Thursday, February 3, 2011

Take A Peek In My Grocery Bag

Not too long ago, Emily @ Imperfect blogged about their $250 grocery budget. Like her, I was pretty surprised how many people were spending way more than that each month. I was shocked when a friend of mine told me that she spends close to $1000 on groceries each month for her family of three. We're usually well within the $250 budget range (some months, much less), but we don't usually make super elaborate or gourmet meals either.

I went grocery shopping today, and so I thought I'd give y'all a peek inside my bag: 

Blueberry Lemonade Smirnoffs, Martinelli's Apple Juice, Double Box Frosted Mini Wheats, Stovetop Stuffing for Chicken, brown rice, 2 boxes of Wheat Thins, Whole Wheat Ritz crackers, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 1 large can of pineapple chunks, 1 can whole black beans, 1 can whole pinto beans, 1 can peas, raisins, hot cocoa mix, olive oil, fajita seasoning mix, grape tomatoes, 3 large yams, bacon, baby carrots, sugar snap peas, pepperoni, Skim Milk, Kraft shredded Mozzarella cheese, String Cheese, 7 navel oranges, 4 bananas, 6 peppers (2 green, 2 yellow, 2 red)

Grand total: $62.83

The items that I bolded are atypical expenses-- things I only buy on a special occasion or if they're really on sale. We haven't had cereal in the house for months, because it's usually really expensive, and we both have other less expensive things we like just as well for breakfast (I do toast with PB, Justin likes 3 raw eggs in a glass of milk...say it with me...ew!). However, today, the double box of cereal was on sale for $2, so I went for it. We rarely have apple juice, but Lizzy's pediatrician recommended warm apple juice to help with her cough. 

The items in italics are the "perimeter of the store" items. Today, it was about 50/50 in terms of perimeter of the store versus interior of the store due to some sales and other planned purchases. Usually it's more like 80/20 with 80% of things coming from the perimeter of the store. We do most of our shopping there, except for the occasional venture in for pasta, rice, or beans. We also do try to have crackers and raisins on hand as easy grab and go snacks for Lizzy. For me, the trick to the perimeter versus interior thing is to try not to buy anything from the interior of the store that isn't on my list. I broke this rule today for cereal, but rarely do in other cases. The reality of it is that we're going to have to buy some things from the interior of the store. Not everything there is bad. Not everything on the perimeter is good. But as a general rule, most of the junk is on the interior rather than the perimeter. Following the "list rule" gives me some flexibility in regards to meat, cheese, and produce, but limits my impulse buying of crap processed foods.

And here's my menu plan for the next week: 

Thursday: Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Friday: Brown Rice, Black Beans, and Yumm Sauce 
Saturday: Big concert for J, playing it by ear
Sunday: Superbowl, no normal meal
Monday: Bruschetta Chicken Bake, Green Salad
Tuesday: Pizza/Pizza Pockets/Pizza Bread
Wednesday: Chicken Fajitas
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Soup (Potato, or maybe Stew)

So, the food that I purchased today will get us through until the 11th or 12th at least. I may do one more similar shopping trip this month (which would bring us to about $120) or maybe two (which would bring us to about $180). On the next shopping trip, you probably wouldn't see any of the bolded items again, but you would see things like cheddar cheese, yogurt, hummus, spinach, and eggs ( all of which we already had in the house this time). In addition, we may spend another $20 picking up extra milk for J and Lizzy at Costco and other last minute items, for a total of about $200 spent on food this month. 

You'll notice that I didn't really purchase any meat. We typically buy meat in bulk and freeze it. We buy meat every 2-3 months or so, and spend closer to $250 on the months that we buy meat.You'll also notice that there isn't a ton of junk food--we occasionally buy ice cream, but I try to keep a lot of the junk food out of the house since I'm here all day.

How much do you guys spend on groceries each month? Any tips?


  1. Our grocery budget is $350.00 a month.(for the 2 of us) Sometimes we spend less, sometimes we spend more. Since we work from home, we eat a lot of meals at home.

    Every 2 months we stock up on meat. We always try to buy party packs that are on sale, which helps in the savings dept.

  2. We're pretty similar to your amount. I'd say I average around $65 each week at the grocery store (which also includes any toiletries or paper products we need). $75 is the "don't go over or it'll break our budget" number :).

  3. We pretty much shop the same way... I can't believe some people spend $1000 a month!!! That's nuts!!! Unless you have a really big family. I can't even imagine that...

