Monthly Money Reports

Maybe I Am Not So Frugal After All! Grocery Budget – January 2018

Back in September last year, I decided to seriously start working on reducing our grocery budget, We were spending an average of $280/week and that seemed HUGE. Being mortgage and car loan free, groceries is our single biggest household expense and I am on a mission to reduce that spending. You can see where it all started, how I planned to do it and my last update. I was all pumped after my November big WIN but December wasn’t so good and this month is not that great again. We spent less than what we used to but not by much. My partner is pushing back a little, he was happy I was trying to reduce the waste and save money, but he also doesn’t want to be told what he can or can’t buy (Like I would tell him he can’t buy something….oops, I did!). Like I said before, it’s not like we can’t afford to spend money. Or maybe I am not so frugal after all! Here is my latest grocery budget for January 2018:

We are a household of five (three grown children). We don’t eat out very often. One of my daughters is celiac so we buy gluten-free products (flour, pasta and bread mainly) which are more expensive than regular products. We have one small dog and two cats. And we host a family dinner every Sunday with 10-14 people depending on the week.

How Are We Doing?

We are managing but nothing stellar! My lowest month, so far, was in November otherwise we seem to be stuck in the $220 zone.

Our average per week this month was $261 for ALL groceries and $226 for food only ($979 per month).  I was feeling a little off at the end of the month and bought stuff we wouldn’t usually buy. It happens! And that is when you shouldn’t go grocery shopping! Final goal remains at $200/week (updated from $180 because we just can’t do it ! ).

Here is the detailed grocery spending for January (5 weeks):

And because I love Excel and charts, here is a colorful chart of my progress (December is not included because I didn’t breakdown my grocery bill- too much going on!). Look at that spike in meat/fish?

January Highlights:

  • Vegetables & Fruits: We started doing better in this area as soon as I stopped buying everything at Costco. We get more of a variety now, less waste and we save money.
  • Meat/Fish: We are limited in our choices because my partner can’t eat pork anymore, which is usually cheaper. I am still puzzled by the increase. But we did buy a full salmon and back ribs for 10 people! (What can I say? Not so frugal!)
  • Pets: Food for the dog and the cats. Pets are great but they do cost money.
  • Frozen food: We bought frozen vegetables for a change but we don’t like it as much. Also bought several bags of frozen fruits for my kids so they can make their healthy smoothies! And finally tried a variety of other frozen products (perogies was one of them but it’s not gluten free!).
  • Household: A few good sales for laundry detergent, toilet paper and paper towel. We also run out of sponges, garbage bags, freezer bags & sandwich bags!. Lots in one month, but with five of us, everything gets used much faster.
  • Oils and condiments: We stocked up on gluten-free soya sauce, mustard, pickles, mayonnaise and olive oil AGAIN. I swear we must drink that stuff!

Summary For January

The Good:
  • Not much good this month, the motivation wasn’t there.  I tried to mentally prepare our meals for the week but I was too sidetracked with other things.
The Bad:
  • Didn’t feel like saying “no” to anybody (kids and partner) so bough stuff we don’t usually buy. It does add up at the end of the month!.
And The Ugly:
  • I didn’t keep up with my spreadsheet weekly so it was a pain to do it at the end of the month and almost gave up! Then I realized we weren’t making too much progress so I am sort of motivated again!
  • I had craving for many things this month and didn’t stop myself! Did you know the cost of a baguette at Walmart (Canada) is $0.87 and at Costco it’s 4.89 for two? Almost three times the price at Costco! And the Walmart one is just as good (but slightly smaller). 

Going Forward Best Tips:

  • Go shopping by myself, bringing the kids or my partner ends up costing a lot more! Plus I hate saying NO all the time:)
  • Make dinner plan for the week based on the sales as much as possible.
  • Stick to the list
  • Maintain the spending spreadsheet weekly. It helps with future purchases because it gives me a better picture of where our money is going weekly.

