How Little Could You Spend on Food Each Week?


For many people, their food budget is one of the biggest monthly expenses they have. However, the percentage of our income we spend on food is far lower in developed countries like the UK and the US.

In fact, the US is, rather surprisingly, the country where people spend the lowest percentage of their family budget on food. In developing countries people can spend a lot more on this expenditure. For example, the most recent figures I could find have Indians spending 26% of their budget on food and Egyptians 44%. This compares to 7% in the US and 9% in the UK.

One way to work out if you are spending too much on food is to look at these figures. They are pretty rough figures but in you live in the UK and earn an average wage then you probably shouldn’t be spending 30% or 40% of it on food. If you are then maybe too many takeaways and restaurant meals are to blame.

How Much Do Other People Spend?

If you want an exact figure for how much other people tend to spend on food then there are a few different opinions on this on the internet. For example, the University of Edinburgh has a budget calculator for new students that suggests £50 as an average weekly food budget while living in a private flat. That seems like a fairly generous budget for a student, as I am sure that many of them spend far less than that each week. However, if we take into account the fact that students are often too busy to do much cooking that might explain the relatively high figure.

Another source of statistics is the aptly named Office for National Statistics. Their figures from 2013 state that the average British household spends £56.80 per week on food and non alcoholic drinks. That isn’t much more than the previous figure for a single students living in a private flat. However, there is also a total of £40.50 for hotels and restaurants in there. It isn’t clear how much of this second figure relates to meals.

Yet more interesting figures come from a BBC article into how much a person can live on. This comes from 2013 as well, so it is good to compare it with the figures from the Office for National Statistics. In it, a professor of nutrition at Kings College London called Tom Sanders says that an adult could spend as little as £12 weekly on food. According to Sanders, this is enough to give a healthy, balanced diet. His plan involves a lot of baked potatoes, soups and pasta. Having said that, he went on to say that most people would spend double that amount because they lack the cooking skills or equipment.

How Much Do You Spend on Food?

Having looked at those figures, it is time to think about how much you spend on food each week or month. Are you close to the £12 a week Professor Sanders suggest or are you more like the average Edinburgh University student? If you are spending more than you should then the first step to improving matters is to understand what you spend on. Keep a list of your food spending for a month and then try to work out what you could have done better in order to spend less. You might be surprised at how easy it is to spend less on food without losing out on any nutrition or meal quality.

How little do you think you could spend on food each week if you really tried?

5 Responses to How Little Could You Spend on Food Each Week?

  1. Courtney says:

    We spend $300 a month on groceries and alcohol for my husband and I. It’s taken us a while to get down to this point. We buy a LOT in bulk to have gotten down this far but we also eat pretty gourmet. More than 50% of our budget goes to vegetables and fruits so we’re okay with it for now. We may have to try the US equivalent of £12 a week one of these months to see if we can do it!

  2. I don’t want to know how little I could spend……I like great food, so groceries is not only food, but also entertainment. We do set a budget and stick to it, I don’t see any need to subsist on beans and water.

  3. Kathy says:

    I don’t understand the problem with spending “too much” on food. Unless the money I spend on food prevents me from making my house payment or keeps me from retiring, I’m not too worried about it. We have an amount that we put in our spending category but if it is the end of the month and we need milk, I sure as heck go get it without regard to going over budget. As long as we don’t waste food, I don’t worry about it too much.

  4. Money Saving says:

    I think I could get by at under $50 a week, but it would be extremely hard. Rice and beans anyone?? Our family of four normally spends about $700 a month a food. I know this is really high, and it is something we are working on bringing down. We tend to eat very healthy, so that accounts for some of it as we eat a lot of meats and fish.

    • Robert Bell says:

      Rice and beans are great MS, but probably not every day. Eating healthily can cost a lot more, which is a real shame

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