  4. Well, I'm one of those people that spends what most would consider an outrageous amount on groceries each month. We budget $220 per week, which includes all food and cleaning supplies/paper products. Ultimately you have to do what works for your family, and what we do works for ours (me and my husband... no little ones yet). I shop at Costco weekly for things like meat and fresh produce, which is the bulk of what we buy, and I look for deals on certain products but some things I'm not willing to compromise on, like meat.

  5. Whoa whoa whoa. I really couldn't even read this post because...raw eggs in milk?!?! Oh my word, gag me.

    PS - my shopping trips are nearly identical to this. I'll have to post something similar!

  6. We spend $100 a week on food, paper products, and personal items. I would say about $60-70 of it is on food.

  7. I'm absolutely shocked that people spend that much in a month!! Holy cow!! We're definitely more like you guys with our budget. We spend anywhere from $40-65 a week, depending on what we get. I'd say once every 8 weeks or so we'll stock up on meat and alcohol which gives us a bill around $80 but I don't think we've ever gone higher than that.

    Some common practices we follow: stock up on meat when it's on sale, only buy in-season fruits and veggies and always clip coupons.

  8. I really don't know how much a week/month we spend on *just* food.

    But I would say that we spend close to $100-$120/week on food(including meat), toiletries, paper products, cleaning supplies, dishwasher detergent, laundry soap, whatever. I go to the grocery store and either the BX or Target once a week and get everything we need the same day.

    That $100-$120 does not include alcohol! ;)

    Also, this time of year our fresh veggies are outrageous in price here. In fact, a lot of our groceries are outrageous period. For instance, two weeks ago I bought 3 jars of pickled beets at .99/jar. This week they had jumped to 1.20/jar!

    Maybe I will do this next time we shop :)

  9. Oh and tell Justin that Jesse and I think he is GROSS! ;)

    And Jesse started singing this, from Beauty and the Beast, when I told him what Justin likes for "breakfast"...

    "When I was a lad I ate four dozen eggs,
    Ev'ry morning to help me get large,
    And now that I'm grown I eat five dozen eggs,
    So I'm roughly the size of a barge"

  10. eeeww that gave me the queesies!

    We used to spend a ton on groceries. Now that has been an area we have been working on saving. We have just decided to plan more vegetarian meals and save on the cost of meat.

  11. Gross on the raw eggs! We usually spend about $50-$60/week for the two of us so we're probably (hopefully) in the $250 range. Great post!

  12. Our grocery budget max is $360 a month but we rarely hit that mark. That also includes all grocery and household related items. Cleaners & laundry detergent, vitamins & supplements, alcohol, fresh produce, meat, paper products, office supplies etc. Basically anything you would buy at a grocery store, health food store walmart, target or bulk food store.

    Realistically we spend about $40 a week on the food part of the grocery budget.

    I've actually had a couple of people ask me to do a post on our menu planning/grocery shopping, I'll have to put something up!

  13. What about lunches and snacks?

    We spend about $350-400 a month on groceries but we only eat out once or twice a month and the husband and I both brown bag our lunches and snacks to work, so that amount covers ALL of our food (minus the 2 meals out).

  14. We are pretty close to your budget I would say. We buy all of our meat in bulk as well, and always get 1/4 beef for Christmas from my in-laws. I watch for sales, and I stock up on pantry items that we use a lot when I can.

  15. GREAT Post!! We have cut back to $120 a week. That is for diapers, pullups, paper items and any additionals like laundry detergent, soap and of course the food. There are 5 of us and I wish I could cut it down. No one is okay with Rice and beans. :(

  16. Our budget is usually around $300 per month. I do meat about every 1.5 or 2 months and freeze it. I do the weekly farmers market basket which is $15 and lasts us through the week. I coupon to get pantry items. Then I have random runs to get specific things to meals if I don't have them already.

  17. Most groceries bills can be cut in 1/3 or 1/4 or less by using coupons. Match coupons with sales and stuff becomes so cheap, even FREE. It takes a little work and patience at the beginning but before you know, you'll be taking home FREE Mini Wheats.

    I spent a few hours reading and and started trying it myself.

    I think The Krazy Coupon Lady is in your neck of the woods so her coupon and sale matchups would be easy to follow.

    Anywho, just an idea. It's easy to get excited about it and want to share it with others when it starts working for ya!


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