This grocery calculator or food cost calculator will help you calculate the correct amount of money you should spend on groceries per month to avoid sinking into debt.

If you are feeling the sting of inflation and are wondering how to take care of your family πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘¦β€πŸ‘¦ and pay your bills without going under, this grocery calculator is for you. If the amount of money πŸ’° suggested seems too low for you, worry not; we will outline things you can do to ensure you bring your grocery bill down to the stipulated amount.

Keep reading to learn:

  • Why you need to work on keeping your monthly food budget down;
  • How much you should spend on food every month for your family;
  • How to calculate the amount of money you should spend on food monthly (the food cost formula);
  • How to use our food cost calculator;
  • Tips to bring your food cost per month down; and
  • How much food should cost per month?

Are you interested in other calculators to help you spend less? Our electricity cost and house cleaning cost calculators are just what you need to help deal with inflation.

Why you should work to keep your monthly food budget down

According to the USDA, historically, the inflation rate of retail food prices has risen by 2.0% annually for 20 years. In 2021, however, the inflation rate for food at home was 3.5% higher than in 2020. This means that food prices πŸ’° are going up annually, and if you are not good at budgeting, you could spend a bigger chunk of your earnings on food yearly.

Since other goods and services also suffer the same fate and our salaries never seem to match the inflation rate, we all need to find ways to keep our food budget πŸ’² stable.

How much should you spend on food every month?

We cannot live without food, and eating wholesome food regularly is crucial for staying healthy. However, we can still do this and bring our food budget to a manageable level.

So how much of your monthly salary should you spend on food? No more than 10% of your taxable income for a single-person πŸ‘³β€β™‚οΈ household, although 4-5% is better. This figure varies by the number of persons per family but should not exceed 20% of your taxable earnings.

How to calculate your food cost – the food budget formula

As stated above, the monthly grocery cost for a single-person household should ideally be 4 to 5 percent of their taxable earnings. However, it can be as much as 10% but should not exceed this amount. Here is how you go about calculating your food cost for a single-person house🏑.

So if John Forde is working with the low end of this figure and his taxable income for a month is $5,839, then his food budget is calculated as:

food budget=4/100Γ—5839\small \text {food budget} = 4/100 Γ— 5839
food budget=233.56\small \text {food budget} = 233.56

So, at that income level, John's monthly food budget can be as low as $233.56.

Should John choose to spend more on his monthly grocery bill, he should ensure that it does not exceed his monthly 10% limit. Using the example above, John should calculate his monthly spending limit for groceries as:

spending limit=10/100Γ—5839\small \text {spending limit} = 10/100 Γ— 5839
spending limit=583.90\small \text {spending limit} = 583.90

So John should ensure that he does not spend more than $583.90 per month on groceries.

Of course, you do not need to go through the stress of doing all these calculations by hand. Simply input your taxable earnings, and our grocery calculator will do all the hard work for youπŸ˜€.

How our grocery calculator works

To use our grocery calculator, you need to:

  • First, choose your household type.
  • If you chose individual or couple, enter your taxable earnings.
    • The minimum amount of money you should spend on groceries will be displayed along with some guidelines should you wish to go over this amount.
  • If you chose family for the first option, however, you will need to enter your taxable earnings as well as the number of adults and children in the household.
    • Here, you will again be shown the minimum amount of money your family should spend on groceries and be advised on how much you should spend if you wish to go over.

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How do I calculate my monthly grocery cost? – Food cost formula

Calculating monthly grocery costs is not very difficult. Here is what you do:

  1. Find out what is the taxable earnings for your family. If there are multiple adults in the home and they all work, you will need to add everyone's taxable earnings together. Let's say the taxable earnings for your household are $11,754.

  2. Get the number of persons in the home, say 7.

  3. Get the number of adults in the home. We will assume there are 3 adults in this household.

  4. Get the number of children in the home. We will assume this household has 4 children.

  5. The cost of feeding the adults in the household is calculated as 4% of the taxable earnings times the number of adults.

    Cost of feeding the adults is:
    (4/100 Γ— 11,754) Γ— 3 = $1,410.48

  6. Next, we calculate 1.5% times the taxable earnings to cater to each child in the household.

    Cost of feeding the children is:
    (1.5/100 Γ— 11,754) Γ— 4 = $705.24

  7. Finally, add the answer we found in step 5 to the amount we found in 6. The result is the grocery cost for this household:

    1,410.48 + 705.24 = $2115.72

This is how you calculate the food cost for the average size family.

