How Do You Decide How Much to Spend on Groceries?

It seems like a simple question, right?  So far, how much we budget for groceries has been determined by how much we do/can spend on groceries.  Last year we tried to cut back to $300/month on groceries but realized that was too low, so we reworked the rest of our budget to allow us up to $360/month.


I’ve identified four factors that influence what food we buy:

  • health
  • cost
  • sustainability
  • convenience


Right now those four factors have found an equilibrium and we can stay within our budget most months.  However, now that it’s summer and our CSA has started, I would like to let the “sustainability” influence take on more weight and buy more food from our CSA and the farmer’s market.  I would also like to keep health at least the same, not spend any additional money, and in exchange I’m willing to let go of convenience.


I suggested to Kyle that we start shopping at ALDI to save money on our conventional groceries.  I have kept a pricebook for several months of both what we’ve been spending on groceries as well as advertised sales from our two local grocery stores and ALDI, and ALDI’s prices almost always beat the sales at our grocery stores as well as Costco.  We first visited ALDI last year, but the closest one was about 30 minutes away and we didn’t want to make that trip very often.  This year, a new ALDI opened about 15 minutes from us and we are definitely willing to make that drive a couple times per month.


I further suggested that we take the money we save on conventional groceries at ALDI and spend it at the farmer’s market or through our CSA so that we can increase the fraction of local food that we eat.  In season, we get all of our vegetables, most of our fruit, and some meat from local sources, so I was proposing that we add eggs, additional meat, and perhaps more fruit.


Kyle didn’t immediately agree.  He asked why we would try to keep our budget the same. If we want to spend less by shopping with ALDI and spend more at the farmer’s market that’s fine, but why does it have to net to 0?


This really stumped me.  How else should we determine how much to spend on groceries?  Perhaps we could decide to spend a certain percentage of our grocery budget on local food?  Or decide what categories of food we must buy locally?  Or budget a certain percentage of our income and buy as much locally as possible within that? All of us have this issue, of course.  If everyone was determined to spend as little money on food as possible with no other considerations, we would all be hoarding Ramen.  Clearly, we let other factors influence us – but to what degree?


Are you very directive in how much you spend on groceries, or do you set that category based on what you can afford?  If you are very directive, how do you decide what to spend?  How willing are you to buy more expensive food (types, brands, organic/local) and where do you draw the line?


our CSA box this week


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62 Responses to "How Do You Decide How Much to Spend on Groceries?"

  1. Emily too says:

    Our grocery budget is around $400/month, and we also made it based on our grocery spending because it’s a huge, huge quality of life issue. Also, moving here from another region of the country, I can say that food is just expensive here – $400 doesn’t take you as far as it would where I’m from, but eating less fruit and vegetables is not a tradeoff I’m willing to make. So we spend on groceries and go out less than we used to.

    My priorities go more along the lines of taste, health, cost, convenience, and then sustainability, and my husband’s are similar but he’d probably put “health” after “convenience.” We menu plan first, go to the somewhat cheap chain grocery store when we have time to drive, and go to the nearby Whole Foods or Whole-Foods-priced grocery store when we don’t. There is an Aldi about 15-20 minutes away, but we haven’t been there because we value gas and time too much to make separate stops when not strictly necessary.

    Haven’t been to the Farmer’s Market for months because of its inconvenient hours and extremely high prices, but we’re signed up for a CSA through our university this summer, and I’m really excited about that. I’ve heard it’s not the best CSA, but it has low- and moderate- income options, while CSAs through individual farms would be quite expensive for us, and pickup is nearby, so we don’t have to drive. It’ll be so fun to have a surprise box of vegetables and dairy every week!

    1. Emily says:

      We’ve slowly been giving up grocery store proximity for cost savings. We used to go to the (high-priced, but not WF-high) grocery store 2 minutes from our home for almost everything. Then we got a Costco membership and went out of our way to buy there 2-4 times per month. Since I’ve been paying more attention to the grocery store weekly ads I’ve been to a not-quite-so-close grocery store a few times but I can’t remember the last time I went to the expensive one closest to us! Costco is about 12 minutes from school so it’s not much of a stretch to visit ALDI. We just go less frequently.

