What is your home’s average monthly grocery bill? In the most expensive cities, individuals may spend $1000 or more per month on food. However, this varies greatly depending not just on location but also on diet preferences, family size, and so many other factors.
USDA Food Plans
One good way to figure out the average monthly grocery bill for a household is to look at the USDA food plans. Each month they publish reports showing weekly and monthly spending for four different types of food plans across a range of different household/ family configurations.
Four Food Plans
Each plan reflects a different spending price for a set of healthy meals for the week or month. These are each nutritious, well-rounded diets for people at four different price points. Here are the four types of USDA food plans.
This is a minimal-cost plan for nutritious eating. It shows how people with limited resources should be able to pay for healthy meals and snacks at home if they make the optimal choices. Therefore, people on the thrify plan should have the lowest average monthly grocery bill. The Thrifty Plan is what the government uses as a basis to determine what low-income people receive from SNAP to help pay for their food.
This is a plan for nutritious eating that reflects meals/ foods chosen in the second quartile of food spending. It’s approximately thirty percent higher than the Thrifty Plan. US courts use the numbers from the low-cost plan (or sometimes the moderate-cost plan) when determining child support and alimony payments.
The moderate-cost plan reflects a set of meals and snacks in third quartile of food spending. It’s approximately 63% higher than the Thrifty Plan.
The liberal food plan gives you the most expensive average monthly grocery bill of the USDA food plans. It reflects fourth quartile spending on healthy foods and meals. The Department of Defense uses these numbers to set a Basic Allowance for Subsistence pay amount.
Age-Gender Price Differences in Average Monthly Grocery Bill
The spending charts in the USDA reports reflect the fact that nutritional needs vary depending on age and gender. So each price reflects the average weekly or monthly grocery bill for the following individuals:
Individuals and children (ages):
- 1 year
- 2-3 years
- 4-5 years
- 6-8 years
- 9-11 years
Females (by age group):
Males (by age group):
If you think about it, a one year old eats very differently from a 16-year-old boy who eats differently from a 75-year-old woman. It makes sense that an average monthly grocery bill reflects that.
The USDA food plans report shows four family examples for monthly spending at each of the four price points. They show prices for a family of 2, with one male ane one female aged 19-50 and a second family of two with one male and one female each aged 51-70. They also show prices for two families of four, with a male and female each between 19-50 and two children – the first couple’s kids are 2-3 and 4-5 and the second couple’s kids are 6-8 and 9-11. Therefore, if you want to estimate your average monthly grocery spending then you could select the family most similar to yours. However, if you wanted to get a more specific number then you could add up the individual totals for each person in your family by age and gender.
Average Monthly Grocery Bill
Here are some of the average monthly grocery bill prices for different familes and different food plans according to the August 2019 USDA report:
Family 1: one male and one female each aged 19-50
- Thrifty Plan: $387.40
- Low-Cost Plan: $495.30
- Moderate-Cost Plan: $613.90
- Liberal Plan: $767.70
Family 2: one male and one female each aged 51-70
- Thrifty Plan: $368.30
- Low-Cost Plan: $475.90
- Moderate-Cost Plan: $591.70
- Liberal Plan: $716.10
Family 3: a male and female each between 19-50, a child age 2-3, a child age 4-5
- Thrifty Plan: $565.70
- Low-Cost Plan: $722
- Moderate-Cost Plan: $890.80
- Liberal Plan: $1101.10
Family 4: a male and female each between 19-50, a child age 6-8, a child age 9-11
- Thrifty Plan: $648.50
- Low-Cost Plan: $850.90
- Moderate-Cost Plan: $1063.40
- Liberal Plan: $1289.70
In other words, a young adult couple’s average monthly grocery bill should be between $387 and $768. A family with two tweens should spend between $648 and $1290 per month on groceries. These amounts will give you healthy meals that meet all of your nutritional requirements when eating at home.
What’s your average monthly grocery bill?
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