I have to admit, keeping track of grocery spending is very tedious! And it’s not like I need a new hobby. But I do like to know where my money is going and we do spend way too much for what we get. I made a commitment to keep track of my grocery spending until I reach my goal and I plan to follow through with it, but I do hope it happens soon!

How about you, how much did you spend on groceries this month?  Do you find it helpful when bloggers share how much and where they spend on groceries?

If you like to read about bloggers’ monthly expenses or food  budget, here are a few to get you started:

40 thoughts on “Maybe I Am Not So Frugal After All! Grocery Budget – January 2018

  1. Dear Caroline,

    I’m always interested in seeing in other peoples kitchens! Medicine cabinets and bedrooms not so much 🙂

    Frozen foods -> I often have frozen fruit and veggies on hand for when we run out of fresh, except I make them myself (we get more variety and don’t need to throw out the packaging). I buy what’s on sale that week. Cut it up when we get home. Lay out on a baking sheet and put in the freezer (so that they don’t ball together) and then put them in containers.

    The “dinners” (perogies, breaded chicken/fish, pizza) sometimes get me when they’re on a great sale or I feel like we need a quick dinner one night. The problem is that my family and I are always disappointed. Homemade is always better and at the end of the day cheaper (especially when my young kids won’t eat it and another meal has to be made).

    Since your kids are grown, could you set aside a few hours when you’re all free (might be tough, I know) and make some meals for the week/month. Lasagnas, perogies, hamburgers, pasta sauce can all be prepared, even partially cooked and then frozen. You can put in them what you all like, people can even customize their own (every Friday is pizza night in our house), use up leftover veggies (veggies can be put in everything) and spend some quality time together.

    Household items -> Have you ever thought about buying reusable sandwich (fabric) baggies or plastic reusable containers? Cloths for reusable paper towel (I made my own with an old towel and my serger). There are some really cool ones on Etsy that snap together and actually roll up like a paper towel (and even fit on your holder) except they’re in cute fabric designs! We gave up garbage bags a while ago in exchange for grocery bags. I found that when we recycled, composted, and tried to bulk shop as much as possible, it was sufficient. For the record, at our old home, we had to pay for our garbage, $2 a bag so that encouraged us to keep it as minimal as possible. Yes, a $2 charge is a deterrent for me 🙂

    I love going shopping by myself. It’s ME time every week. I am the sole caregiver for two 8-year olds and while I love my kids, I need a break from them. I took them shopping with me this week and they saw a fruit out of season (read more expensive) and convinced me to buy it. It was no good inside. Lesson learned for both of us.

    All the best with your journey.

    Besos Sarah.

    1. Hi Sarah, you seem so organized! I guess I could save a lot if I wasn’t so lazy:( I tried some of the things you suggested but I find life gets in the way and I run out of time (I know just another excuse). We do prepare our spaghetti sauce in bulk but that’s pretty much it. It’s hard to do anything for a few hours with my kids these days, they have jobs, school and a few chores around the house already. It was so much easier when they were younger. We do recycle (our city has a green bin program) but still buy the green bin bags and they are not cheap. Thanks for the feedback as usual. Congrats on raising two kids alone. I have been there and it can be tough no matter how much we love them.

      1. Dear Caroline,

        Just to clarify, I am the sole caregiver for my kids meaning, I am responsible for looking after them, except my husband lives with us 🙂 He works for himself so is very busy. If he’s busy then I take the kids with me. I don’t want to take credit for being a single parent.

        I’m a homemaker so I have time to do all this stuff. Besides, it’s who I am and I love it and my job. Being more organized is a personal challenge for me. Sometimes my life is too strict and I wish that I could lighten up a bit. My kids are still young and home all the time so I have lots of time to fit this stuff in.

        I honestly don’t know how parents work and get everything done. I don’t even want to give it a try. Your family is fed, clothed, has a roof over their head and I have no doubt loved greatly. You’re doing amazing.

