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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: red_pill on May 07, 2018, 09:47:08 PM

Title: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 07, 2018, 09:47:08 PM
So, since finding MMM a few months ago, I've managed to cut our utilities bills in half, shed over $6000 in annual spending without significantly impacting our lifestyle, and make some other improvements.   However, the biggest expense we have is our grocery bill.  With our household division of labour, my wife does all the cooking and shopping in our house.  We are a family of 4 - two adults, an older teen, and one tween.  My wife can't eat gluten, eggs, or dairy.  We eat very clean, and apparently I eat "a lot".  She shops at Superstore and Natures Fare (kinda like a Whole Foods place), and sometimes will bulk buy stuff at Costco.  We can zip across the US border sometimes, but it's a 45 min drive, there are limits to what we can bring back, and the 30% exchange rate makes doing so less desirable than it used to be when the exchange rate was at par. Organic is a big thing to her.

Right now our grocery bill is around $400 per week.  Yes, per week.  As in around $20,000 per year.  We almost never go out to eat - work lunches are brought from home.  We do not waste a lot of food, either. 

My wife claims that with her dietary restrictions, it would be impossible to cut it down and that people who have cheap grocery bills can only do so because they eat crappy processed junk food. 

My question is this - is it possible in a HCOL west coast Canadian city to go below $100 per person per week given her dietary restrictions?

Before I dig into this, I'm looking for a bit of affirmation that not only is it possible, but that the ROI of my time will be worth it.

Fellow Canucks - am I barking up the wrong tree?  Or is this a project worth engaging in?  If it is, do you have any tips on how we can accomplish this?

Love my wife, she's awesome, so I'm not trying to disparage her, but I do see the potential to live more optimally for both of our benefit.

Thank you!

Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: SunnyDays on May 07, 2018, 10:31:54 PM
Hmmm, seems high to me.  For just myself, I spend about 200.00 CD per month, but I'm a fairly light eater. Are your kids in the stage where they have "hollow legs?"  That can make a difference, but still!  Maybe do some research into what foods actually benefit from being organic.  Not all do, I read that bananas are basically the same, but something like strawberries can be very high in pesticides.  Try to buy fruit and veggies that are in season (in B.C. this should be easier than other places), look into farmer's markets, getting food delivered directly from growers (forget what this is called) or growing your own.  Look for kosher meats instead of organic, as they are organic, I believe.  See if you can buy meat directly from the people who raise them, maybe Hutterites.  Talk to butcher shop people for resources.  Maybe accompany your wife on a shopping trip and see if she really considers her purchases or buys out of habit or in a hurry to just get it done.  Do you shop sales and then menu plan based on this or decide what you want to eat first and then buy the ingredients?  I've not heard of Nature's Farm, but you're comparing it to Whole Foods, then it's probably expensive.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: elliha on May 07, 2018, 11:59:52 PM
Gluten free can be expensive but neither egg free or dairy free should be that much more than a regular diet. Eggs are usually just cut out of the diet and replacement products for dairy can be made at home if you want to cut down spending. I would do the math though, making your own is not always cheaper but I think this could be one where it is.

If she is into healthy eating, does she buy "superfoods", exotic fruit or things out of season? If so this is an area you can do some real savings in. Buying things in season and using cheaper vegetables as a base can do a lot to your bills but still offer just as healthy food. If she is the type to want all organic all the time she should be very careful when buying the less common products, often stores add more to those since people buy them seldom enough to not remember the prize and perhaps not know what the non-organic costs. If it is not something that spoils she might be able to order these things online for much less. Also, do you eat a lot of nuts and seeds? They can be very expensive too especially organic so that is a product to watch out for. In general, if you are going to go all organic you will need to be very prize conscious for every product you need and going to specialized shops can be "dangerous" because you can find so many good products there that it is easy to overspend.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: MrsTuxedocat on May 08, 2018, 12:09:05 AM
I think that it is absolutely doable to have a lower grocery bill. Mr. Tuxedocat and I spend about $500 per month on groceries. It used to be less, but I am pregnant and crave fresh fruit all the time! We also eat limited dairy - just free range eggs on occasion.

Perhaps consider only buying the "dirty dozen" organic fruits and veggies? We buy organic as long as there isn't a huge price discrepancy between non organic. Incorporate more veggies,and especially root vegetables into your diet. They are the cheapest. We also eat a lot of dried beans too.

Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: snacky on May 08, 2018, 12:11:15 AM
I feed three people plus frequent guests for $10/ day. One kid is gluten free. One is fussy. I can't do lots of carbs. We live in the middle of Canada.
It's totally possible. We eat the produce that is cheapest, which tends to be seasonal. Instead of fancy GF products we just eat a lot of Mexican or Indian - ish food - corn tortillas, rice, potatoes, asian rice noodles. Everything is made from scratch.
A pot of chili costs only a few dollars. Canned tomatoes, dried beans, frozen corn, and spices.
Thai curry is tofu, veg, coconut milk, stock, curry paste, and rice.
Wild rice soup is wild and regular rice, stock, root veg, garlic and spices, dried beans.
And so on.

If she does all the cooking and shopping and she doesn't see a way to do it for less, you can't do it for less. She is working hard enough to cover this domain without your adding to the responsibilities. Instead, you take over a night or two a week. Put your ingredients on the list, cook everything, and see a decrease in your grocery bills. Everyone wins!
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 08, 2018, 12:26:29 AM

If she is into healthy eating, does she buy "superfoods", exotic fruit or things out of season? If so this is an area you can do some real savings in. Buying things in season and using cheaper vegetables as a base can do a lot to your bills but still offer just as healthy food. If she is the type to want all organic all the time she should be very careful when buying the less common products, often stores add more to those since people buy them seldom enough to not remember the prize and perhaps not know what the non-organic costs. If it is not something that spoils she might be able to order these things online for much less. Also, do you eat a lot of nuts and seeds? They can be very expensive too especially organic so that is a product to watch out for. In general, if you are going to go all organic you will need to be very prize conscious for every product you need and going to specialized shops can be "dangerous" because you can find so many good products there that it is easy to overspend.

I have seen bags of grapes show up in December for like $18. Itís insane. Now that we are into summer months that should subside but we will have to break that habit over the next few months.  She says that she only buys organic produce when the price is similar, and if itís not she goes with the regular variety.   We eat nuts but not many seeds. Will monitor that.  Thanks.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 08, 2018, 12:28:34 AM
I think that it is absolutely doable to have a lower grocery bill. Mr. Tuxedocat and I spend about $500 per month on groceries. It used to be less, but I am pregnant and crave fresh fruit all the time! We also eat limited dairy - just free range eggs on occasion.

Perhaps consider only buying the "dirty dozen" organic fruits and veggies? We buy organic as long as there isn't a huge price discrepancy between non organic. Incorporate more veggies,and especially root vegetables into your diet. They are the cheapest. We also eat a lot of dried beans too.

Hmmm, beans. We donít eat a lot of beans. Maybe we should find some good recipes.  Like a slow cooker chilli or something.  Thanks !
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Hirondelle on May 08, 2018, 12:44:27 AM
I'm not too familiar with Canadian food prices but $100/week sounds high to me. Gluten/dairy/egg free doesn't need to be more expensive (actually dairy free would save me a bunch of fancy cheese!).

Some general advice that works kinda worldwide:
- For staples/carbs foods, rice and potatoes are totally gluten free and fairly healthy. There will be potato haters who believe otherwise, but potatoes are very nutritious and have a high satiety index. Plus they're dirt cheap! And they last long!
- Beans. Lots of beans. Beans are nutritious, high in protein and have a good satiety index. Very healthy. Very cheap.
- Veggies: Carrots, onions and cucumbers have been cheap everywhere I've seen them. So are canned tomatoes.
- Cut down the fancy meat. Or just all the meat. I don't know how much meat you eat, but for many it's one of the bigger items. Same for fish. Wonder where to get your proteins from if you also can't eat eggs or dairy? Beans! Tofu! Check out vegan recipes for ideas. You don't have to cut out all meat/fish ofcourse, but reducing consumption can save you lots.
- Be selective about what to buy organic. Not every organic product makes sense. Sometimes prices are 2x as high without any benefits. Also check out local farms to see if there's stuff you can buy directly.

For some general recipe advice/inspiration, check out this thread: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/have-a-sub-$200month-grocery-budget/?topicseen
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 08, 2018, 12:46:50 AM
I feed three people plus frequent guests for $10/ day. One kid is gluten free. One is fussy. I can't do lots of carbs. We live in the middle of Canada.
It's totally possible. We eat the produce that is cheapest, which tends to be seasonal. Instead of fancy GF products we just eat a lot of Mexican or Indian - ish food - corn tortillas, rice, potatoes, asian rice noodles. Everything is made from scratch.
A pot of chili costs only a few dollars. Canned tomatoes, dried beans, frozen corn, and spices.
Thai curry is tofu, veg, coconut milk, stock, curry paste, and rice.
Wild rice soup is wild and regular rice, stock, root veg, garlic and spices, dried beans.
And so on.

If she does all the cooking and shopping and she doesn't see a way to do it for less, you can't do it for less. She is working hard enough to cover this domain without your adding to the responsibilities. Instead, you take over a night or two a week. Put your ingredients on the list, cook everything, and see a decrease in your grocery bills. Everyone wins!

Like $10 / day per person?  Or $10 / day for all three people? No. Couldnít be.  That would be amazing. We are at around $50/day for four people.  Lots of room for improvement

LIGHTBULB MOMENT ->I realized that we really donít have an established baseline - my $50 a day is a gross estimate but I canít say where that $50 is being spent.  Just like when I attacked my electricity bill I first had to understand where it was going before I could identify the waste.  It seems the same here - maybe a few small changes would have a disproportionate impact. Or at the very least gain some early momentum.   But as of now, beyond me looking at the receipts when she comes home from the store and whining about the expensive whatever she bought that day - I really donít know the consumption trends.

Looks like I got a few weeks of data collection ahead of me!
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Hirondelle on May 08, 2018, 01:00:29 AM

Looks like I got a few weeks of data collection ahead of me!

That sounds like a perfect start! First figure out where the money gets spend, then see where you can reduce it with the least possible pain.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Lews Therin on May 08, 2018, 06:49:54 AM
I can absolutely confirm that it is possible. I'm single and I run under 100$ per month. (Though with very little fancy, and stocking up with meat hits 1 - 1.50/Lb)

You can easily cut that number down by huge amounts by figuring out what normal prices are, and aiming for the things that are on sale in order to decide what you will be making that week.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: snacky on May 08, 2018, 06:51:50 AM
$10/day for 3 people has been my average for a couple of years. It includes dog food, toiletries, etc. Basically anything that can be bought at Superstore. I play the PC points for free groceries whenever I can, so that helps.
I anticipate that going up to $12 or so when my kids hit the mid teen years.
At Xmas and Easter turkeys go on sale for very cheap. I put a bunch in the freezer, then roast them once a month or so. The meat gets bagged and frozen and the carcass makes stock. The most recent turkey cost $8 at Easter and fed us for 4 days.
I cannot fathom what I would buy to hit a daily spend of $50. Can you share your shopping receipts?
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: PoutineLover on May 08, 2018, 06:56:44 AM
That's insane. I spend about 50 bucks a week on groceries, although I don't have any dietary restrictions. I don't really buy many processed foods, I mostly eat fruits and veggies, meat, grains, eggs, dairy. Organic is a marketing term, organic veggies still have pesticides, just 'organic' ones. If you wash your veggies you're fine. I buy what's on sale and what's in season. I don't shop at expensive stores, I've found my neighborhood grocer beats the chain prices. I'd say track the bills and eliminate, reduce or replace the most expensive recurring items. You don't have to eat junk to spend less on food.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Villanelle on May 08, 2018, 07:03:23 AM
Not Canadian so I can't say what exactly is realistic, but I'd come up with a list of meals that cost under $2 (or some price that is realistic but definitely pushes you) per serving, and commit to eating those at least three times a week. 

And yes, seasonal fruits and veggies will most definitely help. Try to get your wife to commit to that, or to commit to some price limit for produce (no more than $x per serving). 
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: bluebelle on May 08, 2018, 07:13:59 AM
I'm in Toronto, and hubby is huge eater, and I seem to eat a fair amount (seems small compared to him).....our grocery bill is averaging around $180 a week, which is very high, but that includes anything bought at the grocery store, I'm not willing to keep all receipts to break it out at the end of the month, if it was bought at a grocery store, it's grocery, so it includes alot of our small household items as well (shampoo, laundry soap, things I pick up for my elderly mother, the occaisional bottle of wine or beer).  My guess is that 'grocery' is probably $150/week.  We don't eat organic and we eat alot of eggs (omega 3).  Most of our food is from scatch and includes all 3 meals 7 days a week.  We eat alot of meat and a fair amount of that is from a trusted butcher (we can both tell the difference between grocery store meat and from the butcher, same for the fish monger).
Cooking (especially from scratch) and shopping are huge time sucks.  Hubby and I like to cook, it's our time to chat without too much distraction, but it still consumes alot of time.
Does your wife do any price matching when she shops at Super Centre?  I've made that into a game using the app Flipp.  Are you part of the PC Optimum program (not as good as PC Plus but still, free money).
As others have said - take over cooking responsibilites a few nights a week.  If time is an issue, do some batch cooking on the weekend.  Chili is better when it's a day or two older, after the flavours meld.
I am in awe of those folks who eat for a $3 a day.  It just doesn't work for us.  It wouldn't be a happy home.   
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Freedomin5 on May 08, 2018, 07:21:44 AM
When we lived in Vancouver, we (two adults) fed ourselves for around $100 per week. Shopped at the farmers markets during the summer months, as well as Superstore. Ate very little meat and cheese and nuts. Lots of in-season fresh fruits and veggies.