      As for the farmer’s market, I agree with you that the hours are not exactly on our schedule. Thankfully our university puts on a small farmer’s market at midday once per week really close to my building and I can easily make it over there. Visiting the bigger Saturday farmer’s market will probably have to happen occasionally though if we do decide to spend more locally.

      I’m glad you were able to get a reasonably priced CSA subscription! We think it’s really fun. The cost is crazy high though – about 2x as much for pork as the grocery store and I recently clocked spinach as 5x higher.

      1. Emily too says:

        We actually find that when we drive further for cheaper groceries, we wind up spending just as much because we’re so excited to stock up on dry goods! And we don’t even have a Costco, I’m talking Stop & Shop here. I think we’d get less excited if we went there all the time, but we live in a city and are pretty resistant to unnecessary driving.

        Fortunately, I pay attention to the prices of specific items at each store, so when we do go to the expensive stores, we make sure to focus on things that we won’t lose money on (e.g. frozen spinach instead of fresh asparagus at the expensive local place with crappy produce, or tofu and butter at WF because they’re cheaper than at ANY other store, or sale items). And you’re so right that farmers markets can be insane…we very, very rarely eat meat, but if we tried to make salads from farmer’s market greens we’d go broke in a week!

        1. Emily says:

          We overbought at Costco at first too, but as it became a more regular trip for us we were able to limit ourselves. It sounds like you’ve been keeping a pricebook, either formally or in your head. Kyle can remember prices across stores well but they run right out of my head so I have to write them down!

  2. Jason says:

    We spend $280 a month on groceries (and actually that’s what we budget, we typically spend about $240).

    We buy mostly produce and have focused on eating a lot of vegetarian and vegan recipes over the past few months. On occasion we’ll eat meat and we’ll have pasta at least once or twice a week.

    We buy some organic, a lot of foods from the “health market” at our store, but never name brand stuff.
    Jason recently posted..Recipe: Easy Tomato Basil Cream Pasta

    1. Emily says:

      But HOW did you decide on that level? Was it determined by other parts of your budget? Or is $280 what you found you could spend while meeting some or all or your other priorities?

  3. We determine our grocery budget… by… not. Lately life has been so crazy that we have kind of thrown our hands up on sticking to a budget. In fact, it’s better if we spend MORE on groceries as that means we are not eating out as much.
    Well Heeled Blog recently posted..Etsy vs. eBay: You May Be Paying More for the Same Thing

    1. Emily says:

      Right before our wedding we were eating out SO much. It’s just a crazy time.

  4. Daisy says:

    We just spend what we spend; we don’t restrict ourselves too much because the boy eats a lot (he has a physical job) and I’d rather spend on groceries than eat out. So I guess it’s the less of two evils.
    Daisy recently posted..Get Motivated To Get Out Of Debt

  5. Alex says:

    This is an awesome post and something that I’ve been thinking about a lot.

    Our groceries come to about $325-350 per month based on what we need/prefer/can afford; it wasn’t specifically budgeted. We’ve been trying to trim it by buying fewer convenience foods (ex. whole carrots instead of baby carrots) and decreasing dairy (we’re already vegetarians). I’ve also decreased my baking, which helps.

    Your four factors are very much in line with our own. We buy more expensive food very selectively – never brand names, but we will do organic for dirty dozen produce that we eat frequently (carrots and apples, mostly). We just purchased our first CSA, which increased our spending, but has been a really great experience so far.

    1. Alex says:

      Also, I’m intrigued by this “pricebook” that you mentioned. I’m assuming it’s a list of what foods cost at various stores? This is a great idea. I visit 1-4 grocery stores each week for the best prices; a compendium would help a lot.

      1. Emily says:

        Yeah, it’s a simple concept – just write down what you buy, when, where, and the price per unit. The idea for supercouponers is to track the sale cycles at grocery stores. For us, since we shop at Costco so much and they have almost totally fixed prices, it was just to compare across stores, especially sale prices at the grocery stores. I was basically trying to ask if it’s worth keeping track of the grocery store sales or if Costco/ALDI will always be lower. Even when I didn’t shop at the grocery stores, I used their weekly ads and to pull the prices on items we buy from the web. ALDI turned out to be lower than grocery stores basically always except for super-deep sales at the former, and lower than Costco on most items. However, they have a MUCH smaller selection, especially of produce, so we have to get a lot of items elsewhere. So AlDI pairs well with the high CSA/farmer’s market growing season.