        I hope that you will see my comments not as something where you lack but as ideas that you might be able to incorporate into your life to make time for other things. Or not. Life is too short to worry about it.

        Besos Sarah.

        1. Hi Sarah, maybe my response was not well drafted. I didn’t see your comment as being negative but was trying to convey that certain things are not as easy to do depending on your situation:) I did incorporate one of your earlier “Bulk Barn” saving in my routine. All feedback is ALWAYS welcome. This is a journey and I love to learn from others.
          Glad your husband lives with you:) I totally misunderstood.

  2. I didn’t know January had 5 weeks…*uses fingers to count*

    I don’t think your grocery budget is bad for so many people for 5 weeks. Divide by person so it’s easier. It cost $90 bucks to feed one person a month for our house. Just don’t spend $1000 per person like my friend Soap does. She still somehow has a giant grocery bill even after all help and tips!

    Thanks for the shout out!

  3. For as many people you are feeding – I don’t think it is bad at all! I switched to frozen fruits as well for smoothies – tossing some veggies in and we are eating pretty healthy this winter!

    1. Hi Mrs. DS, we are trying to eat healthy too and we actually don’t eat that much meat (except on Sunday!) which is why I am baffled every time I add up our expenses. I am not a fan of smoothies myself but they do look pretty healthy:)

    1. Funny you ask. Last year I changed things a little. Earlier, I got in the bad habit of buying them special fruits (pomegranate, mangoes…) and when you have three kids it quickly adds up! So last year, I told them I would buy what was needed for the week but if they wanted anything specific and it wasn’t on my list then they had to pay for it! I felt bad but they all have jobs so I thought it was time they realize the difference between the needs vs the wants when it comes to food selection. I still “treat” them once in a while but not like I used to before.

  4. That doesn’t seem too bad for 5 adults, and an extra 9 heads for a big meal every week!

    It sounds like you know what you could do to reduce it, but if you or your family don’t want to make those choices, make a conscious decision either way and don’t beat yourself up.

  5. Thanks for the shout!!

    The grocery bill isn’t too bad considering you have 3 grown kids and host dinner every Sunday for 10 or more people. Yes, $200 a week budget on groceries is a good goal, try to aim for $175 if possible.

    1. Thanks Kris,
      I was actually aiming for $180 but realized it wasn’t realistic for us at this point. Maybe when I have more time to shop or prepare meals but for now $200 is already challenging enough:)

  6. Boooo, sorry you had a rough month on the food front! We were particularly spendy on food last month as well, so I feel your pain. Not sure if it helps, but we started separating household items from our grocery budget. It made me feel less guilty. 😛

  7. Caroline,
    You are on a mission with all the nice accounting and financial analysis. Being a finance and accounting guy, it speaks to me. A tired but appropriate phrase from the Corporate world comes to mind “With measurement comes performance”.

    We could use work in this area as well. But neither my wife or I are as motivated as you to dig in. We will just muddle along here and I will enjoy watching your progress.

    Tom

    1. Yes measurements is really helpful. I look at the chart and I now right away where things need to improve!
      My problem is that I am the only one who is really motivated at my house…out of five!

  8. Your grocery bill is very good considering you are feeding 5 adults. I must confess when I shop with my wife I usually end up costing us more money. You can never have enough ice cream and cookies.

    1. OMG Steve, you sound like my partner! It’s the junk he can’t stay away from:( He is getting better because of his health problems but sometimes he still needs his “fix”:)

  9. For a Canadian, your spending is good. Have you every looked at Prudent Homemaker and her ideas and recipes. I’d make a suggestion of making a commitment not to waste food you purchase. What about a couple of vegetarian meals a week? Could your weekly hosted dinner be a potluck?

  10. We’re coming in at a little over $400/month for 2. Given your family size, the celiac diet, and the Sunday dinners I think you’re doing pretty good.

