Author Topic: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy  (Read 21381 times)

Metta

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Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« on: December 30, 2014, 07:30:10 AM »
Our grocery bill is so big that when I read this board I live in fear that someone will intuit what a great sucking hole it is in our finances and send me packing, declaring me to be a fake Mustachian.  :)

Last year when I joined this board, our previous year's grocery bill averaged about $1300 a month. For two of us. Not including restaurants. Or wine. (Please don't beat me with your Mustachian canes.) This year I diligently worked to lower it, using many of the suggestions from frugal Mustacians and this year our grocery bill averaged $867 a month and our average restaurant bills averaged $37 a month. So there is a great deal of improvement, but obviously more is required.

This year's goal is to keep a price book for groceries for January through March (and perhaps beyond) to get a handle on that tornado of wasteful spending. So for those of you who track your grocery spending, can you share how you do it? I've read about price books but they seem very complicated to set up. How are you doing it?

Thanks for the help!

Penny Lane

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2014, 07:56:37 AM »
I have a notebook into which I enter all grocery bills, separating food from dogfood/wine/papergoods etc.  I add these up every month with a calculator, yes, I know...  I find keeping track of things with paper and pen makes me more mindful so this is what I do.  For everything. 

This does seem an outsize bill for 2; we run about $450/month, eating out of our garden as well.  Some months less.  Are you buying a lot of prepared foods or snacks or $20/lb cheese.  Perhaps if you look at your individual categories that would help?

Future Lazy

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2014, 08:04:53 AM »
How many people are you feeding?

Where are you shopping?

Do you have a standard grocery list?

Do you have staple meals?


For example, I feed two adult people and shop at Kroger/King Soopers almost exclusively. I have a set grocery list that I run down every time, and stock up only on what I need, or what is grossly on sale that will last/won't waste. My staple home made meals are spaghetti, chicken soup, pizza, chicken and green beans, pork chops and garlic mashed potatos, fish and vegetables, mac n cheese, etc. This is for lunch and dinner.

That being said, my tracking strategy literally is my grocery list. I always buy the same package of chicken, the same brand of apples, the same kind of garlic, the same bag of potatoes, the same brand of pasta... And I don't deviate for snacky feelings or cravings. That makes the price of the food, and the size and quality of the meals extremely predictable. If it comes down to a cost battle between two kinds of one thing, I use the "cents per ounce" marker on the price label to decide for me - cheaper wins.

Grocery bill apx $200-250/mo. Browsing the forums here has let me know I can even cut that back, if I eat less meat and more lentils. Mmm.

wtjbatman

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2014, 08:14:22 AM »
2 people here, eat a sizeable amount of food, about $250 a month. Not sure how it can even be $850. High COL area? Special dietary needs? Only shop at specialty or local grocers?

Kayla, we did the sub-$200 on groceries route for a couple months... eh. It's kind of like diminishing returns. Cutting your eating out at restaurants, buying meat and veggies that are on sale, and preparing every meal? Totally worth it and a great way to cut down on food expenses. That got us from about $450 a month to $250 a month. But eating lentils, beans, and water for every meal so that you can get your grocery bill below $200 a month for two people? Ehh... if you really want to, sure. Go for it. But I found it just wasn't worth it to cut out the occasional good piece of meat or more expensive fruit. Maybe food is more important in our lives than it should be, but we didn't want to turn our meals into nothing but refueling stops.

Fodder

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2014, 08:22:11 AM »
I have a family of four and we have been averaging about $650-700 a month (in Ottawa).  We eat very well.

My strategy is that I shop from sales almost exclusively.  I use the Flipp App so I can review flyers on my phone or tablet, and I generally stop at the cheap grocery store first (Food Basics, in our area).  I get meats from either Costco or Farm Boy (a higher end grocery store that has great sales).  I only buy meat on sale.

I generally have a mental threshold of what I'll pay for something - for most produce, I like to keep it under $.99/lb.  For meats, I generally don't pay more than $8.80/kg (about $4/lb). 

I do buy things out of season (i.e., I currently have strawberries and mangoes), but generally only if it's on a relatively good special.

We go through a lot of eggs (inexpensive and delicious source of protein), and I have also in the past purchased part of a cow, which was a good deal (although a LOT of beef).

I think with two people, unless your cost of living is a lot higher, you should easily be able to get a bill under $600, and still eat really well.  Obviously, as we all know, it can go a lot lower, but I view eating as a pleasure, and not just as fuel, so I'm okay if my bill is on the higher end of the mustachian scale.

Future Lazy

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2014, 08:28:22 AM »
2 people here, eat a sizeable amount of food, about $250 a month. Not sure how it can even be $850. High COL area? Special dietary needs? Only shop at specialty or local grocers?

Kayla, we did the sub-$200 on groceries route for a couple months... eh. It's kind of like diminishing returns. Cutting your eating out at restaurants, buying meat and veggies that are on sale, and preparing every meal? Totally worth it and a great way to cut down on food expenses. That got us from about $450 a month to $250 a month. But eating lentils, beans, and water for every meal so that you can get your grocery bill below $200 a month for two people? Ehh... if you really want to, sure. Go for it. But I found it just wasn't worth it to cut out the occasional good piece of meat or more expensive fruit. Maybe food is more important in our lives than it should be, but we didn't want to turn our meals into nothing but refueling stops.

I've honestly only considered it on the basis that, while I make about 1.5 times the minimum wage, that's pretty much next to nothing compared to the people bumping around here making 100k++ salaries. OP's $1300 grocery bill is 2/3rds of my monthly income. I just might eat lentils and beans if it means powering toward FIRE with my unlikely-to-succeed circumstances.

But I haven't yet. Time till tell!

powersuitrecall

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2014, 10:44:47 AM »
Metta, you are not alone!  Until we decided it was an issue, we were spending $1000+/month for groceries and restaurants (2 adults, 2 little ones).  It's actually quite easy to spend this much, even while avoiding convenience/processed food.

