Friday, 3 August 2012

Frugal Friday: Help! I Spend Way Too Much On Groceries!


$1155.78.  That is how much we spent on groceries for the month of July. My husband had noticed that we seemed to be spending a lot on groceries and so he added it up. I guess he felt the number was too high to say out loud because he emailed it to me, despite the fact that I was sitting in the next room.

Our household is comprised of two adults, one baby, and one dog.  How does such a small family spend $1155.78 on one month’s worth of groceries? It seems like a bit much (even in Canada, where food is expensive).

In our defense, this was a particularly expensive month for groceries.  We had been out of town for May and June, and so we had to re-stock a lot of items. Also, this grocery bill is a total of the money we spent at the grocery store and Costco, so it includes other household items like toilet paper, diapers, etc.

I’ve always been careful about my spending, and I hate the feeling of wasting money. My philosophy is that if you save money on the little day to day items, you won’t feel guilty spending money on the big ticket items that you really want.  For example, I don’t feel the need to buy brand name rice cakes, but I did buy a top-of-the-line car seat for my daughter. I also believe in the importance of eating wholesome, healthy foods (hence the exorbitant amount of money I spend on groceries).

After looking at this past month’s grocery bill, I am determined to decrease our grocery spending without sacrificing the quality of the food we eat. Here is how I plan to do it:

-Meal Planning- This is the most challenging task because I’m finding it hard to find recipes my 10 month old daughter will also be able to eat. It seems like every meal I make has something in it that’s not “baby friendly” for one reason or another. I don’t expect that I’ll get it together enough to plan every night’s dinner ahead of time, but I’m definitely going to try my best to do more meal planning because it ensures I will only buy what I need.

-No Limited junk food/pop- The hope is that this will trim our grocery bill as well as our waistlines.

-Using Coupons- Good coupons are hard to come by, but I am keeping my eyes peeled for them and trying to remember to use them when I have them.

-Eating reasonable-sized portions- Often, I will cook a meal that should feed about four people, but my husband and I eat the whole thing by ourselves. This is not healthy. It's also expensive, and it needs to stop.

Also, I’m starting a new “thing” on my blog called Frugal Friday. Every second Friday, I will share my “feats”, “fails”, and “finds”  on my quest to becoming more frugal.

Feats:

-I did a meal plan for the majority of our dinners this week.
-I have been getting better at remembering to turn off lights when I leave the room (I have an annoying habit of leaving them on, which drives my husband insane. He’s right, leaving lights on is a huge waste of money, not to mention the impact on the environment).

Fails:

-I had to throw away broccoli that had gone bad. I hate throwing away food, especially vegetables and fruits which are so expensive.
-I take excessively long, hot showers. My money is literally going down the drain.

Finds:

-I came accross a $2 off Pampers diapers coupon.  Now I just have to remember to use it! There are a bunch of other great coupons on the P&G website, so it’s definitely worth checking out.

Do you have any feats, fails, or finds this Frugal Friday?

28 comments:

  1. Groceries are insanely expensive. We average close to $800 for a family of 4 and I throw out more than I'd like.
    I'd love to bring my grocery bill closer to $500 a month. I'm planning on getting my mom's deep freeze and pre making meals when meat is on sale. I'm also working on making a list of essentials (beans, canned tomatoes, pasta sauce, pasta noodles, etc) and making sure I have enough for 2 meals at any given time. This way when I use one meals worth I know to start watching for sales and restock (this way I'm never completely out of things).
    Ideally I want to start canning and making my own essentials, bringing the cost down even more.

    Looking forward to seeing your future feats, fails, and finds!

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  2. Those are such great tips, Amanda. I'm going to try implementing some of them!

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  3. Ok Laura, I thought I spent a lot of money on groceries but (without actually adding it up) I think you have me beat! It can be hard planning meals with a little one in the house. I have a toddler who changes her mind like the wind. Last week she may have loved spaghetti but this week she won't touch it. I'm hit and miss with coupons. There is no doubt I have saved money with them but there are also a lot that have gone to waste because I forget about them and when I do remember they have expired.

    However, I do find watching the flyers extremely helpful. I look at all of the grocery (and household) flyers every week and make note of what's on sale and if they are things we actually need I make a shopping trip. It might mean going to 3 different stores in a week but it's still worth it.

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    1. Yes, I have started reading the flyers lately. I really have to start learning the prices though so I know when something is a really good deal. I agree- it's totally worth it to go to several stores. I do try to do that a bit, especially with Costco, although lately I'm wondering if Costco is even a better deal. I know it is for some things, but not for others. Maybe I'll do some Costco vs. grocery store comparisons in my next Frugal Friday post!

