How much do you spend on food?

In the past, I’ve asked how much people spend on groceries. But that really wasn’t the whole answer. I know that some people don’t eat out at all while paying down debt or just being frugal. But I’m also willing to bet that at least some of you do eat out at least once a week. Or maybe I’m mistaken, who knows.

The last time we talked about it, it seemed like things balanced out to about $100ish per person. It seemed like most married people without kids came in around $200-250. Most individuals seemed to come in around $100-150.

But I never ask about if you get takeout sometimes or have dinner at a sit-down restaurant a couple of times a month.

So, if people wouldn’t mind baring all, I really would like to get a sense of how much, total, you spend on food each month.

In the past, I budgeted for about $200-250 a month for Tim and myself. But I also budgeted for $20-30 a week for a sit-down meal. Because we would get fast food or, sometimes, just have one dinner out at a sit-down place like Red Robin. On the bad weeks, when depression made food prep untenable, we’d spend more like $40 a week. So that works out to just a bit under $370. If too many bad weeks happened, we’d hit $400 or a little above.

Not an inconsiderable amount to be sure. And we do now spend more. But I’m trying to get a sense of how those numbers would stack up against the “average” frugal person.


  1. Elizabeth says

    I categorize a little differently, so it's somewhat apples to oranges, but…
    For one person, I spend approx $100-$125 per month on food AND all HBA. Sometimes as low as $60, or as high as $175. I also cannot eat meat, which probably brings the total down somewhat, although I sometimes buy fish and seafood, which may even it out. Any takeout I get by myself comes from that budget (which is why I only get takeout like twice a year by myself, LOL), but any meals or drinks out with friends or colleagues come from my "going out" budget, which is separate. I suppose going out more technically would reduce my food budget a smidgen for that month, but probably not noticeably. Most often "going out" would be drinks after work, and then coming home late enough that I don't want dinner (and drank the calories).

    • seattlegirluw says


      I guess it depends on how much tofu you buy. But most vegetarianism didn't seem that much cheaper to me than meat eating. I think a lot of it comes down to ease of cooking, recipes you choose and how you stretch the food items in question.

  2. Julie S says

    Family of three (2 adults, 1 5 yo boy with a hollow leg): $60-$70 per week. This is for three meals a day, plus paper goods, cleaning supplies, and cat food/litter. We don't eat out (maybe once or twice a year). We cook most everything from scratch and plan (and eat) all the leftovers. We use coupons but not extremely. We eat meat and selected junk food. We buy all food from the grocery store (no CSA or farmers markets) (because it really irks me to have to wade through the vendors of t-shirts and junk to find the food. If there is stuff other than food, it should be called a flea market, right?) We also live in the midwest, where food is somewhat less expensive. It's hard to compare among regions because food costs vary depending on where you live — another apples to oranges thing.

    • seattlegirluw says


      Yes, I've heard horror stories about feeding teen boys. Tim talks about how he could easily down a box of cereal in one sitting. Guess it's a good thing that I know how to find them for $1.50ish. Food here really isn't much more expensive than in the midwest, I'm pretty sure.

      It's impressive that you cook so much at home! Of course, with a growing boy to feed, I suppose it really reinforces that idea. If they can eat so much at home, I shudder to think what a restaurant bill would be!

  3. Christina says

    We spend $200 per month for a family of two (plus one four month old munchkin) for food and HBA. $20 a week goes to our organic produce co-op and the rest is mostly groceries. My husband is a meat eater (I'm a forced vegan while breastfeeding, and a vegetarian the rest of the time), so a lot of the budget is for his protein and I coupon for almost all else.
    I did go to culinary school, so obviously I enjoy cooking more than the normal person and that may be why we never eat out. When we do, it comes out of our entertainment budget.

    • seattlegirluw says


      Sorry to hear that you have to further restrict your diet for breastfeeding. I had a friend who had to go gluten-free while breastfeeding, and then had to prepare whatever meals he did have normally that way. So I know how much extra work that can be. I guess it's a good thing that you enjoy cooking.