It was mainly a few high-cost items that took up the bulk of our budget (peanut butter, flax seed). If we had chosen to cut those things out we probably could have gotten down to $50/week.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: OtherJen on May 08, 2018, 07:44:05 AM
Iím in the US and donít have kids so my opinion will only go so far, but that seems really high.

I have celiac disease (which is no joke, gluten free is essential), and my husband and I spend about $600 per month total on our food, household supplies, toiletries, and pet supplies. Even if we assume that two kids would double that, $1200/month would still be less than your household is spending.

Iím not sure why gluten-free means spending THAT much more. I almost never buy the processed stuff because quite frankly, most of it is gross. Most of our food is made from scratch and while we do eat dairy and eggs, the bulk of our shopping is for fresh produce (all naturally gluten-, dairy-, egg-free; you can look up the Dirty Dozen list for things that are better if purchased organic), meat (we buy organic chicken and ground beef at Costco), dried beans/peas/lentils (cheap everywhere), nuts, and grains like rice, and oats (GF-certified oats are more expensive, but still cheaper than boxed cereals). We buy spices online in bulk from companies that only sell herbs/spices (I tend to avoid public bulk bins in stores that also sell bulk flour) and big bags of things like masa harina and almond flour. I do use circulars and compare grocers because as much as I love Aldi, sometimes the local independent store has better loss-leader deals.

Without knowing where the money is going, itís hard to speculate. I think youíre right about needing to collect data.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: jambongris on May 08, 2018, 08:17:15 AM
I don’t know how much prices differ between Ottawa and HCOL west coast cities but it definitely seems doable. We feed a family of four on about $110/week and we buy little to no processed foods; the bulk of our groceries consists of produce, dairy and meat.

I should also note that this doesn’t include eating out, alcohol, toiletries or anything else that you can buy at the grocery store that isn’t food.

We try to buy what ever is on sale and meal plan around that. Since price matching at the superstore is pretty painless I can browse through all the local flyers for deals then do all my purchases together at one store using those prices.

I have a price book to know if it’s a really good sale in which case we’ll stock up. Tracking your grocery expenses in more detail is definitely the first step. This way you can see how it’s being spent and you can also develop a better understanding of what good prices look like. Cooking in bulk and freezing prepared food also saves us time and money.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Lews Therin on May 08, 2018, 08:38:27 AM
Hey Jambongris, can I get a copy of your price book? :D

I've started one since last august, but I could always use more data points.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Novik on May 08, 2018, 08:44:54 AM
Agree with prior posters... 20k on groceries is absolutely beatable! Price-matching is key, as is focusing on cheaper recipes and snacks to build a meal plan out of.

My partner and I run ~350$/month (trending down for 400$/month) including plenty of fancy meals and treats (recent fave: homemade pita chips and hummus!). That number does not directly include toiletries/paper products but we pay for those almost entirely with PC points earned on grocery spend.

If you're spending 20k on groceries a year, please tell me you have credit cards with good grocery rewards (ie. PC World elite for superstore, or scotia momentum for 4% cashback on groceries) and/or are churning credit cards using that money to hit minimum spends!!

Your post shows you have made good initial progress but I promise there's lots farther to go! Maybe consider a full on case study in a couple more months after you've cut down the obvious fluff?
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: meghan88 on May 08, 2018, 08:48:11 AM
Canadian here (SW Ontario).  If I were in your shoes, I'd start doing some serious research on prices.  It is AMAZING how prices vary from store to store.  Make a list of the types of things you buy, then go to the nearest store of any of the chains to list and compare prices.  Once you've got that down and organized, then consider joining the loyalty programs at the stores you're likely to shop at.  Some other tips:

- Keep an open mind as to where to shop - we buy our Oikos yogurt from Shoppers Drug Mart because it's usually on sale for 3.99 or less, and is over $5 elsewhere.  Some PC products are cheaper at Shoppers than at any Loblaws grocery stores.  A local organics grocer has some produce for way less than the chain supermarkets.
- Clip coupons and search for online coupons for the more expensive items.
- Check all the flyers every week to look for sales for things that you can stock up on when prices are right.
- As others have said above, research the "dirty dozen" and "clean 15" lists to see which fruits and veg to buy/not buy organic.  We never buy organic avocados, onions or bananas.

Don't assume that your wife is doing any of these things right now.  Hopefully you can both take a fresh look at this and collaborate to game the system as much as you can.  You will save $, though it does take a bit of effort to get the hang of it.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Trying2bFrugal on May 08, 2018, 09:18:42 AM
I never knew how much we spend on the groceries.

We buy milk, chicken, eggs organic. We eat goat and no red meat,  luckily they are still vegetarians.

Most fruits goes regular except apples, berries, cherries, and others where you would eat skin.

We cook and 0 processed food in our home. Except for one box of honey bunches we buy (lasts 3 months due to not eating it).

Our snacks are nuts, dried fruits or home made snacks.

My friend is gluten free, we cook him some rice variety or other stuff.

Most of vegetables - anything we consume direct like spinach (costco) should be organic.
But cauliflower is not, we use vinegar soaking to reduce toxic intake. Mostly we buy the ones on sale and seasonal.

If we like strawberries,  we buy organic(costco) frozen ones for our smoothies. Banana again costco. Avocado organic.

 Limes, oranges, watermelon, melons, mangos - regular.

One thing for sure, you need to SHOP around shops for scoring less price tag. There is no one stop shop (costco is costlier in some, Kroger is costly in some so do Alsi).
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 08, 2018, 09:25:26 AM
Okay, so I reviewed Mint and the $20K per year has been the reality for the last six months.  I know it was higher before that but my wife has brought it down about 20% since we first started talking about this stuff.   Still, it is clear from the feedback that 20% was the low hanging fruit. Not even, it was the fruit that had already fallen off the tree. We should be able to realize another 20-30% without much pain.

A few things jump out at me as areas to explore / current weaknesses:

-I downloaded Flipp and for the first time in my life read a flyer. I know, I know.  Clearly, it pays to shop around. There are a half dozen grocery stores in my immediate vicinity and we only go to two of them.  But different stores seem to have different loss leaders, resulting in a significant savings potential.

-Nor do we leverage price matching. Well, my wife doesn't. I actually did this for the first time a few weeks ago at London Drugs - they matched off my Walmart App and I saved like $10 off their ridiculous prices on something.  So easy! Obviously, this is a must-do item.

-We do not us PC points. I don't even know how they work.  Normally I eschew loyalty programs and find it annoying that I'm always being asked for my phone number.  I'm convinced that, for the most part, loyalty cards encourage overspending by creating "loss aversion" where you spend X in order to avoid losing the bonus of Y, even though you weren't planning on spending X in the first place.  Plus, it keeps things simple. I love simple and think there is value in simple. But, maybe groceries are different as long as you know the baseline data of what is or isn't a good deal.

-I've never churned a credit card, and we do not have a credit card that offers 4% cashback on groceries.  I use a RBC Cashback Mastercard that gives us 2% for groceries and 1% on everything else.  I liked it because it was a no fee card and I bank at RBC so I can see all of my accounts in one place. Perhaps their are better cards out there. (quick calculation versus  the Scotia Momentum card: it would cost $130 for two cards, and on an anticipated $15,000 spent on groceries (goals!) we would earn a refund of $600 versus $300 on my card, plus higher refunds on gas and other purchases. This would pay for itself and result in a few hundred bucks a year in my pocket.  I'm reluctant to increase the complexity of my finances. I love my one page banking, but I'm not sure if I love it to the tune of a few hundred bucks a year.)

-We don't make a shopping list. It's just all in her head.  If something is on sale she will tend to buy more of it. Some items she will only buy when it is on sale.  And she generally knows baseline prices of things.  Not like me, I have no idea how much food costs.

-We don't preplan our meals.  Well, breakfasts are all the same, but for dinners (and next day's lunch) what is bought defines what is cooked. Not the other way around.  This means that we aren't leveraging what is on sale each week, and instead hope to get lucky.  Clearly not optimal.

Yikes, lots of work to do.  Really appreciate everyone taking the time to help me on this.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: nereo on May 08, 2018, 09:40:10 AM
Reporting from Quebec --
Our target has always been to spend $400 or less per month for a household of 2 (i.e. $200/mo/person or >$50/week/person). Occasionally we go over, but often we are at or slightly under.  We don't purchase any processed foods and roughly 2/3rds of our meals are vegetarian.  Unlike the OP's wife we have no such restrictions on eggs or gluten.

As Villanelle mentioned one strategy can be to come up with a list of very cheap meals (e.g. <$2/serving) and make those your backbone. Curries, risotto and stir-fry are among our weekly favorites. We also use our freezer extensively and can, buying and storing when prices are low (e.g. when bell peppers are ≤99Ę/lb we'll buy and slice several dozen and deep freeze. We buy turkeys after the holidays, make pesto from basil, pick bushels of apples to make into sauce, etc).
I grow all my own herbs and in the summer we have a small but productive patio garden that really reduces our produce budget. Maybe that's 'cheating' but I enjoy it and it keeps costs down. Most herbs can be frozen with water in ice-cube trays (and later transferred to ziplock bags) to be used in the winter months.

Agree that tracking exactly where your food budget is going is key to finding where you can effectively reduce your spending. The last time we did this we realized how much we were spending on yogurt; now we make our own (with an InstantPot). Cheese winds up being our biggest single-category expense, but we've decided we'd rather pay for good cheese than go without. CostCo has the best prices for cheese in our area by far.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: OtherJen on May 08, 2018, 09:41:53 AM
-We do not us PC points. I don't even know how they work.  Normally I eschew loyalty programs and find it annoying that I'm always being asked for my phone number.  I'm convinced that, for the most part, loyalty cards encourage overspending by creating "loss aversion" where you spend X in order to avoid losing the bonus of Y, even though you weren't planning on spending X in the first place.  Plus, it keeps things simple. I love simple and think there is value in simple. But, maybe groceries are different as long as you know the baseline data of what is or isn't a good deal.

-We don't make a shopping list. It's just all in her head.  If something is on sale she will tend to buy more of it. Some items she will only buy when it is on sale.  And she generally knows baseline prices of things.  Not like me, I have no idea how much food costs.

Taking care of these points should bring you significant savings.

Re: loyalty points. The policies differ among stores, but I belong to the loyalty plans of a big supermarket chain and a local pet supply chain. Rather than penalties, these work by providing special pricing and sales for cardholders (no minimum spend amount required). The deals are often listed in the sale circulars, so you can plan for them.

Re: lists. I never shop without one. I keep separate lists for Costco and other stores. I only buy what we need, although I will occasionally buy a larger amount of a non-perishable or something that can be frozen if it's a good deal and we will definitely use it within a reasonable amount of time (no room to stockpile). Otherwise, you run the risk of having a pantry and fridge full of random things while forgetting something you actually need.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Novik on May 08, 2018, 09:46:33 AM
I love your enthusiasm and willingness to listen and change!

Flipp - you can browse the flyers on your phone, clip things and sync with your wife's phone (and it will help you learn prices!). Easy to do while standing in line somewhere, in the elevator at work, etc. and then easy for her to use.

PC points - agree loyalty points can be dangerous. I mostly ignore in-store points deals for this reason. But I do take advantage of the "targeted offers" for points on things I buy all the time (for me this week: bananas, peppers, potatoes - easy 20% off). There's an easy app.

Credit cards - I'd get a PC World Elite Mastercard.  No fees for you or a spousal card, 3% back in PC points at grocery stores (also some gas bonuses and 1% everywhere else), and it also serves as your PC points card for earning and redeeming, so one less thing to worry about. On 15k you'd earn 450$ back a year (basically the same as the scotia but without the annual fees and much simpler).   Once you have the spousal card merge the resulting 2 PC points account into one household for even more simplicity. Churning can wait until you have the spending under control :)

Link (not referral or anything but offers you a bonus 100$): https://www.ratesupermarket.ca/credit_cards/pc_financial/presidents_choice_financial_world_elite_mastercard

Finally - please listen to what Snacky said upthread about doing this without making a lot more work for your wife. You have the enthusiasm but she will only be able to generate that enthusiasm for herself if you take on the burden of the energy to make change. Once you are in your new normal maybe it will make sense to step back but the change has to be driven by your hard work!
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: bluebelle on May 08, 2018, 09:47:54 AM

-We do not us PC points. I don't even know how they work.  Normally I eschew loyalty programs and find it annoying that I'm always being asked for my phone number.  I'm convinced that, for the most part, loyalty cards encourage overspending by creating "loss aversion" where you spend X in order to avoid losing the bonus of Y, even though you weren't planning on spending X in the first place.  Plus, it keeps things simple. I love simple and think there is value in simple. But, maybe groceries are different as long as you know the baseline data of what is or isn't a good deal.

