Author Topic: Rein in the grocery spend 2017  (Read 50566 times)

Benny3

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #250 on: March 15, 2017, 02:12:32 PM »
At the half way point in the month I am at $128.39 in spending for groceries.  I haven't had to buy much and $48 of that was my daughter's birthday dinner that consisted of a rotissere chicken meal with all of the fixings (rice, beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, ect) from one of our local Mexican grocery stores ($39) and her favorite dessert, a cheesecake ($11).  I guess it was a little high for a take out meal but my husband made soup from the remaining chicken as you get 2 five lb birds with the meal and we used all of the fixings for other meals.  There's enough soup for me to take for lunch for at least 2.5 weeks.

My remaining purchases for the month are mostly milk and some fresh veggies so probably around $25.  If I can stick to this it will be around $180 for the month or about $70 under budget.

Question:  When you have left over from your monthly grocery budget do you typically roll that over to the next month or send it over to your debt payments/savings/investments, ect?  I usually roll mine over as some months our grocery bill is larger like when we stock up on spices or meat on sale.  Just curious....

Hotstreak

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #251 on: March 15, 2017, 02:27:53 PM »
Question:  When you have left over from your monthly grocery budget do you typically roll that over to the next month or send it over to your debt payments/savings/investments, ect?  I usually roll mine over as some months our grocery bill is larger like when we stock up on spices or meat on sale.  Just curious....

I roll mine over, which is an automatic function of the budgeting software I use.  I think it makes sense for groceries, because high spending in one month can result in low spending the next, and visa versa, usually by timing of stock-ups as you stated.

swick

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #252 on: March 15, 2017, 02:32:38 PM »

Question:  When you have left over from your monthly grocery budget do you typically roll that over to the next month or send it over to your debt payments/savings/investments, ect?  I usually roll mine over as some months our grocery bill is larger like when we stock up on spices or meat on sale.  Just curious....

We roll over for the short term and reassess at the end of the year. We have been tracking for a couple of years so we know that our rough year spend is, divide it by 12 that comes up with our monthly and anything not spent rolls over month to month.

 We know we are going to have bulk stock up months which will go over. We used to not really have a way of dealing with these so we end up hiding the excess in other categories. Doesn't really work and doesn't give you a very clear picture of your spending.

With this challenge, we are trying to keep our bulk spending within each month's budget by seeing how we can reduce our grocery spend overall. As we are successful, the money will roll over and at the end of the year if we have a big surplus we'll transfer it out to savings.

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #253 on: March 15, 2017, 02:36:51 PM »
i dont budget i just bulk buy and try to reduce overall costs as much as i can.  we already spend sub 500 a month on food including eating out so their isnt a lot to really reign in.
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Ebrat

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #254 on: March 15, 2017, 05:25:35 PM »
We're at $338 out of $500 for the first half of the month. But we rolled some over from last month, so YNAB says we have a lot more than that left. I'm probably going to Costco next week, so that'll take a chunk. We seem to be making a lot more small purchases at the grocery store this month, and they're adding up.

recklesslysober

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #255 on: March 15, 2017, 05:27:58 PM »
I'm at $301.79 for the month already. Last month was almost $500 and I'd like to get that down. My other half is away for a week so I'm doing an eat the fridge/freezer/pantry challenge to try to spend $0 on groceries while he's gone. Going to be some interesting meals! :)

PJ

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #256 on: March 15, 2017, 11:41:45 PM »
Question:  When you have left over from your monthly grocery budget do you typically roll that over to the next month or send it over to your debt payments/savings/investments, ect?  I usually roll mine over as some months our grocery bill is larger like when we stock up on spices or meat on sale.  Just curious.... 

The answer might depend on which of those things you're worried about. 

A few people have already said they'd roll it over.  But I'm still in debt repayment mode, so I wouldn't.  I'm reining in the grocery spend, and "eating all the food in my house" precisely so that I can squeeze out more from my monthly budget to put toward my debt.  When I'm further along the road to financial well-being, that might change.  I could see myself, at that stage, leaving part of the excess as a buffer against a bigger shopping trip in the next month or two, and sending the rest to investments.

Obviously, YMMV, especially if you're the type to be doing a CSA in the summer, or a bulk purchase of meat (like half a cow from a farmer) once a year, etc.  Then, I think you'd want to specifically plan for that in advance, and that's where rolling it over would make more sense.  But for minimal or moderate variations, I would tend to prioritize sending it somewhere where the money would be put to use.  If that means I cut back on investments slightly in a future month, because of the need to make a large bulk purchase, that's ok.
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Ebrat

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #257 on: March 16, 2017, 03:05:53 AM »

Question:  When you have left over from your monthly grocery budget do you typically roll that over to the next month or send it over to your debt payments/savings/investments, ect?  I usually roll mine over as some months our grocery bill is larger like when we stock up on spices or meat on sale.  Just curious....

We roll over for the short term and reassess at the end of the year. We have been tracking for a couple of years so we know that our rough year spend is, divide it by 12 that comes up with our monthly and anything not spent rolls over month to month.

 We know we are going to have bulk stock up months which will go over. We used to not really have a way of dealing with these so we end up hiding the excess in other categories. Doesn't really work and doesn't give you a very clear picture of your spending.

With this challenge, we are trying to keep our bulk spending within each month's budget by seeing how we can reduce our grocery spend overall. As we are successful, the money will roll over and at the end of the year if we have a big surplus we'll transfer it out to savings.

