Grocery costs in Bay Area

Hi, 

I was wondering what the average cost of groceries is per month for families living in the Bay Area. We are a family of three, with one child that is almost 1 year old. I've been given $70 a week by my partner in order to cover grocery and other household goods and it's seeming not to be sufficient - I would like to hear from others on what they budget for a household of three people for food so I can propose an appropriate allotment.

Thank you,

Anon

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RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

We are a family of three: mom, dad and 15 year old boy. We spend about $125 at Berkeley Bowl each week AND about $50 at Orinda Safeway each week.

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

$70 a week sounds pretty low. Our family of two adults, one four year old and one one year old spends about $150 per week on groceries. We get most of our groceries at Trader Joe's, don't buy expensive meats (although occasional expensive seafood), and hardly drink any alcohol. I think your partner is being unrealistic (and I'm not sure why your partner doesn't trust you to spend a reasonable amount on groceries - there seems to be a troubling control issue here). 

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

That seems extraordinarily low. We spend upwards of $1k per month at the grocery store - granted, we buy toothpaste/shampoo, etc., and also drink wine a few times a week. But even if you discounted that and used coupons and shopped at discount stores, I think it would be hard to buy a month of food for a small family for less than $600-$700.

Elise

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

$70/week seems pretty tight, especially if that budget also is supposed to cover things like cleaning supplies, shampoo, toilet paper, etc.  Those items can really add up.  

I probably spend $150/week for a family of 3, and I am pretty careful with our money.  Now, one of those 3 is a teenage boy, so that ups our costs.  Still, I would think you need a minimum of $120/week to get by.  

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

That seems quite low. I budget $200 a week for myself, my husband, and our 15-month old. Granted, I tend to buy organic and other higher-priced items, and I often come in under $200, but it's rarely under $150. Depending on what you're buying I'm sure you could make it work for $70 but it would be challenging. 

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

I know how hard this is! My partner also decided our grocery budget, $250/month for our family of 3, including an elementary aged boy. I thought it was impossible at first. It is definitely possible, though very difficult and time consuming - I've learned what the best sale price is for everything we buy and scour all the ads each week, plus use some coupons, but only if they're stacked with great sales on something I'd already be buying. We eat mostly whole grains, lean proteins, and lots of fruits and veggies (which is definitely more difficult, junk food and high calorie empty carbs are cheap), but nothing organic and almost no red meat. I typically have to go to 5+ different stores each week and only buy things that are on sale and in season (you want plums? Tough luck, you need to wait for July. Apples in the fall, citrus in winter, and so on). I pass reasonably close to many different supermarkets on my way to or from work, so I don't negate my cost savings with increased gas and mileage. If you do try to follow this budget, know it takes time and stick to stores like Foods Co, Smart and Final, Food Maxx, Grocery Outlet, and WinCo. Places like Safeway, Lucky, and Raley's rarely because of high prices; I'll typically go for only 1-2 items that are on deep sale and have coupons. Costco is almost never (the same things Costco sells giant bags of tend to be much cheaper on sale other places). Berkeley Bowl is a hidden gem- they almost always have AMAZING prices on some type of produce ($.29 for a pint of blueberries, $.19 for a bunch of celery, $.99/lb or less for cherries, asparagus, strawberries, etc.) but you never know until you go- if you go with a specific shopping list, it'll be overpriced, but if you only buy their specials, it's a steal.

All that said, you were asking about justification for a higher budget and budget suggestion. Here are 2 resources that are less subjective than responses from whoever decides to reply to this question:

The USDA publishes a monthly report on the average cost of groceries for a healthy diet. You can choose to look at the Thrifty, Low-cost, Moderate-cost, or Liberal spending level. Those charts are here: www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodPlansCostofFood/reports Keep in mind, that's average for the entire continental US, and we all know California is more expensive than average. 

Also, for reference, if you had no income and were totally dependent on food stamps (therefore qualifying for the maximum amount), your family would get $504 for a household of 3 people. You'd also qualify for WIC, which would get you even more food. 

So I think it's totally reasonable to suggest that you make it a goal to live off of no less than what you'd get from food stamps, so $116/week

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

Hi Anon, 

we spend about $200 a week for a family of 4. I make breakfast, hot lunch and dinner for all of us plus lots of snacks. It really depends on where you shop. I mostly buy things on the weekly circulars. Sprouts is much less expensive and if you’re able to shop in Chinatown it’s even less. I buy quite a few organic vegetables too. 

