How Much Do You Spend on Food?

I came across an article online today that outlines how much the government thinks we spend on food each month. It breaks it down by age group and gender, even. (Here’s a direct link to the pdf that breaks everything out.) Thus, I know that thrifty one year olds eat $94.70 of food per month, and liberal one year olds eat $176.50. (Sheesh. Those liberals. They’re always spending too much money, even when they’re one year old.) Meanwhile, the government thinks my family spends $756.70 per month on food if we’re being tightwads. (This doesn’t count eating out at restaurants. That’s additional money.) If we’re really living it up, we’re spending $1,494.30.


I read those numbers, and my brain just sort of sputtered. Why? Because (full disclosure here), Denisa and I budget $600/month for food. But that’s misleading, because that takes into account all the supplies she’s buying for her bread baking (30-40 loaves per week these days, I think), and basically anything we buy at Walmart or Target or other big box stores. (I’m too lazy of a budgeter to want to break those out into a separate category, so I just looked at year averages spent there, and clumped it all under “food.”) That means house supplies, incidentals, toilet paper–you name it. All of that comes under the $600/month budget.

And we more or less meet that budget each month.

So does that mean we’re eating like church mice every day? Are our children malnourished? It certainly doesn’t feel like it. Is it just insanely cheap to buy food here? Nope–not according to the data. In fact, food is supposedly 5.8% more than average in my town here. There are much more expensive places to buy food, no doubt, but my cost should be fairly close to the average cost this government study is presenting.

So what gives?

I know Denisa and I differ from many people in that our family doesn’t eat much meat. I’d guess we eat around 2 pounds as week, combined as a family. Maybe less. Denisa also buys plenty of produce, often organic. We eat a lot of pasta, rice, beans, and potatoes. But doesn’t everyone?

I don’t know. That estimate just seems so obscenely high. If we were to spend the “liberal” amount budgeted in the study, there’s no way we’d be able to make ends meet.

So I’m asking you lovely people. You don’t have to share your food budget if you don’t want to, but could you tell me how far off (or spot on) the government study is for your family? Maybe I’m just living in an alternate reality . . .

2 thoughts on “How Much Do You Spend on Food?”

  1. I think that’s too high. I feel like $600 is pretty accurate if you count in all the toiletries into there also. I used to plan on $125 a week for food (that was to cover 3 meals a day for 5 people). This is eating mainly lean meat like chicken, having some meatless options, and making just about everything from scratch. We’re not buying a ton of junk food and the bulk of the food budget probably goes to produce. And then I have another $100 that goes to things like toilet paper, diapers, dog food, etc. Our eating out is typically a take out pizza but I could see the eating out budget really increasing this. We just aren’t people that eat out often and it’s a rare treat – mainly because that would completely rip apart our budget. I do love not cooking and cleaning up but it can cost $30-50 to feed my family at a restaurant and when I compare that to my weekly budget – it’s hard to justify.

  2. We spend about $250 a month for two adults and a three year old. We use very little meat, cook once a week and then reheat every day, and make basically everything from scratch. This is a combination of frugality and laziness, with an emphasis on the laziness. (I don’t like to go to the store, or cook every day.) But it means we waste very, very little and don’t buy much of anything that’s pre-packaged.

    And we eat really well, in my opinion. We could spend even less if we wanted to; there are things like Costco fruit snacks and tortilla chips that we could totally cut out.

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