Monday, July 6, 2009

How Much Does The Average Canadian Spend on Food?

The actual facts are hard to pull from the data available. According to Statistics Canada, an average family in Alberta spends around $625 a month on food. What makes it so difficult is what constitutes a family – which is anything from a single person living on their own, to a married couple with 10 children. Averages that cover such a broad spectrum are not very good indicators of what an average family – or in my case, 2 adults and 4 children – would spend per month on food.

I feel that I am a very frugal shopper; I don’t buy a lot of prepared or packaged food or too many “snack” items, nor do we spend much on eating out (between $50 - $100 per month) and yet my food budget over the last year (includes all household supplies like toilet paper and personal supplies like toothpaste and shampoo) ran an average of $1,030 per month. This equals out to $172 a month per person, or $5.85 a day per person. Now keep in mind that I am essentially feeding 5 adults and 1 child and that this amount is in Canadian dollars, but I have been determined to make some changes and get this amount down!

So how low can I go without sacrificing health and nutrition and fearing revolt of my husband and children?

Over the last month or so I have been researching what other families are eating, looking for new recipes and essentially trying to find ways to cut costs. I came across a blog that holds a carnival called Meal Plan Mondays. I also have found a blog from a mom that feeds her family of 6 on $60 a week! Can you even imagine? I spend that just on dairy and produce every week (actually, I think I spend closer to $80 on dairy and produce each week)!

So how is she and others like her doing it?

This last month I determined that I would cut my food budget $200 – my goal amount is $800 per month, which equals out to approximately $133 a month per person (or $4.38 a day per person), and to do this I have already implemented a lot of significant changes:

1. I have started making homemade yogurt.

The cost per month for homemade yogurt is $12.50. I was spending about double that before and we were not eating yogurt ever day, just for snacks. Now about 3 of us have yogurt almost every day for breakfast.

2. I started making my own cleaning supplies.

I read a few articles, looked up countless recipes and then jumped right in! It is hard to guess, but I think I am saving about $175 a year, which equals out to a savings of almost $15 a month.

3. I have replaced canned beans with dried beans and have added more lentils and barley.

Everyone in our family has always loved beans, but switching from canned to dried only took a bit of planning, and it costs significantly less! I make all my beans in my slow cooker, so really, the effort involved is minimal and I can make about a side dish of beans for around .50 instead of $2.50. That is a pretty significant difference.

I am not to fond of lentils (I never had them growing up), but I am working on developing a taste for them. My boys like them fine, but my daughter will not even try them (stubborn girl!) and we all love barley. I have found lots of new recipes and will be trying them out and perfecting them for our family over the next few months. When we try something we love I will share it J!

4. I plan for one meatless meal and one frugal protein meal per week.

I was pretty much already doing this; I love having a good vegetarian meal at least once per week and although sometimes the meat lovers in my house complain (quietly – in fear of losing their meal), all my boys love their veggies as much as I do and I have been slowly turning my husband as well. I have been searching for even more vegetarian recipes over the last month and I think I have found some that everyone will enjoy and will cost less then $10 to make.

I also have been diligently making sure that I make at least one meal with eggs or tuna each week, both of which are very frugal and nutritious. A tuna casserole costs around $7 to make and will typically feed at least two people lunch the next day. A meal with eggs normally comes in around $5 - $6 and my daughter will actually eat these meals.

Cutting our food budget is a daunting task for me – we live in Alberta (a wee bit red neck) and a meal is not a meal without a big hunk of meat on your plate! Yet with a bit of creativity and work I am confident that everyone will leave the table full and satisfied.

So here is our weekly meal plan: (added late - but better late than never!!)

Monday - Pork roast with roasted carrots and onions and mashed potatoes; desert - Rhubarb pudding cake with whipped cream

Tuesday - Bbq meatloaf with potato salad, baked bbq beans and corn

Wednesday - Spicy spaghetti with homemade garlic bread

Thursday - Spicy coconut Rice and beans with curry vegetables

Friday - Asian pork hamburgers with stuffed jalapenos and salad (with ginger dressings and white beans)

Saturday - Eggs and toast with muffins or biscuits

Sunday - FREE FOR ALL!! :)

Breakfasts: cold cereal, yogurt and granola, muffins or toast

Lunch: whatever you can make yourself or find in the fridge :)

Possible desserts: Apple-rhubarb crisp, ice cream with fruit and fudge sauce, lava cakes, cheesecakes (I haven't quite decided what I am going to make just yet for the rest of the week, but here are some of the requests and options)

Related Posts:

Frugal Grocery Budget

50 Money Saving Tips



  1. My monthly average is $1427.52 (based on Jan-June); $210.36 per person; $7.01 per person per day.

    Apparently $382.77 of that is on: eating out, corner store snacks, and someone's unhealthy habit.

    I think, starting August 1st (we're already halfway into our July budget - our budget month doesn't quite run congruent with the calendar month), I need to look at cutting between $200-300 per month just to be reasonable.

    Sheesh, I wish you hadn't made me look at those numbers!

    1. finally, someone who is honest. :-)

  2. Hi, I hopped over here after I saw your comment on Gail's blog- I was curious where you were from. I am in BC, right next door to you, on the West Coast. I am not sure how our prices compare to yours, but you send me beef and I will send you seafood, ok???? :)

  3. Love your blog and the goals for you and your family, a great resource!

  4. Interesting!

    An Edmontonian student. :)

  5. I think we spend about $1000.00 to $1200.00 per month for 2 adults and 2 teen boys. I do the bulk of my groceries at Costco and this includes things like toilet paper, cleaning products, garbage bags and pharmaceticals (cold meds ect) and I really dont know if it saves me money or not. I rarely buy pre-prepared meals but we love our snacks like chips and chocolate. I find that the stuff to make lunches like granola bars, yoghurts, juice boxes, and sandwich meat is what drives my costs up. I have fought the grocery battle for years and the cost of food is going up constantly. Meal planning makes a huge difference in the cost of buying food, I am trying to implement this more often so that I can be more organized with meals, I really try to use what we have on hand to reduce costs and avoid overbuying.

  6. Thank you so much for your post!
    I took a look at that woman's blog - the one who is feeding her family for 60 dollars a week. She is definitely doing it, but her family is eating a lot of unhealthy food (ie. hotdogs, drumsticks, white bread). Your menu, on the other hand, is wonderful! Thanks again!

    1. so happy to read this. eating fresh healthy food on 60 dollars a week is simply impossible in my opinion.

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