      I am definitely going to work a little harder at couponing, but I think it will be in stages. Right now, I'm mainly just dipping a toe in the water off and on. But Phoenix couponing is so amazing that I really feel like I should work on that.

  4. MDev says

    When I lived in the midwest I budgeted $25/week for groceries and household cleaning supplies. Now I live in a major east coast city where the cost of living is considerably higher and budget $60/week. That includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. I rarely get take-out but that would come out of the budget as well. If I go out to dinner for a date or with friends that comes out of the $100/month entertainment budget.

    • seattlegirluw says


      Sounds like you're still keeping a pretty close eye on things. East Coast cities can be brutal on grocery bills! Once upon a time, I visited D.C. to see a guy I was dating. (I got to go to the Safeway in Watergate, which cracked me up as a notion!) I remember wanting to cry looking at the produce (quality mediocre) and prices (painful). And considering where you live, I'd say $240/month for all food is pretty reasonable. At least, from what I know of major East Coast cities.

  5. Jackie b says

    I don't understand how you all do this. I spend $80-120 a week for two of us. Of course this includes paper goods and other household items. We also eat out once a week or so which I did not include. I try to use coupons but I forget to buy the paper most Sundays. I would love to do the extreme couponing and only spend $7 a week on groceries! How great would that be?!

    • seattlegirluw says


      Admittedly, Phoenix is great for a) food prices and b) coupons. Food is cheaper here (to an extent) than in some parts of the country. And when I bother with coupons, a lot of stores will raise them up to $1. That helps a LOT. Also, I haven't been buying much produce. I guess that's something I need to work on, as the summer sales start to hit.

  6. Meg says

    We budget — not necessarily spend, though it comes out about right on average — $600 a month for my husband and I for eating out and groceries (which includes anything we buy at the grocery store). We're definitely not cheap when it comes to food, but we get a lot of value out of what we spend. We buy a lot organic and fresh and enjoy eating out fairly regularly (a few times a month). I also have a thing for fresh artichokes and $5 chocolate bars. But then again, my husband sometimes gets meals paid by work and I get a meal out thanks to my mom every couple weeks or so. It's hard to compare. And we're thinking of raising our budget. But, it's much less than what we used to spend.

    • seattlegirluw says


      When it comes to organics, the prices will always be apples and oranges (forgive the pun). I know that some people do organics for health reasons, too, which makes it something they can't really cut back on.

      And at least you're eating healthily!

  7. pen says

    I spend about $120 per month on myself. This includes paper products. I'm on a strict medical diet, so everything I eat is planned thoroughly at least a week in advance. the menu planning has done wonders for my grocery bill.

  8. MutantSupermodel says

    My average food spending so far is $480 a month. This is me and three kids and includes all food– groceries, restaurants, fast food, and school lunches.

  9. polly says

    We spend $60 a week on 4 adults, 3 of them hearty eating men, so $240 a month. We don't eat out. Prices are extremely high here, meat prices are crazy. I make everything from scratch, we eat LOTS of beans. Bean soup, bean burgers, beans and rice, refried beans, baked beans and corn bread, I put beans in baked goods, in pancakes, in waffles, in just about everything. Beans fill you up and are good for you. I don't buy anything that's not on sale as a loss leader, shop at food thrift stores, bread stores, scratch and dent stores, and produce a wholesale market. I make a big circle and try and hit them all. I buy flour, sugar, baking powder in bulk and store in 5 gallon food buckets. I buy 100 bags of potatoes, bushels of apples, and onions and store in the garage over the Winter. This Fall I plan on storing pumpkins too. In the Summer we grow lots of tomatoes and peppers and I dry them & freeze them. It's A LOT of work, but it's that or go hungry right?

  10. says

    I'd like to know where I am going wrong. I live in NY state and I spend $500 a month on food only for myself and my husband. And I thought I was doing great because we're down from $700, till I read this post. I can't spend less than $100 a week or we'd starve. Neither one of us are fat or overweight. And truthfully, sometimes our pantry is bare and I feel hungry.

