Monthly Grocery Budget
Savings tips

Monthly Grocery Budget: Best Tips To Save Your Money

Haven’t you ever thought that you spend too much money on grocery bills? You may think that expenses on food can’t be a great part of your budget but grocery bills really gobble your money and you may not even notice it. 

Sometimes it’s really hard to control your spending when you are in the market. If you don’t have a precise shopping list, if you come to a grocery shop with an empty stomach, you may buy much more than you expected. If you don’t control your budget and spending, at the end of the month you’ll be shocked how much money you’ve spent just on groceries. Furthermore, it may be hard for you to believe but overspending on groceries may prevent you from reaching your financial goals.

Fortunately, there is a way out. You can save on groceries without the necessity to cancel your favorite products or reduce your menu. Today we will share some practical tips for you to track your expenses on groceries and not exceed the limits. But first, let’s make it clear about the average monthly budget and how to calculate it properly.

The average cost of groceries per month and how to calculate it

What is a monthly grocery budget for the average family? It may be $150-300, depending on many factors, including age, food preferences, location, stores (because prices differ), and quality of the food you buy. According to USDA, a weekly nutritious grocery budget for one family member can reach $96,72, or up to $418,80 per month. However, it’s an average parameter, and such factors as diets, food restrictions, and eating out are not taken into account.

You’ll spend more money on groceries in big cities compared to small ones, and groceries in organic stores are more expensive because their quality is expected to be higher than in ordinary supermarkets. Moreover, it is necessary to take into account dietary restrictions, because sometimes buying more expensive food is a must for keeping someone healthy, as dietary foods may cost more. That is why every family has its budget, but anyway, it should be calculated according to overall family income as well.

There is a rule of a good daily budget you can spend on food. It should not exceed 15% of your take-home pay. Count how much you earn a day and spend not more than 15% of that sum on groceries daily. If it is more convenient, you can calculate the amount for the whole month. 

Use the grocery calculator

If you create a reasonable budget you can spend on groceries every month, you won’t buy surplus food that can spoil if you don’t use it. You won’t spend more money than you expect if you stick to your shopping list and track your spending. 

To calculate your reasonable monthly grocery budget more accurately, we recommend you use a specific grocery calculator that you may find on the Internet. Such a calculator will help you determine the amount of money you can spend on food based on the preferences you specify. You should add the number of people you live with, their age, and the number of meals they take per day, and tell more about what kind of shopper you are and how you get groceries (e.g., online or offline). When you add all the details, the calculator will show you the weekly and monthly budget that is considered to be appropriate in your case. You can use the results when you buy groceries and try to stick to the offered budget. As a result, you may change some of your shopping habits and start spending money on groceries more wisely.

How do such calculators count the amount and why should you trust them? The results are based on the USDA grocery plan estimates data that is being updated every month. 

What else you can do is try a useful practice that includes several steps: 

  1. Gather all the grocery receipts for at least two weeks. Every receipt containing food in its list should be taken into account, whether you buy products in a supermarket or get some snacks at a gas station. However, you should not include receipts from restaurants, we need to count only the amount you spend when buying food.
  2. Choose three different colors – each for one of the three categories you will highlight. These categories include «veggies, fruits, and whole grain food», «protein foods», and «foods to the limit».
  3. Mark every food item with the corresponding color. Highlight only those products that fit one of the three categories mentioned above.
  4. Sum up how much you’ve spent on every category – this will be the Category Total. 
  5. Then sum up the amount of all Group Totals – this will be the Food Total.
  6. Remember what your food budget is and compare your spending with it. You will see clearly what changes should be made. It may happen that you spend too much on one of the categories, so you’ll need to make a certain shift in your spending. Pay special attention to the «Foods to limit», because you often buy products from this category impulsively (pies, chips, mayo, sugary drinks, etc), and you can always do your best to reduce the number of such products to expand the budget for other more nutritious categories.

Now you know more about the average grocery budget and can calculate it individually for your family. But your next important step is not to exceed the limit you set. At this stage, we want to share a bunch of useful tips on how to prevent overspending when you buy food, so here they are.

  1. Always stick to the list

This rule should be your golden one: never go to a grocery store without a list of products you need to buy. If you don’t have such a list, you are likely to buy something extra and forget to grab the items you need. Thus, you will have to go back to the store and spend money again to finally get what you wanted to buy from the start.