    2. Emily says:

      It makes sense to me to buy local/organic in the specific foods that you want and do low-priced conventional for the rest. If we went through our diet carefully we could probably draw those lines, but I’m not sure how it would affect our budget. Meat is a BIG cost already and if we went all grass-fed/organic/local on that it would be a major price increase. Going vegetarian isn’t on the table for us for health reasons, though I definitely understand cost/ethics/energy-wise why people do it.

      Congrats on starting your CSA! I think it’s fun – we definitely eat stuff we have/would never buy in a grocery store (turnips!).

  6. Michelle says:

    Our amount fluctuates. We eat out a LOT. Nearly everyday. So entertainment money includes our food as well.
    Michelle recently posted..Looking forward to the Bank Statement

    1. SB @ FPR says:

      very bad for your finances. cooking saves money. Are you that busy?
      SB @ FPR recently posted..Best Credit Cards for Balance Transfer in 2012

  7. This is such a tough question – with the csa being a compounding factor. We usually spend like, 250-300 per month on groceries, but we dont count the 800 we spend this year (fruit & veggie share for 26 weeks) in that number – though we probably should because it’s money we spend on food. I dont typically keep really close tabs at the store, but I really do try to find cheap recipes and use what we already have.
    Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog recently posted..Creating Work Life Balance

  8. I try and buy as much food locally as possible, but when we’re getting to the end of the month and I can see that we’re going to come up short, I’ll shift spending to the cheaper alternatives. If I could, I would buy everything locally (I used to in University, expensive!!) and someday I’ll get back to that.
    Jordann @ My Alternate Life recently posted..What Would You Take in an Emergency?

    1. Emily says:

      What categories of food do you get locally that most people wouldn’t? Grains, dairy? And what’s your overall grocery budget, if you don’t mind sharing?

  9. We do not have a grocery budget since we eat out a lot (our living situation doesn’t allow for access to a kitchen). We spend about $400 total on eating out/groceries so it’s not too bad, but we will definitely cut back when we move somewhere else with a kitchen. When I used to grocery shop I would limit myself to $200 per month. I think I would just base it off of what my budget allows, so say $400 is what my budget allows… but then I would lower it to $300 or $200 and play around with that figure until I can properly gauge how much is too much and how much is enough.
    From Shopping to Saving recently posted..Don’t Take No For An Answer Part 1: How To Negotiate Scholarship Money

    1. Emily says:

      I feel like we could ALWAYS use extra money so if costs were the most important thing we would cut cut cut the groceries and use the money in plenty of other great places in the budget. And if we wanted to buy most of our food locally we could probably spend an extra couple hundred dollars a month. So hard to figure out how to balance the two.

      It sucks that you don’t have access to a kitchen right now. I can’t even imagine.

  10. bogofdebt says:

    I tracked our reciepts for awhile before I set a budget. I went through and figured out things we ate all the time and of course the things that we tried to buy but kept throwing out when it went bad. We have a set amount of what we can afford every two weeks that will very rarely fluxuate. From there, I go through and figure out categories on our list (for instance “snacks gets about $15 every two weeks but it’s for the two of us and goes for lunch snacks and just random I’m hungry snacks). I keep an eye on flyers and keep our reciepts so I can make up the list with prices. This way I know if we have any leeway in the budget or what we need to weed out farther.
    bogofdebt recently posted..Midnight release? No thank you, I’ll wait.

    1. Emily says:

      Wow, you really break it down, that’s awesome! Have you wanted to re-equilibrate since you first set your budget? If so, how did you manage it?

  11. I work in the local food movement so I’m partial to local vegetables. I belonged to a CSA two years in a row, and this year, I’m taking that money ($525) and putting it toward trips to the farmers markets in my area. I spend a lot of money on groceries, usually around $300/month, and that’s just me in the house (with frequent dinner guests/boyfriend visits).
    Frugal Portland recently posted..Goals in Review, and May Goals

    1. Emily says:

      You should post about food choices (if you haven’t already) with a PF spin! How did you decide that you will spend money on local food instead of putting it toward other good uses?

