Tuesday, November 8, 2016

What should we spend on groceries in 2017?

I've been reviewing our grocery spending for 2016 (still WAY over budget) & trying to determine where to set the budget for 2017. Because grocery spending is such a black box for me, I've tried to track our spending all year (mostly successful - a few receipts were lost while I was traveling :0)), and now have a better sense of where our money is going.

We are averaging $657/month on groceries. Over $100 more than our planned monthly budget. Yikes!!!

So, how are we spending that food budget, you may be wondering? I'm glad you asked. ;-)

  • Fruit & vegetables - 45%, with fruit taking up 10% more than vegetables
  • Meat - 20%
  • Dairy - 15%
  • Pantry - 9%
  • Grains - 7% 
  • Snacks - 3%
  • Prepared foods - 1%
I have no idea what a standard, per category grocery budget looks like. But, what stands out to me is the dairy spending, and the pantry. The pantry spending is more easily understandable, as it includes coffee! Olive oil, hummus ingredients (including tahini & garbanzo beans), spices, etc make up the rest. Not stuff you buy often, but the ingredients can be pricey. 

For dairy, we spend a minimum of $11/week (eggs & milk). Cheese & yogurt bumps up the category on other weeks, but I think I can do better next year in this one. 

We rarely have food waste, and we're happy with the amount of fresh produce we have on hand. I think I will move our budget spending for 2017 to $625/month and look for opportunities to do a bit more price watching. It will give me a good stretch goal, but won't make me crazy & fits within our existing meal planning & purchase habits.

What about you? What's your grocery budget like for a month? How do you spend your $$, on a per category basis? Do you plan to raise or lower it for 2017?


  1. I think your food budget should be increased as if you cut it back you may end up eating out more. You eat hardly any prepared food so kudos to you. Plus, you have a family of 4 and live in an expensive area. I bet if you lived in a cheaper area you would have a lower grocery bill but that isn't an option. Are there any Mexcan/Chinese stores in your area? Those typically have cheaper produce than mainstream stores. That might help a small amount.

  2. I agree with Cheapchick! You do such a good job of making homemade meals and even bringing food with you sometimes when you go out. You probably have better nutrition than 95% of families out there, and that doesn't come cheap. Plus you are an active and mobile bunch! You should continue to eat as well as you have been.

  3. With growing boys it is going to be hard for you to decrease your budget a lot, since every year they age they eat more, until the mid teen years when they are virtually bottomless pits. At this stage just continue to eat healthy foods and do the best you can without beating yourself up if you go a little over.