Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sky high grocery bills


One of the biggest challenges I have is trying to stay within a grocery budget each month.  We currently spend over $600 A MONTH on groceries alone (often getting closer to $800, which seems INSANE to me)  This includes everything bought at the grocery store, so not just food but toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc.  Still, most of that is spent on food and I find it insane (and stressful) that we consistently spend so much on our grocery bills each month.

I’m curious what other people are spending, relative to the amount of people in their household of course.  I am finding it particularly challenging lately because Andrew is ALWAYS hungry – ‘Andrew huuungy’ – and running for the fridge or pantry cupboard to decide what he wants.  In typical toddler fashion, there are times where he’ll eat just about anything and relatively large quantities (given his miniature sized belly!) and then there are the other times where he seems to eat very little but it’s actually still a lot, just of a few select things that he has decided are ‘it’ for that day or week.  I’m finding that it’s easier to stock a whole variety of options than to feel stuck trying to get nutrients in him but not having anything on the go that he’s really into at the moment.  (Which is not to say that he isn’t ‘forced’ to eat things he otherwise wouldn’t sometimes…Not that he is literally force-fed, but for example he can’t go to the park in the evening with Daddy if he doesn’t eat x number of bites of his dinner, that sort of thing).

We usually shop at IGA and Safeway – Safeway being my preference above all other stores actually.  Not so much because of the price (although it’s certainly better than IGA) but the selection is great, I’m used to their products, I like the store layout, atmosphere, etc.  However, I recently was introduced to the Walmart Megastore (or something to that effect) and was FLOORED by the difference in pricing there compared to regular grocery stores – with Walmart of course being the cheapest.  AND they even have a produce section, they’ve basically got everything you could possibly need there, the definition of one stop shopping.

Now I have boycotted Walmart for many years because we don’t care for the big American box store and it’s so annoying shopping there (busy, not attractive, warehousey, etc)…BUT I’m at a point where maybe saving the money on groceries would be worth the nuisance aspect of it.  And I don’t really feel like not caring for the ‘big American box store’ is a valid argument anymore, given that almost ALL stores here are big, American, and boxy!

I don’t know for sure how I feel about that yet, but I’m considering next month trying something new.  Doing a big shop at Safeway on the first Tuesday of the month, because it’s Customer Appreciation Day and you get 10% off, and then another shop mid month at Walmart Megastore to stock up.  In between we’d have to visit another store for things like milk and fruit/veg, but otherwise we should be good.

I’m not sure if this will change what we’re spending but I want to give it a try.  One thing I tend to find difficult to account for his how often we have people over for meals.  Whenever we have people over we splurge in terms of what we prepare, and we buy extra drink options, desserts we wouldn’t otherwise purchase or make.  These things can really add up!

Something I’ve been meaning to try but haven’t is taking out cash at the beginning of the month, or each week, and being really strict about ONLY spending that designated cash on groceries.  It’s so easy to over spend when using a debit card because you’re not ‘really’ thinking about what the bill is, you’re just punching in your pin code and off you go.  I think having a much stricter enforced budget for groceries is the way to go.

It’s just so HARD to do.  I try to stick to my list and not splurge on too many extras, but even when I’m going by my list, it’s crazy how quickly $100 worth of groceries will add up!

I think it would be amazing if we could save money each month on groceries compared to the excessive amount we’ve been spending lately.  If you have any tips on how to save, let me know! 

6 comments:

Smelly Danielly said...

Chad and I have a food budget of $500 per month, and that includes ONLY food as we have another budget for toiletries and house hold items (Chad is budget obsessed), so the fact that there are 3 of your being fed on a $600 including other things is pretty darn good!

I LOVE Safeway and will only shop there for the basics unless I need something quick, then I will go to IGA because it is across the street. The only thing I hate about Safeway is their produce. I will only shop at Kins Farm Market or Donalds Market for fresh produce because the produce is beautiful and much cheaper. It is definitely worth the extra trip.

Chad and I do one big shopping trip per month that consists of Costco & Safeway. Then if we run out of something will stop by Safeway on our way home from work. I also HATE shopping at Wal-Mart, but I’ve also come to the realization that things are pretty darn cheap there. I think once we have a family and our cost of living goes up I will look into what Wal-Mart has to offer, because saving a bit of money is always worth it.

We definitely spend a lot of money when we have people over for dinner. We have cut way back on entertaining this year, but it is not unlike us to spend over $100 on food and drinks for a dinner party. That is seriously where all our food budget goes sometimes. However, we make it a habit of making sure the freezer and the fridge are empty before we do our monthly shopping trip. We always eat what we buy and since we don’t have much room, we can’t really afford to stock up on random items that we don’t eat often, so buying bulk bags of chips and snacks from Costco never really happens!

Chandra said...

