How Much Should I Spend on Groceries a Month? | SoFi (2024)

By Sarah Li Cain ·February 27, 2024 · 9 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey.Read moreWe develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide.We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right.Read less

How Much Should I Spend on Groceries a Month? | SoFi (1)

Table of Contents

  • What Is the Average Cost of Groceries Per Month
  • What Should My Monthly Grocery Budget Be
  • How Dining Out Fits Into the Equation
  • Strategies to Keep Track of Your Food Spending
  • Tips to Help Reduce Your Food Spending
  • The Takeaway

How much you spend on groceries each month will depend on the number of people in your household, your lifestyle, even your dietary preferences. There’s no way around the fact that food is a significant line item in any budget, but there are ways to spend less at the store without resorting to beans and rice or ramen noodles every day (getting takeout doesn’t count).

Whether eating at home or in a restaurant, it’s helpful to give yourself some guidelines so that you and your bank accounts are on good terms. We cover several rules of thumb for how much to spend on food a month so you can better ensure you’re staying on track with your budget.

Key Points

• The average U.S. household spends $7,316 on food annually, which is about $609.67 per month.

• The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides monthly food budgets at different price levels to help determine your own grocery spending.

• Household size, age, and dietary restrictions can affect the amount spent on groceries each month.

• The USDA budgets assume all meals are prepared at home, and costs vary by age, gender, and family size.

• Strategies like meal planning, using coupons, freezing meals, and shopping at discount grocery stores can help reduce food spending.

What Is the Average Cost of Groceries Per Month?

The average U.S. household spends $7,316 on food every year, according to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) consumer expenditure survey. That amount — about $609.67 a month, or $152.42 each week — represents nearly 12% of consumers’ income.

A note on inflation: The BLS report used data from 2021. The subsequent year saw food prices increase by a staggering 11% (typically, food prices rise about 2% annually). Over the next year, food prices are projected to rise between 5% and 10% — something to keep in mind as you compare your grocery bill to the national average.

Of course, the amount people spend on sustenance can vary widely, depending on age, household size, dietary restrictions and where they live. For instance, the consumer expenditure survey noted that single-parent family households with children spent more on food compared to single folks. Your eating habits, including how often you dine out or order in as well as a penchant for impulse grocery buys, also affect your bottom line.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!

What Should My Monthly Grocery Budget Be?

When it comes to how much you should spend on groceries each month, the answer will depend on your situation. However, you can use the following guidelines to help you develop a reasonable monthly allowance for your grocery budget.

By USDA Guidelines

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a series of monthly food budgets that represent the cost of a healthy diet at four price levels: thrifty, low cost, moderate cost and liberal. These budgets can serve as a benchmark against which you can measure your own monthly spending on food.

Keep in mind that the USDA assumes that all meals and snacks will be prepared at home, and that costs will vary by age, gender, and family size. It updates each plan to current dollars every month using the Consumer Price Index for food.

For example, in March 2023, the USDA pegs the monthly cost of food for a female who is 20 to 50 years old at $241 for the thrifty plan. For females ages 19 to 50, it’s $257 for the low-cost plan, $313 for the moderate-cost plan and $401 for the liberal plan.

The USDA budgets more for couples within the same age ranges. For instance, a household of two might spend $530 on a thrifty plan, $565 on a low-cost plan, $689 on a moderate-cost plan and $882 on a liberal plan.

By Household Size

Your household size should determine how much you spend on groceries each month. As you saw in the USDA guidelines above, different household sizes as well as the ages of individuals affected the amount spent on food each month.

Let’s say you are a family of four with one child aged 6 to 8 and another between the ages of 9 to 11. According to the USDA guidelines, you might spend $979 a month on a thrifty plan, $1,028 on a low-cost plan, $1,252 on a moderate-cost plan and $1,604 on a liberal plan.

The USDA guidelines can provide a starting point for a food budget, but they don’t consider all the variables that can affect cost. That’s why building a personal food budget while using these numbers as a benchmark is best. To do so, you can look at your past monthly spending on food and then compare that number to the USDA food budget guides.

If your spending is much higher than the USDA’s estimates, it’s essential to determine why. It could be due to unavoidable factors like where you live, or it may stem from discretionary decisions, such as eating out at restaurants. If it’s the latter, it may be helpful to look for ways to cut back on spending, so you can redirect money to other goals like building an emergency fund.

How Dining Out Fits Into the Equation

The USDA’s budgets only consider food prepared at home, yet a food budget will likely also need to account for meals eaten at restaurants. The BLS reports that the average household spends $5,259 a year on food at home and $3,030 a year on food away from home.

Eating at restaurants is more costly than preparing food at home, so restaurant spending can be an excellent place to start making cuts when looking for wiggle room in a food budget.

Strategies to Keep Track of Your Food Spending

There are a number of budgeting strategies that can help you keep track of your spending. Here are some to consider if you’re trying to keep better track of your food spending:

The 50/30/20 Rule

The 50/30/20 rule is a simple strategy for proportional budgeting that breaks down a budget into three categories of spending. Here’s how it works:

• 50% goes to essential needs. These are necessary expenses, such as rent, groceries, and health insurance.

