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Spending Too Much on Groceries - What You Should Do

Updated on January 9, 2018
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Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.


How much money should a family spend on groceries? Expect to spend $100 per person per month at a minimum. Unless you live in a very expensive area and eat organic everything, you won't spend more than $200 per person per month on food prepared at home, according to the USDA.

How can you keep grocery spending at a reasonable level?

Food, after taxes and rent, is one of the largest categories in any family's budget. Fortunately, there are ways you can lower your grocery costs.
Food, after taxes and rent, is one of the largest categories in any family's budget. Fortunately, there are ways you can lower your grocery costs. | Source

Solutions to Inflated Grocery Bills

  • Don't include household expenses in your grocery budget. If you are all spending at the grocery store in the “grocery” category, your food budget appears out of whack when it is inflated with items like toys, toilet paper and cleaning supplies. If you go to the grocery store, do not count diapers and cleaning wipes as part of your grocery budget.
  • Total up a month's worth of grocery store receipts to get a break down of how much money is actually spent on food compared to non-food items before you freak out about food costs.
  • Minimize convenience foods. While instant meals from the oven or microwave save time, they make up for it in cost.
  • Switch to generic foods instead of name brands as often as possible. You pay as little for the food as you would with coupons, without having to waste time playing the coupon game.
  • Feed your pets leftovers instead of buying food for them.
  • Get lower cost but convenient snacks. Don't buy pre-packaged apple slices with a dipping sauce. Buy small apples. Don't buy snack packs of carrots; buy a bag of baby carrots instead. Avoid yogurt with candy mixes and buy yogurt containers and single serve candies instead.
  • Limit your soda consumption. Keep the consumption level down, and you can save $50-150 dollars a month. Don't let the younger children start drinking soda and make your teenagers buy fancy drinks they crave out of their own allowances.
  • Make meat a side dish instead of the main course. Mix beef with rice and corn as a fajita filler. Serve smaller pieces of chicken mixed with stuffing or rice.
  • Are you on a special diet whether low carb or kosher? Learn how to make meals that meet the diet instead of buying pricey convenience meals with the diet plan logo. Or buy the generic brand gluten-free and high protein options.
  • You do not have to make every meal a three or four course meal. Serve only what you expect to eat, then pop open a can of fruit or vegetables if the family is still hungry. If you make smaller meals, less will be wasted. In some studies, up to 1/3 of food in the U.S. is wasted. If we serve less, less food and money are wasted.
  • Eliminating desert will also motivate your family to finish the food on its plate instead of eating half before diving into the sweets.
  • Promptly pack leftover food in single serve tupperware and freeze it for lunches the next day.
  • Baby formula costs can be reduced by nursing. If you do use baby formula, select generic brands unless there is a legitimate medical need for a specific brand.
  • Toddler convenience meals are more expensive per ounce than many adult gourmet instant meals. Teach your toddler to eat cut up portions of what the adults are eating. Give them diced vegetables from Mom's plate and sliced meat from Dad's plate. Supplement with slices of bread or crackers.
  • If you like protein bars, go to product resellers. You'll find the pre-packaged meals no one liked, the protein bars three weeks for expiration and other deals that can make these costly options affordable.
  • Visit discounted stores instead of the full service chains. If it has a coffee bar and florist in it, they'll charge you more for the food because of the atmosphere.
  • If you do visit the brand name grocery store, buy their generic foods.


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