GOBankingRates

Cities That Spend the Most — and Least — on Groceries

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Putting food on the table has become a challenge for many Americans. Millions have lost jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic and no longer have paychecks to help pay for groceries. In fact, a GOBankingRates survey found that 42% of respondents said they would spend any government stimulus money they got on groceries and other needs.

Even those who continue to work may be feeling a strain on their budgets from food costs. Before the pandemic began, food was the third-largest expense for American households, after housing and transportation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, an analysis by The New York Times found that spending on groceries has climbed since the pandemic began as people have been forced to make more meals at home.

Read: These Are the Best Banks of 2021 – Did Yours Make the Cut?

To get an idea of how big of an expense groceries are for Americans, GOBankingRates identified where households are spending the most and least to put food on the table. First, GOBankingRates found the average annual U.S. household expenditure on food at home using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2018 Consumer Expenditure Survey. Then, Sperling’s Best Places’ grocery cost index rating for the 50 biggest cities was used to calculate the average amount spent on groceries in each of those cities annually. GOBankingRates then calculated the average amount spent on groceries per paycheck in each city.

On average, Americans shell out $4,464 annually — $171.69 per paycheck — on food at home. Cities, where annual grocery spending was higher than the national average, were identified as cities that spend the most on groceries. Cities, where annual grocery spending was below the national average, were identified as cities that spend the least.

Find Out: What To Buy During the Coronavirus Pandemic

It will probably come as no surprise that grocery spending is higher in cities where the cost of living is higher. However, you might be surprised by how much of a difference in spending there is between the city where people spend the most on groceries and the city where people spend the least. The average annual grocery spending in New York – the city with the highest spending – was $5,025; whereas, the average spending in Detroit – the city with the lowest spending – was $3,973.

See how much grocery spending varies from city to city and how it compares to your own grocery spending. If your spending is high, you might need to find ways to be more strategic about grocery purchases during the pandemic.

Last updated: May 3, 2021

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Cities That Spend the Most on Groceries

Grocery spending in these cities likely is higher because the cost of groceries is higher. The grocery cost index tops the national average in all 20 of these cities, which are listed from lowest to highest spending.

Read More: How Much Money You’ll Spend on Food in Your Lifetime, By State

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Virginia Beach, Virginia

  • Population: 450,135
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 105.6
  • Grocery cost index: 100.3
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $172.21

Total annual grocery spending: $4,477.39

Be Aware: 40 Supermarket Buys That Are a Waste of Money

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Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Population: 457,159
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 102.3
  • Grocery cost index: 100.6
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $172.72

Total annual grocery spending: $4,490.78

Read: 11 Pricey Restaurant Meals You Can Make at Home for Less

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Minneapolis

  • Population: 416,021
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 106.5
  • Grocery cost index: 101.2
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $173.75

Total annual grocery spending: $4,517.57

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Long Beach, California

  • Population: 468,883
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 160.4
  • Grocery cost index: 101.9
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $174.95

Total annual grocery spending: $4,548.82

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Denver

  • Population: 693,417
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 128.7
  • Grocery cost index: 101.9
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $174.95

Total annual grocery spending: $4,548.82

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Nashville, Tennessee

  • Population: 660,062
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 101.4
  • Grocery cost index: 102.0
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $175.13

Total annual grocery spending: $4,553.28

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Philadelphia

  • Population: 1,575,522
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 101.2
  • Grocery cost index: 102.5
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $175.98

Total annual grocery spending: $4,575.60

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Portland, Oregon

  • Population: 639,387
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 130.8
  • Grocery cost index: 103.7
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $178.04

Total annual grocery spending: $4,629.17

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Los Angeles

  • Population: 3,959,657
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 173.3
  • Grocery cost index: 104.1
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $178.73

Total annual grocery spending: $4,647.02

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Sacramento, California

  • Population: 495,011
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 118.2
  • Grocery cost index: 104.8
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $179.93

Total annual grocery spending: $4,678.27

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Miami

  • Population: 451,214
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 123.1
  • Grocery cost index: 107.3
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $184.23

Total annual grocery spending: $4,789.87

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Seattle

  • Population: 708,823
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 172.3
  • Grocery cost index: 108.7
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $186.63

Total annual grocery spending: $4,852.37

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San Diego

  • Population: 1,401,932
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 160.1
  • Grocery cost index: 109.7
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $188.35

Total annual grocery spending: $4,897.01

Discover: 15 Best Value Meals in America Right Now

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Oakland, California

  • Population: 421,042
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 174.4
  • Grocery cost index: 111.3
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $191.09

Total annual grocery spending: $4,968.43

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Boston

  • Population: 679,413
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 162.4
  • Grocery cost index: 111.4
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $191.27

Total annual grocery spending: $4,972.90

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Las Vegas

  • Population: 626,637
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 111.6
  • Grocery cost index: 111.6
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $191.61

Total annual grocery spending: $4,981.82

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San Jose, California

  • Population: 1,026,658
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 214.5
  • Grocery cost index: 113.7
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $195.21

Total annual grocery spending: $5,075.57

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Washington

  • Population: 684,498
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 152.1
  • Grocery cost index: 114.1
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $195.90

Total annual grocery spending: $5,093.42

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San Francisco

  • Population: 870,044
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 269.3
  • Grocery cost index: 116.6
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $200.19

Total annual grocery spending: $5,205.02

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New York

  • Population: 8,443,713
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 187.2
  • Grocery cost index: 116.6
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $200.19

Total annual grocery spending: $5,205.02

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Cities That Spend the Least on Groceries

The cost of groceries in these cities is lower than the national average, which plays a big role in why grocery spending is lower in these places. Cities are listed from highest to lowest spending.

