Author Topic: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?  (Read 15712 times)

hunniebun

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Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« on: January 12, 2015, 01:45:45 PM »
So I am in the first month of my stubble growth and I am struggling to reign in our biggest discretionary category - Food.  Now that I am tracking every penny I realize how much of our money is literally going to shit ;)   Our average grocery and personal care spending has been the realm of 12-13 hundred dollars a month. Gross. This month, I set a target of 800 with a goal to get down to 700 next month.  However, just 13 days in and I have spent nearly 60% of it. I went shopping yesterday, with a list, made from a meal plan based on items on sale and I figured it was in the 150$ range...imagine my surprise when the till read 188.95.  Oops.  Do you add each individual item before or at the grocery store?  I just always seems to be blindsided by the total...I am sure that the 13% tax doesn't help since I seem to forget this little gift to the government adds up!  Just looking for suggestions on how to tighten this up.

Philociraptor

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2015, 01:56:44 PM »
It sounds like you're in a very high COL area. If I may ask, what was on the list that totaled up to $150 (how much did you plan on buying at that price too)? Maybe if we shine some light on what you're buying some big wins will come out.

Future Lazy

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2015, 01:57:44 PM »
Honestly, I gauge it by how full my cart is. If my cart is 1/4 to 1/2 way full, I know I'm buying about ~$120-170 worth of groceries. If there's meat in my cart, I usually estimate on the high end. Some things take up a lot of space but don't usually cost very much, like cereal, ramen or canned food.

When my mom taught me to grocery shop, she taught me to write down the cost each item I put in the card, rounded up to the nearest .50 of a dollar. So, if I put 10 $1.22 soup cans in my cart, I write down $12.50 on my list. The rounding up usually accounts for the tax.

That being said, I buy pretty much the same groceries every week and stick to my list, so the cost of everything doesn't usually vary. If I'm walking in expecting to spend $150, and spending $188 would be acceptable in my arena. You might want to pay special attention to anything you may have picked up that wasn't on your list - impulse purchases/forgotten items.

Good luck getting your food under control! It's one of the hardest hurdles, IMO. :)
« Last Edit: January 12, 2015, 02:04:03 PM by KaylaEM »

DrF

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2015, 02:02:01 PM »
Leftovers, leftovers, leftovers.

We buy a whole chicken, cook it up and eat on it for 3-4 days.

I bought a Christmas ham that a family of 3.5 ate 4 very good meals from (very proud of the ham bone soup I made with what some consider the throw away part!). We still have enough ham for ~ 2 more meals, and 1 more meal of ham soup.

Buy quality ingredients in bulk and make up a batch that would feed 10-15 people and freeze the rest.

Your bill should plummet.

Check and see how much food you throw away (hint, if you throw anything away you aren't utilizing it).

AlwaysBeenASaver

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2015, 02:04:22 PM »
I'm new on the forums, this is my first post actually. To answer your question, I don't know the exact total before arriving at the register, but I usually do a quick mental estimate mostly to make sure I can catch large mistakes on the part of the cashier. We don't have sales tax on groceries, so my mental calculation is usually within a couple dollars of the actual total. But another thing I do to avoid overspending is if I have something on my list that once I get to the store is higher priced than I like to pay, I skip it. Sometimes that means skipping a meal I had planned to make, until the product is more on sale. I have backup meals I can make instead, out of ingredients I keep in the pantry: rice+beans+onion; pasta with either pasta sauce or olive oil/parmesan; sardines and crackers. I also make substitutions with lower priced items when appropriate. I also shop multiple stores, trying to tie them in with other errands/routes, to avoid the extra driving all over the place. But different stores have quite a bit different prices on certain items, and I don't think any one store has good prices on all categories of items. One of the most expensive items is meat, so I don't cook meat every meal. It helps that I didn't grow up eating meat every meal so I don't really want it that often. When it goes on a really good sale, I buy a few roast or whatever and put them in my freezer too, if I don't already have some in there.

RootofGood

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2015, 02:05:51 PM »
I don't really keep track of it unless I'm trying to do one of those "spend $40 to use this $4 off coupon" then I'm adding prices like a card counting rainman in Vegas. 

I can usually guess what it will be though.  At aldi, I tend to spend around $40 for the routine stuff we need each week, or closer to $90-100 if I haven't been in a while or I'm buying a lot of meat and stocking up on things.  A half full cart is $40, and filled to the brim is close to $100. 

OP, as for your tax problem, just divide the $150 (or whatever) you want to spend by 1.13 to discount your budget for the tax due.  You can buy $133 of groceries which, when the 13% tax is added, come out to $150. 