This is our first year tracking, but this is how I plan to do it, too (roll it over and reassess at the end of the year, or maybe after 6 months).

DTaggart

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #258 on: March 16, 2017, 08:09:55 AM »
I do not roll over and any extra money goes to savings/investments each month. That being said, I will willingly go over budget if it means I can stock up on a really good deal, and I don't worry about it too much.

swick

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #259 on: March 16, 2017, 08:41:31 AM »
I do think it depends on your purchasing patterns if rolling over makes sense. We tend to stock up a few times of year for all our bulk stuff, get a CSA and try to support our local farmers directly as much as possible. Also a few cross-border shopping trips for those things that are just so much cheaper even with the exchange rate.

Ideally, we only use the grocery stores for produce and the odd things we won't use enough to bother getting in bulk. But it's taken a long time to get our eating habits and grocery sources dialed in and it is still a work in progress.

PJ

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #260 on: March 16, 2017, 12:33:33 PM »
I do not roll over and any extra money goes to savings/investments each month. That being said, I will willingly go over budget if it means I can stock up on a really good deal, and I don't worry about it too much. 

Yes, this. 

I do think it depends on your purchasing patterns if rolling over makes sense. We tend to stock up a few times of year for all our bulk stuff, get a CSA and try to support our local farmers directly as much as possible. Also a few cross-border shopping trips for those things that are just so much cheaper even with the exchange rate.

Ideally, we only use the grocery stores for produce and the odd things we won't use enough to bother getting in bulk. But it's taken a long time to get our eating habits and grocery sources dialed in and it is still a work in progress.

And this.  :-)
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Drole

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #261 on: March 16, 2017, 07:56:30 PM »
There are a lot of these sites, but I like the simplicity of this one for my area. Helps me quickly see if I should wait to buy certain items until I am at another store.

http://www.pricematcherz.com/

Linda_Norway

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #262 on: March 17, 2017, 02:29:27 AM »
I am having some issues accepting how much I really spend on groceries. To start with I can only check my own bank account. My DH also buys groceries from time to time, but I do the majority, as I pass by the shops every day from/to work. This is my own spending.

Last year (2016) I used my normal debit bank card to shop groceries. My bank has a function that calculates all categories spent from that account, based on which shops it is spent on. I spent 46.626 NOK (Norwegian crows) in grocery stores in 2016. That year we had 5 weeks of vacation, mostly in Norway, during which we also buy our own food, just simpler, as it need to be cooked on a camping stove. My challenge is to decide whether I should divide the spent amount by 12 to get a realistic monthly sum, or whether that is wrong. This amount/12 is 3886 NOK per month.

Since January I have a cash back credit card in another bank. I transfer money from my normal account to this credit card and register all these transfers as groceries. Since January I have also been shopping at a cheaper shop and I also get some customer cashback from that shop. In February we have been eating a lot of meat from the fridge. On that new account, I have spent 9000 NOK in 2,5 month, which is 3600 NOK per month. This is over a period without any vacations.

I find this a disturbing small difference in before and after becoming Mustachian. This either means that I was very frugal last year or that the "cheaper" shop is not really cheaper than the previous shop that I used, or I am not not buying so frugal at all right now. I have of course for many years been a generally frugal person, being a Dutch person who moved to expensive Norway many years ago, saving 50% or our net income. But since January I have become even more aware of frugality as I now know I really can FIRE early.

I must say that I am trying not to be cheap during shopping, but I do compare kilo prices well. Something I could easily do to lower the grocery bill is to buy cheaper potatoes. The "nice" potatoes in all sorts of brands all have the same price, so usually I just buy the ones I like best. But there are also the much cheaper loose potatoes, which are also less pretty. Although we do not eat so many potatoes.
There is also cheaper bread, although I am unsure how much whole grain it is. I always buy at least 50% whole grain for health reasons. I also don't like the el cheapo bread so well. We ate it during our first year in Norway and that felt cheap. I also seldom throw away food, buy the cheapest carrots and meat. But I do buy real meat and not the pre-fabric mixed products.
I have been bulk buying a bit, but the shops where I shop have not had so many relevant bulk offers.

Enough self-ranting for the moment, I will try harder from now on and see where it leads in another few months from now.

swick

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #263 on: March 17, 2017, 09:14:45 AM »
Linda_Norway:

I think you are being too hard on yourself. You have been making lots of changes and great progress! I know it is so frustrating seeing people with these super low grocery budgets and thinking we should be able to do so much better. You are shopping in a totally different system then we are. Your costs are much, much higher. There is even a large disparity between our prices in Canada and the USA, but we have a lot of access to things that you don't or for much cheaper.

There are a couple of things you might be able to do:

1. Look at your budget as a whole. It might not be worth it for you to spend huge amounts of time and stress trying to save a few NOK on shopping if you are spending more amounts in other places that could be more easily cut.

For many of us, quality of food is important and we consider it an investment in our health. So yes, we could buy the cheapest flours and fillers but we aren't going to. We have made a conscious decision to spend more and make up for it in other areas because it is a priority.

2. If things are really that much more expensive in Norway, it might be worth it to get a freezer and plan on taking a trip a couple of times a year somewhere else to stock up on the things that make sense. This is one of the only ways we can eat the way we do and keep our grocery prices reasonable.