    Meals consist of a protein (chicken, turkey. meat only 2X per month) a lot of cheese and dairy (esp plain yogurt), every day a fresh salad, veggies and maybe weekly, fresh fruit. We haven't gone out to eat in over a year. I cook everything from scratch, including making our own pizza. Lots of brown rice dishes, dried beans and pasta. We only drink water. Must have a daily morning cup of coffee. I bake from scratch. I only shop sales and fit my meals to whatever is the loss leader of the week. I also buy weekly from the day old bread bin and slightly damaged fruits & veggies. Throw in a few dented cans.
    I buy all cleaning & paper products at the Dollar Store.

    I think it's just New York.

    • carrie says

      I don’t know how these people do it either. We rarely eat out..are a family of 3 w/pets & spend 600 to 800 a month @ grocery stores buying food, cleaning supplies, pet care, medical & personal needs & live in midwest. We eat our leftovers & usually buy store brand things..unless name brand is cheaper or their isn’t an alternative..we use coupons & shop discount stores..we try to not run completly out of when its down to three quarters..restock. maybe it is the areas we live in for sure..but I know a couple on east coast that eats out 3 times a. Week..& still spend 500 for 2 people..

    • HeidiEverett says

      No, it's not just New York. Before anyone might take offense, overweight doesn't = inhailing obscenely large quantities of food. It isn't just how much you eat but what your eating as well.

      I don't know what part of NY you are from, but I am from Manhattan, Upper East Side specifically, where it is expensive to just breathe! I don't think you are going wrong at all, but you mentioned fresh fruit/salad daily and that can be expensive. Since a lot of prior comments didn't always include fruit/veggies, that could be where your numbers don't add up to theirs or why you seem to spend more. Healthy living isn't cheap! But the reward is great :)

      Also, keep in mind that it is all relative to your location. Spending $300 a month for two people in Arizona is equivilent to $500 a month for two in NY. The cost of living may be higher in NY, but typically so are the salaries.

  11. says

    We spend about $400 per month for 3 of us. I know that I could get it lower and I'm trying to do so. I use some coupons but am not extreme about them. I am growing a garden so hopefully that will help.

  12. chesluck says

    I'm with you Morrison. I recently moved from NY to CT where grocery prices are the same. If I spend $100 a week, I still feel like we have barely anything. I thought that once I had a "real" job, my hungry days would be over lol But seriously, this economy sucks with no raises and everything else going up. I coupon too but there are only so many good ones out there. I mean, It's not like I need a closet full of shampoo and toilet paper on that show!

  13. Jennifer says

    We spend $1400 a month on groceries, 2 adults and 3 children, age 10, 6, 4. I am on here trying to cut this down, I am down to $1100 for this month, but wow! I was dumbfounded to see how little people are eating for! That is SO GREAT! We do buy all organic products, and my budget includes household items like tp and detergent. Everything we buy is environmentally friendly, we feel this is an investment in the future of our children, quality of water, land, and investing in farms that are making the world a better place and companies that are doing the same. HOWEVER, we spend WAY too much and so now I am trying to make my own bread and granola bars, cutting meat down to 2 or 3 meals a week, and just scrutinizing every penny. We don't buy any processed foods, but certainly the organic fruits and veggies add up very fast. We only drink water and organic milk, but I honestly am at a loss on how to cut down much more when I really look over my food purchases, there is little that I feel comfortable cutting out! Anyhow thanks to all for being honest, it's very helpful!

  14. Sarah says

    I spend roughly 15-30 dollars a week on food. But I never eat out and I have to watch how much I'm eating. And I mostly eat spinach and peanut butter. Garg.

    • ted says

      30.00 per week? I just spent 32.00 on two batteries, olive oil, cheese and some minerals. I average a little over 100.00 per week just for myself including dining out. I thought I was doing very well.

      • Abigail says

        Well, we just spent about $30 for some basics and a bit of nice cheese. And dining out will take a chunk out. And you always have to decide what household items you include in groceries.

