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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Grocery Shopping Audit

While reading in the world of blogs over the weekend, I came across this article: A Grocery Spending Audit.  The author talked about doing a review of her grocery shopping - who she shopped for, what she spent, and thinking about ideas to lower her costs so she could stop going over budget.  This sounded like a good idea to me, because most months we go over out grocery budget.  Usually not by much, but even a little is still over, so here is what I came up with.

Who I Buy For:

My husband, Jesse.  He is a creature of habit and would eat the same thing pretty much every day if that was what we had.  He likes "meat and potatoes" kinds of dinners, and has told me numerous times that he would love Sunday dinner to be a big sit-down feast. 


Me.  I love salads, fruits, and veggies, which are all good things, but I usually end up making sure the kids have the "good" foods first, and I end up with whatever is left.  I love curry, spicy foods, and certain veggies that the rest of the family isn't a fan of.  I like having something sweet, and I love baked goods like muffins and breads.


Jonah, 2 years old.  Jonah has some food sensitivities, so anything for him is without tomatoes, oranges, cantaloupe, or flax. The boy would live on some combination of cheese, black olives, bread, and hummus if we let him.  He likes pretty much anything, especially if he can help make it.

Matthew, 1 year old.  He'll eat anything if it's in small enough pieces for his 10 teeth to chew.  He likes fruits and veggies the best, and I'd like for it to stay that way.  He is a bottomless pit, yet is still only in the 15th percentile. 

How Much We Spend:

Our grocery budget is $200 cash per month.  This includes food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and disposable diapers (we do cloth diapers most of the time, but disposables at night and when we go out).  Our actual spending is usually close to this, although it's more like $220.  This does not include eating out or sodas/snacks purchased at other times.  Those are not in our budget anywhere, which is an issue we're trying to fix.  We also have WIC vouchers for the 2 kids, which supplement some of our pantry staples, as well as milk, cheese, and produce.  Through my Swagbucks earnings, I usually get $10-$25 per month in Amazon gift cards, which goes toward diapers and wipes.

What We Buy:

We plan for 2 big grocery trips per month (so about 2 weeks worth of food at a time).  We usually do at least one small trip in between to pick up more milk, or if we unexpectedly run out of something.  I aim for each grocery trip to be between $50-$75, but sometimes it is more if we are stocking up on toilet paper, or we've just run out of several pantry staples, and lately it's just been more anyways because I haven't been focusing on making more inexpensive dinners and snacks.

I also aim for about $50 for the deals for the month, which I show in my coupon shopping posts.  That usually covers all of our toiletries, cleaning supplies, and some of our grocery items.  I haven't been doing a good job lately of making sure I stick to my $50 for this, so I need to make sure I keep track of it better so I don't spend the actual grocery money on a good deal.

That leaves us with $25, sometimes more, to spend on diapers (plus the Amazon money I already mentioned).  Jonah is in the early stages of potty training, but his interest has waned recently.  Once he gets there, we won't need as much for diapers.

How Can We Lower Costs?

This is the big one, the reason for this whole process.  Here are some things I've thought of so far:
  • Make 1-2 soups to freeze in individual portions for Jesse to take for his lunches, rather than buying cans of soup.
  • Find a granola bar recipe that everyone enjoys for snacking.
  • Find a good cracker recipe that everyone enjoys for snacking.  We tried these Wheat Thins once, and I'd like to try them again to see if that's a keeper.
  • Figure out a homemade frozen pizza recipe.
  • Add in other breakfast options besides eggs/toast and cereal, because even at $1/box after coupons, cereal gets expensive.
  • Test the cost effectiveness of making our own bread for sandwiches in the breadmaker.
  • Would a meat and potatoes dinner on Sundays result in less eating out during the week?
  • Homemade yogurt.  For some reason, I haven't tried this yet.
  • Take advantage of my brother's Sam's Club membership and look at prices for bulk purchases of things like pasta, beans, flours, sugars, oats, etc.
  • Focus on more cloth diaper wearing when we're only running short errands.
  • Use cloth wipes more often.
I'm sure there are more, but this is quite a big list to start out with anyways.  Have you ever done a grocery shopping audit?  What did you find to lower your food costs? 

1 comment:

  1. I love this post... I need to do the same type of audit. Our monthly grocery budget is closer to $400 which I personally KNOW is to high, but Mike is very Huge on a High Protein Low Carb diet, So I cook one-two lbs of meat a day :(
    Some thoughts I had from your pointed list:
    Have you tried my breakfast bar recipe?? Its in my notes on FB.
    If you do the big Sunday dinner, try making slightly larger dishes then you would normally with thinners (add extra soup/flour etc...the cheap parts), then use the left overs throughout the week in lunches. I like making a 2lb roast then using the meat for sandwiches and tacos during the week.
    Good luck... Let me know how it goes!