And what's with that 13% tax rate?  Are you in Canada?  :)

rmendpara

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2015, 02:06:00 PM »
So I am in the first month of my stubble growth and I am struggling to reign in our biggest discretionary category - Food.  Now that I am tracking every penny I realize how much of our money is literally going to shit ;)   Our average grocery and personal care spending has been the realm of 12-13 hundred dollars a month. Gross. This month, I set a target of 800 with a goal to get down to 700 next month.  However, just 13 days in and I have spent nearly 60% of it. I went shopping yesterday, with a list, made from a meal plan based on items on sale and I figured it was in the 150$ range...imagine my surprise when the till read 188.95.  Oops.  Do you add each individual item before or at the grocery store?  I just always seems to be blindsided by the total...I am sure that the 13% tax doesn't help since I seem to forget this little gift to the government adds up!  Just looking for suggestions on how to tighten this up.

Another way to help may be to consciously reduce the more expensive and less "efficient" types of foods.

Almost anything that is prepared/semi-prepared will be more expensive than raw ingredients. Also, most meats will be more expensive than vegetarian or less meat-intense dishes.

Thoughts on if there are any particular things that seem to be eating up your budget quickly?

seattlecyclone

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2015, 02:07:07 PM »
We have our food costs pretty well under control, so we don't usually try to guess the cost of a particular trip before hitting the checkout line.

The exception is when a grocery store will mail us a coupon promising $10 off a $75 purchase or something like that. $75 is more than we'll typically spend at once so we do some mental arithmetic as we shop to make sure we stock up on enough things. Like KaylaEM, we don't calculate to the penny. Rounding everything to the nearest dollar usually gets us close enough.

As AlwaysBeenASaver says, vegetarian meals tend to be a lot cheaper. Try cooking these more often (even once a week can help) to save some money.

hunniebun

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2015, 02:17:21 PM »
I am in Canada and thus the 13% tax rate.   Looking back at my bill now, there several items that I didn't have on my list that were on sale (such a butter Buy One Get One Free).  The cost of living here is quite high for some things...less for others. We eat meat almost daily, so there was a fair amount of that and fresh fruits and veggies are very expensive right now.  I don't buy any prepared foods and make everything at home,   with the exception of lunch meat, which is expensive and not very healthy, but it is all my 6 year old will eat for lunch...so I opted for the ones on sale at least...but I could have bought an entire ham for that amount.   I am trying to replace 2 meat based meals per week with veggie one's and made a great stir fry last night...but it likely have 15$ worth of veggies it in! 

I am more looking for a good way to track...and it seems like maybe adding it up on the list as you shop and put things in the cart is a good way to do it.  That way when the budgeted amount is reached you can decide to either stop shopping, put things back or bit the bullet and go over budget. 

Bob W

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2015, 02:19:22 PM »
I usually know within 1 to 3 dollars.

I see that you need help and are drowning in grocery spending.

Please let us throw you a life saver!!

Tell us how many of you there are?   Where you live?   

My standard rule is shoot for $2 per day per person in "groceries and beverages" ---- Fail and end up around $3.

So here is how a day might look --

Breakfast - 2 eggs, oatmeal with fruit --  40 cents  (tea)
Lunch -- a wrap with some veggies and chips --  75 cents (tea)
Dinner -- 1/4 lb chicken, stir fry frozen veggies,  expensive rice,  seasoned with seasoning however you like -  $1.25 (water or tea)

As you can see I'm at $2.4.  Live big and spend that 60 cents or save it for a future meal.     

I could do it cheaper but what's the point.   There is a point of diminishing returns. 

I'm guessing that you live in a HCOL area and that your free wheeling habits will be hard to break.  So if you hit $5 per day per person (about $600 for a family of 4)  you'll be at the average US spending amount.  Average ain't bad,  it just is, well,  you know,  Average.

I'm also guessing you eat lunch out and eat out a lot??


epipenguin

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2015, 02:28:41 PM »
I don't try to add up as I go along.

I generally don't buy a ton of stuff at a time, as I tend to get about a full basket's worth whether I use a cart or a basket. I find that way I am more likely to actually use up all the fresh veggies before I go shopping again, whereas buying in bulk leads to wastage in my house. And I shop at different stores because it's hard to get everything I want in a cost effective manner at one store. I've noticed that, given that the physical amount of food is about the same, the cost varies most depending on where I shop. At Aldi it'll run $40-$50, at Walmart, maybe $60, at Publix or Winn Dixie maybe $60-80, and at Whole Foods it's almost guaranteed that I'll spend over $100. The only exception is a Costco run, which is typically $250 and involves way more quantity but I've been making fewer and fewer of those since shopping at Aldi. So, anyway, I have an idea what the total will be before I get to the till, but only because I am a creature of habit.

Anyway, it's winter, so I'm not buying much fresh fruit other than apples. Winter is a time for warming soups made of lots of root veggies and greens. Which are cheap because they are in season. Try varying which fruits and veggies you buy to whichever ones are not crazy expensive right now.

Bob W

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2015, 02:30:57 PM »
To disagree with the veg heads ---  On a per calorie basis prime rib is way cheaper than veggies.  There is a place for veggies and I think with every meal.   I also think 1/4 of animal derived protein is a bare minimum.   Think eggs (cheap!), canned salmon or mackerel,  organ meats (hearts, livers, gizzards), chicken,  beef,  pork.

