Now that you're on your own and have adult responsibilities like a house or car, you may want to trim your grocery budget, either by eating in more or by watching what you buy. While there are national averages provided by the USDA, your monthly grocery budget should fit your tastes as well as your means.
Every month, the United States Department of Agriculture figures out the average cost of food based on family size, age and style. For September 2010, the USDA determined that a family of two, aged 19 to 50 years old, would typically spend $347.50 on a thrifty food plan or up to $688.60 on a liberal plan. If you're not into living on beans, rice and pasta or eating caviar, steak and lobster for every meal, you may want to look to the USDA's moderate food plan average, which was $550.60 for a family of two adults.
Averages Based on Location
Where you live affects the average amount you'll spend on groceries. You may think that if you live in New York, you'll need a higher grocery budget than if you lived in the Midwest. The opposite seems to be true, according to statistics from the Bundle website. A 26- to 35-year-old couple living in Omaha, Nebraska, spent an average of $390 on groceries in June 2010, compared to just $274 for a similar couple in New York City. The average Nebraskan couple also spent more on dining out and take-out food.
What Works For You
Of course, the average amount spent on groceries for one family of two may not work for another. A vegetarian family may spend less on groceries than a family that eats meat at every meal, unless that vegetarian family eats a lot of processed, imitation meat products. You need to find a spending range that fits your overall budget as well as your dietary habits and values. For instance, you may want to spend a bit more each month on organic or local food or you may want to spend your money on gourmet foods, such as fancy cheese or on out-of-season produce.
Trim Your Budget Tips
There are plenty of ways to lower your grocery bill to less than the average for a moderate plan and still eat well. You can grow vegetables at home; invest in a community-supported agriculture plan, when you pay a lump sum up front for a delivery of produce each week; or you can buy large portions of meat at one time and freeze them. You can also use coupons and pay attention to the sales fliers to get the cheapest price on pantry items.
- veggie stand image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com