One thing I often get asked is how much people should be spending on their weekly shopping and I always struggle to answer it because what’s right for one family isn’t necessarily right for another. I thought I’d have a go at explaining how I think you should decide on your shopping budget, with a little help from my friends. 😉
The right amount to spend on your weekly shopping each week for your family depends on a number of different things, although these are the main three deciding factors in my mind:
(a) How much money you have available to spend after paying for everything else you need to pay for,
(b) How much time you have available to cook and shop for food, and
(c) How much money you actually want to spend.
How much money you have available to spend after paying for everything else you need to pay for
So first of all let’s look at (a) which is the most important thing to take into account when you’re setting your weekly shopping budget. Whatever you spend, you need to make sure that it’s within your means and that you can afford it so the first thing to do is to calculate your monthly budget for everything excluding food. When you have the amount leftover then you can decide how much of that you want to spend on food.
The last six months or so when I’ve not been well (I promise that’s the last time I’ll mention it) we’ve had a budget of around £400 a month food shopping which is £100 a week for 2 adults, 2 older children and a dog including all household stuff in that budget. That’s all good because it’s within our means to afford that but I know that I can do it for less when I’m well so my New Years Resolution was to get that back down to what it was this time last year now that I’m back at work and feeling a lot better. From memory, I think it was around the £70 mark before I was ill so that’s what we’ll be aiming to get back to.
There’s a saying that we should ‘cut our coat according to our cloth’ and that’s so true when deciding on your weekly shopping budget because you might look at what I spend and think I could do my shopping for a whole lot less (I absolutely can and will now that I’m on my feet again) or you might look at it and think that you wouldn’t want to give up the things you buy to get to that sort of budget.
How much time you have available to cook and shop for food
The next thing I would take into account is how much time you have available for shopping because there’s no doubt that if you have the time to shop daily in the reduced section then you could potentially save a fortune. I always think that there’s a chance that you could go and get nothing though so even though I may have the time to pop to the shop each day some weeks, I still plan my meals without including any reduced items and if I get any then I either make some changes or pop my reduced bargains in the freezer for the following week.
Thinking about what you have time to cook is important too though, because as much as I love cooking from scratch, it’s not always possible timewise. There’s no getting away from the fact that it does take longer to cook most things from scratch and when I’m working, blogging and being there for the kids then something has to give sometimes.
Last night, for example, I got home from work at 3pm picking the kids up from school on my way home. I then took Miss Frugal to her friends as they had a homework project and I came home and did a tip run with Mr Frugal to get rid of all the recycling that won’t fit in our bins from over Christmas and New Year. Then I picked my Dad up from a hospital appointment and dropped him off at his house before picking Miss Frugal up and coming home to start tea which was supposed to be homemade pizza. Despite the fact that I knew I could make a couple of pizzas for very little if I made them myself I decided to send Mr Frugal out to get some frozen pizzas from the shop because sometimes convenience is worth paying for. While he was at the shop I made some homemade sweet potato fries and put a salad together (a bowl of lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes totally counts as a salad, right?).
How much money you actually want to spend
Just because you can afford £150 doesn’t mean that’s how much you actually want to spend on your weekly shopping, does it?
Personally, I know that I could definitely spend less than we currently spend very easily even though we can afford what we’re spending. Now that I’m feeling more like my old self i have the time and the energy to plan and to cook from scratch again most nights so we’re already on track to reduce our budget down to a more acceptable (to us) level simply by getting back into good habits.
We could cut our weekly shopping budget even further by cutting out some of the treats that we buy and switching brands to a value brand on most things that go in out trolley but we can afford not to do that right now so I prefer not to.
Don’t forget, being frugal is making the best of what you have so if you want to spend more than the next person on your weekly shopping then that’s your decision and totally OK – just make sure you’re getting good value for money and not wasting the things you buy!
And to show you that we’re all totally different, I asked some other bloggers to share with me what they spend on weekly shopping each week and I think you’re going to enjoy what they have to say and what tips they have to share….
We spend about £150 for five of us with two being teenagers who eat the same size meals as us adults. However I am mindful that we eat healthily and cook many of our meals. I still buy yellow stickers when I can especially if it’s organic meat and fruit. Emma from Mum’s Savvy Savings.
I spend between £120 and £150 a week for the five of us, the variance mainly being due to bulk buying nappies when theyre on offer. I’m definitely not as thrifty as I could be but do look out for offers, especially on meat which can be so expensive otherwise. Cat from Cat’s Yellow Days.
We spend around £70 for the two of us. That might seem a lot but we eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables and it does include cleaning supplies and personal care items. Carolin from Mummy Alarm
I spend just under £100 for 5 of us including 2 teenagers . I do cook everything from scratch & rarely buy any junk food (crisps , chocolate etc) but that doesn’t include the £10+ p/w for youngests school dinners. Helen from The Crazy Kitchen.
Probably £150ish most weeks two adults and two toddlers. Cook almost all from scratch and eat lots of fresh fish/seafood which can be extortionate! Jenny from JB Mum of One.
