Author Topic: Track and categorize ALL your grocery spending for a month! March 2016 Challenge  (Read 4697 times)

Zikoris

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Every year I like to spend a month saving all my grocery receipts, categorizing all my purchases, and recording everything I cook. At the end of the month, I break down the results into what percentage I spent of vegetables, grains, etc. I also record and eating out, but that's pretty nominal in my case - maybe a donut once or twice. Any month would work really, but March just tends to work well since I don't generally travel at this time of year. It's always been an interesting exercise.  Join me!

I'm a vegan, so probably have slightly different categories than a lot of people. Here's what I categorize my purchases into:

- Produce
- "Meat"/Tofu
- "Dairy"
- Grains
- Baking
- Nuts
- Canned
- Condiments
- Non-food (I include cleaning supplies, foil, muffin liners, etc in my groceries)

Anje

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I'm interested in this. I tried for a month last year, but ended up hopelesly tangled and with food I simply couldn't fit into a category. Suspect I was overcomplicating it..

Zikoris

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I'm interested in this. I tried for a month last year, but ended up hopelesly tangled and with food I simply couldn't fit into a category. Suspect I was overcomplicating it..

Yeah, you have to use categories that are VERY specific to the stuff you buy. I noticed last year how different everyone's categories were from each other - some people had WAY more, some hardly any, some very very detailed and some with just a few large vague groups. I like to think I'm somewhere in the middle, which works for me.

Last year the only head scratcher I had was apple juice I think. I didn't want to put it under produce, but it didn't seem to fit nicely anywhere. I think I ended up putting it under "canned goods".
« Last Edit: February 25, 2016, 09:16:16 AM by Zikoris »

bobechs

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Uhhhmm...

No thanks.

(For reasons why not, see the responses above)

BriarRose111

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I'm lucky just to get all the "FOOD" category spending added up.  I used to be better about tracking things.  All I know now is that I am spending too much!   How about if I just try to total the amount spend on that category?   (Note - I do include all grocery store purchases, such as cleaning supplies, in this category)

Anje

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It's a hazzle, to be sure. But per now I view fruit and veg as my expence nr 1 in food. Maybe that's true? Maybe it's not? I'd like to know, and the road to knowing means I have to buckle up and remember to get and save my receipt. (Why is that so hard?)

My
- Fruit (including juice)
- Veg (inkluding dry beans)
- Meat/Fish
- Dairy (includes nutmilk)
- Grains
- Nuts
- Condiments
- Snack (both sweet and salty - all those things I eat that isn't by any means really "food")
- Alcohol (Disclaimer: It's freakin' expencive around here, so it will seem high)
- Non-food

Now: where to put coconut milk? Condiments? Dairy?

Crystal1588

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I have been doing this for February and this is how I broke it down. I still have one more grocery run but this is the numbers/categories so far.

Budget Breakdown                             $ Amount    Percentage
Meat                                                       $15.45    3.09%
Produce                                               $61.28    12.27%
Milk                                                       $20.94    4.19%
Cheese                                               $16.87    3.38%
Other Dairy                                       $26.91    5.39%
Deli                                                       $14.85    2.97%
Bakery                                               $8.58            1.72%
Staples/Necessary Grocery               $67.01    13.42%
Convenience Grocery                       $59.55    11.92%
Drinks (Alcohol, soda etc)               $39.39    7.89%
Household non-food                       $118.17    23.66%
Eating Out                                       $50.61    10.13%

I decided to not get nit picky about categories.  I wanted to know how much we spent specifically in Milk and Cheese because my kids are obsessed.  I wanted to break out convenience grocery (granola bars, packaged goods etc) so I could see what I could cut if needed.  YMMV

ketchup

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I think I shall join up.

My categories the last time I did this for a month were vegetables/fresh herbs, fruit, meat/fish/eggs, and "other," with non-food items (foil, ziploc bags, etc) excluded entirely.  They ended up as 19% vegetables, 11% fruit, 32% meat/fish/eggs, and 37% "other", so it looks like I need to flesh out and whittle down "other" a bit more this time around.  Might break that out into spices, fats, and canned goods.

The other tricky thing is that my numbers get thrown way off by stocking up/eating down our freezer/pantry.  The numbers break down somewhat when I defrost 10lbs of meat bought on super-sale a month ago, or buy a big-ass 2L bottle of olive oil, $20 of spices I happened to run out of, and 8lbs of frozen broccoli on sale at the end of the month.  It would even out of course over the long term, but a month is short enough to be potentially uneven.

jfietz

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I'm going to try tracking all the individual foods I purchase. I'll post the Google doc later on.

monstermonster

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I'll join! I did a project last year where I took a picture of every single thing I bought, so this hopefully will come easy! I'd love to see where we can cut down the most.

2Birds1Stone

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I will do this as a thought experiment.