• 30% goes to discretionary spending. These are fun purchases that you don’t technically need to survive.

• 20% goes to savings. The 50/30/20 method separates discretionary spending and saving for financial goals, such as retirement, a down payment on a house, or paying off debt faster.

The 50/30/20 rule is a relatively simple form of budgeting, so it can help individuals keep their eyes on the big picture and avoid getting bogged down in minute details. That said, because it isn’t detail-oriented, it can be hard to pinpoint problem areas, such as places where overspending occurs.

Recommended: Check out the 50/30/20 rule calculator to see a breakdown of your money.

The Envelope Method

The envelope method seeks to make budgeting more concrete by limiting most spending to cash transactions. It works by allocating a set amount of cash each month to different spending categories, such as groceries or entertainment.

At the beginning of the month, write each category on individual envelopes. Decide how much you want to spend in each category for the month, and put enough cash to cover that amount in each respective envelope.

This method takes discipline. You can only use the cash in each envelope to make purchases in that category. When the money’s gone, it’s gone for the month. That means you can no longer do any spending in that category.

Zero-Based Budgeting

A zero-based budget is one in which you assign each dollar of your income a specific purpose. For example, you may decide to spend $1,000 on rent, $325 on food, $200 on student loan payments, $100 on savings and so on, until there are zero dollars left without a job to do. While this type of budget can take a lot of effort, it can help you think carefully about every dollar you spend and be mindful of setting aside savings.

By getting your budget on track with a checking and savings account with SoFi, you’ll have enough to work toward financial goals, like paying off student loans and saving for retirement.

Tips to Help Reduce Your Food Spending

Whether your food budget has gone out of control or you’re interested in spending less in general, there are several ways to lower your food budget.

Try Meal Prep

Shopping at a store without a plan can be a budget-buster, as it can lead to unneeded purchasing. To stay on track, create a meal plan that lays out breakfast, lunch, and dinner for every day of the week.

Once you’ve created a menu, check to see what ingredients are already in the kitchen. Make a list of the items you’re missing and the amounts that are needed. Buy only those items at the store.

Consider planning some meals that have overlapping ingredients, as buying ingredients in larger quantities can be cheaper. You’ll also want to consider preparing meals you like and can cook relatively quickly. That way, you’re not tempted to get takeout one day when you’re tired and don’t feel like cooking.

Take Advantage of Coupons

Using coupons can help buyers save money at the checkout counter. Grocery stores or major brands often offer discounts in coupons — look for them online, in a grocery store flier or in the mail.

Before you buy, however, make sure you actually need the food item. If there isn’t anyone in your household who will drink that carton of oat milk, it’s better to leave it on the shelf than to cash in your coupon.

While taking advantage of an individual coupon may not add up to much savings, using many coupons over time can start to open up space in your food budget. The same is true of buying store brands, which may be a dollar or two cheaper than their name-brand counterparts. Over time, and multiple purchases, those couple of dollars can add up to significant savings.

Freeze Meals

Having meals or ingredients ready in the freezer encourages you to eat at home instead of making the excuse of having nothing to eat in your house. It can be as simple as buying frozen vegetables, some form of protein or straight-up frozen meals (it’s still cheaper than dining out). You can even make your own freezer-ready meals by cooking additional portions of meals — eat some for dinner, then freeze the rest for later.

Shop at Discount Grocery Stores

The cost of food can vary widely from store to store, so consider visiting different stores to find budget-friendly prices. A great way to check if a grocery store offers lower prices is to look at their weekly flier. You’ll be able to find sales and other advertised goods and identify which stores offer the best deals on items you’re most likely to purchase.

Some stores may offer certain foods in bulk, such as grains, nuts, coffee, and dried fruit, which can be cheaper than buying the same packaged food items.

Getting a handle on how much you spend on food can help you build a larger household budget. That way, you may be able to set aside money for savings or other financial goals.

The Takeaway

As you can see, there’s no hard-and-fast rule for how much you should spend on groceries each month, as that varies based on your unique situation. However, everyone can likely benefit from giving their grocery budget a hard look and seeing if there’s anywhere they’re overdoing it.

Envelope and spreadsheet averse? Another way to track your grocery budget is with the SoFi money tracker app, which lets you easily set monthly spending targets and see where you’re spending the most.

See how your current food spending fits into your overall budget.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsem*nt.Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc.’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circ*mstances.SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at


How Much Should I Spend on Groceries a Month? | SoFi (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kelle Weber

Last Updated:

Views: 5331

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (53 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kelle Weber

Birthday: 2000-08-05

Address: 6796 Juan Square, Markfort, MN 58988

Phone: +8215934114615

Job: Hospitality Director

Hobby: tabletop games, Foreign language learning, Leather crafting, Horseback riding, Swimming, Knapping, Handball

Introduction: My name is Kelle Weber, I am a magnificent, enchanting, fair, joyous, light, determined, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.