It is super easy to overspend on groceries and eating out on a monthly basis. I often ask myself how much should I be spending on groceries before it becomes wasteful. The answer is it depends. I base my answer on how much food I am throwing away or freezing weekly. If the answer is none then it was a good week.
If I throw away a lot of food or freeze it then the question becomes, why? Was it improper food storage? Lack of a plan for the items bought? Did I overbuy? Was the food hidden in the back of the refrigerator? Was the food not washed and cut up ready to snack on?
How much to Spend on Groceries Monthly
Start by adding up how much you spend on monthly on groceries for the last 6 months. I spent $2,110 on groceries for the last 6 months. Take this large number and divide it by 6. This will get you close to a reasonable monthly grocery budget. For me this would be $2,110 divided by 6 months which is about $352 a month.
The average grocery bill for 2 people is anywhere from $300 to $600 a month. We happen to be at the lower end of about $350 and I attribute that to food planning and shopping the circular.
If you feel that your grocery bill is higher than the average then take a look at what you are buying. I make our food from scratch and this really cuts down on the grocery bill. I also do not buy produce or fruit precut. I don’t mind the extra time for the savings.
How to Save Money on Groceries
It is easy to save money on groceries by making a menu plan. If you have never done one check out our article How to Plan a Weekly Menu. If you don’t menu plan check out the weekly circular and try to build a grocery list based off what is on sale.
The last thing I do is check my digital coupons to see if they match up to what is already on my grocery list. Saving a few dollars on each shopping trip can lead to a large yearly savings. Be careful not to buy items just because they are on sale or you have a coupon. This can lead to more spending and food waste.
How to Prevent Grocery Waste
Before putting all the food in the refrigerator I wash vegetables that we plan on snacking on and place them in containers in a visible place. I find that if they get hidden behind other refrigerator items we don’t see them and don’t eat them.
Food storage in the refrigerator is also very important. I wash herbs and place them in my herb keeper because it is the best way I have found to store herbs. I like to make sure all fresh items are washed and easily accessible.
It is important to keep items in the same place and not move them around. This means you can quickly find what you are looking for and food does not become hidden and forgotten. I have different shelves in the refrigerator for leftovers, condiments, dairy, etc.
At the end of each week I take inventory of what is in the refrigerator. If we are not going to eat something before it spoils I will freeze it if possible. Check out our article on storing food if you are looking for tips and ideas for freezing food.
How much to Spend on Eating Out
This is always a tricky subject because most data available for the average American to eat out only includes food cost not food and drink. As an adult I want to budget my “Eating Out” money to include food and drink.
Most Americans eat out about 5 meals a week at about a $13 price tag. This is about $260 a month. This is only food and not drinks. The bill will raise dramatically once drinks are added.
If you want to include drinks to your budget you can calculate your food budget then add $12 per alcoholic drink or $4.00 per non-alcoholic drink. It is unreal how much the price increases.
Add up your eating out habits for the last 6 months and divide by 6. This is about the amount you usually spend eating out each month. If you are shocked by this number then make some changes.
Andrew and I don’t eat out nearly as much as we did when we were younger. We go over to friends houses or host dinners instead of restaurants. Eating out used to be a large monthly expense for us.
We budget for one meal out a week with drinks. With today’s prices and tipping this is about $70 a week. Our monthly budget for eating out is $280. Depending on birthday’s, celebrations, or out of town guests this number will get adjusted.
How to Save Money Eating Out
We save money on nights we are eating out by doing the following:
- Going during happy hour
- Ordering the meals to go and eating them at home.
- Eating an appetizer at home
- Not ordering or limiting alcoholic drinks
- Eating dessert at home
How much to Spend on Grocery Shopping and Eating Out is a tricky article to write because everyone’s number is different. It really depends on the number of people in your home, what you can afford, prices where you live, and keeping waste to a minimum. The most important thing you can do is keep track of your spending and make sure you are consistent from month to month.