HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


What is a normal amount to spend on groceries? [moved from Quebec]

What is a normal amount to spend on 2 people for groceries each month?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. We are two and we spend $300-350 a month. However, I tend to buy in bulk and freeze my meats and fish from Costco. I buy lots of fresh veggies, and lots of good quality cuts of meat.

    This includes the lunches we bring to work. Is this a normal amount?..I presume not. I'm guessing a family of 4 can eat with this budget

    1. The answer is: whatever you can afford. If you think you're spending too much, that's probably because you're spending too much.

      1. Does it include wine, or not?

        I don't buy in bulk - I buy as fresh as possible, in small quantities, mostly at Jean-Talon Market. Hate throwing away food.

        1 Reply
        1. re: lagatta

          Not including wine. I don't buy bulk either as I like my meats etc... fresh

        2. There was something on this covered in the Not About Food board that you may find of interest, it's here:

          1 Reply
          1. I spend about $250 - $300 a month on food for myself which is a bit high, but I tend to buy in small quantities at JTM and other local shops. I'm not averse to spending more for better quality, luxury, or unusual items either, so it tends to raise my totals. And then there's the influence of people on this board, pointing out lovely tidbits that I must try, regardless of how it adds to my food budget. I know I could probably cut that in half if I had to, but thankfully I can indulge myself if I want to.

            Are you looking for a benchmark for your own spending, or just curious?

            5 Replies
            1. re: phedre

              We spend approx. $600-$700/month for 2 including tp & pt and some kithcen & cleaning supplies. I love trying new recipes. We make coffee at home with good beans, bottled water and coffee cream. But this seems quite high...

                1. re: beckybee

                  If you're feeling a financial pinch, I'd look into reducing it; but if you're not, the hell with it. I'd rather eat well and enjoy it than pinch pennies just for the sake of doing so, especially if it means I have to give up my favourite indulgences. Good coffee is a must! Have you tried the beans from Caffe in Gamba or Veritas yet? They're now the only places I'll shop for my beans.

                  1. re: beckybee

                    holy crap! That sounds insanely expensive to me... Are you buying a lot of labour-intensive cuts of meat (the more prep they do, the more expensive it is. a package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts can easily cost as much as the whole chicken), packaged goods, ready-meals, imported specialties, and out of season produce??

                    I've attached a photo of what I purchased at Jean Talon market this Saturday. It cost less than $40.

                    1. re: eoj

                      I went and calculated how much we spend on groceries (for two adults in Montreal) and the total for this year so far is $287/month. On average, we eat out once every week or two and that's not included in this total. We tend to make things from scratch, rather than buy them pre-prepared, and we'll buy the store brand for things where we don't notice a quality difference. We shop at JTM regularly, buy organic milk, and buy good bread. We don't eat meat with every meal which is probably one of the biggest contributing factors to our low total.

                2. Depending on the season (I tend to spend waaaayyy more in the summer/fall when the markets are just teeming with goodness and I can't stop myself - Hello my name is Barbara and I am a marketoholic) I can spend from 300-500 (that includes the food for a 4 year old toddler, but just between you and me, his consumption doesn't really jack up the amount). I think it gravitates toward the higher amount though If I am to include everything - fruit, veg, meats, bread, coffee, occasional dessert, cheeses etc...
                  Unless I buy everything at Super C (which I can't bring myself to go into) I can't really see myself spending much less.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: maisonbistro

                    I do the same. i can't resist fresh berries, fruits, and veggies! Not to mention the exotic fruits and veggies you can find at places like Chez Nino and Chez Louis. And the cheeses at Fromagerie Hamel... mmm... I can't count the times I've gone to JTM, spotted a prime item, and put together a recipe on the spot!

                    1. re: phedre

                      I'm surprised that you find it is more expensive to purchase things at the market during the summer than it is at the grocery store in winter...I find most fresh produce to be insanely cheap at the market this time of year. I don't shop at Chez Nino or Chez Louis though, as I find them to be more expensive. I just stick to local farmers in the central area of the market, unless of course I need a specialty item for a recipe.

                      I also try to stick to a list when at the market and to control myself when it comes to meats and cheeses...those of course are how the prices start to creep up.