  15. momof4 says

    For one adult, one teen and three younger kids, my food bill averages $120/week, about $500/month. That does not include paper products, toiletries, or cleaning supplies–my grocery store rarely has good deals on those items, while the W****** usually does. My DH is traveling a lot this year, so motivation to cook is low, and our diet includes far less meat than normal (when he's home consistently, it adds about $60/month). We often do take-out pizza or fast food once a week on our craziest night, about $15-20; sometimes I substitute home-made fare (pizza and burritoes, mostly) and this year I'm going to try getting dinner ready before the kids get off the bus. We also have beans at least once a week, and my goal is to fit them into every dinner, as main dish or a side or even a salad-topper.

  16. Rosemarie says

    Last spring, I finally instituted a grocery budget in my household because we were spending over $200 a week for a family of 4: my husband and I one grown son, and one college son who was home for week-ends but in a dorm and on a meal plan during the week. As you can imagine, with 3 grown males in the house, we eat a lot, especially meat and poultry. My husband is also diabetic, so we buy only whole grains and lots of produce.
    I read about a group of students living together who were putting together healthy meals at roughly $30 a person, so I began to budget $120 for a week. I spend this only on food, not paper products, cleaners, or toiletries. My husband got a raise this summer, so I added another $5.00. I do “big shopping” once a week, and if we make a stop to buy milk and eggs midweek, I subtract that from the budget for the major trip. My market has a scanner, so I could track my spending, It was a good discipline because I would often put stuff back if I was going over budget — mostly packaged extras like crackers and snacks! Also, while I’m not an extreme couponer, I do save between $10 and $15 a week with coupons for cereals, pasta, frozen foods, and household products.For a while, the plan worked. but over the summer, it seemed that food prices started going way up, and it is harder to stick to budget just buying what we need.

    My husband and I have a date once a week and eat at a good restaurant, spending between $40 and $50, but we don't do any takeout, pizza, fast food, during the week. We feel if we eat out, it should be quality, something equal or better than we can cook at home. I'm a college teacher, and one of courses is getting cut in January, so we'll reduce that treat to once a month.

    I was starting to feel guilty about overspending, so I looked up the food stamp allowance for a family of 4 to estimate a reasonable amount to spend on food. The monthly allowance is $668, which if you divide by 4.5 weeks, comes to $148. So, if you’re spending less than that just on food, you’re probably doing pretty well, especially since food stamps can’t be used for nonfood items like household cleaners and paper products.

  17. laura says

    Right now our budget for food/drygoods/dog food is 30.00 per week. I spend approximately 10.00 on bread, milk, eggs, 10.00 on meat, and 10.00 on a stockpile item or two. My husband lost his job (again) and were living in a converted 1 bedroom garage. Approximately 650 sq ft. I work 35hrs a week and we get a two small child support checks per mo which I try really hard not to use. So were currently trying to live off of 1240.00 a month with the expenses of our home costing around 620.00 a month and gas/toll fees being 355.00 a month. So, well see how things go :)

  18. says

    We spend around $150 per month per person in our household,but we are caught between eating healthy and saving money. Food prices are very expensive when you try to eat healthy foods. However,as was posted above being healthy is worth a little extra sacrifice in other areas. Still,sometimes it is hard to decide which areas to sacrifice in.

  19. melanie says

    Wow, I am impressed with the food budgets out there. I just dropped $250 on a really big shop. I have no idea how long it will last us, 2 adults and one 12 year old boy. I buy an stock up when things are on sale. I will keep track to see how long the food loot lasts. I have a full freezer and fridge with that amount, but of course the fresh produce gets eatten first, then I move into the frozen , then canned. I try to stretch the fresh as long as I can to keep meals fresh tasting. I move into the pasta realm with frozen broccoli as a side as I am running low on goods. I will check in again soon.

  20. Claudia says

    My husband said that he spend 600 for both of us. I know it's a big fat lie but e always cry about the food he buys for me.

  21. Rich says

    Wow, that's low, I spend an ungodly amount of money on food I spent and consumed $40 today ind fealt I was doing well. That is about $1200 a month. I eat aa lot I'm on. A 5000* cal a day diet.