The first step we took was simply meal planning, which lopped off a surprising amount from the bill.  We are running at about $750 per month now, which isn't great but it's a start.

The next step is to incorporate more cheap meals (budgetbytes is good for this).

We could wean ourselves off our expensive food items like Tropicana juice, avocados, 5 year old cheddar, spoon sized shredded wheat (with bran!) cereal ... mmmm ... but it's tough!

wtjbatman

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2014, 11:12:14 AM »
I've honestly only considered it on the basis that, while I make about 1.5 times the minimum wage, that's pretty much next to nothing compared to the people bumping around here making 100k++ salaries. OP's $1300 grocery bill is 2/3rds of my monthly income. I just might eat lentils and beans if it means powering toward FIRE with my unlikely-to-succeed circumstances.

But I haven't yet. Time till tell!

I'm definitely closer to you than to those making $100k+ a year. But I gotta say, if $50 a month is the difference between FIRE and working till death, well, good luck ;)

PtboEliz

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2014, 11:31:35 AM »
Hi Metta, I spent some time last year looking at price book ideas on-line and decided to go with a simple chart in Word which I now update every couple months from grocery receipts. It took a few hours to set up but it's paid a lot of dividends since I can compare at a glance and know whether a sale price is actually a good price, and when you hit in the range of best price you can stock up. You also get a sense of the sale cycles. For some items you'll want to break down into a base unit - e.g., 100g, single roll of toilet paper - so you can compare apples with apples. I'd be happy to email you my document if it would be of help.

We've reduced grocery expenses by about 50%. My strategy is to shop primarily at a no frills store supplemented with some staples from Costco. I stock up with good sales and my store allows price matching which helps to save a lot (I spend about 10-15 mins/week looking at flyers). We eat very well for about $200/month per person (vegetarian; including household items).

Best of luck with your efforts. Sounds like you're on the right track!

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2014, 11:42:01 AM »
Hi Metta, I spent some time last year looking at price book ideas on-line and decided to go with a simple chart in Word which I now update every couple months from grocery receipts. It took a few hours to set up but it's paid a lot of dividends since I can compare at a glance and know whether a sale price is actually a good price, and when you hit in the range of best price you can stock up. You also get a sense of the sale cycles. For some items you'll want to break down into a base unit - e.g., 100g, single roll of toilet paper - so you can compare apples with apples. I'd be happy to email you my document if it would be of help.

We've reduced grocery expenses by about 50%. My strategy is to shop primarily at a no frills store supplemented with some staples from Costco. I stock up with good sales and my store allows price matching which helps to save a lot (I spend about 10-15 mins/week looking at flyers). We eat very well for about $200/month per person (vegetarian; including household items).

Best of luck with your efforts. Sounds like you're on the right track!

PtboEliz - please send me your word doc, I need a tool like this to cut my groceries down another 10-15%!  Thanks!

netskyblue

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2014, 11:53:53 AM »
Hi Metta, I spent some time last year looking at price book ideas on-line and decided to go with a simple chart in Word which I now update every couple months from grocery receipts. It took a few hours to set up but it's paid a lot of dividends since I can compare at a glance and know whether a sale price is actually a good price, and when you hit in the range of best price you can stock up. You also get a sense of the sale cycles. For some items you'll want to break down into a base unit - e.g., 100g, single roll of toilet paper - so you can compare apples with apples. I'd be happy to email you my document if it would be of help.

We've reduced grocery expenses by about 50%. My strategy is to shop primarily at a no frills store supplemented with some staples from Costco. I stock up with good sales and my store allows price matching which helps to save a lot (I spend about 10-15 mins/week looking at flyers). We eat very well for about $200/month per person (vegetarian; including household items).

Best of luck with your efforts. Sounds like you're on the right track!

PtboEliz - please send me your word doc, I need a tool like this to cut my groceries down another 10-15%!  Thanks!

Oh me too, please!

Future Lazy

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2014, 11:57:15 AM »
I've honestly only considered it on the basis that, while I make about 1.5 times the minimum wage, that's pretty much next to nothing compared to the people bumping around here making 100k++ salaries. OP's $1300 grocery bill is 2/3rds of my monthly income. I just might eat lentils and beans if it means powering toward FIRE with my unlikely-to-succeed circumstances.

But I haven't yet. Time till tell!

I'm definitely closer to you than to those making $100k+ a year. But I gotta say, if $50 a month is the difference between FIRE and working till death, well, good luck ;)

$50 * 12 months = $600, AKA 1.30 months of rent. :0 In my situation, anyways.
$600 also buys:
4 more months of groceries in the future (at $150 mo, assuming cutting back that $50 in question)
10 months RW phone service w/ unlimited data, for two
1 used car from Craigslist
1 new full or queen mattress, on sale
1 new bass amp for the DH
1 new PS4 + extra controller and 1-2 games
.75 of a midline gaming laptop
Enough paint to redo ~900 sq ft of apartment, if purchased from Big Box Store - way more, if purchased on CL

I guess that just depends on if anything from the list above > $50 butcher shop steaks, rubbed with your favorite herb blend and flame broiled over a fire pit... /drool

How human of us that most of us would go with extra tasty meals now, instead of time for later, even though most people here are the "more time later" variety. :)

But since we're Mustachian, let's say it's invested and becomes...
$9,429 after 10 years
$37,178 after 25 years
$74,626 after 35 years
http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/retirement/roi-calculator.aspx

TL;DR $50/mo can be a lot more than we might initially think.

Metta

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2014, 12:32:54 PM »
I have a notebook into which I enter all grocery bills, separating food from dogfood/wine/papergoods etc.  I add these up every month with a calculator, yes, I know...  I find keeping track of things with paper and pen makes me more mindful so this is what I do.  For everything. 

This does seem an outsize bill for 2; we run about $450/month, eating out of our garden as well.  Some months less.  Are you buying a lot of prepared foods or snacks or $20/lb cheese.  Perhaps if you look at your individual categories that would help?

