Short Answer: The average cost of food per month for one person is about $375, but can range anywhere from under $200 to over $700. Your exact food costs will vary depending on your income, age, gender, eating habits, and where you live. Below, we explain the monthly cost of food based on government data and tell you how to create a monthly grocery budget.
Average Cost of Food per Month for One Person
The average monthly food cost for one person may be anywhere from $170 to $704, with an average of about $375. We calculated this average based on data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
One-Person Food Spending Ranges and Averages
At the time of writing, the USDA estimates that the average cost of food for one adult (male or female) each month is between about $170 and $360, with an average of about $260. However, the USDA’s estimates assume that you cook all meals at home, and the lower estimate assumes the person has little time and/or few kitchen resources to prepare meals.
Additional data from the BLS Consumer Expenditure Survey considers food eaten away from or at home, estimating an average cost for one adult to be about $198 per month in groceries and $172 per month outside of the home ($370 total). Total spending according to one-person households responding to the BLS’ survey ranges from $268 (with an income less than $15,000 per year) to $704 per month on average (with an income of $100,000 or more).
Cost Factors That Impact Monthly Food Budgets
Based on the data from the USDA and BLS, common cost factors in monthly food budgets include:
These studies do not account for respondent location, which is also a factor in food costs. For example, states that require further food shipping (like Alaska and Hawaii) and those that are heavily populated (like New York and California) have higher grocery costs than other states.
How to Calculate Your Monthly Food Budget
The easiest way to calculate your food costs is to either track your grocery and restaurant receipts for a few months to find an average. You can also look back at your total food spending in the previous year and divide it by 12 to find the monthly cost. (Our related research details the apps and other budgeting tools that can help you track your expenses if you don’t already track them.)
After tracking your spending, if you find that you are spending more than you should or would like to, keep in mind that eating outside of the home is almost always more expensive than making the food yourself with items bought at the grocery store. This is especially true if you often visit full-service, sit-down restaurants. In addition to reducing your restaurant spending, consider buying in bulk where possible and making meal plans based on your local grocer’s weekly deals.