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How Much Do You Spend on Food?

This post is #2 in the Budgeting for Real Food series.  Be sure to subscribe by RSS feed or email so you don’t miss out on the rest of the series.  


I have had this overwhelming curiosity to find out what the average US family pays for groceries each month.  In speaking to people and reading blogs, I hear all kinds of figures from $200/month for a family of 4 all the way up to over $1000.  Talk about a wide span of figures!


I recently came across this data on the average food spending per household in the U.S.


According to these statistics, in August 2011 a typical “thrifty” family of four with elementary school aged children spent $618.80 on food.  A typical “liberal spending” family of the same size spent $1218.80. Ummm, can I say shocking?!  Seriously, these numbers seem crazy high to me.


Don’t get me wrong….when we were a family of 4 (were are a family of 6 now) and our household income was significantly higher than it is now, we spent over $1100 per month on food.  But we had a higher than average income at the time and making a “budget” wasn’t anywhere on our radar.  We ate an amazing traditional foods, Real Food diet during that time and paid top dollar for things.  I knew nothing about budgeting or saving money…looking back it makes me cringe how casual I was about spending.


Then our income took a steep, very steep, cut and I panicked and threw myself into couponing.  Even though I originally planned to keep to our high food standards, the thrill of the deal took over and before I knew it I had our grocery budget down to between $400 to $450 per month for our family of 6, including all toiletries, paper products, and cleaning products.  I have to admit it was thrilling to be able to go into Publix and save 60% or more on my bill.  I remember a few times when I scored a 90% savings!


Needless to say, going from an amazingly nourishing Real Food diet to a diet full of processed, genetically modified, factory farmed foods did make a noticeable difference in my family’s health.  Even though I prided myself on only buying “natural” foods (we were, and still are, on the Feingold diet as a family)…I bought a lot of “natural” junk.


When we came to our senses and decided that good health needed to be top priority once again, I had a lot of changing to do.  Only this time, I’m not working with a higher than average income.  In fact, we are currently living on a very modest income for a family of 6 and we struggle to afford the basics. But, since my husband and I know so well how the food we eat affects our health and we either pay now or pay later we have made food spending top priority in our overall budget and we are committed to making it work.


I’m excited to be sharing with you all how we are eating healthy on a modest income.  I have learned so much about how to stretch our dollars while eating the best quality we can find.  Our food spending has definitely increased over what it was in my couponing heyday, but according to statistics above we are still a “low cost plan” family.


Where does your family fit in on this national average?  



4 Responses to How Much Do You Spend on Food?

  1. I can’t wait to read more! Just yesterday my husband’s boss asked how we can afford to eat such healthy food. I think most people just don’t realize how much they really spend on eating out (and for lots of people, going drinking on the weekends), buying junkfood, and swinging by the drive-thru. Like I said on FB, we spend $600 a month, including personal care, cleaning supplies (I make all my own with castile soap, now), herbs, paper products and other household items. Sometimes we go over by $50 to $100, but that still has us on the “thrifty” category! And, yes, we buy organic grain, raw milk, pastured and free-range meat and eggs, organic produce… the works! Oh, and gourmet chocolate for a treat! 😉

    • You’re right…it all comes down to priorities.
      I make all my own cleaning products as well and save a ton of money doing it. Interestingly, when I was hardcore couponing I started buying storebought cleaners like Clorox wipes (and the Seventh Generation brand when I could find a good deal), dishwasher detergent, and laundry detergent. I bought these just because I got them at a great sale plus coupon price, even though I knew how detrimental some of the ingredients are. I know, craziness. Not to mention that even with the unbelievable deals I was getting, it’s still cheaper to make homemade cleaners. So it wasn’t such a great deal afterall.

  2. I started couponing a couple weeks ago and got lots of stuff for 80.00. Half of what i would have spent but it was food I usually dont buy and processed stuff that i could really taste the “nasties ” in. I chose to see wgat i could get with 80.00 in whole foods and i got enough fresh veggies n fruits to last a week, 7 meals worth of meat, a gallon of raw milk, fresh baked bread, fresh made hummus, fresh eggs. All for 80.00 best thing about it is thats all local food except the meat (not sure if it is local, i got it from land and sea market) i was cringing about spending the veggie money, until our family had not prepared for dinner and we went to Mcdonalds (which i hate the idea of, but we are trying to stop all fast food) and spent 30.00 on our dinner for the 5 of us. I forget how much value there is in what we put in our bodies and next time i pay 30.00 fir some veggies, ill do it with a smile on my face knowing at least we will recieve nutrients from it.

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