The problem right now is that I am not tracking (other than the general category of "Grocery") so I don't actually know what I am spending my grocery money on.

I've managed to compare my grocery bills to my calendar and know that months where we do more entertaining, we spend a lot more. Currently we entertain about 2-3 times a month. We've had some months that we entertained more often or had large parties and those were more expensive months.

However, the biggest expense seems to be over-working, which on the surface sounds illogical to me. I don't even remember shopping on weeks that I work 80-100 hours weeks. When do I have the time??? I don't even have time to do laundry. And yet, our grocery bills are reliably higher those months. I think I must go out at lunch and buy junk food. (My weight spikes during intense work periods as well.)

What categories do you use in your notebook?

Metta

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2014, 12:38:43 PM »
How many people are you feeding?

Where are you shopping?

Do you have a standard grocery list?

Do you have staple meals?


For example, I feed two adult people and shop at Kroger/King Soopers almost exclusively. I have a set grocery list that I run down every time, and stock up only on what I need, or what is grossly on sale that will last/won't waste. My staple home made meals are spaghetti, chicken soup, pizza, chicken and green beans, pork chops and garlic mashed potatos, fish and vegetables, mac n cheese, etc. This is for lunch and dinner.

That being said, my tracking strategy literally is my grocery list. I always buy the same package of chicken, the same brand of apples, the same kind of garlic, the same bag of potatoes, the same brand of pasta... And I don't deviate for snacky feelings or cravings. That makes the price of the food, and the size and quality of the meals extremely predictable. If it comes down to a cost battle between two kinds of one thing, I use the "cents per ounce" marker on the price label to decide for me - cheaper wins.

Grocery bill apx $200-250/mo. Browsing the forums here has let me know I can even cut that back, if I eat less meat and more lentils. Mmm.

There are two of us. (Plus we entertain pretty frequently.)

I pretty much buy my groceries in a daze. I don't have a list. I managed to shave almost $500 a month off my grocery bills by trading shopping at Aldi for shopping at Whole Foods. Otherwise, I shop at Costco and Kroger.

We have a few staple meals and they seem cheap to me. I make lentil soup and some other kind of soup every week. We have oatmeal for breakfast (except for those intense work weeks when I have no time to eat breakfast at home). I make bread.

Your system does seem to be very uniform. We tend to prefer systems in other parts of our lives that ensure consistency. I would have to figure out a menu plan. I don't know if I could do one that could survive intense work months, but I could try.

I appreciate you sharing your method. It really helps to hear how other people do this!

Metta

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2014, 12:46:44 PM »
2 people here, eat a sizeable amount of food, about $250 a month. Not sure how it can even be $850. High COL area? Special dietary needs? Only shop at specialty or local grocers?

We are vegan but that should mean lower costs not higher costs. Every vegan I know smugly tells me that veganism is cheaper than being a meat-eater. My sister tells me that being a vegetarian is much cheaper than being a meat-eater. I am not only a bad Mustachian, I am a bad model for veganism. :(

Metta, you are not alone!  Until we decided it was an issue, we were spending $1000+/month for groceries and restaurants (2 adults, 2 little ones).  It's actually quite easy to spend this much, even while avoiding convenience/processed food.

The first step we took was simply meal planning, which lopped off a surprising amount from the bill.  We are running at about $750 per month now, which isn't great but it's a start.

The next step is to incorporate more cheap meals (budgetbytes is good for this).

We could wean ourselves off our expensive food items like Tropicana juice, avocados, 5 year old cheddar, spoon sized shredded wheat (with bran!) cereal ... mmmm ... but it's tough!

Thank you for confessing that I am not alone here with my outsized grocery bill! It is comforting! I keep hearing meal planning so it must work for people. Do you get bored with your meals? Do you think to yourself, "I've planned for lentil soup, but look, there is a recipe for tater tot casserole, I want that instead!"

Metta

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2014, 12:47:16 PM »
Hi Metta, I spent some time last year looking at price book ideas on-line and decided to go with a simple chart in Word which I now update every couple months from grocery receipts. It took a few hours to set up but it's paid a lot of dividends since I can compare at a glance and know whether a sale price is actually a good price, and when you hit in the range of best price you can stock up. You also get a sense of the sale cycles. For some items you'll want to break down into a base unit - e.g., 100g, single roll of toilet paper - so you can compare apples with apples. I'd be happy to email you my document if it would be of help.

We've reduced grocery expenses by about 50%. My strategy is to shop primarily at a no frills store supplemented with some staples from Costco. I stock up with good sales and my store allows price matching which helps to save a lot (I spend about 10-15 mins/week looking at flyers). We eat very well for about $200/month per person (vegetarian; including household items).

Best of luck with your efforts. Sounds like you're on the right track!

PtboEliz - please send me your word doc, I need a tool like this to cut my groceries down another 10-15%!  Thanks!

Oh me too, please!

Me too!! Please!

Dicey

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2014, 12:52:11 PM »
My "strategy" is different. It's all about where I shop. My route is 99 Only, then Grocery Outlet, then Costco, about every other week. I shop for a family of four and I have two refrigerators. I am shocked at the prices on the rare occasions that I step into a regular grocery store. Yesterday, I was out on a walk with a not-so-frugal friend. She wanted to stop at Rite-Aid to buy a birthday card. It cost SIX dollars, plus tax! I was so shocked, I had to remind myself to breathe (and to keep my mouth shut). She can afford it, that's not my point. By avoiding stores that charge "retail" prices, I automatically spend less on groceries annd sundries without ANY additional effort. I know my prices and I stock up when things are below their usual cost. That's it!

I do keep a master Costco List on my phone, which is a big help. I love WinCo, but there isn't one nearby. When I get the chance, I do load up on bulk items there.

wtjbatman

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2014, 01:03:57 PM »
But since we're Mustachian, let's say it's invested and becomes...
$9,429 after 10 years
$37,178 after 25 years
$74,626 after 35 years
http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/retirement/roi-calculator.aspx

TL;DR $50/mo can be a lot more than we might initially think.

