I’ll be the first to admit that budgeting is not my strong suit – especially when it comes to food.
A sweet reader reached out on Facebook asking how much I spend on groceries each week (I’ve gotten that question quite a bit on insta, too!), so I thought I’d break it down into a full post. It was actually a really good exercise for me because I realized I spend way too much on food each month. Yikes!
Before we dive in, I found this super interesting chart yesterday that the USDA publishes each month. It’s a total of the average spent on food each week for various age ranges and lifestyles in the US. For May 2016, 19-50 year old woman on a “liberal” plan (there are 4 lifestyle plans; liberal is the one that spends the most) spent an average of $75.70 per week and $327.90 in a month (way less than what I spend). For a family of 2 our age, the average is $768.50, which I’d guess is actually closer to where we spend as a couple. Matt tends to eat simple, easy meals (thus spends less on groceries), so it would make sense; I make up for his “thrifty” spending with my excess spending habits. 😂🙈
I tend to spend a lot on groceries and often end up throwing some things away because they go to waste. I also tend to buy enough groceries to eat at home for every meal, then end up craving something and go out to get it. I’m really, really working on eating what I have and have even made a budget for myself for how many times I can go out to eat, and we’ve started planning date nights where that’s our night to go out together. We’ll see how it goes.
In terms of everyday grocery shopping though, I’ll usually start by planning out my meals based on what I’m craving. Last weekend, for example, all I wanted was spiralized dishes. I went through some of my cookbooks to find a couple spiralized meals that I liked, and was inspired to make a cucumber pasta, then zucchini noodles, then a carrot salad. So there’s the start of my grocery list.
Off we went to the farmers market with my grocery list. My parents were here so they treated me produce for the week: a zucchini, bunch of carrots, zucchini, berries and any other items that stood out. Normally, I’d cover it though (obviously). Then, I’d head to whichever grocery store I was feeling to pick up any miscellaneous items to complete the dishes and get staples like almond milk, nuts, bread, etc.
An important thing for me is buying organic, so I’m okay with the extra costs there. I go to the farmers market every other week (ish), order Sun Basket* once or twice a month, then go to the grocery store whenever I need staples or random things. I shop at a ton of different grocery stores based on my mood and cravings (I’ll save that for another post!), so the amount spent at each store can vary quite a bit.
On average, I’d say I spend $80-$120 on groceries every week, not including eating out. I notice I spend less when I eat plant-based (avoid dairy, meat and processed foods), so I’ve been eating that way more often lately.
My big downfall is eating out, for sure. I grew up eating out a lot and ate out for nearly every meal in college so it’s a big deal for me. It’s comfort. I’d say I eat out 2-3x a week now at places where main courses are about $10-15 each. The thing is, when I go out these days, I think about how much better I could have made a dish at home. Now that I’m more comfortable with cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, I want to try to shift my mindset to want to cook at home more.
Another big problem is that I won’t crave something like I thought I would, so I have all these fresh fruits and veggies that just sit there, going bad because I’m not interested in the dish anymore. I’ve recently been trying to use the ingredients in another dish so they don’t go to waste. It’s a work in progress! Needless to say, I haven’t gotten around to making the zucchini or carrot dishes yet…
I know we got off track there, so let’s dive right back in. I’d say I spend close to $450 on food every month (mostly on me, sometimes including a couple meals for both Matt and I), which is too much. Way too much. For me, at least. My goal is to spend under $320 to start, including both groceries and eating at home. I’m working on it. Just trying to be honest here!
I’ll add that I don’t drink or go to happy hours anymore and prefer to indulge on food. That’s one reason why I think I spend more, but it’s also just my lifestyle. Like I said earlier in the week, I want to start being more open on here, and start openly sharing about this lifestyle, so here’s my honest answer to how much I spend each week.
Although I don’t talk much about money, I’m glad I put this out there for my own sake. It’s going to be interesting to see in 3 months how much I save now that I know how much I’m really spending on food.
Okay, that’s all for today. I’m off to make a homemade brunch including a steaming almond milk chai – my fave. Happy weekend!