  1. Shop alone

In an ideal world, you go food shopping alone. Because if you are in a supermarket with your spouse and kids, the chances your cart will be full of goods you don’t plan to buy rise significantly. Of course, you can’t always buy groceries alone but try to schedule your time for shopping in such a way that no one distracts you from your list and budget. For instance, go shopping when kids are at school or kindergarten. 

  1. Don’t buy pre-packaged products

It is a very convenient option to buy products that are already cut and shredded. It saves you time but it doesn’t save you money. So, it is cheaper to buy whole items instead of packaged ones. The same thing concerns pre-boiled veggies. You better buy raw products and cook them yourself as it is much more cost-effective. 

  1. Use coupons

You can find coupons in stores, in your mailbox, or even look for them on the Web. They can be used to cut your expenses on food, whether you buy groceries in an offline store or make purchases online. It may seem that offered discounts are not that big to save a lot of money, but when you use multiple coupons you can see how much you really save. But be cautious: discounts should not be the reason you buy this or that product. Make sure you really need what you buy and that you are not tempted just by the reduced price.

  1. Freeze food

Sometimes it is better to freeze fresh food before it gets rotten. Thus, you will save money and won’t throw products away. Additionally, you can cook something and freeze it to save time when you need to prepare something quickly. For instance, you can chop and freeze vegetables and then easily add them to the soup when needed, or freeze fruits to make smoothies when you need a quick and refreshing snack.

  1. Plan your menu

When you buy groceries, don’t do it chaotically. Think how you will use every product and what dishes you will cook out of it. Such planning will help you buy the amount you actually need, and also you won’t spend money on food you don’t need in the end. Think over the recipes before you go to the grocery shop and plan your meals.

  1. Mind your restaurant bills

This may not be obvious, but visiting restaurants for lunch on a regular basis can seriously blow your budget. Of course, sometimes it’s a great way to spend time with your colleagues or friends but you better not turn it into a habit. So, try to prepare lunches at home and bring them to your office to save on restaurants and cafes. This also requires planning when you go to a grocery store – think about what you’ll prepare for lunch beforehand.

  1. Choose store brands

Almost every store produces its own food items. They are usually much cheaper than the same items of popular brands, and it doesn’t mean they are of lower quality. If you buy food from store brands, you can save up to $1 on every item which may result in pretty good savings.

  1. Don’t pick just eye-level items

Marketing is everywhere, especially in the grocery shops. If you pay more attention to how products are located, you’ll notice that the most expensive ones are always in front of your eyes. When you are in a rush, you can grab them without looking any further. Don’t fall for such tricks, look for other goods lower or higher, and you may find something more affordable.

  1. Wait for the proper moment

There are days when stores cut prices on goods that were more expensive yesterday. Pay attention to such practice as it is not a casual thing, it’s a system. For instance, some stores do restock in the middle of the week, so they mark down on some goods that were not sold by that moment. Be attentive to such cases, and you’ll learn what store will be the next to offer a discount and what day suits shopping better. 

  1. Take a bag with you

Do you know some shops give discounts in case you bring a reusable bag? Of course, these discounts are small and reach only up to 10 cents. But at the same time, it is an extremely easy method of saving money, no matter how much. It’s a tiny step but a good habit.

  1. Choose stores thoroughly

Don’t just rush into the nearest store, choose the most affordable one. Compare prices in your local stores and pick the one where the combination of price and quality is the best. Some products may be more affordable in one store and some in another, so check the prices and decide where it is better to buy this or that item. You may spend more time on your purchases visiting different stores but you will save money in the end.

  1. Don’t throw away the leftovers

When you cook a big dish and something is left, don’t throw it away. Put it in the container and use it for your next meal or take it to the office as a lunch. Thus you will use all of the food you buy, save money on eating out, and won’t spend more on new food. You can also freeze the leftovers and use them later.

  1. Use cash-back offers

Some apps allow you to get cash back on your purchases. Just choose shops that have such an option and order groceries there. You will be able to get a certain sum back, and thus you can cut your expenses on food. It also concerns some restaurants and cafes – when you eat out, you will pay less because a certain amount of money will return to your card. Just learn if such an option is available and don’t forget to activate it.

  1. Use membership cards and loyalty programs

Almost every grocery store offers membership cards for the customers to get some privileges. For example, those clients who have membership cards can enjoy discounts and special offers, as well as collect points and get some bonuses at the end of the month.

