What I Spent Weekly on Groceries-a Snapshot of 2013

Do you know what you spent on groceries last year? Monthly? Weekly? I don’t know exactly what I spent for the whole year of 2013, but every fall for the past seven years I have recorded every grocery expenditure, regardless if I paid cash or used the debit card, or if it was a one dollar expenditure or a one hundred dollar expenditure. I recorded my finding for 10 weeks starting in September through the first part of November. You can go here to read about what I spent in 2012, and go here for what I spent in 2011.

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If you have never kept track of your grocery expenses and you want to reduce expenses and save money in general, it’s time to track those groceries receipts! You’ve gotta know how much is going out so you can get a reign of what you can save.

During these 10 weeks every time I was at the store, I would open a Google doc and record the date, store, and amount I spent. That’s it. I added up what I spent each week, ending up with a weekly total. Then I added up the weekly totals, and divided by 10 weeks to get a weekly average.

For a quick reference, here is what I averaged for groceries per week for the last 6 years, along with the four week average to get a “monthly” total.

In 2013 when I looked back at fall 2012 I knew our grocery bill had drastically increased for a few different reasons.

  • We were buying bigger quantities of whole foods.
  • We were buying more organic food.
  • The mouths we feed are getting bigger. Our eight year old just keeps asking for more and more food, “I am hungry mom. What can I eat?” I hear this E-VER-Y DAY! But it’s good! It means I have a daughter to feed!
  • Gas is more expensive, which affects the price of everything including groceries.
  • And frankly there aren’t many coupons for one ingredient items.

I honestly was pleasantly surprised looking at our 2012 totals because I thought they would be way higher than they actually were in reality. The increase was still fairly large comparing 2012 to 2011, but it was smaller than I expected.

On the other hand, looking at the totals for 2013, as you’ll soon read below, makes me want to cover my eyes to the reality and hide under a dark blanket. Yet, I have to look at it and own it. I cringe at the drastic amount we are spending each week on groceries, but I completely expected the large grocery bill increase for the previously stated reasons. We HAVE to be okay with paying more if we want quality food and we have growing families.

And actually prepackaged food prices have gone way up, too. At least in the Pacific Northwest, we don’t have any places we can double coupons anymore, either. It all makes me wonder, if I were to shop right now like I did in the past with all the prepackaged food and coupons, would I be spending about the same amount I do currently?? I kinda think, yes!

So here is the snapshot of what I spent last year on groceries in the fall of 2013 for our family of five…with two adults, a 8 year old, a 6 year old and a 4 year old:

Week 1 $172.24
Week 2 $119.99
Week 3 $120.78
Week 4 $188.52
Week 5 $123.29
Week 6 $78.36
Week 7 $206.01
Week 8 $155.69
Week 9 $191.42
Week 10 $70.24

And for the grand total averages, here is what we spent on groceries:

  • 2013: $142.65 2013/week=$570.60 for 4 weeks

Does that seem like I am spending a lot to you? I am curious to know what others spend. According to the 2012 US Gallup Poll, the average American spends $151, so we are still below that average, and this is a year later. I guess I should rejoice! And really I am okay with spending more for better food.

In the last few years I have changed the way I buy groceries and where I buy them. I used to go to several stores each week armed with their respective ads and buy a few things from each store to get the best deals. I’d have my coupons ready, and be in and out. Well, now that most of the food we buy requires no coupon, I’ve drastically cut back on the amount of coupons I use, and I shop at:

  • Fred Meyer once a week for perishables.
  • Costco twice a month for produce and pantry items.
  • Winco twice a month for produce and bulk food items.
  • The Sno-Isle Co-op every month or two for bulk food items and select produce.
  • Trader Joe’s once a month for select produce and select pantry items.
  • Grocery Outlet once every three months for organic packaged items-you can’t rely on them to carry the same products consistently, though, so it’s a surprise every time!

So here are a few things I am currently doing to keep grocery costs down and still eat mostly organic and whole foods:

  • I still look for good deals and stock up when I can.
  • I compare prices from one store to another, especially Costco Prices and WinCo Prices.
  • I shop mostly in the bulk section or buy in bulk.
  • I make most of our portable snacks like granola bars, although we do keep one prepared box of Fig Bars or some snack in the car to prevent us from eating out.
  • I am using mostly dried beans now instead of canned, although I keep cans on hand.
  • I buy one kind of meat to have per week, so when it’s gone, it’s gone and then we eat vegetarian meals.
  • I don’t buy organic nuts (yet).
  • We almost exclusively cook all meals from scratch.
  • We have usually one soup night (or more) per week.
  • We use mostly cloth napkins.

What do you spend a week or a month for groceries? How do you keep your grocery bill down? We’d love to know!

Have you read Grocery Bill Snapshot 2012, or Grocery Bill Snapshot 2011?

Or Is It Time to Give Up On Coupons?

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  1. says

    Hi there! Don’t know if I every have commented before but I enjoy your blog. Our grocery bill is only slightly less than yours. We have my husband and I and our 12 year old son. We, too, pretty much only eat organic and buy much in bulk. We eat at home except for 1 meal a week when my husband and I go on a date. Our nuts are also non organic and just bought at Sams. If you are in the Pacific NE you should check out Azure Standard. Maybe you already have? They have wonderful prices! When we lived in the Midwest we ordered from them. Organic apples for $1 a pound, organic, nuts and grains, pretty much a huge health food store. We really miss it and are still looking for a good coop here in Virginia.

