspending money on groceries.|
The focus of this article was to show what the average cost of groceries per month is, and how much a household spends depending on the number of people living together. We also explained that the price will vary from state to state due to the different food prices. Lastly, if you’re looking for ways to stretch your grocery budget, be sure to check out the tips in this post!