Q&A: How much should a family of eight spend on groceries?

If you spend $40 a week on groceries, what do you think a family of 8 should spend on their food bills for the week? -Kate

My
goal price range is $0.25-0.50/person for breakfasts and lunches and
$1.00-$1.50/person for dinners. Basically, I shoot for it to cost
around $2/person per day for food and household items. However, we
don’t actually spend that much since we have two adults and two little
children and only spend approximately $38-40 a week on food and household
items.

As our children grow older and we have more
children, I’m curious to see how much we’ll need to adjust our budget.
Since we have not raised our budget by much in spite of our expanding family, I’m hoping we can continue to keep it low.

I would
like to never go above $75/week–no matter how many children we have (and we’re hoping for at least eight or more!), but I have to test that out with a
brood of children before I can say for sure! One thing I do know is that the longer I bargain shop, the better I become at stretching our dollars.

When
you are first starting out with creating a budget and a menu and
sticking with it, I suggest you begin with something very doable.
If you’ve never had a grocery budget before, just sticking with the
same budget every week is a new challenge. Start somewhere but don’t
make it too hard at first. Keep it simple.

For a family of
eight, maybe you could try to stick with $150/week? That would be about
$21/day or about $2.60/person per day ($0.87/person per meal). Your
eventual goal might be to cull that down to around $100 or less, if
possible, but start out with something manageable. This is supposed to
be a fun process not a stressful process! If $150 sounds way too low,
try starting out with a $200/week budget. As always, starting somewhere is better than not starting at all!

Whatever
you do, choose a budget amount that you think is possible, but might
be a little bit of a challenge. Keep in mind your family’s eating
preferences, where you live and what the prices are in that locale,
what your husband likes to eat (don’t scrimp there!), how often you
have others into your home for meals, and how much time you have
available to spend cooking and planning.

I also think it is good
to not have the budget so low that you can’t splurge on certain things
sometimes. We splurge every week on organic hormone-free milk and eggs
from a local dairy. We also often use our overage from CVS to splurge
on "fun things" like dark chocolate and ice cream. Always remember that
the purpose of saving money is not to deprive yourself, but to make the
most of what you have!

Once you feel comfortable with your
current grocery budget and feel like you could do better, try shaving
off a little more and a little more until you get your budget down to
where you’d like for it to be. Remember, if at any time in the process
you stop looking at it as a fun challenge and start seeing it as a
stressful frustration, back off a bit and allow yourself a little more
wiggle room.

As you gradually improve at your bargain-hunting
skills, are able to stock up on good deals, and start planning your
menu more based upon what is on sale at the store and what you already
have on hand, you’ll find it becoming easier and easier to lower your
weekly budget.

What is your weekly budget and how many does that regularly
feed? Do you include your household items in that budget? Are you
satisfied with your budget or do you think you could improve it?

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Comments

  1. says

    I am very impressed with the budgets I see in these comments! Mine is not nearly as impressive. For a family of three (2 adults and one 14 month old) I spend about $100-ish per week. And we don’t buy meat! And I get most of my personal items ‘free’ at CVS! But what it boils down to for us is my husband’s large appetite (he’s a runner, who runs 70ish miles per week….that’s 7000 extra calories to consume!), his preference for lots of fruit–I mean LOTS!, our desire to eat organically and locally, and the sort of ‘political’ decision we have made to avoid some big stores. We also avoid certain ingredients. But I coupon faithfully, spend about $2 per week at CVS on $20-$30 worth of stuff, and our family budget allows for the larger grocery budget. I used to be able to get away with about $70-$80 per week but now I have allowed myself more wiggle room, as we’re in a place financially where that’s okay. It’s hard for me to accept this…but some items just can’t be bought on the cheap very easily, such as the vegan margarine or brown rice syrup or agave nectar….

  2. says

    Oh yes, I forgot to add that our budget is lower when we have our huge garden in but this year due to my husband’s running/training schedule we just could not do it–so we only planted pumpkins!!! ;)

    Gardens help tremendously….

  3. says

    So many extremely tight budgets! I’m impressed. However, due to both dietary and lifestyle choices, my target number is far more liberal.

    Before careful couponing/sales, I would easily spend $150/week on groceries and household items for a family of 3 (including a visibly growing teenage boy). Now, my goal is to stay under $100, and the last two weeks our net cost has averaged $70something.

  4. says

    We are a family of 9:

    Dad
    Mom
    DD#1 – 20
    DS#1 – 9.5
    DS#2 – 8
    DD#2 – 6 (rather will be in a few days)
    DD#3 – 4
    DS#3 – 3 (rather will be in a few days)
    DS#4 – almost 2
    We budget $500 for the month. This includes all food and non-food items. Some months I use it all and others I don’t. Just depends.

    That’s rounded out to be about $55 – $56 per person per month for food and non-food items.

    Which averages out to $12.44 a week per person! ($56 divided by 4.5 since some months have more weeks than others).