Oh I've seen all the little calculators in action. One of my favorite bloggers, Dividend Mantra, looks at how much money his dividend portfolio would need to be worth to support X activity or bill or whatever. It can be eye opening.

That said, I need my regular intake of chicken and irregular intake of steak to remain the happy american I am. I'll spend the $74,000 to maintain that lifestyle. Of course some people are vegetarians or true minimalists, so noone else has to do what I do, lol.

Fodder

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2014, 01:12:26 PM »
2 people here, eat a sizeable amount of food, about $250 a month. Not sure how it can even be $850. High COL area? Special dietary needs? Only shop at specialty or local grocers?

We are vegan but that should mean lower costs not higher costs. Every vegan I know smugly tells me that veganism is cheaper than being a meat-eater. My sister tells me that being a vegetarian is much cheaper than being a meat-eater. I am not only a bad Mustachian, I am a bad model for veganism. :(

Metta, you are not alone!  Until we decided it was an issue, we were spending $1000+/month for groceries and restaurants (2 adults, 2 little ones).  It's actually quite easy to spend this much, even while avoiding convenience/processed food.

The first step we took was simply meal planning, which lopped off a surprising amount from the bill.  We are running at about $750 per month now, which isn't great but it's a start.

The next step is to incorporate more cheap meals (budgetbytes is good for this).

We could wean ourselves off our expensive food items like Tropicana juice, avocados, 5 year old cheddar, spoon sized shredded wheat (with bran!) cereal ... mmmm ... but it's tough!

Thank you for confessing that I am not alone here with my outsized grocery bill! It is comforting! I keep hearing meal planning so it must work for people. Do you get bored with your meals? Do you think to yourself, "I've planned for lentil soup, but look, there is a recipe for tater tot casserole, I want that instead!"

Metta - I loosely meal plan.  I am an avid pinner, and depending on the week, on Saturday or Sunday, I will look through my pins (or magazines or cookbooks) and pick 4-5 meal ideas that look appealing, based on the main ingredients that are on sale at my grocery store (i.e., if avocadoes are on sale, I might want to try pasta in an avocado cream sauce, or burritos or something).  I try to maximize using what I already have.

Given that we do eat meat, my pre-planning will generally involve taking something out of the freezer - in your case, it might be putting beans in soak or something.

You mention that work can get crazy, and to be honest, I am so thankful when I get home and I know dinner is already planned, maybe a bit prepped and I don't have to stare blankly at the fridge to figure out what I'm going to eat.

Other weeks, I treat my kitchen like a Chopped black box, and figure out what I can make with what I have (if I've been less organized and haven't planned meals).

I never have the same plan from week to week, but I find the key for me is to have some sort of plan for when I get home from work.  If I don't have a plan, that's when we end up getting takeout or fast food.

For example today, I know I have a beef roast simmering in my crockpot with salsa, peppers and onions, so we'll have shredded beef tacos when I get home.  No stress, and it's ready to go from the second I walk into the door.

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2014, 01:12:54 PM »
The author Jeff Yeager from the "Ultimate Cheapskate" wrote alot more about saving money on food than MMM. Jeff stated you should only buy food that is under a dollar per pound. You will be eating better. Some items you have to wait until they are on sale or in season. But general it is a good rule to follow.

PtboEliz

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #20 on: December 30, 2014, 04:51:15 PM »
Hi again, I think I've managed to attach my Word doc here for those interested. I'm sure there are fancier ways to set-up with a real spreadsheet but this has worked well for me (I keep a print-out handy when I'm looking at flyers and in the grocery store). It's set up based on the lay-out of my main grocery store and I have different columns for my main store, a price match price, or my go-to alternative places (e.g., Costco, local farmer's market). Also, you'll see it's mainly in metric since I'm in Canada. Hope it's of some use :)

I remember price books coming up before on this forum -- for those more likely to use an App:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/maintaining-a-price-book/msg393284/#msg393284

Metta

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #21 on: December 31, 2014, 08:06:43 AM »
Hi again, I think I've managed to attach my Word doc here for those interested. I'm sure there are fancier ways to set-up with a real spreadsheet but this has worked well for me (I keep a print-out handy when I'm looking at flyers and in the grocery store). It's set up based on the lay-out of my main grocery store and I have different columns for my main store, a price match price, or my go-to alternative places (e.g., Costco, local farmer's market). Also, you'll see it's mainly in metric since I'm in Canada. Hope it's of some use :)

I remember price books coming up before on this forum -- for those more likely to use an App:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/maintaining-a-price-book/msg393284/#msg393284

This is great! It really does help to figure things out. I'll also take a look at the app. Tomorrow is start day for my tracking, so I'll let you know what I come up with. Thanks so much for sharing!!!

freya

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #22 on: December 31, 2014, 09:09:51 AM »
I use something like a "price book" strategy, but without the book.  I just tack grocery receipts up on my fridge.  I have several grocery options within walking distance (NYC), and I don't mind hitting 2-3 stores per trip.  Before I head out with my shopping list, I flip through the receipts to remind myself of where to buy what and what the latest prices are.

Just paying attention to prices, plus being more mindful about shopping in general, has helped cut my grocery spending by ~25%.  For one thing, I only rarely buy from city farmers' markets.  The produce is great but the prices are in rip-off territory even though the city actively encourages low income people to shop at them.

Metta

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #23 on: December 31, 2014, 09:32:01 AM »
The author Jeff Yeager from the "Ultimate Cheapskate" wrote alot more about saving money on food than MMM. Jeff stated you should only buy food that is under a dollar per pound. You will be eating better. Some items you have to wait until they are on sale or in season. But general it is a good rule to follow.

Thank you for the book suggestion! I will check it out.