I predict my largest categories will be in this order

alcohol
lunch at work (subsidized cafe)
meat
dairy
vegetables
grains

Looking forward to it :)

monstermonster

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I started this for March already since Sunday is our grocery shopping day, but we're pretty much only shopping for March today (as we're all leftovers tomorrow.) Was surprised that this week's breakout was 56% produce ($17.11 out of $30.44) - good argument for getting our sh*t together to stop shopping at Whole Foods (where produce is $$) and make our way to the cheaper grocery store more often.

Categories for the moment are:
  • Produce
  • Fake Meat + Tofu
  • "Dairy"
  • Coffee
  • Grains/Pasta
  • Snacks/Treats
  • Baking
  • Canned
  • Condiments
  • Beverages - Nonalcoholic
  • Alcohol

My big issue is going to be on the weeks where my partner buys things I don't eat (cheese and beer, mostly) and I buy things he doesn't eat (fake cheese, mostly) - we split these out in the overall budget, but everything else is equal (we have separate finances.) I might just create a category in the tracking sheet called "partner food".
« Last Edit: February 28, 2016, 09:15:47 PM by monstermonster »

Zikoris

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Welp. Three days in and I haven't bought or cooked anything yet, and it looks like it might be a few more days until I need to. Well, it certainly makes tracking easier when there's nothing to track.

Sneggals

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I'm in, it's been a long time since I've done this and I'm spending more and more each month. Time to figure out where the leaks are and plug up the holes.

asauer

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I'm in!  A little late but better late than never.

Zikoris

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Well, week 1 is done! My results:

Total spent: $64.05

I haven't done much cooking yet - just spicy "chicken" stir fry, veggie burger stir fry, and vegetable pot pie. I baked oatmeal cookies and bread. My fridge is absolutely packed with ingredients for the week.

Category breakdown so far:

39% - Produce: potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, red pepper, parsley, zucchini, bananas, lemon, cabbage, apples
35% - Baking: flour, oil, margarine
18% - "Dairy": vegan mozzarella, soy ice cream
6% - "Meat"/Tofu: curry-marinated seitan
3% - Canned: coconut milk

It's kind of funny how skewed it is towards baking right now. That's because I buy all my baking things in mega quantities - 20lb sacks of four, etc. I'm sure it will balance out within a couple of weeks though, since I won't be needing any of those things for another month or two at least.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2016, 06:54:34 PM by Zikoris »

Anje

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So far this month:

8%- Fruit (a carton of juice, bananas and berries)
11%- Veg (broccoli, peppers, tomatoes and celery)
13%- Meat/Fish (around a pound of chicken)
7%- Dairy (butter and mozarella)
3%- Grains (a baguette)
8%- Snack (a cookie and a packet of crackers)
46%- Alcohol (2 bottles of vine and 2 boxes of beer - this should last most of the month, minus Easter: otherwise the sum would be freakishly high)
2%- Non-food (toothpaste)

Seems snack is more expensive than expected, but so far I've been eating too much of last weeks produce to be able to judge the outcome. On to the next week. I'm looking at a list of mushrooms, squash and beans.

Zikoris

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Second week done! Results for the month so far:

Total spent: $127.16

Meals cooked this week: Pesto spaghetti casserole, calzones, Thai coconut curry, curry seitan, deep dish pizza, fried rice
Baking this week: Bread, oatmeal muffin, carrot cake

Percentages month to date, plus purchases from this week:

34% - Produce: Broccoli, strawberries, celery, carrots, garlic, cabbage, zucchini, onions, green onions, cauliflower
18% - Baking: (nothing this week for this category)
18% - Grains: Jasmine rice, corn flakes, mini bagels
12% - "Meat"/Tofu: Ground round, tofu
9% - "Dairy": (nothing this week for this category)
5% - Canned: Peaches, crushed tomatoes
3% - Nuts/seeds: Peanut butter
1% - Non-food: Muffin liners

It's good to see my "Baking" category starting to drop towards reasonable levels as the month progresses. It was a bit of a spendy week because we bought a big sack of rice that should last us for March and most of April or longer.

monstermonster

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Second week done for myself as well! Well, we've clearly been spending way too many $$ on non-alcoholic beverages, partially because I'm not drinking this month and sparkly water is $1.05/bottle- I've bought 6 bottles this month already. Starting to see the argument for a sodastream. Not too worried about the high amounts for "dairy" as I stocked up on a few things on sale last week.

