How much should you spend on groceries?

The size of your family and your household income are big influences on your grocery spending. Some experts believe that $200/adult and $150/child for the month is reasonable. Personally I believe that is a lot of money especially given that the U.S. average household income is $50,000. I like to give guidelines to people based on percentages of income. For instance, all food for the home including groceries, dining out, school lunches, etc should be between 5-15% of your take home pay. Higher income households will be able to have steak more often if there are also fewer mouths to feed. Lower income households may spend closer to the 15% of their income on food simply because the income is not as high. If you use this rule of thumb and your percentage is higher than 15% you have reason to be concerned because the food category is cutting into other living expenses. But of course you need to eat and you or your children shouldn't feel deprived when doing so. If you are spending 20% of what you bring home on food each month that is an indication that more income is needed to take care of your size family or you need to do some serious couponing and reduce dining out. If that is the case, you will also feel the squeeze in your budget in other areas like mortgage/rent, transportation, etc. You can also try several of the following things to reduce the food budget: 1. Shop wholesale markets (Costco and Sam's) religiously for items you use a lot. 2. www.thegrocerygame.com, www.couponsense.com, www.couponmom.com all match the store's sale items to the weekly newspaper coupons. If you clip coupons try these sites once and see big savings. 3. Always have a running list of items you need in the home so you don’t go shopping blind and overspend. 4. Plan your meals and write the items you need on your running grocery list. This way you will only buy what is necessary. 5. Reduce dining out or use www.restaurant.com for deals.

Food is necessity but it doesn't have to cramp your style and take all your discretionary money for the month. With a plan and a purpose you can feed your family on a reasonable amount.