You can't replace meat with beans.  The protein in beans is about 20% bioavailable.  Thus people from Mexico are short. 

On a per calorie basis health fats --- butter,  olive oil,  coconut oil,  grapeseed oil are damn cheap and super good for you.   (never ever, ever processed fake oils such as canolia or veggie (soy) they are made with bad, bad chemicals and heat treated to boot)

So you can buy like 6000 calories of olive oil for $3 around me.   

Flour is very cheap also.   It is every bit as healthy as sugar too!  But many people like it.  Around here you can buy like 12000 calories on sale for $1.50.

Here are a couple of goto meals -

Chicken and dumplings
Chicken and noodle,veggies, whatever soup
Stir fried anything
Rice with anything on top of it.
Good old pasta and meat sauce. 

hunniebun

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2015, 02:36:02 PM »
@ Bob W - I'd love to say that I don't eat out a lot...but I totally do (for shame). My 2015 goal was a maximum number of lunches out of 2 per month...and I am at that already!  You are bang on...bad habits are hard to break.  There are 4 of us, a meat and potatoes man, myself and two picky kids.   We are potty training the littlest one now, so the diapers/wipes will be eliminated from the budget soon.  If I could get our food/personal care down to 600$...I'd be saving 6-800$ per month, which would be HUGE.    A sampling of prices from my receipt might give an idea of if it is high or low, but to be honest I have not been great at pay attention to food prices for the last 20 years...so I am not just figuring out if something is a good price or not!
Eg. - Strawberries 5.99 for a clam shell, Milk 5.49 for 4 L,  Butter 2 for 4.99. Eggs 3.99 for 12, snap peas 3.99 for a small bag, 12 bagels 4.99.   
I buy most things that can be frozen (like meat and bread) at costco, along with bulk things like rice, oatmeal, cereal etc. and spend about 200$ once a month.  And then shop at Sobey's or Superstore once per week for the fresh things. 

RootofGood

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2015, 02:39:35 PM »
I am in Canada and thus the 13% tax rate.

I visited the Canada for a while this summer (photos of our grocery store runs in that link).  Montreal and Quebec city.  Prices were definitely way higher than I am used to in the US.  I feel your pain.  Although the red meat was deliciously cheap for some reason (almost cheap by US standards). 

We cooked at our rental apartment most of the time there. 

One way we found to cut food costs was the farmer's market.  It was like 1/4 the price of the grocery store for fresh produce.  It was summertime when we were there, so I'm not sure if that strategy is viable right now when I imagine it's a bit chilly there.  :)
« Last Edit: January 12, 2015, 02:41:54 PM by RootofGood »

Philociraptor

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2015, 02:46:18 PM »
@ Bob W - I'd love to say that I don't eat out a lot...but I totally do (for shame). My 2015 goal was a maximum number of lunches out of 2 per month...and I am at that already!  You are bang on...bad habits are hard to break.  There are 4 of us, a meat and potatoes man, myself and two picky kids.   We are potty training the littlest one now, so the diapers/wipes will be eliminated from the budget soon.  If I could get our food/personal care down to 600$...I'd be saving 6-800$ per month, which would be HUGE.    A sampling of prices from my receipt might give an idea of if it is high or low, but to be honest I have not been great at pay attention to food prices for the last 20 years...so I am not just figuring out if something is a good price or not!
Eg. - Strawberries 5.99 for a clam shell, Milk 5.49 for 4 L,  Butter 2 for 4.99. Eggs 3.99 for 12, snap peas 3.99 for a small bag, 12 bagels 4.99.   
I buy most things that can be frozen (like meat and bread) at costco, along with bulk things like rice, oatmeal, cereal etc. and spend about 200$ once a month.  And then shop at Sobey's or Superstore once per week for the fresh things.

Out-of-season/area produce is expensive. Could definitely save some by shopping more seasonally/locally. Also, children don't exactly get much of a choice when it comes to food, they can eat or choose not to eat; you choose what to provide, not them.

1967mama

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2015, 02:59:01 PM »

Out-of-season/area produce is expensive. Could definitely save some by shopping more seasonally/locally. Also, children don't exactly get much of a choice when it comes to food, they can eat or choose not to eat; you choose what to provide, not them.

+1

As I read through your OP, and the various responses upthread, these things quoted above were 2 of the things that I was going to add a comment about. Also, Superstore typically beats Sobey's in price 95% of the time (except for loss leaders).  Bananas, apples and oranges are cheap right now. Follow what is seasonal. Hit up a u-pick farm in the summertime for berries, then use them all winter. Bagels are a luxury item, IMHO. A bread machine can become your best friend -- takes me exactly 2 minutes to load the ingredients for our usual loaf of bread and 60 minutes later, warm homemade bread -- who could resist that? :-)

ETA: To answer your original question, no I don't add up as I go, but I think I should get back to doing that. In the past when $$ was really lean, I had no choice but to add as I go. I need to go back to living like we are at minimum wage.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2015, 03:01:23 PM by 1967mama »