Total spent this month: $46.92

Totals overall in order of consumption:
  • Produce: $12.71 (27%)
  • Vegan "Dairy"/Mac and Cheese: $10.26 (21%)
  • Non-Alcoholic Beverages: $9.52 (20%)
  • Canned/Spices: $6.24 (13%)
  • Tofu: $3.98 (8%)
  • Snacks: $2.79 (6%)
  • Pasta/Grains: $1.39 (3%)


Anje

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Week two done and so far:

11% Fruit (juice, bananas, berries, mango, kiwi)
16% Veg (2 broccoli, 4 peppers, 2 boxes of tomatoes, celery, avocado, carrots, mushrooms, green beans, corn, spring onions)
16% Meat/Fish (around two pound of chicken, sliced ham)
14% Dairy (butter, mozzarella, Brie, rice milk, eggs, feta)
2% Grains (a baguette - I bake my own bread so I keep a stack of flour)
3% canned goods (various canned lunch toppings of doubious nutritional value)
7% Snack (a cookie, a packet of crackers, 2 chocolate bars, an Easter chocolate orange)
26% Alcohol (2 bottles of vine and 2 boxes of beer)
4%- Non-food (toothpaste, lotion, hand soap)

A not unexpected result this week, but I'm starting to realize this might not be the most representative of months to track. Easter will bring along dinner guests, roast meat and snack galore. I'm all out of nuts, for one. At the equivalent of $ 9 a pound it will make a dent.

Zikoris

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Week 3 done! In the home stretch! Results for the month so far:

Total spent: $182.54

Meals cooked this week: Spicy tofu stir fry, focaccia pizza, spaghetti casserole, veggie burger stir fry, Hungarian pot pie
Baking this week: Bread, oatmeal muffins, blondies, peach pie (Pi Day!)

Percentages month to date, plus purchases from this week:

31% - Produce: Green onions, normal onions, parsley, zucchini, broccoli, bananas, cabbage
19% - "Dairy": Soy milk, vegan cheddar
13% - Grains: (nothing this week)
12% - Baking: (nothing this week)
10% - "Meat"/Tofu: Tofu puffs
4% - Condiments: Jam, kung pao sauce
4% - Non-food: Toilet paper
3% - Canned: (nothing this week)
2% - Nuts/Seeds: (nothing this week)

All good so far - nothing looks too crazy. Spending is a little higher for the month than I expected, but not bad. I do have over $20 worth of grocery store credit (PC  Plus) to use next week, but I'll leave it out of tracking to keep things "fair".
« Last Edit: March 18, 2016, 07:18:40 PM by Zikoris »

Anje

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End of week two, and so far:

13% Fruit (juice, 4 bananas, berries, 1 mango, 2 kiwi, 4 pound oranges, 4 pears, cranberries, 4 pound apples, dates)
16% Veg (2 broccoli, 4 peppers, 2 boxes of tomatoes, 1 celery, 1 avocado, 4 pounds carrots, mushrooms, green beans, corn, spring onions, 1 fennel, potatoes, onions, garlic, spinach)
14% Meat/Fish (around two pound of chicken, sliced ham, a whole chicken, Parma ham)
13% Dairy (butter, mozzarella, Brie, rice milk, eggs, feta, a pound of cheese, mayo)
1% Nuts (walnuts)
3% Grains (a baguette, flour, tortillas)
2% canned goods (various canned lunch toppings of doubious nutritional value)
8% Snack (a cookie, a packet of crackers, 2 chocolate bars, an Easter chocolate orange, two packets of dark chocolate and a load of candy for Easter treats that I'm giving away)
25% Alcohol (4 bottles of vine and 2 boxes of beer)
4% Non-food (toothpaste, lotion, hand soap, zip lock bags, baking paper)

First lot of entertaining done (roast chicken with salad, green beans, fennel and roast potatoes. Poached pears for afters). I must say I'm a little surprised at the grains. I know I eat less than average, but I didn't know it barely made a dent in my budget.

Other food this week: wok (chicken, broccoli, spring onion and peppers), walnut bread with egg salad, leftovers from freezer and fresh juice.

monstermonster

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Finished the third week! Here's the month so far:


Zikoris

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Week 4 results are in! This will probably be my last one since I think I'm finished shopping for the remainder of them month, but we'll see! For the month so far:

Total spent: $222.83 (actually $20 less than that because we cashed in points this week, but it would be cheating to include that)

Meals cooked this week: Tofu puff stir fry, chicken skillet pasta, chili, curry fried rice, pesto casserole
Baking this week: Bread, oatmeal muffins, peanut butter banana bread

Percentages month to date, plus purchases from this week:

32% - Produce: Potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, zucchini, onion, green onion, cauliflower, sweet potato
16% - Dairy: (nothing this week)
14% - Baking: Yeast, sugar
12% - Grains: Mini bagels
9% - Meat/tofu: Firm tofu
8% - Non-food - Tissues, dish soap
4% - Condiments: (nothing this week)
4% - Nuts/seeds: Peanut butter
3% - Canned: (nothing this week)

I'm looking forward to getting this finished up and doing a blog post - this thing is a lot of work! I'm glad I only do it for a month every year.

Zikoris

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About a week late, but we did finish up in pretty good shape: We spent $223.41, minus $20 of store credit, the same as we've been at for years. Our spending skewed mostly towards produce, followed by vegan dairy and baking supplies. I did a blog post with a more in depth analysis here: http://incomingassets.com/2016/04/04/grocery-tracking-2016/ But basically, everything went well with no big surprises, we spent what we usually spend, and ate good food. We did have one restaurant meal, which is somewhat unusual, but it was a new vegetarian place, so whatevs.