Just finished updating my October grocery budget and I can finally see some real progress! Keeping track of my expenses by category is a tedious process but it is very rewarding when you make progress. Hopefully I will reach my goal in no time and move on to better things. You can’t save money if you don’t know where you are spending it in the first place.
I feed a family of five adults (three are teenagers/young adults). We rarely eat out. One of my daughters is Celiac so we buy gluten-free products (flour, pasta and bread mainly) and it is expensive. And we have a large family dinner once a week with usually between 10 and 14 people.
My issue is not affordability, we can afford a lot more than what we spend. I just hate wasting and I think we spend too much on groceries. Back in September I set the goal to reduce our spending by $60/week then by early October I was convinced I could reduce it by $100/week. My goal is to spend $180 per week on groceries ($780 per month). It is a saving of $5,200 per year based on our current spending.
How are we doing so far?
I am doing much better this month than September. In just a month and a half, our grocery bill is down $40/week and we are still eating really well. that’s $2,080/year in savings already. All I had to do is spend a little more time planning. Let’s assume I spent an extra hour a week planning my grocery trip, it means for every hour I spent I made $40.00 ($2,080/52). And that’s after tax money! Do you make that much per hour? I wish more people would realize how much they can save on groceries.
Our average per week is now $224 for the food alone ($970 per month). That’s just over $2/meal per person. I think I am on the right track. Plus I get my kids involved in the process so they learn from it too.
Here is the detailed grocery spending for October (5 weeks):
And my progress chart (I love charts, so much easier to see where you are at with a picture):
- Produce & Fruits: I saved 40% over last month. Considering it was our biggest expense, this is where most of the savings came from so far. We are still eating healthy but I stopped buying all of it at Costco where the quantity was sometimes a little more than what we really needed. I have tried several stores in October and so far Food Basic has been the best place for me. I tried No Frills but I wasn’t crazy about the quality and FreshCo, but much further for me to get to so not necessarily worth it.
- Meat/Fish: Meat was higher this month. We bought the turkey for Thanksgiving diner and extra meat for the family Sunday diner. Lots still in the freezer so should be lower in November.
- Dairy/cheese & eggs: Apparently we are starting to buy a lot of cheese and various dairy products. We spent about $40 on milk and bought various cheeses for different purposes (lasagna, Greek salad..). I need to be more careful as it is getting expensive.
- Breads/Bakery: Our biggest expense here is the gluten-free bread. It is convenient to buy it already made plus the gluten-free ingredients are expensive anyway and my daughter loves it.
- Pets : No expense this month. We just stop feeding them, I had to reach my goal somehow! (just kidding).
- Beverages: We had to refill on coffee, it’s expensive. The Keurig machine is practical and you don’t waste as much but the K-cups are not cheap.
- Frozen food: We don’t usually buy much frozen food but the stuffed-chicken breasts were on sale at Costco so we bought extra packages. It is handy when I work late.
- Snack & crackers: Following Sarah’s advice (thank you), I made my own trail mix this month (see my picture). Bulk Barn had 30% off ($3 coupon for $10). I made 1.4 Kg of Trail mix for about $7! and got to put in whatever I wanted. It was fun. We will see if I keep it up.
- Household: Laundry detergent was on sale so we bought two big containers, we should be good for a couple of months.
- Kept all the receipts and keyed them in once a week.
- Planned dinners ahead and checked Flipp before going out.
- Limit the number of stores to two max based on best sales. I don’t want to spend by time shopping on the week-end. Costco is still the best for meat.
- Didn’t go back to the store during the week except once for milk and didn’t get sidetracked. Before I would stop on the way home if we were missing an ingredient and ended up buying a lot more. I try to “work” with what we have and try to plan better the following week.
- Didn’t impulse buy.
- I got frustrated a couple of times with the app while at the grocery store and wasted time just standing in the middle of an aisle, while checking prices for last-minute purchase. You need to plan all purchases ahead and not rely on your phone once at the store. I learned my lesson.
- I bought products that weren’t on my list and found out they were much better deals elsewhere afterwards. If you are going to buy last-minute, don’t check the sales after. You will just get frustrated.
And the Ugly:
- Thanksgiving diner! The turkey alone was $32. It was a great meal and a lot of fun but I should plan better next holiday.
- Keep using Flipp and stick to the two stores with the best deals.
- Keep master grocery list on my phone. I stopped using the second app and just keep the list on Flipp. Having two apps was too much, I am trying to keep it simple. Flipp also checks if the items on your list are on sale.
- Stay away from junk food , it is expensive and unhealthy
- Keeping track of it on a spreadsheet and updating weekly is helping with future purchase as I am more aware of where our money is going.
- I am giving Checkout51 another month but so far I only have $6.35 in savings so I don’t think I will bother with it. Not much saving on the food front for what I buy regularly.
Reporting my spending on the blog is a big motivator, it makes me feel accountable. I don’t plan to do it forever but at least until I reach my goal. By then I am hoping I will have changed my consumer habits when it comes to groceries.
I am keeping my goal at $180 a week for now.
How about you, how much do you spend a week on groceries? Do you have any tips to share?