For larger family sizes

If you have a huge family, for instance, 2 adults and 7 children, you will need to apply a ceiling of 20% of your taxable earnings to your budget, or you will not be able to manage for long.

So, for a family whose grocery costs go over 20% of their taxable earnings when the steps above from 1 to 7 are used, we simply calculate 20% of their taxable earnings to find their monthly grocery cost. This figure will not change regardless of the number of persons in the household.

Why we need a grocery cost ceiling

In large families, the grocery budget can quickly consume a significant portion of your disposable income. Since the main aim of this calculator is to help you manage your finances and avoid a growing pile of debt, we suggest that larger families apply a food budget that is 20% of the family's total taxable earnings.

This amount may seem relatively small for those living in areas where inflation is high but keeping your spending low when faced with inflation is crucial to your financial well-being. As such, our grocery calculator would not be complete without some tips to help you decrease your food cost percentage.

8 tips to help you to bring your food cost percentage down

Is your food bill greater than 20% of your taxable earnings πŸ’²? Have you been struggling in the face of inflation? Here are some tips to help you to bring your food cost percentage down:

  1. Stop wasting food:

    • If you have a tiny family πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘¦ and you tend to have different items of food spoil before you can get through them, use your freezer more. You can freeze most items safely.

      If your bread usually spoils before you can finish a pack, keep it in the freezer. When you are ready to use some, just take it out about fifteen minutes ahead of time and leave it to defrost.

    • Prepare your vegetables πŸ₯•πŸ… ahead of time, store them (in meal-size portions) in zip lock bags or small bowls, then freeze them. When you are ready to cook your vegetables, just take them out and cook.

      NB.: Do not leave vegetables to defrost. Just put them from the freezer into the pot to avoid ruining the texture.

    • Be careful when portioning food for your family:
      Know how much your family members eat and try not to give them too much. It is better to have them come back for seconds than to waste the uneaten portion.

  2. Become part of a buying group or start one:
    Join a buying group to capitalize on wholesale prices. Many places sell items at a reduced price when the customers buy above a certain number of items.

  3. Prepare your own meals:
    If you are among those who eat out regularly, then a major part of your food bill is spent paying others to do the work for you. By preparing your own meals, you can bring your food bill to a much more manageable level.

  4. Pay attention to prices when buying food:
    It is essential to be aware of food prices so that you will be able to make sound financial choices. Shop around and take note of the prices at all the different places. No one place will have all the items at a low price, so you need to know what items are less expensive at the various stores and buy accordingly.

  5. Plant what you eat 🌱:
    If you are in a position to do so, plant a kitchen garden so that you will be able to eat wholesome foods while saving money.

  6. Cut out unhealthy foods:
    Unhealthy foods always taste great but are not suitable for your health and will cost you more at the doctor in the long run. So if you are going to cut out food items, it is better to remove unhealthy foods so that you can remain healthy while eating on a budget.

  7. Use coupons:
    Look out for money-saving coupons for shops and supermarket apps with special deals.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by all these ideas? Try applying one at a time, then add on new ones until you have your monthly food budget down.

FAQ

How much should food cost per month?

No more than 20% of your taxable earnings.

Regardless of your family size, the total amount of money spent on groceries should not exceed 20% of your family's total taxable earnings.

How much should groceries cost per month for one person?

For a household of one, no more than 10% of your taxable earnings.

Let's assume that Tom lives alone and earns $980 per month. Tom should keep his grocery bill at 4% of his taxable earnings. However, if Tom wishes to have a budget that is more liberal, he should ensure he does not go over 10%.

So based on the abovementioned amount, Tom's grocery bill should fall between $39.20 and $98.

How do I calculate the how much grocery cost per month for my family of five?

Assuming that 3 of the members of this family are children, 2 are adults, and you earn $1,500, your groceries should cost $187.50. Here is how we calculate this:

  1. Use the following formula:
    Total grocery cost = (taxable earnings Γ— 4/100) Γ— number of adults + ((taxable earnings Γ— 1.5/100) Γ— number of children

  2. Substitute in the known values:
    Total grocery cost = (1500 Γ— 4/100) Γ— 2 + ((1500 Γ— 1.5/100) Γ— 3

  3. Do the math:
    Total grocery cost = 120 + 67.5 = $187.50

How much does food cost per month?

According to the USDA, in the last 2 and a half decades, people in the lowest income bracket in the US spent 28.8% to 42.6% of their annual taxable income on food.

On the other hand, persons in the highest income bracket spent 6.5% to 9.2% of their annual taxable income on food.

Adena Benn
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Taxable earnings
$
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Grocery cost
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