Ok, y’all said keep tracking so here I am, sticking with it! Thanks for the encouragement. Seriously though, I see why people avoid tracking and budgeting. While perhaps it’s empowering, it can be painful to see all the dollars add up.
January was an expensive month. I can see a few contributing factors. One, I did a big Butcher Box stock up. They were running a sale of chicken breast and I have a deep freezer so I took advantage. So at least that purchase should stretch fairly easily through next month.
Secondly, I’ve been feeding David more. That’s probably a funny way to put it, but historically David has eaten a light breakfast, no lunch beyond some bars at work, and then dinner. In an effort to help him hit some fitness goals, we’ve upped his protein and general consumption. I’ve been keeping my protein high, too, because it treat my body so well. And I’ve been mindful of the kids getting an adequate amount in, too, because growing bodies and all, but also their schedule sometimes looks like: soccer practice, jog with Dad, basketball practice. They need it!
Protein is expensive. See my go-to sources for protein here. We have always prioritized our health on the front end (paying for it now in hopes of decreasing the risk of paying for it later), but seeing it add up at the end of the month still feels like a cold splash of water.
Also, I made meals for three other families during January. Additionally, we hosted a friend with three young kids in town for a weekend; so I purchased some more kid friendly options. I’ll prioritize these things any day of the week, but it’s an added factor when looking at the cost equation.
I know I could spend less. I know (because David tells me every other night) that dinner doesn’t have to be a production. I know that logically, but I also enjoy the planning and the eating of good food. I like being excited for our evening meal. Also, at this stage of life it’s what I do. It’s my hobby, an outlet for me, and it fills me up to serve my family this way. But I do suppose I could reel it in.
Another thought- how much money does Costco really save me? Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Costco, and buying items there certainly makes them stretch further- coffee, fruit, cheese- more bang for your buck. However, part of me is curious about how much I’d spend if I stuck to one grocery store (plus Butcher Box).
I actually feel, against general sentiment, that I get a lot of bang for my buck at Whole Foods. They have the items and quality I want and if I plan according to their sales, I do pretty well there. Maybe a fun experiment would be shopping only one store for a month and seeing what kind of difference that would make?
I’d do it for February, but we’ll be traveling for almost a week of it, so I don’t think the data would be extremely comparable. Thoughts? Maybe March?
Ok, enough chatter- the breakdown for the month-
See all grocery spending reports here.
Share with me- are you tracking your grocery spending this month?
What factors are contributing most to your saving money or your spending of money?
Tarayn Comer says
I was challenged to look up what I spent in Nov and December and was astonished for Nov! So much so that I have tracked everything since.
Nov $2000 and I wasn’t feeding my husband 65% of the time. Family of four with 8&10 yo girls.
Jan $1210 ( we were out of town about 6 days and doesn’t count the food we ate on vacation)
I’m reeling it in for February and focused on saving and planning more. I also think Whole Foods is much more reasonably priced on things than my local store which is Publix. WF though isn’t super convenient to me so in the past I have used the delivery fee which adds up. I shopped Publix this week for bogo fage yogurt I use regularly and organic chicken breast. Huge savings! So glad you are continuing to track!!!
Brittany Dixon says
Isn’t it crazy how quickly it adds up?! I agree that I can shop for less at WF than Publix but Publix is closer to me, too.
I feel the same way about Whole Foods! Especially as a Prime member. My kids have some allergies so I need certain things to be in stock and have found other stores unreliable in those items whereas Whole Foods always has them. I stick to one grocery store (WF) a month for food and one for toiletries, etc and have found it makes life easier for me (homeschooling three littles) and I just plan my menu around what is on sale there. I’m glad you are still tracking and sharing! I live in the Midwest and spend about the same as you do each month for a family of 4+ a baby so it is interesting for me to see your breakdowns.
Brittany Dixon says
I feel the same way about being a prime member; they have some really great deals for prime! And I find their app fairly easy to navigate to see what the best deals are.
For Costco (or other club-style stores) — When I’ve weighed whether or not a membership is “worth it,” I always consider the cost of the membership itself alongside the potential savings. For example, if the membership is $50, do I anticipate I will save in excess of $50 over the course of the year? Also, one time I went full-on grocery geek (which I know you can appreciate – ha!), and I made a spreadsheet of my most frequently purchased items and did a price comparison of Costco and purchasing that same item at my regular grocery store – usually Aldi or Kroger, sometimes Walmart. Sounds tedious, but I just snapped photos of the price label on the shelf for each item. When I did the math (breaking down cost per ounce, etc.), the regular grocery store came out on top for the vast majority of items I purchase frequently. For our family, it ended up not being worth it. Now, if I decide I want or need something in bulk, I just buy a bunch of it at the regular store… DIY bulk purchases, if you will. 😉
Brittany Dixon says
I love that you did the legwork to compare your purchases! I kind of want to do the same now and see just how much of a difference it makes.
I do track my grocery spending, and separately track food I grab out and about, whether its a sandwich while running errands, or date night. I have a friend who cut out Costco and doesn’t miss it, I don’t have Costco and wish I did (I will eventually).
I let my Costco membership go last year. I couldn’t justify the cost anymore. Even with trying to limit what I bought there, overall I spent less monthly when I didn’t go to Costco.
Beth Snider says
I shop primarily at one store (Central Market – the upscale sister of our standard grocery store, HEB, here in Austin). I meal plan & pay for their pick up service and consistently spend around $250 to $300 per week (family of 4 with 6 & 4 year old). We live very close (walking distance if we’re ambitious) to a Whole Foods and spend around $50 per week there on various odds and ends.