                      I think I probably spend about $225/month on food and household items for myself (and sometimes my boyfriend when he is here for dinner). That being said, I grab cheap (less than $10) takeout once or twice a week.

                      1. re: Keramel

                        Oooh, the problem is not that the produce is more expensive - it is that there is so much of everything - fruits and vegetables bursting with colour, the smells..... I just tend to buy much more because of market season. I am so not tempted to buy a lot in the winter months....

                        Lists, I tried that once..... LOL

                        1. re: maisonbistro

                          Point taken! I can totally understand getting carried away.

                          1. re: Keramel

                            Oh god, me too. I live by myself and I come home with three bags of fresh vegetables and fruit -- at least a fourth of which will rot.

                            I'm interested in this thread though because I often wonder if I'm in the norm. I typcially spend about $400 a month for myself -- but I do have company quite a bit and that includes paper towels, soaps, etc. I'd hate to tell you what I spend on liquor and wine each month.

                        2. re: Keramel

                          Using a list at the market is heresy! It's much better to see what's looking good that week and let that guide you.

                          1. re: Keramel

                            I tend to be pretty self-indulgent when it comes to JTM! I love prowling about the two Chez shops and picking up oddities like the lovely purple garlic at Chez Louis (at $5 a head, yipe). I usually go with a mental list of what I need, but that changes the moment I step in there and find something gorgeous that I just must have!

                      2. It would be pretty hard for me to say difinitively. I do tend to spend more in the warmer months when produce is at it's best and I tend to hit the farmers markets in addition to the regular grocery shopping. I think I would say about $600 a month for 2.

                        1. In a number of postings RWOrange found that shopping on the food stamp allotment of $3 per person per day was possible, but difficult. $4 or $5 was more reasonable even on a budget. Other factors include how many meals are eaten at home, how many are eaten out. I know some people who haven't cooked breakfast (at least on a weekday) in years. I know others who only cook dinner on weekends. But at $5 per person per day for two people that comes out to about $300 on a reasonable but careful budget.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                            If you're commenting based on American budgets, it doesn't really apply to this thread which is based in Canada.

                            1. re: eoj

                              Yeah, I really don't get why it was moved from the Quebec board. Food prices are very specific to the region!

                              1. re: phedre

                                Yeah it is really bizarre that they moved this to a general board. Especially since many of us were talking about the Jean Talon Market. I'm sure for the same quality people like New Yorkers, for instance, have to pay much more.

                                1. re: phedre

                                  i think most people have some idea of how their prices compare with "norms", and that would include most people in Canada who seem much more adept at converting prices than those of us in the US are. Yes, there might be a 10% or 15% difference, but this conversation is pretty general.

                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                    I completely disagree. Even within different cities in the same country there can be vast difference.

                                  2. re: phedre

                                    It makes no sense at all. A friend from NYC visits me often, and says the price subject where he and his companion live is utterly different. Right now I'm in Amsterdam, and once again, some things (booze, of course) are much cheaper, others significantly more expensive.

                                    Sure, I can do mental conversions to US dollars or Euros, but that doesn't get round the great difference in price structures.

                                    Here too, I'm shopping a lot at a market, but it is not a real farmers' market. Jean-Talon is much better in terms of vegetable quality - the only one here as good as Jean-Talon is the organic market (Boerenmarkt) and of course that is far more expensive than either the street markets or the supermarkets.

                                    I have lived in the Jean-Talon area for about 20 years so I tend less to overspend in the summertime - I couldn't use up so much food in any event. I find my food budget much less in the summer. But it varies a lot, as my income does. I'm able to live on very little, but when I have more money, I spend more.

                                    1. re: lagatta

                                      I'm the opposite: I spend a ton more in summer. I can't resist getting a pint of HaG sorbet (easy to resist in summer), Beurrerie du Patrimoine products, fancy cheeses and baguettes, and other luxuries. I tend to eat cheaper in winter, with stews, soups, and pastas being mainstays, all of which are less expensive than my summer diet of cold goodies.

