My family of 4 spends $946 a month on groceries and eats at home for almost every meal — here’s exactly what we buy

The author and his family. Steven 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’s food budget? Minimise food waste. Another is to buy foods that are in season and do without those marked up because of 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 $US946.

Whole Foods — weekly: $US120


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 superior 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 – $US1.49/lb. Carrots – $US1.99 Apples – $US1.99 Bananas – $US1.99 Berries (varied by season) – $US6.99 Cucumbers – $US1.98 Boxed salad – $US3.49 Bell peppers – $US3.99 Kale – $US3.49 Eggs – $US7.99 Milk – $US3.49 Almond milk – $US4.49 Ground beef – $US7.99 Smoked turkey – $US9.99 Deli cheese – $US11.99 Bread – $US7.99 Cereal – $US9.99 Baby food pouches – $US16.99 Coffee – $US11.99

Stop & Shop — weekly: $US41


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

Onions – $US2.99 Potatoes – $US1.99 Rice – $US3.99 Seltzer water – $US5.99 Canned soup – $US7.99 Beans – $US10.99 Kids Clif Bars – $US3.99 Orange juice – $US2.99

Trader Joe’s — monthly: $US120 to $US145


Trader Joe’s has amazing prices on all sorts of products, but I usually find its produce lacking, and other stores have similar meat prices. For dry goods and frozen foods, though, it’s hard to beat.

Crackers – $US10 to $US20 Tortilla chips – $US15 Salsa – $US15 to $US20 Frozen vegetable blends – $US15 Frozen fruit – $US10 to $US15 Frozen rice blends – $US15 Frozen potatoes – $US10 Pasta – $US15 to $US20 Tofu – $US15

Costco — every other month: $US100


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

Organic chicken – $US100