  12. Leigh says:

    I set groceries based on the average of (the ceiling spending since I graduated from college, the average). I found that that provides a better ceiling than the average since there are some crazy high months and some super low months.

    I don’t use a CSA – that would be way more vegetables than I can eat. My grocery spending is somewhat low since it’s pretty minimal, though that has been going up marginally in the last few months as I try to cook more at home and eat out less.

    I tend to not buy organic, or maybe I do. I just pick up an apple if I want an apple.

    So I guess groceries is an area where I don’t really think about how much I’m spending, but that’s probably mostly because I tend to stay within the pattern quite consistently, so I can estimate how much I’m going to spend to within a reasonable margin of error within the space of my overall spending plan.
    Leigh recently posted..What if…my parents hadn’t paid for college?

    1. Leigh says:

      Oh! And since I moved, there is now a grocery store on my walk home from work. I’ve decided that is a mandatory feature of future apartments. I may go to the grocery store multiple times a week now, but I don’t usually buy more than two items at a time (one per hand). I don’t even grab a basket anymore! I love not having to drive to the grocery store – it was always such a pain and then I would just go for days without orange juice, oops.
      Leigh recently posted..What if…my parents hadn’t paid for college?

      1. Emily says:

        You walk to work? AND there’s a grocery store on the way?? That sounds so awesome! We eat so much at home that I think we would still have to majorly shop but that would be great for picking up some forgotten items.

        1. Leigh says:

          It works great for the things that you run out of in the middle of the week or to pick up food on my way TO work to keep at work. A lot of days, I pick up what I’m going to make for dinner on my way home from work. It’s AWESOME!

          Yup, I live about a mile and a quarter from work and I live and work in the city. I’m not a huge city person (I’m not a big drinker or a fan of nightlife), but I love being able to walk to and from work.
          Leigh recently posted..What if…my parents hadn’t paid for college?

    2. Emily says:

      We have an “individual” CSA share and that’s quite enough for two people – especially now… so many greens! A family share would be likely be very wasteful for one person.

  13. Julia says:

    I picked the number based on tracking my spending for a few months and cutting out the “quick and easy” food. This forced me to get better at meal planning, and by planning I’ve found my number reasonable to stay under as long as I don’t eat out more than once or twice a month! I also break down the monthly number into weekly budgets based on the months activities. This helps me stick with my budget, but this also prevents me from stocking up on too many things when they are in sale.
    Julia recently posted..Weekly Check-Up 5/7/2012

    1. Emily says:

      I haven’t gotten into meal planning yet but it sounds like it could really save a lot of money. I don’t know how people eat such a regular amount of food per day, though. Do you just fill in with a standard snack if you get extra hungry one day?

  14. Sophie says:

    I found your blog recently and it’s great! I love reading about personal finance from the perspective of other people my own age. Not that I’m not concerned about retirement, but when you’re young there are more immediate personal finance issues.

    I use meal planning and only shop once a week to keep my grocery spend down, but it’s still pretty high ($600 a month for two people) because the cost of living is much higher here in Australia. I spend less on groceries than most people here, even with baking a lot and minimising takeaways, but it’s still a LOT compared to what frugal bloggers in the US and Canada seem to spend.

    And how did I decide how much to budget for groceries? First I tracked how much we were spending, then I pushed it down week by week by cutting out impulse spending and trying not to overcater for our needs. I throw very little food out now, which feels great.
    Sophie recently posted..Fun money – why you need to give it a special place in your budget

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks! We’re not really taking care of those other immediate PF issues right now though, except reducing spending… They’re waiting until Kyle graduates. Retirement is the only real savings we’re doing right now, because it is crazy beneficial to start young.

      We went through a period of reducing waste, too, when I read American Wasteland last year. The greens from our CSA are getting overwhelming, though… I need to make some kale chips tonight!