3. Are you buying non-food things at the grocery store? These things are almost always more expensive at the grocery store.

4. Reevaluate what you buy, especially your staples. Okay, so you don't want to eat crappy bread, I totally get it! But I would try buying a cheaper version of the things you do use often and just seeing what you think of them. With the potatoes, you mention the loose ones not "Being Pretty" Is this something you can get used to? Is the taste different? You might not have them often enough for it to matter, but if you can make substitutions for a few of your staple foods, it will add up over time.

PJ

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #264 on: March 17, 2017, 10:25:22 PM »
Linda_Norway, I agree with swick.  You're being too hard on yourself.  My math skills are not the best, but isn't that something like a 7.5% difference in your grocery budget?  As someone who was already pretty thrifty, you probably didn't have as much "fat" to trim from the budget in the first place, so I'd say that 7.5% is pretty good.  There may be some more tweaks here and there that you could make, but you may be getting pretty close to optimal grocery spending.

The other question is whether you have cut down in other areas, such as restaurant spending, that would be actually increasing your grocery budget.  If you're down to 92.5% of your previous budget, but now feeding yourself 3, 5 or 10 more meals a month, then you're doing even better than you realize.
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Linda_Norway

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #265 on: March 18, 2017, 01:45:26 AM »
Thanks for the moral support, @swick and @PJ. And for the tips.

I am now bringing my own lunch to work, so we now eat half a bread a day instead of a third bread a day. And some more bread topping. We eat out very seldom.
Yes, I guess I should bulk shop staples at a cheaper store. Ans in May we'll take another trip to Sweden for a long weekend canoeing. Then we need to make sure ahead that the freezer has enough space to store lots of meat.

And next time we need potatoes I will get some of the cheapest, not attractive looking potatoes and see how they taste. Probably like potatoe.

For all the other items in the shop I always try out the cheap brand and see whether I like it. Often it tastes good and then I stick to it.

Edit: My DH thinks I am now paying for 90% of the groceries, instead of 75% earlier, because I have a customer card. Therefore I must be saving more than 7,5%. :-)
« Last Edit: March 18, 2017, 04:01:02 AM by Linda_Norway »

PJ

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #266 on: March 18, 2017, 09:40:29 AM »
Oh yes, adding groceries for lunch at work would definitely add to your grocery costs!  And your DH is probably right too, about the customer card.  Can he get one too?

Also, lol about the ugly potatoes! 
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Laura33

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #267 on: March 18, 2017, 02:56:09 PM »
Thanks for the moral support, @swick and @PJ. And for the tips.

I am now bringing my own lunch to work, so we now eat half a bread a day instead of a third bread a day. And some more bread topping. We eat out very seldom.
Yes, I guess I should bulk shop staples at a cheaper store. Ans in May we'll take another trip to Sweden for a long weekend canoeing. Then we need to make sure ahead that the freezer has enough space to store lots of meat.

And next time we need potatoes I will get some of the cheapest, not attractive looking potatoes and see how they taste. Probably like potatoe.

For all the other items in the shop I always try out the cheap brand and see whether I like it. Often it tastes good and then I stick to it.

Edit: My DH thinks I am now paying for 90% of the groceries, instead of 75% earlier, because I have a customer card. Therefore I must be saving more than 7,5%. :-)

I totally agree with PJ and Swick -- if your groceries are paying for more meals than before, you are seriously undercounting the value of the improvements you have made!  If you want a fair comparison, add last year's lunch costs + groceries and compare that to this year's lunch costs + groceries.  Honestly, it sounds like you are doing great!
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Laura33

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #268 on: March 19, 2017, 10:57:57 AM »
Sigh.  Total crash and burn this week.  A million "reasons," but basically it's all one big fat excuse.  I feel exactly like I feel when I fall off a diet or drink too much -- ashamed, nauseated, etc.  Basically, I knew today was going to be a bigger bill, because I needed to do a Wegman's shop for staples, but then I got lazy and caved and got everything there, and some extras that weren't on the list to boot.  Grand total: $311 -- $174 groceries,* $137 household stuff.  And to top it off, Friday was 4 hrs at urgent care + "honey can you figure out food when we get home" = $50 in pizza.  $50!!!  Not A pizza -- TWO pizzas + cheese bread + nuggets.  All of which I am now stuck eating, as the "I don't like leftovers" brigade is tired of eating the giant pile of crap he ordered.  Grrr.  I'm not even counting his lunch out today against my grocery/takeout budget, since there are like 20,000 calories left in the fridge he is refusing to eat.

So the totals for the month to date are $320 groceries + $140 household + $131 takeout = $591 total.  So the $600 budget is shot for the month.  Still, I will work an "eat all the food in the house" for the next week and a half to try to limit the damage.

What I need is a better default option for "shit happens/don't want to/can't cook."  This is twice now in the last month I've had stuff that pushes me to my limit and I just can't deal with cooking (work, DS's broken foot), and we ended up dropping $50 on takeout.  I am good at the "plan," but need a better fallback option when the plan fails because life. 

I guess the good points are that (a) this really brings home how much I used to drop on groceries without even thinking about it (I spent the checkout going, holy shit, I used to do this *every week*?); and (b) I didn't even enjoy it -- I used to enjoy buying treats, like this week's prosciutto and melon, but this time I felt nauseated the whole time.  So I guess that is a good mental shift, where Aldi's is now "normal," and the splurging isn't fun.  I just need to find a way to do the happy medium, where I can get DH his periodic treats without totally falling off the wagon because I walked into Temptation Central -- never been good at that, always been better at one extreme or the other.