JLee

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2015, 03:19:08 PM »
My gf is in Canada and food is ridiculously expensive when compared to what I'm used to here.  I love Phoenix prices - avocados are 3-5/$1, milk is $1.99-2.79/gal, etc.  I am hoping to spend the summer in Canada this year..it's going to be a rude awakening. :P

MountainGal

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2015, 03:43:39 PM »
So I am in the first month of my stubble growth and I am struggling to reign in our biggest discretionary category - Food.  Now that I am tracking every penny I realize how much of our money is literally going to shit ;)   Our average grocery and personal care spending has been the realm of 12-13 hundred dollars a month. Gross. This month, I set a target of 800 with a goal to get down to 700 next month.  However, just 13 days in and I have spent nearly 60% of it. I went shopping yesterday, with a list, made from a meal plan based on items on sale and I figured it was in the 150$ range...imagine my surprise when the till read 188.95.  Oops. Do you add each individual item before or at the grocery store?  I just always seems to be blindsided by the total...I am sure that the 13% tax doesn't help since I seem to forget this little gift to the government adds up!  Just looking for suggestions on how to tighten this up.

If it's a tight budget month (I'm commission only) I write the total of each item, rounding up or down at .50 on the grocery list, and total each column as I go.  If I reach my $200 monthly lean month allotment, I head to the cashier.  I can somewhat guesstimate the total of my list before I go, which helps.

I use coupons, which usually total the tax amount.

ketchup

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2015, 03:57:32 PM »
I'll usually look down my list and get a decent idea of what the total cost will be, within a few bucks.  Then I go to the store, get annoyed that one thing is up a little from usual, happy that another is on sale, and it all comes out about even.  It's a matter of intuition and tending to buy similar things month to month.

garth

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2015, 04:06:09 PM »
I thought groceries are "zero-rated" federally in Canada, meaning they are exempt from GST and HST. Are you sure you are paying a 13% tax on your food?

Trinitysmom

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2015, 04:13:31 PM »
I was just about to say that^^^ we only pay tax on prepared food but not on whole food fruit,veg, raw meat, etc. But you pay tax on ready made meals, cooked meat. If my tax is high on my grocery bill it normally means I've bought too much crap lol

hunniebun

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2015, 04:20:30 PM »
@ garth  -  I am looking at my bill and there are line items for GST and PST...although they do not correspond to the total bill...so I guess there is tax on some things and not others?!?  As you can tell...I am rather green at this! I am reluctant to admit it, but until this year I have never actually looked at a grocery receipt after I bought the groceries.  I wish I could rewind a decade and save myself 10 of thousands on groceries!   
I agree with poster that said parents decide what to serve and kids can decide to eat it or not, and this is a classic example of why my bill is so high. My kids prefer berries and grapes to apples and oranges and banana's, which are clearly seasonal and much more expensive in winter. This is a habit I will have to break. 
Getting into the Mustashian revolution has shown me why so many people put up with the status quo. It is very labour intensive and time consuming (in the beginning...I hope it levels off after a few months/a year of these new habits) and it requiring challenging virtually every aspect of your life from how you parent to how you live and how you spend your leisure time. Since doing hoping on the band wagon, I spend what little leisure time I have on trying to figure this all out and for every one thing I think I am getting right, I see 10 more that need attention!  Sorry for putting on my complianypants there!  Whining is over!

SandyBoxx

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2015, 04:24:56 PM »
I am in BC, and have a kindergartner, an insatiable almost 3-year old, and a hubby who works out-of-town 50% of the time.  Our food costs mimic yours almost identically, but we only have two grocery stores to choose between.  Our grocery bill over the last year has been consistently around $600/month. (Diapers, personal care, and cleaning products are NOT included.)  Restaurant spending (as a family) about $50/month.  Any other eating out comes out of our individual fun money, therefore has reduced drastically!

I use the Out-Of-Milk app on my phone, and after a few grocery trips entering prices - I usually have a pretty good idea of where my total is going to end up.  I've also made it a habit to ask myself as I am unloading the cart "do I need that?"  I almost always end up putting an impulse purchase (or two) back!

If you can get to the grocery store in the mornings, our meat dept manager puts $2 off or $4 off tags on all the meats whose best before date is today.  I stock up on those, throw them in the freezer, then meal plan our following week off of them. YMMV.

We go through a lot of cereal, so I try to buy only on sale, and bulk them up with whole flake oats (MMM style I believe.)  Greek yogurt in the large tubs, I divvy it up into small rubbermaid containers for school.  Throw some frozen fruit on top before tossing into lunch bag - they get more fruit in the winter, and it keeps the yogurt cold.  Less waste, more protein.  We go through a lot of eggs too, usually buying the tray of 30 for about $8-9.

:)

garth

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2015, 04:26:43 PM »
@ garth  -  I am looking at my bill and there are line items for GST and PST...although they do not correspond to the total bill...so I guess there is tax on some things and not others?!?  As you can tell...I am rather green at this! I am reluctant to admit it, but until this year I have never actually looked at a grocery receipt after I bought the groceries.  I wish I could rewind a decade and save myself 10 of thousands on groceries!   