I’ve experimented shopping only at HEB (the supposedly lower cost store) and the total spend is generally pretty close. Central Market tends to have better quality produce and more bulk + organic options so I’ve stuck with it. Plus, if I shop in person, I can grab a glass of wine from their cafe and shop while sipping wine (amazing).
Love these posts as sometimes I think we’re spending too much! This reassures me that we’re not way out there but I could also do better (e.g. pay attention and shop / meal plan around sales).
I wonder the same thing! Can I buy in bulk at Harris Teeter/Publix and save versus going to Costco? When you think of the membership fee, the prices of things going up and I’m sorry the reward check I get once a year just doesn’t make up for it! I’m always disappointed at the total considering I spend a lot there. Costco is more convenient for me because I don’t have to bulk the items myself (if that makes sense) and just grab the large bags/boxes of groceries. But am I really saving? 🤦🏼♀️ I went to WF yesterday, don’t shop there but willing to give it a chance if the prices are better. It seemed $ to me but if you are willing to do a post I’d be curious lol!
I find it fascinating to read and hear about your (and others’) grocery spending experiences. And agree that it is validating – we have to eat and we have to spend money on food, might as well enjoy it (as long as we are living within our means, of course!). I am an RD so groceries, and especially grocery prices, are something I talk about with clients all the time. I did a similar cost comparison and checked individual prices of items at Costco vs. Aldi vs. Cub/HyVee (our local grocery chains) and Aldi was almost always cheapest. One time (when it was freezing here in Minneapolis and I had some extra time on my hands lol), I did my weekly shopping at Aldi and then went to Cub and checked the prices for all the items I purchased at Aldi and my total bill would have been 48% more at Cub! That’s almost double the spending! I was shocked and it made me realize it is worth it to shop Aldi and sometimes have to run to other stores, even though that can be frustrating and time consuming.
I have also made a list of the few specific items that are worth it, money-wise, for us to buy at Costco. Yep, you can find me in the aisles of Costco with a calculator lol. For us, those items are sandwich bread, eggs, butter, block cheese, dried figs, natural peanut butter, pecans, (the other nuts are cheaper at aldi), dog food, TP and sometimes certain fruit. And I always check the Coscto “sales” as well – when things are $2/3/4 off their Costco price, they are definitely a good deal!
Okay enough rambling from me! I am a regular reader and don’t chime in much, but get a little fired up when we are talking groceries and food. 🙂
Brittany Dixon says
I feel so happy that there are others nerding out about groceries; these comments are fascinating for me and inspiring! Aldi is truly incredible with their prices; it’s almost hard to believe sometimes. I’ve had hit or miss experiences with their produce though so that paired with the fact that it isn’t very close to me has me not going there as often as I probably should.
I also 100% agree with you that when Costco has an item on sale, it’s usually a GREAT deal, but now I want to do a sincere cost vs cost comparison with the items I usually buy there and what it costs at the other grocery stores. Thanks for the insight!
Costco is such a tricky one. Ours is the cheapest and most convenient for gas alongside some of those bulk items. I would be interested to do the cost comparison. I’m just afraid to give it up!
Brittany Dixon says
We like it for gas, too! We also use it for our business (rentals), so I don’t see us getting rid of the membership but I am pondering doing a cost comparison for the grocery items I buy there. It’s been super interesting hearing everyone’s two cents!
One thing that’s had me shopping less at Costco and more at King Soopers (Kroger Brand) is the lack of ingredient variety at Costco, especially when it comes to produce. Fruit and vegetable variety has been a big focus for me, and ideally I get new produce items each week that aren’t part of the regular rotation (beets, Swiss chard, parsley, yellow cauliflower, curly endive, dandelion greens) and things that Costco doesn’t sell. I got into a major asparagus/ brussel sprouts/ frozen broccoli rut when shopping primarily at Costco. Even something as simple as onions- at King Soopers I might pick up 3 or 4 varieties, but at Costco I’d end up with one huge bag of one type. It feels like I’m spending less now that I’m about 80% King Soopers/ 20% Costco, plus a healthier gut from all that variety!
I am a devoted Aldi shopper, but I am finding I agree with what you said about Whole Foods! I find that I stick more closely to my list because I know prices are higher. Basics are comparable to other stores, particularly organic milk and eggs. When I do Whole Foods grocery pick up, I can’t be tempted by what I can’t see! Plus Amazon puts the sale items right in my way!
I could never give up costco. Its my favorite! With that being said however we try now to only go once a month for the staples we know are better prices and/or quantity and occasionally get a few splurge items depending on what they have on rotation or whats on sale. I would love to see your thoughts and comparisons shopping only at one store for a month! (aside from butcher box which we love too!)
Kelli Harrison says
We dropped Costco it was not making sense and felt we could get better deals at Walmart Target Publix etc just a little more leg work
Kelli H says
I had to stop shopping Costco so frequently because I was spending way too much money there. I usually shop at one store Fred Meyer now and I can get everything I need. I get great coupons sent to me that are tailored to me as well as using their app to save money. I’m usually saving 18-20% weekly on groceries there plus they give back discounts on gas.
Now I’m trying to only go to Costco when we run out of toilet paper, paper towels, and dishwasher pods.
I’d be really interested in hearing how you’re upping the girls protein.