My "strategy" is different. It's all about where I shop. My route is 99 Only, then Grocery Outlet, then Costco, about every other week. I shop for a family of four and I have two refrigerators. I am shocked at the prices on the rare occasions that I step into a regular grocery store. Yesterday, I was out on a walk with a not-so-frugal friend. She wanted to stop at Rite-Aid to buy a birthday card. It cost SIX dollars, plus tax! I was so shocked, I had to remind myself to breathe (and to keep my mouth shut). She can afford it, that's not my point. By avoiding stores that charge "retail" prices, I automatically spend less on groceries annd sundries without ANY additional effort. I know my prices and I stock up when things are below their usual cost. That's it!

I do keep a master Costco List on my phone, which is a big help. I love WinCo, but there isn't one nearby. When I get the chance, I do load up on bulk items there.

This kind of blew my mind. I was praising myself for shopping at Kroger rather than Whole Foods. Clearly there are even better options! We don't have the places you mentioned here (except Costco) but I think I've found something similar by searching on the Internet and I'm going to visit it today. Thanks!!!

Metta - I loosely meal plan.  I am an avid pinner, and depending on the week, on Saturday or Sunday, I will look through my pins (or magazines or cookbooks) and pick 4-5 meal ideas that look appealing, based on the main ingredients that are on sale at my grocery store (i.e., if avocadoes are on sale, I might want to try pasta in an avocado cream sauce, or burritos or something).  I try to maximize using what I already have.

Loose planning - that might be the ticket. I like your idea of using Pinterest for this.

NCGal

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #24 on: December 31, 2014, 10:51:37 AM »
Hi again, I think I've managed to attach my Word doc here for those interested.
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/maintaining-a-price-book/msg393284/#msg393284

Thanks for sharing your document!

GeneralJinjur

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #25 on: December 31, 2014, 07:10:13 PM »
 
Do you get bored with your meals? Do you think to yourself, "I've planned for lentil soup, but look, there is a recipe for tater tot casserole, I want that instead!"

I do this all the time.  Just make the lentil soup in the next night or two.  I used to use a 28 day menu, which was awesome.  If I happen to eat tacos every third Thursday, it doesn't feel like I'm repeating and none of my kids ever complained (or noticed, most likely).  It took some time to come up with the long list of meals, but it was worth it.  Lately, I just work off the list of possible meals and make whatever I feel like. 

I think it helps to figure out what kind of menu you like. I have seen some menus where every little detail is planned and others (like mine) where a main ingredient or main dish is listed and that's all.  I tend to be pretty comfortable glancing in the refrigerator and choosing whatever fresh items need to be eaten first.  Also, did you know you can freeze pre-soaked beans?  They are great for a tired night where I just want to dump several items in the pressure cooker and lie with my feet up until the timer goes off.

forummm

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #26 on: January 01, 2015, 11:39:48 AM »
The 2 of us spent $225/mo on groceries on average for 2014. We eat very well. We eat primarily whole foods (the concept not the store), lots of vegetables, nuts, fruits, and have a high protein intake. We eat meat (or a lot of cheese) at dinner almost every night (occasionally I'll make a beans and rice dish, but I tend to supplement that with milk anyway). It's really not hard to do.

One benefit I have is that I have a mental price book, so I can tell if something is more or less expensive than it usually is. This is made easier by the fact that I don't buy a wide variety of products. Healthier eating generally means buying a lot of the same kinds of real foods. These can be prepared in any number of different ways. But I don't care what the price is for frozen or prepackaged foods because I don't eat them. These are also much more expensive and much less healthy for you. But even if I didn't stock up when something was on sale, it might increase the expenditures by 10% or something. The prices of whole foods tend to be pretty comoditized and don't change all that much. Even the chicken or pork (which is the most expensive part of the budget) doesn't change that much. But I do wait until it's $2/lb or so (as it is seemingly every other week) before buying a bunch.

Some tips on cheap and healthy eating: http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/brought-breakfast-and-lunch-to-work-for-60-days-straight/msg377219/#msg377219

purplish

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #27 on: January 01, 2015, 12:22:23 PM »
I'd actually be curious to see a list of what you guys actually buy at the grocery store.  I'm vegetarian and my SO is a meat eater, we spend probably $200-$250 a month at the grocery.  I can't really imagine what I would buy to be 3 times that amount.  Maybe if we see what you're getting we can make some recommendations of cheaper products?

Metta

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #28 on: January 01, 2015, 02:33:42 PM »
I'd actually be curious to see a list of what you guys actually buy at the grocery store.  I'm vegetarian and my SO is a meat eater, we spend probably $200-$250 a month at the grocery.  I can't really imagine what I would buy to be 3 times that amount.  Maybe if we see what you're getting we can make some recommendations of cheaper products?

That's what I'm hoping to do by tracking my food purchases. Right now I can't really tell you because I don't track.

Do you ever go out to eat? One of my friends told me he spends about $250 on groceries a month for his family of three, but then he looked up Mint on his phone and said that he spends $1500 a month on restaurants each month, which just astounded me. We spend about $37 a month on meals eaten out.

Metta

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #29 on: January 01, 2015, 02:35:45 PM »
One benefit I have is that I have a mental price book, so I can tell if something is more or less expensive than it usually is.

Mental price books are clearly not working for me. I think I need to track in some way other than mentally. Clearly my mind is too deceptive to be giving me the full scoop. I admire your mind though. :)

Metta

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #30 on: January 01, 2015, 02:39:07 PM »
Do you get bored with your meals? Do you think to yourself, "I've planned for lentil soup, but look, there is a recipe for tater tot casserole, I want that instead!"

I do this all the time.  Just make the lentil soup in the next night or two.  I used to use a 28 day menu, which was awesome.  If I happen to eat tacos every third Thursday, it doesn't feel like I'm repeating and none of my kids ever complained (or noticed, most likely).  It took some time to come up with the long list of meals, but it was worth it.  Lately, I just work off the list of possible meals and make whatever I feel like. 