Like Trinitysmom said, you will pay tax on junk (prepared) groceries and on household items but not on raw food items. Cook from scratch as much as possible.

hunniebun

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2015, 04:33:29 PM »
Superstore is much cheaper than sobey's for most things...however the Sobey's is 2 minutes from home and the superstore is 20 minutes. With a busy schedule I often trade the time for money. I don't have 40 minutes travel to spend 25 minutes actually shopping.  Same with costco...it is 25-30 each way...which is why we only get there once a month.  I will give out-of-milk a try...just know my prices would help me I think.  And agreed- I need to assess the need vs. wants in the food department just like I am doing in the toy and clothing front!

1967mama

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2015, 04:37:46 PM »
My kids prefer berries and grapes to apples and oranges and banana's, which are clearly seasonal and much more expensive in winter.

Maybe try cutting up oranges into nice little sections after peeling? one inch chunks of banana? thin slices of apple to dip in peanut butter, yogurt or apple dip ( 1 block of cream cheese, 1/4 cup of brown sugar or less, 1 tsp. vanilla) Berries and grapes are easy to eat for little fingers. For school lunches, apples can be dipped in a lemon water solution so they don't go brown. YMMV

 It is very labour intensive and time consuming (in the beginning...I hope it levels off after a few months/a year of these new habits) and it requiring challenging virtually every aspect of your life from how you parent to how you live and how you spend your leisure time. Since doing hoping on the band wagon, I spend what little leisure time I have on trying to figure this all out and for every one thing I think I am getting right, I see 10 more that need attention!  Sorry for putting on my complianypants there!  Whining is over!

Yes, hunniebun, it does get easier! Cut yourself some slack! Sounds to me like your awareness is growing exponentially so try not to burn yourself out or you may slip into a massive spend-fest ... haha! Keep at it and you will be so amazed at how your grocery bill will shrink! http://www.theprudenthomemaker.com inspires me everyday with what she can do on very little $$$ Have you ever read "The Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyczyn? Check it out of the public library. That was when I first had my eyes opened to a whole 'nother way of looking at dollars and cents and had never even heard of the concept of frugal living.


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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #26 on: January 12, 2015, 04:42:58 PM »
I'm in Canada too - way more expensive than the US for groceries. 

I don't generally guess my grocery total in advance.  I do know the prices of pretty much everything though and make choices based on what is on sale or economical and healthy.  Not perfect, but pretty good.

You might try to search out recipes that the whole family will like that are cheap to make and then shop for a more limited range of groceries.  I think there are a bunch of threads here with these types of recipes, plus you could go to http://www.budgetbytes.com/ or http://theprudenthomemaker.com/.

I agree grapes and berries are tasty, but berries in particular are really expensive right now.  If you are buying berries and expensive cuts of meat your food choices might be the bigger thing to focus on.


1967mama

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #27 on: January 12, 2015, 05:18:06 PM »
Just remembered that I wanted to comment on the 6 year olds insistence on deli meat. First of all, just NO! haha

You are right, you can buy a whole ham for way cheaper. Just make sure you use a really sharp knife to cut it as thinly as possible. Of course, a 6 year old won't eat a whole ham in a week or so. Have some for dinner one night, dice some up on a pizza another night, add some to a split pea soup. When you get to the 10 day mark, dice up what is left and freeze it in a ziploc bag for future uses on an egg scramble, on pizza, etc.

Some excellent sandwich fillings:

Finely diced chicken (from your leftover whole chicken, of course) with some mayo, celery and seasoning.

Hard boiled eggs, mashed with some mayo, salt, pepper and a sprinkling of curry to taste. (I do this in the food processor to get a good consistency)

Canned tuna with mashed with mayo, finely diced pickles and tiny cubes of cheddar.

Canned salmon, well mashed (those round bones turn my stomach) with mayo. (this is fancy and a little more $$)

Slice of cheddar, with lettuce and cucumber. A bit of mayo on the bread. Tomato is good too, though not many kids are fond of them YMMV

Grilled cheese sandwiches -- perennial kid favourite

THINLY sliced roast beef (from your leftover whole roast), with mustard and mayo.

I know that http://www.theprudenthomemaker.com uses a meat slicer that you can get on Amazon to get deli style meat slices. Its a bit pricey but I've thought about using my birthday money on one for a few years now, haha!





MayDay

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #28 on: January 12, 2015, 05:30:36 PM »
My kids would eat their weight in berries if I let them and I do let them- in the summer, they can eat whatever they pick from the garden!

In the winter they get apples, bananas, and whatever the fruit loss leader is. Plus applesauce.

For veggies in the winter, we stick to mostly frozen. It's just so much cheaper.

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #29 on: January 12, 2015, 06:17:48 PM »
Yep I generally know the approximate total before getting to the till. And I always check receipts before leaving. Most items I buy are on sale, and the stores' labeling can make it tricky for cashiers to get prices right.