Best of luck!

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

We spend $1200 a month on two adults and two kids aged 4 and 6.  That covers all meals for all of us, with only one or two meals out a month.  We buy a fair bit of pre prepped veggies, but not a whole lot of meat and very little organics.  Not a lot of snack foods, but the snacks we do get are pretty expensive, nuts and things.  That's at Trader Joe's, with infrequent trips to Sprouts.

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

That does not seem like enough to me - especially if you buy organic foods.  On average we spend at least $200 per week at the grocery store (usually Farmer Joes) for a family of three.  One is a teenager.  Two have very hearty appetites!

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

 Hi, we are a family of three, and I think we spend between $150 and $200 per week on groceries. Although I think grocery bills depend on how often a family eats outside the home. We do that on a limited basis. We shop for mostly organic food, and we aren’t trying to cut our costs or keep them low, but just moderate. I do worry about the phrasing  of your question;  if your partner is controlling all of the money in your relationship, that is usually not a healthy arrangement  even if he or she is the one earning money.  For example, I earn all of the money for our family of three, and for each paycheck, I put a percentage in my savings account, and the remainder into our joint account that we both have complete access and control over. That way there is no power dynamic on the money but I still am able to save some of my own earnings. I know this is not your question, but I was just a little concerned and wanted to give you another reference point. Hope this helps! 

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

Hi there - groceries are expensive now days. We are a family of 3 as well. I budgeted myself $300 for 2 weeks. If I shop at whole food or sprouts I could easily spend more than that for 2 weeks. If I order through safeway delivery (we both work and like to enjoy our weekend instead groceries shopping), I usually spend around $200 buy not always  getting organic and getting more bulk size. I honestly couldn't survive with $70/week....maybe more like $100. PS: my groceries budget include occasionall toilet paper, paper towel, soap etc but exclude coffee bean.

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

Well, not sure about how helpful this is.  For food stamps for three people we are given 600/mo, and this may not even be intended to cover all food costs since we claim income and there are other food resources provided by social services. And it certainly doesn’t cover other household goods.  I think $100/week is more realistic for a quite modest budget, per adult person. 

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

$70 a week seems really low, I spend about double that per week for our family of 4 for groceries only, not including eating out. I buy some organic produces but not all. We shop at Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and Berkeley Bowl. 

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

That seems really low to me. I have a 4mo old and easily spend $150-200/wk on groceries, coffee beans (husband is a big coffee drinker) and diapers. I shop mostly at Berkeley Bowl because I can walk there easily (we don’t own a car) and try to buy sale items. If I actually meal planned and didn’t care as much about eating organic, I could bring the cost down, but not much. Food (like most things here) is expensive.

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

I would say $200 per week for a family with a baby (diapers etc). 

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

I budget $1,000 a month for me and my teen daughter for food in general, this amount would include a modest amount of take out food but not necessarily household goods. It is totally unrealistic for two adults and a growing toddler to spend only $280 per month on groceries. That is slightly more than what people on food stamps get and that is not enough to properly feed one adult let alone two and a child. 

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

That seems pretty low. For me and a toddler it's about $120/week, for mostly organic food. Diapers of course are separate.

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

As a family of 3, we spend about $150 a week on groceries. This doesn't include household goods like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc. As a family of 4 - it's up to $200 per month. Trying to eat anything unprocessed or local, organic, etc, adds up so I feel for you. My bigger question for you is... why are you being given an amount that you don't seem have provided input on? I hope I am not jumping to any conclusions here, but I also hope you are not being financially abused. Please take care.

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

$70/week = $10/day. If each of you eats 3 meals per day, that's just over $1 per person per meal. And that's without spending anything on household goods like soap, toothpaste, or diapers. So no, $70 is not sufficient.

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

People on food stamps are allotted an average of $140 per person per month, which for a family of 3 adds up to $420 a month. Your partner is only allowing you $280 a month, far below the poverty line! This is absolutely not reasonable! 

RE: Grocery costs in Bay Area ()

It seems a little low to me. We spend just over $100 a week (family of 4) on just food from Trader Joe's and the Indian grocery store. We eat mostly vegetarian, and have a lot of eggs, veggies, fruit, dried beans, and rice. We have chicken maybe once a week- meat is expensive. This amount doesn't include paper products, diapers/wipes, medicines, or any household items- all of which we get from Costco.