I think it helps to figure out what kind of menu you like. I have seen some menus where every little detail is planned and others (like mine) where a main ingredient or main dish is listed and that's all.  I tend to be pretty comfortable glancing in the refrigerator and choosing whatever fresh items need to be eaten first.  Also, did you know you can freeze pre-soaked beans?  They are great for a tired night where I just want to dump several items in the pressure cooker and lie with my feet up until the timer goes off.

It is January 1. And we've decided to eat better. So it makes perfect sense to start a 31-day food plan for January to see if this works. How many unique meals do you actually plan in your 28-day menu?

APowers

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #31 on: January 01, 2015, 02:42:59 PM »
I'd actually be curious to see a list of what you guys actually buy at the grocery store.  I'm vegetarian and my SO is a meat eater, we spend probably $200-$250 a month at the grocery.  I can't really imagine what I would buy to be 3 times that amount.  Maybe if we see what you're getting we can make some recommendations of cheaper products?

Here you go

Metta

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #32 on: January 04, 2015, 08:06:35 AM »
Thanks for the help! I've cobbled together an Excel sheet based largely on input here and especially PtboEliz's Word document. (Thank you so much for that!) I will refine it over time and eventually plan to put this into a database so that I can pull a variety of reports out of it. But this is what I have now. Comments welcome!


I'm trying to do the meal-planning but feel a bit at sea with it. I'm a fairly intuitive cook and it seems oddly left-brained to plan in this way. But try, try, try!  :)

freya

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #33 on: January 04, 2015, 08:42:59 AM »
I'd love for people to post specific info about groceries with good deals.  I'd never heard of Aldi or Cashsaver for example, but then they're not in my area. 

For my locale (Manhattan) I've found that Whole Foods is actually the cheapest grocery around if you stick to bulk and store-brand items.  I've also gone to New Kam Man (Asian grocery on Canal Street) and Big Apple Meat Market in midtown.  Flushing is great too, although a long trip on the 7 train.

DMoney

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #34 on: January 04, 2015, 11:15:45 AM »
Hi, Metta,
This is something I've started working on for my family, too, lately.  Our grocery bill is frequently over $1000/month for our family of five.  Trying to get us to $750.  Can't say we've made it yet but hope springs eternal. 

Here are the two things I'm doing:

1. I walked around our two main grocery shopping places: Costco and standard grocery store.  Took photos with my smart phone of the price tags of all our normal products.  Then at home made an excel spreadsheet comparing items head to head, per lb or per oz, or whatever.  Then color coded it to show which store has the better price.  I was actually kind of surprised.  There were a number of items that I had just kind of assumed were a better deal at Costco because I was buying them in large quantities (like organic milk), but were actually cheaper at the neighborhood grocery store.

2. I've started using GoodBudget app on my smart phone.  I put $750 in my grocery envelope at the beginning of the month.  And after each shopping trip I subtract out whatever I spent.  Kind of like counting calories for a diet. this simple act of accountability keeps me more on track and less likely to spend on extraneous unneeded stuff. 

It's toward the end of our cycle now, and we don't have much left in the virtual envelope, so I'm reserving what's left for some fresh produce, and otherwise we're eating down the rather well stocked freezer and pantry.

I'm making a list of things I'll stock back up on come envelope refilling time.

good luck!

Mrs. Frugalwoods

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #35 on: January 04, 2015, 11:39:51 AM »
We spend $330/month on groceries for two adults. We don't eat out at all, so this is all of our meals, drinks, snacks, coffee, etc.

In case it's helpful to you, here's what/how we eat and shop:
-Almost no meat
-Very little dairy
-Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables
-Almost no packaged foods
-We cook everything from scratch (breads, soups, rice and beans, hummus, oatmeal, etc)
-We rarely throw out any food. Just about everything we buy gets eaten (with a few rare exceptions for produce that goes bad)
-We cook in bulk and eat the meals all week long
-We shop at Costco for bulk ingredients and otherwise at Aldi's and Market Basket (New England chain of discount grocery stores)
-We eat mostly healthy, vegetarian/vegan, often organic meals

We do frequently eat the same things on repeat because it makes meal planning and quantity buying much easier. My husband and I love food, and we feel like we've found a way to balance our desire to eat healthy, tasty meals with our desire to save money. We could spend less, but we love good, healthy food :).

Metta

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #36 on: January 31, 2015, 02:25:22 PM »
I really appreciate everyone's advice! I've been tracking this month and have a better sense where our money is going. In addition, I've been using Plan To Eat to plan our weekday meals and that has allowed us to waste a lot less (I don't think we threw out any spoiled food this month). 

Here is a high-level overview of where the money is going (at least for this month) as well as the spreadsheet with the details. As you can see we spend a lot on fruits and vegetables in various forms. We spend more on fruits and vegetables than Mrs. Frugalwood spends on all food for the entire month. Either we eat too much (certainly a possibility) or we buy too much at the trendy Fresh Market in town or there is some other reason for our high bills. Perhaps Memphis has more expensive food? I kind of doubt it but anything is possible.

If we eliminated all prepared foods we would save $123. However, this may be one of those things that will have to wait until I have more time to make my own tofu, tempeh, vegan "meats", bread, etc. I do some of that but not all the time and when I have software load weekends I depend heavily on prepared food.



I note that I shop too much. Far more than once a week. This is certainly an area I can work to improve.

Please note that not all the food has been eaten. Some of it is now living in our pantry or freezer waiting for us. I will be continuing on with this experiment for at least 3 months and I would prefer to continue for 6 months so we will see what turns up in future months.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2015, 02:34:38 PM by Metta »

Christof

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #37 on: January 31, 2015, 03:00:56 PM »
Do you buy a lot out of season vegetables and fruits?

Metta

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #38 on: January 31, 2015, 04:11:08 PM »
Do you buy a lot out of season vegetables and fruits?

