Short Answer — The average cost of food per month for one person is about $334 to $496, depending on how often you cook your meals at home. 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
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 $250 and $450, with an average of about $334.
Note that the USDA’s estimates assume that you cook all meals at home, and the lower-end 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 $312 per month in groceries and $184 per month outside of the home ($496 total).
Cost Factors That Impact Monthly Food Budgets
The USDA and BLS both consider several factors in their monthly food cost estimates.
Common cost factors in food budgets include:
These studies don’t 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) tend to 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.
After tracking your spending, if you find that you’re 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.