    • says

      Hi Rebecca, Thanks so much for sharing! There aren’t enough items at Azure that I would buy yet, although I have many friends who love it. I can find things locally for a better price for the most part, but I still like to check them out every year to compare the things I buy to their prices. Have a great weekend!

      • says

        That is great that you can find reasonable priced things locally! When we lived in Nebraska, organic food and bulk items were hard to come by. Now that we live in Virginia there are a lot more local options, for which I am thankful. I think your spending isn’t unreasonable at all. When we had 4 kids at home similar ages to yours we regularly spent over $1200 on groceries and paper products. That was before we switched to whole organic food and went paperless. When we did switch our grocery bill actually went down to under $1000 a month. Now that we have only 1 child at home it has gone down even more, but as he is a growing boy and eating more food, our bill is bound to go up again! Have a nice weekend, too!

  2. Karyn says

    We spend about 800 a month for a family of seven (kids all under the age of 10) in western NC. I don’t think our grocery costs have gone up much in the last two years but everything I buy is now conventional. I can’t afford organic any longer and I can’t afford the meat from the local farmer because we rarely have a big chunk of money for buying in bulk. I could lower the grocery bill but, while we eat whole foods, we do eat more “paleo” style, so more meat and eggs and good fats.

    Thanks for sharing your bills – I love seeing how people do this in “real life”.

    • says

      HI Karyn. You are welcome, and thanks for sharing about what your family does! Whole foods is most important first, so great job!

  3. Erin says

    Wow! We spend about $1000-1200 a month for 5 people. We are fairly new (8 mos) to the whole food/organic food movement. Went all the way organic and now am realizing that we need to reconsider some items to keep costs down. We do eat one meal out a week (at church on Wednesday nights as part of fellowship) but that total includes breakfast, lunches, snacks and dinners for me and hubby, 11 year old son, 9 year old daughter and 5 year old daughter. We are in northern NC. Moved from Austin, Texas 2 years ago where we actually had MUCH lower priced groceries!

    • says

      Hi Erin. Thanks for sharing! I appreciate knowing what people are spending on real food, especially in different parts of the country. It is an interesting balance as different families transition to whole and organic foods. Where is the balance? It is so expensive to go 100% organic. I really think the most important thing is to get the taste buds readjusted to whole foods even if it means people are buying 100% conventional. We have incrementally added more organics. Thank you for visiting and commenting!

  4. says

    We spend around $1000 a month for groceries for a family of 9. More than half my children are teens or young adults and we have several who are gluten free or paleo. We buy meat from local farmers, and raised a pig this year which gave us a good supply of inexpensive meat. I buy a few packaged snacks from Trader Joe’s but make most things from scratch. I rarely buy juice, soda, ice cream, or individually packaged snacks but I do keep lots of fruit and vegetables on hand which I supplement from my garden in the spring and summer. I buy some organic, but not everything. Thanks for posting, I love reading what other people spend on food, it always motivates me. Blessings, Jennifer

    • says

      Hi Jennifer. Thank you for sharing your numbers! I hope we can get more out of our garden this year to supplement our grocery bill. We also make most of our snack from scratch, too.

  5. says

    I love this. I am a big tracker, and my grocery bill for the month averages about $100/ month for one adult, for a family of five I would expect it to be around $500. I also eat mostly organic, but I don’t buy anything packaged. I do my big shop once a month and make everything I will be eating for the month right away and put it in the freezer. Before I do any kind of shopping I sit down and figure out what I’m going to cook and write down every ingredient (except water), along with the quantities. I then go through the house checking off the ingredients that I already have and re filling any spices that might be low (I store the bags in the “cold” room) so I know exactly what I have and that I won’t run out mid recipe. I make everything up and freeze it so that I don’t have an excuse to go to the drive through, dinner is already made I just have to heat it. For snacks in the car I use dried apples, that I dry myself. For the rest of the month I only go to the fruit and veggie section of the store for the fresh stuff, and I’ve never used a coupon. I am however currently looking at ways to reduce my grocery bill further, by supplementing it with produce from the garden during the summer months.

    • says

      Hi Ricki. I really appreciate you sharing all you do. That’s awesome! Your tracking makes me feel better about how much we are spending per week on our family. I love how you make sure you never run out of ingredients. We do the same. As soon as I open a new bottle of olive oil or coconut oil, I have it on my list to go replenish my supply so we never have to make “trips of desperation”. Blessings, and thank you for sharing!

  6. Rebecca says

    Wow! I can’t believe you all are able to track all your expenses! I have a hard time keeping my receipts, let alone tracking a month of them. Wish I could. I have a general idea. There are 3 of us, and we spend about $400 a month. This includes, toilet paper, laundry soap, and food. Good job everyone! I have tracking envy.

    • says

      Hi Tanya. I wince when I keep track, too, because it is definitely a reality check, but it’s a good check!! Hope it goes smoothly for you and that you get positive results!

  7. says

    We used to spend about $800 a month for a family of 4. We live in a rural area so we pay more for our food that other areas of the country. As of late, I’ve had to work hard to get that number down to $500-$600 a month, but it is not easy. I purchase as much as I can in bulk, cook as much as possible from scratch, and we have learned to live with simpler meals. We eat less meat and more beans and rice. We drink water most of the time. I buy more frozen fruits and veggies than fresh. Thank you for sharing your information (and all the great comments!). While we have to be careful not to compare, as we all have such different circumstances, it is helpful to hear what others are doing. Thanks for the post!

    • says

      Hi Heather. Thanks for sharing what your family does. Gotta love water!! I think this year when I track our detailed grocery purchases that it will be hard to stay under $600/month. Grocery prices keep rising.

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