      1. Sophie says:

        Yum, kale chips! I love how when you don’t want to throw out any food you’ve bought, you discover new recipes specifically for the ingredients you have on hand 🙂

        Retirement saving is a bit different here, because we have compulsory superannuation. Our employers legally have to contribute the equivalent of 9% (soon to go up to 12%!) of our salaries and automatically set this aside in investment accounts for us. This means that if you’re employed your whole life (as most people are), you have enough set aside to live on at retirement. My understanding is that you guys don’t have this kind of retirement investment account unless you set one up, and your employers aren’t obliged to pay anything toward it unless it’s a specific term of your employment? (I don’t know as much about this as I’d like to so please feel free to let me know if I’ve got that backwards).

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m working towards retiring in comfort, but there are much scarier financial issues here… like the housing market.

        In our housing market you have to save up $50,000 plus for a deposit on an entry-level apartment, and even then the mortgage repayments are like to be at least $500 a week. If you want to buy a family home in an average suburb here you’re likely to pay $750,000 or more and have a mortgage of well over $1000 a week. This is way too expensive for average-wage earners. A lot of Australians now can’t afford to ever buy their own houses and will spend their entire life renting – which isn’t a fantastic alternative when the rental market is at an all-time high. If you plan on owning your own home outright by the time you retire here, you have to buy young and prioritise that mortgage. And I guess in a way that is planning for retirement… No one wants to be paying rent or making mortgage repayments once they’re old and grey 🙂
        Sophie recently posted..Saving on sickness

        1. Emily says:

          Ah, yes, now I remember. I’ve been reading another PF blogger (an American) who lives in Australia so she’s taken the time to explain the differences between the PF priorities of the two countries, like you have. Yes, the defined-benefits plans have gone the way of the dinosaur here (except for government employees), so defined-contributions are what we need to do, but the contributions are largely the responsibility of the individual (except, as you said, for some fortunate people whose employers match their contributions). About half of Americans currently save NOTHING toward retirement!

          It sounds like the housing market there is like what it is in our highest cost-of-living cities here – and actually, my husband and I plan to move to an almost-highest one ASAP! So we are facing a long battle to save up a down payment but we are putting it off until we have real jobs, since 1) starting early on retirement is more important and 2) anything else we might be able to scrape together would be negligible in comparison with our possible savings once we have those higher salaries. Um, so yeah, it sounds like you need to be getting on that down payment savings! How far along are you and what is your plan? We’re currently saving 17% toward retirement and it is definitely a strain!

          1. Sophie says:

            I’m actually really lucky with housing because my partner bought his apartment five years before we met (he’s a few years older than I am) – so he’d already made a lot of headway on that mortgage before I came on the scene. However, now we’re trying to pay off the mortgage as quickly as possible while saving for wedding, kids etc and that’s pretty full on. What we’re paying on the mortgage, including extra repayments, is about 60% of his income plus about 25% of mine – plus I save 50% of my income for future things that are much better paid in cash, like that wedding and eventually a family car. Housing is crazy here, but we’re in a good position because we’ve started young and we both earn good salaries.

            I think the real trick is to keep living like you’re a poor student even once you’re earning real money 🙂 without a “lifestyle upgrade” you’ll be amazed at how much you can save once you’re earning more but spending the same amount you are now.
            Sophie recently posted..Saving on sickness

          2. Emily says:

            That is a really high savings rate! We are definitely planning on living like we are now through Kyle’s transition to his postdoc IF he is able to get a job in the Triangle. Same apartment, exact same expenses, pay raise all goes to savings. However, if he has to move and we need to maintain two residences, we likely won’t be able to save at a much higher rate than we are now. So we’ll see how it works out!

  15. SB @ FPR says:

    Ours do not get above $500 per month. For a two member family this is fine I guess. We don’t try to keep it below that but it happens on its own. We have become habitual not to buy things we don’t need.
    SB @ FPR recently posted..Best Credit Cards for Balance Transfer in 2012

  16. We used to put a lot of emphasis on what we spent on groceries but we don’t as much anymore. It is a priority for us to eat healthy, organic food so we pay for that and don’t mind doing it either. On average we spend about $500 a month on groceries.
    Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter recently posted..Bike Your Way to a Healthier, Richer, Happier You

    1. Emily says:

      Do you have a systems as to what food you buy organic and what you buy conventional?

