USDA’s Food Cost Chart is a Great Way to Help You Budget

If you’re like a lot of people, it’s hard to know how much money you should be spending a month based on your income and stage of life. If you’re like even more people you do that thing where you go to the grocery store and buy food for home, but then you eat out a lot and the food goes to waste. Lucky for you, the United States Department of Agriculture has a great chart for figuring out how much you should spend based on four different cost levels.

The USDA says, “The Food Plans represent a nutritious diet at four different cost levels. The nutritional bases of the Food Plans are the 1997-2005 Dietary Reference Intakes, 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and 2005 MyPyramid food intake recommendations. In addition to cost, differences among plans are in specific foods and quantities of foods. Another basis of the Food Plans is that all meals and snacks are prepared at home. For specific foods and quantities of foods in the Food Plans, see Thrifty Food Plan, 2006 (2007) and The Low-Cost, Moderate-Cost, and Liberal Food Plans, 2007 (2007). All four Food Plans are based on 2001-02 data and updated to current dollars by using the Consumer Price Index for specific food items.”

For example, if you or your family are looking at the moderate plan, you will be spending between 10 and 15-percent of your monthly budget on food. Families with growing kids on the moderate plan fluctuate between 14 and 17-percent of their monthly budget on food.

Check out the chart and see how you’re spending and if you could do better!

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