  22. Amy says

    UGH. I'm going off added up amounts directly from my bank statement. Including bar tabs, restaurants, and grocery stores (basically anything consumable) – I am averaged at about 6-700$ a month. Granted, my boyfriend and I go out to eat ALOT, and we alternate paying the entire bill every other time, regardless of amount… so it varies. But still, holy cow! Compared to everyone else in this thread….

  23. Judy says

    i am a single parent with my son and his girlfriend living with me,i am on a restricted diet for my MS so sundays is my day to plan for the week i prep as much as i can for the week,i make my own breads and thanks to my dear mother who mills all my flours since i try to stay away from alot of breads and commercial flour,we eat nothing processed and in the summer i can a lot,my boyfriend has a huge garden he grows for me every summer and we can everything possible,we are also lucky enough that my boyfriend is an avid river fisherman so we get lots of salmon,we don't eat red meat or pork and i can make one chicken breast into a meal for 3 of us,you really have to think outside the box sometimes but we never go hungry….so what do i actually spend a month maybe $150. because all else is stuff we grow or catch ourselves

  24. sarah says

    This is insane, my family spent over $1500 on groceries last month (average is $1200) and my one child is still only breastfeeding. I need some sample receipts to see where I'm going wrong. My hubby is a chef and has most of his meals at work so I am confused. We live in Manhattan and have a picky-chef-eater-hubby, but still. We spend on one takeout what some people spend a week according to this. I'm about to go to the grocery store and will probably spend $60 for a couple days worth of food. Someone help me understand this please.

    • says


      I have only a vague idea of what groceries must cost in Manhattan, but I do agree that $1200-1500 a month seems excessive.

      I am betting that your chef husband doesn't help matters. Foodies tend to be quite focused on getting absolutely fresh, organic ingredients. That will cost you — especially in a place where you mainly buy from either specialty stores or bodegas (which, from what I gather, are going to charge convenience store pricing for basic goods).

      My suggestion would be to get your husband to start handing over grocery receipts to give you a better idea of what he's spending. If you also track what he uses for a given meal, you might get a sticker shock that will make him a tad more careful.

      Of course, with takeout it just depends what you're getting. Most of us think of takeout as fast food. I'm guessing that's not what you're referring to. I do know that in places like Phoenix, Chinese takeout for two people can quickly add up to $25 or more. And it's not even very good!

      Given that your husband is picky, I'm guessing slow cooker recipes won't be the order of the day. But there are a pretty good selection of regular meals at places like Also, there are some websites that will let you input items in your pantry and give you suggestions.

      With an infant who is still breastfeeding, I'm guessing you don't have a lot of time or sanity for shopping for deals. I think a lot of people lower their food costs by stocking up while the price is good. Then you're not stuck paying full price for something that you could have saved on significantly.

      If you ever want to email me directly, use the contact tab up top. We might be better able to sort this out one-on-one. It'd help if I have a better idea what your husband considers necessary for a meal. My guess is it's a far cry from the meat & cheese sandwich I have daily for lunch.

  25. Itsall says

    I think about this a lot as well, one reader posted that they go out to a nice restaurant once a week for 40$- I live in Alberta, Canada and you would be hard up to find a meal of 2 at an OK pub for under 40$- no drinks- let alone a nice restaurant. 2 subs at Subway cost 25+$. There is no such thing as discount grocery stores in Calgary, maybe one is a bit cheaper than the other but I don't find a considerable difference. I think a lot of saving rides on location. Or maybe I need a boyfriend who eats less :)

  26. Kellie says

    There are two of us and we spend at least 300.00 a month and we almost always go over. I am a vegatarain and grow almost all of my vegatables and my husband hunts for his meat. But we do practice food storage and I am constantly replacing our stock pile.

  27. says

    Love this ministry! Thanks Bill & Vicki & your ffhuiatl volunteer team for providing in such tangible ways (warm meals, friendships & hugs) each winter.

  28. Scott says

    Hard to understand how 4 people live on a food budget of less than $1,000/month. Thats $4 per meal on average. You can't buy a mcdonalds meal for that. My girlfriend and I average $1000 per month in NC. We have a hard time spending less. We weigh a combined 300 lbs. what are these people eating that costs so little?

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