My shopping strategies:

* Fresh fruit and veg - nearly always seasonal, very high quality from reputable sources (so important in China!) and on sale from a local quasi-organic website. Occasionally from the very cheap wet market next to work, but generally their produce doesn't last more than a couple of days and can have insane levels of pesticides etc. Generally 100RMB (~US$16) per week for a box of produce/eggs (there are 2 of us)

* Dry goods - from the overpriced foreign shops. Cheeses, French chocolates, German breads, oatmeal, bran cereals, coffee, etc. I plan around whatever's on sale. Most items are buy-one-get-one or with deep discounts, so prices end up being ok. Around 150-300RMB (~US$25-50) per week, depends on how much DH and I are in town.

hunniebun

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #30 on: January 12, 2015, 06:55:21 PM »
Thank you for the suggestions Mama1967 - Those are good lunch ideas for at home...but this is a list of banned items at school All tree nuts, peanuts, all fish (so no tuna, salmon etc.), all shell fish (nothing with shrimp or scallops etc.), and eggs (which means no mayo since it is made with egg).  So pretty much none of your wonderful suggestions are permissible for school. The crazy restrictions really reduce the number of things that you can send, which is why he ends up with lunch meat.  Oh...and nothing can be heated, so no leftovers that need heating.  Soup works because it stays hot enough in a thermos, but most other things don't for some weird reason.  I think I will invest in a big ham on my next trip and see how many ways I can find to send it!  and thank you for the website suggestions, I will check those out. 
P.S. I picked up WOW butter at the store on the way home because we are out and PB&J sandwiches are a favorite as well....but with nut free butter of course...which is insanely expensive (6.99 for small jar).  If I were a conspiracy theorist I would say these food bans are to support the soy growers or something! 
Also I can't remember who suggested aiming for 3$ per day per person and it dawned on my that my daughters daycare has a mandatory lunch program that charges 3.25 for lunch every day.  So that goal is impossible! I have sort of stopped thinking about it since there is nothing I can do about it, but it is a complete rip off.  There is no way that a 2 year old eats that much food.  That is on top of the 30$ per day that they charge for the daycare...on top of the 10$ per month they charge for 'inactive fund raising'.   Daycare costs make my grocery bill look like child's play! LOL!

1967mama

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #31 on: January 12, 2015, 07:00:25 PM »
The only school ban I've ever heard of is tree nuts. What you're dealing with is insane! Seriously! No mayonnaise? No tuna? I've never heard of such a thing! Well, at the very least, you can do your own ham, roast beef and chicken with .. mustard, I guess. That's really the pits!

tomita

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #32 on: January 12, 2015, 07:22:31 PM »
yes, and I'm taking bets with my DH who's guessing closer to the total as given by the cashier

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #33 on: January 12, 2015, 08:19:08 PM »
I am pretty good at knowing when I'm close to my $75/week budget. But just in case, I put a few non-essential items near the end that I can do without. If I get too close to my $75 limit, I tell the cashier (before they've rung them up) that I've changed my mind about buying X, Y, or Z today.

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #34 on: January 12, 2015, 08:26:49 PM »
I don't usually think much about what my total's going to be. I tend to buy myself the same foods at around the same rate month after month, and I know that those foods in those quantities average out to something like $3 per day. I just watch the per-unit prices and try to buy the cheapest stuff I can stand. I could lower it further, but it'd mean making sacrifices in taste, convenience, and/or health that I wouldn't find to be "worth it."

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #35 on: January 12, 2015, 09:44:34 PM »
I don't, but I should. Just this weekend I got charged for an organic onion instead of a regular one. $0.60 I'll never get back. :)

1967mama

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #36 on: January 13, 2015, 01:17:37 AM »
Cressida, Last week we were charged for $25 organic oats at Winco instead of the $13 regular oats we had placed on the conveyor belt.  The checker didn't scan the barcode, but rather typed in the code from memory. I phoned them that night and they said to take a photo of the bag with the bill and that they would give us our money back next time we were in. They honoured their promise and returned the money to us :-) It happens more often than we think, I'd bet. It was only because I was comparing prices that I noticed it on my receipt WHEN WE GOT HOME! grrr! Next time I grocery shop, I will be checking my receipt before I leave the store!

kyanamerinas

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #37 on: January 13, 2015, 04:03:54 AM »
I count it roughly as we put it on the conveyor belt for checking out and am usually within £2-3. Our weekly shop varies between £38-£45. Assuming the total is within those ranges and close to what I estimated, I check the receipt as we walk out. If it's not what I expect or outside those numbers I check before leaving the till.

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #38 on: January 13, 2015, 05:28:31 AM »
I do, but I meal plan, buy a lot of the same things most weeks (just put them together differently), and tally my costs as I go through. I started tallying when I was using cash envelopes, to avoid any surprises at the register. I still do it even though I usually use my credit card now, because it decreases the urge to toss impulse buys in the cart. I just round up to the nearest whole dollar and use hash marks on some scrap paper. I find that if I skip it, I do a lousy job of sticking to the budget.