*"Real" groceries were more like $130, as the total included the once-yearly tub of real maple syrup and stock-up cheap chicken breasts.  But still.
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Linda_Norway

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #269 on: March 19, 2017, 12:11:06 PM »
What I need is a better default option for "shit happens/don't want to/can't cook."  This is twice now in the last month I've had stuff that pushes me to my limit and I just can't deal with cooking (work, DS's broken foot), and we ended up dropping $50 on takeout.  I am good at the "plan," but need a better fallback option when the plan fails because life. 


Some idea's:
Luxury ham is on sale from time to time. Next time, buy some packs and freeze for any emergency need for decadency. The ham should be eadible after putting the pack in water for half an hour. You can also make foccacia (or buy when on sale) and freeze to go together with ham.

Make some homemade pizza's and freeze in for need of fast food. Same when you make some wok food next time. Make double portion and freeze. If you only save the meat/veggie sauce, you can next time eat it with tortilla's.

Eporedia

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #270 on: March 19, 2017, 03:12:42 PM »

I did it! Groceries finally under 100$. In fact 76$. I can hardly believe it. I do not expect to be always this low, as I am trying to eat stuff already in the house, but is making a huge difference every Saturday when I clean the fridge - much less veggies/salads/stuff being tossed.

I continue making my own bread with mixed results and I get duck eggs from a farmer near by; I'm making sure we are actually eating the leftovers, instead of tossing on Saturdays as usual. Oh, I also found that rice is awesome. Really filling and delicious - I'm planning on making it at least once a week.

My thanks to all that share experiences on this forum. I learned quite a few things by reading of the challenges you face and the creative ways you approach those challenges. plus, by committing to write here every week I keep myself in check too.


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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #271 on: March 19, 2017, 06:24:48 PM »
Wow, great job Eporedia!

I always struggle with the food budget. It is just DH and I, but when we owned our primary residence we very often fed visitors, and were the house of choice for parties etc. Now our home is sold, we live in our fifth wheel and I just FIREd, so we are now on a fixed income. This category MUST stay under control. I do include all household supplies, paper goods and food. We don't drink alcohol.

I have a combined budget of $600/month. We live in a HCOL area. Soon we will be slow traveling and I hope we will be spending most of our days in LCOL areas in the south. Ideally I would like to see us be able to hit $450 or $500.

Since retirement (end of Jan) I've been very closely monitoring our shopping. I hand write out a menu each week. I don't mind swapping meals around, it is more of a quick reference so you aren't tempted to just eat junk food:)

We shop once a week and DH cooks all of the food at once. Eggs, Meats etc.

Last year we ended up about 1k over for the year.

Feb: $535
March: $316 spent through today

 

DTaggart

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #272 on: March 19, 2017, 07:45:20 PM »
I have a combined budget of $600/month. We live in a HCOL area. Soon we will be slow traveling and I hope we will be spending most of our days in LCOL areas in the south. Ideally I would like to see us be able to hit $450 or $500.

...

We shop once a week and DH cooks all of the food at once. Eggs, Meats etc.

Oooh I'm very excited to hear how your food costs work out. We've toyed with the idea of slow travel in a camper or RV once we FIRE, and I know this will require a significant change in how I normally shop and manage our food budget since I won't have the luxury of a chest freezer and loads of room to stockpile things when they're on sale. Does your trailer have much of a freezer or is it just a fridge? Is shopping every week pretty much required to replenish? Please feel free to go into excruciating detail about your shopping trips and how you handle your food planning and management :)

What I need is a better default option for "shit happens/don't want to/can't cook."  This is twice now in the last month I've had stuff that pushes me to my limit and I just can't deal with cooking (work, DS's broken foot), and we ended up dropping $50 on takeout.  I am good at the "plan," but need a better fallback option when the plan fails because life. 

I always try to keep a couple of easy freezer meals on hand for these types of situations. You can cook your own stuff ahead of time, or buy something like frozen pizza(s), stouffer's lasagna, those birds eye meal kits, whatever sort of thing you guys like. The key is to make sure its something quick and easy that involves little more than unwrapping and putting in the oven - so easy a husband could do it! :) Nuke a bag of mixed vegetables if you're feeling ambitious. (If your husband is anything like mine, you'll need to bury the frozen pizza deep in the freezer so they don't stumble upon it when looking for a snack and decide "Hey! I'll eat this entire pizza by myself because I don't feel like making a sandwich." lol)

So this week my hubby decided he was going to try his hand at making beef jerky in our dehydrator, and dropped an unauthorized $21.93 on meat and seasonings (including a large bottle of soy sauce, which we already have plenty of and a bottle of A1 that I have pretty much no other use for). *sigh* The jerky came out really good at least :) I considered just taking this out of his spending money, but it looks like I can probably still make it under budget this month so I'm going to roll with it. But there won't be any more Powerade for him this month :p

So I did a pretty large shop this week, but got TONS of great deals. Total spent was $80.72, which includes 5 dozen eggs (.99/dozen), TEN pounds of ground beef (2x 5lbs packages that were 7.95 each, plus I had ecoupons for 1.50 off each pack - ended up being 1.29/lb which is absolutely unprecedented around here, I hardly ever buy ground beef because its rarely below 2.99/lb... I would have bought more but we're so unaccustomed to eating it, I didn't figure we'd get through it very quickly), a 12-pack of TP (on sale, plus coupons, plus rebate), 6 bottles of salad dressing (on sale, plus coupons, plus rebate), bags of cheese (on sale plus coupons), 2 weeks worth of bread (on sale plus coupons), 3 weeks worth of yogurt on sale, tons of produce (.88 blackberries.. yum!), oh and a giant family pack of pork roast. Freezer is stuffed again.