      1. I usually use the dirty dozen and clean 15 as a guide when I can’t get everything organic.
        Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter recently posted..Bike Your Way to a Healthier, Richer, Happier You

  17. If you are willing to erase all lines, then groceries can be downright cheap. When we first got married and were debt-poor, we “made too much” for government assistance but not enough to spend a reasonable amount on food. We spent <$100/month on groceries. I will admit, though, that I got REALLY tired of peanut butter sandwiches.

    Right now, we have a budget set at $100 every two weeks. Typical grocery items include frozen vegetables, apples & bananas, cold cereal, bread, tortillas, canned tuna, peanut butter, cheese, almond milk, rice, pasta, beans, and a family size package of chicken breasts, plus some snacks. We buy almost exclusively store brand, because my wife works at a supermarket and we get 10% off store brands, which are already 50-75% of the cost of name brands. We don't bother with organics at all.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..Kitchen Trickery: Making a Modest Meal Look & Feel Fancy

    1. Emily says:

      It’s nice that you and your wife know where that baseline is – and that you have the freedom to spend more now! $200/2 weeks is still very low, I think, but from your list it seems you’re making very inexpensive choices (except the almond milk!). We don’t care much about brands either – Kyle even recently tried non-Kraft mac and cheese and I thought that was the last ground he would give up! Kyle eats very similarly to you if you add in beef, pork, and chips, but I eat lots of fresh vegetables and meat.

      1. We buy other meats when they are on sale, but mostly chicken.
        I had never tried any kind of milk that didn’t come from a cow until my wife tried her experiment with veganism. That ended pretty quickly, but I found that my body handles almond milk a lot better than it does cow’s milk. So that’s the non-frugal buy in our kitchen.
        Edward Antrobus recently posted..How to Enjoy Dessert without Getting Fat: Tips & Tricks

  18. renee says:

    This is a fascinating topic! More than just all the issues behind food, it shows how money management is very subjective! “How much should we spend on xyz? Would it be better to go with the cheaper, riskier option so we can save more?”

    J and I both developed our opinions about “food” separately before getting together – and it’s very fortunate they’re the same views, because it’s a huge part of our budget! But the extra expense is no more than what other people spend on campus parking, a second car, a second apt bedroom, etc…. So then that’s where Kyle’s question gets to the heart of the subjectivity – why not save that extra cash?

    In general, we do save “the extra cash” from our “frugal” lifestyle. But on this point, we just have very strong moral, political, economic, and environmental reasons to “vote” local with our food budget. So we budget enough to allow us to spend according to our conscience – but to also restrict us from buying too many luxury items (i.e., choc chips :-)). If someone has looked at the research and decided that the commercial food industry is actually sustainable, humane enough, and not overly corrupt, then I respect that and see no reason for them to buy local, organic.

    Then I ask myself – would it be better if I gave this money to charity? Am I just justifying a luxurious lifestyle? Well, perhaps. It certainly is a win-win cause. And I don’t think it should compromise tithing, charity-giving, or volunteerism. But this is something I struggle with.

    Lastly, we are very selective about what we buy expensively. The only “big name” organic brand we buy is Organic Valley, we “boycott” the “free range” eggs. (We buy the cheap ones if we can’t find pasture-raised.) We only buy organic produce from the dirty dozen list (unless we’re at the farmers market)…. Etc.

    ok, three side notes:
    1) On the health topic: I’m not convinced that “local, organic” is that much healthier than a well-rounded supermarket meal, so that’s not a driving philosophy for us, actually. Although, I’m wary of anything that comes in packaging: (very recent article)
    1) One exception is meat: paleo teaches that it’s better to buy cheap meat and take omega-3 supplements if one can’t afford grass-fed. I’m not on-board with this idea. We’re currently supplementing our diets with quinoa, oatmeal, potatoes, and some rice.
    2) In America, we assume that if the FDA approves something, it must be safe for consumption. In reality, the FDA doesn’t have the balls to reject what even it thinks it should:[ ] We also assume that if it’s cheap, it must not be costing us very much. In reality, it’s probably subsidized with tax dollars – and thus it’s actually a drain on our “freedom” (since we have less money in our pockets to spend locally): [ ] I really believe we could “put corruption out of business” by being smarter consumers! And those of us who spend according to our ethics will likely end up a bit behind in the game.

