Food Spending: How Much is Too Much?

by Miranda Marquit · 7 comments

When we talk about spending on needs and wants, the discussion about food usually comes up regularly. Of course we need to spend money on food. It’s one of those things we need for survival.

However, many of us feel as though we are spending too much on food — at least that’s the conclusion from a report put out by CompareCards and evolve24, reflecting on the trends seen for February 2015.

How do you know if you’re spending too much on food, versus simply using it as survival?

Are You Spending Too Much On Food?

According to the report, individuals feel as though they are overspending on food, and that it’s a problem. They know they need to spend money on food, but aren’t happy about it because it’s taking away from other spending. Indeed, many of those studied indicated that they wouldn’t save that money; they’d just spend it on something else.

This prompted me to think about my own food spending and to figure out if I think I’m spending too much on it. I’m pretty satisfied with my own food spending since we make a lot of food at home, and we buy a lot of fruits and vegetables.

Our food budget hasn’t even increased very much since we moved from Utah to Pennsylvania. It’s about the same because we don’t have the Schwan delivery coming every other week. I used to feel bad about not ordering anything, so I regularly bought expensive items — even when I didn’t need to.

Another realization I had is that our focus on healthy eating has also helped. We spend less money eating out. Even though I like eating out, we’ve turned into a true treat, rather than the regular occurrence that it was when we lived in Utah.

Now, we carefully think about when we eat out, and where we want to go, so we have a more enjoyable experience.

Where Does the Money Go?

As with all things related to spending, it’s important to track your expenses and see where the money’s going. You might be surprised to find out what you are spending it on — and surprised to discover that you could be spending much, much less.

Going out to lunch every day can easily cost $10 a day. Pay attention to the food you’re throwing away. We discovered that we often bought more food than we needed, and it spoiled before we could use it. After we took the time to figure out our rate of usage, we adjusted our habits. Now we spend less on the grocery bill and waste very little of what we buy.

Meal planning has also helped. Having a plan for at least four days of the week reduced the amount of money we spent “just grabbing something” from a takeout place. And, of course, meal planning also reduces food waste, since you know that you will use what you buy.

When you get right down to it, you might find that what you spend on food that goes to waste, junk food, and prepared foods is what is driving up the grocery bill. When we examined our habits, we discovered that there were changes we could make. And that’s why, even with higher prices out here, we aren’t spending more on our groceries.

How much do you spend on food every month? Where does the majority of your food budget go?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Robert david and dawn says:

    Anybody with a des ( food stamp) budget will tell you your insane or filthy ritch to spend over 300 and waste

  • Ramona says:

    We cook at home, but we still overspend, since we don’t use a meal plan right now. Which should be done actually, since it would help us save more money.

  • Robert says:

    Hi Eric,

    What do your meals consist of usually? Do you have one day of cooking that last the majority of the week?


    • Eric says:

      We just eat simple. Rice, sandwiches, vegetables, etc.

      Only water, no other drinks. We buy what is on sale and eat that.

  • Eric says:

    Family of 3, we spend $250 per month on food. We hardly ever eat out.

  • Kaelyn says:

    LOOVE this article…I write articles for a financial coaching blog and am always looking for relevant posts about saving money. Eating out has always been a struggle in my own budget. Thanks for sharing, Miranda! Keep it up!

  • Curious says:

    I cook a lot more and bring my lunches to work often. Though I like to shop at Trader Joe’s and farmer’s markets, which the food is of much higher quality, but pricier compared to the stuff you find in the big box grocery stores. I guess I’d rather pay for food then related health concerns later. I spend about $350 a month on groceries and $250 eating out.

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