-I've never churned a credit card, and we do not have a credit card that offers 4% cashback on groceries.  I use a RBC Cashback Mastercard that gives us 2% for groceries and 1% on everything else.  I liked it because it was a no fee card and I bank at RBC so I can see all of my accounts in one place. Perhaps their are better cards out there. (quick calculation versus  the Scotia Momentum card: it would cost $130 for two cards, and on an anticipated $15,000 spent on groceries (goals!) we would earn a refund of $600 versus $300 on my card, plus higher refunds on gas and other purchases. This would pay for itself and result in a few hundred bucks a year in my pocket.  I'm reluctant to increase the complexity of my finances. I love my one page banking, but I'm not sure if I love it to the tune of a few hundred bucks a year.)

PC points - they have various offers every week.  I use their PC World Elite Master Card (free, and the equivalent of 3% back grocery store purchases)...for example this week, Zehers had PC frozen veg on sale for 1.99 a bag, PC points had an offer for 400 points for every $2 spent.  A point is worth a 1/10 of a cent, so 400 points is 40 cents....so each bag was only $1.59 (regular $3)....Super Centre has regular in store options as well....I don't normally advocate credit cards, but if your family is spending $400 a week, and assuming $300 of it is at Super Centre, that's $9 a week in points just for using the credit card, plus any weekly offers.  Sure $9 isn't alot off $300, but if you were spending it anyway, why the hell not get it.  Our Super Centre happens to have a gas bar attached, so buying gas gets 4 cents a litre worth of points plus the 3% for using the CC....and the gas is usually a few cents cheaper than other gas stations....
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: jambongris on May 08, 2018, 09:52:29 AM
Hey Jambongris, can I get a copy of your price book? :D

I've started one since last august, but I could always use more data points.

I’ll try and remember to send it to you when I’m at home.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: bluebelle on May 08, 2018, 10:02:04 AM
speaking of grocery lists.....mine usually gets left on the kitchen counter, and I'm doing it from memory....any one have a suggestion for an electronic version?  One I could type in with my PC (ie regular keyboard), and access via my phone?  Usually I end up getting hubby to take a pic of the handwritten list and text it to me....that works too.
With all the data gathering sotres are doing, I would gladly give them my grocery list if they would ping me everytime I walk past an aisle that has something on my list.....can you tell I often get to the check out with something missing.....I would give the grocery store my list if they would then give it back to me sorted based on their store layout.....I often rewrite the grocery list before I leave home, without it, putting it into the order I think things are in the store.  If the list is in the order we ran out of stuff, I always miss things.  It's bad enough I have to grocery shop with reading glasses around my neck, I'm not carrying a pen to check things off.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: OtherJen on May 08, 2018, 10:28:38 AM
speaking of grocery lists.....mine usually gets left on the kitchen counter, and I'm doing it from memory....any one have a suggestion for an electronic version?  One I could type in with my PC (ie regular keyboard), and access via my phone?  Usually I end up getting hubby to take a pic of the handwritten list and text it to me....that works too.
With all the data gathering sotres are doing, I would gladly give them my grocery list if they would ping me everytime I walk past an aisle that has something on my list.....can you tell I often get to the check out with something missing.....I would give the grocery store my list if they would then give it back to me sorted based on their store layout.....I often rewrite the grocery list before I leave home, without it, putting it into the order I think things are in the store.  If the list is in the order we ran out of stuff, I always miss things.  It's bad enough I have to grocery shop with reading glasses around my neck, I'm not carrying a pen to check things off.

I use the Out of Milk app on my Android phone (also available for iPhone). I like it because you can categorize items according to type or location in the store, include amounts and notes, and keep separate lists. It looks like there's an online app for access from PCs, but I haven't tried it.

If you're a Google user, the Keep app can be used on both a PC and mobile device.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: snacky on May 08, 2018, 10:40:43 AM
I email my list to myself so it's on my phone. Easy.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: mm1970 on May 08, 2018, 11:04:21 AM
I keep my grocery list on my phone. (Keep app)

Not in Canada.  Family of 4, spend about $150 a week total.

I developed an intolerance to wheat, so I mostly eat gluten free (but, for example - it's not gluten - barley is fine).

What I do, mostly, is try to eat things that are naturally gluten free, instead of "gluten free" things.  I will buy GF bread and keep it in the freezer, but a loaf will last a few weeks.

For husband and kid, they can eat wheat, so we have regular bread for them.  And I used to make it regularly.  Kinda lazy lately.


The keys for me are:
1.  Price comparison.  Figure out WHAT you eat and figure out how to get it for less.  Unfortunately this means shopping at 2-5 stores a week.  Hey, it's not free it takes time.
2.  Cost per item/ meal.  Calculate the cost to make a few of your regular meals.  Increase rotation of the cheaper meals.
3.  Cheaper substitutions.  Lots of apples, oranges, and bananas in the winter.  Gorge on strawberries in the spring.  Stick to organic for dirty dozen only.  More chicken less beef.  More sardines or canned salmon, less fresh.
4.  Do not waste food.

I have a tween boy and a younger boy and a husband.  We eat a LOT of produce.  Along the lines of 30-40 lbs a week.  It is what it is.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: GuitarStv on May 08, 2018, 11:10:09 AM
- Plan your meals in advance, buy only the stuff you need to make your meals
- Make large batches of food and then freeze what you're not going to eat that week
- Don't buy junk food, or any processed food really
- Eat meat once a day or less, and choose cheaper cuts of meat

200$ per week average grocery bill for Canadian family of three here.  We splurge on a lot of fresh fruit and veggies each week.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: meghan88 on May 08, 2018, 12:33:00 PM
speaking of grocery lists.....mine usually gets left on the kitchen counter, and I'm doing it from memory....any one have a suggestion for an electronic version?  One I could type in with my PC (ie regular keyboard), and access via my phone?  Usually I end up getting hubby to take a pic of the handwritten list and text it to me....that works too.
With all the data gathering sotres are doing, I would gladly give them my grocery list if they would ping me everytime I walk past an aisle that has something on my list.....can you tell I often get to the check out with something missing.....I would give the grocery store my list if they would then give it back to me sorted based on their store layout.....I often rewrite the grocery list before I leave home, without it, putting it into the order I think things are in the store.  If the list is in the order we ran out of stuff, I always miss things.  It's bad enough I have to grocery shop with reading glasses around my neck, I'm not carrying a pen to check things off.
You could be my long-lost twin.  Reading glasses and all, except that I usually forget those too ... they are usually sitting on top of the list.  Damn those hard-to read best-before dates.

Another shopping tip:  check your receipt before you leave the store!!  I do this all the time and sometimes find I've been overcharged because something was scanned twice.  Better still, watch carefully on the cashier's screen as the items are entered.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: jambongris on May 08, 2018, 12:35:17 PM
Okay, so I reviewed Mint and the $20K per year has been the reality for the last six months.  I know it was higher before that but my wife has brought it down about 20% since we first started talking about this stuff.   Still, it is clear from the feedback that 20% was the low hanging fruit. Not even, it was the fruit that had already fallen off the tree. We should be able to realize another 20-30% without much pain.

A few things jump out at me as areas to explore / current weaknesses:

-I downloaded Flipp and for the first time in my life read a flyer. I know, I know.  Clearly, it pays to shop around. There are a half dozen grocery stores in my immediate vicinity and we only go to two of them.  But different stores seem to have different loss leaders, resulting in a significant savings potential.

-Nor do we leverage price matching. Well, my wife doesn't. I actually did this for the first time a few weeks ago at London Drugs - they matched off my Walmart App and I saved like $10 off their ridiculous prices on something.  So easy! Obviously, this is a must-do item.

-We do not us PC points. I don't even know how they work.  Normally I eschew loyalty programs and find it annoying that I'm always being asked for my phone number.  I'm convinced that, for the most part, loyalty cards encourage overspending by creating "loss aversion" where you spend X in order to avoid losing the bonus of Y, even though you weren't planning on spending X in the first place.  Plus, it keeps things simple. I love simple and think there is value in simple. But, maybe groceries are different as long as you know the baseline data of what is or isn't a good deal.

Yikes, lots of work to do.  Really appreciate everyone taking the time to help me on this.

I really like Flipp. It works really well and the cashiers are very comfortable with it.

I would definitely give PC Optimum points a try if you have participating stores nearby. Every week I get a number of deals for the equivalent of 20% off food that I buy regularly (bananas, cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, deli meat, breads, coffee, etc). That’s easy savings.

There are usually a few offers for things I would never buy but I just ignore them.

It seems as though the app tailors the offers based on your purchase history so if you buy lots of produce then you should get offers for produce.

You may end up deciding that the loyalty program isn’t for you but it’s worth a shot. Between the offers in the app, the PC Insiders program and our PC Mastercard we get enough points to effectively reduce our grocery bill by about 20% - down to ~$85/week for a family of four (~$21/week per person).
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: ender on May 08, 2018, 12:38:23 PM
My recommendation would be to keep all your grocery receipts for at least a month (preferrably 2-3) and then categorize them.

Right now you are averaging over $19/meal/person.

I suspect if you took even a months worth of receipts you'd find a lot of valuable insights just by categorizing them (ie "yogurt", "milk", "cheese", "bread", "fruit", "vegetables" etc).
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Prairie Stash on May 08, 2018, 04:27:39 PM
family of four, $400/month in Canada. Lots of salads in our house, lots of dairy. Everything has been said already, I'll try to add slightly diffferent perspectives.

President choice card - I get simplicity, I like simple. I filled in a one page form, Pre-Authorized Debits, so that its paid in full every month automatically from my RBC bank account. I still see the bill every month, but if I'm busy or out of town it takes care of itself (provided you have the funds of course). 3% cash back on groceries, its the best card out there if you shop at Loblaw chain stores.
https://www.pcfinancial.ca/english/legal/pc-mastercard?list=5

Composter - I have a compost bin for every bit of organic waste. It puts food waste in perspective when you need to dump the bin every few days. How much do you waste? Its probably more than you realize (its generally true of most people), I seriously doubt you eat $5000/person/year. As gross as it sounds, take a look at how much garbage you throw out, the lowest budgets posted likely have the lowest waste. If you don't have/want a comopster, segregate for a few weeks and toss it back in the house waste (continuously, don't save it up!). You can learn a lot about people by what they discard, archeologists do it all the time.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: daverobev on May 08, 2018, 04:34:30 PM
You need to find a No Frills or 'ethnic' supermarket in a non-trendy part of town. Buy in bulk, and buy on sale.

Also, grow some of your own, if you can.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 08, 2018, 05:20:26 PM
My recommendation would be to keep all your grocery receipts for at least a month (preferrably 2-3) and then categorize them.

Right now you are averaging over $19/meal/person.

I suspect if you took even a months worth of receipts you'd find a lot of valuable insights just by categorizing them (ie "yogurt", "milk", "cheese", "bread", "fruit", "vegetables" etc).

I donít think itís quite $19/person/meal (that would be 19x3x4x365 =$83,220 per year. Weíre not that bad!)   Agreed in the receipts - I need data to formulate a plan.  Iím working on a spreadsheet to try to get a better idea of what items are best priced where and what a good sale looks like for an item. 
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Bucksandreds on May 08, 2018, 05:27:12 PM
Is there Aldi in Canada? Buy lots of chicken on sale and freeze it.  Donít eat red meat. Make twice what you need for dinner and eat the rest for lunch the next day.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: ender on May 08, 2018, 05:27:22 PM
My recommendation would be to keep all your grocery receipts for at least a month (preferrably 2-3) and then categorize them.

Right now you are averaging over $19/meal/person.

I suspect if you took even a months worth of receipts you'd find a lot of valuable insights just by categorizing them (ie "yogurt", "milk", "cheese", "bread", "fruit", "vegetables" etc).

I donít think itís quite $19/person/meal (that would be 19x3x4x365 =$83,220 per year. Weíre not that bad!)   Agreed in the receipts - I need data to formulate a plan.  Iím working on a spreadsheet to try to get a better idea of what items are best priced where and what a good sale looks like for an item.

Oops. It's $9.50. My math was wrong ;-)   400/(7*3*2).
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 08, 2018, 05:33:08 PM
family of four, $400/month in Canada. Lots of salads in our house, lots of dairy. Everything has been said already, I'll try to add slightly diffferent perspectives.

President choice card - I get simplicity, I like simple. I filled in a one page form, Pre-Authorized Debits, so that its paid in full every month automatically from my RBC bank account. I still see the bill every month, but if I'm busy or out of town it takes care of itself (provided you have the funds of course). 3% cash back on groceries, its the best card out there if you shop at Loblaw chain stores.
https://www.pcfinancial.ca/english/legal/pc-mastercard?list=5

Composter - I have a compost bin for every bit of organic waste. It puts food waste in perspective when you need to dump the bin every few days. How much do you waste? Its probably more than you realize (its generally true of most people), I seriously doubt you eat $5000/person/year. As gross as it sounds, take a look at how much garbage you throw out, the lowest budgets posted likely have the lowest waste. If you don't have/want a comopster, segregate for a few weeks and toss it back in the house waste (continuously, don't save it up!). You can learn a lot about people by what they discard, archeologists do it all the time.

