How Much Should My Grocery Budget Be?

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

A grocery budget is one budget category that must be scrutinized every month.

How much should you spend on groceries?

That’s one of the most popular questions this blog asks, and I will break it down for you today.

If you’re anything like our family, your grocery budget is the next most significant monthly expense neighbouring a mortgage or rent payment.

Interestingly, more Canadians are taking their grocery budget seriously and want to know how to save money to lower food costs.

How much of your budget should you spend on groceries?

Related: How To Start Saving Money On Groceries In Canada?

Let’s find out how to narrow it down to a number that fits your budget.

how much should my grocery budget be?
How much should my grocery budget be in Canada?

Determining Your Grocery Budget

First and foremost, a budget is determined by income, so if you’re searching for a cheap grocery list online, it will not help you.

Some people can afford to spend more on food than others, so I’ll explain what you need to do to find your ideal grocery budget number.

Ideally, you’ll want to stop comparing your eating habits to others and your monthly expenses because it will only drive you crazy.

Every person and family is different, so there’s more to creating a grocery budget than picking a number out of a hat.

Also, the cost of groceries per person per month will differ based on eating habits and health regimes.

If I told you that $125 per person a month was the magic number, that doesn’t mean you must use it.

That’s not how a budget works.

Then, how do I figure out my monthly food budget?

Keep reading, and you’ll have it figured out by the end of this post.

Detailed Food Spending Across Canada

According to Stats Canada, Food expenditures have stayed pretty even across the board, including eating out restaurants.

For Ontario alone, in 2017, the average expenditures per household on food came in at $8,713, with restaurant meals at a massive $2,586.

The average monthly price per person spent on groceries ranges from $180 to $250, depending on where you live.

The costs will go up if you live in larger cities like Toronto but drop slightly in provinces across Canada, such as Nova Scotia.

 Canada (map)
 Average expenditure per household
Food expenditures, summary-level categories201520162017
Food expenditures 6 8,6298,7848,527
Food purchased from stores6,1266,1765,934
Bakery products574578563
Cereal grains and cereal products341347321
Fruit, fruit preparations, and nuts755781731
Vegetables and vegetable preparations710718702
Dairy products and eggs903888839
Fish and seafood213203219
Non-alcoholic beverages and other food products1,4371,4991,451
Food purchased from restaurants2,5022,6082,593
Restaurant meals2,2222,3032,272
Restaurant snacks and beverages281305321

Source: Table  11-10-0125-01   Detailed food spending, Canada, regions, and provinces

Food Prices And Your Grocery Budget

Food prices also affect a grocery budget, which can vary depending on your location and time of year as prices fluctuate.

For example, because the weather is bleak for farming and the location is remote, food will always cost more in the Yukon than in Ontario.

Some people will have special dietary needs through need or preference to fulfill their food budget.

If you need to buy unique ingredients due to an allergy or illness or choose to eat only organic foods, you can expect to pay a premium for shopping to accommodate those requirements.

Ways To Lower Your Supermarket Bill

Grocery budgets are also affected by how much time and effort a person is willing to invest in food preparation and meal planning.

When I’m not earning a paycheck, we spend less money on food out of necessity.

Related: Meal Planning For The Budget

We achieved that goal because I spent much time preserving, cooking from scratch, and foraging for wild food.

When earning a paycheck, we tend to spend more on food because we can and have less time to invest in the labor-intensive processes of canning, baking, and cooking.

Related: Top Ten Ways To Cut Your Grocery Budget

How many people are you feeding?

The number of people you are cooking for will also significantly affect the amount of your grocery budget. 

The usual rule of thumb is that the cost per portion for a dish is inversely proportional to the number of servings being prepared.

Whether cooking a small quantity or a huge batch, you still have to buy all the ingredients required to make a recipe.

Related: Food Shopping On A Budget

Buying a teaspoon of cinnamon or four tablespoons of butter is usually impossible.