It's January. Pretty much everything is out of season except cabbage, brussels sprouts, citrus fruits, and potatoes. So the answer is yes. In the summer and fall we have a CSA and spend quite a lot less on vegetables since we get a box each week from our CSA. But I don't think there is much to be done about out-of-season fruits and vegetables in January.

We're pretty voracious fruit and vegetable eaters. My husband pouts whenever we run out of vegetables. Apparently they have magical powers and without eating sufficient vegetables and banana/carrot smoothies he loses his manly power. Can't have that. :)

Zikoris

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #39 on: January 31, 2015, 04:39:16 PM »
We use Mint to track the general number, and once a year keep all our receipts for a month and categorize everything out in Excel.

We'll be doing it again this March, but last year we categorized everything as follows (2 people):

Total: $235.62, March 2014

29%, $69.42 - Produce
17%, $39.44 - Vegan dairy (soy milk, almond yogurt, etc)
15%, $35.59 - Baking supplies
14%, $32.17 - Vegan meat products and tofu/legumes
8%, $17.88 - Nuts and seeds
6%, $15.30 - Grains
5%, $12.28 - Non food (cleaning supplies, toilet paper)
4%, $8.98 - Condiments
2%, $4.56 - Canned

Christof

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #40 on: January 31, 2015, 04:47:07 PM »
There is food in season on the other side of the world which at least here isn't that more expensive. We also buy a lot of fruit and vegetable in season and freeze or store cold. It is not the same as fresh food, but for many recipes they work out just fine like stews or anything with rice. Right now we eat a lot of cabbage, potatoes, etc. There tons of ways to prepare them, with different spices, frozen vegetables, cheese, etc.

I like to work with an upper limit per kilogramm (or pound for you) and only buy outside this range if I feel I have to, even if this excludes 75% of fruits and vegetables that are on offer. We just had brussels sprout, rice, frozen ball pepper and carrots today.

madamwitty

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #41 on: January 31, 2015, 05:25:57 PM »
The one thing I have to add on this topic is that my personal price book that I'm compiling includes price per 666 calorie meal, a concept mentioned in this MMM blog post:

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/29/killing-your-1000-grocery-bill/

I've started taking that into account when planning my meals. A quick example is that Wild Sockeye salmon might cost more than cod per pound, but is actually cheaper per calorie. (I know, both are expensive and should be limited in our food budget, but I haven't gotten far enough in my price book to give a cheap example! I started with the expensive stuff.)

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #42 on: January 31, 2015, 07:13:14 PM »
I'd love for people to post specific info about groceries with good deals.  I'd never heard of Aldi or Cashsaver for example, but then they're not in my area. 

For my locale (Manhattan) I've found that Whole Foods is actually the cheapest grocery around if you stick to bulk and store-brand items.  I've also gone to New Kam Man (Asian grocery on Canal Street) and Big Apple Meat Market in midtown.  Flushing is great too, although a long trip on the 7 train.

I posted in another thread about how Whole Foods is reasonable in NYC for bulk items and they have good specials.  We are really starved for choice in NYC so I think NYC is the only place that can say Whole Foods is a reasonable option!  I do hit up Trader Joes, Fairway, Costco and Aldi in Harlem when I can.  But since I can walk to Whole Foods I do end up buying fresh meat and produce almost exclusively from there.

Metta

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #43 on: January 31, 2015, 10:18:14 PM »
Are you keeping and eating all your left-overs?   I'm guessing you're almost certainly not. That one change will do more good than almost anything else.  Eat every single bite of everything you make. 

That said, how do you spend $67 on frozen vegetables?  They are dirt cheap.  They're like $1-2/each  Are you buying 35 bags of frozen vegetables every month? :)

We do eat all our leftovers, though we generally add vegetables to them. My husband is especially adamant that all leftovers be accompanied by a pile of spinach or kale.

We try to each eat about two pounds of vegetables a day. I usually end up eating less than that and my husband averages a bit more than that. Frozen bags of vegetables cost between $.89 and $1.20 (approximately) for 12 ounces. So, if we chose to eat all our vegetables as frozen vegetables we would be eating 120 pounds of frozen vegetables between the two of us, which would be $150 if we bought all of them as 12 ounce bags costing $1 each. In fact, we don't buy them all as 12 ounce bags since Costco prices are better on some frozen vegetables and we don't eat only frozen vegetables. We also eat a variety of fresh vegetables because we like to get some vegetables raw and we like the taste of fresh vegetables in stir fry.

As I said, we are heavy vegetable eaters. One of my favorite lunches is a 12 ounce bag of cauliflower cooked with nutritional yeast and a bit of hot sauce with a cup of leftover soup on the side. My husband eats quite a bit more vegetable matter than I do and is willing to entertain more raw vegetables on his plate. He believes that abundant quantities of vegetables are critical for his healthy life. He is healthy, attractive (looks much younger than he is), runs ultras, and still has a flat stomach with visible abs at 50 years old, so clearly his abundant vegetable diet is not hurting him.

And to answer your question: what's our strategy?  I keep the grocery receipt every week, and I look for the biggest expenditures.  I then try to optimize the most expensive item each week.

Two strategies there: you only shop once a week and you try to optimize as you go. I'll try to do better with this. I shop too much and too unconsciously.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2015, 10:51:41 PM by Metta »

Metta

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #44 on: January 31, 2015, 10:21:01 PM »
We use Mint to track the general number, and once a year keep all our receipts for a month and categorize everything out in Excel.

We'll be doing it again this March, but last year we categorized everything as follows (2 people):

Total: $235.62, March 2014

29%, $69.42 - Produce
17%, $39.44 - Vegan dairy (soy milk, almond yogurt, etc)
15%, $35.59 - Baking supplies
14%, $32.17 - Vegan meat products and tofu/legumes
8%, $17.88 - Nuts and seeds
6%, $15.30 - Grains
5%, $12.28 - Non food (cleaning supplies, toilet paper)
4%, $8.98 - Condiments
2%, $4.56 - Canned

Thanks for sharing this, Zikoris! I especially appreciate it since I know that you are both vegan and therefore similar to the two of us. Why do you choose March as your month to categorize?