We do separate our waste here into a green bin. The occasions of us throwing out left overs because they didnít get eaten, or some other food item because it went bad is fairly rare.  Not totally unheard of, and I think this could be improved on with pre-planning meals and making shopping lists.  Will have to pay closer attention to this.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 08, 2018, 05:36:45 PM
You need to find a No Frills or 'ethnic' supermarket in a non-trendy part of town. Buy in bulk, and buy on sale.

Also, grow some of your own, if you can.

No Frills.....feels like that would have terrible quality stuff.  Is that just an inaccurate perception based on marketing? 
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: jambongris on May 08, 2018, 05:41:03 PM
My recommendation would be to keep all your grocery receipts for at least a month (preferrably 2-3) and then categorize them.

Right now you are averaging over $19/meal/person.

I suspect if you took even a months worth of receipts you'd find a lot of valuable insights just by categorizing them (ie "yogurt", "milk", "cheese", "bread", "fruit", "vegetables" etc).

I don’t think it’s quite $19/person/meal (that would be 19x3x4x365 =$83,220 per year. We’re not that bad!)   Agreed in the receipts - I need data to formulate a plan.  I’m working on a spreadsheet to try to get a better idea of what items are best priced where and what a good sale looks like for an item.

Oops. It's $9.50. My math was wrong ;-)   400/(7*3*2).

I’m getting $4.76 per person-meal.

$400/week, 4 people, 3 meals a day.

Bottom line is that it is still much higher than it could be. There’s lot of good advice here on how to move forward though.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: nereo on May 08, 2018, 05:51:11 PM
You need to find a No Frills or 'ethnic' supermarket in a non-trendy part of town. Buy in bulk, and buy on sale.

Also, grow some of your own, if you can.

No Frills.....feels like that would have terrible quality stuff.  Is that just an inaccurate perception based on marketing?

Yes.

We've been conditioned to believe that more expensive is synonymous with higher quality and 'better' overall.  It's often not the case, and it's particularly erroneous with food.
Some of the most enduring dishes became popular precisely because they were affordable to the poor. Risotto. Polenta. Beef Stew. Brisket. Frittatas. Pancakes. Pasta Carbonara. The list goes on and on.  Each of these can be part of a gourmet meal that costs under $2/serving if you avoid certain cost-traps.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Lews Therin on May 08, 2018, 05:57:03 PM
You need to find a No Frills or 'ethnic' supermarket in a non-trendy part of town. Buy in bulk, and buy on sale.

Also, grow some of your own, if you can.

No Frills.....feels like that would have terrible quality stuff.  Is that just an inaccurate perception based on marketing?

Do you really think they separate beans into ''good'' and ''less good'' cans? How about pasta sauce?
How about the fact that it's the exact same things sold at both locations?
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 08, 2018, 06:29:56 PM
You need to find a No Frills or 'ethnic' supermarket in a non-trendy part of town. Buy in bulk, and buy on sale.

Also, grow some of your own, if you can.

No Frills.....feels like that would have terrible quality stuff.  Is that just an inaccurate perception based on marketing?

Do you really think they separate beans into ''good'' and ''less good'' cans? How about pasta sauce?
How about the fact that it's the exact same things sold at both locations?

I kinda always assumed they did. But now that you mention it, that would be very labour intensive for the manufacturer when all they have to do is slap a different label on the exact same can and charge chumps like me more for it.

Iím sure thereís products where quality is in fact reflected in price - you get what you pay for rings true at times.  But for basic staples? Yeah, I hear what youíre saying. 

Damn, I got work to do. 
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: nereo on May 08, 2018, 06:36:31 PM
You need to find a No Frills or 'ethnic' supermarket in a non-trendy part of town. Buy in bulk, and buy on sale.

Also, grow some of your own, if you can.

No Frills.....feels like that would have terrible quality stuff.  Is that just an inaccurate perception based on marketing?

Do you really think they separate beans into ''good'' and ''less good'' cans? How about pasta sauce?
How about the fact that it's the exact same things sold at both locations?

I kinda always assumed they did. But now that you mention it, that would be very labour intensive for the manufacturer when all they have to do is slap a different label on the exact same can and charge chimps like me more for it.

Iím sure thereís products where quality is in fact reflected in price - you get what you pay for rings true at times.  But for basic staples? Yeah, I hear what youíre saying. 

Damn, I got work to do.
As an example, it's pretty well established that CostCo's Kirkland Signature brand is often another brand's product repackaged (called "co-branding"). Same product for less.
Walmart, Target and other national brands also engage in co-branding.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: daverobev on May 08, 2018, 06:39:05 PM
You need to find a No Frills or 'ethnic' supermarket in a non-trendy part of town. Buy in bulk, and buy on sale.

Also, grow some of your own, if you can.

No Frills.....feels like that would have terrible quality stuff.  Is that just an inaccurate perception based on marketing?

Do you really think they separate beans into ''good'' and ''less good'' cans? How about pasta sauce?
How about the fact that it's the exact same things sold at both locations?

I kinda always assumed they did. But now that you mention it, that would be very labour intensive for the manufacturer when all they have to do is slap a different label on the exact same can and charge chimps like me more for it.

Iím sure thereís products where quality is in fact reflected in price - you get what you pay for rings true at times.  But for basic staples? Yeah, I hear what youíre saying. 

Damn, I got work to do.

They sell the literal same stuff as Loblaws, Superstore, Independent Grocers.

In my town, where there is a No Frills and a Metro (which is roughly the same 'fancy' level as Loblaws.. I guess), the exact same box of crackers will be 1/3 cheaper in No Frills.

Now - No Frills does not carry the same range of 'speciality' stuff. They are stack it high, sell it cheap. I know for some people, going shopping in two different places for groceries is too much effort to save whatever percentage. I'd say check the flyers, and go one week to one place, one week the other - if you need that specific stuff. No Frills does not have a great range of organic veg, meat, whatever. Ours, at least.

But if you buy porage oats, then the same bag can be 25% cheaper NOT ON SALE.

The difference is astounding, honestly.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: daverobev on May 08, 2018, 06:41:34 PM
Is there Aldi in Canada? Buy lots of chicken on sale and freeze it.  Donít eat red meat. Make twice what you need for dinner and eat the rest for lunch the next day.

Nope. No Aldi, no Lidl. As with many things, not much competition in the grocery sector - there are AFAIK three companies (Loblaws, which is owned by the Weston family - or at least controlled/partly owned - who also do bread; Metro; and Empire, which owns Safeway and Sobeys).

No Frills and Food Basics are pretty good analogues (franchised from Loblaws and either franchised or owned by Metro, I'm not sure, respectively).
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: ender on May 09, 2018, 07:17:25 AM
I literally do none of the price reduction strategies here.
I almost never price compare, never price matched, donít have PC points, donít pay any attention to whether something is seasonal, and have never used a coupon, and I can often manage an entire week of groceries for the two of us for under $40 while buying premium ingredients.

I donít have a lot of motivation to do leg work and like my grocery process to be as quick and simple as possible, so the above strategies are not where I put my energy.

I focus on meals that are fundamentally more low cost.
I put my energy into finding and refining recipes that will always be cheaper to make and still taste delicious: Sri Lanken spicy cabbage and carrot with brown rice and chick peas; rosemary potato and kale with feta and eggs baked on top, Turkish split pea soup, kale/carrot/white bean chilli packed with aromatic fresh herbs, shakshuka, etc

We all have our strengths and weaknesses, my weakness is that I hate grocery shopping and want to think about it as little as possible, so I will never consistently strategize my grocery shopping. I play to my strengths, which is cooking. I enjoy building complex flavour palates with simple ingredients. Turning cabbage, rice, and carrots into a richly flavoured dish is a fun challenge for me. Comparison shopping to price match isnít.

Play to your strengths, mitigate your weaknesses.

It sounds like the OP doesn't have your strengths, however, given that you can easily accomplish low budget grocery shopping while they are spending about 5x what you spend per person.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Dragonswan on May 09, 2018, 07:51:16 AM
Good suggestions all. Here's a little higher hanging fruit you can try for.  You could try to have a pasta night once or twice a week, as pasta is dirt cheap and will fill you up.  Without much effort your wife can modify her portion to avoid the pasta.  Here are a few examples.  Have spaghetti with meatballs.  Your wife has zucchini noodles and meatballs. You could even put a few zoodles in the spaghetti to get vegetables into the rest of the family. I roast my zoodles to keep the moisture content down and get that nice flavor but there are other methods that work. I'm so used to zoodles now that regular spaghetti no longer tastes right. Then there's pasta primavera you can have while your wife substitutes sliced zuchinni for the noodles for her portion and omits the cheese.  Or have some homemade mac and cheese and your wife just doubles up on the vegetables for herself. Worth a try I think.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: GuitarStv on May 09, 2018, 07:55:12 AM
Do you really think they separate beans into ''good'' and ''less good'' cans?

If you're buying beans in cans . . . you're doing it wrong.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: nereo on May 09, 2018, 08:06:03 AM
Do you really think they separate beans into ''good'' and ''less good'' cans?

If you're buying beans in cans . . . you're doing it wrong.

Canned beans taste so weird to me now since Iíve switched. They taste like can.
I tend to agree.  And since I got my InstantPot I see no reason to use canned in the first place.  Bags of dried beans taste better, are much cheaper (like, stupidly cheap bought in bulk) and take about as much time to prep as rinsing & reheating canned beans on the stovetop.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 09, 2018, 08:44:24 AM
I literally do none of the price reduction strategies here.
I almost never price compare, never price matched, donít have PC points, donít pay any attention to whether something is seasonal, and have never used a coupon, and I can often manage an entire week of groceries for the two of us for under $40 while buying premium ingredients.

I donít have a lot of motivation to do leg work and like my grocery process to be as quick and simple as possible, so the above strategies are not where I put my energy.

I focus on meals that are fundamentally more low cost.
I put my energy into finding and refining recipes that will always be cheaper to make and still taste delicious: Sri Lanken spicy cabbage and carrot with brown rice and chick peas; rosemary potato and kale with feta and eggs baked on top, Turkish split pea soup, kale/carrot/white bean chilli packed with aromatic fresh herbs, shakshuka, etc

We all have our strengths and weaknesses, my weakness is that I hate grocery shopping and want to think about it as little as possible, so I will never consistently strategize my grocery shopping. I play to my strengths, which is cooking. I enjoy building complex flavour palates with simple ingredients. Turning cabbage, rice, and carrots into a richly flavoured dish is a fun challenge for me. Comparison shopping to price match isnít.

Play to your strengths, mitigate your weaknesses.

Thanks, Malkynn, I really appreciate a totally different way to look at things.  The ďfuck it, the way we eat is worth itĒ has exactly been our mindset the last few years.  And my wife loves making new dishes.  Thanks!
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: PoutineLover on May 09, 2018, 09:28:19 AM
Yeah, I don't consider my way of shopping a burden or hassle, and it's cheap. I don't use a list or recipes, I have enough experience cooking that I can throw together a balanced meal with whatever I have on hand. I don't use coupons or shop around, I know that what's easy for me is shopping where I know on average the prices are low, it's close to home, and I only buy what I can carry on my bike and what seems like a good deal. I occasionally ask friends to pick up certain things I know are cheap at costco if they're going anyway, but not enough to burden them. Or I'll tag along, because samples!
My dad used to check the sales, cut the coupons, stock up when it was cheap, and make the rounds to like 5 different stores. I think the time, effort and gas was not worth the savings. If I see something at a good price I might buy more, especially meat cause I can freeze it, but to me the biggest savings come from having a cheap nearby store and a flexible diet.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: bluebelle on May 09, 2018, 09:52:43 AM
Hey Red_Pill.....since your wife is into organic, super centre (at least in Ontario), is giving 3000 points (equivalent to $3) for every $7 spent on organic tomatoes and cucumbers starting tomorrow- that's the equivalent of 42% off.  You need to get PC Optimum.  (I think you had already bought in to that, but this deal seems taylored for your family)....that probably makes organic cheaper than 'regular' produce.  I'll have to look at that myself this week.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 09, 2018, 10:03:02 AM
Hey Red_Pill.....since your wife is into organic, super centre (at least in Ontario), is giving 3000 points (equivalent to $3) for every $7 spent on organic tomatoes and cucumbers starting tomorrow- that's the equivalent of 42% off.  You need to get PC Optimum.  (I think you had already bought in to that, but this deal seems taylored for your family)....that probably makes organic cheaper than 'regular' produce.  I'll have to look at that myself this week.

Just signed up for the PC Optimum app so now I see how it works.  What a no brainer! Yesterday I bought strawberries for $2/lb and thought it was a good deal. But had I had the optimum card I would have given 200 pts for every dollar spent - thatís another 20% off!  Damn!
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: jambongris on May 09, 2018, 10:06:11 AM
Hey Red_Pill.....since your wife is into organic, super centre (at least in Ontario), is giving 3000 points (equivalent to $3) for every $7 spent on organic tomatoes and cucumbers starting tomorrow- that's the equivalent of 42% off.  You need to get PC Optimum.  (I think you had already bought in to that, but this deal seems taylored for your family)....that probably makes organic cheaper than 'regular' produce.  I'll have to look at that myself this week.