MayDay

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #39 on: January 13, 2015, 05:39:23 AM »
Just remembered that I wanted to comment on the 6 year olds insistence on deli meat. First of all, just NO! haha

You are right, you can buy a whole ham for way cheaper. Just make sure you use a really sharp knife to cut it as thinly as possible. Of course, a 6 year old won't eat a whole ham in a week or so. Have some for dinner one night, dice some up on a pizza another night, add some to a split pea soup. When you get to the 10 day mark, dice up what is left and freeze it in a ziploc bag for future uses on an egg scramble, on pizza, etc.

Some excellent sandwich fillings:

Finely diced chicken (from your leftover whole chicken, of course) with some mayo, celery and seasoning.

Hard boiled eggs, mashed with some mayo, salt, pepper and a sprinkling of curry to taste. (I do this in the food processor to get a good consistency)

Canned tuna with mashed with mayo, finely diced pickles and tiny cubes of cheddar.

Canned salmon, well mashed (those round bones turn my stomach) with mayo. (this is fancy and a little more $$)

Slice of cheddar, with lettuce and cucumber. A bit of mayo on the bread. Tomato is good too, though not many kids are fond of them YMMV

Grilled cheese sandwiches -- perennial kid favourite

THINLY sliced roast beef (from your leftover whole roast), with mustard and mayo.

I know that http://www.theprudenthomemaker.com uses a meat slicer that you can get on Amazon to get deli style meat slices. Its a bit pricey but I've thought about using my birthday money on one for a few years now, haha!

Dude you like mayo way too much.

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #40 on: January 13, 2015, 06:07:36 AM »
Down in the US, Giant and Safeway have scanners that you take along with you as you shop.  That way you know your total and check out faster as well. We use the scanners and set the budget before we go in.  If we end up over, we MUST remove things until we meet our budget.  The only exception is the first trip of the month; if a "staple" is on sale we'll stock up and deduct that from our future weeks' budgets.

We've found that buying out of season produce or anything prepared is way too expensive.  Getting back to the seasonal rotation is good for your wallet and your digestive system.  Keep both guessing.

Nickyd£g

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #41 on: January 13, 2015, 06:18:42 AM »
I do actually add up as I go along - every week I meal plan (based on what I have in the fridge/freezer/pantry), do my shopping list and take cash with me, and a pen.  As I add items to my cart (and I weigh produce to get the right price) I write the price down, then add it all up before I get to the register.  If I have gone over my £30 I have to put something back!  Taking the cash with me forces me to stick to my list.

I eat paleocentrically so lots of protein but I found just cutting out ready meals (HUGE here in the UK), sweets, chips, i.e, crap - I had more to spend on veg and meat/fish/eggs. 

I buy lots of frozen and/or seasonal veg and berries to keep costs down, and I bulk some meals out with beans/lentils/rice (no pasta or wheat). 

I also batch cook, portion and freeze my lunches, which tend to be soups/stews/curries/salads in summer.  Spending a bit of time on a Sunday doing this really helps as it means I always have lunch ready and am not tempted to eat out. 

I also buy generic toiletries (shampoo/moisturiser etc.) and household products (toilet rolls/bin bags/surface spray cleaner) in Lidl rather than brand name, which has cut costs significantly. 

I tend to buy cheaper cuts of meat such as chicken thighs or a whole chicken and make lots of meals AND I really don't mind eating the same meal several days in a row.

Doing all of this has cut my bill - for a single person - from around £400-£500 a month, including eating out pretty frequently - to £120, plus a discretionary £10 per week for coffee/drinks/brunch out if I want.  It was a struggle at first (I LOVED eating out or going to posh Marks and Spencers for a £7 ready meal!) but I have a hair on fire debt emergency so drastic measures were required.  Anyway, I think I eat pretty well:

Breakfast: Some form of eggs and veg e.g. omelette with avocado and tomato, sometimes with a slice of rye toast [85p]

Lunch: a batch of lentil and bacon soup, chicken and veggie curry and rice or a massive chicken salad in summer. [£1-£2]

Dinner: Chicken/fish/pork chop/lamb chop and a side of steamed, stir fried or roasted veggies. [£2-£2.50]

boarder42

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #42 on: January 13, 2015, 06:30:35 AM »
If i were you i would start a price list so you know what is on sale and when its a good deal.  you'll find many things can be bought and stocked up on when on sale.  Making a shopping list to cook meals around what is onsale that week makes sense in theory.  But you should have some of the staples already from previous weeks sales.  ie canned foods, frozen foods, meat etc.  once you get the hang of it you'll know what things typically cost and therefore when something is a good deal and you wont need the price list. 

benjenn

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #43 on: January 13, 2015, 06:48:54 AM »
I've always tallied my groceries in my head before getting to the cashier - really just as a game - even when I wasn't concerned with keeping the total low.  Last year we spent an average of about $800 per month on groceries (and personal care/household items).  Since finding MMM a few months ago, our groceries totals have dropped to $580.30, $248.35, $272.49 and $365.84.  I couldn't be more thrilled and, like Hunniebun said, I only wished I'd done this years ago and saved ourselves thousands of dollars!