    The variation in food prices is nutty. I’ve seen avocados for ranging from 49 cents to $1.50 each! When we move we’re hoping to buy more fresh veggies at local farmers markets but I still enjoy frozen, especially broccoli, because I hate how a house smells after you cook fresh broccoli.

    1. I know the smell! We started buying brussel sprouts (so good with garlic and butter:)) and the smell is not that great either! My problem with the local farmers markets is that they have a lot of other yummy stuff like baked goods!!!

  11. ALSO I want to add, I think a lot of bloggers who do grocery round up costs don’t include household expenses (for example, I wouldn’t include diapers in my groceries list because I don’t eat it haha).

    So if you omit that for next month’s calculations you’ll feel a lot better for yourself.

    I think you are doing fantastic for feeding 5 adults (and three young adults/teenagers which are basically like two for the price of one), so really you are feeding 8 people. AND you have those dinners on the weekends where you host even more people!

    I also like shopping by myself and it’s my “me” time.

    1. I like your way of thinking:) My partner actually likes coming with me grocery shopping, which is nice but, sometimes I wish he wouldn’t so I could have some extra “me” time! And I would probably meet my grocery goal! haha

  12. We struggle mightily with this line item in our budget. Pains me to think about it! Four of us, two are little kids. We pay like 900+ each and every month! And to boot, we’re 90% vegetarian, and no pets. The culprit? Organic food from co-ops. We love our fresh produce that’s pesticide free. And add a variety of healthy nuts in bulks (not cheap) and quality yogurt and dairy – man… Can’t go cheap on health though. That’s non-negotiable!

    1. I have looked at organic, not sure if it truly always is! Whenever I want to switch I look at the price and I just can’t do it. I do buy fruits and vegetables at the local market in the summer but probably not all organic. Nuts are expensive but I still buy them in bulk most of the time (and I am better at looking for the Bulk Barn coupon!). If you believe in the value of organic food, there is nothing wrong with your budget. We all do what we are comfortable with.

    1. 1/4 a cow? No we haven’t considered it. Where do you store it all? That must be a lot! Maybe I will look into it just to see the cost difference. I do love beef and it’s expensive.

  13. For the meat, my family mainly eats pork and chicken, which are not expensive. I never tracked the grocery details. I’m sure the dollar amount varies a lot each month. Great job in planning, shopping and cooking for the family of five. That’s not easy. Each of us needs “me” time to slow down and relax.

    1. Hi Helen, we used to eat pork a lot but my partner got sick last year and can no longer eat it! I cook it once in a while but I prefer to cook something everybody can eat. I guess I am spoiled but I don’t consider grocery shopping to be “me” time…going to a massage would be:)

  14. Like many others have said, I don’t think your spending is that crazy with 5 adults and family dinners. Those Sunday dinners add up, but they are important for family time. Maybe even some of that expense should come from a different budget area like entertainment/fun?

  15. Hey Caroline,

    Wow, your spending seems low to me, given the amount of people (and pets) fed! As far as I’ve found, food waste tends to be an area where money is spent unnecessarily; we buy produce that ends up spoiling every so often, though we’ve improved in this area. As to stores, it’s hard to find anything consistently cheaper than Walmart.

    Cheers,
    Miguel

  16. Hey Caroline! Lucky for my fiancé and I don’t have to spend as much on the groceries per month because my parents are always inviting us over for dinner (less than 8 min drive away so may as well). They cook SO much and they always buy so much food that they sometimes end up wasting some……. 🤦‍♀️

    But other than that, we only cook on weekends and some week nights only if we can get off work a bit earlier lol. It’s the work that’s always in our way of prepping.

    Btw, we wanna start buying frozen fruits to make smoothie in the morning. Seems like a relative easy thing to do! I love smoothies 😊

    1. Lucky you! Enjoy it while you can:) Never mind the savings, I would love to have someone cook for us everyday!
      Frozen fruits are great for smoothies but you need to shop around, they can get expensive.

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