Find Out If Your Family Is Overspending on Groceries

updated Jun 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Diana Liang)

During my 37 years of life on this planet, I’ve always been the sort of person who lives large on a little budget. I splurge where needed, but mostly search for good deals and make the most of very little. I keep a well-stocked pantry and try my best to live by the motto of “I only eat out when they make it better than I do.” That may sound elitist, but it keeps me in check from just caving to being lazy and ordering in.

So when a list pops up with how much I should be spending per month based on my family size and it’s almost double what I’m shilling out, I’m a little shocked.

This fun grocery budget chart comes from Affording Motherhood. The chart is based off United States Department of Agriculture’s Cost of Food report, and it estimates the grocery cost of “thrifty families” for a month based on their size. I can’t even imagine what this would look like for people who aren’t on a stricter budget.

Now, my own household is a little unique. At the moment it’s merely my husband and myself, and his children on the weekends (two of which are in the preteen category of eating us out of house and home). With my frugal spending habits and desire to make everything myself unless I can get it better somewhere else (which is most of the time when you live in a village of 500 people in central Wisconsin), I find that my family is spending dramatically less than the budget suggestion shared above.

This, of course, led me to do what the majority of us would do and text it around to all of my friends to see how their families faired. Here’s the breakdown of the 10 people I texted. They ranged from stay-at-home moms to working parents to families with as many as 10 people (!!!) and as low as two. It also included those with younger children, those with all teenagers, and some with allergen or dietary issues.

Those who had only teenagers with two working incomes said that the budget was on track for the purchases of food. Those with younger children in the home said that the amount was high, as they don’t eat as much and cook at home more often. My friends with larger families all said it was high, but wanted to know if this tally included things like toilet paper, trash bags, and dog food. Was this a grocery store budget or a grocery budget? Families that had allergen issues and health requirements said it was a bit more on track, but that many of their items are brought in special and always have a higher price to them.

Where does your family fall? Does this seem high? Low? How much of the budget do you think is allowing for processed foods that come with a higher price tag? Share your thoughts below!