One thing to keep in mind with those PC deals is that they aren’t prorated. So you’ll get 3000 points for any amount spent between $7.00 and $13.99. You only get the points for each full $7 increment.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: snacky on May 09, 2018, 10:15:55 AM
I don't think I expend energy or effort on keeping my grocery bill low. It just is. Most people just eat the same things over and over, with the odd experimental meal, right? So have your regular meals be cheap things. I like Budget Bytes for tasty, interesting meals. If your wife likes cooking new things see if anything on that website piques her interest.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Villanelle on May 12, 2018, 05:57:42 AM
I literally do none of the price reduction strategies here.
I almost never price compare, never price matched, donít have PC points, donít pay any attention to whether something is seasonal, and have never used a coupon, and I can often manage an entire week of groceries for the two of us for under $40 while buying premium ingredients.

I donít have a lot of motivation to do leg work and like my grocery process to be as quick and simple as possible, so the above strategies are not where I put my energy.

I focus on meals that are fundamentally more low cost.
I put my energy into finding and refining recipes that will always be cheaper to make and still taste delicious: Sri Lanken spicy cabbage and carrot with brown rice and chick peas; rosemary potato and kale with feta and eggs baked on top, Turkish split pea soup, kale/carrot/white bean chilli packed with aromatic fresh herbs, shakshuka, etc

We all have our strengths and weaknesses, my weakness is that I hate grocery shopping and want to think about it as little as possible, so I will never consistently strategize my grocery shopping. I play to my strengths, which is cooking. I enjoy building complex flavour palates with simple ingredients. Turning cabbage, rice, and carrots into a richly flavoured dish is a fun challenge for me. Comparison shopping to price match isnít.

Play to your strengths, mitigate your weaknesses.

This.  And given that your wife does most of the shopping and it sounds like she might not be entirely gung-ho about all of this, coupons and price books and shopping at 6 stores and only meal planning based on what is on sale (meaning figuring it out on the fly while at the store) and all that may just not be worth the hassle.  If that rings even slightly true, I think coming up with the list of cheap meals and snacks--consistently cheap regardless of season--might give you the most bang for your buck. 

Meals from your "cheap" list at least 5 times a week and then, since your wife likes to experiment, she can do that the other two nights with little thought to price.  It's not ideal, but it sounds like "ideal" might not be realistic. 
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: jj2 on May 15, 2018, 10:51:37 AM
This thread is great.  Reducing grocery bills has been on my radar for a long time, but unfortunately haven't made much progress.  Good to know that it is doable.  We're ~$1200-1600 / month for 2 adults and 2 teens in S. Ont; luckily we spend very little on restaurants. 

We do a lot of things recommended and have done so for years:  plan meals; very little processed food; in season fruits and veg etc; shop at 'budget' stores for most things.  Things that add up are meats, dairy, gluten free, switch to keto diet (meaning no beans, pasta, potatoes, rice - all the cheap fillers!), some shopping at the 'premium' stores and discrepancies between shoppers for 'needed' items.

To some extent, we also still have a bit of the 'fuck it, I'll eat what I want and enjoy good food' type of attitude - trying to change this.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Swish on May 15, 2018, 11:27:11 AM
@jj2

If you eat a lot of meat dairy and are lucky enough to live near local farmers one trick we use is setting up an agreement with them. Lots of time they have a steer break its leg and they have to put the animal down prior to being able to find some one who will take the meat. It then essentially goes to waste. We currently have an agreement to pay for the butcher fees any time this happens so the farmer has no risk of being out the cash for butchering. So far we have received a few animals as a result. The guy we made the agreement with is pretty happy the meat is not going to waste. We do have to sell some of it though to friends as each animal produces between 500-1000lbs of meat. @$3/lb we can cover the butchering costs and storage costs and end up getting free meat.

I know this is a tad weird but it works for us.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Alf91 on May 15, 2018, 11:59:57 AM
$400/week wow! Definitely possible (even easy) to cut that way back.

Family of 2, we spend about $50/week.

As folks have mentioned, which store you shop at makes a huge difference.
Buy what's on sale and create meals from that.
Eat more beans and less meat. I probably buy meat twice a month.
No name brands cost less and taste the same (99% of the time).
Eat because you're hungry, not for entertainment.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 15, 2018, 09:17:55 PM
So, week 1 of data collection and a few nice chats with my lovely wife revealed some interesting things. 

1) ďbut itís just a dollar moreĒ was a common response to justify buying organic instead of regular, or buying out of season fruit etc.  It may be just a dollar more, but when thatís on a $6 item we are talking 15%. And compounded over our $20K bill, thatís $3,000!  This tendency will have to be challenged.  She insists on organic red peppers and apples.  Iím cool with that.

2) there is some craziness that has come to an end. $36 (yes, thirty six dollars) to stock up on organic frozen blueberries at $.72 /lb when in a few months we will have local blueberries at less than .$.50/lb for example. Yikes.

3) she doesnít want to waste time looking for coupons or shopping around. She doesnít think it will be worth it. Maybe it wonít be. But Iíll do the legwork to start it off and see.  In the first week I found some great deals on a few of our staples.  But when I mentioned them to her, and we were literally in the parking lot of the store (going to a different place) she didnít want to bother.  To her, grocery shopping is a nuisance to be done in the least amount of time on the weekends and not a money saving challenge (unlike her incredible fashion hunting efforts - she gets great  stuff for cheap!) Anyway, interesting to see how she approached it and gave me some insight. Iíve asked for a shopping list but it hasnít materialized yet.

4) there is almost zero comparison shopping happening. The ďprices in her headĒ system is not as a robust database as she thinks. Lol.  Iíve started a price list so I can know where to buy what.  Costco seems to be good for peanut butter and chia seeds. But eggs at $5.50 a dozen (free range whatever) are more than other places. Shoppers Drug Mart has some kick ass deals sometimes.  Gonna take some time to build the database.

5). We eat way more meat than the people with lower food budgets.  My 2 eggs + 1/2 cup of egg whites for breakfast and 1/4 lb+ of meat for lunch and another 1/4lb for dinner seems to be quite a bit higher than what is suggested for budgetary purposes. I take the blame for this and Iím not sure Iíll move off of it but will consider it.  Gotta think on it. 

Lots of work to do. Thanks for everyoneís input.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: MBot on May 15, 2018, 09:41:48 PM
You need to find a No Frills or 'ethnic' supermarket in a non-trendy part of town. Buy in bulk, and buy on sale.

Also, grow some of your own, if you can.

No Frills.....feels like that would have terrible quality stuff.  Is that just an inaccurate perception based on marketing?

Do you really think they separate beans into ''good'' and ''less good'' cans? How about pasta sauce?
How about the fact that it's the exact same things sold at both locations?

I kinda always assumed they did. But now that you mention it, that would be very labour intensive for the manufacturer when all they have to do is slap a different label on the exact same can and charge chimps like me more for it.

Iím sure thereís products where quality is in fact reflected in price - you get what you pay for rings true at times.  But for basic staples? Yeah, I hear what youíre saying. 

Damn, I got work to do.

They sell the literal same stuff as Loblaws, Superstore, Independent Grocers.

In my town, where there is a No Frills and a Metro (which is roughly the same 'fancy' level as Loblaws.. I guess), the exact same box of crackers will be 1/3 cheaper in No Frills.

Now - No Frills does not carry the same range of 'speciality' stuff. They are stack it high, sell it cheap. I know for some people, going shopping in two different places for groceries is too much effort to save whatever percentage. I'd say check the flyers, and go one week to one place, one week the other - if you need that specific stuff. No Frills does not have a great range of organic veg, meat, whatever. Ours, at least.

But if you buy porage oats, then the same bag can be 25% cheaper NOT ON SALE.

The difference is astounding, honestly.

Another vote for No Frills. Meat and produce are great there.
Avoid a lot of the couponing and price matching hassle too. Just change where you shop.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: snacky on May 15, 2018, 10:15:55 PM
So you want your wife to take on much more labour connected to a task that she clearly hates but you don't want to reduce your consumption of a high price food category? If I were your wife I would be hearing all this as "Honey, I found a bunch more work for you to do so we can live by my values! But I'm not changing any of my own behaviour, mkay?"

If reducing grocery costs is your goal, you do it.

(I am an internet stranger and don't know your marital dynamics, ignore me if you want to. I'm just speaking as someone who has seen a lot of people posting here when passionate about their newfound frugality goals, only to be frustrated when their spouse didn't want to change their habits and do more and consume less. Marital discord is no fun. Here's the epic post on a good way to approach new values: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/how-to-convert-your-so-to-mmm-in-50-awesome-steps/ )
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: CanuckStache on May 15, 2018, 10:39:53 PM
Yeah that's definitely pretty high. I might have missed this if you already posted, but does that include alcohol?

We eat really well and definitely spend much less (and I still think we spend too much). We just find a balance between organic and non. Quite frankly, we just read the science about. Not that I'm trying to start a debate, but certain foods make more sense than others to be worried about organic or not - i.e. fruit with a peel? Fine if it's not organic. In a perfect world we'd buy all organic but it's just too costly.

One thing we do is buy meat in bulk from a butcher once a year. We usually buy a hind quarter and it it's from a local-ish ranch and is free range, grass fed, etc etc. You get tons of cuts (steaks, ground, stew meat, and the bones if you want them for stock or marrow). Works out to about $5 per lb. $5!! It's easily twice that or more on average at a grocery store. You just need a freezer. Call a butcher and ask what they've got...you'll be happy you did.

Our local grocery store does, however, have organic chicken that often goes on sale - like when they need to move it off the shelf, it's often half price. We load up on that when we see it, again, throw it in the freezer. Otherwise we're fine with 'regular' chicken that we get at Costco.

We also eat a lot of salmon, but that's because I love fishing and go out often with a friend of mine. I pulled in a 15lbs salmon recently - you know what that would have cost at the store? $200+. Make friends with fishers and hunters. Our older neighbour across the way gives us moose meat whenever I help him out with something (like borrowing a ladder for an hour in exchange for moose sausage? Yeah, take it anytime!).

We also cook a lot. Like all the time, from scratch.

Anyways-  our general rule of thumb for organic vs non-organic is if the price is the same, or maybe slightly above - we'll opt for organic. Otherwise, hey, we're perfectly healthy so we'll go for lower priced options. The only thing processed I can think of that we eat on a regular basis is pasta. We used to make our own, but with kids running around now, it's just too much of a time suck.

Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 15, 2018, 11:04:15 PM
So you want your wife to take on much more labour connected to a task that she clearly hates but you don't want to reduce your consumption of a high price food category? If I were your wife I would be hearing all this as "Honey, I found a bunch more work for you to do so we can live by my values! But I'm not changing any of my own behaviour, mkay?"

If reducing grocery costs is your goal, you do it.

(I am an internet stranger and don't know your marital dynamics, ignore me if you want to. I'm just speaking as someone who has seen a lot of people posting here when passionate about their newfound frugality goals, only to be frustrated when their spouse didn't want to change their habits and do more and consume less. Marital discord is no fun. Here's the epic post on a good way to approach new values: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/how-to-convert-your-so-to-mmm-in-50-awesome-steps/ )

Haha we are so far from discord in our house its not even funny - if it comes off that way then thatís my writing errors. My wifeís awesome and our ďargumentsĒ canít even really be called that.

But you are right that until recently I never realized that a grocery bill is decided by two factors - 1) what is being bought and 2)  when/where it is being bought.  And Iíve learned from this thread that some people target one, some target the other, and some do both. Honestly, I had never considered the first option before, and it would take a lot of thought to figure out if such a change would work for us (we all eat a lot of meat, but by size and activity level I am the main consumer).

But I suspect that if I sprung significant dietary changes on my wife on top of the rest, she would lay down the law and this experiment would be over.  So, baby steps, starting with looking for a few easy wins.   If even a few small changes can realize a 10 % savings, then Iím happy.  And if I continue to look into this and conclude that based on how we choose to eat, and based on how much effort we choose to put into shopping, that weíre as good as weíre going to get - weíll, at least Iíll know I looked into it and Iím not pissed off that we are wasting money - it will be at that point a conscious decision.   Donít think that Iím not listening to what you say - I am - itís just a lot to think about, and like you said, that advice has to be mapped onto our family dynamics and personal reality.   Not a quick process.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 15, 2018, 11:09:52 PM
Yeah that's definitely pretty high. I might have missed this if you already posted, but does that include alcohol?

We eat really well and definitely spend much less (and I still think we spend too much). We just find a balance between organic and non. Quite frankly, we just read the science about. Not that I'm trying to start a debate, but certain foods make more sense than others to be worried about organic or not - i.e. fruit with a peel? Fine if it's not organic. In a perfect world we'd buy all organic but it's just too costly.

One thing we do is buy meat in bulk from a butcher once a year. We usually buy a hind quarter and it it's from a local-ish ranch and is free range, grass fed, etc etc. You get tons of cuts (steaks, ground, stew meat, and the bones if you want them for stock or marrow). Works out to about $5 per lb. $5!! It's easily twice that or more on average at a grocery store. You just need a freezer. Call a butcher and ask what they've got...you'll be happy you did.

