Since 2105, I’ve consistently tracked my spending in an Excel spreadsheet. The other day I was looking at my grocery line and got curious.
In 2015 I was budgeting $300/month and my spending ranged from $170 – $350. In 2016 I budgeted $260/month and ranged from $270 – $140. In January of this year I lowered that again to $200 and in March I dropped it to $150.
It’s one of those shocking things as I would have expected that line to climb quite consistently in an effort to keep up with inflation.
Of course I then got curious about how I was doing it!
SWS Groceries definition: anything that can be found in a grocery store, whether or not you can eat it.
With that definition it quickly became apparent that we were able to cut out a lot simply by no longer buying certain products (paper towels is a big one) and buying others only when they’re on sale (toilet paper, toothpaste).
Other changes include:
- We only buy our convenience food on sale, our closest store has Dollar Days every month or so and I stock up.
- We tend to no longer get ‘fun’ stuff e.g. cereals, the array of snacks, ice cream, etc
- If we do they’re discounted and they’re treats
- We do weekly menu planning which means that we try to purchase things we know will be used
- We stock up reasonably when things go on sale
- I used to treat those signs that say Limit 6 per customer as though that meant I had to get 6 massive pizzas.
- We plan when we have people coming over
- Previously it would be treated as a surprise and we’d blow a bundle that weekend getting stuff. Now we purchase ahead of time and keep things so we always have something nice on hand
- We have more meals with little or no meat; most of our meat is chicken
- We rarely purchase bread (down from 2 loaves a week)
- We try to only purchase fruits and vegetables we know we’ll use (food waste was a pretty big problem before)
- I love the idea of yogurt! I rarely eat yogurt so I’ve stopped buying it in spite of the great flavours and deals that tempt me
I can feel the me from 2 years ago rising up and thinking, “My gosh! You’ve got no fun in your life! No snacks – those packaged cake things are only $2. Have some sugar!”
I’m in a bit of shock as typing this shows how far both ML & I have come not only in our grocery budget but in terms of our lifestyle. Though we would both benefit from more fruits and veggies in our day, we have significantly cut down our consumption of packaged goods and food waste.
It will be interesting to see if we can stick to the $150 grocery budget. I know we’ll go over in high entertainment months which is to be expected.
How do you keep you grocery budget in check?