My family of 4 eats at home for almost every meal - here's what our $946 monthly grocery list looks like

ParentingSteven John

  • Groceries are one of the largest and most consistent expenses for most families, but they're also one of the expenses where you can most easily reduce your costs.
  • By paying careful attention to the foods your family regularly eats, you can determine the best places to shop and the quantities you actually need.
  • Here are the groceries we frequently buy from Whole Foods, Stop & Shop, Trader Joe's, and Costco to ensure we enjoy healthy and delicious meals without spending too much cash.

My family eats at home a lot - as in almost every meal. Don't get me wrong, I love dining out, but with a preschooler and a baby, going to a restaurant can be more effort than it's worth. Also, eating out adds up fast.

We seldom order in, and for three reasons: first, I love cooking; second, by preparing our own food, we ensure it's as nutritious as possible; and third, there's that cost thing again.

Because my four-person family eats home cooked meals so often, food is one of the household's major expenses. Staying within a reasonable food budget without sacrificing food quality or diversity takes planning and consideration, but it's a manageable process if you're willing to spend mindfully for your kitchen when in the grocery store.

What's one of the best ways to save money on your family food budget? Minimize food waste. Another is to buy foods that are in season and do without those marked up through transportation costs. Buying in bulk whenever it makes sense is also wise.

But the best way I've found to save is to shop around for items at different stores. Here are the four stores we frequent near our home in Port Washington, New York, and the list of items we buy from each, for an average monthly total of around $946.

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Whole Foods — Weekly: $120

Whole Foods — Weekly: $120

We shop at Whole Foods weekly because we get the bulk of our fresh produce there; it tends to cost more, but it's consistently of consistently better quality. We also shop here for meats, eggs, and for a few specialty items.

Here's approximately how much we spend each week on each food we buy from Whole Foods, all of which is organic when available:

Broccoli - $1.49/lb.
Carrots - $1.99
Apples - $1.99
Bananas - $1.99
Berries (varied by season) - $6.99
Cucumbers - $1.98
Boxed salad - $3.49
Bell peppers - $3.99
Kale - $3.49
Eggs - $7.99
Milk - $3.49
Almond milk - $4.49
Ground beef - $7.99
Smoked turkey - $9.99
Deli cheese - $11.99
Bread - $7.99
Cereal - $9.99
Baby food pouches - $16.99
Coffee - $11.99

Stop & Shop - Weekly: $41

Stop & Shop - Weekly: $41

Stop & Shop has a smaller selection of organic options than Whole Foods, but they do offer some organic foods at better prices. And for many of the foods we eat that aren't organic, their prices tend to be much better.

Onions - $2.99
Potatoes - $1.99
Rice - $3.99
Seltzer water - $5.99
Canned soup - $7.99
Beans - $10.99
Kids Clif Bars - $3.99
Orange juice - $2.99

Trader Joe's - Monthly: $120 to $145

Trader Joe's - Monthly: $120 to $145

Trader Joe's has amazing prices on all sorts of products, but I usually find their produce lacking and their meat prices comparable to other stores. For dry goods and frozen foods, though, they're hard to beat.

Crackers - $10 to $20
Tortilla chips - $15
Salsa - $15 to $20
Frozen vegetable blends - $15
Frozen fruit - $10 to $15
Frozen rice blends - $15
Frozen potatoes - $10
Pasta - $15 to $20
Tofu - $15

Costco — Every other month: $100

Costco — Every other month: $100

We get plenty of stuff from Costco, from cleaning supplies to paper towels to printer ink, but there's only one food we consistently buy during bimonthly visit, and that's...

Organic chicken - $100

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