We spend around £30 a week for a family of five (not including formula milk) plus a £50 meat hamper that lasts us around a month. The meat hamper saves us lots as the supermarket meat was costing us a fortune. Our local butcher offers hampers and allows me to split into portions and freeze then get out what I need each day/every other day. Then just add veg to it. Sarah from Boo, Roo and Tigger too.
I menu plan for the month, which means I can do one big online grocery shop a month.I look at what we have in the cupboards, fridge and freezer to see what needs using up on a weekly basis as the menu plan isn’t set in stone.This includes washing up liquid and washing powder.It’s around £100 a month.Then I shop at an independent fruit and veg shop every day as they have a daily reduced section and good deals.That’s about £30 max each week. I have been buying a few things via Amazon click and subscribe on things we always need.Loo roll, Yo Yo Bear fruit roll ups, deodorant (for me and eldest two), teabags, bacterial spray and toothpaste.I’m looking to buy more of stuff that we always need next year as it’s cut price stuff, comes the same day (monthly, every other month or every 3 months).I top up shop for milk at the co-op and bits I forget. So, probably £60 a week if you divided it by the month.We don’t eat meat. Aly from Bug Bird Bee.
We shop every other week at the supermarket and it comes to around £150 including wine for weekends. But then buy meat from the butchers which costs us around £20 a fortnight. So I would guess around £80 a week for a family of 4 plus dog. Cerys from Rainy Day Mum.
I spend anywhere between £50 and £75 a week for the three of us. This includes packed lunch stuff, cleaning products, personal care necessities and wine. I buy online because I can’t be arsed with going to a supermarket if I don’t have to and so I’m not tempted to buy heaps of crap I don’t need. Stephanie from I’m counting UFOs.
I spend around £80 a week for our family of 5 for all food, cleaning, toiletries etc but then about £25 a week on the kids school meals and we all eat up at the main house a couple of times a week (no cost, it’s included in dh’s wages). We rarely have any waste but looking at those costs I think I need to persuade the kids to go back to packed lunches as they were so much cheaper. Michelle from Mummy from the Heart.
Since doing weekly meal plans and shopping online we spend around £75 a week for 5 of us. That includes all toiletries, cleaning products etc and packed lunches. Joy from Pink Oddy.
I spend between £30-£50 per week for two people, including eating out in London. We could spend less, but we like to eat well. I’m all about making something nice spread further, such a chicken that can go for three meals and lots of luxurious items such as muscles that don’t cost a lot. I cook massive batches and then freeze them. And you can never have too much pasta and tins of tomato’s in the cupboard because they are cheap, and it’s easy to knock up something tasty. Charlotte from Lotty Earns.
I’ve started to shop daily since moving next to a Co-Op and Sainsbury’s extra. I am saving an absolute fortune and eating like a king. I recently managed to secure over £70 worth of fish and meat for less than £30!! I’ll never do weekly shopping again!! David from Thinking Thrifty.
We’ve got our weekly shopping down to about £60 a week for a family of four, with the help of meal planning, shifting to own brands and nabbing bargains from the reduced shelves. Next month I’m hoping to spend less by using up the contents of our kitchen cupboards, fridge and freezer, which saved us 30% last February. Faith from Much more with less.
I spend £40 a week for three people and cats, fish and a turtle. Some weeks less but that is what it works out over the year. I meal plan, batch cook and make things from scratch a lot. I love to shop at Aldi and Sainsbury’s so we are quite varied with what we buy and eat. Katy from Katy Kicker.
I’m a little addicted to yellow sticker reduced food and I’ll check the small supermarkets near work most days – that helps bring down the cost of our supermarket shop. Then for everything else we tend to shop online at Waitrose once a month or so. On average it’s about £50 a week. Andy from Be Clever with your Cash.
In a general week I spend around £80. This is for a family of four, including 10 month old, and 3 year old and includes nappies etc. We do one shop at Asda per week, this is a shop planned at the best APG comparison. I also keep my eye’s peeled for wombled receipts while there. I time the shop to around 6:30pm when the final reductions on freezable meats take place, normally 90% off! I also do small top ups for essentials at the co-op nearby where I use my NUS card for an additional 10% off. I always suggest that all my readers should have an NUS card and set out on my blog how to get one cheaply to save on meals out also. Tastecards/Gourmet society cards are useful too for eating out on the cheap. Olly from Savvy Dad.
I spend around £45 a week for two adults and a 16 month old. I try and cook from scratch as much as possible plus batch cook to reduce costs. Nicola from The Frugal Cottage.
I am a bit of a pro with my shopping skills and can get a full weeks worth of grub for around £35, two adults and three kids. We eat a varied diet from tuna steaks to duck and its all down to savvy shopping. Kelly from Reduced Grub.
And the very lovely Ken and Mary have a whole blog post about how they eat well on a £50 a week budget if you want to pop over and have a read.
Do you want to reduce your weekly shopping budget this year?
Don’t miss out on future posts like this – receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address to the box on the top right of this page and hitting subscribe. You can also find me on BlogLovin, Yummly and Networked Blogs and I’d love to see you over on my Facebook page and on Instagram.