Our local grocery store does, however, have organic chicken that often goes on sale - like when they need to move it off the shelf, it's often half price. We load up on that when we see it, again, throw it in the freezer. Otherwise we're fine with 'regular' chicken that we get at Costco.

We also eat a lot of salmon, but that's because I love fishing and go out often with a friend of mine. I pulled in a 15lbs salmon recently - you know what that would have cost at the store? $200+. Make friends with fishers and hunters. Our older neighbour across the way gives us moose meat whenever I help him out with something (like borrowing a ladder for an hour in exchange for moose sausage? Yeah, take it anytime!).

We also cook a lot. Like all the time, from scratch.

Anyways-  our general rule of thumb for organic vs non-organic is if the price is the same, or maybe slightly above - we'll opt for organic. Otherwise, hey, we're perfectly healthy so we'll go for lower priced options. The only thing processed I can think of that we eat on a regular basis is pasta. We used to make our own, but with kids running around now, it's just too much of a time suck.

The $20K does not include alcohol. But we arenít drinkers other than a bottle of wine every month or so.

We get a half side of beef every year from a local guy. $4.50 per pound last year. But I think that as ďon the hoofĒ or whatever - not sure what it actually worked out to per lb of meat in the freezer.  We are also getting a pig from a local farm.

Last week we found a local chicken farm that has chickens they do every few months at about 25% cheaper than Costco organic chicken. My wifeís concern is not so much about formal organic designations but rather staying away from factory farm practices.  I donít disagree.  We will put an order in soon - that meets my goal of saving a bit of cash and her goal of ethical consumer purchases. Win win. 
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Hirondelle on May 15, 2018, 11:49:55 PM

5). We eat way more meat than the people with lower food budgets.  My 2 eggs + 1/2 cup of egg whites for breakfast and 1/4 lb+ of meat for lunch and another 1/4lb for dinner seems to be quite a bit higher than what is suggested for budgetary purposes. I take the blame for this and Iím not sure Iíll move off of it but will consider it.  Gotta think on it. 




There's a lot to say about all of your points and many have already touched upon it. I totally agree with #1 and #2 where you lay out that organic isn't always worth it and that insane stocking up on products out of season isn't necessary when the season is approaching. Whether #3 and #4 are worth is depends on your situation and your willingness to put in time.

However, I'd like to nitpick a little on this particular one as this one's your own responsibility and not your wife's. Your wife blames her dietary restrictions for your high bill, but to me it sounds more like it's your insane meat consumption. Yes, I call this insane. You're eating about 2x as much meat as recommende consumption for males (using Dutch guidelines here - not sure if Canadian government has higher recommendations but I'm still sure you're well above). You mention you eat a lot, but I wonder whether you eat 2x as much on all other food groups too.

As you mention to value clean/healthy eating: red (processed) meat consumption is, after smoking, the strongest risk factor for developing cancer (colon and stomach cancer more specifically). That information isn't derived from some vegan-propaganda blog, its been scientifically proven over and over again and has been adopted by the WHO, Cancer Research Institutes and dietary guidelines in several countries.

I'm not sure about your reasons to eat these amounts of meat. If you're worried about protein intake; 1/2 lb meat/day results in about 65 g/protein. Add the eggs to that (7g/egg + 13g/eggwhites) and you're on 92 without taking into account any protein from other sources (note; I easily get 50g/1500 kcal without meat/dairy taken into account). General recommendations here are up to 1.2g/kg bodyweight for people doing strenght training so most likely you're overeating on protein and can easily cut back on 1/4 lb of meat, either by limiting your portions or by cutting out meat from several meals.

That'll save you a ton of money without any couponing effort from your wife and improve your health.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: GuitarStv on May 16, 2018, 07:28:42 AM

5). We eat way more meat than the people with lower food budgets.  My 2 eggs + 1/2 cup of egg whites for breakfast and 1/4 lb+ of meat for lunch and another 1/4lb for dinner seems to be quite a bit higher than what is suggested for budgetary purposes. I take the blame for this and Iím not sure Iíll move off of it but will consider it.  Gotta think on it. 




There's a lot to say about all of your points and many have already touched upon it. I totally agree with #1 and #2 where you lay out that organic isn't always worth it and that insane stocking up on products out of season isn't necessary when the season is approaching. Whether #3 and #4 are worth is depends on your situation and your willingness to put in time.

However, I'd like to nitpick a little on this particular one as this one's your own responsibility and not your wife's. Your wife blames her dietary restrictions for your high bill, but to me it sounds more like it's your insane meat consumption. Yes, I call this insane. You're eating about 2x as much meat as recommende consumption for males (using Dutch guidelines here - not sure if Canadian government has higher recommendations but I'm still sure you're well above). You mention you eat a lot, but I wonder whether you eat 2x as much on all other food groups too.

As you mention to value clean/healthy eating: red (processed) meat consumption is, after smoking, the strongest risk factor for developing cancer (colon and stomach cancer more specifically). That information isn't derived from some vegan-propaganda blog, its been scientifically proven over and over again and has been adopted by the WHO, Cancer Research Institutes and dietary guidelines in several countries.

I'm not sure about your reasons to eat these amounts of meat. If you're worried about protein intake; 1/2 lb meat/day results in about 65 g/protein. Add the eggs to that (7g/egg + 13g/eggwhites) and you're on 92 without taking into account any protein from other sources (note; I easily get 50g/1500 kcal without meat/dairy taken into account). General recommendations here are up to 1.2g/kg bodyweight for people doing strenght training so most likely you're overeating on protein and can easily cut back on 1/4 lb of meat, either by limiting your portions or by cutting out meat from several meals.

That'll save you a ton of money without any couponing effort from your wife and improve your health.

+1

Eating an arseload of meat has been shown time and again to be detrimental to health, not beneficial.  If you're looking for good protein sources, there are many dairy and plant based options that would not only be cheaper but also healthier for you.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Tom Bri on May 16, 2018, 07:30:03 AM
Gluten-free is cheap if you are not buying premade 'gluten-free' products. We make corn bread in place of wheat bread. It is cheap and fast. My sandwich bread which I eat almost every day is made with corn meal, a bit of salt and oil, eggs and milk. Fry it in a pan like pancakes.
If you have to avoid eggs and milk you will need to think of something else to use as a binder.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: slappy on May 16, 2018, 07:38:51 AM
Do you guys have any stores near you that allow you to shop online and pick up in store? Or grocery delivery? That would make it easier to track prices, easier to avoid impulse purchases and your wife wouldn't have to do the task she hates. Also, you can see the total price of your items as you go, so you might be tempted to make some changes when you see the total adding up. In my area, I think there is only one store that does this, but people seem to like.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 16, 2018, 08:07:46 AM

5). We eat way more meat than the people with lower food budgets.  My 2 eggs + 1/2 cup of egg whites for breakfast and 1/4 lb+ of meat for lunch and another 1/4lb for dinner seems to be quite a bit higher than what is suggested for budgetary purposes. I take the blame for this and Iím not sure Iíll move off of it but will consider it.  Gotta think on it. 




There's a lot to say about all of your points and many have already touched upon it. I totally agree with #1 and #2 where you lay out that organic isn't always worth it and that insane stocking up on products out of season isn't necessary when the season is approaching. Whether #3 and #4 are worth is depends on your situation and your willingness to put in time.

However, I'd like to nitpick a little on this particular one as this one's your own responsibility and not your wife's. Your wife blames her dietary restrictions for your high bill, but to me it sounds more like it's your insane meat consumption. Yes, I call this insane. You're eating about 2x as much meat as recommende consumption for males (using Dutch guidelines here - not sure if Canadian government has higher recommendations but I'm still sure you're well above). You mention you eat a lot, but I wonder whether you eat 2x as much on all other food groups too.

As you mention to value clean/healthy eating: red (processed) meat consumption is, after smoking, the strongest risk factor for developing cancer (colon and stomach cancer more specifically). That information isn't derived from some vegan-propaganda blog, its been scientifically proven over and over again and has been adopted by the WHO, Cancer Research Institutes and dietary guidelines in several countries.

I'm not sure about your reasons to eat these amounts of meat. If you're worried about protein intake; 1/2 lb meat/day results in about 65 g/protein. Add the eggs to that (7g/egg + 13g/eggwhites) and you're on 92 without taking into account any protein from other sources (note; I easily get 50g/1500 kcal without meat/dairy taken into account). General recommendations here are up to 1.2g/kg bodyweight for people doing strenght training so most likely you're overeating on protein and can easily cut back on 1/4 lb of meat, either by limiting your portions or by cutting out meat from several meals.

That'll save you a ton of money without any couponing effort from your wife and improve your health.

I havenít been tracking my macros lately but I shoot for approx 2800 cal a day, and 35% of that being protein, which puts me at around 240 g per day.  At least thatís my goal, Iím probably under it and havenít been tracking in detail lately.   Normally Iím at around 150g of meat for lunch and then another 150 g for dinner. The rest of the protein is from other sources. I weigh 84 kg (184lb).   This diet is my crossfit try to get stronger and not have a dad bod diet. It may also be a grow a tumour diet. But I train hard and a lot - sometimes twice a day.  And I gotta be honest - I like being strong.

But youíre 100% right that this has a bigger impact on our budget than I was appreciating before. The question is - is it necessary to achieve my fitness goals? Maybe not.  I got a buddy who is jacked and heís a vegetarian. So itís obviously possible (tho he has far better genetics than I do). This will take some thinking and research for sure.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: slappy on May 16, 2018, 08:52:10 AM

5). We eat way more meat than the people with lower food budgets.  My 2 eggs + 1/2 cup of egg whites for breakfast and 1/4 lb+ of meat for lunch and another 1/4lb for dinner seems to be quite a bit higher than what is suggested for budgetary purposes. I take the blame for this and Iím not sure Iíll move off of it but will consider it.  Gotta think on it. 




There's a lot to say about all of your points and many have already touched upon it. I totally agree with #1 and #2 where you lay out that organic isn't always worth it and that insane stocking up on products out of season isn't necessary when the season is approaching. Whether #3 and #4 are worth is depends on your situation and your willingness to put in time.

However, I'd like to nitpick a little on this particular one as this one's your own responsibility and not your wife's. Your wife blames her dietary restrictions for your high bill, but to me it sounds more like it's your insane meat consumption. Yes, I call this insane. You're eating about 2x as much meat as recommende consumption for males (using Dutch guidelines here - not sure if Canadian government has higher recommendations but I'm still sure you're well above). You mention you eat a lot, but I wonder whether you eat 2x as much on all other food groups too.

As you mention to value clean/healthy eating: red (processed) meat consumption is, after smoking, the strongest risk factor for developing cancer (colon and stomach cancer more specifically). That information isn't derived from some vegan-propaganda blog, its been scientifically proven over and over again and has been adopted by the WHO, Cancer Research Institutes and dietary guidelines in several countries.

I'm not sure about your reasons to eat these amounts of meat. If you're worried about protein intake; 1/2 lb meat/day results in about 65 g/protein. Add the eggs to that (7g/egg + 13g/eggwhites) and you're on 92 without taking into account any protein from other sources (note; I easily get 50g/1500 kcal without meat/dairy taken into account). General recommendations here are up to 1.2g/kg bodyweight for people doing strenght training so most likely you're overeating on protein and can easily cut back on 1/4 lb of meat, either by limiting your portions or by cutting out meat from several meals.

That'll save you a ton of money without any couponing effort from your wife and improve your health.

I havenít been tracking my macros lately but I shoot for approx 2800 cal a day, and 35% of that being protein, which puts me at around 240 g per day.  At least thatís my goal, Iím probably under it and havenít been tracking in detail lately.   Normally Iím at around 150g of meat for lunch and then another 150 g for dinner. The rest of the protein is from other sources. I weigh 84 kg (184lb).   This diet is my crossfit try to get stronger and not have a dad bod diet. It may also be a grow a tumour diet. But I train hard and a lot - sometimes twice a day.  And I gotta be honest - I like being strong.

But youíre 100% right that this has a bigger impact on our budget than I was appreciating before. The question is - is it necessary to achieve my fitness goals? Maybe not.  I got a buddy who is jacked and heís a vegetarian. So itís obviously possible (tho he has far better genetics than I do). This will take some thinking and research for sure.

Do you use any protein powder to get some extra protein in? It may be cheaper than the meat.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Prairie Stash on May 16, 2018, 10:19:06 AM
We get a half side of beef every year from a local guy. $4.50 per pound last year. But I think that as ďon the hoofĒ or whatever - not sure what it actually worked out to per lb of meat in the freezer.  We are also getting a pig from a local farm.

Last week we found a local chicken farm that has chickens they do every few months at about 25% cheaper than Costco organic chicken. My wifeís concern is not so much about formal organic designations but rather staying away from factory farm practices.  I donít disagree.  We will put an order in soon - that meets my goal of saving a bit of cash and her goal of ethical consumer purchases. Win win.
On the Hoof - that means you're buying the animal, paying for butchering and getting the result. A nice steer should weigh 1000 lb (or more), you paid for half of it. Over 10% of your grocery bill is beef.

$4.50 means about $7.50 for both Steak and Hamburger. Some people pay more, they don't take the stew bones, so their average cost is higher. Some people have lower average cost; we use to eat more of an animal than the average.

