These City in Washington Spend the Most on Groceries, Census Data Shows

Grocery expenses represent a significant financial commitment for many households, and this holds particularly true across various cities in Washington state. According to an analysis of Census data by HelpAdvisor, Washington ranks fourth in terms of the highest average weekly grocery bills among the contiguous 48 U.S. states, with an expenditure of $287.67 per week. The national average stands at $270.21 per week.

How Does Washington Compare to Other States?

Only California ($297.72), Nevada ($294.76), and Mississippi ($290.64) surpass Washington in grocery spending. On the flip side, Wisconsin ($221.46), Iowa ($227.32), and Nebraska ($235.12) have the lowest grocery expenses.

The elevated grocery costs in Washington can be attributed, in part, to the higher cost of living, especially in urban areas. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that households in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV metropolitan area spent an average of $94,171 annually in 2021-22, significantly exceeding the national average of $70,052.

Which Cities in Washington Spend the Most on Groceries?

Among major metro areas in Washington, Seattle boasts the highest average weekly grocery bill, totaling $289.23. On a national scale, Seattle ranks sixth, trailing behind Miami ($327.89), Houston ($302.65), Riverside ($300.50), San Francisco ($298.44), and Los Angeles ($295.33).

Other cities in Washington that exceed the national average in grocery spending include Spokane ($276.31), Tacoma ($274.67), and Olympia ($272.14). Conversely, cities spending below the national average include Bellingham ($264.18), Yakima ($262.43), and Kennewick ($259.87).

How Do Washingtonians Spend Their Grocery Budget?

Washingtonians allocate their grocery budget differently compared to the national average. According to HelpAdvisor, Washington households spend 57.9 percent on food at home and 42.1 percent on food away from home. The national averages are 56.4 percent and 43.6 percent, respectively.

Additionally, Washington households allocate more to specific food categories than the national average. For instance, 15.2 percent of their food at home budget goes to fruits and vegetables, compared to the national average of 13.8 percent. They also allocate 11.7 percent to dairy products, exceeding the national average of 10.6 percent.

What Factors Affect Grocery Spending in Washington?

Various factors impact grocery spending in Washington, including income, household size, dietary preferences, local produce availability, seasonality, taxes, and grocery store competition.

One notable factor influencing grocery prices in Washington is the proposed merger between national grocery chains Kroger and Albertsons, which collectively own over 50 percent of the state’s grocery stores, operating more than 300 locations. A lawsuit filed by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson aims to block the merger, citing concerns about potential monopolies and increased grocery prices.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is another factor affecting grocery spending in Washington. Disruptions in food supply chains, increased demand for online grocery delivery, and shifting consumer behavior are noteworthy impacts. A survey by indicates that 41 percent of Americans are spending more on groceries since the pandemic began, while 28 percent are spending less, and 31 percent report no change.

How to Save Money on Groceries in Washington?

Washingtonians can employ several strategies to cut down on grocery expenses, including:

  • Planning meals in advance and creating a shopping list
  • Comparing prices across different stores and utilizing coupons or discounts
  • Opting for bulk purchases and choosing store brands when available
  • Exploring farmers markets or participating in community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs
  • Minimizing food waste through proper storage and using leftovers
  • Cultivating some food at home, such as herbs, greens, or tomatoes
  • Cooking more meals at home and reducing dining out

By adopting these practices, Washington residents can effectively reduce their grocery bills while enjoying nutritious and flavorful meals.


Navigating the intricate landscape of grocery spending in Washington demands a nuanced approach. From understanding the influence of income and household dynamics to adapting to the ever-changing dynamics of a post-pandemic world, Washingtonians can strategically slash grocery bills. Through careful planning, savvy shopping, and embracing sustainable practices, residents can strike a balance between financial prudence and culinary satisfaction, fostering healthier and more budget-friendly grocery habits.


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