I've got about $25 left for the month, which should be plenty to grab any produce I need next week and anything else I might run out of. Just need to keep hubby out of the store :)

Linda_Norway

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #273 on: March 20, 2017, 02:27:47 AM »
I always struggle with the food budget. It is just DH and I, but when we owned our primary residence we very often fed visitors, and were the house of choice for parties etc. Now our home is sold, we live in our fifth wheel and I just FIREd, so we are now on a fixed income. This category MUST stay under control. I do include all household supplies, paper goods and food. We don't drink alcohol.

Next time, ask other party members to bring a dish. We have a yearly Christmas party at our house where the guest 2 or 3 at the time need to prepare a dish. They need to buy food and drink and prepare it (at our house). We are usually responsible for 1/3 of the main dish. This way you can have a party, but not pay for more food than your fair share.

When you shop otherwise, do you compare price per kilo/pound? This way you can find the real cheapest ingredients. It can also help to deliberately buy cheaper ingredients, like carrots end Chinese cabbage and just figure out what dish to make with it. Or use it in other dishes.

Laura33

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #274 on: March 20, 2017, 05:50:57 AM »
Thanks for the ideas, guys -- what this has made me realize is that I have higher standards for an acceptable last-minute quick meal than DH does.  He is doing low carb/paleo (and doesn't like anything slow-cooked like soups or stews), so I've seen frozen pizzas at Aldi's on sale and thought, hmm, maybe I should put one in the freezer just in case, and then thought, no, too many carbs, he won't eat it.  So Friday I assumed he'd get Chinese or Indian or something and just avoid the rice -- but no, what does he get but pizza!

Clearly, the bar is a lot lower than I have been led to believe. :-)

Very cool Eporedia!  Keep it up!

zinethstache -- I second the notion for detailed updates.  Your current lifestyle is one I fantasize about and am trying to get DH to consider, so I'd love to read reports about the reality of living that way.
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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #275 on: March 20, 2017, 06:56:28 AM »
this is gonna go to crap for us at least as far as tracking - my parents moved in for the next few months so i have no clue how to figure out half our expenses while they are there.
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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #276 on: March 20, 2017, 09:06:44 AM »
this is gonna go to crap for us at least as far as tracking - my parents moved in for the next few months so i have no clue how to figure out half our expenses while they are there.

I would think taking your total grocery spend and then dividing it by the number of people and keeping the % that is your family? Though your buying patterns might change a bit to accommodate them

Thanks for the ideas, guys -- what this has made me realize is that I have higher standards for an acceptable last-minute quick meal than DH does.  He is doing low carb/paleo (and doesn't like anything slow-cooked like soups or stews), so I've seen frozen pizzas at Aldi's on sale and thought, hmm, maybe I should put one in the freezer just in case, and then thought, no, too many carbs, he won't eat it.  So Friday I assumed he'd get Chinese or Indian or something and just avoid the rice -- but no, what does he get but pizza!

.

I can't imagine doing low carb/paleo without anything slow-cooked. I'd think in that case, I'd have a supply dry of nope-meal mix on hand: http://www.paleostateofmindblog.com/blog/grain-free-oatmeal and I always make sure to have the fixin's for eggs. It takes zero time to make a veggie and egg scramble, or heck just some eggs.  Or make a dinner out of an apple butter with almond butter, and whatever prepped veggies or whatnot that can be scrounged from the fridge.

 I'm a pretty firm believer that if you are going to choose (or need to follow) an eating style that is particularly time-consuming, it is your responsibility to be able to fend for yourself if you need to. Also, what is with the attitude of not eating leftovers? That has got to increase your work load/time/money considerably and make it harder to cope with curve balls in general.


I did it! Groceries finally under 100$. In fact 76$. I can hardly believe it. I do not expect to be always this low, as I am trying to eat stuff already in the house, but is making a huge difference every Saturday when I clean the fridge - much less veggies/salads/stuff being tossed.

I continue making my own bread with mixed results and I get duck eggs from a farmer near by; I'm making sure we are actually eating the leftovers, instead of tossing on Saturdays as usual. Oh, I also found that rice is awesome. Really filling and delicious - I'm planning on making it at least once a week.

My thanks to all that share experiences on this forum. I learned quite a few things by reading of the challenges you face and the creative ways you approach those challenges. plus, by committing to write here every week I keep myself in check too.



Way to go! Sounds like you are getting a real handle on your spending/food waste!

Our spend last year was an average of 450/month CDN. So far we are doing pretty good on our budget of 350. Although we have been using up a lot of pantry/freezer stocks so far.

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #277 on: March 20, 2017, 10:06:19 AM »

Thanks everybody for the kind words - is so liberating to be able to share those small victories and not be judged - you know very well that outside of our mmm community being a penny pincher is not something to brag about: you get endless: "you can afford it", "live a little", "why don't you just lease a new car", and my fave: "you work hard, you deserve a 350k mortgage."

