However, about 6 weeks ago I started noticing little things, like how the guacamole I buy was now $10 per pound instead of $8. Or that the bread I buy was getting to be about $6 a loaf. I decided to track my spending to closely not really to reduce costs, but to get a clear picture on what we were spending.
Since I love a good challenge, I did tighten up on impulse buys and really thought twice before putting something in the cart (do I really need pumpkin spice nut pods?). By doing this, I thought I’d be wowed with my savings.
I have shared peeks into our grocery spending over the years. Obviously a lot has changed over time, like the fact that I’m feeding 4 people full meals instead of babies and toddlers, but it still was surprising to see our monthly spending in 2013 was $676 (averaging $116 a week) and in 2014, $176.20 a week, and in 2015, $165 a week. In January of this year, it was only $168.
So how about now? From September 19 – October 19, I spent $1,256.57 on groceries, averaging $314.14 a week!
I am shook. Unlike previous counts in years past though, this might contain more types of items, like our food costs plus things like trash bags, supplements, wine, toothbrushes, etc, but still, wow.
Our breakdown of spending looked like this:
- Whole Foods: $352.26
- Costco: $308.95
- Publix: 201.60
- Butcher Box: $162.18
- Thrive Market: $85.17
- Nespresso: $63.19
- Food Lion: $49.13
- Aldi: $34.09
I polled IG yesterday asking for people to share their average weekly spending and as of this morning, this was the breakdown of the 1,253 people that responded:
- less than $100 a week: 74
- between $100-$200 a week: 715
- between $200-$300 a week: 374
- between $300-$400 a week: 90
- And at least a handful of people messaging me asking if there was an over $400 option.
Now I am well aware this doesn’t take into account family size, geographical location, stores shopped, etc, etc, but I found it still interesting to see.
I asked IG another question: what are you doing to keep your grocery budget in check (or are you not)? Here are some of the responses:
- Honestly our grocery bill is higher than our mortgage right now due to higher prices. 😳
- I am not 😖 We eat almost every meal at home and quality is important. We are at $200 a week!
- Buy high quality produce and meat at Sprouts but get pantry staples at Aldi or Walmart.
- It’s a struggle!
- Eating less meat and buying more dry goods.
- I need tips on how to waste less food!
- We’re not 😩 Family of 6 and it feels impossible as a working mom with less time to prep/plan.
- I’m not. Four kids that eat constantly means we just shift other things in the budget.
- Coupon shopping online.
- Using everything! No food waste. Making stock. Using freezer.
- We butcher our own meat and can with from our garden but with growing boys I’m still averaging $250-$300 a week.
- We cut back on beef, meal plan around sales, and use digital coupons.
- Not shopping at Whole Foods.
- Costco. Less meat, less extras, more planned.
- Ordering groceries online and only getting what we need.
- Less recipes; just cooking food.
- Encouraging my husband to be aware of portions so we can stretch leftovers to two meals.
- Doing better about shopping my pantry and freezer first.
- Buying in bulk in season then stocking the pantry.
This is just a sample, as I had over 100 responses, but the message was clear: the majority of people definitely notice a difference. The most popular responses were: 1) I’m not keeping it in check; it’s out of control. 2) More vegetarian meals. 3) Aldi.
This exercise for me personally was to get a clearer picture. Would I like it to be lower? Absolutely. However, food is a priority for us. I do buy organic most of the time and we eat every meal except for a dinner a week at the house.
Still, after seeing my results, I’ve stepped up my process a little bit, too.
This month my goal is this: shop the freezer and choose my meats for the week. I really like Butcher Box because I can get a variety of meats and I know they are all top quality. We are also purchasing a half cow (I’ll let you know the cost per pound breakdown as soon as we get that info, if you’re curious).
After choosing my meats, browse the sales at Whole Foods and Publix. I see which one has more of the items I will buy on sale. I plan my meals (and plan to do better at adding in at least one vegetarian meal a week) and write my list. I go through my pantry and freezer to cross off anything I already have, then go shopping for the bulk groceries of my week.
Usually I’ll also end up swinging by Costco, Aldi, or Food Lion at some point during the week to restock pantry staples. And that’s it!
I wasn’t aiming to keep things as low as possible, but I was really trying to watch it all closely and I’m quite surprised at how high my total ended up being. I look forward to continuing to track, though I imagine things will only continue to increase as we head into the holidays.
What’s your current food shopping experience?
Are you noticing higher prices where you are? What tips are helping you keep things under control? Or are you just rolling with it?