How often should you go to the grocery store and how much to spend?

Despite a slowdown in inflation and economic growth, many Americans still face significant financial pressures, especially when grocery shopping. 

Recent data from Purdue University's Consumer Food Insights report highlights that, even as inflation levels near pre-pandemic figures, many still feel the pinch with grocery prices surging over 21% since early 2021—outpacing general inflation. And 56% of consumers anticipate spending more on groceries in 2024 than in the previous year. 

RELATED: Why are food prices so high despite inflation falling?

This stark increase and economic uncertainty have left many consumers questioning how frequently they should visit the grocery store.

Rising grocery costs are not your imagination

Similar to Purdue University's findings, a recent Drive Research analysis also indicates that grocery shopping has become increasingly financially burdensome. 

The report reveals that in 2024, consumers will spend an average of $174 per grocery visit, a significant increase from previous years. 

This rise in expenditure, observed among over 1,000 surveyed consumers across the U.S., suggests a shift toward more deliberate and potentially less frequent grocery shopping trips as individuals adapt to these economic pressures.

What are grocery shoppers buying? 

Top purchased items include:

  • Dairy goods (82%)
  • Fresh produce (80%)
  • Snack foods (76%)

These items reflect ongoing consumer demand for both essential and comfort foods. The survey also indicates a significant reliance on physical stores for grocery shopping despite a rise in online grocery services.


Fruit is displayed in the produce section of a supermarket in Manhattan, New York, on January 27, 2024.

Shopping patterns across different household sizes

Household size plays a crucial role in shopping patterns:

  • Larger households tend to spend more, with those having five or more members spending an average of $262 per trip.
  • Smaller households (one person) spend around $131 per trip.

Where and when do people shop?

  • Most popular times: Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1:59 p.m. is the busiest time for grocery shopping.
  • Least popular times: Tuesday evenings post-8 p.m. see the fewest shoppers, suggesting a potential window for avoiding crowds.

Drive's research determined that, in 2024, the average person shops at two different grocery stores per week and makes six grocery store trips or orders per month.

That number is down from an average of eight trips per month in 2022. Drive speculates that one reason is the increased adoption of online grocery ordering and delivery services, which allow people to consolidate their shopping into fewer trips. A second reason could, of course, be cost.

Determining your grocery budget

To help consumers manage their grocery expenses effectively, the USDA publishes a monthly food budget that outlines suggested spending amounts based on various economic levels. 

This budget is divided into four distinct plans: the thrifty plan, low-cost plan, moderate-cost plan, and liberal plan. Each plan is designed to cater to different financial situations and spending capabilities, providing a framework that helps individuals and families plan their grocery shopping according to their financial means.