    1. renee says:

      Apparently, I can’t number. 😉

      This is a “fun” chart:
      A website on beef/dairy that I trust:
      A report released by the organization that sets standards for egg production (it’s appalling what they consider “humane”):

      Anyway, I like resources that are not related to Food, Inc; Michael Pollan; Polyface Farms; Barbara Kingsolver; etc. As convincing as their arguments are, I think a healthy skepticism of their agenda is good!

    2. renee says:

      oh! And I’m not sure how well known it is, but Trader Joe’s is under the same ownership as Aldi. I’ve never shopped at Aldi, but I’ve heard that people like it because, in addition to low prices, their products don’t have a lot of additives/preservatives… “kinda like Trader Joe’s”.

    3. Emily says:

      Your comment is really making the ethical considerations of food hit me hard. I find it interesting that you characterize cheap/conventional food as risky – I never thought of it that way but it fits in many ways. Also very interesting to ask if the extra money spent on food would be better spent on charity – perhaps even feeding other hungry people conventional food! Whew.

  19. We spend $60 a week + $50 a month a Costco so roughly $300 a month and we eat healthy. 2+ toddler
    Brent Pittman recently posted..10 Reasons Why Your Budget and Marriage Aren’t Working

  20. Great post – and a lot of great links posted by your readers in response! We also try to spend $300 a month in groceries, including our weekly trips to the farmer’s market, although lately – with our youngest son really starting to eat solid foods routinely – we are upping that to $350. I am big on buying in bulk when I can – if something at my favorite grocery store goes on deep discount, I’ll stock up on it so I have enough until the next time that sale cycles through.
    Broke Professionals recently posted..Summer Jobs

    1. Emily says:

      Do you keep a pricebook or can you just naturally recognize the sales? (I have trouble!)

      What foods do you buy locally?

  21. We don’t budget any amount per se, but we do meal plan, browse flyers, make a grocery list and shop only once a week (Friday nights). We don’t buy meat or much processed food – but we do buy whatever fruits, veggies, grains etc. we want. For the two of us, we spend about $80 each week.

  22. […] should be no surprise to anyone who read How Do You Decide How Much to Spend on Groceries? that Renee wrote this week’s top comment!  Actually, three wonderful thoughtful comments […]

  23. […] presents How Do You Decide How Much to Spend on Groceries? posted at Evolving Personal Finance.  Our food choices are influenced by health, cost, […]

  24. We try very hard to buy organic at the farmers markets and having a running list of things that go on sale along with timelines. We went out to costco when we need things in bulk.
    Marissa @ Thirtysixmonths recently posted..GIft ideas that my mom would actually like.

  25. […] Evolving Personal Finance talked about my favorite topic: grocery spending […]

  26. jefferson says:

    $360 is still really low for groceries.. You should be proud of that number.. We spend considerably more than that, but having kids and NEVER eating out will do that to you.

    Aldi is wonderful for saving money on groceries. We almost always go there first, and then head over to our regular grocer to fill in the blanks.
    jefferson recently posted..Using Credit Cards and Paying Them Off Immediately…Too Dangerous?

    1. Emily says:

      Grocery prices also vary quite a bit with geography. Our food spending is exactly in line with what the living wage calculator for our area estimates we would need to spend (

      I think our plan is to shop at ALDI near the first of the month and again in the middle for mostly dry goods, then hit up Costco for what we can’t get at ALDI, then grocery stores as needed. But all through the month getting our CSA and going to the farmer’s market.

  27. […] Personal Finance asks How Do You Decide How Much to Spend on Groceries? ”Our food choices are influenced by health, cost, sustainability, and convenience factors. […]

  28. […] 2) How Do You Decide How Much to Spend on Groceries? […]

  29. […] per month per person on food.  Not for us – I don’t think that’s a good way to decide how much to spend on groceries if you don’t have […]

  30. […] presents How Do You Decide How Much to Spend on Groceries? posted at Evolving Personal Finance.  Our food choices are influenced by health, cost, […]

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