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Jacksonville, Florida

  • Population: 878,907
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 93.5
  • Grocery cost index: 99.2
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $170.32

Total annual grocery spending: $4,428.29

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Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Population: 841,611
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 98.9
  • Grocery cost index: 99.2
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $170.32

Total annual grocery spending: $4,428.29

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Fresno, California

  • Population: 522,277
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 102.6
  • Grocery cost index: 99.2
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $170.32

Total annual grocery spending: $4,428.29

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New Orleans

  • Population: 389,648
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 96.3
  • Grocery cost index: 99.2
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $170.32

Total annual grocery spending: $4,428.29

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Dallas

  • Population: 1,318,806
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 101.6
  • Grocery cost index: 99.1
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $170.15

Total annual grocery spending: $4,423.82

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Columbus, Ohio

  • Population: 867,628
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 85.5
  • Grocery cost index: 98.8
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $169.63

Total annual grocery spending: $4,410.43

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Atlanta

  • Population: 479,655
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 107.5
  • Grocery cost index: 98.8
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $169.63

Total annual grocery spending: $4,410.43

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Colorado Springs, Colorado

  • Population: 457,502
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 104.5
  • Grocery cost index: 98.4
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $168.95

Total annual grocery spending: $4,392.58

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Houston

  • Population: 2,295,982
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 96.5
  • Grocery cost index: 98.1
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $168.43

Total annual grocery spending: $4,379.18

Take a Look: 9 Best Grocery Delivery Services That Are Worth the Money

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Arlington, Texas

  • Population: 392,462
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 100.6
  • Grocery cost index: 98.1
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $168.43

Total annual grocery spending: $4,379.18

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Baltimore

  • Population: 614,700
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 88.2
  • Grocery cost index: 98.0
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $168.26

Total annual grocery spending: $4,374.72

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Fort Worth, Texas

  • Population: 855,786
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 99.8
  • Grocery cost index: 97.7
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $167.74

Total annual grocery spending: $4,361.33

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Phoenix

  • Population: 1,610,071
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 103.7
  • Grocery cost index: 97.3
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $167.06

Total annual grocery spending: $4,343.47

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Chicago

  • Population: 2,718,555
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 106.9
  • Grocery cost index: 97.2
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $166.88

Total annual grocery spending: $4,339.01

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Mesa, Arizona

  • Population: 491,194
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 104.2
  • Grocery cost index: 97.2
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $166.88

Total annual grocery spending: $4,399.01

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Louisville, Kentucky

  • Population: 617,032
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 88.4
  • Grocery cost index: 97.0
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $166.54

Total annual grocery spending: $4,330.08

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Kansas City, Missouri

  • Population: 481,417
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 86.2
  • Grocery cost index: 96.8
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $166.20

Total annual grocery spending: $4,321.15

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Austin, Texas

  • Population: 935,755
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 119.3
  • Grocery cost index: 96.7
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $166.03

Total annual grocery spending: $4,316.69

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Omaha, Nebraska

  • Population: 465,112
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 89.8
  • Grocery cost index: 96.6
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $165.85

Total annual grocery spending: $4,312.22

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Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Population: 559,202
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 91.1
  • Grocery cost index: 96.0
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $164.82

Total annual grocery spending: $4,285.44

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Tucson, Arizona

  • Population: 539,216
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 91.6
  • Grocery cost index: 95.5
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $163.97

Total annual grocery spending: $4,263.12

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Wichita, Kansas

  • Population: 389,563
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 82.1
  • Grocery cost index: 95.0
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $163.11

Total annual grocery spending: $4,240.80

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Tulsa, Oklahoma

  • Population: 402,223
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 83.2
  • Grocery cost index: 94.9
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $162.94

Total annual grocery spending: $4,236.44

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Oklahoma City

  • Population: 637,284
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 85.4
  • Grocery cost index: 94.7
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $162.59

Total annual grocery spending: $4,227.41

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Indianapolis

  • Population: 857,637
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 83.5
  • Grocery cost index: 93.6
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $160.70

Total annual grocery spending: $4,178.30

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Memphis, Tennessee

  • Population: 653,248
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 76.0
  • Grocery cost index: 93.3
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $160.19

Total annual grocery spending: $4,164.91

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Milwaukee

  • Population: 596,886
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 84.9
  • Grocery cost index: 92.9
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $159.50

Total annual grocery spending: $4,147.06

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El Paso, Texas

  • Population: 680,354
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 81.4
  • Grocery cost index: 92.0
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $157.96

Total annual grocery spending: $4,106.88

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San Antonio

  • Population: 1,486,521
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 89.7
  • Grocery cost index: 91.4
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $156.93

Total annual grocery spending: $4,080.10

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Detroit

  • Population: 677,155
  • Overall cost-of-living index: 87.6
  • Grocery cost index: 89.0
  • Grocery spending per paycheck: $152.81

Total annual grocery spending: $3,972.96

More From GOBankingRates

Methodology: To find the cities where residents spend the most and least on groceries each year, GOBankingRates found (1) the average annual expenditure on food at home in the U.S. from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2018 Consumer Expenditure Survey. Then, GOBankingRates compiled the (2) Sperling’s Best Places’ grocery cost index rating for each of the 50 biggest cities in the U.S. by population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey five-year total population estimates. These two factors were then multiplied together and divided by 100 to find (3) the expected annual expenditure on groceries for the average resident of each city. Cities with average annual grocery spending above the national average were identified as the cities that spend the most on groceries and cities with average annual grocery spending below the national average were identified as the cities that spend the least. The average resident’s expected grocery spending per paycheck and overall cost-of-living index score were provided for each city as supplemental information. All data was collected on and is up to date as of April 27, 2020.