As I put items in my cart, I round up to the next dollar... so if something is $1.48, I count it as $2.00... if it's $2.97, I count it as $3.00.  It always pretty much evens out in the end and accounts for our 8.375% tax.  I'm usually within $2 of the actual total -- which is the game part for me, just to see how close I get.  (I'm a bit of a nerd)

Now that I'm actually TRYING to keep the total lower, it's more fun.  I always meal plan for the week, account for what I already have on hand and then only buy what's on the list.  If I buy something that's not on the grocery list, I make myself pay for it out of my fun money, not the grocery money.  That will sure cut down on those impulse buys!

The funny thing is... cutting our monthly bill so drastically has seriously not changed the way we eat at all.  More than anything, it's stopped me from buying stuff I already had because I didn't check that first.  It takes more time now (to meal plan and then check to see what we have on hand) but it's so worth it to see how much we're saving.

We're very lucky to live in one of the lowest COL areas in the country (Oklahoma) but I think the same principals can be applied anywhere for the same kind of results percentage wise at least.

Good luck to you!

boarder42

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #44 on: January 13, 2015, 06:59:18 AM »
Our Avg Grocery spend from Feb 2014 - Jan 2015 was 368 a month for 2 people.  we eat 95% of our meals at home.  That also includes almost all of our alcohol spend.  which is probably close to the 68 bucks a month on there.  And we eat like kings. and really dont try too hard. 

GardenFun

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #45 on: January 13, 2015, 08:15:04 AM »
If i were you i would start a price list so you know what is on sale and when its a good deal.  you'll find many things can be bought and stocked up on when on sale.  Making a shopping list to cook meals around what is onsale that week makes sense in theory.  But you should have some of the staples already from previous weeks sales.  ie canned foods, frozen foods, meat etc.  once you get the hang of it you'll know what things typically cost and therefore when something is a good deal and you wont need the price list.

+1.  This is a huge aspect of effective grocery shopping.  Yesterday I found Barilla pasta at Target for $0.89/box which was an OK price, but if you bought 10 boxes, you got a $5 gift card so the pasta was really $0.39/box.  That was a great price that justified the volume purchase. 

On the grocery list, I write down the estimated price of each item, rounded up to the nearest dollar.  Gives me an idea of the final bill before any "great buy" add-ons that get discovered.  Also look over the receipt in the vehicle to make sure everything scanned properly.  Takes 30 seconds max. 

FWIW, I'm still trying to get over the concept of $3.99 for 12 eggs.  That sucks.

frugalnacho

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #46 on: January 13, 2015, 08:20:50 AM »
I always add up the total as I put stuff in the cart.  I do a bit of rounding to make the numbers even enough for me to keep an accurate running total.  I estimate the cost of produce.  I am usually within $1-2 of the actual total cost.

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #47 on: January 13, 2015, 08:46:12 AM »
I never have any idea how much the total is going to be.

But I have a good memory for how much each thing is supposed to cost and I watch the screen like a hawk to make sure it scans at the right price. Yesterday at the store I helped the person ahead of me catch a mistake because I remembered the sale price of items I wasn't even buying.

Grocery stores around here are terrible about charging a higher price than they say. Whenever the ladies have to call for the void card at the end of my transaction the manager has this flicker of recognition in his eye as he walks over. "Oh.  You," it says. "The one I'm losing money on with all these loss leaders I don't actually intend to honor."

frugalnacho

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #48 on: January 13, 2015, 08:54:47 AM »
I never have any idea how much the total is going to be.

But I have a good memory for how much each thing is supposed to cost and I watch the screen like a hawk to make sure it scans at the right price. Yesterday at the store I helped the person ahead of me catch a mistake because I remembered the sale price of items I wasn't even buying.

Grocery stores around here are terrible about charging a higher price than they say. Whenever the ladies have to call for the void card at the end of my transaction the manager has this flicker of recognition in his eye as he walks over. "Oh.  You," it says. "The one I'm losing money on with all these loss leaders I don't actually intend to honor."

I'm usually too busy unloading my order, and then bagging my order to watch the screen the whole time.  I only analyze the receipt if it doesn't come out to what I added up.  I have found a few mistakes when things didn't add up, but kroger and costco are usually really good about having correct prices.  I stop patronizing stores that pull that bullshit.   

boarder42

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Re: Do you know your grocery total before you get to the till?
« Reply #49 on: January 13, 2015, 12:17:02 PM »
I cannot stress KNOWING what things cost enough.  In today's world everything is "on Sale" all the time.  you need to know what it really costs on sale so you know when that good value is present. 

Also i dont know if amazon works in canada, but Slickdeals.net for all paper/house hold goods is pretty much a slam dunk every time.  just put flags up for paper towels, toilet paper, deoderant, your favorite shampoo etc.  and you will be flagged when it shows up.  you can usually read through the comments and figure out if its actually a steal of a deal or a typical deal.