Have you ever wondered how much someone else spends on groceries to get an idea of how you’re doing with your grocery spending? No matter what amount she says, her family is different from yours, so then you have to do conversion math:
So that would be…
+ $100 per additional kid in your household
double if your kids are teenagers
- $38 if your kid only eats peanut butter
+ 50% for special diets
- 20% if you try to cook from scratch
- $15 if you save on household cleaners
+ $25 if you love Kettle chips
x 1.4 if you choose all-natural ingredients
+ 15% if your city has a higher cost of living
- 17% if you watch for sales
-$20 if you drink more water
then take the last digit of your phone number and place it at the beginning, and divide it all by 5.
When you finally get an answer to compare to yours, it might be higher or lower, but is that good or bad? Or does it even matter?
I used to be overly concerned about trying to make my grocery spending lower. I was caught in a game of grocery limbo: “How low can you go?” and while my motives were good (be a good steward of our money), the results were not what I desired.
I read several times about how food is a very flexible part of your budget. You don’t always have control over your other expenses, but you can save money on food. So I tried it, and it wasn’t working. I was spending less money on groceries, but every time we opened the fridge we felt disappointed. So you know what we did? We went out to eat more often.
Two years ago when I started to understand the extent of the food intolerances that run in our family, I had a hard time getting used to the idea of spending more for special food that was dairy-free and gluten-free. The cost of yogurt was suddenly double. Muffins and loaves of bread, which are a cheap food for others, became an expensive special treat. I saved special foods for my little girl, but couldn’t eat them myself.
Time heals a lot, and I gradually became used to the higher cost of food. I also saw the ill effects and medical bills when someone in our family ate the wrong food, and not in the vague “you’ll regret this when you’re older” way, but later the same week. I’m fine with spending more money on food now. We have it, and I will spend less on other things. I know this is not an option for everyone, and I don’t take that lightly.
I still watch my spending, but I do it differently now.
- Each month I look at how much I spent on groceries, but I don’t isolate that expense. I look at it as part of our complete budget, and I watch how much we’re spending on lunches and dining out too. (We definitely spend less on eating out now.)
- I also watch the average amount that we’re spending on groceries during the year. If I spend more to stock up in some months, then I should be able to spend less during other months. This gives me a better idea of what to expect.
Even after hearing all of this, I think some people may still be curious to know what I spend, so I’ll tell you. I’m averaging $550 a month on groceries so far this year. There are four people in our family, and one is a baby. We’re gluten, dairy, soy, and corn-free, and that’s just the beginning of a long list of ingredients we must avoid. My husband can expense most of his lunches for work. I like to buy whole chickens that are already smoked, because dealing with raw chicken is just too medieval for me. We chose our apartment by looking at Whole Foods locations on a map and drawing a radius within a certain number of miles. How does this relate to your budget? I’ll let you do the math…