Grocery Conundrum

Oh, grocery bill……how traumatic you are, some weeks.

If you’ve been reading lately you’ll know that in the last couple of months I’ve been trying to reduce our spending at Costco and Thrifty’s (the only two stores we shop at for groceries).  I’ve even gone so far as to start logging our receipts so that I can see exactly where, in our budget, the money goes.  I was just reading another blog post and the writer was having to defend her $600/month grocery budget to her readers because they all thought it was too high.  It’s her and her hubby and their small child.  She is gluten free but eats all the packaged gluten-free crap and he apparently eats quite a high volume of everything.  And they are vegetarians.

Our food budget for February is $185/week ($740 for the month) and I’m having a hard time coming in at or near that weekly budget.  (we’ve come in twice out of three weeks so far but I think next week is going to be over)

We don’t buy organic (unless it’s equivalent pricing), we buy the majority of our meat and veggies at Costco and just use Thrifty’s for the other stuff that we don’t need in huge bulk quantities.  Our Costco spending includes whatever gets purchased at Costco….so when we bought a set of queen sized bed sheets there the other week, that went against our grocery budget.  That’s probably not proper budgeting etiquette but I need to be spending a MAX of $185 between Costco & Thrifty’s….whatever that includes….toilet tissue, chicken, motor oil or almond butter.  Our alcohol purchases are not included in our grocery budget, that is included separately for each of us (ie, if you want alcohol, that comes out of your spending money).

I did a little assessment of the last two weeks of shopping to try and determine where that grocery money is going and I was absolutely shocked to find out that the overwhelming majority of our spending is on produce.  Fruits and veggies.

Feb 9

Feb 13

So on average, 40-50% of our grocery budget is produce and 25-35% of our grocery budget is protein.  Given this info it would seem that if a person wanted to reduce their grocery spending, they would have to find somewhere cheaper to buy produce.  I thought about that and how I should really be trying to hit a produce market once a week instead of Costco & Thrifty’s.  This could definitely help on the financial side but will seriously impact my convenience factor.  I make our menu on Wednesday afternoon and then make the two grocery lists, go to Costco on Thursday and Thrifty’s on Friday so that I can do the cooking on Saturday.  Unfortunately we don’t have a produce market near to us and I don’t have endless time during the week to be running around.  However….for the month of March, I will endeavor to hit up a produce market on Thursday evening before heading to Costco.  I’ll weigh the cost savings with the convenience aspect.  At the same time I’ll see if I can reduce our Costco visits to every two weeks instead of every week.

Maybe it seems silly to be fretting so much over where and when we shop for groceries…..but the only way to find a better way is to actually try different ways of doing things.  Maybe what we do now and how much we spend is as good as we can make it with the time and effort we have and how we choose to eat.  And maybe it’s not.  But there is only one way to find out!

Now, here’s where we get to the interactive part of the program.

  1.  How much do you spend on groceries every week? 
  2. How much does it work out to per person? 

In my house with two adult people, it works out to $92/week each.  That equals out to about $3.25/meal and less than 50 cents/snack… every meal contains protein, veggies and some fat.

  1. Do you think that you can or should do better?  How?
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3 thoughts on “Grocery Conundrum

  1. My husband and I easily spend over $150/week… more some weeks. This is MUCH less than it was in NYC. That said, we literally spent over $300 on two trips to the grocery store last weekend. Granted, that was a rare “OH MY GOD WE NEED FOOD!!!!” event because we hadn’t gone “real” shopping in a couple weeks but it sucked to see the receipts.

    We could DEFINITELY do better, but saving money on groceries it isn’t a priority for us really. I love food too much to stress about it, and I’m lucky enough to have the money to feel OK with that.

  2. I can’t even report how much we spend because I don’t know. We too make our food a priority. We have stopped eating out (as much) but have no qualms spending whatever it takes to keep us (not fat) and happy.

    You’re right, though. Eating real food costs quite a lot more than eating not real food. I was at Costco the other night and the boys asked for something for dinner from the fast-food outlet there. Not sure what I was thinking but I agreed. One got a hot dog that was at least 12″ long and the other something called a “chickenbake” that seems like a chicken cheesesteak baked inside a pizza crust. Each was portioned such that my kids slowed down before finishing their “food” (not small). The cost: $4.76. For both.

    For the record, I heartily enjoy my $10 grassfed ribeye most nights for dinner.

  3. That’s interesting that it’s more the veg and not the protien that makes your grocery bill that high… I never thought to look at it like that…I don’t have any suggestions as I am sure that you look at flyers and the like… and I don’t think that purchasing produce at a produce stand is significantly cheaper than Thriftys or Costco…

    I spend approximately $75/week on groceries… I think. I’m going to log it for the next little while and see. I only shop every two weeks and then supplement the 2nd week with veg if necessary but since it’s winter, the veg are pretty hearty so they last a couple weeks in the fridge.

    I’m not sure I can do better… I don’t throw any food away ever, I use things in the freezer first before buying new… the only way I could do better would be to purchase a deep freeze and then buy more in bulk but that’s not really an option.

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