  1. Use the 60/30/10 rule

There is an approach that may help you buy groceries within the boundaries of the set budget. It is called the «60/30/10 rule» and shows you how many products to buy for it to be enough and not expensive. According to this rule, you should spend 60% of your food budget on fruit, vegetables, and wholegrain products, 30% – on meat, fish, dairy, eggs, nuts, and other products containing protein, and 10% – on highly processed products that include chips, biscuits, chocolate, various sweet drinks, etc.

  1. Don’t go shopping being hungry

You risk making chaotic and sometimes even silly purchases if you appear in a grocery shop with a strong feeling of hunger. You want to eat everything and you want to buy everything. Then you see strange sums on your bill and you are not satisfied. So, make sure your stomach is full before you go to the grocery shop.

These are the general rules on how to cut your spending on groceries. Now let’s talk about how to save on certain food categories on the examples of the most popular foods every family buys.


This is one of the most expensive categories and may take the biggest part of your bills. But still, there are methods to save money:

  • buy ground versions of your favorite meat (beef, chicken, turkey, pork) and then use it in many different dishes. Ground meat is also easy to freeze and store, and it takes less time to cook than large meat pieces. 
  • if you crave some meat cut, include in your menu those parts that are usually cheaper: pork butt, lamb shoulder, flank steak or chuck roast. 
  • it will be cheaper to buy a whole chicken and use its parts for different recipes. Even the bones can be used for soup or broth, so there will be no leftovers. 
  • reduce the amount of meat you buy – it is healthy to have meatless days using some high-protein alternatives as well (for example, legumes and beans cost less than meat but can be a good source of protein).

Fish and seafood

If you are a fan of seafood but need to stick to your budget, there are some ways for you to save money but still enjoy your favorite products:

  • buy wholesale or prefer frozen variants
  • choose cheaper types (e.g., mackerel instead of tuna)
  • buy canned seafood and use it whenever it is necessary (in such a way it won’t get spoiled, and, if you buy in bulk, you may store closed cans for years)
  • If you buy a whole fish use all of its parts (make fish stock of bones, head, and tail)
  • save on seafood by purchasing tail-on shrimps and use their tails in soup

Dairy products and eggs

The variety of such products is truly wide, so you can always choose an item that has the best combination of quality and price. Here are a few tips to save on dairy and eggs:

  • Buy in bulk (but don’t forget to check the expiration dates) and freeze milk and butter, you will be able to use them later when necessary.
  • Buy powdered milk and use it in some recipes instead of ordinary milk (you can add it to mashed potatoes or coffee)

Fruits and vegetables

The main tip in this category is to choose seasonal food. You can save money on groceries if you plan your menu according to the season because seasonal fruits and vegetables are always more affordable than some rare or exotic ones. 

  • As for the fruits, it is better to buy apricots in spring, berries and watermelon in summer, grapes and pears in autumn, and citrus fruit in winter. 
  • As for the vegetables, you can save money if you prefer asparagus in spring, tomatoes and zucchini in summer, sweet potatoes and cauliflower in autumn, and rutabagas and leeks in winter.

Grocery staples

This food category is always a good idea to save some money – it includes canned and dry goods. This can be anything from pasta and oatmeal to beans and soups. They don’t expire fast and are good to use in your daily meals. You can save them in a pantry for a minimum of a year and don’t have to refrigerate them. There is one main tip to help you save on party staples

  • Buy them in bulk or when prices are cut (as you use them often and they can be stored longer than other products, it will be a good saving in the end)

Try implementing these tips and think of other ways to save money on groceries that fit your family. We bet it will help you in your budgeting efforts and let you make wise purchases in the future.


If you want to control your expenses on food and reach more financial goals by saving money, the tips we shared above might be a good start. Though you may get tempted by captivating sales and discounts, always follow your list and remember that budget is not just a number – it’s your wise way to track expenses and control them.

In case you think that saving on your food shopping is hard, let us tell you that you are wrong. It’s just about inventing and practicing new habits that fit your particular case. Just start using the hacks we offer, and you’ll be surprised how much money will stay in your pocket or on your card. Such changes will definitely inspire you for more ones, and sooner or later you’ll reach your goal.


Oleksandr graduated from Dnipro National University of railway transport in Ukraine. At first, he was a customer success manager at PocketGuard and in 1.5 years has been promoted to product manager....

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