Without the right planning, grocery stores can drain away family savings as quickly as a toddler slurping down organic orange juice. Developing a family grocery budget is an efficient way to spend effectively, purchasing the most goods for the least amount of money while sticking to a spending plan that permits occasional indulgences. You'll want to develop a family grocery budget specific to your family's needs. However, understanding the average family grocery budget will help put your budget in context.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers variations on the average family grocery budget depending on family size and spending preference. Averages relate to thrifty budgets, low-cost grocery plans, moderate-cost grocery budgets and liberal grocery budgets. For example, the average thrifty budget for a family of four (including two adults aged 19 to 50, and two children, aged 2 to 3 and 4 to 5 years old) clocked in at £74.3 per week in 2008; meanwhile, a liberal grocery budget for the same family totalled £143.2 per week. The average U.S. family spends about 13 per cent of their overall budget on food, according to MSN Money. About 7.5 per cent is spent on groceries; the rest goes to eating out in restaurants.
Average family grocery budgets depend on a number of variables other than family size. Children's age can cause the grocery budget to increase, since growing kids require more food than small children. Families regularly consuming high-meat meals should budget for more expensive grocery trips compared with vegetarian families, since meat can be a pricier item. Coupon-clippers or shoppers who work to earn rebates may budget less for grocery bills, since aggressive price hunting can result in lower overall totals at the grocery register. Families with infants requiring baby formula and families with pets should allocate additional funds to the grocery budget.
Family grocery budgets are closely tied to market fluctuations for common goods, including meat, dairy and produce. In February 2011, the Baltimore Sun reported projected grocery cost increases of 3 per cent, adding £13 per month to the average grocery budget for a family of four. Wholesale food cost increases still hit consumer wallets, since grocery stores tack on additional pricing to make up for their increased overhead.
If you're getting serious about trimming the family grocery budget to reach average or below-average levels in order to save money, follow tips to reduce grocery store spending. Track low prices for frequently purchased items in a small notebook; that way, you'll be able to compare the current ticket price with the rock-bottom sale price to determine whether to purchase now or later. Avoid purchasing prepackaged items like snack-packs or individual portions; the more handling and packaging, the more likely accompanying prices increase. Go shopping less frequently; this will reduce your grocery budget by discouraging frequent impromptu grocery store visits for impulse buys. Purchase containers to store leftovers or frozen foods for future meals -- families sometimes throw away or waste 25 per cent of purchased groceries, according to All Things Frugal.