When you buy from a farmer you are paying the farmer more for an animal than they would have received selling it at auction. Then you are paying a specialty butcher instead of the factory butcher to process it. You can cut out the store markup and transport, which saves a bit. The real savings is that you're forced to eat hamburger instead of buying steak from the market. However, if you skip over the cheap cuts, you can end up paying more than just buying from a butcher. I grew up eating the cows we raised from birth, like an DIY project it was cheap when you did all the work yourself. When you outsource every step, not so much.

Buying direct is great for ethical or moral reasons. I suggest an analysis of meat costs, if you want to find savings you should know where the money is going. Do the same for chicken, pork and fish.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Hirondelle on May 16, 2018, 10:46:50 AM

I havenít been tracking my macros lately but I shoot for approx 2800 cal a day, and 35% of that being protein, which puts me at around 240 g per day.  At least thatís my goal, Iím probably under it and havenít been tracking in detail lately.   Normally Iím at around 150g of meat for lunch and then another 150 g for dinner. The rest of the protein is from other sources. I weigh 84 kg (184lb).   This diet is my crossfit try to get stronger and not have a dad bod diet. It may also be a grow a tumour diet. But I train hard and a lot - sometimes twice a day.  And I gotta be honest - I like being strong.

But youíre 100% right that this has a bigger impact on our budget than I was appreciating before. The question is - is it necessary to achieve my fitness goals? Maybe not.  I got a buddy who is jacked and heís a vegetarian. So itís obviously possible (tho he has far better genetics than I do). This will take some thinking and research for sure.

240g protein on 84 kg bodyweight is almost 3g protein /kg bodyweight. Honestly, your body just isn't able to process that much and convert it into muscle. The excess will just be burnt like any other nutrient or stored as fat.

Lowering your meat consumption with 100g/day will still leave you at over 200g protein. Actually, even when completely cutting ALL the meat you'd still be at 165g which is 2g/kg bodyweight and well over general recommendations for sporters. You are right that you could go vegetarian without losing your muscle building ability. Now your 2800 kcal doesn't sound unreasonable so the calories have to be replaced, for which beans seem an excellent candidate. Still rich in protein and though high in carbs it's all complex carbs and fibers :).

Don't fall into the fancy protein powder trap; you don't need any more protein.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 16, 2018, 11:08:46 AM

I havenít been tracking my macros lately but I shoot for approx 2800 cal a day, and 35% of that being protein, which puts me at around 240 g per day.  At least thatís my goal, Iím probably under it and havenít been tracking in detail lately.   Normally Iím at around 150g of meat for lunch and then another 150 g for dinner. The rest of the protein is from other sources. I weigh 84 kg (184lb).   This diet is my crossfit try to get stronger and not have a dad bod diet. It may also be a grow a tumour diet. But I train hard and a lot - sometimes twice a day.  And I gotta be honest - I like being strong.

But youíre 100% right that this has a bigger impact on our budget than I was appreciating before. The question is - is it necessary to achieve my fitness goals? Maybe not.  I got a buddy who is jacked and heís a vegetarian. So itís obviously possible (tho he has far better genetics than I do). This will take some thinking and research for sure.

240g protein on 84 kg bodyweight is almost 3g protein /kg bodyweight. Honestly, your body just isn't able to process that much and convert it into muscle. The excess will just be burnt like any other nutrient or stored as fat.

Lowering your meat consumption with 100g/day will still leave you at over 200g protein. Actually, even when completely cutting ALL the meat you'd still be at 165g which is 2g/kg bodyweight and well over general recommendations for sporters. You are right that you could go vegetarian without losing your muscle building ability. Now your 2800 kcal doesn't sound unreasonable so the calories have to be replaced, for which beans seem an excellent candidate. Still rich in protein and though high in carbs it's all complex carbs and fibers :).

Don't fall into the fancy protein powder trap; you don't need any more protein.

I think I messed up my numbers a bit (245g is high but I have definitely tried for 180+).  Still, your point stands. I will look into it for sure. 
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Knitwit on May 16, 2018, 11:46:16 AM
@red_pill - I live in Western Canada. Just for fun, I looked up the grocery flyers on Flipp using a variety of postal codes. What I discovered is that the flyer items & prices are IDENTICAL for all of Western Canada, from the ritziest Vancouver suburb to the lowliest rural Saskatchewan town. I don't think you can blame your high grocery bills on living in a HCOL area.

Advice:
1. Eat from the flyer. Don't just buy grapes because you always buy grapes... look what fruit is on sale. Berries are on sale? Great, we eat a lot of berries this week. We don't buy berries in January, but we buy citrus fruit, which is dirt cheap. Same thing with the meat. If chicken isn't on sale this week, don't eat chicken. Craving variety? Buy an extra package of sale chicken for the freezer. Remember to use it next time you want chicken!

2. Examine what you throw out. Are you throwing out lots of rotten produce? Freezer burnt meats you forgot about? Leftovers that weren't eaten in time? Buying organic and free range is nice, but it's a bigger drain on the environment if you don't eat what you buy.

3. Get a PC World Elite Mastercard. Change none of your habits. Use it for all your purchases. Next time you are at a Loblaws store, ask the cashier to use your points before you pay. Voila! You now have free groceries. For the next level of badassity, log in once a week to your account, review & load your offers (which are personalized off of what you buy regularly), and earn an extra 20% in points at Loblaws.

For comparison, I spend $400 a month for two adults and a baby (that includes baby food and formula). Spending $400 a week is unfathomable to me.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 16, 2018, 11:58:50 AM
@red_pill - I live in Western Canada. Just for fun, I looked up the grocery flyers on Flipp using a variety of postal codes. What I discovered is that the flyer items & prices are IDENTICAL for all of Western Canada, from the ritziest Vancouver suburb to the lowliest rural Saskatchewan town. I don't think you can blame your high grocery bills on living in a HCOL.


Haha, busted!  I didnít know that - youíve just given me more motivation!  Thanks!
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: MustacheAnxiety on May 16, 2018, 12:13:03 PM
Do you really think they separate beans into ''good'' and ''less good'' cans?

If you're buying beans in cans . . . you're doing it wrong.

Canned beans taste so weird to me now since Iíve switched. They taste like can.
I tend to agree.  And since I got my InstantPot I see no reason to use canned in the first place.  Bags of dried beans taste better, are much cheaper (like, stupidly cheap bought in bulk) and take about as much time to prep as rinsing & reheating canned beans on the stovetop.

My boss gave me a pressure cooker for Christmas and I was like ďWTF do I do with this stupid thing??Ē until I learned about using it for beans. Now it lives on the counter, which is prime real estate in my kitchen.

Actually, you guys have probably tried the wrong canned beans (give Goya a try if you want your counter space back).  https://www.americastestkitchen.com/taste_tests/1517-canned-white-beans

I love the advice of this community, but when it comes to food I have to go with the rigorous testing of America's Test Kitchen.  When buying off the supermarket shelves (instead of mail ordering heirloom beans) you are surprisingly better off with the canned Goya beans over the identical dry version (also over all the other tested brands).  The article explains in detail why the best supermarket canned beans are better then the best dry beans.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Knitwit on May 16, 2018, 12:20:30 PM
@red_pill - I live in Western Canada. Just for fun, I looked up the grocery flyers on Flipp using a variety of postal codes. What I discovered is that the flyer items & prices are IDENTICAL for all of Western Canada, from the ritziest Vancouver suburb to the lowliest rural Saskatchewan town. I don't think you can blame your high grocery bills on living in a HCOL.


Haha, busted!  I didnít know that - youíve just given me more motivation!  Thanks!

You're welcome! I didn't know it either.

Here's something else you might find helpful. If you shop at Superstore, did you know you can check their prices online? They offer a service called Click & Collect, in which you can place an online order for pick-up. I don't often use Click & Collect, but what I do use the website for price checking. You just select the store that you would shop at, and then you can search items and it displays the price you would pay in store.  (You might also find the "per item" pricing useful or interesting - e.g. at $1.98/lb, the average Gala apple costs $0.92.)

https://www.realcanadiansuperstore.ca/
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: nereo on May 16, 2018, 01:16:54 PM

Actually, you guys have probably tried the wrong canned beans (give Goya a try if you want your counter space back).  https://www.americastestkitchen.com/taste_tests/1517-canned-white-beans

I love the advice of this community, but when it comes to food I have to go with the rigorous testing of America's Test Kitchen.  When buying off the supermarket shelves (instead of mail ordering heirloom beans) you are surprisingly better off with the canned Goya beans over the identical dry version (also over all the other tested brands).  The article explains in detail why the best supermarket canned beans are better then the best dry beans.
Link is behind a paywall.

FWIW, I use both canned (often Goya brand) and dried beans. The biggest drawback for canned for me is the storage space involved. The only issue i have with dried is a minor aesthetic one (dried beans tend to split more). Taste seems pretty comparable to me, particularly since they're usually an ingredient surrounded by flavoring liquids.

To each their own - there's multiple ways of arriving at a tasty meal, even when the ingredients are similar.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: GuitarStv on May 16, 2018, 01:21:07 PM
Do you really think they separate beans into ''good'' and ''less good'' cans?

If you're buying beans in cans . . . you're doing it wrong.

Canned beans taste so weird to me now since Iíve switched. They taste like can.
I tend to agree.  And since I got my InstantPot I see no reason to use canned in the first place.  Bags of dried beans taste better, are much cheaper (like, stupidly cheap bought in bulk) and take about as much time to prep as rinsing & reheating canned beans on the stovetop.

My boss gave me a pressure cooker for Christmas and I was like ďWTF do I do with this stupid thing??Ē until I learned about using it for beans. Now it lives on the counter, which is prime real estate in my kitchen.

Actually, you guys have probably tried the wrong canned beans (give Goya a try if you want your counter space back).  https://www.americastestkitchen.com/taste_tests/1517-canned-white-beans

I love the advice of this community, but when it comes to food I have to go with the rigorous testing of America's Test Kitchen.  When buying off the supermarket shelves (instead of mail ordering heirloom beans) you are surprisingly better off with the canned Goya beans over the identical dry version (also over all the other tested brands).  The article explains in detail why the best supermarket canned beans are better then the best dry beans.

You're talking about beans, right?

They don't need to the highest rated in a blind gourmand taste test, they just need to be there and cheap.  Dried beans are radically cheaper.  The way that I tend to prepare beans they're just a small part of a whole dish . . . and I'd be shocked if someone noticed the difference between bean sources.  YMMV though.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: MarciaB on May 16, 2018, 05:36:47 PM
Does your teen or your tween have any interest in household finance or budgeting or thinking about food costs? Could you enlist one of them to help reduce these costs and give them a cut of the savings? This would teach a lot of good lessons and also provide a side hustle for the kid(s), while reducing your overall bill.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: OtherJen on May 16, 2018, 05:43:10 PM
Do you really think they separate beans into ''good'' and ''less good'' cans?

If you're buying beans in cans . . . you're doing it wrong.

Canned beans taste so weird to me now since Iíve switched. They taste like can.
I tend to agree.  And since I got my InstantPot I see no reason to use canned in the first place.  Bags of dried beans taste better, are much cheaper (like, stupidly cheap bought in bulk) and take about as much time to prep as rinsing & reheating canned beans on the stovetop.

My boss gave me a pressure cooker for Christmas and I was like ďWTF do I do with this stupid thing??Ē until I learned about using it for beans. Now it lives on the counter, which is prime real estate in my kitchen.

Actually, you guys have probably tried the wrong canned beans (give Goya a try if you want your counter space back).  https://www.americastestkitchen.com/taste_tests/1517-canned-white-beans

I love the advice of this community, but when it comes to food I have to go with the rigorous testing of America's Test Kitchen.  When buying off the supermarket shelves (instead of mail ordering heirloom beans) you are surprisingly better off with the canned Goya beans over the identical dry version (also over all the other tested brands).  The article explains in detail why the best supermarket canned beans are better then the best dry beans.

To each their own. I agree that Goya is the best option for canned beans, but even they taste a little odd to me. Not off or spoiled, but thereís an aftertaste that I donít love. Iím Mexican-American. I grew up on dry beans cooked in our home kitchen. To me, they taste significantly better.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 16, 2018, 05:58:34 PM
Does your teen or your tween have any interest in household finance or budgeting or thinking about food costs? Could you enlist one of them to help reduce these costs and give them a cut of the savings? This would teach a lot of good lessons and also provide a side hustle for the kid(s), while reducing your overall bill.

The older teen (19) is actually our German Au Pair so not really appropriate to involve her in our household finances. The younger one is 10 and I donít think sheís quite ready for that.  But itís a good idea Iíll keep in mind for a few years down the road.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Prairie Gal on May 20, 2018, 10:51:46 AM
I'm trying to figure out if it is better to use my Tangerine card for 2% cash back, or my PC Financial credit card. Let's say I spend $300/month, so that's $3600/year. At 2% Cash back that it $72. On the PC Optimum ponts calculator site it shows I would get $36. Unless I am missing something.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: SoftwareGoddess on May 20, 2018, 11:05:34 AM
I'm trying to figure out if it is better to use my Tangerine card for 2% cash back, or my PC Financial credit card. Let's say I spend $300/month, so that's $3600/year. At 2% Cash back that it $72. On the PC Optimum ponts calculator site it shows I would get $36. Unless I am missing something.