We have a small cube freezer and then the freezer added (or with) most fridges. They are usually 3/4 stocked. We to spend about $500 a month on groceries, but this includes us going to Costco and stocking up on paper towel, tissues, TP (example batteries) the odd stuff too, shampoo, toothpaste.. hair dye haha. Although because the TP comes in like 36 rolls realistically unless we have guests it lasts at least month and a half. But with things as they are I stock up extra since I don't always know when I can go again. With Safeway it seems like you go and then end up with 3 bags wondering how you spent $100. IGA/Sobeys here is for the rich and lazy. Lettuce can be $3.49 for 4 heads at Costco, 1.79 at Safeway and then 3 something at IGA. RIP OFF. But like Danielle, IGA is closest and bus friendly route.

Walmart is way cheaper I don't think we avoid it per-say it's just where we are there is safeway and IGA right beside so rather get groceries at a grocery store.

Dinner parties... we cut back to but a lot of the time we do it dutch. So we do the main course, other couple brings dessert, other salad and everyone seems to be okay with it.

I grew up in a "stock up when there is discounts" house, whereas hubby was go to the grocer every few days for super fresh. Due to our situation and just ease we mostly stock up.

Lojo said...

I shop similarly to Chandra, and when I had a two person household (and he wasn't away at work), we were spending about the same. When it comes to toiletries, I try to watch out for sales and shop in bulk. When I was alone and my income was more stable, I'd often shop at the Co-op that was a few blocks from my condo. It was expensive because I didn't have a membership, but since I bought so few groceries and was saving on travel, I figured it probably panned out. Safeway and IGA/ Sobeys are only once-in-a-blue-moon places for me to shop because of their prices. Despite my disdain for Wal-Mart, it's pretty much all I can afford these days after having my hours cut at work. Superstore is another one with low prices, although the produce is pretty sad. I only shop these places early mornings and late evenings, which makes the experience quite tolerable. I sheepishly admit that I also like the selection of these larger "superstore" chains, so I can pick up pretty much everything I need without lapping the city.

Elizabeth said...

For 7 years Safeway was the only grocery store close to us, and then we literally lived right across the street from a Safeway for a few years – so we got used to it and sadly compared to other stores like IGA and Urban Fare, Safeway doesn’t seem all that expensive! I like Superstore for some things, but they’re not convenient for us to get to at all. I like Costco’s products but I don’t want to get a membership because I’ve had some bad experiences there that led me to not want to go there anymore. I still prefer Safeway but I think I will do a stock-up shop maybe once a month at Walmart. James is against it but I told him we’ll see if it shows that we’re saving money over time, and then he might get over his hatred of the place. (I really don’t like it either, but at the same time, who can say No to saving money?!)

One thing Andrew LOVES is Motts Fruitsations. I get the unsweetened ones mostly so I think they’re actually a really healthy snack for him. One package (of 6, and he usually has one per day, sometimes 2) at IGA is just under $4. At the Walmart store we were at last week, they were under $2! That’s half price we could be saving, which astounds me. We have a Tassimo coffee machine and I’d just bought a package of coffee from IGA for almost $8, and at Walmart the exact same thing was just over $5. It’s insane the difference that makes over time.

Thanks for all your comments, it helps to know what other people are spending and what your shopping habits are!

Elizabeth said...

Oops I think Motts are 8 to a package, not 6, just wanted to clarify that - not that it really matters!!

tristadawn said...

I'm like Lindsay, despite me kind of having a hate on for Wal-Mart and massive corporations that take over the flippin' world, we DO shop there because we have to, kinda, to stay in budget. However, we seem to have dropped the Wal-Mart shopping and have taken up Superstore. It's even cheaper than Wal, we find, because they match prices every single week, compared to every single store. Their produce sometimes isn't the best so we'll shop around for that. Farmer's market produce = best, but not always feasible for us entirely. One thing I love about Superstore is some of their no name stuff! They've got a good selection of "Blue Menu" *healthier type* items for REALLY good prices. You have to be choosey about when you shop unless you want to battle crowds, because it gets INSANE.

We NEVER shop at Safeway, it's the most expensive grocery store here. Well probably that and Co-Op, and we just can't swing it. Sometimes I'll see really good deals at Safeway, and with the Club Card it pays sometimes, and yes I do love the 'experience' there because there's a few Safeways here that are SO nice!

Oh, back to Superstore, love their 'Joe Fresh' clothes for us and for Cade! so nice, so cheap.

as for budget, we're trying to figure out exactly how much we spend. we too often resort to debit *but we get PC points at Superstore so its too hard not to* but I'd say we spend about $400 on groceries? I think September will be a buckle down month and we need to figure out EXACTLy where ALL of our money is going, so perhaps I'll have better #'s for you! and once Cade starts eating more solids, that'll go up! eating out money/coffees, etc is probably about $120ish. there were some months where we were spending $300 on restaurnts, take out, coffees, etc and all because we kept using debit so weren't keeping track. so insane!

Elizabeth, Cade really likes applesauce too, and so do I. I've resorted to buying a big bag of apples, baking them with a bit of butter and cinnamon and then pureeing it into applesauce and omiGOD is it good!! it's super easy, doesn't take much time at all, and probably would be even cheaper than buying the Motts ones? if you're into that anyway! I'm trying to be more thrifty and self-sustaining where I can, which helps save $ too! :) xoxoxo!



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