I didn't see beans on your list which is one of our vegan staples. Do you eat beans or is it just that it wasn't bought in that month so it didn't get tracked? Or is that your canned food?

Metta

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #45 on: January 31, 2015, 10:27:51 PM »
The one thing I have to add on this topic is that my personal price book that I'm compiling includes price per 666 calorie meal, a concept mentioned in this MMM blog post:

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/29/killing-your-1000-grocery-bill/

I've started taking that into account when planning my meals. A quick example is that Wild Sockeye salmon might cost more than cod per pound, but is actually cheaper per calorie. (I know, both are expensive and should be limited in our food budget, but I haven't gotten far enough in my price book to give a cheap example! I started with the expensive stuff.)

I suggested this to my husband at the time I read it, but if you do the math it turns out that vegetables are a terrible deal when priced per calorie and he feels that the benefit to our health outweighs the benefit to our budget of eating less vegetables. So veggies are a stable part of our meals. And honestly, we both feel better with plenty of vegetables. The cheapest vegan diet by calorie would limit fruits and veggies and would emphasize subsidized starches and inexpensive oils, which doesn't work out well for health.

That being said, there are plenty of harmful items in my grocery cart that also cost a lot of money and I should certainly work to limit those. :)

Let me know how well this works for you and what you learn as you are going through the process. I'm interested in what you discover!
« Last Edit: January 31, 2015, 10:48:45 PM by Metta »

Metta

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #46 on: January 31, 2015, 10:29:23 PM »
There is food in season on the other side of the world which at least here isn't that more expensive. We also buy a lot of fruit and vegetable in season and freeze or store cold. It is not the same as fresh food, but for many recipes they work out just fine like stews or anything with rice. Right now we eat a lot of cabbage, potatoes, etc. There tons of ways to prepare them, with different spices, frozen vegetables, cheese, etc.

I like to work with an upper limit per kilogramm (or pound for you) and only buy outside this range if I feel I have to, even if this excludes 75% of fruits and vegetables that are on offer. We just had brussels sprout, rice, frozen ball pepper and carrots today.

We should definitely do this! Especially once the CSA food starts rolling in.

Celda

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #47 on: January 31, 2015, 10:59:37 PM »
Quote
Thanks for sharing this, Zikoris! I especially appreciate it since I know that you are both vegan and therefore similar to the two of us. Why do you choose March as your month to categorize?

I didn't see beans on your list which is one of our vegan staples. Do you eat beans or is it just that it wasn't bought in that month so it didn't get tracked? Or is that your canned food?

Hi, I am Zikoris's boyfriend. We chose March because it happened to work out that way. We got the idea in January but decided to wait for a 31 day month, as it would seem unfair to use a 28 day month.

We don't really eat beans per se as Zikoris does not react well to them, though we do buy chickpeas and lentils fairly regularly. We buy dried stuff though.

Here is the detailed list of ingredients we bought (and meals we prepared):

http://incomingassets.com/2014/03/30/grocery-tracking-one-month-results/

Hope that helps, feel free to ask us if you have any more questions. We live in Vancouver, Canada as well, which (I believe) has more expensive food than most of USA.

On another note, just looked at your chart breakdown - I can't imagine spending triple what we do now! How did you buy and eat over $200 worth of fresh/frozen vegetables in a month for two people?

Maybe you're buying at rip-off prices? I once saw someone buy 7 cucumbers for $5 each at Whole Foods, which looked the same to me as the $1.20 cucumbers at a normal grocery store.

Cressida

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #48 on: February 01, 2015, 12:27:21 AM »
I am Zikoris's boyfriend.

THAT explains a lot.

madamwitty

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Re: Please Share Your Grocery Tracking Strategy
« Reply #49 on: February 01, 2015, 07:05:34 AM »
The one thing I have to add on this topic is that my personal price book that I'm compiling includes price per 666 calorie meal, a concept mentioned in this MMM blog post:

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/29/killing-your-1000-grocery-bill/

I've started taking that into account when planning my meals. A quick example is that Wild Sockeye salmon might cost more than cod per pound, but is actually cheaper per calorie. (I know, both are expensive and should be limited in our food budget, but I haven't gotten far enough in my price book to give a cheap example! I started with the expensive stuff.)

I suggested this to my husband at the time I read it, but if you do the math it turns out that vegetables are a terrible deal when priced per calorie and he feels that the benefit to our health outweighs the benefit to our budget of eating less vegetables. So veggies are a stable part of our meals. And honestly, we both feel better with plenty of vegetables. The cheapest vegan diet by calorie would limit fruits and veggies and would emphasize subsidized starches and inexpensive oils, which doesn't work out well for health.

That being said, there are plenty of harmful items in my grocery cart that also cost a lot of money and I should certainly work to limit those. :)

Let me know how well this works for you and what you learn as you are going through the process. I'm interested in what you discover!

Certainly I agree that nutrition plays an important role in deciding what to eat. I wouldn't suggest cutting out veggies! And the relevance diminishes when you are talking about things with negligible calories like spinach. I don't eat spinach for the calories.

I think this kind of analysis makes most sense when making decisions between items in the same nutritional niche. An example that might be more relevant to you is the comparison between carrots and yams (sweet potatoes). Both are nutritionally dense, especially with vitamin A; both are a similar price per pound (although of course it depends on the weekly sales & organic vs. non-organic). But yams have twice as many calories per pound, so would be cheaper per calorie. Taking this into account, I might choose to more heavily favor yams in my diet. That doesn't necessarily mean I would completely cut out carrots. If/when I could get carrots at less than half the price/lb of yams, then I would start to favor carrots.

Hmm... now that I think of it, I should see whether yams work well as a substitution in the carrot souffle recipe I often cook...

I will certainly report back if I come up with any revelations as I do my price analysis.