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  4. While my fails have been many and several this week (this Canadian family is living in the US for a month and there has been much splurging at Whole Foods and fun takeout places), I have been "saving" money by shopping online while in the States... the carseat adapter for our stroller retails for $39 here, instead of the $79 it costs in Canada! Regular price, no less! Now I can spend the money I've saved on more organic strawberries for my cereal :)

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    1. Good idea! I can't get over how much higher the prices are in Canada. It makes absolutely no sense. And it makes me so mad!
      ps. In my fantasy life, I would buy all my groceries at Whole Foods.

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  5. I feel ya girlfriend on the spending waaayyy too much on groceries and trying to remem ber to use coupons. Yikes! We have a few more kids and several of them are teenage boys so that doesn't help in the least. I am your newest follower from the Mommy Mixer Hop.

    Thanks for the follow,
    Anissa from Chasing Hailey

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  6. Following back from Rogue Baby =) #99 on GFC!! On my Week of No's... I just pre-write any Tuesday posts and schedule them to publish on their own. ;)

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  7. Ouch! I cringe when we spend $700 per month and we are a family of five, but we live in the US and shop at a military commissary. ;o) I look forward to reading about your journey.
    Carmen B
    www.thetriplebs.com

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  8. Following you back :) We spend the same on groceries if not more.. im afraid to add it up but I love this post and the ideas of how to save! Totally gonna start working on it!

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  9. I am totally with you on the no junk food thing. I told my partner to stop buying cookies and chips. And then I go to my Mom's house and she's bought me cookies and chips as a "special treat". It didn't empty my wallet, but it filled my stomach. I need to exercise more self-restraint.

    As for the coupons, I need to remember to put them in my purse. We bought a few of the Pampers boxes of diapers (the Go Canada!) ones, and they have coupons in it for random P&G products.

    I look forward to your next post in this series. Hopefully you can save me some monies too! :)

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  10. I feel your pain! I justify spending too much on food, cause I am preggers with a baby, but seriously, it's not a good excuse at all. I would LOVE to meal plan for the family, and have a little tidy schedule of what we are going to eat posted on our fridge, but somehow that seems to drain me of enthusiasm for cooking...
    Trader Joe's just opened up in our neck of the woods, which I think is going to be very good for our family meal budget. Fingers crossed!
    Oh, and I am definitely also guilty of leaving lights on in rooms I am not occupying. I laughed when you mentioned how much it bugs your husband. He and my hubby should vent together :)
    So glad to be following you back, and looking forward to reading future posts!
    d

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  11. So I read the first sentence really fast and I though you said it was $155.78, and I was like, dang! This girl has got it down with being frugal. Then I saw the other one, and I'm right there with you, unfortunately...;)

    You've got some great ideas and I could relate to all of this. I hate throwing out produce too, which I feel like I end up doing all the time. Though I'm not sure you should sacrifice your long showers--if you're like me, that's Mommy's only alone time!

    One thing that has helped (as far as keeping cost and workload down)--I usually double recipes and then we either eat the leftovers later that week or we freeze for later...

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    1. Ha! $155.78?! I WISH! Well, actually I don't wish because that would mean that I'd be pretty much be eating nothing but potatoes and canned beans.

      Yes, we do the leftovers thing a lot too. I need to find more healthy recipes for things I can freeze though. Although, I'm starting to realize that a lot of dishes can be frozen. I've started freezing things I would have never thought to freeze before, and so far so good. I guess I got into it with all the baby food I've been making because I do the whole ice cube tray, freezer bag thing. I'd be lost without my baby food stash.

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  12. Hi Laura, going to be doing a post based on this post in the next couple of days. Please don't think I'm minimizing the pain of a high grocery bill. I feel ya there! I'm going to talk about it in terms of being lucky to be able to spend a ton on groceries when so many can't. It's more humorous than anything...Hope to start a good discussion!

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    1. Good point, Keesha! I often wonder what it would be like to not be able to afford to buy vegetables. I am spoiled in the sense that I consider fresh produce to be a necessity, when it reality, it is actually a luxury. I'm really looking forward to reading your post!

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  13. Well I can see many ways in which we are on the same page!! I was just considering couponing after a co-worker sent me pics of how much stuff she got for pennies. I truly hate to throw away food so I have been trying to cut down portions or freeze excess. Many of the things you mentioned such as limiting junk food and watching food portions are great ideas. Bottom line though--food is expensive!

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  14. We are having the same issue in our house. For two adults and a baby we are spending a fortune on food. Obviously I want to provide baby with the best, freshest and most "natural" food but it does cost a fortune. I too wish I could solely shop at Whole Foods but I would go broke fast :) I'm planning on meal planning when I go back to work in September and using my crock pot more. Do you use any apps to help with meal planning or just write it on paper? I think those two things will hopefully help out! Buying coffee at Starbucks also has to stop. I'm spending a fortune there. I know it's bad and I need to cut back but sadly I look at it as my mommy luxury now!

