In Canada, food is the third largest household expense after shelter and transportation. At my house, food is our number one household expense (that’s what happens when you are mortgage and car loan free). We were spending $1,200 a month ($280/week) for a family of five (all groceries, not just food). In my opinion, it was getting out of control so I decided it was time to do something about it. I set a goal to reduce our spending to $220 per week from $280 with a long-term goal of $180 per week. I was doing well until last month, and then December happened! My December grocery challenge was a FAIL, here is why.
Christmas is not a good time of the year to try to save money on groceries. Aside from all the food needed to make an awesome traditional Christmas dinner, we entertain more and eat lots of different and sometimes more expensive food during the holiday season. There is also a lot more baking going on at my house. My son starts asking in late November when I plan to start baking my Christmas cookies; I can’t let him down for the sake of saving money, can I?
Life Got Busier With The Holidays:
When we came back from our Hawaiian holiday in early December, we didn’t have anything ready for Christmas. I had to catch up at work (more hours) and manage to prepare for the holidays in my “spare” time. Beside Christmas shopping (which can take forever if you want to get something meaningful), we had to get the Christmas tree set up, decorate the house, bake some yummy goodies, organize my annual toy and food fundraising, etc. Things got a little crazy and I stopped meal planning and just went with the flow.
I Was Sick:
I know, what does that have to do with anything? Well when you are sick, the last thing you want to do is plan your dinners, check Flipp and go grocery shopping, so I didn’t do any of that! I sent my partner or kids shopping as needed and it was often! Didn’t know what we were going to eat from one day to the next, and honestly I really didn’t care. All I wanted to do was rest!
These are my excuses for my December Grocery Challenge FAIL. It doesn’t take much to get sidetracked!
But How Did We Really Do?
First, there won’t be a breakdown of my grocery budget this month. There were just too many receipts (too many trips to the store!) and I was way too behind. I usually update my spreadsheet (I love spreadsheets!) once a week so it is painless but I was a few weeks behind and really didn’t see the point since I already knew where I blew it.
I did add up all the receipts for the month and we didn’t do as poorly as I thought.
Our average weekly spending was $241/week for December!
I didn’t meet my goal to get to $220 by the end of the year but there is progress:). I think we are conditioning ourselves to shop smarter and it is starting to pay off.
The 2018 Grocery Spending Challenge
The 2018 grocery spending challenge is on and my goal is to reduce our spending by 30% to $200 per week. (I had $180 as a goal for a while but it’s not realistic for my family at this point).
I am aiming to:
- Reduce waste as much as possible
- Continue to eat well and maintain a healthy and balance diet
- Stay within the established budget.
Being extremely frugal when it comes to food is not for me! But it would if I was doing it out of necessity. I am lucky this is not the case.
How Can You Save Money On Groceries
If you want to reduce your own grocery bill, here are a few ways to get you started that actually work for me (usually):
- Shop once a week if at all possible.
- Plan your meals for the week, before you go shopping.
- Make a list and stick to it. Sounds so simple and easy but most of us don’t do it.
- Know the price of food; one of the best ways to save is to know the prices of the products you buy often. This will help you figure out if you are getting a good deal on sale items. This has worked great for me and it was very enlightening at first. All those great deals I thought I was getting at Costco for vegetables!
- Stick to one stop shop, two if you have too. The more places you go, the more tempted you will be to buy unnecessary items. I have done this so many times, trust me stick to one or two stores.
- Try to come up with meals to use up all leftovers. At my house, we regularly eat frittata, quiche or stir fry so I can get rid of some of the leftovers.
- Price check and shop around for sales and coupons. I use the app Flipp to get access to all weekly flyers and also to store my master grocery list.
- Keep track of your spending!
How about you, how did you do with your food budget in December? Do you have any additional tips? Are you trying to reduce your grocery spending too?