That's correct, at non-Loblaws-owned stores, you only get 1% back in points. If you shop at the Loblaws-owned stores, you get 3% back. I think there are extra points at Mobil and soon Esso, if you buy gas there, but I haven't looked at the details. So it kind of depends where you shop.

ETA: I'm assuming that you are talking about the PC Financial World Elite Mastercard. There are lower/no bonus points above the 1% base points if you have one of the "lower-tier" cards.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 20, 2018, 11:14:18 PM
Funny, I came up with the same strategy - slow, incremental changes. - We started today with making a meal plan for next week and grocery list.  The trip was cheap (by our standards $178) because most of the meat is already in the freezer.  There was no goal to reduce the bill - it was just to do a menu and shop off a list.  Thatís it.   Very interesting - we realized we would have double bought some things and missed some things.  So that was cool.

This should also help with food waste.  I monitored this week and we threw out more than I thought we did.  Oh, and my wife said that a couple of years ago we tried to go meatless a few days a week and I bitchced and moaned about it. This is likely true.  But, weíll be picking away at that as well.

Oh, and we got PC optimum points app which we used for the first time.

So, not much progress but progress none the less.




Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 20, 2018, 11:16:00 PM
I think that your spending is super high.... and I think it's great that your wife is on board with trimming it. I'm spotting socioeconomic clues that indicate that some more radical switches would put the grocery changes into unfamiliar territory. But I bet that you can get it down by 50% over the next 6-8 territory without hitting weird territory.


Iím interested to hear more about these ďsocioeconomic cluesĒ you speak of. 
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: slappy on May 21, 2018, 05:48:16 AM
I think that your spending is super high.... and I think it's great that your wife is on board with trimming it. I'm spotting socioeconomic clues that indicate that some more radical switches would put the grocery changes into unfamiliar territory. But I bet that you can get it down by 50% over the next 6-8 territory without hitting weird territory.


Iím interested to hear more about these ďsocioeconomic cluesĒ you speak of.

I was thinking the same thing...
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: OtherJen on May 21, 2018, 08:39:45 AM
Funny, I came up with the same strategy - slow, incremental changes. - We started today with making a meal plan for next week and grocery list.  The trip was cheap (by our standards $178) because most of the meat is already in the freezer.  There was no goal to reduce the bill - it was just to do a menu and shop off a list.  Thatís it.   Very interesting - we realized we would have double bought some things and missed some things.  So that was cool.

This should also help with food waste.  I monitored this week and we threw out more than I thought we did.  Oh, and my wife said that a couple of years ago we tried to go meatless a few days a week and I bitchced and moaned about it. This is likely true.  But, weíll be picking away at that as well.

Oh, and we got PC optimum points app which we used for the first time.

So, not much progress but progress none the less.

This actually sounds like big progress. With just conscious shopping and planning, you reduced your bill to half of your stated weekly average, and you know exactly what is in your kitchen.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 21, 2018, 10:21:36 AM
I wouldn't say it's fair to call this a 50% reduction, because there was no "stock ups" of larger items.  Still, it's progress.

Also, at the suggestion of a few people I just calculated the cost of my egg consumption (seriously, I didn't know people actually did this) and can immediately see some potential for savings which, if extrapolated over the entire grocery budget, would be really significant.

CURRENT:
Free run egg whites = $0.43/serving  x 2 servings = $0.86         
Free run organic eggs  $5.50 / dozen = $0.46 / serving x 2 = $0.93
Total cost = $1.82 x 365 = $644.30 / year               

POTENTIAL:
Store brand egg whites = $0.28 / serving  x 2 servings = $0.56
Regular eggs $2.65 / dozen = $0.22 serving = $0.44
Total cost = $1.00 x 365 = $365 / year

Potential savings of changing egg whites brand = $109 / year
Potential savings of moving away from free run, organic eggs = $190 / year
Total potential savings = $299 / year  (46% reduction)
Holy crap!!

I have already executed the egg white brand change, but my wife refuses (on ethical grounds) to buy "regular" eggs - even though she doesnít eat eggs. I'm sure there is some middle ground (ie. getting cage free, but not necessarily organic) or finding local supply.  But for now it's a work in progress.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: GuitarStv on May 21, 2018, 12:48:13 PM
Imagine how much you'll be able to save when you realize it's OK to eat the whole egg!  :P
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: honeybbq on May 21, 2018, 01:21:21 PM
Dropping dairy and making hummus from scratch were both good for my budget and helped me fit in with my socioeconomic role.

What does this mean???

In the industry I work in, cooking everything from scratch and having entire food groups you avoid are both very common. It makes me more approachable there....whereas when I visited some family in another culture, they found it very difficult and I didn't fit in.

You're a social outcast because you eat store made hummus??
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 21, 2018, 08:37:46 PM
Imagine how much you'll be able to save when you realize it's OK to eat the whole egg!  :P

Pfft. And ruin the six pack? Negative.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Hirondelle on May 22, 2018, 01:44:22 AM
Imagine how much you'll be able to save when you realize it's OK to eat the whole egg!  :P

Pfft. And ruin the six pack? Negative.

I'd love to hear your explanation of why egg yolk will ruin your six pack.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: nereo on May 22, 2018, 07:15:07 AM
Imagine how much you'll be able to save when you realize it's OK to eat the whole egg!  :P

Pfft. And ruin the six pack? Negative.

I'd love to hear your explanation of why egg yolk will ruin your six pack.

Biologically speaking, the yolk is designed to sustain life and promote development, including muscle masss. Yolks have protein, iron, zinc -- all necessary to build and sustain abs.
Just sayin'
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: red_pill on May 22, 2018, 08:26:17 AM
As long as we all agree that abs are the key factor here...

The reason I include egg whites is because if I ate 6 whole eggs my fat consumption would be excessive.  Adding egg whites lets me modulate my fat / protein ratio.  Could there be another way to do it? Yeah, probably.  But egg whites are not cost prohibitive, and there are other areas to focus my attention that will give me better returns. 
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: nereo on May 22, 2018, 10:02:42 AM
As long as we all agree that abs are the key factor here...

The reason I include egg whites is because if I ate 6 whole eggs my fat consumption would be excessive.  Adding egg whites lets me modulate my fat / protein ratio.  Could there be another way to do it? Yeah, probably.  But egg whites are not cost prohibitive, and there are other areas to focus my attention that will give me better returns.
Fair enough. It's probably not worth arguing over what amounts to ~50Ę/day (3 whole eggs vs 6 egg-whites). I just personally hate any form of waste, and cringe at the thought of tossing anything down the drain.  Plus, I find egg yolks to be particularly tasty (and incredibly useful as a thickening agent in the kitchen).
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: TrMama on May 22, 2018, 11:41:56 AM
I'm late to this, but it's absolutely possible to spend way less, even with your medically necessary restrictions. We've averaged $628/mo for groceries and eating out over the past year. We live in the same general area as you. That's for 2 adults, a 9yo and an 11yo.

The youngest is dairy intolerant and for a couple years was also egg intolerant. We also went through a period 2.5 years ago where we did several different elimination diets with her over several months to figure out what was making her so sick. At one point she was off dairy, egg, gluten/wheat, oat, sesame and soy. Even then (and that was without paying any attention to cost because the restrictions alone made me crazy) my highest spending was only $800/mo. My kids refuse to eat beans (I've tried and tried) so it could be even lower if we didn't eat so much meat.

Your devotion to specific brands, organic, and tons of meat is costing you. It's up to you and your wife to decide if it's worth it.

Some tips that may help:

1. Buy your groceries online. Almost all stores offer either delivery or curbside pickup now. It's ridiculously easy to comparison shop, stick to loss leaders and only buy the amount you need online. Plus it's way harder to succumb to "stuff that looks good, but we don't actually need" online. You could shop online yourself and save your wife the hassle of doing it.

2. When you shop in person at Superstore, look at the price labels on the shelf. Every single one of them includes the per unit cost, so you don't even have to do the math. Just pick the brand/size with the lower unit cost.

In this example, the item is 450g of barley that's $0.331 per 100g. The egg section is labeled the same way ;-)

(http://shesconnectedblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/013-edited-SC.jpg)

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought Canadian farmers weren't allowed to use hormones in their animals? It's one of the reasons meat, eggs and dairy is more expensive here than in the US. If so, buying organic is less important here than elsewhere.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Prairie Gal on May 22, 2018, 12:27:16 PM
Hmmm ... I'm not sure about meat and eggs, but my nephew is one of the guys that goes to the dairy farms to pick up milk. He has to test it for antibiotics. He told us a story once about having to dump a whole load of milk because it tested positive.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: kimmarg on May 22, 2018, 01:09:54 PM
Ok I didn't read the whole thread but two things stood out at me:

1. "SHE". You're not going to do well changing someones attitude for them. Especially someone who is doing all the work. So change teh attitude to WE or pick one item you can help with "I'll do the bulk store trip every month!"

2. PLAN. I have a feeling eating the same way you do now with a plan of what's for dinner would result in less cost. I know if does for me because i often have ingredients already from stocking up.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: EvenSteven on May 23, 2018, 10:53:52 AM
I think Canada and the US are similar in that using added hormones is prohibited in all chicken and pork, and antibiotics can't be in any meats. If a farmer needs to treat a sick animal with antibiotics, they need to wait for the antibiotics to clear the system before becoming meat.
Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: RelaxedGal on May 23, 2018, 01:52:16 PM
Back to Page 1 and grocery lists: We use OurGroceries+ for Android.  That way if I'm at work an remember that we're running low on apples I can add them to the list, ditto for him.  Either one of us can cross items off as we buy them at the store.  It supports multiple lists, which we use for multiple stores.  We have a hardware store list, groceries, our daughter's Christmas list, etc.  Items can be categorized.

red_pill, good effort so far on being conscious of where you spend and your options to change.

Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: Bee21 on May 25, 2018, 05:02:16 PM
I live in Australia, which is also expensive and we spend 150-180 a week on food for the 4 of us.  My husband eats a lot (mostly meat), the kids are picky (and eat a lot of fruit and veg).  I also prefer free range and grass fed, but buy organic only if it has a yellow sticker. I also don't have the time to comparison shop, shop at multiple stores, clip coupons, etc. I plan the meals (buy the ingredients) and have a bulk cooking session every now and then when I make a big batch of bolognese (this, tacos and shep pie was the only meat based thing the kids would eat), stew, curry for the man's lunches,  beans etc. This saves s ton of time. I am also a fan of the extra large sunday roast, which produces leftovers for lunches and an extra dinner on Monday. If you have an issue with leftovers, please reconsider.

My biggest problem was overbuying (am still a food hoarder) and buying interesting looking ingredients nobody else wants to eat (sumac, anyone). Doing an audit of what you throw away and putting a dollar figure on it should help a bit. Also, do a fridge and freezer stocktacke before you plan the meals for a week and plan at least one freezer meal.

The main thing: write a list of meals your family eats and PRICE them. It helped us tremendously. I managed to persuade my husband not to eat out for lunch every day buy showing him, that for the 15 he would spend I can make a decent roast which feeds the 4 of us for 2 days.  Knowing that your dinners would cost say 100 that week  will help you plan better the rest of the meals. Definitely plan for the cost of lunches and snacks.

it would also be better if you gave yourself a budget and planned the meals which fit into it instead of buying whatever looks appetizing.

Title: Re: Canadian grocery bill - is sub $400 per week possible?
Post by: elliha on May 27, 2018, 01:48:45 PM
I live in Australia, which is also expensive and we spend 150-180 a week on food for the 4 of us.  My husband eats a lot (mostly meat), the kids are picky (and eat a lot of fruit and veg).  I also prefer free range and grass fed, but buy organic only if it has a yellow sticker. I also don't have the time to comparison shop, shop at multiple stores, clip coupons, etc. I plan the meals (buy the ingredients) and have a bulk cooking session every now and then when I make a big batch of bolognese (this, tacos and shep pie was the only meat based thing the kids would eat), stew, curry for the man's lunches,  beans etc. This saves s ton of time. I am also a fan of the extra large sunday roast, which produces leftovers for lunches and an extra dinner on Monday. If you have an issue with leftovers, please reconsider.

My biggest problem was overbuying (am still a food hoarder) and buying interesting looking ingredients nobody else wants to eat (sumac, anyone). Doing an audit of what you throw away and putting a dollar figure on it should help a bit. Also, do a fridge and freezer stocktacke before you plan the meals for a week and plan at least one freezer meal.

The main thing: write a list of meals your family eats and PRICE them. It helped us tremendously. I managed to persuade my husband not to eat out for lunch every day buy showing him, that for the 15 he would spend I can make a decent roast which feeds the 4 of us for 2 days.  Knowing that your dinners would cost say 100 that week  will help you plan better the rest of the meals. Definitely plan for the cost of lunches and snacks.

it would also be better if you gave yourself a budget and planned the meals which fit into it instead of buying whatever looks appetizing.

If you have not totally given up on trying to do anything with sumac it is a great spice for chicken. I often use it when doing a chicken in the oven together with chili or cayenne pepper, paprika and salt.