How Much Should Groceries Cost?

I was talking to a neighbor about our grocery expenditures, and she was shocked when I told her we spent just $175 a month for my family of three. She has one more child than I do, but she spends almost $1000! Her astonishment made me wonder if this $175 figure was still accurate. After all, it had been a couple years since I tracked all my purchases. Back in May of 2009, I wrote about saving money on organic groceries. Then, in My Shopping Lists: Saving Money at the Grocery Store, I revealed exactly what that $175 got me.

So, last April (in 2011) I tracked my purchases again—and I shelled out $280! That’s a 60% increase in just two years! Now, according to the USDA food plans (updated in 2011), we’re still doing well. A family like ours (a man and woman in their thirties, plus a five-year-old child) would pay $450.80 a month on food on their “thrifty plan.”