Instead, buy a bag of cinnamon and a pound of butter, even though it’s more than you require.

If you’re preparing a larger batch, you’ll use a more significant percentage of those purchased ingredients.

However, you’ll still have paid the same price to buy them.

How Much Are You Willing Or Able To Spend?

There’s also the issue of comfort level.

Some people are comfortable with spending a more significant amount on groceries than others.

I have a friend who regularly spends around $1000.00/month to feed her family of four, and she’s okay with that.

Another friend with a comparable income is uncomfortable when her grocery budget exceeds $400.00/month.

Related: Should You Include Toiletries in your grocery budget?

Although I’m inclined to favour the lesser expenditure, it’s not my place to judge either budget.

Both of my friends have defined what works for them.

How To Estimate Your Grocery Budget

how much should my grocery budget be v.2
How much should my grocery budget be?

So, with all those variables, how do you estimate how much money you should spend in the weekly grocery budget?

  • First, you look at what you can afford and shop within that limit.
  • Next, you look at what your shopping has provided you.
  • Lastly, are you getting enough to eat? Are you eating a healthful diet?

If the answer to the above questions is yes, you’ve probably budgeted enough for food.

Have I Budgeted Too Much For Food?

Now, look at what goes into your garbage can and recycling bin, as this will be a significant indicator of whether you need to evaluate your shopping habits.

  • Is there a lot of waste in your kitchen?
  • Is your food spoiling before you use it up?
  • Do you find yourself discarding a lot of packaging?

If so, chances are you’re spending too much on food.

Related: Getting Back On Track With Food Budgeting

How do you decide on what is an appropriate amount to budget?

Well, you set a benchmark, try it on for size, and then adjust it after you’ve worked with it for a couple of months.

Grocery Budget For 1

In most of Canada, a single adult with standard dietary requirements can eat well for about $50.00/week or $200 to $25o a month. (This amount is for only food, not household or personal items.)

If you are buying for one person and can afford to spend that much on food, that amount would be an excellent place to start.

When buying for more than one person, try starting with a monthly grocery budget of roughly 10%-15% of your month’s take-home pay.

Over time, you can eat well without spending the allotted amount, cut back your grocery budget, and put your savings toward something else.

Have I budgeted too little for food?

If you are stretching to the end of the month while staying within your grocery budget, look first at what you’re buying and how you’re using it. 

Are there ways you can use your food dollars more efficiently?

Address these two challenges below first.

  • Are you “shopping” your fridge, freezer, and pantry first when planning your meals?
  • Will you be heading straight to the grocery store?

If you can’t make your grocery budget work by adjusting your habits, then change your budget a little at a time until you find the number that works for you.

The more efficiently you manage your grocery budget, the more money you’ll have to direct toward the other goals in your life.

Related: How to Calculate Your Monthly Grocery Costs

Mr. CBB Feedback

My family budget is $410 for 2019, a month for two people and a 4-year-old child.

We also have a $25 stockpile budget each month for those sales that are too good to pass up.

No matter if you have a Grocery Budget for 1, a Grocery Budget for 2, a Grocery Budget for a family of 3, Grocery Budget for a family of 4 or more, you need a food budget to save money.

Read how one fan went from spending $1100 a month on Groceries to just $600 a month by reducing their grocery budget and changing how they think about spending money.

Check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide with over 300 Grocery Blog posts for understanding how to grocery shop in Canada!!

Also, check out my Free Money Saving downloadable Tools Page, where you can get all sorts of lists that you can print, such as a pantry list, freezer inventory list, furnace filter change chart, over-time tracking chart, Net Worth Calculator, Shopping List, Garage Sale Route List and so much more and it’s all FREE!!!

One last thing to help you with your grocery budget is knowing about The Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP). Educate yourself, and learn how to save money at the cash!!

Contribution Post By:  She’s interested in everything and shares her interests at Aunt B on a Budget.

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