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    1. Hmm, no I don't use any meal planning apps. I just write it down. The challenge is sometimes I don't know if a meal is going to provide leftovers or if it does, how many portions of leftovers it will provide, so I may plan to make a particular dish on Tuesday, and then it gets bumped to Wednesday because I had unexpected leftovers from Monday. Then because everything got moved forward a day, I end up having groceries for meals I didn't end up making. I would just freeze leftovers, but I find that not everything freezes well (although a lot of things that I didn't think would freeze well are actually surprising me).

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  15. We could certainly spend less at the grocery store but here are the things that help to reduce our bill (when I follow it):

    Meal planning. It really helps to reduce our grocery bill and reduce food waste. The key for meal planning (for me) is to make sure you have a good mix of meals that are quick and easy (for lazy days when you don't want to cook), meals that have leftovers (for lunches), and meals that are more prep intensive (usually the yummy favorite meals).

    Buy frozen produce when you can: I tend to use frozen vegetables when making stir frys and use fresh when making a dish where the veggie/fruit is the main ingredient.

    Shop on Tuesdays: Sobeys and Dominion offer a 10% discount for students.

    Make your own bread and buns. I recently purchased a bread maker (on sale) and it is soooo easy to make your own bread... which is healthier and waaay cheaper then store bought.

    Make double portions and freeze the leftovers for another meal.

    Buy items on sale and stock up on sale items if they are staple in your family

    I stopped grocery shopping at Costco because I found I was spending way more then when I would buy the same items at the grocery store. This was happening for a few reasons 1) I always end up buying other items when I am at costco that I don't need (yoga pants, cool gadgets, yummy looking food we don't normally eat) 2) The portions are to big for just the 2 of us so a lot of our costco food goes to waste 3) It is not always cheaper.

    Happy grocery shopping.

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    1. I love your savings tips, Kim. Especially the Costco one. I have been wondering lately whether the things that SEEM cheaper at Costco are really cheaper. As you know, I can't do math, so it's sometimes hard to figure it out. I know that a lot of the fruit is cheaper (eg. strawberries, blueberries, avocados), and I always buy the skinless and boneless chicken breasts there because although the Costco chicken is more expensive, it's worth it for the quality. I find the chicken at the grocery store has a weird texture. Oh, and FYI, Costco has a good price on diaper genie refills! But yes, other than those few things, I think a lot of the stuff is actually more expensive. Like toilet paper and paper towels. We always buy it there, but it's probably not a good deal.

      I am super impressed that you are making your own bread!

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  16. Groceries---aahhh, I always wonder how it all adds up! Glad someone else has the same problem---I really try to stick to meal planning and not do any quick runs, that's where I always pick up like fifteen extra things!

    -Julie
    http://www.thechirpingmoms.com

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  17. oh, i spend waaaay too much on groceries as well. its hard to cut down with a family of 5- oh, especially if they like food.
    anyway, wanted to let you know i have been loving your blog and i have nominated you for the sunshine award. you can read about it here http://kendrakaypahukoa.blogspot.com/2012/08/aloha-friday-oh-and-i-was-nominated-for.html
    have a fabulous aloha friday!!!

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    1. Thaaaank you! You are so sweet! :)

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  18. Meal planning is probably the biggest way that I save money on groceries. It really does wonders. And here's where I'm really OCD--I even plan snacks!

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    1. Wow. I'm impressed. I don't even manage to plan out every dinner, let alone lunches or snacks! Good for you!

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  19. laura, I've been keeping house for a long time (I'm 60), so I'll tell you and your friends the two best investments I've ever made. A chest freezer ($95 at Home Depot) and a Food Saver Vacuum Sealer. Buy meat on sale, divide into portions if needed, vacuum seal the stuff and throw it in the freezer. No freezer burn EVERE and it will last for at least a year. Most frozen veggies are more nutritious than fresh but I understand that things like broccoli can be soggy if you want to use in. If you bring fresh veggies home and you're not going to used them for a day or two, vacuum seal and throw them in the fridge. DO NOT WASH - WATER IS THE ENEMY - until ready to use. This DOUBLES the shelf life of the stuff in the fridge. Fruit is trickier if you want to vacuum seal it. You have to freeze it first. A bit time consuming for someone with a baby. Same for bread because it's so soft. But you can certainly freeze bread products in the original pkg.

    I hope this helps.

    Pamela

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  20. I have a family of 6 and was spending a ton of time and money dealing with the grocery issue. I found www.savingdinner.com 6 years ago and it has been a lifesaver. She e-mails me a menu, the recipes and shopping list for the week. I take the shopping list to the store and buy everything I need for the week. No more running to the store at 5pm, eating fast food, or cold cereal! We've lost weight (my husband lost 60 lbs) and eat more interesting food. My kids were picky eaters, but now will try just about everything. Check it out - I LOVE www.savingdinner.com! Louise

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