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New Contributor
Posts: 72
Registered: ‎02-12-2008

Monthly Food Budget Amount

Working on my budget and I know I spend way too much on food.   For a 1 person household what is a reasonable amount to budget for food?  Including groceries AND dining out.

Super Contributor
Posts: 7,132
Registered: ‎02-27-2013

Re: Monthly Food Budget Amount

There's no right number.

I would say it ought to be about 1/3 of your income, or just what you're really comfortable with spending.

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Moderator Emeritus
Posts: 32,865
Registered: ‎08-04-2007

Re: Monthly Food Budget Amount

Back in my college and single days (approaching 20 yrs ago) I was spending $10/day on food and survived quite well. If I had to price out my eating again, I would say a little more than that and could easily get by with $400/mo while eating healthy w/ very little processed stuff. I do the food shopping for our family of 6 now and that's based on the prices I see today and eating out maybe 2x/mo. I hate the fast food stuff so I'd easily spend more if eating out somewhere nice.

New Member
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎06-05-2013

Re: Monthly Food Budget Amount

My wife and I spend about $200-$300 a month on groceries a month (no kids).  We try to stick to a good budget, any extra cash left over we invest.

Senior Contributor
Posts: 3,574
Registered: ‎11-30-2007

Re: Monthly Food Budget Amount

I use coupons, shop sales, cook fresh.  I think I spend about $200 on groceries.


Dining out....always use a BOGO coupon and usually drink a soda or water.

Frequent Contributor
Posts: 288
Registered: ‎02-24-2011

Re: Monthly Food Budget Amount

Glad someone posted on this subject. I'm trying to cut back and there aren't many areas where we can. We really don't spend money on much, but food has always been our biggest problem. DH gets fast food all day while he's at work. I usually eat at home, but just for the two of us, I probably spend at least 300 on groceries.

I've always wondered what a reasonable amount might be. Looks like I need to rethink my selections at the grocery store.

EX 695, EQ 703, TU 681 (1/17)
Established Contributor
Posts: 502
Registered: ‎04-17-2013

Re: Monthly Food Budget Amount

I spend $150-175 every two weeks for a family of 4.

2010: 475 EQ 2011: 503 EQ 2012: 600 EQ2013:632 EQ
Starting Score: 634 EQ-3/13/13
Current Score: 706 EQ-8/29/13 703 EX-7/12/13 705 TU-8/9/13
Goal Score: 700

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Frequent Contributor
Posts: 463
Registered: ‎11-28-2012

Re: Monthly Food Budget Amount

fishbjc wrote:

I use coupons, shop sales, cook fresh.  I think I spend about $200 on groceries.


Dining out....always use a BOGO coupon and usually drink a soda or water.

+1000 Coupons, specials, etc. I spend about $700 a month - 2 adults, a 19 year full time college student & 13 year old. This budget also includes household goods (paper products, cleaning products, and pet food, etc.) 

Start: Nov'12 EQ 699/EX 685/TU 696 / Current: April''14 EQ 715/EX 709/TU 709 * Goal 750+

Valued Member
Posts: 32
Registered: ‎05-25-2013

Re: Monthly Food Budget Amount

[ Edited ]

I think about this a lot because I know I spend too much as a single adult.  I spend roughly about $100 week.  I do sometimes lack good planning skills and have to throw out food, so I've been trying to cut down on that.  I also am mostly vegetarian which cuts on a lot of the big ticket items.  I can go as low as $50 a week but that usually means a severe decrease in the quality of my purchases.


Current Scores:                 Starting Scores:
EQ FICO 648 (7/22/14)     EQ FICO 575 (5/1/13)
TU FICO 678 (7/11/14)     TU FICO 558 (6/1/13)
EX FICO 641 (7/10/14)     EX FICO 570 (6/13/13)

Not much change yet, but it's coming!
Valued Contributor
Posts: 3,022
Registered: ‎08-13-2009

Re: Monthly Food Budget Amount

[ Edited ]

I have been tracking my numbers for four years.   I separate out buying groceries and dining out.  Getting coffee, or any groceries, at the gas station or a convenience store is coded as eating out.  Buying pre-made food (like a roasted chicken) at the grocery store is coded as eating out.   If I buy an ingredient, like milk or something needed for cooking at the hotel "store", I coded it as dining out.  Often (several times a month up to fifteen/twenty times a month) bossman would insist on eat out meetings or would treat me/us to a meal out.  Those are coded as dining out even though we didn't pay for those meals!  In my mind, we would have eaten for that meal anyway...  Teenage boy with friends, coded as eating out.   DIning out includes tips paid to servers. Food gifts count as dining out.  Groceries might include household items, like toothpaste, etc. although I do try to ring those up separately under household items.


2010 -

Groceries - $5,206.21

Dining out - $5,490.07

Total - $10,696.28

People - 2 males, 1 female (one was a teenage boy)


2011 - 

Groceries - $3,666.00  (I started rounding up, putting all change in savings).

Dining out - $5,965.00  (I started rounding up, putting all change in savings).

Total - $9,631.00

People - 2 males, 1 female (one was a teenage boy)


2012 - 

Groceries - $6,435.00

Dining out - $5,107.00

Total - $11,663.00  (higher because I stocked up for the winter)

People - 1 male, 1 female (with half the year with a teenage boy)


2013 - YTD

Groceries - $1,927.00

Dining out - $2,371.00

Total - $4,298.00

People - 1 male, 1 female


Average for groceries January - June for 2010, 2011, and 2012 is $2,077.00   Right now, I am below average.

Average for dining out January - June for 2010, 2011, and 2012 is $3,112.00  Right now, I am below average.


I find that I spend less on food when I pay cash and when I purchase things in bulk.  I know that sounds weird.  I bought a case of Thai Spicy Chips.  (long story.)  I still have 9 out of 12 bags left and it's been a month.  If I had bought a few bags at a time, they would have been gone, literally, in a week.  The family leaves boxes full but goes after single items like the chips, when they are in the house.


The other way I spend less on food is when I pay cash and buy fruits/veggies and meat on an almost daily basis.  


My budget is anywhere from $200-$800 a month for food.  Yeah, I know I totally blow that almost every month.  My mistake?  I let someone go shopping with me and/or I take a break from cooking.  I cook so much from scratch, which is time consuming, and I try to cook for the week plus and freeze some of it.  And when I cook fresh, family and friends tend to inhale the food.  Literally.  So it's harder to freeze some of it.  And for a month, I was feeding an additional four people.  


I see this year as being a much lower food cost year.  


And big picture, I don't really worry about what I spend.  I put money into a "Food account".  It often builds up into a nice savings account I can use for other things, if needed.  Oh, and I tend to spend less money on food when I don't update myself on where I am for the month.  I always track it.


I have to have meat.  I choose to buy organic.  I grow as much as I can of my own food - each year, there is an improvement.  


A hundred a week, in my opinion, is not bad at all!  


I separate out my household items at the register and ring them up separately.  I make my own personal care items and have toilet paper from hotel visits.  (TDY was every month for years!  Plus I get people's paper products when they move.)  My things like laundry soap, tp, Kleenex, etc is pretty much zero per month.


I started tracking the food costs to 


1.  Prove to my family how much I was spending on food.  They needed the reality hit.

2.  Started cost analyzing each meal to help them realize what eating at home costs.

3.  To teach the family how to plan a menu based on a budget.

4.  To prepare the teen to do this on his own.

5.  It's been an eye opening experience.


Food, by far, is my biggest expense each month.  I am actually working towards reducing that.  Smiley Happy


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