Thanks again, looking forward to next week.

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #278 on: March 20, 2017, 11:03:35 AM »
I'm a pretty firm believer that if you are going to choose (or need to follow) an eating style that is particularly time-consuming, it is your responsibility to be able to fend for yourself if you need to. Also, what is with the attitude of not eating leftovers? That has got to increase your work load/time/money considerably and make it harder to cope with curve balls in general.

Preach.  :-)  The problem is that he's also not Mustachian and doesn't really care to be.  So he's not actually *trying* to dump this all on me -- he'd be more than happy to do takeout/eat out whenever I didn't feel like cooking, for any reason whatsoever.  So I am trying to nudge him in that direction by showing him that we can still have delicious food and fun times without dropping all that money on mediocre crap.  But Friday definitely showed me my own limits on that front.
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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #279 on: March 20, 2017, 02:31:19 PM »

Thanks everybody for the kind words - is so liberating to be able to share those small victories and not be judged - you know very well that outside of our mmm community being a penny pincher is not something to brag about: you get endless: "you can afford it", "live a little", "why don't you just lease a new car", and my fave: "you work hard, you deserve a 350k mortgage."

Thanks again, looking forward to next week.

Isn't that the truth outside of communities like this one! I am super thankful for this place.

We're doing alright. We are still a little high for the month, but may be able to get it back down to the goal. We managed to make it through the entire weekend without eating out at ALL. It was quite a feat actually on Saturday because the kid's soccer games were 11 and 4. It would have been really easy to go grab a meal out after the 11am game, but with 5 of us it gets so expensive. We actually went home and threw together leftovers. It would have been really easy to grab an early dinner after the 5pm game but instead we stopped at the grocery store on the way home. Weekends are usually our moment of weakness, so I'm feeling really good about it! Right now we're on pace to hit $1260 for the month, but a week ago we were on pace to be over $1500, so we're trending in the right direction. My "realistic" goal is $1200 but my "stretch" goal is $1000. I don't think we'll make $1000 this month, but I will be really happy if we come in under $1200 since the Vegas rugby weekend at the beginning of the month set us back on the eating out front. Feeding a teenage boy is ridiculous though...I always think we'll have leftovers for lunch and then he comes through and annihilates them!

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #280 on: March 21, 2017, 04:46:23 PM »
Eporedia, I'm with you. It's turning out to be kind of fun to see where we can economize, and I'm getting much, much better about eating everything in the fridge. The only things we've had to throw out were some lovely black beans with caramelized onions that got wedged in the back and forgotten.

So far this month, we are doing pretty well. I have to admit, though, I have splurged a few times this week--I am 8 months pregnant, and I feel like I hit a wall in terms of exhaustion. I'm definitely contributing to increasing the ice cream-focused portion of the budget. We caved and did a (relatively cheap) take-n-bake pizza one night this weekend, because we were all tired. My low energy level is definitely contributing to an uptick in that kind of convenience food. I also bought lunch out today, mostly because DH is out of town and I didn't plan ahead very well.

Still, I think we could be on track for a sub-475 month, which will be an improvement. My very non-frugal parents are coming to visit next week, so we'll see what happens there. My mom will definitely lament how bare our fridge is, and my dad will immediately go out and buy (or bring) a bunch of prepackaged snack food.

Our "shit happens" meal of late has been breakfast burritos. We almost always have eggs and cheese in the fridge and tortillas in the freezer. Drop a pile of greens on the plate, and it's *almost* a healthy meal.

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #281 on: March 22, 2017, 12:46:44 AM »
Yesterday I visited a 10 NOK (1 USD) market at the expensive grocery store. Bought a lot of staples and some things to freeze. But I really had to pay attention. I don't know all article prices by heart, I just allways compare shelve prices. So I grabbed some small cut canned tomatoes that we eat often. A little later I saw the shelve where those canned tomatoes are normally stored and there I found some at only cost half the price of what was on sale. So then I swapped the articles. I also noticed that in some cases the expensive brand was made the same price as the cheaper beand that I usually buy. And then there is no point in buying it.

I guess it's a game of who is smartest, the shop or the customer. But I find it a bit tiring.

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #282 on: March 22, 2017, 03:48:30 AM »
I am doing pretty damn good this year.  I do some areas where I can do better but I am not bringing home what I use to.  In April, I think I will keep track of my grocery spending out of curiosity.

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #283 on: March 23, 2017, 08:04:29 PM »
I just looked at our expenditures in YNAB, and with the exception of a $142 trip to Costco on 3/2, the biggest purchase we made this month was $25. Yet we've spent $425. Just lots and lots of little purchases. We live close enough to the grocery store that it's almost too easy to go run and grab 1 or 2 things when we think of them. There have only been 2 days so far this month that we didn't go to the store! We went to the store 3 times today! :O And that's not unusual.

So my goal going forward will be to plan better and stay out of the grocery store for small purchases as much as possible. It doesn't seem like we buy anything unnecessary when we go, but it adds up, and I suspect there's some waste hidden in those little trips.

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #284 on: March 24, 2017, 01:23:20 AM »
I just looked at our expenditures in YNAB, and with the exception of a $142 trip to Costco on 3/2, the biggest purchase we made this month was $25. Yet we've spent $425. Just lots and lots of little purchases. We live close enough to the grocery store that it's almost too easy to go run and grab 1 or 2 things when we think of them. There have only been 2 days so far this month that we didn't go to the store! We went to the store 3 times today! :O And that's not unusual.

