My first monthly grocery budget is nothing to brag about. Let’s blame the cats this month! Without their food, I would be so much closer to my goal!
As mentioned in an earlier post, we can totally afford our grocery bill but it drives me crazy to know how much we actually spend on groceries each week; $280! That’s $14,560 per year! It seems like such an insane number, just for food. I read so many blogs about frugal living and how I should be able to feed my family of five on $150/month or some other crazy number, it puts me to shame!
My goal is probably never going to be quite that extreme (but you never know). We are 5 adults (including three older kids) and we rarely eat out. One of my daughter’s is Celiac so we buy gluten-free products which are expensive (we usually stick to the basics such as flour, pasta and bread). Every Sunday, we have a big family dinner with up to 14 people. On top of it all, we have a dog and two cats who expect to be fed regularly.
Where are we at for September?
It is a FAIL! I did save $10 a week but with my goal at $60 a week by the end of the year, it is a little weak. I was discouraged when I was adding up all the receipts but I also realized I didn’t follow my own plan as well as I should have.
Here is September’ grocery spending:
Detailed grocery budget for September (missing the first week, I only started on the 9th):
- Produce: I didn’t think we spent so much on produce! Good for us for eating healthy but it means I need to focus more on produce for savings. I know what to check for on flyers and apps before heading to Costco. I always assumed it was cheaper there but not convinced anymore. The problem is the packaging at Costco is not advertised by the pound so you need to do lots of conversions (and after trying this week-end it can be very time-consuming – some are kilo, other pounds – but I guess after a few weeks I will be a pro) .We don’t waste much (our fridge was acting up so we did waste a bit), so quantity is not an issue. I think we do end up buying a little more than we really need to because of the sizes available at Costco.
- Meat/Fish: We don’t eat that much meat during the week but our Sunday Family diner is a killer. I have to start looking at different recipes where less meat is required.
- Dairy: It seems high but I can’t find the receipt for a $19 entry so can’t explain where the total comes from. I am now putting all the receipts in one envelope after I key them on my spreadsheet so next time I can go back and check.
- Breads/Bakery: We bought a birthday cake this month plus I had my little trip to the outdoor market where I bought lots of sweets. Also gluten-free bread is pretty expensive and making it is not really an option at this time (and the flour would still be expensive).
- Pets: We bought cat food but it should last a few months.
- Personal Care: We stocked up on body wash this month, there was a good sale on.
- Snack & crackers: We bought 2 large bags of trail mix for 8.99 each. It is a handy snack to have for my son who does competitive track and several sports at school.
Where did I go wrong in September:
- I kept track of ALL grocery spending. I noticed I was forgetting to add the odd receipt here and there. Now I keep ALL receipts and key them all once a week, no exception. We may have been spending a little more than $280/week before!
- All grocery spending is categorized, see my previous post. This was an eye-opener. I knew we spent a lot on produce but 33% of overall spending, it is a lot!
- Didn’t go back shopping during the week, just worked with what we had. My kids have a tendency to eat everything as soon as we get back from grocery shopping so now they know it has to last the week.
- Ate something before going shopping and drank a glass of water just to make me feel fuller.
- Didn’t impulse buy.
- I don’t know the price of veggies and fruits by the pound at other stores, always assumed Costco was cheaper. I have to focus on being more knowledgeable in that area since we spend so much on produce.
- Didn’t always check Flipp before shopping. While I have had the app on my phone for a while , I usually use it for big-ticket items, I never really took the time to check it for grocery items.
And the ugly:
- A trip to a little outdoor market with CASH in my pocket! Spent it all, mostly on baked goods, really yummy baked goods (Go ahead, sue me!) so $30 later and a little heavier. I would have been $10/week closer to my goal but it was so good; Asian pineapple homemade cake and lots of other goodies (I shared a few with my minions). I did enjoy my little trip but probably would have enjoyed it just as much if I had spent a little less!
The plan going forward:
This is where I need to focus my efforts in the next few months:
- Make my meal plan for the week based on the season.
- Write down my shopping list with everything we need.
- Check what is left in the fridge and the pantry before leaving the house. Too often I buy item because I don’t know if we have any left at home or not.
- Check the app Flipp before heading out; it is just so easy; quick search and clip your selection to your shopping list. Since I am not interested in driving around for hours, (plus gas is expensive) I will select the one or two stores with the best deals for what we need each week.
- The app is showing me all prices around so I can get familiar with the price of the food I have to buy (by the pound).
- Keep a master grocery list. I downloaded the app “Out of milk” on my phone and created a master grocery list, each week I can de-select what we don’t need and add anything missing. I am also trying to keep the per unit price to date. We will see how effective that is.
- No junk food – Eating a fruit and drinking a glass of water before leaving is helping a bit. I did put a few treats in my cart last week but ended up putting them back before getting to the cash.
- Will look for other Apps for discounts or coupons. I started using Checkout51 but I am not convinced it will worth the time.
I am adding two tips to my list:
- Shop alone. This is working out better for me; it is easier to stick to my list. It may be different at your house (maybe you are the one who should stay home!)
- Keep track of all expenses on a spreadsheet, seeing my spending on the spreadsheet makes me think twice about future purchase.
Summary of Grocery Savings Tips to date (for more detail click Here):
Having to report my spending on the blog is a big motivator, I feel more accountable.
After my first full shopping trip outside of Costco last week, I am convinced I can reduce our grocery bill by close to $100/week ($5,200/year, it would pay for a nice vacation). It is definitely a big challenge but one worth working on. Even if I spend one hour checking Apps or going to a second store, $100 for one hour of work is not bad!. I am going to give myself 6 months to get there.
How about you, how much do you spend a week on groceries? Are you trying to reduce your spending? Do you have any tip to share?