    You can see how we do it, what we buy etc. here:

    http://laurawilliamsmusings.blogspot.com/2008/08/groceries-500-or-less-for-month-for.html

  5. says

    I failed to mention…

    We shop once a month as it’s just easier for me since I make out a menu a month at a time. Yes, hubby may stop into the store to pick up fresh fruit or veggies once a week as needed but 90% (guess-timate) of our shopping is done once a month.

  6. says

    Our family of four spends about $150 every two weeks, but that includes formula for the youngest at about $100 a month. I try to offset that by making her baby food from scratch. It’s healthier anyway! It also includes about $30 a month for pet food! I have become a big coupon user and CVSer since the baby was born, and that has really offset the addition of diapers and formula. I am trying to spend more time making “eating out” dishes at home also. I am learning to make Mexican at home as much as possible because that is one of our favorites.

  7. tammy says

    We spend about $125 a week, and that includes groceries, diapers, household, and eating out. We are only a family of 5 but a good majority of our groceries are organic. Before I switched to organics it was half of that.

  8. says

    I just wanted to say “thank you.” We are a family of three and you’ve motivated me to get our grocery bill down to $50 a week. It worked out great for my first month. I’m also trying to stay home more.

    Somehow, with those changes, the Lord stretched out budget so much last month that there wasn’t a dent in our bottom line with 4 new tires and an old medical bill that found it’s way to us that month.

  9. says

    We are a family of 6- 4 boys ages 10-4 and my husband and I. We spend about $40-50 a week, usually $40. I do sometimes allot money that I spend on things like extra produce to can or freeze for winter, bulk items like 50 lbs of oatmeal or large bags of cocoa, but otherwise we do fairly well sticking to it. I usually post my menus on my blog http:/www.homeschoolblogger.com/martha

  10. says

    Crystal,

    Just wanted to write that it was so refreshing to read that you and your husband are hoping for a larger family. It’s nice to know there are other couples that are more “open to life” :). I just wanted to let you know that I think it’s great that you are open to expanding your family, even though it means spending more money. Children, and family, are priceless :).

    Smiles!
    Mary

    P.S. Can’t offer any advice on the whole budgeting thing right now because we are currently in a budget crisis…. actually we’ve been in one for awhile. Prayers would help LOL!

  11. Michelle says

    Thanks to your site, which got me started, we are spending close to half of what we were in the spring. Our family of seven (two adults, three teenagers and two young boys) spends about $150 a week. I use coupons, shop at discount stores and CVS/ Rite Aid, etc. Our grocery bill is mostly produce and dairy (also thanks to your words of wisdom regarding keeping meat as a sort of side in meals instead of the main thing). Since produce coupons are something I have yet to find and the local farmer’s market is actually expensive(!!!), I am fairly happy with the progress we are making. According to the other comments we appear to be the norm in how much we are spending, but I am grateful to be able to buy better quality foods now, for less, and the kids have gotten to have fun snacks that I couldn’t afford before this coupon bug hit our home! So, thanks for that!!!

  12. says

    My family of 10 averages about 250 dollars per week. A good number of luxury items are included in that, including many packaged foods/drinks to accomodate dh’s needs for his lunch for work, snacks for the kids, etc. When I invest the necessary time in couponing and shopping sales, I can trim that by 40 to 50 dollars per week. Likewise, I am able to move into a budget buster mode whereby I serve more economical meals like soups, beans, etc. During summer months, a little more may go toward meats and seasonal fruits, but balances out with garden produce. When the garden is going well, I may only spend 100 to 150 per week.

  13. says

    Normally, I spend between $125 and $150 for a family of nine, for a week (includes everything).

    I really want to get it down. The CVS shopping is helping with toiletries and household items, and even gifts.

    The trouble I seem to run into is that on lean weeks, when I have little to nothing to spend, I cook from scratch from the cupboards. Then, because I use up the staples, I have to go do a big stock-up after pay day. I’d love to get better stocked up on dry goods so I don’t have to spend as much in one go.

  14. says

    Oh, how I could use all of your help. I am reading these blogs everyday, reading your posts. And I just can’t do it.

    We are a family of four. And because I quit my well-paying corporate job and started my own business, we are on a serious budget.

    Groceries is the one place I think we could do soooo much better. We spend up to $200/wk…I know!…and we don’t by beef. Our family GIVES us beef whenever we need it.

    I’m clipping coupons, trying to use couponmom.com and you all. But I still can’t get it down below $100+/wk.

    Can you give me one or two places to start? What am I doing wrong?

    Thank you so much.

    Robin

  15. Kate says

    Reading all of these comments has me in SHOCK! I live overseas with my husband & 2 kids (ages 2 & 3), with one on the way. My husband is active duty Air Force, so we shop on base at the commissary. I consider myself a very careful shopper & I use coupons (we can use them until 6 months past the expiration date). We qualify for WIC here, which means I hardly ever have to purchase milk, eggs, juice, peanut butter, bread, cheese, etc., and we get $20/month in produce. We STILL spend between $80-$120/week on groceries/household items (both kids are potty trained, no pets). Reading your blog makes me very anxious to move back stateside where I can shop around & purchase generic items! We were trying to make a budget for when we move back and were expecting to be spending the same as what we are spending now. All of these comments are encouraging to me that we can cut our budget down for food! :)