                                    2. re: phedre

                                      That's for sure. Saskatchewan food is way more expensive for fruit and veg. The dairy and bread is less but the bakeries here are not anything as fabulous as the ones in Montreal. I think our meat is cheapaer and we are able to buy locally-farmed Atlantic salmon for a very reasonable cost. I know--- some people refuse to touch farmed fish but Diefenbaker Lake didn't have a natuaral population so there was nothing to destroy because it is a man-made reservoir anyways.

                                2. We spend about $100US a week on regular everyday groceries for two people (not a lot of luxuries, but no scrimping and saving either)... We don't usually buy in bulk because we don't have room to store much food and we don't go to farmers markets etc because there aren't any good farmers markets around here - we just shop at the regular grocery store.

                                  1. I spend about $100 U.S. per week on groceries.This includes paper towels,and other household disposable items. I don't usually buy meat, just frozen or preserved fish (lox, sardines). Still, food is my biggest expense. I live in a college town, where the food is usually MORE expensive than in NYC. of course, I don't buy 3 types of imported cheese every week here. i buy 1-0. living in NYC with two people, spent about $600-800/month on groceries!

                                    1. I don't know...There are only two of us, and I shop at Wholepaycheck, so I know that I spend more that what would be considered "normal"...

                                      1. I'm not proud of this, and I don't think it's normal, but I think I have everyone beat. About $250 a week for two of us (no alcohol). So, what's that...$1000 a month? Holy crap, I wish I hadn't just added that up!

                                        We eat clean to support a highly fit lifestyle:
                                        -protein supplements/bars
                                        -meat choices all end in "loin"
                                        -good fish runs about $10/lb (we're landlocked)
                                        -fruit, veggies and whole wheat aren't as cheap as center aisle goods

                                        Ok, so we're also a little spoiled:
                                        -our espresso machine supports a 6 latte per day Seattle's Best habit
                                        -we don't wait for things to go on sale if we want them and we're brand loyal for things like Smucker's Natural peanut butter
                                        -and then there's the Fage habit...

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: creativeusername

                                          Now that you've fessed up, I'd say that we spend about that much - maybe up to $300 or so for two of us. We probably have a couple over for dinner several times a month as well. I do tend to buy a lot of ingredients just because they are interesting, and then figure out what to do with them. Also, in cooking in the HC Cookbook of the Month thread, I've ended up buying a lot of ingredients for a particular cuisine type.

                                          I'm in Manhattan, and the salmon I buy is about $20 a pound and I buy organic meat at Whole Foods, though I like cuts like skirt and flank steak, as well as short ribs, and veal chops can quickly run up a tab. Oh - and organic dairy products/eggs. I have a weakness for high end jams, olive and nut oils, etc. and we buy quite a bit of cheese.

                                          Sometimes though, we spend a week cooking from what we already have at home, supplemented by salad/fresh vegetables as needed, and then spend very little that week.

                                          That doesn't include wine, by the way,

                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                            Phew! Glad I'm not alone. And I forgot to mention that I'm in the U.S. as opposed to Canada.

                                            I can easily justify spending $40+ for one meal on ingredients that will go bad before I will use them again because I couldn't eat the same thing in a restaurant for that price. I will spend $17/lb on filet mignon or wild Halibut because life's just too damn short to eat cube steak and farm-raised Tilapia.

                                        2. Glad I just found this thread with the last few postings or I might not have been brave enough to post. I shop for myself and husband and our 2 dogs (who get a home cooked/raw organic diet). That being stated, I spend about $1500 a month at a variety of stores. I shop at 2 farms for the majority of the dogs’ meat (the remaining meat and their fish comes from Fresh Market. There are 2 small organic type grocery stores (Blue Moon in Exeter NH & Natural Grocer in Newburyport MA). I get bulk grains, kefir, O Water, almond milk and brown rice cereal at these places. I go to Fresh Market in Portsmouth NH for the majority. We also get milk and eggs delivered. We enjoy fresh foods and focus on quality, so I tend to spend more than average I guess, but we don’t eat out very often. The fish I buy averages between $12 and $18 per pound and this we have about twice a week (both us and the dogs). Household products along with wine, etc is not included in this amount. I guess normal varies a lot.