So my goal going forward will be to plan better and stay out of the grocery store for small purchases as much as possible. It doesn't seem like we buy anything unnecessary when we go, but it adds up, and I suspect there's some waste hidden in those little trips.

Each time you visit the store you will see the products that they advertise and you might end up buying some product you hadn'd  planned to buy. Therefore is better to shop few times a week to reduce the number of temptations.

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #285 on: March 24, 2017, 10:15:05 AM »
I just cashed in my first $20 through ibotta, thanks again DTaggart for mentioning it here. I didn't even buy anything we wouldn't have bought anyway.

Right now we're on target for $1225 this month, which is just over the $1200 goal. I'm hoping we can shave it down a bit and hit the $1200. Since the month started off really high with the Vegas trip I feel pretty good to have it so close to achievable with a week left. We have spent $950 this month, but lots of eating out when we were in Vegas. For comparison, we spent $1846 on food the same month last year. I know we still have a long way to go to be remotely comparable to the truly frugal, but I'm pretty happy with the incremental progress there.

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #286 on: March 24, 2017, 11:06:16 AM »
probably gonna come in around 310-320 this month... local GC just had a super sale and we stocked up. again
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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #287 on: March 24, 2017, 11:15:20 AM »
I just cashed in my first $20 through ibotta, thanks again DTaggart for mentioning it here. I didn't even buy anything we wouldn't have bought anyway.

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #288 on: March 24, 2017, 01:54:56 PM »
probably gonna come in around 310-320 this month... local GC just had a super sale and we stocked up. again

I did a stock up this weekend as well.  5 fish = 20lbs of whole wild Alaskan salmon (frozen) for $3.99/lb.  With that $80 I am at $250 for the month and expect to finish at goal, under $300.

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #289 on: March 24, 2017, 05:57:28 PM »
I just cashed in my first $20 through ibotta, thanks again DTaggart for mentioning it here. I didn't even buy anything we wouldn't have bought anyway.

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Thanks for using my referral :)

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #290 on: March 25, 2017, 08:57:22 AM »
I just looked at our expenditures in YNAB, and with the exception of a $142 trip to Costco on 3/2, the biggest purchase we made this month was $25. Yet we've spent $425. Just lots and lots of little purchases. We live close enough to the grocery store that it's almost too easy to go run and grab 1 or 2 things when we think of them. There have only been 2 days so far this month that we didn't go to the store! We went to the store 3 times today! :O And that's not unusual.

So my goal going forward will be to plan better and stay out of the grocery store for small purchases as much as possible. It doesn't seem like we buy anything unnecessary when we go, but it adds up, and I suspect there's some waste hidden in those little trips.

Each time you visit the store you will see the products that they advertise and you might end up buying some product you hadn'd  planned to buy. Therefore is better to shop few times a week to reduce the number of temptations.

Exactly my thinking. Thinking about it more, I think a lot of those small purchases are pricey (relative to what I could make at home) snacks, like candy and stuff.

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #291 on: March 26, 2017, 12:20:47 PM »
So, didn't do quite as well as hoped this week, but not horrible -- $69 at Aldi's was ok (I based menus on what I had in the freezer/pantry, but then went off-list for some treats to keep the rest of the family happy).  Takeout was limited to $10 for "spirit night" at CFA, but then a bad case of athlete's foot led to a $35 CVS trip, for a weekly total of $105.  So what I hope are final monthly totals = $389 groceries, $141 takeout, and $175 household.

So, very significant improvement in actual groceries -- under $400 even including the massive Wegman's run last week.  Takeout is still higher than I'd like, but that number is actually a significant improvement (only two "I can't deal with cooking" craters), and at least I am learning my triggers and working on having alternatives ready.  But, man, the "household" stuff is just killing me -- there is just no good alternative, because either I run the gantlet at Wegman's, or I make a trip to CVS, which is massively overpriced (today's trip would have been $50 for four things were it not for two coupons that made it "only" $35). 

Still, overall, I have probably cut the groceries/weeknight takeout/household stuff by half, just by paying more attention and sacrificing the Wegman's "experience."  Which was the "real" point, moreso than my arbitrarily-chosen $600 target.  So, yay, I guess.  I just really want to hit that damn target!
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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #292 on: March 26, 2017, 01:23:40 PM »
Has anyone been doing any diet/habit/whatever hacking as a way to bring down their grocery bills?  It seems like a lot of people are struggling with the "snacks" category but there are lots of things we buy where tweaking just a little could save big over time.

It might be substituting a habit you have, or an ingredient, or changing a behavior.... I know we are all doing this in little ways, but does anyone have anything that really stands out for them?

A couple of years ago there was a record/track your grocery spending (or something like that) monthly challenge and I found it was super super helpful just breaking down what were spending on groceries into categories and having a record of what we actually bought. It was a PITA but I saw quite a few things that made us change some of our habits. Especially once we extrapolate spending to a yearly figure. Little things like we were spending $600 a year on milk alone. (Granted we were in Northern BC) but still...it boggles the mind.

Once we figured out how much things were costing us, especially snacky type things, it was easy to say no when we considered what else we could be doing with that money. One of the big changes we made was anything non-nutritive had to come out of our fun money. In the early days, that chopped our "grocery" spending by about 1/4 pretty much overnight.

My friend is doing this with her kids right now, it is helping them get the idea that "food is food and treats are treats" and saving them a bunch of money in the process.

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #293 on: March 26, 2017, 04:58:34 PM »
Has anyone been doing any diet/habit/whatever hacking as a way to bring down their grocery bills?  It seems like a lot of people are struggling with the "snacks" category but there are lots of things we buy where tweaking just a little could save big over time.

It might be substituting a habit you have, or an ingredient, or changing a behavior.... I know we are all doing this in little ways, but does anyone have anything that really stands out for them?


I am eating less meat.  No longer eating it for calories, only eating until I have enough protein and other nutrients from it.  To help I am mixing beans in with meat/soups to supplement meat protein, and drinking more whey protein shakes.  I am replacing some of these calories with additional healthy fats, but also losing some weight.

Quote
. . . One of the big changes we made was anything non-nutritive had to come out of our fun money. In the early days, that chopped our "grocery" spending by about 1/4 pretty much overnight.


I would be worried that this is not a real reduction in expenses, just re-categorizing some expenses as fun instead of grocery.  I would not change how I categorize things in the middle of a cost cutting challenge since it skews any actual reduction that may or may not be happening.  For instance if $50 in food gets re-categorized as $50 in Fun.. and the Fun category spending stays steady.. you're reducing Fun spending, not grocery spending.

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #294 on: March 27, 2017, 07:53:49 AM »
Has anyone been doing any diet/habit/whatever hacking as a way to bring down their grocery bills?  It seems like a lot of people are struggling with the "snacks" category but there are lots of things we buy where tweaking just a little could save big over time.

I've also been trying to work in more beans. The main thing that sticks out is that I've started eating a lot of home-popped popcorn for snacks. I have it most days. I love it, and it's crazy cheap.

I'm also starting to lean away from coffee/soda/energy drinks and more toward tea, for both health and cost reasons. This one is definitely still a work in progress though.

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #295 on: March 27, 2017, 08:37:03 AM »

All right, groceries this weekend: 103.79 - bringing the months average/wk to 95.84. It could have been much lower if I had looked at my fridge before going. I got cheese that I did not need, as well as an extra almond milk. Still is nice to have it under control.


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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #296 on: March 30, 2017, 12:58:44 PM »
Almost positive we'll make it this month! We do need a small grocery run tonight, but should be under $50. We are at $1119 for the month. $200 of that was eating out in Vegas at the beginning of the month for my son's rugby tournament.

We are going to Italy in April for 7 nights (and 1 night in London on the way home), so I know our eating out will be high in April, but I think after we get a couple more months of $1200 (or under, like January), I want to make more of a stretch goal of $1000. We have 3 days at Disneyland in May, so I'm keeping the $1200 goal for April and May, but June may be the month I lower the goal to $1000. I don't think it's reasonable to lower the goal beyond that, with 5 of us in the house including the teenager who eats as much as the rest of us combined...

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #297 on: March 30, 2017, 01:15:50 PM »

Quote
. . . One of the big changes we made was anything non-nutritive had to come out of our fun money. In the early days, that chopped our "grocery" spending by about 1/4 pretty much overnight.


I would be worried that this is not a real reduction in expenses, just re-categorizing some expenses as fun instead of grocery.  I would not change how I categorize things in the middle of a cost cutting challenge since it skews any actual reduction that may or may not be happening.  For instance if $50 in food gets re-categorized as $50 in Fun.. and the Fun category spending stays steady.. you're reducing Fun spending, not grocery spending.

It depends, I can see your point, it didn't work that way for us.  We didn't "recategorize" and take away or reduce grocery money to put more into fun money. We paid for snacks out of our exisiting fun money, so it wasn't like a bonus, it was "Do I want this more than x?" and in almost every single case the answer was "Hell NO!"  It wasn't necessary to do it forever it was a mind shift reframe more than anything else, going back to looking at treats as treats instead of just another part of groceries.

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #298 on: March 31, 2017, 12:56:27 AM »

We are going to Italy in April for 7 nights (and 1 night in London on the way home), so I know our eating out will be high in April, <...>

When staying abroad and eating in restaurants, you can at least look at eating only a main course and not 3 courses.

I personally find Italian food a bit confusing when I'm there on holiday, having a menu built up by pasta first, followed by meat and veggies. I am already stuffed after a pasta meal. Therefore when we visit Italy we usually eat either a pizza or a portion of pasta. And sometimes only the main dish, without the pasta. And only very occasionally a starter or dessert. And we skip breakfast and lunch at restaurants. Lunch is just some bread, cheese, olive paste and wine, bought in a shop. Much cheaper than eating lunch in a restaurant.

Have fun.

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Re: Rein in the grocery spend 2017
« Reply #299 on: March 31, 2017, 05:23:29 AM »
My goal this month was to spend $300 on food. Didn't make it; ended up spending $384. Went way over on coffee and fast food, too. But I did manage to spend much less than in previous months, so overall I'm happy.  Also stocked up on staples, my pantry could support a Salt Lake City family of 10 for at least a week.

Goal next month is to stick to food budget of $330.  Also going to give myself a fast food budget of $15. I think I can trim my coffee (Peets, Sbux) down to $20, The coffee is mostly a social thing and the fast food a weakness thing. Not going to beat myself up over it; I'm still doing better than 98% of the people out there.